Original Research - Special Collection: Johan Buitendag Festschrift

The original justice in the context of natural sciences: Thomistic insights

Piotr Roszak
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 2 | a8073 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.8073 | © 2023 Piotr Roszak | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 September 2022 | Published: 26 January 2023

About the author(s)

Piotr Roszak, Department of Christian Philosophy, Faculty of Theology, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland; and, Faculty of Theology, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain; and, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The picture of the beginnings of humankind presented by natural science is often contrasted with what is conveyed in Scripture. It has been pointed out that the Edenic state before sin – which we refer to as original justice – was a time of absolute perfection in which there was no room for any deficiency. According to Thomas Aquinas, however, this picture conflicts with what Paradise was as a state on the way to Heaven. For Aquinas, the difference between Paradise and the present situation is not an ontological one but a change of circumstance, because original justice was not a period of salvation. This means that Paradise was a period of development, thanks to the grace received, which is reconcilable with the principled account of natural science. The key is the distinction between Paradise and Heaven, which sets religion–science reflections in their proper context.

Contribution: The article drew attention to notions of original justice, emphasising the Paradise time as the development of virtues, including the theological virtue of faith. This helps to build an adequate theological framework for a fruitful dialogue with the natural sciences, as recommended by Buitendag.


Evolution; original justice; religion–science; sin; nature and grace; natural sciences.

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