In our discussion of St. Augustine's world view, inevitably, we end up looking at the difference between good and evil. Augustine lived a decadent life before becoming a Christian midway through his life, and after he became a Catholic priest (but not before going through Manicheanism and NeoPlatonism), he wrote much on the problem of evil. His thoughts on evil were influenced by Manicheanism - an ancient Persian religion that looked at the world in purely terms of a struggle between good vs. evil. We could look at the war on terror as a battle between good and evil, but that would be too simplistic of an argument.
Augustine wanted to delve more deeply into evil and adapted the NeoPlatonic world view to Christianity. In this case, the farther you were away from God's will, the more evil you were doing. I don't believe that Augustine felt that evil was an actual force or being that existed in the physical or metaphysical realm (picture either a serial killer here in our world and Satan in Hell or demons or whatever you like). This tendency to do evil, to stray away from God's will goes all the way back to our beginning as humans, Augustine says, when Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis disobeyed God's command that they not eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. They disobeyed Him and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. For Christians, this is the Original Sin, or the first sin, and is literally already one strike against us as soon as we're born before we've done anything wrong!
So, that's his take. My question for you to consider/ponder over/ruminate upon is "what is the nature of evil?"
Thoughts to consider:
1. Is evil a tangible force that we can fight against in our physical world? For example, genocides, mass murders, serial killers, etc. If so, where does it manifest itself and why?
2. Are acts of nature (floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes), deadly diseases, catastrophes, and horrible accidents evil? Why or why not?
3. Are things like poverty, war, crime, injustice, racism and other things like this evil? (please, no jokes about political ideology here). Why or why not?
4. Is evil inside all of us just waiting for the right circumstances to arise - like if no one was watching, or if we knew we could get away with something?
5. Where does evil come from? Can it come from just one single person or do you need at least two people to commit an evil act? If you were the only person left on the Earth, would it be possible for you to commit an evil act?
6. If God exists, why hasn't He/She/It done away with evil if He loves all of His creations (us, the planet, animals, etc.)? If God is all-powerful and still leaves us alone w/ evil, does that make God evil? Or less than all-powerful?
I think examining this issue will take at least 250, maybe even 300 words. I put these questions here for you to consider, not necessarily to answer. Putting the full power of your noggin' behind this will help you write a better essay upon the same topic that will be due later this month.
Due Monday, October 6.