Augustine And Evil

Epicurus was one of the first philosophers to consider the problem of evil and his question; “if He is both willing and able (to take away all evils), which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?” , summarises concisely the issue which has been at the forefront of philosophical argument for thousands of years. To explore this question I will first consider what God is. In this essay I will refer to God in the orthodox monotheistic sense of the word as an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being. Likewise, evil refers to all that is bad in the world. Evil can then be divided into two categories- moral evil and natural evil. Natural evil is all bad that is not caused by humans such as …show more content…
Augustine (AD 354-430) who formed the concept of evil as ‘Privatio Boni’ . This consisted of evil existing not as an entity or force in itself but as a privation of good. He saw the whole of God’s creation as good but as it lacks the immutability or permanence of God it is capable of being corrupted. Augustine defined evil as a “loss of measure, order and form” or simply as an absence of good. This description does fit when considered in relation to natural evil, for example that a hurricane which destroys the homes of hundreds of people is a loss of order in the natural world. As pointed out by Hick, on the other hand this description is not so enduring in relation to moral evil. Much of moral evil is highly intelligent and sophisticated. A few examples of recent and terrible moral evil could be Hitler’s Nazi state, Guantanamo Bay, even the mind of psychopathic murderer. None of these can be adequately described as a lack of good. The cruelty and hatred that exists in the world cannot be described as an extreme absence of good but more accurately as a power or force in itself. One form of suffering or evil in the world is pain. Pain and pleasure are experientially co-ordinated in that Augustine would in theory describe pain as a privation of pleasure. The insufficiency of this explanation is clear to anyone who has experienced pain and thus shows Augustines ‘Privatio Boni’ to be …show more content…
Free will may be viewed in two opposing ways: compatibilism and incompatibilism. According to the compatibilist tradition an action can be both totally free and also entirely caused by previous events in that your choice of action is determined by your wants, desires, values, etc. Everitt describes compatibilism concisely as: “to say you act freely is compatible with saying that your action had a cause”. By contrast the incompatibilist view, more popular among theists, does not allow an action to be both free and caused by prior events. For a choice to be genuinely free nothing must occur which guarantees the outcome of a decision, prior events may only have an influence on the free

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