A Reflection on Unification Thought, Evil, and Theodicy - Thomas J. Ward
The question of evil’s origin remains a fundamental philosophical dilemma. Along with Exposition of the Divine Principle’s chapter on the Human Fall, the Essentials of Unification Thought1 chapter on history and End of Communism’s analysis of Alienation2 offer especially profound insight into the nature and roots of evil. An understanding of the origin of evil is essential if we are to understand what, in the most profound sense, French writer Andre Malraux has described as “the human condition.”3
Whereas the Divine Principle’s Human Fall points to four fallen natures, End of Communism’s discussion of Alienation refers to six ways in which human nature became compromised as a consequence of the Fall. This includes a corruption of:
- The sungsang-hyungsang and mind-body relation
- The breakdown of male-female relations, especially in terms of the husband-wife relationship.
- Loss of the Individual Image—due to the loss of harmonious sungsang-hyungsang and male-female relations, humankind does not resemble the Original Image and the dissonance in the world is said to be a reflection of the dissonance resulting from each individual’s failure to resemble the Original Image.
- The chasm between fallen humanity’s and God’s Heart—Humankind has never enjoyed the original relation of heart that was to have existed between God and humankind.
- Loss of Norm—Due to the Fall, people have lost the ability to relate to each other properly as well as the ability to establish the proper standard in spiritual, familial, social, political, corporate, environmental, and international relations.
- Loss of Creativity—Instead of the original God-like heart being the root of human creativity, the motivation for creating in the fallen world is said to have become became self-centered and based on intellect rather than love. Most important fallen humankind has lost the ability to give birth to children who embody the seed of the Divine lineage.
The implications of the six ways in which Unification philosophy maintains that the Fall compromised human nature merit further reflection. The writings of Hermann Hesse, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus number among those depicting the individual’s effort to “find himself.” However, unlike the aforementioned writers, the Unification view of Alienation maintains, as did Augustine, that something is distorted in human nature itself, which complicates the endeavor. In its assessment of Original Human Nature,4Unification Thought exalts human potential, maintaining that, inherently, each human being constitutes a distinct individual truth body. In its discussion of education, Unification Thought describes each person as being endowed with the “genius.”5 However, in accord with Unification Thought’s understanding of human nature, the precondition for the complete realization of each person’s individuality, i.e., his or her genius,6 is perfect unity of the mind and body. Human thoughts and actions are meant to be guided by the mind, i.e., the intellect’s pursuit of trueness, the emotion’s pursuit of beauty (love) and the will’s pursuit of good. In the perfected human being, even the body’s need of nourishment, sexual fulfillment and other physical needs should be mediated by the desire to fulfill the original aspirations of human intellect, emotion and will.
Unification theory maintains that, in an unfallen world, men and women who have achieved the properly ordered mind-body relationship are qualified to form marital couples. Through the harmonized husband-wife relationship, perfected men and women can reflect God’s Original Image.7
A couple’s perfected realization of unity of sungsang and hyungsang and masculinity and femininity is the essential condition for that couple to embody a unique, individual image of God. Indeed, Unification theory would argue that until this condition is established, a couple would necessarily feel unfulfilled and alienated. The corollary of this understanding is that fallen human beings can never truly know who they are unless they come to reflect the Original Image. Unification theory argues that in three fundamental ways human nature is lacking:
a. Loss of God’s Original True Love
If human beings fail to reflect the Image of God, they also lack the condition to receive and experience God’s original true love. Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, one of Reverend Moon’s closest disciples and a principal exegete of Unification theory, has frequently observed that, due to the fall, two types of God’s love exist. One of these he refers to as “original love” and the other he describes as “pitiful love.” God, Kwak explains, has never been able to relate to humankind with original love because we do not stand in the perfected state needed to experience original love.8
Due to the Fall, no married couple has ever fully reflected God’s harmonized Original Sungsang and Hyungsang and Original Positivity and Negativity. Not reflecting God’s original nature, we are estranged from God and have never been able to experience or receive God’s original love. For Unification theory, this is the real tragedy of the human condition. God grants wishes and responds to humanity’s prayer out of pity for the sorrowful state of humankind. However, God has never been able to share His deepest feelings and the burdens of His own heart and condition with fallen humanity.
