The Famous Problem Of Evil

Good Essays
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 (i.e., omnipotent), all-knowing (i.e., omniscient), and all-good (i.e., omni-benevolent). Other commonly discussed attributes of God are that he is eternal, that he is present everywhere (i.e., omnipresent) 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. One of these is the famous problem of evil: how…show more content…
Yet, God’s justness means that he rewards good and punishes evil. Thus, God indeed causes some suffering through punishment, but he is not the cause of evil actions themselves. The cause of evil itself, according to Augustine, is the human will, and thus all blame for it rests on our shoulders, not on Gods. We willfully turn our souls away from God when we perform evil deeds: “look for the source of this movement and be sure that it does not come from God” (On Free Choice, 2:20). Even the punishment that God imposes on us for our evil is something that we brought on ourselves, since “punishment is used in such a way that it places natures in their right order” (On Free Choice, 3:9). Thus, a first solution that Augustine offers to the problem of evil is that human will is the cause of evil and reason for divine punishment. A second and related solution is that the evil we willfully create within our souls is only a deprivation of goodness. Think of God’s goodness like a bright white light; the evil that we humans create is like an act of dimming that light, or shielding ourselves from it to create an area of darkness. It is not like we’ve created a competing light source of our own, such as a bright red light that we shine around to combat God’s bright white light. Accordingly, the evil that we create through our wills is the absence of good, and not a substantive evil in itself. Augustine writes, “That movement of the soul’s turning away, which we
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