An Examination of St. Augustine's Philosophical Problem of Evil
. . Or hath it no being? Why then fear we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly, then is that very fear evil whereby the soul is thus idly goaded and racked. Yea, and so much a greater evil, as we have nothing to fear, and yet do fear" (Augustine 42). Augustine basically concludes that evil is nonexistent, an unreal abstraction by human will from the all-good. The only possible human response is faith, which the existence of God shows transcends reason. In tension with faith, reason must fall before it.

Augustine describes God as absolute, or "simple" (46) and therefore unambiguous. Man's intervention complicates and muddies the situation in the ordinary universe. But God exists in unambiguous, paradox-free eternity, which man's faulty perception cannot correct. To be sure, eternity encases earthly time, but because he is almighty and because of man's limited reason, the divine mystery remains elusive. In Book VII of the Confessions, which describes Augustine's conversion to Catholicism, he nevertheless agonizes over the problem of evil (45ff), which he resolves by surrender to God's grace. Surrender climaxes in the famous passage of Book X: "Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days . . . Thou wert within, and I abroad . . . not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee. . . . Thou touchedst me, and I bu

 
 
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