b. Loss of Original Familial and Social Norms
Unification Thought’s view of alienation also helps us to understand why the norms of fallen human relations depart sharply from the original norms of family-centered relations. Domestic violence, child abuse, machismo and relative indifference to the fate of others all result from humanity’s not having known God’s original true love. If human beings understood and were confident of God’s love for them, they would reflect that confidence and quality of love in relations with parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, neighbors, and even rivals.
c. Original Creativity versus Fallen Creativity
Due to the fall, humankind has also lost true “creativity.”9Unification Thought observes that we tend to create works of art, not out of original true love but out of largely intellectual stimuli10or even hubris. More seriously, as we have already noted, Unification Theory maintains that humanity has lost the most fundamental creativity in that fallen married couples do not stand as filial children who have inherited God’s nature. Such couples thus lack the qualification to stand as true parents. Fallen humanity thus cannot inherit the sinless procreative seed of original man and woman. Generation after generation, we have passed the six fall-related types of alienation on to our children.
d. Affective Insights into the Condition of Humanity
The writings of existentialists such as Kierkegaard, Sartre and Camus reflect an epistemology11 that is not only based upon the criteria of rationalism or empiricism. Theirs is an appeal to the intuitive, as reflected by Sartre’s references to the “nausea” stirred in him by the contradictions and hypocrisy in human behavior. The same appeal to the intuitive can be found in Soren Kierkegaard’s notion of dread and in Albert Camus’ reflections on universal guilt.
Like the existentialists, Unification theory also should help us to understand and experience an intuitive, heartfelt experience of the painful “real,” i.e., “fallen” human condition.12 We would argue that the underlying, affective and existential message of Unificationism is that, due to dissonance in the mind-body relationship and the male-female relationship, no men and women have ever reflected the individual image which would allow them to reflect the Imago Dei and inherit God’s heart, norm and creativity. Thus we find ourselves in a state of not really knowing who we are, and thus we are indeed alienated, estranged from God and filled with an intuitive sense of guilt because we are not what we could be, or as St. Paul expressed it: “I do evil that I want not and do not the good that I wish.”13
While the Fall and fallen humanity’s distortions of character played a fundamental role in Augustine’s view of history, this understanding no longer plays as central a role in mainstream academic discourse and inquiry. Unification Thought notes that Georg Hegel in his view of history disregarded the Fall, focusing instead on the Absolute Spirit’s quest for freedom. Modern Catholic figures, including Karl Rahner and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, likewise played down the historicity of the Fall, attributing sin to the lower, animal dimension of human character that, they maintained, would diminish as the human evolutionary trajectory continued. This view gained greater currency through liberation theology’s adoption of Rahner’s and Teilhard’s views on the Fall. Liberation theologians, Protestant and Catholic alike, went on in the last three-and-one-half decades of the twentieth century to emphasize that social sin, i.e., oppressive, class-based social institutions, rather than individual sin represents the frontline of evil. In The Secular City (1960), Harvey Cox argued that while Jesus’ message was conveyed in parables, the new lingua franca of Christianity is politics. The personal reflection, repentance and contemplation of the mystic has become secondary to the strategizing and maneuvering of the political activist or militant who has experienced “conscientizacão.”14
Thus, one reason why the Unification Church has found itself marginalized by mainline Protestants stems from its view of the Fall. Liberal Christians preemptively dismiss Unificationists as intellectually naïve and unsophisticated when they learn that they actually accept both the historicity of the Fall and the existence of a proactive, spiritual agent of evil who provoked it. Nevertheless, in dismissing the Fall, modern thinkers have not found a satisfactory surrogate explanation for the human condition.
