What is evil? John Hick defined evil as “physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness”. The monotheistic God of Christianity supposedly possesses divine qualities of omnipotence, omniscience and Omni benevolence. Omnipotence means the almighty and all knowing, omniscience means having infinite knowledge and Omni benevolent means all loving. If God is all of these things then why is there evil? The problem of evil brings up some big issues and raises some concerns. The existence of evil and suffering in the world challenges this idea of God being these three things.
Augustine, in ‘Confessions,’ states the problem very clearly: “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. ” This is saying that God has the choice to prevent evil or not but he is either notable because of humankind or not willing as a punishment. Augustine’s theodicy tries to explain and solve the problem of evil. Augustine’s theodicy is based on the book of Genesis (1-3) in the bible. In other words, the creation story. Augustine’s theodicy argues that God created the world and it was perfect, without any evil or suffering.
Genesis 1:31: “God saw all he had made and saw that it was very good” This means that God did not intend to create evil with his perfect world. So therefore from that we can conclude evil must have been bought into the world some other way. In Augustine’s theodicy he describes evil has an error of mankind and that mankind bought evil into the world them and therefore not an error of God’s wrong doing. Augustine defined evil as the privation of goodness, just as blindness is a privation of sight. Since evil is not an entity in itself, just like blindness is not an entity in itself, God could not have created it.
Privation simply means the lack of good or something that is in absence of human warmth. Instead, evil originates from free will possessed by angels and humans, who turned their back on God and settled for a lesser form of goodness thus creating a privation of goodness, as the narrative of ‘the fall’ in Genesis 3 tries to explain. As a result the state of perfection was ruined by sin due to free will and therefore bringing evil into the world. Augustine reasoned that all humans are worthy of the punishment of evil and suffering because we are “seminally present in the loins of Adam”, deserving of the punishment for original sin.
This is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin so he was still innocent and pure. Jesus was sent to build the bridge between mankind and God so that those who wanted to be forgiven will be forgiven and could earn a place in heaven. It is because of this that this theodicy is soul deciding. This means that we have the choice to follow God and we cannot blame him for evil in the world. God is willing to forgive us for what we have done if we are willing to ask for forgiveness.