Explain Augustine`s theodicy (25 marks)

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Explain Augustine`s theodicy (25 marks)

Theodicies arise from the need to disprove the inconsistent triad, God is omnipotent, God is omnibenevolent and evil exists. The three are logically inconsistent. If God is omnipotent, he is aware of the existing evil and suffering and knows how to put a stop to it. If God is omnibenevolent he will want to put a stop to it. Yet evil and suffering does exist. Therefore theodicies attempt to justify the existence of classical theist God while maintaining the existence of evil.

St. Augustine is a fourth century philosopher who took the Genesis story of The Fall literally, and uses it to argue that God had intended for the world to be perfect, however due to humans disobeying him, they had brought about evil. Firstly he believes that creation was good; this goodness reflects the goodness of the creator but also accepts that Man is “mutable” because he is made out of nothing. He is a contingent being and has the real possibility of becoming evil as a created autonomous being must possess the real possibility of turning away from God.


This all links to free will; Augustine argues that evil is a result of humans abusing the gift of free will. Humans were created perfect, but with the capacity to make choices and decisions for evil as well as good. Through the use of free will, humankind realised the potential for evil and created a gap between God and human beings. As Peter Cole stated, "the creation of free creatures involved the risk that persons would misuse their freedom and reject the good, and this is what happened"- that, however, begs the question as to why, with that risk in mind, did God create the universe? Human free will means that God would not interfere to prevent humans committing acts that were either evil in themselves, or that brought about evil consequences. As, logically, it was impossible for God to create human beings who freely only ever performed good acts, Free Will would inevitably lead to evil and suffering.

 In Genesis 3, the story of Adam and Eve, the serpent convinces Eve to pick from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that she was forbidden by God to pick from. She was tempted by the serpent, and as


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