Evil is conserved. Particular instances of evil can be ameliorated, to be sure. But this can happen only by way of a redistribution of the evil thus salved. Think of salve, applied to a wound. Better to salve the wound than not. But the salve and the salving impose costs. Resources devoted to healing – including the healing resources of the body – are lost, and cannot be invested elsewhere. When we salve and heal a wound, then, we have not reduced the suffering in the system of the world, but rather only spread it around a bit.
Evil is conserved. It can increase, as entropy increases. But it can’t be got rid of. Not even a little tiny bit of evil can be destroyed.
This is a corollary of the general conservation of value. The fixity of the past and the necessity (imposed by the requirement that worlds as such must be causally complete) that all futurities somehow (at least implicitly) comprehend it exhaustively – Mach’s Principle – ensure together that once an evil event is added to the world, its consequences must thenceforth forever pass on down through history superpositively, incorrigibly. Such evil consequences are usually dispersed, to be sure, so that after a time no one feels them with particular acuity. Who now mourns the Black Death, or the Bronze Age Collapse? Nevertheless they remain, and inflict a severe, massive, continuing ontological cost.
E.g., we cannot live as if WWII did not happen. The 50 million people who died in that war are lost to us forever. The work they might have done, the children they might have engendered and raised (not forgetting all their descendants), the buildings built, enterprises founded, techniques invented, music written, knowledge gained – the wealth of every sort they might have created, exchanged, passed on: all are lost, permanently. So too are all the values that might have compounded from their lost lives, and from those of the children they did not have. Humanity is permanently impoverished by their premature deaths; we will be poorer because of it, until the end of man. The difference in value between what is now and is now possible to us, and what might have been had they lived normal lives, grows by leaps and bounds with every passing moment. That we don’t notice this impoverishment, that it seems to us normal, shows how profound it is, and how pervasive.
Such is Original Sin.
Because evil is conserved, and deforms all our lives from birth (or before) regardless of what we do, so that our inheritance of historical evil cripples our capacity to do good from the very start, it is impossible for us to be perfectly good, let alone to repair the damage done before we even came along. We cannot possibly be what we might have been. Our case is hopeless.
Unless, that is, we have some help from a corner that is not (like this mortal coil entire) pervasively tainted and ruined, and that has power to cover the horrible chasm that yawns between what we are now and what we might have been, and ought by nature to be.
Fortunately, we have such a help; a very saving help in trouble. Else were we doomed altogether, our case hopeless, our utter annihilation certain. But we have help. So then may we hope.