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Legatus Magazine

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Fr. John Trigilio | author
Oct 01, 2010
Filed under Engaging the Faith

Why did God make the devil?

God made everything good, but with the gift of free will some have chosen evil . . .

Fr. John Trigilio

Fr. John Trigilio

The simple answer: God didn’t make the devil. He created the angel Lucifer who later of his own free will made himself into the devil by opposing the will of God.

Just as Genesis tells us that God created everything inherently good (“and God saw that it was good”), it was only after sin that humans and some angels became evil of their own free choice. Other religions contend that there has always been an eternal struggle between good and evil, between God and the devil. That’s not Christian teaching.

Scripture speaks of a great heavenly battle between the Archangel Michael and the other angels, Lucifer and the third of the angelic host who followed him (Rev 12:3-9). The fallen angels were cast into hell and, once there, became known as devils or demons, whereas the two-thirds of the good angels went to heaven and are still called angels.

If God knew beforehand that Lucifer would be bad, why create him at all? Why not just spare the universe the devil in the long run? Fair question. Again, remember that God creates good. Only creatures with a free will can choose evil and sin, and then face the consequences of their choice.

If God prevented the devil from being created merely because later, after being created, Lucifer would freely choose to go bad, then it’s the same as not having a free will after all. If only those who choose good are allowed to exist, what freedom is that?

Were the evil people and angels not allowed to exist before they even made their choice, it would not be just. It would be condemning a person before they commit the crime. Punishment must come after the fact, not in anticipation of it. That would be like a parent disciplining a two-year-old child for bad behavior she will commit as a teenager.

This column is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions” by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth D. Brighenti (Sourcebooks, 2007).


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