December 27, 2010

Evil & Suffering XII: Thomas Aquinas

To quickly and accurately zero in on Aquinas’ view of theodicy we must use the quote that Aquinas used often and is attributed to Augustine.
"As Augustine says (Enchir. xi). Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil." This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good." (Sullivan 13).
To a greater or lesser extent, Thomas Aquinas put forward and advocated the same thought that for this world to be as good as it is the existence of evil is necessary. Evil is not a “thing”—no substantial thing at all (Novak). In response to Eastern philosophy, Aquinas soundly rejected the centuries of Eastern philosophy that divided the world into dualistic good and evil, as if they were equal contestants, equally substantial and active and potent. In addition Aquinas states (paraphrased):
Everything that the Greatest of all Goods has created is suffused with good up to the brim of its capacity. But for the world as a whole to be good, it must be populated by the most beautiful and god-like creatures of all[ [mankind]—creatures capable of insight and deliberate choice. It requires the liberty of human minds and wills. Only at this peak of nature can human creation be considered made in the “image of God.”
A brilliant surmising of the logical conclusion needed for a being created in the image of a God that has, among other things, free will, choices, a moral character (in God’s case good/perfect, in man’s subject to choice).

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