Strengths and Weaknesses of Augustine's Theodicy

Once again, rather than advantages and disadvantages i'm doing a strengths and weakness evaluation which will be most helpful for the part B philosophy questions (10 marks)


Strengths and Weaknesses of Augustine's Theodicy


  • The idea that evil can arise when people exercise free will fits in with what we see in the world around us
  • Aquinas - supports Augustine and adds that natural evil is only from evil from our perspective (for example like a cat eating a mouse)
  • Swinburne - agrees to the extent of saying death is a greater good as without it you'd never achieve anything as you'd have eternity to do things on earth
  • Seems logical that God gave us free will and us disobeying it created evil which does not make us question the nature of God


  • The concept of evil being a privation yet not part of God's creation seems illogical
  • People who are suffering may not find the theodicy convincing
  • If the world began perfect then where could Adam and Eve find out about evil? Did the understanding of evil stem from God?
  • Goes against the theory of evolution that humans began perfect
  • Where did hell and satan come from? surely God made them too
  • Vardy said that there was no way to justify dysteleological (excess) suffering which can be used against Swinburne
  • Evil seems to be more definite than a privation of good! [child cruelty?]
  • If God was omniscient he would already have known Adam and Eve would do the wrong thing so why did he tempt them?
  • Flew and Mackie argued that God could have created humans with free will who only chose good
  • Omnibenevolence is questioned = why did he give some angels too little grace


Although the theodicy is stronger than Irenaeus' in the way that it aliviates the problem of evil from Gods doing, there are obvious flaws especially in how evil came about; the fall of the angels and Adam and Eve. Why did he chose some angels to have lesser grace than others? This presents us with a God whom can be seen as bias.. and if he is omniscient as it is claimed, why would he tempt Adam and Eve when he knew they would choose the wrong thing? Did God want humans to suffer? As for his justification that evil is a privation and not a thing, why is there so much lack of good in the world, evidence suggests that evil is a prominent thing. 


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