In his work The Fall, the atheist/agnostic Albert Camus is led after his intellectual and emotional peregrinations to conclude that an ineffable sense of guilt pervades all of humanity. Camus comments:
Moreover, we cannot assert the innocence of anyone, whereas we can state with certainty the guilt of all. Every man testifies to the crime of all the others—that is my faith and hope.15
Camus does not grapple with guilt’s origins; however, his selection of The Fall as a title resonates with his sense that the theme of Original Sin, even if not an historical event, merits ongoing philosophical reflection.
Can it be said that Unification Thought responds to Camus’ quandary? In answering this question affirmatively, I recognize that this view challenges conventional wisdom. Indeed, my reading of writers such as Camus, Sartre, Beckett, and Hesse in the 1960’s had caused me to intuit that that an invisible problem of gross enormity existed behind and beyond the moral enigmas described by these great writers and thinkers.
Once I had embraced the Unification interpretation of the Fall, I hastened to inform close friends that I had come to understand the underlying “invisible problem” that afflicted humanity. I was assisted in recognizing the insight that Unification theory provided into this “invisible problem” by several pensive, patient European lecturers of Unification Principle, particularly Henri Blanchard and Claude Perrottet, who understood and helped me to navigate the roadblocks that complicated my intellectual acceptance of the Unification view of the Fall.
As early as 1971 when I first met him, Henri Blanchard, former President of the Unification Church of France, had developed arguments supporting the historicity of Fall. Those arguments impressed me. I introduce them here because I believe that they merit review and acceptance or refinement by Unificationist and non-Unificationist scholars alike. It is also important to recognize the important work done in this area by Jesus Gonzalez, an early member of the Unification Church of Spain who currently serves as President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Uruguay. His work Forbidden Love and True Love represents, in my opinion, another important contribution toward demonstrating the intellectual viability of the Unification view of the Fall.
a. The Necessity of Evil having a Specific Origin
In his discussion of the Fall, Blanchard argued that we can know that evil had a specific beginning point. By nature, he argued, good is a creative force whereas evil is a destructive force. However, one cannot destroy something if it does not already exist. Evil is defined in relation to good. Good thus had to have pre-existed evil and evil necessarily must have had a starting point.
b. Humanity as a Hierarchy of Families
Blanchard also observed that the universe can be viewed as a hierarchy of centers. The earth revolves around the sun and moons revolve around planets. Asteroids can revolve around a moon. Given this arrangement, our solar system can only be totally destabilized when the highest center, i.e., the sun, is destabilized. Blanchard argued that humanity is composed of a hierarchy of families and thus humanity could only have been universally destabilized if the first family of history had been destabilized.
In response to Blanchard, one might ask whether or not empirical evidence confirms that a first family existed. There is not a definitive answer to this question. Reopening the question, Gonzalez points to the work of University of California at Berkeley Biologists Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking and Allan C. Wilson. In 1991 these three researchers undertook an investigation tracing the genetic code of the mitochondrial DNA that they extracted from 147 placenta of women of all races and geographical regions on the five continents. They found that all 147 women shared at least one common ancestor who came to be referred to as “Mitochondrial Eve.”16 Critics hastened to respond, however, that the sharing of a common ancestor did not necessarily mean that it was the primordial ancestor.
Gonzalez further points out that similar research was conducted on males in 1994 by focusing on the male Y chromosome. The conclusion of such research led to the finding that all of humanity almost certainly originated from the same restricted geographical region of the world rather than from several locations, as had been argued previously.17 While both of these findings are by themselves inconclusive, they invite re-examination of the question of whether or not humanity possesses a common origin.
c. The Significance of the Genesis Narration
In Capital Marx refers to the acquisition of private property as the “original sin.” Views of a starting point from which evil originated are found in most religions and certain philosophies. Gonzalez highlights this in True Love and Forbidden Love:
It is very revealing and significant when we discover the fact that almost all cultures and religions in the world teach some kind of myth or legend about what happened at the dawn of history, recognizing that mankind lost its original direction and at a certain point became corrupted and evil.
