Explain the Augustinian theodicy

Augustine of Hippo (354–430) was a Christian philosopher who based his theodicy off of the Bible passages Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12–20. Genesis 3 is the story of how Eve first gave in to temptation, ate the forbidden fruit offered by the serpent and was cast out of the Garden of Eden along with Adam and they fell from Gods grace. Romans 5:12–20 is St Paul describing how Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross caused the sin committed by Adam and Eve to be wiped out. Jesus’s sacrifice gave humanity the gift of righteousness. Through these two passages and from two assumptions, the first assumption being Evil not being Gods fault as God is perfect, so Gods creation must have been flawless. The second assumption was that Evil came from within the world.

Augustines theodicy is circular, meaning that there is no real starting point in the theory.One part of it is that God is a perfect being. As God is perfect this means that everything he does and everything he has ever done has been perfect, including the creation of the world. A second part of the theodicy is that Evil is not a substance, but instead a deprivation. An example of this which Augustine used is blindness, blindness being the absence of sight rather than a seperate entity.

This Evil was not created by God, as God is perfect, so it must have come from elsewhere. Augustine thought it originated from a human agency, specifically from when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. This act was an abuse of free will and so sin and death entered the world. All pain, suffering and evil has all been a consequence of our abuse of free will and because trusted the serpent over God. This entry of evil caused ‘disharmony’, in both our human nature and in Creation, causing all of the Evil in the world.

This evil brought about by Adam and Eve affects us because we are all descended from them. This is what is called Original Sin, the sin passed down from ancestors. We were all seminally present in them at the time of the fall so we deserve to be punished. It is in this way that God is justified by allowing Evil to continue to exist, because we deserve to suffer for our sins. Natural evil, such as earthquakes, is brought about by the Fall. The Fall caused a disharmony in nature, and it is this disharmony which causes natural evil. Moral evil, evil caused by humans, is caused because we have become estranged from God, due to us disobeying him. Now immorality has been allowed to thrive, so it is present in human society. It has been allowed because God is no longer on good terms with us, and so has less of an interest in our problems.

However God does still feel responsibility, because he still intervenes. This responsibility shows that God is not only a just God, as if he was only just then we would all be suitably punished. Instead God’s grace brought redemption in the form of Jesus Christ as Jesus’s sacrifice brought about the saving of a certain number from eternal punishment in Hell. God sacrificed his only son to help us, which shows Gods loving nature, as he is saving us from the evil which we caused ourselves.This explains how Evil exists, because it is our punishment, and God is justified in not intervening because it is a consequence of human action.

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