Notions of Evil in St Augustine's Confessions

Topics: God, Good and evil, Manichaeism Pages: 3 (1019 words) Published: April 25, 2013
Augustine’s Notion of Evil

The power-struggle between good and evil had been a long argued topic since the beginning of Christ. Questions such as where evil comes from, why people choose evil over good, why people choose to be evil, how evil came to be known as evil and what makes an evil act “evil” are all amongst the many unanswered and argued questions of all time. The biggest question in my opinion is whether or not God himself is evil as well as good. Some may argue that God created evil, using the argument that the Devil was once an angel and God’s favorite, so therefore God must have created evil. According to the Manicheans, there were two different entities. One God representing evil and one God representing good. But according to Saint Augustine, his God is omnipotent, undecaying and true. Augustine confesses though, during his journey to Christ, he is unsure of the origins of evil but explores them through many different concepts that disagree with the Manichean concept.

Manichaeism dominated between the third and seventh centuries. It basically taught of the good, the spirit world light and the world of darkness or evil. Manicheans believed in two separate entities representing good and evil, light and dark, life and death. The God of the New Testament was a God of good and the God of the Old Testament was the God of evil. This was a concept known as dualism. Dualism stated that evil was not of will or of the mind, but of a separate active pre-cosmic being (lecture notes/

Augustine rejected that notion of dualism because he believed that to be good, you have to have substance and make up a being. The idea of absence is equal to evil. This did not exactly agree with Manichean idea of dualism. “Things that decay are good, I was assured. The highest good cannot decay [God] at all, but other things cannot decay unless they are good. The highest good cannot decay because it cannot change. But if other things were not good, there...
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