In Egyptian stories, for example, there are references to a lost golden age and death caused by the "female ancestor" and the serpent.
Indian legends reveal to us that Brahma was tempted by Shiva to make him believe that the flower of the tree of knowledge would give him immortality.
In Greek mythology, Pandora's box is a famous example. Pandora was a woman who was going to marry one of the gods, before the existence of evil. They gave her a box and asked her not to open it until the wedding night was over. However, she could not resist or control her curiosity and upon opening it, terrible misfortunes and calamities befell the human race. The Bible tells the story of Adam and Eve.
The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung understood these stories not merely as superstition or myth, but as important revelations of a truth far beyond the comprehension of our rational mind. For Jung, these were symbolic expressions of the collective memory of the human race, a treasury of secrets coming from our subconscious collective mind that tells us about our past as human beings.18
In his writings, Jung dedicated attention to the implications of the Genesis narration and to the question of Satan’s existence. One might suspect that some linkage exists between this scriptural fascination and the fact that Jung, the son of a Protestant pastor, had spent many of the Sundays of his youth listening to biblical readings and being challenged to ponder their implications.
d. The Reality of a Personification of Evil
Jung’s mentor Sigmund Freud dismissed the existence of a spiritual personification of evil by observing:
What in those days were thought to be evil spirits to us are base and evil wishes, the derivatives of impulses which have been rejected and repressed. In one respect only do we not subscribe to the explanation of these phenomena current in medieval times; we have abandoned the projection of them into the outer world, attributing their origin instead to the inner life of the patient.19
This observation by Freud is remarkably reminiscent of Feuerbach’s dismissal of God in The Essence of Christianity:
“(God) is… the human nature (human reason, feeling, love, will) purified, freed from the limits of the individual man-made objective… The divine being is nothing else than the human being.”20
Somehow Carl Jung parted ways with his mentor Freud on this topic. While not believing in a devil, Gonzalez observes that Jung warned that when a society preemptively dismisses the existence of Satan, it errs gravely. There are in fact a number of past and recent thinkers, mystics and founders of religion testifying to an experience with personified evil. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sinclair Lewis, Soren Kierkegaard and Maurice Clavel number among the nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers who accepted the existence of a spiritual agent of evil.
It is well known that Unification theory does not accept the view that the biblical account of the Fall should be taken literally. While it concurs that an original sin or deviation from God did, indeed, occur, it maintains that the Fall occurred, not by Adam and Eve eating a fruit offered by a serpent, but rather due to a premature sexual relationship in the first couple, preceded and precipitated by an illicit love relationship between the male spiritual agent of evil, Lucifer, and the first woman.
Unification Thought can point to strong circumstantial evidence to affirm that the starting point of evil was indeed an illicit sexual relationship. This includes the fact that spiritual traits (e.g., personality) and physical traits are passed on from generation to generation through the genetic exchange resulting from the sexual act (as opposed to some other act). There is also need to examine the biblical assertion that the first couple’s sin stemmed from having eaten of “the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”21 In Genesis “to know” is a double entendre, meaning to have a sexual relationship.22 The expression to “eat of the fruit” can also mean to have a sexual relationship. For example, if one stumbles upon a bookstore with the name “The Forbidden Fruit,” little imagination is needed to intuit the nature of its wares.
Adam and Eve are described as “naked and unashamed”23 prior to eating of the fruit but they immediately cover their sexual parts after eating of the fruit. Why would they want to cover their sexual parts if they had eaten a literal fruit?
The sexual act between a man and woman is the most profound and intimate expression of love that exists. Reverend Moon emphasizes the precious value of sexuality, referring to the male and female sexual organs as the “love palace.”24 However, Gonzalez points out that in virtually every language, the most foul and vulgar language ironically consists of terms related to the male and female sexual organs and to the act of conjugal love itself.
