Augustine’s Confessions is an account of Augustine’s search of God and the source of evil throughout his life. He brings to light to the idea that God is infinite and all powerful and assumptions about the origin of evil. Augustine explores different religions such the Mani and Catholic Christianity and questions whether evil really exists or if its a result of free will. His finals claims come to the conclusion that God is an infinite spirit who is omnipresent and nothing he creates is evil and we sin because of free will. However, the reality is different, evil does exist. Goodness, evil and sin are the effects of human behaviour and interaction and have no connection to whether God exists or not.
Augustine ultimately comes to solve the “problem of evil “ by coming to the conclusion that God is a spirit that can’t be contained in any physical form. As God who is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving, is omnipresent. He exists everywhere all time and he can’t do that if he were enclosed in a physical body or form. He is also considered to be infinite and cannot be corrupted as goodness originates from God himself. God is not flawed, God is perfect and only creates good.
Only the lesser good such as human beings can be corrupted because we are accountable to variation. God does not change, God is unchangeable and the ultimate source of good thus anything and everything he creates is good. Which is why Augustine comes to the conclusion that evil does not exist. Evil is only the absence of good, so evil is equal to nothing.
Things that are considered to be evil are only so because of the way we perceive things. If we took it and looked at it independently, nothing is truly evil in its own sense. Even if we wanted to change it we would still have to appreciate them as they were created by the hands of God.
As Augustine further roped in the ideas of Christian faith, some of Augustine’s assumptions were diviced with Plato. One of the main assumptions was the idea that “ Since to exist is for a Platonist to be a substance, evil has no substance” (Augustine’s Confessions – New translation by Henry Chadwick Oxford World Classics – Introduction xx ) and God has the greatest existence as God is infinite, unchangeable and forever existing. He also believed in the fact that experiencing hardship is better than sinning. Augustine also puts forth the idea that sin and the nature of evil is that fear alone is evil. Evil is just the absence of good. We exist less than God and are open to corruption because we are not self-sufficient or permanent and we are not perfect. Evil is also ignorance and weakness. Evil does not exist because God only creates goodness.
Sin is anything that is considered to be disobeying God’s will. Sin only occurs because of the free will we have been given. Giving in to your temptations is a sin as the human will is flawed.
Augustine’s assumptions can be somewhat taken as true but if you look at it a bit further it is nothing but overthinking. “ He gave it form and order, but did he leave it in a element which he could not transform into good ? If so why ? Was he powerless to turn and transform so all matter so that evil remained, even though God is omnipotent ?” ( Augustine’s Confessions – New translation by Henry Chadwick Oxford World Classics Pg. 116 ) “Augustine does not have a clear answer to as why evil exists or where it comes from other than the fact that he decides that evil does not exist and says its so because God is good. He does not have a reason to as why the all powerful and all loving god lets evil things happen or even allows it to exist.
If we go back to the point in Augustine’s life where he says “ If I were to regard them in isolation, I would indeed wish for something better; but now even when they are taken alone, my duty is to praise you for them.” ( Augustine’s Confessions – New translation by Henry Chadwick Oxford World Classics Pg. 125 ) He becomes ignorant of the fact that evil cannot be changed and does exist and milks on the idea that God only creates good so we should praise him anyway for whatever he creates, whether its good or not.
Augustine, however does state that sin exists because of free will thus, sin is evil. Indirectly in his words evil is sin, thus, evil has existence. If ignorance is a sin and being ignorant of the fact that evil truly does exist is a sin itself. Augustine in order to embrace goodness rejects the existence of evil not the actual evil because he fails to recognize it.
Ultimately Augustine’s view on sin, goodness and reality and evil are not reasonable. They are ignorant and are not objective and only focus on making God good and evil non existent. He does not take into account the possibilities of God creating evil as he has also created imperfect beings and things. He also does not consider the idea of balance as only looks at it as good or evil and not as good and evil. How can actually we know what is good without evil and the extent of goodness without the extent of evil.
Augustine also has only looked into two or three religions. There many religions in the world all with different ideas and views on sin and goodness and the existence of God. His exploration of religion is narrow and very limited, thus his knowledge and view on sin, goodness and reality and evil is also limited. His questions and assumptions can be challenged by others seeking the same truth who have greater knowledge about various other religions and who may have gained better and newer perspectives from them.
Thus, the problem of evil has not been solved adequately as he only takes limited religions into perspective. He also only focuses on the proving his idea to be true even if it means being oblivious to certain oppositions and questions regarding the matter of evil. Augustine who has experienced and has somewhat been evil comes to deny the fact that evil does not exist is contradicting and unconvincing.
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