St. Thomas Summa Contra Gentiles


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What is your understanding of evil?

According to St. Thomass Summa Contra Gentiles he states that in God there is no evil.   In God there is essential goodness and being. Essential in this case means pure with no interference from foreign things because for something to be described as good there is no any foreign element which should mix with the goodness. Everything according to St. Aquinas comprises of components which are bound together to make an essential idea and it cannot have any element from outside itself.

God is not only good but has   goodness and nothing in him is anything which is not goodness and evil is also not part of Him. In His own, God is good and no evil can be predicted in God. Evil according to St. Aquinas description of the goodness of God is something which is foreign. It acts as an impurity of Gods goodness and essence (St. Aquinas, 2008). Whenever evil is present, then it means that there is no goodness because God cannot be predicated evil. Privation is seen in evilness because a perfect thing is seen in its actualities.

Failure to attain actualities is imperfection. Evil is nothing or privation. Potentiality is seen in privation which is not seen in Gods Goodness and in God there is no evil.  I John, 1: 5 state that God is the light and in   Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  This means that evil is associated with darkness. When we talk of evil therefore, the concept of goodness also comes to picture. evil arise because human beings know that things are either good or evil this means looking at how our actions can be seen to be what it is from what it is not.

Evil is also a privation just as it is written in Summa theology. This means that evil is associated with having mysterious aspects in it. Human freedom is limited to the wishes of God. He has well set laws and rules according to the Ten Commandments. This means that human beings are limited in doing what they wish to do. To God’s own choice he can deprive of give us power and life because he is the supreme God. This means that human freedom is not absolute. What is beyond the will of God is considered as evil.

Our freedom is limited to the choices God had given us. It is within the choices of God that he can deprive us of power and life (St. Aquinas, 2008). God is the highest good according to Aquinas. He is in fact the only one who can be described as goodness in it. Therefore all the things on earth aim towards Gods goodness. In this claim St. Aquinas does not see that evil does not exist but it is as a result of human deficiency. Evil is evil and cannot be considered as otherwise this is similar to truth where truth will remain to be the truth. Human understanding is made in a way that one is able to differentiate evil and goodness.

In the natures realism, evil is present and any people see it as a form of disorder. Evil is a deficiency characterized by the weakness, suffering, frailty and death of human beings. Evil shows a tension between the laws of goodness and the evil power as man tries to attain goodness. As a results of   human freedom perversion, we come face to face with sin and it result to death because it is as a result of being detached from the source of life who is God. Evil, according to me exists as an active force in its own and not as the way St Aquinas states that it is an absence or deficiency of something.

Evil is a spiritual and living being which   perverts human beings and is perverted by others. Paul the apostle states that.  I put on the armor of God¦  this  means that through Gods amour one is able to stand against the devils wiles  because the fight of the evil is  not  by  blood and flesh  but against the powers and principalities, and against  the rulers of  the world and their darkness and against  the wickedness of the spiritual forces. This means that the evil spirit is not a deficiency but a sprit with wicked principles associated to darkness.

The root sources of evil are the devil. He is the father of lies, the murder and tempter of human soul. Christ defined Satan as the one who undermines the moral equilibrium of man with his wickedness and sophistry. He is a clever seducer, malign who goes through human beings imaginations, senses and logic through social contacts which are disordered to influence human actions and activities. This results to great deviation of human beings and harm to human mental and physical makeup (Atkinson, 2008, pp 12).

Evil can be defeated through grace. We as Christians are to follow the teachings of the apostle to be militants and put on the full armor of God, to be strong and vigilant and practice being closer to God to avoid Satans temptations. Jesus teaches us on fasting and praying as a way to overcome the devil.  Following the Goodness of God is a remedy to evil forces and spirits.


Atkinson, M (2008) Aristotle and Aquinas: Intrinsic Morality versus God’s Morality. Reference

On February 19, 2011

St. Aquinas, T (2008) Summa Theologica, Publisher BiblioLife, pp 134

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