Why Would a Sinless Agent Choose Sin?

by Max Andrews

It may be a little easier to understand how it is that Adam could have sinned being that he was tempted by another agent, Satan.  However, it may be more difficult to understand why it is that Satan chose sin.  Satan was not tempted by anything or anyone else.  Some find it problematic and an argument against free will, that is, that there is no reason why Satan would choose sin from the beginning.  Satan had to have been determined to sin.  I can understand that it is problematic, or unresting, in understanding the first sin, but I would rather understand the first sin as having its origin from the created being.  One of the tenets of soft-libertarianism is that all choices are not causally determined but are internally originated from the agent.  Causal relations may influence the soft-libertarian agent, but it does not cause him to do anything.  I would rather have the trouble explaining/speculating as to why a sinless free agent chose to sin rather than explain/speculate how a holy and perfect being can cause sin.  This is just a thought that came up in discussion earlier.


4 Comments to “Why Would a Sinless Agent Choose Sin?”

  1. Max,

    You may be looking at this from the wrong direction. Adam never existed.. The Genesis narrative is simply a theological account of the reality of human nature and it’s propensity toward evil. There is much danger and speculation in a literalist approach to the scriptures in general, but even more so when we come to the first chapters of the first book of the bible.
    With that said, it is hard to understand how a seemingly good God could create (and potentially cause) a sinless agent to “sin” when reading the genesis account at face value, but I don’t think the author of the text had that in mind at all. Instead, I believe we’re not reading Genesis with the kind of perspective it requires, i.e. it may be said that the author of Genesis is more interested in laying out a specifically Hebrew understanding of both creation and human nature, while fixating most on the theological, not actual historically sequential events. So what I’m trying to say is that if we look to Genesis as a play-by-play handbook to understand the first events of human history, we’re in for all kinds of problems since that isn’t the aim of Genesis, at all. I personally have a hard time with the notion of Satan as well, but that’s another convo for another day. Anyway, just a few thoughts. Take care

    -Vince

    • Hey Vince,

      Sorry, I didn’t see your comment here at first, usually I have to approve them but I guess since I’ve already approved before it automatically does it. Well, I’m going to put aside the problems of framework or allegorical interpretations of Genesis and Jesus thinking Adam was real and included in genealogies and what not; but I’m not referring to Adam, this would be referring to Satan. Nonetheless, it would push it back to the first sin, whomever you think was the first sinner. Does that alter your response at all, even if I were to concede every point your make, I think it only pushes it back a step.

  2. Hello Max,

    Interesting question you pose.

    The way I have come to think about it is like this – the possibility of the first sin is part of the inherent capability of spirit beings. It lies within the range of possible dynamic trajectories of natural conscious life. And we can affirm that this is a good design because, as CS Lewis once suggested, the potential for good and evil are commensurate. And God intends his creatures to learn to realize their potential for good, and to avoid their potential for evil. And God is wise enough to providentially limit the growth of evil, and make room for the greater good. Paul said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Anyway, the story is not over yet.

    These possibilities become clearer if we reflect on the finite nature of knowledge possessed by such creatures. Who knows what danger lurks in the shadows? As curiosity supposedly killed the cat, self-deception gets my vote as the reason for Satan’s fall. Pride is a form of self-delusion.

    What do you think?

    • I can agree with that. I think it’s important that we have that “self-” prefix in front of it. It’s a self-deception, something that is originated from the self. Thanks for the input!

Leave a Reply