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A dualistic heresy initiated in the third century by a Persian named Mani, Manes, or Manichaeus (215-75). He was considered divinely inspired, and he gained a large following. In the Manichaean system there are two ultimate sources of creation, the one good and the other evil. God is the creator of all that is good, and Satan of all that is evil. Man's spirit is from God, his body is from the devil. There is a constant struggle between the forces of good and those of evil. Good triumphs over evil only insofar as spirit rises superior to the body. In practice Manichaeism denies human responsibility for the evil that one does, on the premise that this is not due to one's own free will but to the dominance of Satan's power in one's life.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.