The historical aspect of the problem of evil and the questions that it creates about the Existence of God and His Absolute Attributes, caused theodices and defenses to be explained in Christian theology in order to defend the doctrine of theism. Such an issue has caused wide-ranging debates about it from the first centuries of AD to the present day. Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), who is one of the most prominent Christian thinkers and had a great influence on Christian theology, made a tremendous effort in his works to explain the problem of evil and provide solutions to justify it. What is clear from Augustine's thoughts and opinions about evil is that he considers evil in a negative sense, not a positive one, and considers evil to be the misuse of things and objects that are intrinsically good. In this article, an attempt is made to investigate and analyze Augustine's theodicy and finally criticize it based on the principles of Shia theology.
In this article, with a descriptive-analytical method and a critical approach, an attempt is made to investigate and analyze Augustine's theodicy and criticize it based on Shia theological principles.
The problem of evil was an influential and important issue in Augustine's life and was the main cause of some of the evolutions that occurred in his life. Therefore, he has made major and comprehensive discussions about the problem of evil in his works. Augustine's theodicy is influenced by the principles that Augustine believed in and solved the problem of evil based on them. These principles are influenced by Christian beliefs, and Augustine explained and solved the problem of evil based on them. From Augustine's point of view, God did not create and does not create any evil, and it is man who causes evil by misusing and abusing his will. Augustine has stated solutions such as “achieving good through evil”, “few evil and abundance of good”, “necessity of the evil for the system of creation” and “evil is relative” to justify the problem of evil (Copleston, 2009, vol. 2: p.107). The theodicy of Augustine sees God's relationship with creatures and the universe in the form of impersonal relationships (Sefidkhosh and Moradi, 2015: p. 77). Therefore, man was created as a part of a hierarchy of forms of existence that would be incomplete without Him, and man has absolute reliance on the Absolute Goodness of God and His Grace. According to the theodicy of Augustine, it is basically impossible to get rid of evil and obtain good affairs without the help of the Divine Will and the granting of grace from Him. Augustine considers evil to be non-existent and moral evil also comes from human will and action that abuses his will.
Discussion and Conclusion
The principle of defending the existence of God and His Absolute Attributes, defending the best system of creation, free will, fall of man, original sin and Divine Grace are among the principles based on which Saint Augustine explained and solved the problem of evil. Augustine believes in his theodicy that everything that is and exists is good and negation is evil because it does not benefit from existence. The theodicy of Augustine sees God's relationship with creatures and the universe in the form of impersonal relationships (Augustine, 2006: p.103). Augustine considers evil to be not essential and inherent, but an accident affair that lacks essence and substance and means the lack of perfection in an object. He believes that the minimal existence of evil is accepted and its negation is expressed by considering its minimal aspect (Augustine, 2012: p. 120). Augustine considers evil to be non-existent, which is why it does not deserve the existence of a cause; because the first and most important condition for the existence of an object is to have a cause (Brown, 2000: p.73). According to Augustine, any object or phenomenon that has stages of perfection and is useful is good, and if an object lacks stages of perfection, it cannot be called good anymore, but it is an evil that has no cause, and since it has no cause, it does not exist, and as a result, it is a non-existent affair. Augustine divides evil into moral and natural evil, and considers moral evil as human sin and natural evil as the punishment that a person must taste natural evil because of committing moral evil (De Paulo, 2006: p.34). Finally, it should be acknowledged that Augustine in his theodicy, despite the many efforts he had in solving the problem of evil, but this theodicy based on the approach of Shia theology faces criticisms such as “the lack of effect of original sin in committing moral evil”, “incorrect explanation of the relationship between evil and the material world”, “incorrect explanation of the agent of the realization of natural evil” and etc., which makes the acceptance and acceptability of his theodicy difficult.