Augustine on human nature C/B grade summary notes


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The fall & original sin

  • Before the fall, Adam and Eve were not sinful – they were friends and had no lust.
  • Adam and Eve’s disobedience of god caused a corruption in human nature called original sin.
  • This caused all future humans to be born with an irresistible temptation to sin.
  • Concupiscence – when your bodily/sinful desires take over and overwhelm your reason.
  • Original sin also caused an imbalance of cupiditas (self-love) and caritas (love of others) – so that we have much more selfish love of ourselves and of earthly possessions.


  • Modern science shows that Augustine is wrong – the fall didn’t happen, we evolved. There was no Adam and Eve. So, it makes no sense to say that human nature became cursed because of their actions when they are just fictional characters.

Augustine’s views on grace and predestination

  • Original sin damns us to hell. It is only if God grants us his gift of grace that we could ever get to heaven. By ourselves, because we are corrupted, we can never be or do good enough to deserve getting into heaven.
  • God either grants us grace, predestining us for heaven, or he doesn’t and our original sin damns us to hell.


  • It’s not fair or loving to condemn people to hell for the actions of their ancestors. 
  • We had nothing to do with Adam and Eve’s disobedience – so how is it fair to punish us with hell for their actions?
  • Predestination is not something a loving God would enforce.

Pelagius’ critique of Augustine 

  • Pelagius pointed out that if Augustine was right about original sin – then we are too cursed and corrupted to ever be or do good actions.
  • However – the Bible is full of Jesus & God’s commands – commanding us to do and be good.
  • It makes no sense for God to command us to be good if we were really unable to be good.
  • So, we must be able to be good – so, Augustine must be wrong in his claim that human nature is corrupted by original sin.
  • Why would God command us to be good, if we were cursed with original sin and thus unable to be good…? 


  • Augustine responded that actually we can do good – but only if we are granted God’s grace. With God’s grace, we are saved and predestined for heaven but we are also given the power to be and do good. 
  • So, those of us who have grace will be able to follow the commands in the Bible. So it does make sense for God to command goodness in the Bible – since those with grace will be able to follow those commands (though those without grace won’t be able to).

Conclusion: Pelagius’ critique fails, but Augustine is still wrong overall because of the scientific and moral critique of his views.