One of the oldest dilemmas in philosophy is also one of the greatest threats to Christian theology. The problem of evil simultaneously perplexes the world’s greatest minds and yet remains palpably close to the hearts of the most common people. If God is good, then why is there evil? The following essay describes the problem of evil in relation to God, examines Christian responses to the problem, and concludes the existence of God and the existence of evil are fully compatible.
An omnibenevolent God created a man with the capacity to sin; as Augustine has addressed, the evil in man resides from his will. Augustine, however, does not address how evil stems also from the human nature of temptation that was a consequence of the original fall from Eden. Augustine touches on this theme when accounting for the origins of his sin, but he never fully declares it. “I loved to excuse my soul,” Augustine begins, “and to accuse something else inside me (I knew not what) but which was not I. But, assuredly, it was I, and it was my impiety that had divided me against myself” (62). Here, Augustine admits to denying his own human nature to sin, and blames it on something beyond his will, such as a result of creation. Bonner,
“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
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
Medieval philosophers developed very precise notions of God and the attributes that he has, many of which are even now well-known among believers. For example, God is all-powerful all-knowing and all-good Other commonly discussed attributes of God are that he is eternal, that he is present everywhere and that he has foreknowledge of future events. While these traditional attributes of God offer a clear picture of the kind of being that he is, many of them present special conceptual problems, particularly when we try to make them compatible them with potentially conflicting facts about the world.
If God is good, and everything he created is good, how did evil originate? According to the Manichees, humans and human desires originate as evil, and since God created them, yet he cannot eliminate evil, he is not truly omnipotent. For a portion of his life, Augustine also believed in this ideology, but he soon realized his mistake. He spent much of his youth at Carthage attending theatrical plays, but eventually became aware that this was wrong because it encouraged a love of suffering, (Book III, Section 2). I believe he fell victim to the Manichees because he was in the prime state of life where one is searching for something more than themselves.
This paper examines St. Augustine’s view on evil. St. Augustine believed that God made a perfect world, but that God's creatures turned away from God of their own free will and that is how evil originated in the world. Augustine assumes that evil cannot be properly said to exist at all, he argues that the evil, together with that suffering which is created as punishment for sin, originates in the free nature of the will of all creatures. According to Augustine, God has allowed evil to exist in the world because it does not conflict with his righteousness. He did not create evil but is also not a victim of it. He simply allows it to exist.
The problem of evil has been around since the beginning. How could God allow such suffering of his “chosen people”? God is supposedly all loving (omni-benevolent) and all powerful (omnipotent) and yet He allows His creations to live in a world of danger and pain. Two philosophers this class has discussed pertaining to this problem is B.C. Johnson and John Hick. Johnson provides the theists’ defense of God and he argues them. These include free will, moral urgency, the laws of nature, and God’s “higher morality”. Hick examines two types of theodicies – the Augustinian position and the Irenaeus position. These positions also deal with free will, virtue (or moral urgency), and the laws of nature. Johnson
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
God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, which makes us wonder what kind of morally sufficient reason justifies God to allow evil. We know that evil exists in our world, but so does God, so would God be the source of evil as well as good? We have established that God is the omnipotent and benevolent free creator of the world, but suffering and evil exist. Is God unable to prevent evil? If so, he would not be omnipotent. Is He able to prevent the evil in our world but unwilling? If this were then case then he wouldn’t be benevolent. A Persian thinker, Mani, suggested that the answer to this question was a kind of duality between the good and evil. This pluralistic view of the good and evil in our world would suggest that God is
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.
572). Diving deep into the notion of who God is, Augustine vividly establishes why “God never created any evil nature” (Loc. 1127). He claims that God is good and purely spirit, and He fills all aspects of His creations. Having created us, we are filled with his goodness. Augustine says, “Our good ever lives with Thee; from which when we turn away, we are turned aside” (Loc. 926).
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
The problem of evil is as ancient as humanity itself. Since the dawn of man, thinkers, philosophers, religionists and practically every human being who have suffered at the hands of evil have pondered this enigma, either as a logical-intellectual-philosophical or emotional-religious-existential problem. The preponderance of evil as a reality in human existence, and