Augustine

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Kadija Chenekan Social Foundations I Gail Linsenbard November 17, 2009 The Confessions The Problem of Evil and Freewill Augustine begins his journey towards God with doubts and his Confessions serve as a way to understand him and his ideas and how his journey turned him towards God. The problem of evil in the Confessions is closely related to Job. If God exists then why does suffering exist in the world? And if God is omnipotent and omniscient why did he let suffering become part of the world he created. At first Augustine believes evil to be an entity while he was closely associating with the Manichaens but as he distanced himself from their teachings he found that evil is the absence of goodness not a conscious separate entity as the Manichaens believed. Augustine believed God created the world with only goodness, and that the absence of goodness is what brings evil. He believed that evil is the corruption of the goodness that exist in everyone. His own doubts about God were an absence of some goodness in him and his willingness to accept that corruption is what made him doubt God. Augustine argues that the deviation from the prescribed role in the divine creation made by God is what constitutes as evil. Evil itself is not an entity like the Manichaeans led him to believe. Evil is not a force but it is something that comes into existence through the willingness of other people to let go of their divine goodness. With this argument it can also be concluded even the most evil beings have some goodness in them; it is their free will that allows them to choose. The absence of goodness creates a void that evil takes place through the choices that people make. There is no light and darkness; two separate entities that fight for dominate of the world. It is rather the choices that we make that make evil exist.

The theological arguments made by Augustine in The Confessions concerning the problem of evil are closely related to free will. The freewill argument that Augustine makes is supported by Genesis –when Adam chooses to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge. God created people ad his angels with freewill. The ability to make their own choices allows the people to sometimes choose evil. Even the angels of God-beings who are the epitome of God’s goodness revolted against God. They did that because they had free will. It is their ability to choose that made them rebellious. From Plato’s Timaeus Augustine takes the belief that the heavens and earth are perfect because they contain a large variety of people and specie sin them. God created the Earth and the heavens perfectly and it’s the people that live in them who are imperfect. Even though the people have the choice to be divinely good, their choices prevent them from being evil. Augustine’s first argument against the Manichaens was because they questioned if God’s omnipotent. His total and absolute conviction of God is what made him conclude that evil is not a separate entity, and its existence is because of God creating his creations with freewill. Freewill allows people to make their own choices, therefore the choices we make is whether we uphold God’s goodness or we uphold choices that causes us to be in opposition to God’s goodness. The freedom to make the choices allow us to make In conclusion, Augustine’s earlier definitions on evil were not based on firm grounds, and it questioned his belief in God’s omnipotent and omniscient. Instead he concluded that evil instead of being a tangible force, it is more corporeal and rather than being an entity different from goodness, it is a lesser goodness-A goodness that is selfish and hatred-A goodness that has no conscience. Augustine concludes that God is goodness and that evil arises from s through the power that God gave us, the power to be able to make our own choices. The power that allows us to be different- the power that allow us to be individualsThe power of free will.

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