Evil in Theology and Psychology

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Currently with a growing body of research on the topic of evil, it may be interesting to become acquainted with the definitions of evil from theology to psychology. These definitions affect how individuals perceive evil as a concept, leading them to experience it on their own terms. Theology takes evil seriously, bringing light upon the perspective that may help us see its correspondence with God.

Hence, philosophers in order to treat the idea of evil took different approaches towards its fundamentals. Saint Augustine claimed that evil was in a direct relation to the “original sin” (Oliner & Gunn 110). The question regarding the nature of evil was the foremost factor that aroused his curiosity about God and human condition which led up to his treatise on the question of the origin of evil (Burns 9).

Both before and after his conversion to Christianity, there was one particular thing he never abandoned: the strong belief in God’s omnipotence and omnibenevolence. In as much as his belief, St. Augustine failed to understand the rationale for omnipresent evil in the world when there is a God, who is the all-powerful creator and ruler. To put it another way, such a God would be able to diminish evil root and branch and establish a good reality (Burns 11).

Only after studying through Platonic treaties, was he exhorted to reach an understanding which defines evil as total formlessness. Through his insight, Augustine believed evil is not a thing on its own but rather a lack of something and he developed a privation theory which was seeking further explanation on the problem of evil. According to this theory developed by Saint Augustine, all of God’s creation is good and “evil has no positive existence: evil exists in a lack of substance, being or goodness” (Cadler 371).

For instance, Augustine believes disease is evil because it is the absence of health, while health is good. Injustice is evil as it occurs in the absence of justice while justice is also good (Cadler 372). However, Augustine is very careful not to call every lack of goodness evil, for he writes “are you right to condemn something that is as it ought to be? I think not: you should only condemn what is not ought to be” (qtd in Cadler 372). Consideration on the concept of evil makes us question our own morality. Thus, where evil appears theologically, there is a part of the soul that questions and helps to complete the idea of a moral law.

Moral Law allows one to acknowledge their actions, enabling them to determine what is right or wrong. This scale of morality however, varies as some people lack the feeling of remorse and possibly have no moral compass. I believe evil is not a necessary for establishing this morality, but it definitely justifies what is appropriate and what is not for some. We can comprehensively understand the nature and origin of evil by investigating its psychological and sociological definitions.

Cite this paper

Evil in Theology and Psychology. (2022, Jan 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/evil-in-theology-and-psychology/

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