Thesis: How Freewill Creates Misery According to Augustine

Sample Thesis

Augustine takes the example of the creation of the Earth to show how free will creates misery. He speaks of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. How their pride resulted in their inclination towards evil, instead of choosing humility and being good. So the question is asked how God would allow creatures who are fundamentally good such as man to turn to evil. Augustine says that evil is not the product of God; rather it is the product of the earth. According to him man’s soul was created from the earth and it is due to this creation that it has an imperfection which allows it an inclination towards evil. Within acts of evil there is no God and by following anything other than God man can only be evil (Cahn).

“If man must sin, his sin is not the result of the will’s choice, but is instead a fixed and inevitable necessity” (Augustine, Benjamin and Hackett 90).

All this of course plays into the question of free will. If God has foreknowledge of free will then how does man have choice over his actions? Free will by definition implies that God cannot choose our fate for us since we are meant to make that decision. Augustine solves this problem by saying that God does not influence our decisions rather he understands the motive behind our decisions. In this way God does not make our decisions for us, rather he allows us to make decisions ourselves while knowing our reasoning behind it. It is through this that God’s omnipotence and omniscience does not contradict the existence of evil in this world. Free will by definition speaks of the ability to make a decision. However, God though having the ultimate free will does not have the inclination to make a decision. Thus, by allowing man to make his own decisions and knowing the motives behind them God allows him to choose misery or God. In this way God does not contradict the existence of evil or the choice of man in this world (Cahn).

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