Gonzalez also points to the frequent linkage between sexual decadence and a society’s collapse. Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) observed that of the twenty-one most notable civilizations in history, nineteen of them perished not by external invaders but due to a collapse of internal moral standards. Gonzalez also points to two other interesting studies. Through studying 80 civilizations over a period of 4000 years, Cambridge University historian J.D. Unwin noted that those civilizations that accommodated sexual promiscuity declined and collapsed. Those that exercised sexual restraint managed to survive.25
Gonzalez also notes that immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet government’s policy toward premarital and extramarital sex was that such activities were as harmless as “drinking a glass of water.” The renowned Russian sociologist and former revolutionary Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968) pointed out that, after the Soviet Union endorsed such policies for a few years, hordes of savage boys and girls without a home became a real threat to the USSR’s stability. Million of lives were destroyed, especially those of young girls. Divorce and abortion reached unheard of levels. Hatred and conflicts produced by polygamy and polyandry increased rapidly, as did psychoneurosis. Work at the nationalized factories was neglected. These results were so alarming that the government was obliged to reverse its policy and the “glass of water” position on promiscuous sex was declared contrary to the revolution. In its place, the Soviet government began to laud chastity and the sanctity of marriage.26
Perhaps one of the strongest indicators that the fall was sexually related is found in the aesthetic practices of the great religions. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism all advocate celibacy as the route to become purified and closer to Heaven. While serving in his official and custodial role, the Chief Priest in Judaism was also expected to remain celibate. Within Islam, Sufis in pursuit of a mystical relation with Allah practice celibacy to “weaken attachment to the world.”27 Even Greek religion reserved a special, respectful place in its heart for the celibacy of a Nike or an Athena. Yet we might ask, “Why is it that the most intense form of love that we can experience as human beings is the love of a couple and yet the mystics of the great religions forewent such love in order to get closer to God? Is it “a stretch” to say that religion’s honoring of celibacy as a vehicle to experience God intimates that something has compromised the spiritual integrity of sexual relations between husband and wife, i.e., the Fall?
There have been numerous visible tragedies, wars, and brutal conquests perpetrated in the name of God. There is the problem of genocide in this century, as well as the natural calamities and diseases that have befallen humankind. This has begged the question: “If there is indeed a good God, why would he permit the existence of such evil?” Bitter life experiences of discrimination and personal alienation contributed to Karl Marx identifying with the Promethean denunciation “I hate all of the gods!” and led Lenin to despise religion. Yet resentment toward God and religion is not limited to Marxism but is also evident in the writings of Freud, Dewey, Sartre, Camus and other major thinkers of this century.
a. The Portrayal of a God of Evil in Hellenism and Hebraism
The Unification Principle emphasizes that the Western tradition integrates the cultural underpinnings of Hebraism and Hellenism and that these two traditions are an extension of the internal and external dimensions of human nature. Examining these traditions we discover an aspect of God in the Hellenic tradition that is cruel, jealous and calculating. Zeus, the chief of the gods, overthrows his father Cronus, himself guilty of cannibalizing his children. Zeus is a philanderer, has favorites, and severely punishes mortals who dare attempt to resemble or rival him. The gods of Greek mythology are frequently vengeful, jealous and self-indulgent. It was such traits that contributed to Greek society distancing itself from the gods over time.
Within the narrations of the Bible one finds a loving God, but at the same time one finds traits and behaviors that seem to resemble the traits of Zeus and other members of the Greek pantheon. Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden of Eden because of God’s concern that they will “become like us, knowing good and evil.” The biblical God exercises judgment through an annihilating flood. The God of the Book of Revelation is merciless to those who lack or have lost faith. Having permitted the fall and the emergence of evil, God’s nature can appear as wholly enigmatic, if not sadistic.
b. Omnipotence and the Unification View of God
In his quest to understand God, Rev. Moon searched to understand why a good God would allow for a world characterized by the existence and even a preponderance of evil. He searched through prayer, through sacred scripture, through observation of nature and through personal life experience. The most important aspect of his quest soon became the path of the mystic—spiritual battle and endless prayer. His encounters with God resulted in tearful appreciation of the painful course that God had endured to allow for the restoration of the original nature of His children, in spite of their deviation from God’s original intent in creating them.
