Photo by Kirk Durston

There are two issues that complicate our search for perfect justice. First of all, most of us would admit it is highly unlikely that our concept of justice is flawless. Secondly, we  evaluate other societies and people using our own sense of justice; if there is any discrepancy, we tend to assume the other person is unjust.

This is problematic when we contemplate what God permits in this world. The difficulty can be summarized as follows:

  1. Our sense of justice is imperfect
  2. If we acknowledge this, then we must realize a perfectly just being will not always conform to our sense of justice.

Keeping these two points in mind, there is an additional reason we may think God is unjust …

We often determine whether whether something should be permitted or not based on consequences. For example, consider if you and a friend had the same knowledge and foresight about a significant upcoming event. The two of you may reach similar conclusions about how to deal with the situation. However, what if your friend could foresee consequences stemming from this event the following year, but you could not?  Due to your limited knowledge, your friend’s perspective and decisions might appear to be unjust compared to your own. Now, what if your friend knew the consequences of the same event over the next thousand years? Clearly, there would be a significant disparity in how the two of you handled the same situation. Consider the implications of this if God is omniscient, knowing all that it is logically possible to know.

To summarize, we can conclude the following:

  1. The greater the disparity in foresight between two people, the more likely one will appear to be unjust to the other.
  2. The disparity in knowledge between us and an all-knowing being is enormous.
  3. As a result, God will sometimes appear to be unjust.


Even though God loves you more than you can possibly comprehend, you may feel that He can’t be bothered to give you the time of day. There will be events that happen in your life or in this world that you believe are completely unjustified. Conversely, there will be things that didn’t happen to you that you believe should have. Because of our less than perfect concept of justice and minuscule foresight, a flawlessly just and all-knowing God may appear to be unloving and unfair.

Contrary to the ‘prosperity gospel’ that claims we should all be healthy billionaires, you may find yourself living in a hole in the ground, completely destitute and enduring a load that seems almost unbearable. This is where faith must step in. You will need to decide whether to accept Christ’s statement of love for you when He said,

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends“. John 15:13

For Further Reading:

Kirk Durston, The Consequential Complexity of History and Gratuitous EvilReligious Studies (2000)

Kirk Durston, The Failure of Type-4 Arguments From Evil, in the Face of the Consequential Complexity of HistoryPhilo (2006), 8, No. 2.

Kirk Durston, The Complexity of History and Evil: A Reply to TrakakisReligious Studies (2006)

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