Essay on Perception of God and Evil by Augustine of Hippo

Essay on Perception of God and Evil by Augustine of Hippo

Length: 580 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is among the most influential thinkers in Christianity. He contributed a great number of ideas and notions to Christian theology that would have lasting effect on belief systems in Christian churches. One of his most notable contributions is the notion of “original sin” and his concept of “evil.” These notions evolved over the years. Augustine traces their evolution in his Confessions, a thirteen-volume autobiography he wrote when he was in his forties.
An essential part of Confessions is Augustine’s conversion to Christianity and his evolving understanding of good and evil. In book seven of Confessions, Augustine describes his perception of God before his conversion to Christianity. He explains that he conceived of God as a material supremely good being, who is “incorruptible, inviolable, and immutable” (117). At this time, he perceived of evil as manifesting in two distinct ways; one, evil as imperfections, defects, or limitations in physical objects. These would manifest as illness, death, or pain. Secondly, evil would be revealed in people’s actions and deeds, especially when their souls were corrupted by vices such as greed, envy, pride, and lust (Mann 40).
Augustine describes in Confessions how these perceptions of God and Evil posed a major inconsistency in his thinking. If God, as he assumed before his conversion to Christianity, was supreme and omnipotent, how was it possible that there was evil in the world? In his search for answers to this question, he turned towards Manichaeism, which provided him with some answers to his questions. Manichaeism proposes a dualistic worldview, in which Good and Evil exist independent of each other (331). Furthermore, Manichaeism perceives of the world as...

... middle of paper ...

...ere not coerced by Satan to make this choice but rather did no willingly.
Summing up, we can say that Christianity with its notion of God as a creator and as a spiritual and omnipotent being provided Augustine with the framework needed to reconcile the conflict of the simultaneous existence of Good and Evil. Augustine perceived of Manichaeism’s view of the struggle of good versus evil as being restricted to the materialistic world as being too simplistic.

Works Cited

Carman, "The Champion" (n.d.) Song. Available at
Mann, William E. "Augustine on evil and original sin." The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. Eds. Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Cambridge Collections Online. Cambridge University Press. 18 April 2011 DOI:10.1017/CCOL0521650186.004

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about St. Augustine Of Hippo

- St. Augustine of Hippo who was born on November 13, in the year 354 in the small town of Thagaste, located on the northern coast of Africa, modern day Algeria. St. Augustine is known as one of our great church fathers who helped shape and form what is now our modern day church. Some of the events that led to his conversion are 1. Reading of Hortensius by Cicero, 2. His rejection of Manicheanism, 3. His meeting with St. Ambrose, 4. His reading of Neo-Platonist works, Augustine vision. 6. Augustine’s close relationship with his mother....   [tags: Augustine of Hippo, God, Neoplatonism, Ambrose]

Good Essays
1060 words (3 pages)

Essay on A Famous Bishop Of Hippo, St. Augustine

- A famous bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, contributes significantly to the foundational establishment and growth of Western Christianity. While Christianity is becoming central to people’s lives, it is also known to be one major cause of the Romans’ downfall. The Romans argue that the God the Christians believe in has failed to uphold the city from falling apart. These background conditions, set up chaotic circumstances that significantly impact his early life. He begins to question everything and recklessly lives a sinful life until one day he encounters Christ....   [tags: Augustine of Hippo, God, Jesus, Sin]

Good Essays
1269 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on St. Augustine 's Theory Of God

- St. Augustine’s was one of the most profound philosophers regarding Christianity, he defined Christianity in a unique way that had not been done since the religion had surfaced. At the time this religion was only four centuries old making it much younger then it’s competing religions. As a new religion, before, God had only been perceived, as a metaphysical substance however had no ties to more familiar philosophical notions. For example his literary work Confessions, he revealed his interpretation of Christianity on a personal level while producing a sophisticated interpretation of God’s word by merging it with widely spread Platonic ideas....   [tags: Soul, Metaphysics, Augustine of Hippo]

Good Essays
1069 words (3.1 pages)

