All religions in the world believe in the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God. They believe that God created all things on earth. Evil is also a thing. There is so much anguish and suffering on earth that critics have questioned whether God created evil or not. Questions have been asked that if God is Almighty and all-knowing then why did He create disasters, diseases and wars to inflict excruciating pain on man. So if God is all-good and all-powerful why does evil exist? These are some of the fundamental questions that Augustine seeks answers. Additionally, he also writes extensively about other virtues. Excitingly, humility is set apart. This enlightens his audience about his life and the significance of his conversion to the Christian faith. He understood pride to be the direct opposite of humility. He posits that pride was the primal cause of the fall of man and he states that pride and evil are things that caused the fall of man and which continue to make him sin today. This paper canvases two cardinal themes included in Augustine’s confessions. These are humility and pride, and God and evil.
He argues that pride is irrational and self-destructing. He posits that his conversion was motivated by one thing. That he yearned for the “immortality of wisdom with an incredible ardor in my heart”. He confesses that the hearts of men are extremely restless until they rest in Christ. The gospels articulate that in man quest to find Christ, they will find him. When they do, they will overwhelm Him with praise and thanksgiving. However, the main challenge that affects man is pride. It also affected the conversion of Augustine. He acknowledges that this was not just a personal problem, but rather it affects all humanity. Pride as a matter of fact positions man in opposition with God as He is. Augustine uses his travels to illustrate how damaging pride can be to the human soul. He calls it willful wandering. Pride is usually accompanied by a lot of promises. However, it results in the opposite. 1 John 2: 16 states that pride, lust and curiosity are the passions of a dead soul. When humility is revealed to him, he is able to confess. He argues that humility is more than just one of the many virtues. It goes to the core of whom God is Himself. It also significantly influences the how man accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior despite his pride. He asserts thus “surely my soul will be submissive to God Almighty”. The Lord God himself is humble and meek both in heart and spirit.
The theme of God and evil is also extensively covered in Augustine’s confessions. He attempts to unravel the puzzle about the co-existence of God and evil on earth. Prior philosophers had argued that the existence of an almighty, all-good and all-knowing God is logically inconsistence with the existence of evil on earth. It is trite to argue about the existence of evil. Therefore, these philosophers questioned the existence of God based on these facts. In order to logical explain how God and evil co-exist in the world, Augustine adopts a free will interpretation. He uses this school of thought to account for all the anguish, pain and suffering occasioned to man by diseases and natural disasters. It begins on the Garden of Eden. In the perfect world man had free will. He chose to sin against God. This had two main consequences. It resulted in corruption of the nature of man by establishing the “original sin”. Secondly, it corrupted the creation of God. This is the origin of natural disasters and diseases. Therefore, the fact that man suffers is not as a result of God’s original intent or creation. He brought this upon himself and thus he is suffering because the consequences of his actions. The suffering of man is thus a direct consequence of misuse of his free will. The alternative to the suffering is taking away man’s free will. However, because God’s nature did not change he designed a way to redeem man from his suffering. Nevertheless, the problem of evil is still prevalent in the society today. According to Augustine, the most cogent argument seeking to object the existence of God is the belief that science has proved the non-existence of God.
St. Augustine. The Confessions, Revised, A Translation by Maria Boulding . New York: A Translation for the 21st Century, Vol. 1, 2001.