Could there be Suffering in Paradise? The Primal Sin, the Beatific Vision, and Suffering in Paradise

David Andrew Worsley


Paradise is often conceived as a place where suffering is not possible, so much so that the possibility of suffering in paradise has been used by various philosophers as a defeater for the possibility of paradise.[1]Employing a “reverse-engineered-theodicy,” I use Eleonore Stump’s morally-sufficient-reason for why God allows suffering in this earthly world to explore one condition that must obtain for suffering to remain impossible in paradise, namely, that internal fragmentation is not possible in paradise. After developing an intellectualist explanation of the primal sin (an alleged prior instance of internal fragmentation in a paradisiacal environment), I suggest one reason to believe that the internal fragmentation of redeemed humans in paradise is not possible. However, this reason does not extend to other non-human inhabitants of paradise, and so I suggest that it remains possible that these other inhabitants might yet become internally fragmented. Given that Christ-like consensual suffering that aids a third party’s internal integration is presumably morally justifiable (How else can we justify God allowing Christ to suffer?), I conclude by suggesting that the suffering of the redeemed in paradise is in fact possible (although quite unlikely). Therefore, even in paradise, there is a place for hope that the redeemed do not suffer, and for trust in others that they do not bring such suffering into being.

[1] For one example see (Talbott 1990, 32).

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The Journal of Analytic Theology is a joint publication of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame and Baylor University.

ISSN 2330-2380 (online)