“Where then is evil, and what is its source, and how has it crept into the creation? What is its root, what is its seed?”1 These are the first of the many inquiries that Augustine makes in his work entitled the Confessions. In fact, the question of 'what is evil' is the main concern of Augustine, eventually leading the theologian from Manicheanism, a heresy that Augustine spent nine years of his life practicing, back into the arms of the Church. The Manichees are not willing to say that God created evil, and so therefore evil must have existed from the very beginning, possessing its own being. At this time, Augustine has a very Platonist view of things and begins to question this view of the Manichees. As a Platonist, Augustine asserts that all being is fundamentally good because all being comes from a supreme Good, which is God. As it says in
“For when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist” (Augustine 177). In sum, when evil is controlled it will no longer exist in the good or anywhere else. Augustine relates this to the vices in our soul and how they are nothing but deprivations of natural good. Just like the disease and wounds, when the vices are cured, they cease to exist in the soul and everywhere else. What he is trying to say is that God didn’t create evil for its own purpose. God is supremely good and wouldn’t put evil on this earth if we weren’t able to get some good out of it. So evil is here for the purpose of good.
St. Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will elaborates on the relationship between God, free will, and evil. During the very beginning of Book One, he asks the question, “isn’t God the cause of evil” (Cahn 357). From this question, it can be ascertained that he searches for a connection between God and evil (sins), which inferred in the writing to be connected though free will. He believes that God does not create evil, but rather that evil is simply the lack of good, since God is completely good and, therefore, cannot create evil. God not being the source of evil is then further elaborated through his explanation of a crime and how it is caused by inordinate desires and human abuse of good things (Cahn 360). By explaining
Augustine sates there are three general kinds of sin, those of the flesh, mind, and will. He reaffirms this saying “I sinned because I disobeyed them not in order to choose something more worthwhile, but simply because I loved games. I hankered to win myself glory in out contests, and to have my ears tickled by tall stories, which only made them itch more hotly; and all the while that same curiosity more and more inflamed my eyes with the list for the public shows which are the games of grownups (Augustine, 1,16).” Augustine is saying we commit these forms of sin, not because we are finding something more worthwhile, but because of our human nature. We sin because we love the feeling we get when we do something wrong. Even though we can will ourselves to do good and not sin, it is in our very nature to do wrong every since the fall. In Himes “Ancient Israel’s response to the dilemma is that evil does not come from God; it comes from us when we reject ourselves and refuse to accept the goodness of our own being (Himes, 31)” Himes uses the word evil instead of sin, however both are synonymous, in religion. Ancient Israel relies that sin is part of our nature and something we will have to deal with even though it is wrong.
He believes that everyone has the option to make a decision about something. He says that free will is the ability in human beings to act otherwise and there is a connection between being able to act otherwise and the notion that some acts are never ok to do. Moral absolutes can also be found in Christian tradition with St. Augustine. St. Augustine discussed the topic of lying and lying, as most people know, is considered to be intrinsically evil. However, he believes that there are some instances in which lying is necessary because, sometimes, it brings about good
At a younger and earlier stage of his life, St. Augustine felt abandoned in some way by God and found no strong connection to a higher being as he developed into a materialist who could only grasp tangible concepts. Little did he see in his life that God was with him through his trials and tribulations as a man on a journey who fell into a life of sin through lust and stealing. Augustine writes, “But in my misery seethed and followed the driving force of my impulses, abandoning you. I exceeded all the bounds set by your law, and did not escape your chastisement-indeed no moral can do so” (Confessions 2:4 p. 25). This driving force was God’s providence. Augustine was spending time in sin, God was punishing him with a sense of emptiness that could not be filled. By turning to such pleasures, he turned away from God and needed such illicit things to realize that he needs a sense of something more in his life. He states, “Before you I lay my heart and my memory. At that time you were dealing with me in your hidden
Whilst Augustine argued that evil is not a real thing that is present in the world, many people, especially those who have really felt suffering, believe that is certainly is a real, present thing in the world. Overall, the Augustine Theodicy is attractive to conservative theists, because it provides a classical theistic answer to the problem of evil and suffering. However, the Theodicy does open up a larger amount of unanswerable questions, so the weaknesses out way the strengths.
