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St. Augustine: Thoughts On Good And Evil

1056 words - 4 pages

Author Claudia Gray stated, “Self-knowledge is better than self-control any day” (Goodreads). Evil and sin exists in our world today and the temptation they bring bounds many human’s spiritual being. Finding the root of all evil is a hard and torturous concept to understand, but knowing one’s own free will helps bring understanding and deliverance from the evils of the world. Throughout the book Confessions Saint Augustine “ponders the concepts of evil and sin and searches the root of their being” (Augustine 15). The existence of evil is one of the most worrisome challenges a Christian or any individual deals with throughout life. Saint Augustine’s beliefs concerning the root of all evil and sins transforms as he begins to grow and develop in the knowledge of his free will and spiritual being. Early on, he believes “God created all things and evil is a thing, therefore God created evil” (Augustine 73-74). From this he conceives the notion that God cannot be good if he knowingly created evil. As Augustine begins to grow in his spiritual walk, his views begin to evolve as he questions his Manichee’s beliefs and explores the concepts of good and evil. From his inquiring Augustine develops the question, what is evil and what if evil did not need creating? He asks, “Do we have any convincing evidence that a good God exists” (Augustine 136-137)?
In Augustine’s younger days he explored the concepts of Manicheism and studied the Manichee doctrine for nearly ten years. “Confused and bound by the ideas of his Manichee, Augustine’s interaction with astronomy and philosophy convict him that the Manichee beliefs are not the true truth” (Augustine 3, 135-136). Through the Manichee sect he was taught that God was not omnipotent and struggled against the substance of evil. They believed that nothing differed between the soul of God and the soul of man. The more Augustine drew closer to the Manichee doctrine the more he began to reflect on his life early on. By believing that God is not all-powerful he is delayed from knowing the true essence of God. The origin of evil is a major theme that helps formulate Augustine’s Confessions. Still growing in his beliefs, “Augustine could not understand how evil could exist in the world if God was omnipotent” (Augustine 137). In the mist of his confusion, “the Manichee taught Augustine that evil is a separate substance against which God is constantly battling” (Augustine134-135). As he continued to reflect on previous experiences from his youth, he began to question to Manichee on his teaching. He then comes to realize that evil has no existence of its own, but it is entirely a product of the contrast between greater and lesser goods. Augustine develops in his conclusion that “God no longer created evil because evil is not a thing” (Augustine 137).
From the reflection of Augustine’s past experiences he realized that since God is good, he couldn’t create lesser goods. His personal spiritual journey drew him to look at...

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