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Atheism and Justice – June 20

20 Jun
  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
  • Thus says the Lord: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3

Without a perfect, just God acting as supreme Judge over all of creation, justice can’t exist. Justice is rooted in objective truth, an objective, moral order. Without such, who is to say that murder or human sacrifice are wrong? After all, one might vehemently argue that the victim was deserving of death. The answer is quite simple-God said it’s wrong, therefore it’s wrong. There must exist a perfect Being from which all goodness stems, for how else can we know what is good?

Trust in God and obey God’s commands. He is the righteous King, the ruler of all, the punisher of evil. If you have been hurt, abused, neglected, or persecuted, He will make it right. He promises good to those who persevere. The English theologian Cardinal Newman once said that if he believed that all the evils and injustices of life throughout history were not to be made right by God in the afterlife, “Why I think I should go mad.” And rightly so.

Richard Wurmbrand said it well in Tortured for Christ:

“The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, “There is no God, no Hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.” I have heard one torturer even say, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.”

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11 Comments

Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Atheism, Daily Thoughts, June, Persecution

 

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11 responses to “Atheism and Justice – June 20

  1. NotAScientist

    June 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

    “Without such, who is to say that murder or human sacrifice are wrong?”

    We are. Which is lucky, because we’re the ones who have actual control over such things.

    “The English theologian Cardinal Newman once said that if he believed that all the evils and injustices of life throughout history were not to be made right by God in the afterlife, “Why I think I should go mad.” And rightly so.”

    So?

    Is your argument, “I don’t want it to be that way, so it isn’t”? Because that’s a bad argument.

     
    • Jacob

      June 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

      “We are”? I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means. The language is ambiguous.
      That’s my argument- that subjective, contingent individuals can’t ultimately decide what is just. And of course, that God is the only self-explanatory Being responsible for such.

       
      • NotAScientist

        June 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

        “That’s my argument- that subjective, contingent individuals can’t ultimately decide what is just.”

        And I’m saying your argument is wrong.

        Unless you definition of ‘just’ is ‘perfectly just’, in which case I would agree…but so what? We need to live some way, and it’s better to be as just as we can than not at all.

         
      • Jacob

        June 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        Please expound upon my argument being wrong. You are simply knocking down straw men with confusing language. Who is “we” and what does it mean “to be as just as we can”? When your definition of just finds conflict with another’s, who is right? What of tribal people who consider human sacrifice or life exchange as the acceptable way of life? They’re simply trying “to be as just as they can.” Can you show me where you derive your justice?

         
      • Collin

        June 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

        We’re subjective creatures. We are entirely incapable of experiencing the world in any “truly” objective way. We rely on flawed sensory organs to interpret the world around us. That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of coming up with a pretty good understanding of the world–we’ve done an excellent job of using science to do just this.

        My point is that we don’t live in a world of “ultimates.” We live in a world of “good enoughs.” Even if there is no such thing as ultimate-objective-justice, the vast majority of the human race treats the concept of “justice” as significant, and so it is.

        Practical interpretations of justice vary from culture to culture–you can’t really find two societies that agree on what the rules for living “should” be, so how can you make the argument that objective justice actually exists? It seems to me that you can’t even make a case for basing it on the Bible because there are so many different Christian denominations that absolutely disagree with each other.

         
      • Jacob

        June 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

        You’ve again made my argument for me. “Justice,” as you just defined it, is subjective. None should be held accountable for their deeds because they were acting out their perception of justice. To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is good or evil independently of whether any human being believes it to be so. Similarly to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong for us independently of whether any human being believes them to be so. For example, to say that the Holocaust was objectively wrong is to say that it was wrong even though the Nazis who carried it out thought that it was right, and it would still have been wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them so that it was universally believed that the Holocaust was right.

        Indeed we are flawed, subjective creatures, which is my argument. Objective truth must exist, for how else is truth in existence? Whether or not we are able to attain perfection in our moral obligation to such truth does not change the fact that “ultimate justice” does indeed exist. In Christianity, we are held accountable to an eternal God based on His revealed law. It is the ultimatum. Denominations have nothing to do with God’s law. Most squabble about insignificant doctrinal issues. We, as flawed creatures, break the law. We ALL fail to meet the standard required by His ultimate, objective decree. This in fact is the power of atonement on a cross, the death of Jesus.

        I’ll write much more about the moral arguments for the existence of God. Thanks for commenting again Collin.

