The Problem of Evil: Augustine

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Augustine’s book is called
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Confessions
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Augustine’s quote
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\”Either God cannot abolish evil, or he will not. If he *cannot* then he is *not all powerful* If he *will not* then he is not *all good*
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Assumptions from Augustinian Quotes
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An all powerful, all good God would *eliminate evil as far as possible*
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Greek philosopher Epicurus defined the problem of evil in the quote …
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1). Is God *willing* to prevent evil but *not able* then he is not *omnipotent* 2). If God is *able* to prevent evil but *not willing* then he is *melevolent* 3). If good is *able* to prevent evil then why is there evil?
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*logical* problem of evil J. L. Mackie
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*Deductive argument* attempts to prove that God’s existence is logically incomparable with Evil 1). *J. L. Mackie*
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What is a theist response to the argument put forward by J. L. Mackie
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> what kind of choice do humans have if they cannot choose to do evil and only do good? > It is dependant on how you *define free will*
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Sheer amount of evil outweigh the amount of good?
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Murders – Hitler Rapes Even evil within the animal kingdom
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Different types of evil
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1). *Natural* evil 2). *Moral* evil: – caused by human beings – not animals as they can’t think *rationally*
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Augustine’s Theodicy explaining evil
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1). Evil is caused by creatures using their free will 2). Evil is necessary for people to develop more valuable qualities e.g. compassion 3). Developing a different understanding of the nature of God
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What is a theocracies
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Rational effort to explain how evil can exist in a world if God exists
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*Introduction* for Augustine paragraph for a essay
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Augustine was heavily influenced by the *Creation Stories* Genesis 1-3
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Outline Augustine’s theodicy
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1). *God is the Creator* – all good – all powerful 2). Creation is *good* & it was harmonious Genesis: \”God saw all that he had made and it was good\” 3). Evil is a privation of good – as it was not created 4). The *Fall* : Humans gave into their temptations through free choices (free will choose to disobey god they create an *absence of good within themselves* 5). *Sin entered the world*
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Importance of natural evil
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Highlights the goodness of creation because of the contrast between good & evil
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What does Augustine think is the reason for natural evil?
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Disharmony following the Fall *meant that angels turned away* leading to natural evil Devils are sometimes described as fallen angels. Creation was perfect, bringing disharmony into the world and the actions of the devils cause natural evil.
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Augustine: Is God responsible for the universe?
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Solves the problem of God being responsible for evil in the world by defining evil as a privation
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How did Augustine quote evil
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‘evil is not a substance’ – confessions
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Why did God create a world with evil in it? (Augustine)
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If evil continues and God continues to allow evil to happen, then God is keeping those people alive who are committing evil
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Humans acting in an evil manner
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Is just them not being up to the expectations of how a human should behave. It is the failure to be what you should do that is wrong For example, if you are mean you lack the qualities of generosity and charity
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Quote from Confessions (Augustine) about lacking good and causing evil
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\”If there were no good in them then there would be nothing capable of being corrupted\” \”All evil is sin… or punishment for sin\”
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Inconsistent Triad
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God is not omnipotent God is not omnibenevolent or evil does not exist
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What is the analogy Augustine uses to explain the evil
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‘Privation of sight’
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*Evidential* problem of evil
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*Inductive* argument Does not claim that God’s existence is incompletely with the existence of evil but the existence of evil makes God’s existence unlikely
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MACKIE ARGUMENT
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Premise 1 Evil and suffering exist Premise 2 God is all loving and all powerful Premise 3 An all powerful, all loving God would remove suffering Conclusion: God does not exist
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Why is this deductive argument good?
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If the *premises are true* then we have to *accept the conclusion*
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Why is this deductive argument bad?
