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Explain how Augustine accounts for the existence of evil.

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Introduction

Explain how Augustine accounts for the existence of evil. Augustine started from the assumption that God is God holy good and that God created a world free from defects. Following the teaching in genesis 1, Augustine emphasised that 'all God has made pleased Him.' Suffering and evil were therefore unknown. He made the logical point that it is not possible for God to be responsible for evil since evil is not a substance. Instead evil refers to what is lacking in a thing; it is a 'privation of good.' Augustine used the analogy of blindness which is not an entity in itself but an absence of sight. If God can not have created evil, Augustine traced its origin to those areas within the world that have free will, namely, angels and human beings. These abused God's gift of freedom and chose wilfully to turn their attention away from God, the supreme good, and to idolise instead 'lesser goods'. ...read more.

Middle

Augustine made the essential point that all humans, including innocent babies, deserve to suffer as all humans were present 'in the loins of Adam'. This reflects the ancient belief that every generation was seminally present in Adam, and therefore that every generation is guilty because they inherit his guilt for disobeying god. Augustine concluded this theodicy with a reminder of god's grace if god was simply just every one would go to their rightful punishment in hell. Through his grace however, god sent his son to die on the cross so that some might be saved and go to heaven. This shows that god is merciful as well as just. Augustine's view that evil is the result of human free will rather than god's will can be supported. For example, we can argue that if god gives human beings genuine free will this necessarily entails the possibility of moral evil. Augustine's theodicy successfully accounts for the existence of natural evil as a result of the introduction for moral evil into the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a result, much of the arguement rests upon ancient and scientifically controversial Judaeo-Christian theology. One problem is Augustine's idea that the world was made perfect by god and then damaged by humans. This contradicts evolutionary theory which asserts that the universe has continually been developing from an earlier stage of chaos. The second major weakness concerns Augustine's assumption that each human being was seminally present in Adam. This theory must be rejected on biological grounds which mean that we are not in fact guiltily for Adam's sin. This means that god is not just in allowing us to suffer for someone else's sin. One moral difficulty in Augustine's theodicy concerns his concept of hell. Hell appears to b part of the design of the universe. This means god must have already anticipated that the world would go wrong - and have accepted it. Finally, although Augustine argued that god's selection of some people for heaven shows his mercy, other would argue that it displays irrational inconsistency, further questioning god's goodness. The combined effect of these criticisms leads most people to concluded that Augustine's theodicy does not work. ...read more.

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