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Augustine's Theodicy

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by

Maryam Khan

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of Augustine's Theodicy

St Augustine [354-430] is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in western Christianity. Augustine of Hippo St Augustine presented a theodicy which is 'the justification of God' in light of evil. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) converted to Christianity from Manichaeism. Manichaeism believe that something pre-exists creation apart from God and is so co-eternal with God. A good & evil God exist together therefore there is no problem of evil.
As there are two opposing natures exist from the beginning light (good) and darkness (evil). Manichaeism can see to influence Augustine's theodicy, he has taken the Manichaeistic concept of God which can bring tranquil pleasure and is linked to God's creation.
The dark becomes the evil which disrupts the harmony of the good creation. St Augustine of Hippo (354-430) The first part of Augustine's argument is of privation then the second part is the fall. Augustine argues that the universe is good and it is the creation of a good God for a good purpose, Genesis describes the creation of the world by God as being good. Augustine said there were higher and lower goods but everything was good in its own way. Augustine called evil the privation of good and said that it was not a substance, merely the going wrong of something good.
Augustine proposed that evil and suffering do not exist as real things in their own right: they are merely a lack of what is good. Darkness, for example is not a real 'thing', it is simply an absence of light. Augustine thought that all evil and suffering could be explained by the lack of something good and so called them privatio boni (Latin for 'lacking in goodness'). As God only made things that exist, he cannot be held responsible for evil and suffering. It is worth remembering that many people reject the idea of privatio boni. One argument is that God created the conditions in which evil and suffering were possible and so must take at least some responsibility.
Augustine's Argument The fall, described in Genesis 3, is the key to understanding Augustine's
thought. Adam and Eve (representing all humanity) are enticed by a seeming good
(the fruit of the tree of knowledge) which has set itself in opposition to the highest good (God).
The result is the Shame and corruption of Adam and eve. Augustine believed that this process has also taken place in the angelic realm, seeing that account in Revelation 12:7-9 of the expulsion of Satan and some of his fellow angels from heaven as a result of their misuse of free will.
God foresaw humanity's misuse of free will and therefore planned the redemption of humanity through Christ. Some people will still go to hell but this will be as a result of their abuse of their own free will. Others will turn to Christ and be saved.
•Augustine said that God did not create evil but it came about when angels and humans turned their back on the higher good (God) and settled for lesser goods as they had freewill and they ceased to be what they were created to be
•This caused the fall and the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve highlights the disobedience of humanity and its consequences
•This disrupted the delicate balance of the world and the state of perfection was ruined
•Augustine believed that the sin of Adam was passed onto all humans and this is original sin and is present
•Augustine says God is right not to intervene with suffering as people who obey him will have an eternal life and those who reject him will have eternal torment, he also said that rather than giving everyone their rightful punishment in hell, he sent Jesus down to die for our sins so those who accept God can have eternal life The Fall All humans beings (and, for Augustine, angels too)
are created with free will, which is evidence of God's
goodness (granting his creatures the ability to be
free and independent the chance to grow to moral
maturity instead of being moral robots). This free
will can be abused by turning away from God and
his goodness.
The result of this is evil and suffering.
Full transcript