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It means that if we can show that any of the *premises is false* then we have *invalidated the argument*
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Evaluating Premise 1: Evil & suffering exist
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Some thinkers don’t think evil exists – just the absence of good – therefore doesn’t exist evil and suffering are just human illusions names given to situations when our own motivations are not satisfied
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Evaluating Premise 2: God is all-loving & all powerful
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Although theists, such as Jews, Christians and Muslims would agree Deism – belief in a non personal god God does not have these characteristics
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Evaluating Premise 3: An all powerful, all loving God would remove suffering
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Some argue God does not want to remove all suffering because he has legitimate reasons for it’s existence – God has a *plan* Most commonly, through suffering God can bring about some *higher good* Some argue it is *logically impossible to remove evil* – it is like trying to have a world with up but not down
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Augusitine’s ‘Doctrine of Original Sin’
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All humans share responsibility for evil as all are guilty of sin
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God and forgiveness (Augustine)
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God is forgiving – Jesus Shows forgiveness for those who repent Eternal happiness for those who repent
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Criticisms of Augustine’s theodicy 1 – Schiermacher
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1). Augustine maintains that it is a perfect world but Schiermacher argued that It is a *logical contradiction* that God created a perfect world had gone wrong Either it was not perfect to begin with or God enabled the world to go wrong
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Criticisms of Augustine’s theodicy 2 –
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2). How could *perfect beings choose to do wrong?* – if it is a contradiction for a perfect world to go wrong, then it also seems to be a contradiction that perfectly created beings would choose to do wrong. If goodness is in our nature, why would we choose evil?
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Criticisms of Augustine’s theodicy 3
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Was the world *truly made perfect*? Augustine relies heavily on the Creation Stories but it is a *contradiction evidence of science*. *Evolution* suggests that humans have risen above their *violent animal instincts*, rather than *fallen from some state of grace* The *Doctrine of the Fall of Man* are seriously brought into question
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Criticisms of Augustine’s theodicy 4
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Is it reasonable to say that suffering isn’t real? By calling evil a ‘privation of good’ is Augustine not denying the reality of the problem. Example – grieving parent – it is not real just a privation of good??
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Irenaeus
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Genesis 1:26 \”Let us make mankind in *our image* in our *likeliness*\” Irenaeus interpreted this to mean that there are *two stages to the creation of human beings* 1). Firstly humans are created in the *image of god* – this does not mean a physical image (since god is not physical) but humans share characteristics 2). Humans start a process of *growing into the likeliness of God* Humans are not created perfect, but rather with the *potential to become perfect*
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Why did God not create humans perfect (Irenaeus)
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Although God could have created humans to be perfect, the morality that has been developed through hard work and the *use of free will* is *intricately more valuable* than a morality that has been readily made or pre-programmed. If we had a ready made morality we would have no free will as we would be programmed to do God’s will
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Does Irenaeus think the world / humans are *made perfect*?
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for humans to genuinely exercise their free in the persecute of moral development, then they need to live in a world where pain and suffering are real Because in a world where pain and suffering are not real, then our actions could have *no real consequences*
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Irenaeus quote about challenges
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\”For in a paradise there would be no challenges\”
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John Hick and ‘Soul making’
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the process to describe moral growth
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According to John Hick why does God not intervene to prevent human suffering
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> It would *undermine* human freedom > Because God created us with an *epistemic distance*
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What is *epistemic distance*
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God deliberately created us so that his existence is uncertain. If we could see God looking down on us we would act morally out of a fear of punishment rather than seeking virtue for the sake of moral growth. like constant 24 hour CCTV
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What do Hick & Irenaeus say about the purpose of evil
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Evil allows suffering in order to achieve a higher goal of moral development
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What about the people who don’t achieve moral development?
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Belief in *universal salvation* – everyone makes it to Heaven
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Criticisms of the Irenaeus Theology 1
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1). Do the ends justify the means Is it acceptable to so something bad in order to do something good.
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Criticisms of the Irenaeus Theology 2
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Does all suffering result in moral growth? Overly optimistic view of suffering. Often leads to moral degradation. Can indiscriminate suffering lead to moral development example: does a still born or a high school shooting make the world a better place
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Criticisms of the Irenaeus Theology 3
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Is suffering the only way to grow morally? There are other events that can lead to an improvement In someone’s character, e.g. participating in team sports. Could God not have created a world without evil but with other challenges to help to create
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Criticisms of the Irenaeus Theology 4
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Is universal salvation fair? What is the purpose of acting morally if eventually everyone goes to Heaven? Do my actions now have consequences?

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