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Naciima Hassan

Augustines Theodicy successfully justifies evil and suffering Discuss

Theodicy: the vindication of divine providence in view of the existence of evil. The main
issue for theists is the inconsistent triad. The inconsistent triad states that God cannot be
omnibenevolent and omnipotent while evil exists as it is contradicting each other. St
Augustine, in 'Confessions,' recognised this problem as he states: Either God is not able to
abolish evil or not willing; if he is not able then he is not all-powerful, if he is not willing then
he is not all-good." Augustines Theodicy is centred around two theories, privation of the
Good and the Free Will Defence. Augustines Theodicy does not successfully justify evil and
suffering as Augustine fails in three main areas; scientific, moral and logical problems.
Augustine held that there was a state of ignorant bliss in the Garden of Eden which was
unbalanced by the Fall. This is at odds with Darwins theory of evolution by natural
selection. If God can be held responsible for the system by which the natural world works,
he should be held responsible for the suffering that his system causes. Augustines theodicy
puts all the blame on the first humans yet all suffer. Why should people suffer for past
generations? Biologically it has been proven that we are all not seminally present within
Adam. Therefore, why are we suffering for a random person? It does against Gods just
nature and omnibenevolent nature. Augustine states that hell is a part of Creation.
Therefore, God must be directly responsible for its creation, and therefore must have
foreseen the need for punishment.
Schleiermacher has discussed the logical error with Augustines theodicy. He argued that
there is a logical contradiction in the idea of a perfect world going wrong. Either the world
was not perfect to begin with which contradicts the genesis as it states He saw all that he
had made and it was good. The other alternative explanation is God enabled the world to
go wrong thus meaning He is responsible for the evil and ultimately suffering in the world.
Another logical contraction is that how can Eve and Adam choose to do wrong when in the
Genesis it states that humans had no knowledge of good and evil. Since good and evil
where unknown to Adam and Eve it must been that God is responsible. Thus leading to the
conclusion that God is responsible for evil and suffering. Thus making Augustines theodicy
weak and unsuccessful in justifying the evil and suffering within this world.
Moral issues also occur with Augustines Theodicy as would an omnibenevolent God punish
people for Adam and Eve's sin. Augustine's theodicy contains the idea that all people in the
world in this present day, are guilty of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve,
inheriting it as a part of their human nature and God being a just God continues to punish
people for Adam and Eve's disobedience. However, this goes against the idea of God being
omnibenevolent, as why would a loving God make innocent people suffer today, due to sin
committed by past generations, many years back.
Overall, Augustines theodicy does not explain as to why there is evil and suffering within
the world. It is a failed attempt with moral, logical and scientific errors. Augustine's theodicy
is based on many assumptions and draw illogical conclusions from them weakening his
argument.