It is natural for men and women to ask how evil came into the world
and into their own lives.
The Catholic Church explains the presence of evil in the world in terms of original
sin – a condition of brokenness into which all people are born. According to Scripture,
evil entered human experience at the beginning of history through the actions of the first humans.
The Book of Genesis explains the origins and spread of evil through the stories of Adam and
Eve and their descendants. These stories are a way of explaining why he tangata
(humankind) experiences a deep sense of separation affecting all aspects of life.
They are not factual accounts of what actually happened.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve make a conscious decision to turn away from God, their Creator
and the source of all life. Their choice leads to a deep separation – from Te Atua,
from themselves, from other people, and from the environment in which they live.
Adam and Eve leave behind the abundance of God and enter a world where they must struggle to survive. There they experience suffering and death. In the generations of people that follow them, violence and
evil increase and spread throughout the world.
Today, the effects of original sin can be seen in the struggle and suffering that are so much a part of human life –and in the death that ends our life on earth. Whenever we experience a pull towards selfishness or feel that our lives are limited in some way, it is because of original sin.
The sins that individuals commit damage society. For example, lying does not just offend Te Atua and the person you are lying to or about. It also weakens the bonds of trust that hold a community such as a wha - nau or school together.
Personal sin can also lead to sinful social structures. For example, in South Africa, the racist attitudes of individual politicians allowed governments there to introduce the system of apartheid laws which discriminated against the coloured and black populations, creating great injustices and much human suffering.
In turn, sinful social structures and customs encourage individuals to remain sinful in their personal behaviour. For example, cultures which refuse to allow girls to go to school or receive an education equal to what boys get, encourage males to treat women as less intelligent and inferior.
Once established sinful social structures are very hard to get rid of. They cause people to suffer oppression and exploitation and can push them to the edge of society. Housing, employment and immigration policies, tax and health-care systems, and the market economy are all social structures that can work to keep personal sin in place.
Ageism, materialism, racism, sexism and homophobia are all attitudes that lead to the creation of sinful social structures.
The seven social sins are
1. ``Bioethical' violations such as birth control
2. ``Morally dubious'' experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse