Evil can be categorized into two forms, moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is brought about by bad choices that stem from our free will. Natural evil is bad things that happen to people, whether they deserve them or not. The problem with evil is,
“Either we must say that God is not wholly good, and that he permits or is even the author of evil. Or we must say that God is not omnipotent, and although he is wholly good and would prevent evil if he could, he is powerless to stop it.” (Fitzgerald 340).
This is a significant problem to the revealed religions because they believe in a wholly good and omnipotent God. Why then, would this God allow evil? In this paper, I will provide, explain, and evaluate St. Augustine of Hippo’s solution to this question. Augustine feels that evil stems from choice and free will. He doesn’t see evil as its own being, rather it is the absence of good. Anything that is, since it came from God, is good, “The highest good, than which there is no higher, is God, and consequently He is unchangeable good, hence truly eternal and truly immortal. All other good things are only from Him, not of Him.” (Bourke 48). Evil is just a perversion of this good.
Since all things are made from God, they start out solely good. Evil comes into play when this innate good gets corrupted. Augustine said, “For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good?” (Bourke 65). He defines evil as,
“…what is evil, which is nothing else than corruption, either of the measure, or the form, or the order, that belong to nature. Nature therefore which has been corrupted is called evil, for assuredly when incorrupt it is good; but even when corrupt, so far as it is nature it is good, so far as it is corrupted it is evil.” (Bourke 49).
It follows then that there can be nothing that is solely evil, because all good would have to be absent, but since being is essentially good, a completely evil entity could not be, “For however small or of whatever kind the being may be, the good which makes it a being cannot be destroyed without destroying the being itself.” (Bourke 66). This would be similar to taking pieces out of a wooden wheel. The more slices that are removed, the worse the wheel becomes, but it is still a wheel. Likewise a good person can become less good by being corrupted, but he still exists as a person as long as there is some form of good left. This small incorruptible good inside of us is like a piece of God in every living thing. Man can be corrupted like this because we can make morally wrong choices that deprive us of good. This is due to our free will.
God created mankind with the ability to make choices based on our own wants; this is known as free will. If free will did not exist, the world would be a very boring place. Imagine never being able to make your own decisions. God did not want this so he gave us the power to think on our own. We are rational beings and mostly make good decisions,...