According to Catholicism and Protestantism (I am not aware of any division over this) When did evil in the universe first appear and what was the originating cause of it?

Note: I mean the immediate cause not the predetermined purpose that God had in allowing its appearance. Aside from any possible sense of a cause in God's sovereignty, when was the immediate and original appearance of evil in the universe?

  • @Alypius - I mean evil to be in the 'moral sense' not as in the physical sense of death resulting from sin. I mean evil as a synonym with sin, i.e. moral poverty. Sin and evil can be understood in my question as the same thing.
    – Mike
    Mar 16 '13 at 7:39
  • What do you mean by originating cause? The being with whom it started or the reason why sin came into existence in that being?
    – One Face
    Mar 7 '15 at 2:37

When sin is defined as moving against God's will and evil is defined as the absence of God's presence it seems that sin and evil were first made when Lucifer rebelled against God and was cast from his position of glory and out of God's presence. The story is somewhat detailed in Isiah.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit. Isiah 14

From the verses we see that Lucifer first sinned when he claimed that he would ascend to God's glory and usurp Him from His throne. He was removed from God's presence which then created evil.

This is the oldest account of sin and evil. It must have preceded the fall of man because it was Lucifer who tempted them to take and eat the fruit. Before we know assuredly that mankind was not in sin nor removed from God's presence, therefore, sin and evil must have originated with Lucifer, or at least not with mankind. Such is Lucifer's infamy that he is called the father of lies and Satan which mean adversary, which implies that he moves against God's will always.

It is possible that sin and evil originated elsewhere but they are not detailed in the 66 book version of the Protestant Bible. The other seven that Catholicism takes does not say anything on the topic either.

These verses in Revelation may be relevant:

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12

Here we see that Satan is permanently cast from heaven. Most scholars would argue that this event has not happened yet, and will occur shortly before the Second Coming. What may also be relevant is the passages in Job where Satan is actually conversing with God.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?"
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Job 1

The conversation continues but what is noteworthy is in the first few verses. It is clear here that Satan can still enter God's presence, but he can also leave it. This supports the idea that he was 'cast' from heaven already, in some respects. How is a bit of a mystery. The issue with Job is that a good portion of scholars, but not near the majority, would say that it is poetry and cannot be taken as a literal event.

  • What about the cause of origin of sin?
    – One Face
    Mar 4 '15 at 8:22
  • 2
    @CRags You mean what convinced Lucifer to believe that he could ascend in glory above the Most High? I don't know. I'm sure there's been plenty of writings on the topic. How exactly could Lucifer be in the glory of the Most High and come do despise Him rather than worship Him? And apparently he wasn't the only one. Thousands of other angels thought the same. This might be a case against God's goodness. Conversely, it might be a case for Satan's total evilness.
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 4 '15 at 17:46
  • Many scholars argue "Lucifer" is not a name here. In any case, this appears to describe Satan, and to be consistent with the Ezekiel 28 reference.
    – Bit Chaser
    Aug 18 '15 at 12:36

When did sin and evil in the universe first appear?

We may not able to distinguish between the universe and our solar system in Biblical references so it may be that the door is left open for other solar systems.

For our purposes we can only approximate that the temptation of Eve in Genesis chapter three indicates that Satan was already lying prior to the fall of humans.

There was a point where iniquity was found in Satan that could be the start of sin, but we don't a have a sure way to pin down the point in time when this occurred other than prior to human sin.

Ezekiel 28:15-16 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.


Why do is it so widely believed that Lucifer is Satan (Isaiah 14:12)? Isaiah 14:4, which is the heading for the Hebrew poem which follows (vv 4-21), clearly states that the poem is about the king of Babylon. The name "Lucifer" simply carries across the Vulgate translation of a Hebrew word meaning "the morning star" (Strong No. 1966). It was this claim to be the morning star, made by the king of Babylon, which is mocked in the poem. The poem describes the king's descent into Sheol. Nowhere does the Bible state that Satan is in Sheol (the OT realm of human beings who have died). In fact the whole idea of Satan's rebellion being described in this poem is, in my view, a complete myth. Why is it, that we do not except the simple Biblical history, which shows that sin began in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve?

  • 2
    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. In particular, this is a Q&A site rather than a discussion site. Though you make some good points, most of your answer doesn't address the question, which is when sin and evil did first appear. For some tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? Meanwhile, I hope you'll spend some time browsing the other questions and answers here. Nov 13 '16 at 3:22

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