Imagine there is no ultimate justice. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Not mentally hard, but most certainty emotionally hard. Knowing that some despicable individuals will never feel the pain they’ve caused others just doesn’t seem right. But does our discomfort with this possibility justify the conclusion of an ideology in which ultimate justice is served?
Many ideologies are popular due to their compatibility with human emotions, one such emotion being the longing for ultimate justice. Yet, it does not follow that such a longing requires or even suggests the conclusion that there is ultimate justice. Unless we are willing at the start of our search for truth to accept the possibility of a world in which there is no ultimate justice, we have consciously abandoned an honest search for truth. We have intentionally added the bias of our emotions into our reasoning. Our emotions are great motivators, but poor tools for uncovering truths. Most of us have experienced the distorting effects of infatuation and jealousy. “Something that feels this right can’t be wrong” we tell ourselves. “My jealousy means he/she belongs to me” is a similarly distorted conclusion. Likewise, our indignation over perceived injustices can also distort reality. We may consider a world without ultimate reality to be absurd, but isn’t this absurdity merely an emotional response to something very distasteful to our human sense of justice?
If there is no divine judge administering ultimate justice, where does that leave us? That leaves us in the same world in which our yearning for a particular romantic partner does not always result in mutual affection. It leaves us in a world in which our jealousy does not increase our objective ownership of or right to the person we are jealous over. It leaves us fully immersed in the joys and pains of reality.
We can, of course, along with others in our society, establish laws that promote justice and equity as we see it. This participation in a conventionally derived notion of justice and its enforcement is intrinsically constrained by the degree of agreement, but the conclusion that there is no ultimate justice does not mean we can not encourage an inter-subjectively-derived notion of justice within our social communities. But if this form of conventional justice were not possible, it still would not justify the conclusion that there is some objective justice out there.
If there are other legitimate reasons to think there is an actual judge administering objective justice in this life or the alleged next life, it is dubious that the God of the Bible is a legitimate candidate. Few rational humans believe that every offense, no matter how small, is deserving of the torments of damnation that await the offenders as many Christian leaders claim. There is also the problem of a God who asks humans to forgive without bloodshed, but who can not himself forgive without bloodshed, in spite of his claim to be loving and to be the ultimate authority. These notions are dealt with in the following chapters of this book:
#30: Can we legitimately be held culpable for following an unrequested & of unavoidable sin nature?
#31: Would an actual loving God deem rational belief in the wrong God worthy of eternal damnation?
#32: Is the eternal damnation described in the Bible a just punishment or wrathful vengeance?
#33: Would forgiveness without bloodshed violate the righteousness of the God of the Bible?
#34: Can culpability for offenses be legitimately reassigned to someone other than the offender?
#35: How is the three-day death of Jesus equivalent to the eternal damnation of billions of sinners?
#36: How can a single offense require the penalty of eternal punishment as the Bible suggests?
#37: How will there be no tears in Heaven if those in Heaven remain aware those they love are in Hell?
This chapter was included in part to highlight the less-than-noble tactics of many Christian leaders. They appeal more to human emotions and our quite fallible intuition rather than to actual evidence and argumentation. They will often dramatically point out…
“But if there is no ultimate justice, then Hitler, Stalin and other cruel leaders will never pay for their evil deeds!”
…as if this observation necessitates ultimate justice. Our emotional discomfort with the notion of living in a world without ultimate justice lends no evidence for the conclusion that there is ultimate justice. And those who consciously attempt to manipulate our emotions to drag us towards various comforting conclusions very likely do not represent a God of rationality.