Good Evil and God
The world is full of evil to a great extent, and most times it leaves us with so many questions: why could God create the world without evil? If God is good why does He allow so much evil in the world? It is this same dilemma that Boethius had even after listening to all philosophies that exist on the same topic. His main concern was that if God did existed and had control over all things on earth, why then would He let evil go unpunished and let the evil in the world flourish instead? He further laments on why evil is allowed to harm the virtuous. While everyone always has these questions, satisfactory answers to these questions are hard to come by. However, Lady Philosophy provided Boethius with answer that up to now lives on as a great philosophical answer. This paper aims to provide the answer provided by Lady Philosophy and provide an analysis of its sufficiency.
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Earthly wealth – is the power of possessions and bodies of people. These are physical things that people own, which they have control over. They include land, machinery, money, food, cars, etc. Earthly wealth also includes bodies of people as how people can own servants; they however only own their bodies and not their souls and minds. True wealth – is the possession of one’s soul and mind. It is the ability to control your won soul and achieve a sense of fulfillment that comes with happiness. Bestiality – The nature of a human behaving like an animal. It is when a person traverses off the path of humanity and starts to have characteristics accorded to certain animals. Providence – God’s foreknowledge and unchanging plan for everything (divine and eternal). God is the world’s helmsman, the divine reason, the supreme good, the origin of all things
Answer Provided by Lady Philosophy
Lady philosophy reminded Boethius of two principles: one Catechism, which stipulates that every evil will be punished and that not virtue will go forgotten. The second one is the principle passed down from philosophy that the wicked are weak: have no power in contrast to the virtuous who are powerful and strong.
The main aim of life is true happiness, and people live striving to achieve it. The wicked people are unable to attain while the virtuous can. The reason is that the evil people seek it using misguided ways and eventually not get it. It, therefore, means they are left out on finding the true joy of life; all the wealth and earthly power they have is not real power at all. The wicked lose their true power by striving for the things that in reality do not matter; effectively losing their humanity and become like animals in their desires. For example like pigs, they become gluttonous, and like asses they become lazy.
On the question of punishment for the evilness, Lady Philosophy assures that just like virtue; evil is its reward. This statement means that because of their wickedness, the evil people are rewarded with evilness in the form of lack of existence and their descent to bestiality. Instead of getting an outside form of punishment, they are denied happiness by their actions. Introducing an outside form of punishment will bring two complications. One, it will mean that they have a chance to redeem themselves and therefore get the good things; secondly, when they escape the punishment, they would increase their wickedness.
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Role of God
Everything that happens on earth happens in the mind of God that is unchanging because he is the same in the past present and future. Therefore since humans are temporary beings, it is hard for us to understand how things have happened before or what to expect in the future, but God knows. The ruling philosophy for all things is called providence; when applied to temporal real, it is called fate. The connection between things that happen on earth is called fate. Providence, on the other hand, is the divine order which the world follows as controlled by God (Boethius, 104). Humans are temporary beings, so they only understand fate instead of providence. Fate is sometimes cruel and unordered. The argument here is that everything that happens to a person, whether good or bad is good. Because even if your fortune is bad it is an instruction leading you towards a virtue so effectively is something good. Effectively, evil has no power because all the events in the world are planned by providence.
Discussion of Lady Philosophy’s Answer
Book 3 of the consolation philosophy introduces the fact that God and happiness are one thing; God, therefore, provides the divine goodness. There is however a difference between something that is evil and that which is bad. Something that might be hailed from a human point of view as bad might turn out to be turning a bad experience into a good one. It is correct to say that that thing is, therefore, bad and not evil. In, therefore, asking questions about why evil things happen to the good people, it is important to realize that some of the things viewed as evil might just be bad that progress someone to a good experience or helps someone evade an evil thing. A person who doesn’t go on a camping trip because he can’t afford it would see it as bad, but maybe the lack of finances for the tip prevented them from meeting bad companies that would have ruined their life. Therefore the essence of the bad things that come to a virtuous person is supposed to make them stronger, teach them and remind them the most important things in life
The philosophy agrees that there are good people and people in the world. The function of God and punishment to the wicked is still there, as explained by Boethius. The fate of the wicked is wickedness, as the fate of virtue is goodness ((Boethius, 93-94). Everyone in the world seeks to find happiness because it is good that motivates all events. Goodness set from happiness is the common reward of any human activity. Moreover, god is equated to happiness in the arguments and therefore it is true to say that all humans strive to find godliness in every activity. Since evil people seek happiness through their sensual ways, they never achieve the godliness. In this way, therefore, the evil people diminish in a path that lets them loose course of their humanity. Humanity is all about happiness, and if you miss it through evil ways, you tend to become more like animals. If it is wealth, no wealth is enough to give you happiness, so you become greedy like a pig.
When a bad person receives punishment, it is not a bad thing but a good thing. The punishment is meant to rehabilitate the person so that they change their ways and start doing good. When an evil person is not rehabilitated and is left free to continue with their evil acts that is a punishment in itself because they are left in the path that will lead them into lack of happiness and therefore lack meaning in life. When we, therefore, ask why bad things don’t happen to bad people we are begging the question. When evil people, therefore, escape punishment, they ensure the biggest punishment of all; wickedness is punishment given when a person is evil ((Boethius, 100). Wickedness is like a sickness when one is punished; it is like they are healed but when they are left to indulge further, and they are left to suffer from the illness (Boethius, 94).
Providence also answers the plan of God when it comes to evil and good. Providence answers our shortcomings as humans that makes us determine some situations as bad and others as good. The plan of God is divine, eternal, and has everything in its place. Because of our shortcoming of having a temporary life, we are not good at judging whether something that happens to us is bad or evil. It is only through the belief in God’s providence that we will accept the situation as it is and therefore have the time to enjoy life and what it offers. Providence is reassuring and therefore allows us to be happy. True happiness would not come from comparison of lives with the evil ones because we know of their impending destruction within the same path.
It is, therefore, our responsibility to live as Good people, seek out Godliness, and that is the way that we will reach true happiness. If one assumes the trait of being good, even when bad things happen to us we shouldn’t view them in the light of wickedness but as something in God’s providence plan and that it will eventually payout to something good. Human’s main function is to life and live happily. That as the argument by Lady Philosophy is only achieved by living a virtuous life.
Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus. The consolation of philosophy. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.