On Free Choice of the Will
By Saint Augustine
Questions to be addressed: Would a good God let bad things happen? Why does man choose to do evil? For many people, nothing drives them away from Religion like pushy, preachy people. I don't feel that I am knowledgeable enough to argue many points when it comes to religion. I'm actually not a huge fan of organized religion myself. Like most things, it has its good and bad points, but overall, anything that brings people to God is great. However, you won't find a better example of hypocrisy than the church. Throughout history, no cause has driven people to war like religion. On the other hand, if one does not agree with what people have done to the church, does that mean we have to turn away from its very foundation? When one analyzes the core of Religion, they discover that its most basic principles are, in fact, good. God IS good, right? Does God allow bad things to happen? Yes. But why? Because He has to in order to keep His promise of free will. God doesn't make bad things happen, people do. God doesn't snap his fingers and *poof*, somewhere in the world another person is murdered. That murderer chose to put himself in that situation. So does God let this happen? In the sense that He allowed the murderer to exercise free will - Yes, He did. Does this mean that we should blame God? No, I don't think so. There is nothing I am more grateful for than my free will. There would not be much of a life without it. In Saint Augustine's On Free Choice of the Will, the idea that God allows bad things to happen is presented in a conversation between himself and Evodius. On page 5 line 19 of the text, Augustine states "Yet it perplexes the mind how God should not be indirectly responsible for these sins, if they come from those very souls that God created and if, moreover, these souls are from God." The entire concept of blaming God for bad things has always been hard for me to understand, but the book does clarify many points. I intend on presenting those points by defining several terms and applying them to the argument that Saint Augustine uses in order to obtain a sufficient answer to the question. In order to do this, we must assume that God does exist. People often say, "I know there's a God, but I want to understand: Is this God good? And if he is good, then why do bad things happen?" By asking this question, one might really be asking "Does God even exist?" which is completely different. The question of whether or not God exists has nothing to do with people's suffering, but instead, with creation, revelation, world history, etc. Therefore, for simplicity, we will not venture to answer that question and will assume that God does exist. The question we are addressing is, in essence, requiring us to "judge God." In discussing this issue, I have chosen not to address the question of why particular things happen. Take a physicist, for example. He may be able to tell you why a leaf will fall in a certain place- it has to do with the aerodynamics of the leaf, the force of gravity, and the direction of the velocity; however, if you ask him where the leaf will fall, he cannot because it is impossible to quantify the different forces that a make a leaf fall in a particular place. Of course, he can propose several general principles, but calculating exactly where it will land is beyond the realm of his analysis. It's the same idea here. We won't be able to say why specific things are happening in a specific situation, but we will be able to speak about general principles that can lead us to understand the workings of a good God who lets bad things happen. The Bible tells us: "God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him" (Genesis 1:27). What does it mean that man was created in God's image? It means that human beings are finite and corporal. So how are we created in God's image? Obviously, the "image of God" is dealing with the non-physical part of us -...
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