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Augustine's theodicy

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Introduction

Explain Augustine's theodicy A theodicy is a philosophical or theological study which attempts to satisfy the problem of the existence of evil and suffering alongside that of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. The Christian approach to the problem of evil has largely been based on two Theodicies, the Irenaean and the Augustine. Both use the defence of free-will as their basic answer to the question, but they differ substantially in their response. Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD) based his theodicy on key Biblical passages, such as Genesis 3 and Romans 5. Genesis 3 is the story of Adam and Eve and their 'Fall' in Garden of Eden. This is the story of the serpent convincing the woman to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. Eve eats the fruit and also passes some to Adam. Because of this disobedience, God has them evicted from the garden and from thenceforth humans are labelled with 'original sin'. In Romans 5, Paul describes belief that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross removed this label of 'original sin', and that in his self-sacrifice Jesus has made available the ability to become truly good and righteous. ...read more.

Middle

Central to Augustine's theory is that of deprivation i.e. evil is not a substance; it is the absence of something. Augustine uses the analogy of blindness to explain this. Blindness is not an entity but the absence of sight, much in the same way that evil is not an entity but an absence of good. For Augustine, this means that evil came about as a direct result of the misuse of free will. He includes that both natural and moral evil are consequences of this abuse. Natural evil has come about through an imbalance in nature brought about by this misuse of free will and moral evil through the imbalance in the human creation and a punishment for the sin which Adam and Eve committed. In the Bible, there is evidence to support this theodicy that the world is suffering through the act of God making reconciliation possible through the coming of Jesus of Nazareth: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:16-17) A modern addition to Augustine's theory can be found in Plantinga's God, Freedom and Evil in which he claims that for God to have created a being that could perform good actions and act morally rightly would be logically impossible. ...read more.

Conclusion

However both reasoned theodicies leave God as the main producer of evil and reason for suffering. However, these reason arguments, whilst not accounting for the evil themselves, do gives us options to establish a true answers. Simply because one is not fool-proof does not mean that there is no way for accounting for evil in the world. The only problem is that reasoned arguments all come from human thought processes, and human thought processes, if our understanding of evil and suffering is correct, are contaminated by this dissonant harmony which we have within our world. Therefore, any reasoned arguments we come up with to explain evil and suffering in the world will simply be falsified by the very substance we are trying to explain. Human beings have only way of universally proving the existence of divinity or suffering, and that is reason arguments. There may be a reason that we have never truly understood completely the nature of divinity and that is because we cannot. Our logic has been contaminated by evil and the only way we can account for evil is to have faith in God and accept that there are some things that can only be account for under a divine creator which have no way of expressing. ...read more.

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