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Philosophical sin

The existence of philosophical sin was a debate waged in the Roman Catholic Church in the late seventeenth century. The idea of a "philosophic sin," as opposed to "theological sin" was advocated by those who would construct a moral system independent of God. Philosophical sin is a morally bad act which violates the natural order of reason, not the divine law. Theological sin is a transgression of the eternal law. Those who are of atheistic tendencies and contend for this distinction, either deny the existence of God or maintain that He exercises no providence in regard to human acts. This position is destructive of sin in the theological sense, as God and His law, reward and punishment, are done away with. Those who admit the existence of God, His law, human liberty and responsibility, and still contend for a distinction between philosophical and theological sin, maintain that in the present order of God's providence there are morally bad acts, which, while violating the order of reason, are not offensive to God, and they base their contention on this that the sinner can be ignorant of the existence of God, or not actually think of Him and His law when he acts. The contention is that without the knowledge of God or consideration of Him, it is impossible to offend Him.

This doctrine of philosophical sin was censured as scandalous, temerarious, and erroneous by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 in his condemnation of the following proposition: "Philosophical or moral sin is a human act not in agreement with rational nature and right reason, theological and mortal sin is a free transgression of the Divine law. However grievous it may be, philosophical sin in one who is either ignorant of God or does not actually think of God, is indeed a grievous sin, but not an offense to God, nor a mortal sin dissolving friendship with God, nor worthy of eternal punishment." The Church maintains the contrary view that sin can be offensive to God even if the sinner either does not know God or does not consider Him while sinning.

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