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Michelle Hyman

In Anselm’s dialogue “On the Fall of the Devil” his student raises several questions concerning who was responsible for the Devil’s fall from heaven. Anselm and his student get into several logical arguments that all prove that the Devil is responsible for his own fall, therefore concluding that God is not to blame. During the course of their dialogue Anselm makes the argument that that“[The evil angel] should not have known that he would be punished if he sinned” (p. 93). Anselm points out that the Devil knew he ought not to sin and knew he would deserve to be punished, but despite that general knowledge he could not be sure that God would in fact punish him. Anselm finds several logical issues arise when you try to argue that Satan had the foreknowledge of his exact punishment. By effectively proving that Satan should not have known that he was going to be punished for sinning, Anselm unwillingly calls into question the effectiveness of God’s punishments, especially when God is constantly characterized as an all loving parent.

Perhaps God took off his loving, forgiving, parent mask and put on his wrathful, final judgment mask. If God decided that sinning was worthy of being punished even though Satan was seemingly ignorant of the consequence, it would mean that it was right for God to punish Satan without warning him. This requires a consideration of the severity of God’s punishment. Anselm argues that it was just for God to carry out what he did because everything that God does is just. This seems questionable when speaking about the justness of infinite punishments for finite sins. Satan only sinned for however long it took for him to plan and execute his mutiny, it seems unjust to punish him for an eternity for something that he only planned and carried out for a finite amount of time. It also seems unnecessarily harsh of God to make it impossible for Satan and the bad angels to no longer be able to receive his grace or forgiveness. If God really is the all loving and forgiving parent that the bible makes him out to  be, the idea of him punishing one of his children, on his first offense,  for eternity,  without hope of redemption, and who did not know he was going to punished appears to be logically inconsistent.

Web site editor's comment:  This is one of the three or four books that have changed my life.  It is the deepest and most beautiful book on ecology I have ever read.  Dennis Rivers 

Thomas Berry's biography    Article by Mary Evelyn Tucker


About Thomas Berry (adapted from Wikipedia)

Fr. Thomas Berry, C.P. (November 9, 1914 – June 1, 2009) was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian — or “Earth scholar” — were his preferred descriptors).

Among advocates of deep ecology and "ecospirituality" he is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species. He is considered a leader in the tradition of the evoutionary spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin.

Author Michael Colebrook describes two key elements in Thomas Berry’s thinking: “Firstly, the primary status of the universe. The universe is, ‘the only self-referential reality in the phenomenal world. It is the only text without context. Everything else has to be seen in the context of the universe’. The second element is the significance of story, and in particular the universe as story. ‘The universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.’”


Born William Nathan Berry in Greensboro, North Carolina, Berry was third of 13 children. By age eight, he had concluded that commercial values were threatening life on the planet. Three years later he had an epiphany in a meadow, which became a primary reference point for the rest of his life. He later elaborated this experience into a set of Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process. The first of these principles states:

“The universe, the solar system, and planet earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that ultimate mystery whence all things emerge into being.”

At age 20, Berry entered a monastery of the Passionist order (ordained 1942) and, traveling widely, he began examining cultural history and foundations of diverse cultures and their relations with the natural world.

He received his doctorate in history from The Catholic University of America, with a thesis on Giambattista Vico's philosophy of history. He then studied Chinese language and Chinese culture in China and learned Sanskrit for the study of India and the traditions of religion in India. Later he assisted in an educational program for the T'boli tribal peoples of South Cotabataon, a Philippine island, and he taught the cultural history of India and China at universities in New Jersey and New York (1956-1965). Later he was director of the graduate program in the History of Religions at Fordham University (1966-1979). He founded and directed the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in Riverdale, New York (1970-1995). Berry studied and was influenced by the work of Teilhard de Chardin and was president of the American Teilhard Association (1975-1987). He has also studied Native American culture and shamanism.

Interview with Thomas Berry late in his life
as he sums up his vision of the Earth and Humans relationship,
themes his explores in The Dream of the Earth.



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