Don't want God? No justice

Robin Schumacher
Courtesy of Robin Schumacher

One of the chants heard during the recent protests across the world that condemn the outrageous and senseless killing of George Floyd has been “No Justice, No Peace!”

During this same period of time, the Netflix documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich has consistently ranked as the number one or two offering available on the streaming service. Epstein, an American financier, lured large numbers of women, including underage girls, to his many residences and other locations where they were systematically abused by him and some of his acquaintances. Epstein was eventually arrested for his crimes but committed suicide before he could be tried. A number of his victims profiled in the series remarked how sad they were that Epstein never experienced true justice.

It’s hard to remember a time in history where more people sought justice for real or supposed wrongdoings committed against others. Amidst all the fury, we tend to forget the role God plays in all of it and that, if God doesn’t exist, real justice is just an illusion.

No morality without God

The famous poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Nothing is good or bad, only charming or dull”.[1] Although one could argue with how he framed things, the assertion of nothing being truly good or bad is correct if God is not in the picture.

Atheists like Louise Atony, Richard Dawkins, William Provine, and J. L. Mackie agree that the idea of objective good/evil and morals goes out the window if you delete God from your worldview. And this produces a real pickle for those who seek justice but deny God’s existence.

For example, where do atheists who say racism or homophobia is objectively wrong turn for both guidance and a moral standard? Their own opinions? Maybe evolutionary theory?

The former produces only chaos. The latter won’t do because evolution has historically taught that races are actually not equal. This awful teaching has underpinned the existential philosophical conclusions reached by those such as Darwin and Nietzsche on the subject. Moreover, Richard Dawkins and others have constantly told us that our selfish genes only exist to propagate DNA[2], and if true, then life will view the gay community as having a genetic defect that fails in that regard and therefore it will be less welcome than other groups.  

Other appeals to equality, no matter how eloquently offered (e.g. Sam Harris’ work The Moral Landscape), always wind up in the same place of morality being pure cultural or individual preference and not objective.

But the fact is that laws always imply a law giver. And if there is an objective moral law, there is a moral law giver. Put another way, if God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. But since people agree that objective moral values and duties exist, God must exist.

C. S. Lewis said it best — “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”[3] And that straight line is something God has hardwired into each one of us.

No practical justice without God

In Romans 2, Paul says that because we are made in the image of God, we instinctively know right and wrong. While CNN host Chris Cuomo recently asserted that George Floyd protesters can resort to violence and asks to be shown “where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful”[4] (he need look no further than the First Amendment where it says Americans have the right to “peaceably” assemble), internally we know that violence committed against others is morally wrong.   

When it comes to policing our own behavior as well as that of others, Dr. Edward John Carnell does an excellent job at making the distinction between our own actions and what he calls the “judicial sentiment,” which is also part of God’s image[5] that’s sewn into us:

Whereas conscience accuses the self the judicial sentiment accuses others. The direction of accusation is the important thing. Conscience monitors one’s own moral conduct, while the judicial sentiment monitors the moral conduct of others. Furthermore, conscience is subject to social and cultural conditioning, whereas the judicial sentiment is not. All normal men, past, present, and future, experience an aroused judicial sentiment whenever they are personally mistreated.  . . . All aroused judicial sentiment is merely heaven’s warning that the image of God is being outraged.[6]

It's this judicial side of God’s image in us that allows for the proper recognition and resolution of injustice. Without it, you’ll only have mob rule.  

No ultimate justice without God  

The influential German philosopher Immanuel Kant is famous for saying that he believed in God because of "the starry host above and the moral law within." Kant was convinced that, without God, true justice is impossible.  

In asking the question, “What would it take for ethics to be meaningful?”, Kant concluded that justice must exist, but then he went on to ask what was necessary for that justice to be real. To answer that question, Kant’s reasonings went as follows.   

The world shows again and again that justice in this life doesn’t always occur — something observed by Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers; because everyone eventually experiences death, Epstein’s suicide was in no way a delivery of justice. Therefore, Kant’s first condition of justice was that there must be life after death.

Condition two is that there must be a final judgment in the next life. Moreover, that judgment must be perfect with no possibility of any resulting injustice.   

But to have a perfect judgment, you must have a judge that has all knowledge and knows all the facts of each case. And that judge must be righteous because while a judge can possess all the facts of a case, they could be corrupt.  

Lastly, Kant reasoned that the judge must have the ultimate power to implement and enforce justice, with nothing being able to oppose him.

So, to have meaningful ethics and true justice, Kant asserted you must have life after death where an omnipotent, omniscient, righteous, and holy judge awaits who will bring about final justice for everyone and everything.

For us in this life, Kant concluded that whether we like it or not we must live as if there is a God. Only He gives us the ability to accurately recognize objective morality and injustice today and only He gives us the hope that, one day, ultimate justice will be realized in totality for all of humanity.

Put another way, no God, no justice.





[5] One of God’s formal attributes is Justice/Righteousness, which we bear in our image.


Robin Schumacher is a former software executive and Christian apologist who has written many apologetic articles, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at various apologetic events. He holds a Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament.

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