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Problem of Evil

The purpose of this research is to examine the philosophical problem of evil, with particular reference to the work of St. Augustine. The plan of the research will be to set forth Augustine's formulation of this issue and then to discuss a response to the issue that offers an alternative to Augustine's views.

There is an old adage: If God be God, he is not good. If God be good, he is not God. In this brief formulation is contained the full weight and import of the philosophical problem of evil. One begins with the proposition that God is almighty and all knowing. That being so, it follows that God is also all good. But the fact is that in God's world there is nevertheless ample evidence that evil exists. How is that possible? For if God is almighty, then evil must be laid at His feet. And that would mean that God Himself is evil, which seems a contradiction.

Augustine's response to this paradox involves articulation of his God-concept in general. And central to the response is a theology that is consistent with institutional Catholic orthodoxy on one hand and a highly personal leap of faith. Augustine begins by showing the necessary existence of God and the necessity of faith: "That one will I plainly acknowledge to be God, than whom it is proved nothing is superior. . . . When I shall have proved that what is above reason exists, it will be proved that God exists" (43). God is beyond reason, which cannot wrap itself around eternity, omnipotence, and the origin of creation. God is also all good; who would wish to worship an evil God? But this in itself is problematic: "Where is evil, then, and whence and how crept it hither? . . . Or hath it no being? Why then fear we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly, then is that very fear evil whereby the soul is thus idly goaded and racked. Yea, and so much a greater evil, as we have nothing to fear, and yet do fear" (Augustine 42). Augustine basically concludes that evil is nonexi...

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Problem of Evil. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:13, April 21, 2019, from