         
  2. NotAScientist

    June 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    “When your definition of just finds conflict with another’s, who is right? ”

    The one whose definition of just creates the least demonstrable harm.

    “They’re simply trying “to be as just as they can.””

    Sure. And they’re doing a better job of it than their ancestors, but not as good a job of it as most western states are.

    “Can you show me where you derive your justice?”

    Demonstrable harm and benefit.

     
    • Jacob

      June 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Harm or benefit, as you describe them, are your construct, unless you can show objective origin.
      I hope you stick around for future posts. We might enjoy some interesting dialogue.

       
      • NotAScientist

        June 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

        “Harm or benefit, as you describe them, are your construct, unless you can show objective origin.”

        That’s what doctors are for. Evidence tells us quite a lot, despite your objections.

        Harm isn’t ‘my construct’. We can determine it.

         
  3. Collin

    June 21, 2012 at 9:34 am

    “To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is good or evil independently of whether any human being believes it to be so. Similarly to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong for us independently of whether any human being believes them to be so.”
    I actually just wrote on the topic of objective morals a few days ago (I can provide a link if you’re interested–it will clarify the summary I’m about to give), and I firmly reject this claim. Philosophy uses the word “objective” in a different sense from its everyday use. If you’re constrainng yourself to that sense of “objective” (would still exist without people), then morals clearly aren’t objective; morals are judgments of right and wrong behavior, and if there were no people, there would be no behavior to judge. Ergo, morality would not exist. If, on the other hand, you use the word as it’s meant in normal circumstances, morality (even if it is merely a human construct) can be objectively assessed.

    “Objective truth must exist, for how else is truth in existence?”
    This is not a sound inference. Objective truth must exist? “Must?” Why? Because truth exists? But truth doesn’t “exist.” There is no platonic “truth.” We can neither taste nor touch nor feel truth. We can’t find it on a map or measure its width with a ruler. There is no Geiger counter for truth. “Truth” is a word we use to describe statements that correspond with reality. If you have no statements, you have no truth.

    ““ultimate justice” does indeed exist.”
    Prove it. Give me a single example of ultimate justice that has been proven anywhere in the world.

    “In Christianity, we are held accountable to an eternal God based on His revealed law. It is the ultimatum. Denominations have nothing to do with God’s law.”
    This is an incoherent argument. Which version of the Bible is the revealed law? (KJV? Book of Mormon?) They’re all different. Whose interpretation of the Bible is correct? If God had truly revealed His law to humanity, all of us would know it. There would be no disagreement among the faithful. Yet we see nothing but disagreement and confusion.

     
    • Jacob

      June 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      All of the above misunderstandings of the argument are based on confusing God’s existence with belief in God’s existence. The argument is not that belief in God’s existence is necessary for the objective reality of moral values and duties, but that God is necessary for the objective reality of moral values and duties. Nor is the argument that God is necessary for our knowledge of moral values and duties. I am continually observing the confusion of moral ontology with moral epistemology. Moral ontology deals with the reality of moral values and properties; moral epistemology deals with our knowledge of moral truths. As far as moral epistemology is concerned, I can appeal to all the same mechanisms, such as moral intuition and reflection, by means of which humanist thinkers are confident that they accurately discern the good and the right. In fact, the Bible actually teaches that God’s moral law is “written on the hearts” of all men, so that even those who do not know God’s law “do naturally the things of the law” as “their conscience bears witness to them” (Rom. 2.14–15)

      Your commentary on the law revealed in Scripture is uninformed at best. I won’t even address the grouping of the Book of Mormon as a translation of the Bible, but that’s completely false. I’m guessing when you say “version,” you mean translation, as the thousands of ancient manuscripts show remarkable textual consistency in their respective languages. Modern translations vary because of difficulties in properly translating Hebrew to modern language, say, English. Should one aim for literal word-for-word accuracy or thought-for-thought? Who is to say? That is why so many translations exist, to serve their purpose in attempting to expound the Biblical text. NASB finds quality in literal exactness. While the NIV is nice for overall readability. Despite their differences, they DO NOT change God’s law. Again, “disagreement” exists within proper interpretation of difficult texts, not within the decree of God’s law, the sin of mankind, or the redemption of sin found in Jesus of Nazareth’s death on the cross. Neither the possible tainting of God’s word, nor the disagreement among the faithful on doctrinal issues prove that God is flawed. Only that mankind is fallen and in need of redemption.

       

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