It is often said that God is omniscient and omnipotent. Rev. Moon’s experience with God is consistent with this. Yet we can infer from his teachings that this is not the most essential nature of God. Rev. In the creative act that culminated in the birth of God’s first children, God voluntarily decided to restrict His power or omnipotence and focus on love (rather than coercion) in establishing a relationship with His children. The reason for this, Unification theory maintains, is that the ultimate ideal relationship that God seeks with human beings originates in parental and filial love. Yet God cannot force this relationship. Forcing it would compromise human nature and love itself.
Divine Principle teaches that the purpose of freedom is love. In order to resemble God, we must be free to become or not become God’s love partner. God created humans as beings who have a portion of responsibility. Human dignity as God’s children can only be preserved through allowing human beings to be free to choose to attend or not attend God’s will for them. We are each endowed with certain character traits, but who we are is not only the product of those traits but the product of what we have done to develop and enhance them. We play a cooperative role in the development of our character.
Why then is there evil in the world? Evil necessarily had a window of opportunity because God voluntarily made His omnipotence subservient to love during humanity’s growth process. In other words, God decided that the essence of His relationship with humanity would be based on love and freedom rather than power. To alter God’s absolute commitment to humanity’s free choice to inherit or not inherit God’s original love would have undermined the intrinsic dimension of our character which allows us to resemble God.
The first human beings made tragic choices, choices that caused us not to resemble God, but to have a dark side to our natures that causes grief to God and chagrin to us. Unification Thought argues that God, and thus humanity, can only be fully re-empowered when human beings achieve God’s original ideal and resemble God. It is through humanity’s perfection rather than God’s power, that human and divine liberation can be realized.
- This also applies to earlier versions of Unification Thought.
- Sang Hun Lee, The End of Communism, (New York: Unification Thought Institute, 1985), pp. 3-35, 358-373.
- Malraux’s La Condition Humaine was translated as Man’s Fate in English. I am referring here to the literal translation.
- Essentials of Unification Thought: The Headwing Thought (Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute, 1992), pp. 89-130.
- Ibid., pp. 189-190.
- In accord with Unification Theory, God is the harmonized being of original sungsang and original hyungsang and original masculinity and original femininity. Just as these attributes are harmonized within God, they also must be harmonized within the human being and the married couple in order to reflect God’s nature and resemble God.
- Reverend Kwak especially made frequent reference to these two types of love in presentations that he made to American Unification Church members in 1977 and 1978.
- Essentials of Unification Thought, pp. 103-105.
- Ibid., p. 105.
- We would argue that this epistemological paradigm is introduced in the Logic section of Unification Thought through its discussion of pathos. See, for example, Essentials of Unification Thought, pp. 387-388 and Explaining Unification Thought, (Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute), 1981, pp. 190-192.
- Explaining Unification Thought, pp. 181-182.
- Romans 7:23.
- Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Ramos (New York: Herder and Herder, 1960), p. 19.
- Albert Camus, The Fall (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1957), p. 82.
- Jesus Gonzalez Losada, True Love and Forbidden Love, Chapter 3. http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Books/Tlafl/TLAFL-3.htm
- Sigmund Freud, A Neurosis of Demoniacal Possession in the 17th Century, (1923), http://www.paulvitz.com/FreudsXtnUncon/149.html.
- Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957), p. 14.
- Genesis 2:9.
- Genesis 4:1.
- Genesis 2:25.
- Sun Myung Moon, “We Are the Kingdom of Heaven for All Things,” June 20, 1993.
- Losada, True Love and Forbidden Love, Chapter 3.
- See http://www.carthage.edu/~lochtefe/sufis.html