Augustine used this claim to explain that all humans have inherited an inclination to sin and it was passed on though human selfishness and that it is only God that can rescue humankind from this predisposition to sin. Augustine believed that as long as something is alive, it has the capacity for good and redemption. He stated that evil is an affliction of good. Also that God can only create good things, therefore the world along with everything in it was created with good intent as the only thing that can be completely good is God. He explains that everything is subject to change with the exception of God, which is how evil was created. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God using their own free will they began a decline from their original perfect nature meaning that evil was not created by God, but is a term created to explain something that has fallen away from its original nature. Ausgustine's theodicy can only apply to those who believe in God. He believed that only by being a Christian one is able to vanquish the sin created in the Fall of Man. Again. Augustines theodicy can only be reinforced by religious beliefs yet, with science becoming more respected, the understanding of the world is not longer based around religion. Science has stated that there has never been a time where humanity was at a perfect state rejecting many of Augustine's claims. Also, if God is omnibenevolent then why would he punish all of human kind for the sin of two people. Because evil has become abundant throughout humanity it can be concluded that God did not create the world with
In this paper I will write about Augustine and his thoughts and ideas on sin in the Confessions, where sin originates and whether or not I believe that Augustine’s conception of sin has a place in modern society. From all of this I will conclude that through Augustine's work and findings, Augustine’s conception of the human person and their human actions are somewhat relevant today, due to the fact Augustine set a standard for what human nature is, known as the ability to desire, think and do, yet, people see the human differently today than Augustine did. At the same time his ideas of original sin and how the evil nature of humans is associated with original sin are still very relevant today.
In the Confessions by Saint Augustine, this great philosopher experiences many problems and emotions related to sin and evil. As a boy, he often felt darkness, blindness, and confusion while attempting to find rest in God. Augustine started out in childhood with a restless heart because he had to live in two different worlds. These worlds consisted of his mother’s Christian faith, and the world of everything else. These two worlds confused and disturbed Augustine as a child. Augustine’s father was pagan and his mother was Christian, and they both wanted him to be very successful in the world. As he became confused, he began asking questions that could not be answered such as, “Humans often feel restless, but what is it they need to feel at
In this essay I will be discussing how St. Augustine ultimately solves the problem of evil, in a way that at times does go hand in hand with his religious views, however, at times contradicts what he is saying. In “ Confessions” Augustine who although does not in any way question the existence of God questions why God, someone who is all powerful, and all good still allowing people to suffer the way in which they are.
In the beginning, God created the world. He created the earth, air, stars, trees and mortal animals, heaven above, the angels, every spiritual being. God looked at these things and said that they were good. However, if all that God created was good, from where does un-good come? How did evil creep into the universal picture? In Book VII of his Confessions, St. Augustine reflects on the existence of evil and the theological problem it poses. For evil to exist, the Creator God must have granted it existence. This fundamentally contradicts the Christian confession that God is Good. Logically, this leads one to conclude evil does not exist in a created sense. Augustine arrives at the conclusion that evil itself is not a formal thing, but the
In Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will he explains that the human soul is predisposed to have a good will and that “it is a will by which we desire to live upright and honorable lives and to attain the highest wisdom” (Augustine 19, 1993). Augustine believes that in order to be free we must live according to our good will. To follow our good will we must live according to the four main virtues in life: prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice. He defines prudence as having “the knowledge of what is to be desired and what is to be avoided” (Augustine 20, 1993). Augustine establishes fortitude as “the disposition of the soul by which we have no fear of misfortune or of the loss of things that are not in our power” (Augustine 20,1993).
According to Augustine, “Human beings are endowed with a power that he calls the will.” He emphasizes the will to being the center of freedom. Unlike other philosophers, who are determinists, Augustine, who has a libertarian view, sees our will as free choice. So for whatever we may choose to do, we become solely responsible for our actions which are caused by external factors instead of internal ones.
God is according to Augustine the single sovereign, who rules over everything, even the evil forces in the universe. This sovereignty is grounded in Augustine’s understanding that God created everything. This assumption ultimately solves the question why evil exists. It exists because God created it, just like he created everything else. Augustine suggests that everything God creates in inherently good. However, creatures can become “evil” because they are prone to corruption (Mann 44). Furthermore, rational beings have