St. Augustine 's Influence On Christianity Essays

- St. Augustine St. Augustine was a fourth century philosopher of the late Roman and early Medieval time. Today, he is still considered one of the most significant figures in the development of Western Christianity and played a huge role in bringing Christianity to dominance during the time when the Roman Empire was in a dark place. He is considered to be one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity. At that time, many people saw Aristotle as one of the main influences to Christian thought....   [tags: Augustine of Hippo, God, Christianity, Jesus]

Good Essays
1130 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Confessions By Saint Augustine, Confessions

- In Saint Augustine, Confessions, he writes about his journey of finding God and Christianity. Opening each book with a prayer to God, he start off with the sin of being an infant. He then moves on to his school years and what he refers to as his sinful youth. Afterwards he writes of his adult years and the moments leading up to his conversion. He ends the autobiographical part of the book with the years after his conversion. Saint Augustine converted to Christianity in 386, thirty-two years after his birth....   [tags: Jesus, Christianity, Augustine of Hippo]

Good Essays
1377 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on On Free Choice of the Will

- “Please tell me: isn’t God the cause of evil?” (Augustine, 1). With this question to Augustine of Hippo, Evodius begins a philosophical inquiry into nature of evil. Augustine, recently baptized by Saint Ambrose in Milan, began writing his treatise On Free Choice of the Will in 387 C.E. This work laid down the foundation for the Christian doctrine regarding the will’s role in sinning and salvation. In it, Augustine and his interlocutor investigate God’s existence and his role in creating evil. They attempt not only to understand what evil is, and the possibility of doing evil, but also to ascertain why God would let humans cause evil....   [tags: natural evil, free will, augustine of hippo]

Good Essays
1445 words (4.1 pages)

Exploring St. Augustine of Hippo's Augustine Confessions Essay

- Augustine’s Confessions is an autobiographical work by St. Augustine of Hippo, written in Latin between 397 and 398 CE. Saint Augustine is one of the most important figures in Western Christianity because of his teachings and interpretations of the gospel. He is also considered one the church fathers of Latin Christianity. This inspiring autobiography explores St. Augustine sinful childhood and adolescence, further conversion to Christianity and teachings as bishop of Hippo. This autobiography is divided into thirteen books, from which the first nine are mostly autobiographical, and the last four mostly are commentaries, where he discusses philosophical and theological issues....   [tags: autobiographical work]

Good Essays
836 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about The Existence And Nature Of God

- When somebody asks me if I believe in God, I always have responded with a firm confirmation. Without hesitation, I am confident in my Catholic upbringing and belief in God. However, I have never truly been asked, “Why?” by anybody expecting an in depth answer. I have gone my whole life in ignorant confidence of my belief but never truly considered the reason or nature behind my faith. This semester, we have analyzed different thinkers, philosophers, and theologians as they discussed their ideas....   [tags: God, Omnipotence, Religion, Augustine of Hippo]

Good Essays
1122 words (3.2 pages)

The Beliefs That All Souls Come From God Essay

- Philosophy Essay The primary reason for going in favor of Saint Augustine because we share similar beliefs that all souls come from God, he explains how the soul is responsible for human’s free choice of will. This can validate that every decision an individual make are not judged off their surroundings or what they observe. I will explain how Augustine talked about his beliefs relating how God is not responsible for evil in a human soul, reasons why because of pre-existence of the soul already....   [tags: Soul, Metaphysics, Augustine of Hippo]

Good Essays
1183 words (3.4 pages)

Saint Augustine Essay

- Saint Augustine Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), also known as Augustine of Hippo created an image of himself through his writings and teachings. He was born in Tagaste, a town in North Africa, on November 13, 354 AD. He was born into a middle class family. Patricius, his father, was a pagan, but later converted to Christianity because of his wife, Monica, was a devout Christian. Augustine’s mother, who was devoted to the Roman Catholic church, constantly tried for her son's conversion. Augustine was educated as a lecturer in the former North African cities of Tagaste, Madaura, and Carthage....   [tags: Biography Biographies Augustine Essays]

Good Essays
1609 words (4.6 pages)