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The Two Kinds Of Evil According To Augustine

1679 words - 7 pages

God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, which makes us wonder what kind of morally sufficient reason justifies God to allow evil. We know that evil exists in our world, but so does God, so would God be the source of evil as well as good? We have established that God is the omnipotent and benevolent free creator of the world, but suffering and evil exist. Is God unable to prevent evil? If so, he would not be omnipotent. Is He able to prevent the evil in our world but unwilling? If this were then case then he wouldn’t be benevolent. A Persian thinker, Mani, suggested that the answer to this question was a kind of duality between the good and evil. This pluralistic view of the good and evil in our world would suggest that God is not omnipotent, which is why Augustine would reject Mani’s Manichaeism philosophy. Augustine later says that there are two kinds of evils: Moral evil, which would be the suffering from a result of the action of a rational being, and there is natural evil, which would be suffering that comes from physical events (i.e. natural disasters).
In De Libero Arbitrio Book I, Augustine states that Evil has no teacher, so when people do evil, they are the cause of their own suffering. The question then becomes, did we learn how to sin? Augustine would say that learning is classified as a good and therefore, we do not learn evil. Augustine states, teaching produces understanding , which would make understanding a good, and if understanding is good then a person who understands eternal law/morals will do good, therefore, evil cannot be taught because it does not produce true understanding of the eternal law . In order to move forward through Augustine’s argument it is important to understand what is considered evil. He would say that our inordinate desires, or lust, are “the love of those things that one can lose against ones will” .
Is all evildoing due to inordinate desires? For instance, when you kill someone out of self-defense, would that be considered an inordinate desire? Two laws determine the criteria by which we are allowed to kill: the eternal law and the temporal law . When we give in to our lustful desires, we receive temporal punishment, which is when we suffer for attaching ourselves to things that are lost against our will. Therefore, humans are only susceptible to temporal punishment if we commit evil acts through lust . Most of the time, our temporal punishments are results of evil actions except in a few cases when eternal law coincides with the temporal law. For instance, if a person using self-defense kills someone then they would be excused from their sins in the eternal world if they were true in their actions, whether or not they are proven innocent by temporal law . He also comments on a soldier in war and explaining his action of killing an enemy is “then acting as an agent of the law, and thus easily does his duty without lust” .
Both the eternal and temporal laws guarantee a perfect...

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