St Augustine's Problem Of Evil + Free Will

3381 words - 14 pages

The existence of evil is one of the world’s most vexing challenges. Most Christians agree on the existence of an omnipotent God, however like Augustine, we struggle to understand how evil comes into being. Evil corrupts our free will and enables us to sin, but if God is all-powerful and all good, how can he allow this to happen? “Whence comes evil? Was there a certain evil matter out of which he made these things? Did he form and fashion it, but yet leave within it something that he would not convert into good? Why would he do it? Was he powerless to turn and change all this matter so that no evil would remain in it, even though he is all powerful?” As these questions found their way into ...view middle of the document...

“What is nothing cannot be known.”
In Augustine’s mind there are two main explanations for evil in this world. One explanation is how it exists as a nonbeing and privation of the good. The other is of evil as the lesser good (hierarchy of goods). Throughout his works, Augustine argues in favor of the idea that God creates all that is good but not evil. Therefore the fact that he creates “free will” or gives us the ability to freely choose suggests free will in itself is good, because God only creates good. God creates free will intentionally, there is a purpose for free will to be granted to each and every man. “The fact that man cannot lead an upright life without it is sufficient reason why God should have given it [free will.]” To my understanding, throughout Augustine’s confession, the necessity of free will becomes very evident. The choices that Augustine makes through his adolescence up to his conversion truly makes Augustine find the righteous path to infinite happiness, in other words, God. If God had not granted Augustine free will to choose to look for God, Augustine may have not found Him. Free will is the means by which Augustine understands that things in this world would only give us momentary, finite satisfaction. If not for his many struggles and the experiences that shaped his adolescent years Augustine would not have embarked in the journey to find God. Augustine makes the bold statement that his journey in The Confessions of Saint Augustine can be considered the “struggle” of all Christian men. Free will along with God’s Divine Providence plan would eventually, lead to the greatest good of all, God, despite men’s sinful disposition. Augustine’s theodicy can be summarized as human’s abuse of free will by seeking to find true and infinite satisfaction in the materialistic world we inhabit.
Augustine feels that those people or things that choose to move away from doing good create evil. Free will is the key factor in determining whether you want to be good or evil. It is one person’s choice to diverge from the “right” path, that being goodness. Throughout history many examples can support this idea of evil being created by individuals who decided not to follow the “right way” whether it maybe religiously, politically, or socially. But as Augustine mentions throughout his text, you must start at the origin of good or evil. The creation story, which can be found in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, is the most well known story of “Original sin” where original sin is created by Adam and Even’s disobedience to God. While reading this text, the reader can see how Augustine’s philosophies connect to the story. The creation story is a prime example of how God creates good while man decides to create evil by not following the right course determined by his creator. In the beginning of the passage, the Bible describes the creation of Earth and heavens and how it took place.
“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had...

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