Evaluating Augustine


Augustine's Strengths

Exaplains Moral Evil
This is a result of free will being misused. It started off with Adam and Eve in Paradise (the perfect world) and it continues to exist as others misuse it.
Augustine argues that free will is so valuable it justifies the existence of evil. (Links to Free Will Defence)
God can't make us have free will and make us make the right choices at the same time therefore evil must exist as we have free will.

Explains Natural Evil
Augustine explains this through the fact that when Adam and Eve brought sin into the world it knocked God's perfect world out of balance.
He justifies himself in allowing it to continue as a punishment for the sins mankind make.
Aquinas supports natural evil as he argues it can serve a good purpose in helping us develop virtues such as honesty, bravery,  kindness and courage.  

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Augustine's Strengths

Privation makes sense
Thinkers such as Brian Davies agree with Augustine, Augustine's view of evil matches the evil we experience in the real world therefore God didn't create it, as if something is in an 'absence' of something then God didn't create it as it isn't a 'thing' he could create.
Seeing as God created everything perfect he couldn't have created evil as it is an absence of perfection that was brought about by human beings when they unbalanced the perfectness in the world God created.

Heaven and Hell preserve God's perfection 
Even though we do suffer there will be a jusdgement day. On this day God will send those who are righteous to heaven and those who aren't to hell.
This means the lack of justice in the world will be put right on this day as creation will end up perfect again.
God gives us free will to make our own choices but in the end he acts in a just way when it comes to the better afterlife.  

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Augustine's Strengths

Predestination has positives
It fits the following christian teachings:

  • God is all powerful and all knowing. The fall was part of God's plan
  • God knows about us before we are born. God knowing the future is a regular part of the bible
  • Another recurring part of the Bible is that some will go to Heaven and some will go to Hell. 

Consistant with scripture
His theodicy fits well with the Christian teaching of Genesis. He basis it around Genesis 1:31, which shows God is infinitely powerful and good and that he made creation perfect and human beings brought evil into the world

Fits with the idea not everyone will go to Heaven. Davies is clear that the Biblical teachings are that only some will be saved and go to Heaven. (Seen in Matthew 25:41)
"then he will say to those on his left 'Depart frome me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'" 

Also predestination fits with Biblical teachings about God

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Augustine's Critiques

Logical Errors
Schleiermacher argues that if God made the world so perfect that knowledge of good and bad wasn't available then Adam and Eve couldn't have sinned. This knowledge was said by Augustine to come about after they ate from the Tree meaning they wouldn't have known they were disobeying God so couldn't have sinned. 
He also argues that it doesn't make logical sense that if God created the world perfect how did it go wrong. If it was created perfectly then it shouldn't have gone wrong. It doesn't make sense that something perfect could become imperfect, it also doesn't make sense that evil created itself out of nothing as the world was perfect. 

Scientific Errors
Hick has criticized the theodicy from a scientific point firslty as Augustine relies on a literal interpretation of Genesis for his theodicy to be true/work. Modern christians don't even have a literal belief in Genesis, his theodicy lacks plausibility as it doesn't take into count the idea of the Big Bang or evolution just a literal reliability on Gensis.
There are biological advances that can prove that Adam isa not seminally present in us all, he takes Adam as a literal being which he wasn't. Therefore there isn't a transmission of original sin from generation to generation meaning we can't be guilty for the sin adam committed.  

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Augustine's Critiques

Moral Errors
If God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent then why does he only save some? Surely he could save everyone, it seems immoral of the God in Augustine's theodicy to only save some and punish the rest. 
It is also immoral in the way God knew the world would fall into sin, yet he still allowed it to happen. If he allowed it to happen surely he is responsible for the evil in the world as he didn't chose to stop it happening.  

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