Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Section 10: Augustine’s theory of God vs. Baruch Spinoza’s theory; Installment 1



Intro: Part 1 installment introduces Augustine’s theory of God being an all-present being itself in relation to continuity of evil and free will, which will be compared to Bruch Spinoza’s theory of God being everything and also being completely impersonal and uncaring about anything or anyone, as well as comparison of Spinoza’s approach to free will to Augustine’s approach which will be discussed late on in Part 2 instalment.

St. Augustine regarded God as the all-present being itself. That He was a good and all-powerful who allows evil to take place in the world. Augustine was puzzled on the matter that if God was all-powerful and good, then why would He allow evil to take place in the first place? Assuming that everything comes from God, in a sense, Augustine noted that evil must come from God too. Augustine studied the root of cause of evil and why it continued to take place if God was able to stop it at any time. Augustine’s theory of evil allowed by God resulted in prompts which state that all things that God created are good, evil is not good, therefore, evil was not created by God. A second prompt Augustine created was that God created everything, God did not create evil, therefore, evil is not a thing.  In accordance with Augustine’s idea of God’s goodness was the notion of being. That anything that had being was god, with God being the ground for being perfectly good, and that everything He brought into being was good also. With the formation of this theory, Augustine again questions, what is evil? To say something is evil is a way of saying that something either lacks goodness, or is a lower order of goodness. With God being all good and everything He brought to be to be all good as well, Augustine came to a solution that one can only turn away from good, from a greater good to a lesser good since all thing are created by God and are thus good. Augustine’s ultimate solution the source of evil is that of free will. That when the will turns what is above itself turns to what is lower and results in becoming something evil. This is not because evil is not which it turns, but rather the turning from a greater good to a much lesser good is evil itself. 

Augustine added to his solution that free will was the cause of our ill doings as we turn aside from God to a lesser good. God has given us free will, which allows us to act morally, and thus decide whether to be good, as God intended by which can do in following His commandments, or we can choose to turn away from those greater goods. Augustine believed that if God had programmed us to always choose good over evil we wouldn’t do any harm, but we then would not really be free. Augustine argued that it is better that God had given us a choice to decide whether to be of a higher good or of a much less sense of good, that being something evil. Otherwise, we would be God’s puppets, under His control so that we may always behave ourselves and stray from violence and other evils. To Augustine, God is powerful enough to prevent evil, but the fact that evil still exists is not directly due to God in his conclusion. More so that moral evil is a result of our choices made, and to Augustine, was a result of the choices Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden. Augustine’s theory of God as an all-present being who could end evil but allows it to happen due to his creation’s (people’s) ability to have free will to remain convinces many believers to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, and al-good God since we (people) are the true source of evil through decisions made through free will.

https://www.str.org/articles/augustine-on-evil#.WO-TtG8rLcs & Ch. 6 of L.H.

1 comment:

  1. "everything He brought to be to be all good as well, Augustine came to a solution that one can only turn away from good, from a greater good to a lesser good since all thing are created by God and are thus good" - this is incoherent, if God also "allows evil to take place in the world"...

    "God is powerful enough to prevent evil, but the fact that evil still exists is not directly due to God" - also incoherent, unless "omnipotent," "omniscient," and "all good" mean something very different from their normal human signification.

    And, what does free will have to do with earthquakes, diseases, and other natural evils?

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