problem of evil: augustine, iranaeus and hick

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  • Created by: holly
  • Created on: 20-12-11 13:44


  1. God- god the creator is omnipotent and all good

  2. Harmonious Creation- creation is good and in the beginning was harmonious

  3. Hierachy of Beings- angles, humans, animals

  4. Privation- evil is a privation or lack of goodness in something

  5. The fall- angels and human being fall through their own free will and giving in to temptation. Sin enters the world through adam and eve.

  6. Natural evil- disharmony in the world follows the fall of angles leading to natural evil

  7. Free Will – is valuable so god sustains a world within which moral and natural evil occurs

  8. Aesthetic value- the existence of evil highlights the goodness of creation because of the contrast between god and evil


  • he was heavily influenced by the creation storys in genesis

  • NB he took the genesis accounts as literal account of the origins of the world and also as a mythological story that communicated calues and meaning.

  • We have to question ; are augustines ideas still a helpful way to answer the problems of evil?

God the creator

  • according to augustine god is; good, omnipotent and omniscient

  • 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 it means that if people are commiting these acts of evil god is sustaining and keeping alive those very people while they do these acts.

Privation and evil

  • augustine solves the problem of saying god is responsible for evil in the world by defining evil as privation

  • if we say evil we are saying something does not meet our expectations of what by nature it should be like this is why 'evil is not a substance' it is a lack of substance which makes humans uneasy

  • one example we could use is we know what bad grapes look and taste like as we know this is not what nature intended for them

  • evil is about not living up to expectations and it lacks a certain quality it should have

  • if you say a human being is evil you are saying that the way they behave does not match expectations about how human beings should behave

absence and lack

  • augustine is not concerned with saying that it is bad or evil for example he is not concerned that humans beings cannot breath underwater as this is now what humans beings are supposed to do

  • you should never expect human beings to be able to do this naturally and this means the ability is absent as you were never supposed to have it in the first place

  • privation or lack means you should have something but you do not

  • eg: if you acnnot walk- it is a lack of health you should have so this is privation

  • eg: if you are mean- its is a lack of good qualities and this is also privation

  • example


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