Augustine: Free Choices of Will

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Free Will

St. Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will elaborates on the relationship between God, free will, and evil. During the very beginning of Book One, he asks the question, “isn’t God the cause of evil” (Cahn 357). From this question, it can be ascertained that he searches for a connection between God and evil (sins), which inferred in the writing to be connected though free will. He believes that God does not create evil, but rather that evil is simply the lack of good, since God is completely good and, therefore, cannot create evil. God not being the source of evil is then further elaborated through his explanation of a crime and how it is caused by inordinate desires and human abuse of good things (Cahn 360). By explaining things this way, he shows that humans are responsible for evil, through their own wills. Of course, being that God is supposed to be in control, he further elaborates that God gives us free will in order to punish us righteously for this. He believes that God has given humans free will so that they would be able to sin and justifies God by writing that “the very fact that anyone who uses free will to sin is divinely punished show that free will was given to enable human beings to live rightly, for such punishment would be unjust if free will had been given both for living rightly and for sinning” (Cahn 361). Essentially, he is writing that God gives humans free will as a way to measure whether or not they can live righteously, while being tempted with ‘evil’ desires. I agree with Augustine’s logic regarding free will being the cause of evil, but there is a major fallacy which I will also explain.

Augustine argues that “God is a cause of the second kind of evil, but in no way causes the first kind… for there is no single cause of evil” (Cahn 357). While this statement is logical, since it can be said that God’s creations are the cause of evil and not God, it can also be somewhat interpreted as being flawed in the same sense. If...
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