the Free Will Defence augustine theodicy Flashcards Preview

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basics-key idea


god- god he creator is omnipotent and all good
harmonious creation- creation is good and in the beginning was harmonious
hierarchy of beings- god, realm of angels, human world, natural world
privation- evil is a privation or lack of goodness in something
the fall- angels and humans beings fall through their own free choice and giving in to temptation. sin enters the world through Adam and eve.
natural evil- disharmony in the world follow the fall of angels leading to natural evil
free will- free will is valuable so god sustains a world with in which moral and natural evil occurs
aesthetic value- the existence of evil highlights the goodness of creation because of the contrast between good and evil.


basics of augustines theodicy


influenced by the creation stories, takes the genesis story as a literal account of the origins of the world.

god had created a perfect world, giving some creatures free will but these agents used other free will to do evil so for Augustine evil is there consequence of a greater good namely free will.


criticism- JL mackie argues that free will defence fails


p1 it is loigcally possible for an omnipotent god to have created a universe in which we still have free will but we always chose to do good
p2 this alternative universe would be even better than the one we live in (which has so much pain and suffering in it)
p3 bvut this alternative universe does not exist
conc therefore either god is not omnipotent or god is not supremely good


free will (metaphysical freedom)


the capcity to choose an action or refrain from taking an action


causal determinism


future events such as our actions are caused by and are an inevitable consequence of past events conditions and physical laws.


free will defence of how god and evil are compatible


p1 god (omnipotent omniscient supremely good) can create significantly free agents but he cant cause them to do what is morally right
p2 a world with significant free agents contains a greater good than a world containing no significant free creatures at all
conc 1 therefore god created a world in which there exists significantly free agents capable of doing both what is morally right an what is morally evil
conc2 therefore the existence of an omnipotent omniscient supremely good god is compatible with the existence of evil


free will defence- the existence of god is compatible with the existence of evil


god’s power to create a universe with moral good but without moral evil

god power is limited- god cant create a world in which human have genuine free will but in which we are always caused to do what is right. humans are significant free only if they are capable of doing both moral good and moral evil.

god is supremely good and wanted to create a world with creatures with significant freedom rather than human robots and omnipotent with the power to create such a world but that this doesn’t remove evil.

god could only remove evil by also removing a greater good human freedom.


criticism- explain moral evil but not natural evil


if plantinga is correct then the free will defence explains moral evil but not natural evil. plantinga has to fall back on Augustine argument which intrdocues satan as an agent to show that natural evil is not incompatible with god.


god the creator


augustine had a traditional view of god.

if god created the universe and continues to sustain it in existence for every moment of every day it means that if people commit acts of evil god is sustaining and keeping alive those very people while they do those acts.


privation and evil


god is responsible for evil in the world by defining evil as a privation
when we use words such as evil and bad we are saying that something does not meet our expectations of what by nature it should be like
badness and evil are about not living up to expectations somethings lacks a quality it should have.

Augustine rejects the idea that evil is a force or power opposed to god because this would mean that god had a rival and was not omnipotent which is not part of the traditional Christian belief about god.


absence and lack


absence- when an ability that is not expected is absent
if you cant walk- you lack the health you should have.
if you are mean- you lack the qualities of generosity and charity
example 1- concerns a privation which you are not to blame for- you didn’t choose to be in this state
example 2- concerns a privation that you are to be blamed for- you choose how you behave.


the origins of evil


Augustine’s thinking all evil (moral and natural) comes from moral choices.

Augustine uses the idea of free will.


evil comes from god ?

  1. god causes everything that exists
  2. evil is not a thing but something missing or lacking

so if a person is evil they lack qualities we expect to find in them
as a result- evil comes from god because god cause to exist and keeps in existence humans who have free will and human beings can become evil through their free choices.

no one can be totally and purely evil as to be evil you have a lack of goodness hence you had goodness to start with.


the garden of eden


god creates the garden of eden and the man from dust.

  1. creation is good
  2. human beings are made in the image and likeness of god

human beings are not just physical creatures but also spiritual, capable of rational though and this is a god-like quality.

the garden is in a state of harmony- there is no suffering.
suffering is disharmony


the fall


Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
eve is tempted by the serpent and uses her free will to choose to do what she is told not to do. Adam is then tempted by eve. Adam and eve choose not to be in harmony with god0 this is the first sin- original sin. once disharmony is introduced the original peaceful state of the garden cant be restored. Adam and Eve realise they are naked is a sign that there no longer in harmony with the natural world around them.


the hierarchy of beings


god creates the full range of types of life- this means physical life such as animals and purely spiritual life such as angels. he believed that creation was good and perfect in the beginning. had to include all types of beings otherwise creations would lack something and not be good and perfect.

the devil brought disharmony into creations and it is the actions of devils that led to natural evil being in the world because of the disharmony they caused within nature. natural evil, as well as a moral evil, are results of free will.

god punishes the man with hard work to survive and the woman with pain in childbirth, for Augustine god created a good perfect world moral choices led to evil in the world.


sharing in adam’s sin


augustine argued that all human beings were present in adam’s sin.
what Augustine means is that all human beings are descended from adam and eve and all share in all the consequences of adam and eve’s choices. all people are said to share in Adam’s sin because they were seminally present in adam. all future people are born into this disharmonious world.


why create creatures with free will?


augustine believed that free will is more valuable than having robots who always do god’s will.

arguing that allowing evil to happen is a price worth paying for human freedom.

1 it means that God allows evil things to happen and has made and sustained a world and people who do evil things.

2 if there was no free will it would also remove all the good choices which people have the chance to make.

Augustine argued that when the creation (universe) is viewed as a whole the contrast between what is good and what is bad highlights the beauty of goodness- aesthetic principle

the contrast between what is good and what lacks goodness is heightened and made clearer in the contrast between goodness and lack of goodness- probation.


criticisms- list


plausibility- how likely is it given today’s science?
science- scientific evidence that says otherwise
adam’s sin- ancient understanding of bio
how could a perfect world go wrong?
god’s responsibility of natural evil- doesn’t fit with the image of God.


issues- plausibility


questions whether the theodicy of augustine is believable given today’s understanding of science, he interprets the story literally and many believe there is no convincing evidence that angels exist.




plantinga suggested that for the theodicy to be successful the existence of angels has to be possible. we do not have to demonstrate the existence of angels

swimburne and plantinga strongly defend the idea that evil arises from human misusing their free will

many would not interpret the story literally but say the important is in what the story tries to tell us about the world, god the creator and human beings relationship with gods creations


issues- science


augustine explains that the fall starts from the situation of a perfect world created by god then harmed by humans and angels misusing free will.

the findings of geologicst and other scientist make it clear the the earth developed very slowly over a period of 4 billion years.

life developed through the mechanism of evolution by natural selection.

augustines belief in a perfect world that is then spoilt by evil cant be accepted as a true in any literal sense.


issues- adams sin


augustine states that all people share in the effect of the fall because we were seminally presence in adams sin.

this is difficult to understand in the literal sense.

augustines relies on an ancient understand of biology where the life force is given from the man and the flesh from the woman.

furthermore if human beings were not seminally present in adam it would appear unjust for god then punishes later human beings for the first human being’s sin


issues- god responsibility for natural evil


moral evil is caused by misuses of free will is accepted, however many are uncomfortable with Augustine thinking about natural disasters.

god is responsible for everything and second that suffering is a punishment for the sin of adam. not fit very well with the belief in a merciful and kind god.

augustines argues that god was merciful because he sent jesus to save people but people can ask why didn’t god create a world with less suffering?