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Origin Of Evil In The Confessions By Augustine

913 words - 4 pages

In the Confessions, Augustine wrote about his struggle with understanding how evil exists in a world created by God. He questioned how it was possible and why God allows evil in his creations because God is supremely good. After delving into finding a solution, Augustine concluded that evil does not exist, and the things deemed as evil are caused by free will. This paper will argue that Augustine has successfully proven that evil does not exist by explaining his earlier explanation of the origin of evil taught by the Manicheans, explaining Augustine’s teachings, and finally, using the textual descriptions of Augustine’s unwillingness to convert as support for his conclusion.
When Augustine joined the Manicheans he was faced with questions about evil and its origin which allowed the group to teach Augustine the Manichean ideas of evils source. The Manichean belief is not explicitly explained by Augustine (maybe because the people of Augustine’s time already knew about the Manicheans). The texts glossary explains the allusion by explaining that the Manicheans attributed evil to an evil force (Satan) that is in combat with God (Confessions 330). This evil is thought to have elements which are also evil and in one of these, the human body was included, meaning humans are inherently evil (Confessions Glossary. 330). The inherent evil conflicts with Augustine’s view which attributes the origin of evil to a will favoring lesser things, because this claims that “Human beings therefore, are not ultimately responsible for their own actions” (Confessions Glossary. p. 330). This would mean that God had created evil things, which is in direct conflict with Gods good nature and evil is caused by the divine. Augustine ultimately rejected the Manichean ideals for Christian ideals which focus on human free will as the cause of what seems to be evil.
Unlike the Manichean teachings Augustine once believed, the Saint developed a teaching in which evil does not truly exist and what humans call evil originates from free will, which allows them to make their own decisions. To explain Augustine’s argument for why evil does not exist, one must understand that Augustine presumes that God “who is good made all things good” and that premise provides the basic reason evil is not a part of the world (Confessions VII. 5, p.121). Augustine’s statement creates an understanding that since God created everything and only made things good nothing can be evil. Furthermore, Augustine considers that maybe the material that God “formed and ordered” His creations with was evil and God must have left some part of it evil (Confessions VII. 5, p.122). Augustine ultimately rejected this idea because God, the supreme good, would not...

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