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Augustine's Theodicy


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Although this is a key topic for AS Level Philosophy, it is also crucial and useful for A2 Philosophy too.

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Augustine's Theodicy

  1. 1. Theodicy – from (theos = God) and (dike = righteous) A justification of the righteousness of God, which attempts to solve the theological problem of the existence of evil. Augustine’s theodicy is a collection of his beliefs about good and evil.
  2. 2. God: God the creator, is omnipotent and all good. Harmonious creation: Creation is good and in the beginning was harmonious. Hierarchy of beings: God, realm of Angels, human world, natural world. Privation: Evil is a privation or lack of goodness in something. The fall: Angels and humans beings fall through their own free choices and giving in to temptation. Sin enters the world through Adam and Eve. Natural evil: Disharmony in the world follows the fall of Angels leading to natural evil. Free will: Free will is valuable so God sustains a world within which moral and natural evil occurs. Aesthetic value: The existence of evil highlights the goodness of creation because of the contrast between good and evil.
  3. 3. Augustine had a traditional view of God. God’s attributes are omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient. Because God is all good and perfect, his creation is all good and perfect, therefore harmonious as presented in Genesis 3. If God is good and he is omnipotent, and he created the world, why is evil in it? If God created the universe and continues to sustain it in existence for every moment of every day, it means that is people commit acts of evil, God is sustaining and keeping alive those very people while they do those acts.
  4. 4. Privation of good is an absence or lack of good, therefore evil is a privation. e.g. Blindness – you are unable to see therefore you are lacking in ‘sight’. Evil came about as a result of the misuse of free will. Moral evil and natural evil comes from moral choice – people choose what they do (free will). People’s response to evil decides their destiny (soul-deciding). Evil was brought into the world by fallen Angels and then Adam and Eve, tempted by the snake, disobeyed God.
  5. 5. The fall of Adam and Eve is when they choose to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They used their free will to choose to do something they were told not to do. This is the first sin (original sin) so the rest of the sins in the world, enter through Adam and Eve (as written in Roman 5:12-20). God planned the fall (planned redemption) so that he could be present on Earth as an incarnation of Jesus Christ to free people and guide them on the right path. At the end of time, there will be judgement so the good will be rewarded and be sent to heaven, the bad will be punished and sent to hell.
  6. 6. Because evil exists, it highlights the goodness of creation because of the contrast between good and evil. It makes it easier to see what is regarded as a good action and what is an evil action. The difference between the two allows them to be easily distinguished from each other.
  7. 7. 1. God – at the top of the hierarchy because God created everything. Because God is perfect, it means he cannot be lacking anything and can be no different or better. 2. The realm of Angels – fallen Angels who chose to turn away from God, brought this evil into the human world. 3. The human world – God created a perfect world but due to original sin, the human world has been punished with natural disasters and suffering. 4. The natural world – God created this world to also be perfect but as a punishment, natural disasters and other consequences are a result of evil.