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Aquinas for Armchair Theologians by Timothy Renick - Essay Example

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Aquinas for Armchair Theologians by Timothy Renick

If God is as powerful as we are led to believe, he should have the ability to eliminate Satan. However, saying that God cannot get rid of Satan brings into question a possible limitation of God’s power. Furthermore, if God is all good, he should want to terminate evil and injustice, and thus Satan. By continuing to allow Satan to wreak havoc on God’s marvelous creation, God’s goodness is being undermined. In an attempt to understand the presence of evil in the world, believers and skeptics alike are throwing God’s entire being into a circle of doubt and confusion. Aquinas steps in and tries to set the argument straight. Aquinas believes that God does not make evil; he is only capable of creating good. Evil is not a substance, a physical thing, but simply the removal of some of the good from a wholly good object. This still causes people to believe that God is the creator of evil. The Manichees believe that God is a co-creator with Satan; evil is a substance, and Satan is its source. Aquinas, as well as many others, refuse to accept this, as it puts Satan on the same level with God. Aquinas enforces the idea that evil is not created, but a subtraction of good. As an example, Renick turns to Adolf Hitler, claiming that, under Aquinas’s ideals, Hitler was wholly good, but a portion of this good was removed. He used his created talents for evil ends. God made good, but Hitler did evil. In the first chapter of Genesis, God made the world and “it was very good.” There are no exceptions to this. God created Satan to be completely good, though not perfect. When Satan rebelled against god, he did not become evil; his angelic abilities were still there and they were good, but he used these attributes for evil. Satan is good, yet his actions are evil. Nevertheless, we now must figure out who or what causes this removal of good. If God is the cause of the removal of good, that would make God responsible for the existence of evil, which brings us back to the beginning of the argument. Aquinas’s perception of this part of the debate is that we, as imperfect human beings, must expect and accept that good has the ability to decay. God may be the cause of all the things that happen, but he is not morally responsible for the evil acts of human beings. The argument of God and evil turns into an argument of human beings having free choice. John Calvin and Martin Luther were under the impression that humans could not possibly have free choice, otherwise it would undermine God’s ability to be all-knowing. Calvin believed that everything we say and do is predestined by God. We have no choice but to do it, and therefore have no free will. Aquinas’s argument is more accepted by Christians, and some skeptics. Aquinas believed that if we lacked tree freedom and all is predestined by God, God could not be just. If humans have no free choice because everything is a product of God’s control, the God punishes people for actions that are not their own. God would be unjust, which is a characteristic that goes completely against who God is. Aquinas pushes the concept that God is timeless to help further straighten out the argument. Humans may see what is behind them, and they may aware of what is ahead of them, but only to a certain point. God sees everything as it happens at once, but not before ...Show more


Reading Journal In “Why Is There Evil?,” Timothy Renick divulges into Thomas Aquinas’s views of the presence of evil in the world and its connection to the free will of human beings. After Christians had gotten themselves out of the Dark Ages of reasoned and logical suppression, Aquinas felt that they needed to start making sense out of their most basic beliefs and face the questions that had long since arisen about their faith…
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Aquinas for Armchair Theologians by Timothy Renick essay example
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