Augustine’s Understanding of God and CreationJune 26, 2021
There are two main characters in Augustine’s work Soliloquia, which he wrote in a dialogue: Augustine and reason.
Reason asks Augustine: “What would you like to know?” Augustine answers: “I want to know God and spirit.” The mind asks again: “Don’t you want more?” Augustine replies: “No way!” Augustine’s response here shows that his philosophical understanding contains an important personality. This philosophical understanding is also an activity inevitably identified with religion.
The important thing for him is to reach the nature of human wisdom. To act in line with this purpose also means to desire the truth. This great desire for truth also reveals the relationship between faith and knowledge for Augustine. According to Augustine, when the human mind is left alone, it cannot perform an activity that leads to the truth. In this respect, knowing, which is the primary duty of the mind, should come after believing. Augustine uses a saying that was influential at the time: “Unless you believe, you will not understand!” Therefore, it is necessary to make an effort to believe first and then to understand the believer. To put it in other words, firstly believing what is wanted to be known will cause it to be known better. But once we accept the truths of faith, reason intervenes to help us better understand what we believe. In the eleventh century Anselmus would give this ideal the classical formulation in his own maxim: fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking reason).
That is, it is faith that trains the mind, and the object of faith is truth. The fact that the truth somehow emerges in our minds actually informs the existence of God within us. God, according to Augustine, is truth itself. The fact that the truth is in our minds also expresses its existence within us. If the truth is in us, then God is in us. However, God is in a structure that surpasses us because of the features in his existence. As of this structure, it governs us, our minds; It shows ways to think right. Therefore, it is impossible for God to be a concept produced by the human mind. For if God had been a structure produced by reason, then God would have to be subject to change; however, God is an unchanging existence. The fact that God has an unchanging existence is due to his being real being. One name describes God better than others. This name is the name revealed to us by God Himself in the Bible section called “Exodus” (3:14).
When Moses asks Him his name, He answers: “I am what I am.” This answer means that God is being itself (Ipsum Esse). Plato’s Idea can in no way be identified with the God of monotheistic religions. However, in Plato’s philosophy, it is possible to say that the Idea is the Being itself. Based on the similarity of discourse, it will not be difficult to estimate the influence of Neoplatonism on Augustine’s philosophy and its weight in medieval philosophy. Being itself means the existence of one of the two opposite situations that bring about the movement. Since there is no potential state in Being that has not yet occurred, it is not subject to any physical movement. So to say that God is Being is also that He is motionless; that is, to say that it is immutable in terms of its existence. Therefore, God’s definition of “I am what I am” means that the Essence and Existence in Him are one and the same (Maurer, 1982: 12).
The God of Augustine, which has a great resemblance to Plato’s Idea, is an eternal and eternal being. This feature indicates that he exists in the highest form. For this reason, it is necessary to talk about a world in which existences similar to it emerge, and to associate this world with creation. Because the world and the soul that perceives it contain some deficiencies and therefore they must have been created. The world of creatures absolutely reflects God and tries to reveal him. This state of projection should be understood as being directed towards God. All existences on earth contain some deficiencies and are therefore subject to change. The fact that beings are subject to change means they need a reason to exist.
According to Augustine, the forms we discover in the beings themselves through reason are temporary reflections of the eternal ideas in God’s mind. Therefore, we can say that God created an entire universe through his ideas. God created the universe with his free will. Although we say that there are Neoplatonist features in Augustine’s philosophy, he cannot agree with Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, on Creation. Because Plotinos says that the universe necessarily derives from the One (emanatio = my species). Whereas for Augustine b