Augustine, the Catholic Church’s most venerated reformed saint, is most widely known
for his insightful philosophies, and the life-changing events he uses as their basis. In his
, he begins with the start of his life in which he makes his first assumption, that all
humans are innately evil, even as children. He continues, remembering an event in which he
stole a pear from a tree, and with that story justifies his assumption of the inherent evilness of
human beings. He pleads in guilty hunger for the Lord’s feeding hands, for forgiveness and the
strength to carry out God’s Will with his newfound knowledge. In doing so, he condemns all
humans, in presupposition that these people, his former self included, live to thwart God,
attempting to prove themselves greater than the Lord, creator of nature. He presents his argument
using his own trivial story as a common base uniting all of humanity. His words invoke harsh
images of presumptuous, self-pleasuring beings, as do they impose the idea of a wrathful God,
one to be feared.
In his earlier years, Augustine was more of a rebellious young-adult. He practiced in
premarital sex, alcoholism, and basic Epicureanism, indulging in the pleasures of debauchery.
On a certain outing with a few friends, Augustine was pressured into stealing a pear from a tree
that did not belong to him. While seemingly trivial, to Augustine his entire view on life changed
as he realized the innate evil of human beings. Thenceforth in his Confessions
, he relates most
everything back to this perception. “Therefore in that act of theft what was the object of my
love?” (ln. 14). Was the pear what he desired?
This picking of the pear was for the sole purpose
of pleasure. He could afford the pear, yet he chose to pick it in order to choose pleasure over
God. His intentions of picking the pear were not only to please his peers but also to behave like
God, taking what he wants.
The story of the stolen pear being the instigator, Augustine concludes that human beings
are innately evil, even from birth. The “soul fornicates when it turns away from you” (ln. 7). This