Saturday, November 13, 2010


Would you say that some people are actually ugly? Or that we just fail the perceive beauty?

K: We must fail to perceive beauty, since we’re all made in the image and likeness of God, who is Beauty.

M: We are also born with sin, which I not the image & likeness of God. I think both: some people are ugly because of Original Sin, but also because of sin, our perception fails.
What about people born with a genetic mutation?

K: Aren’t they still created in the image of God?

M: Yes, but not physically; not in the fullness, anyway.

K: Original sin - which, it’s true, is not of God - does not meant that a who still bears its stain lacks the dignity which all humans posses by virtue of being created in the image and likeness of the Creator. Therefore, by the same line of reasoning, we ought not assume that Original Sin removes the innate beauty of persons.
Not in fullness doesn’t mean not at all.


All people are innately beautiful. A lack of physical beauty is not caused by Original Sin because, if it was, we’d all be born with ‘genetic mutations.’

Perhaps ugliness - a lack of beauty - is caused by sin. This certainly seems consistent - in the sense that is outlined below -  in the case of ‘inner beauty.’ That is, the more one sins, the more likely they are to have an ugly disposition. However, the concept that physical ugliness is caused by sin cannot be consistent with an Omni benevolent, merciful God.

We have already ruled out physical ugliness being caused by Original Sin.  Let us start, then, with those born physically beautiful who become physically ugly. If ugliness is caused by sin, this is the place where the strongest argument will be found. Consider people who, through substance abuse, have become diminished in physical beauty to the point that they could be called ugly.

Consider Doug the Druggie.
Doug was born physically beautiful, but through a life of substance abuse, his outward beauty diminished to the point that Doug became the least physically beautiful person ever; he became the quintessentially outwardly ugly person.
Doug was fully aware of the implications, including, but not limited to, the moral implications, of his choice to take drugs and had full control over his decision. He also knew, before his initial choice to take the drugs, of the addictive qualities of the substances he was going to take.

And so, by taking the drugs and continuing to take them, Doug has sinned. Doug’s case does support the proposition: “physical ugliness is caused by sin.”

However, this claim is unfair when applied to torture victims.
Consider Padre Peter.
Padre Peter is a priest of God and has not sinned since his last confession and penance, where he was fully forgiven his past sins and had made appropriate atonement; he was not guilty of any sin.
He is captured by a group of people who try to force him to denounce his faith by torturing him. Padre Peter does neither renounce nor denounce his faith in the face of torture. This torture includes deliberate, deep cuts into Padre’s body and across his face. And yet, despite his mutilation, Padre Peter does not sin.

Thus, before, during and after his mutilation, Padre Peter commits no sin and still is physically ugly. Sin, therefore, can not be the consequence of sin committed by the individual who, born physically beautiful, becomes physically ugly. Let us consider, then, someone who has had no occasion to sin because they are newly born, Boris the Baby.

Boris was born with a genetic condition that means his face is misaligned and he has a large birthmark on his face; Boris’ body is also under-developed; he lacks physical beauty; he is outwardly ugly.
Since Boris is  newly born, he has had no occasion to sin. Perhaps his parents sinned and it is a punishment from God?
This is surely inconsistent with an Omni-benevolent God. By human standards, it is unjust to punish a child for their parent’s misdoings, and similarly, a parent for their child’s. Jesus says in the Gospels that if we “who are evil” know what is good, how much more does God know, and how much more will he give us? And again, Scripture says (cf Deuteronomy) that a child shall not be punished for their parent’s sins, not the parent for the child’s sins.

It is true that, since sin affects everyone, a parent’s sin will impact on their child, but in Boris’ case, his parents committed no sin that could lead to the kind of malformation that Boris was born with, neither did his grandparents, great-grandparents and so no.

Since all people are innately beautiful, by virtue of being created in the image and likeness of Beauty, a lack of outward beauty is not actual ugliness and is only perceived as such by others.
It is true that sin impedes our perceptiveness to the beauty of others because it causes us to be hard-of-heart, and thus less able to discern that which is of God.  People can, will and do readily perceive beauty but that beauty does not have to be recognised to exist, in the same way that God, who is Beauty, existed long before being recognised by humanity and will still exist, even if people fail to recognise the Divine again.


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