Argument from justice

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The argument from justice is based on the alleged need for consequences to human actions and concludes that an afterlife must exist. The argument is an appeal to emotion and wishful thinking because it exploits human desire for justice and security. The argument is related to the Moral argument because they both depend on the existence of objective morality.

The concept is similar to Karma which supposes our actions influence our future though spiritual processes. In the Myth of Er, Plato argued that human actions have inescapable consequences, the immortality of the soul and justice in the afterlife.

In Christianity and Islam, the afterlife of a person is usually considered to be either heaven or hell. Infinite reward and infinite punishment are not suitable for a life containing a mixture of good and evil, so a finite state of punishment may exist, such as Purgatory.

Contents

Formal statement

  1. People do good and evil actions.
  2. People are not necessarily held accountable or rewarded in this life.
  3. People are held accountable or rewarded for their actions.
  4. Therefore an afterlife exists in which people are rewarded or punished depending on their actions.

Presumably, the standard of justice used here is human morality. If the argument is based on divine morality, the argument is begging the question by assuming a particular religion is true.

Bertrand Russell's statement

In his essay Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell says:

Then there is another very curious form of moral argument, which is this: they say that the existence of God is required in order to bring justice into the world. In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying; but if you are going to have justice in the universe as a whole you have to suppose a future life to redress the balance of life here on earth. So they say that there must be a God, and there must be Heaven and Hell in order that in the long run there may be justice. That is a very curious argument. If you looked at the matter from a scientific point of view, you would say, "After all, I only know this world. I do not know about the rest of the universe, but so far as one can argue at all on probabilities one would say that probably this world is a fair sample, and if there is injustice here the odds are that there is injustice elsewhere also." Supposing you got a crate of oranges that you opened, and you found all the top layer of oranges bad, you would not argue, "The underneath ones must be good, so as to redress the balance." You would say, "Probably the whole lot is a bad consignment"; and that is really what a scientific person would argue about the universe. He would say, "Here we find in this world a great deal of injustice, and so far as that goes that is a reason for supposing that justice does not rule in the world; and therefore so far as it goes it affords a moral argument against deity and not in favor of one." Of course I know that the sort of intellectual arguments that I have been talking to you about are not what really moves people. What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason.
Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people's desire for a belief in God.

Criticism

  1. Morality does not objectively exist but is a human construct we use to subjectively describe actions.
  2. The premise that there must be consequences to human actions is not supported by any evidence and is a case of wishful thinking.
  3. The afterlife may also contain injustice.
  4. The possibility of being born again or forgiven by God apparently enables a person to escape the consequences of actions. Justice as specified by God is apparently very different from human concepts and not particularly appealing.
  5. The concept of heaven and hell, which are supposedly infinite reward and infinite punishment, are not suitable for finite human actions and are therefore not justice. Therefore, the argument from justice disproves heaven and hell.
  6. The alternative of reincarnation based on a person's actions is ignored.

External Links


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argumentum ad populum · Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from goodness · Argument from desire · Argument from the origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Sensus divinitatis · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Personal revelation · Argument from observed miracles · Argument from personal experience · Consciousness argument for the existence of God · Emotional pleas
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
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