Augustine: Free Choices of Will Essay

1010 Words Oct 10th, 2012 5 Pages
Free Will

St. Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will elaborates on the relationship between God, free will, and evil. During the very beginning of Book One, he asks the question, “isn’t God the cause of evil” (Cahn 357). From this question, it can be ascertained that he searches for a connection between God and evil (sins), which inferred in the writing to be connected though free will. He believes that God does not create evil, but rather that evil is simply the lack of good, since God is completely good and, therefore, cannot create evil. God not being the source of evil is then further elaborated through his explanation of a crime and how it is caused by inordinate desires and human abuse of good things (Cahn 360). By explaining
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However, since he is not directly the creator of evil and everything is inherently good, Augustine’s argument that God’s hands are ‘clean’ of evil is logically sound.

Augustine’s assessment of free will being the cause of evil is also a logically sound argument. By providing an example of a mistreated slave killing his owner as a result of his innate desire (Cahn 360), he shows that it was through the slave’s ‘free will’ that evil was done. This shows that God, since he has given humans free will, had no part in said evil, since if he has indeed given the slave free will, then the creation of evil was entirely in the slave’s hands. If free will is indeed given to humans by God for the purpose of deciding if they can keep righteous through temptations, then it is clearly shown here that this is true. What a person manufactures in his mind is influenced by his surroundings and himself (multiple factors) and what he decides to do (free will) is completely in his hands. This logic shows that free will is the cause of evil.

However, there is a major factor which I also disagree with and unravels much of the argument for me. The main issue is that God is omnipotent, but has given humans free will. That in itself is a huge contradiction, which Augustine attempts to answer by saying that “God foreknows this

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