Living in a world without cosmic justice

Our desire for cosmic justice expresses itself in many ways.
Our desire for cosmic justice expresses itself in many ways.

It isn’t easy living in reality. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes bad people not only get away with being bad, they are rewarded for it.

It is very comforting to think that there might be some form of cosmic justice that would cause all these bad people to get their comeuppance eventually. Our desire for justice is so strong, that almost every religion in the world has apologia and theodicy to explain away this problem and reassure the faithful that justice will be done, eventually.

Naturalists have no such comfort. We have to accept the stark reality that sometimes the bad guys win. There is no cosmic justice.

But does the lack of cosmic justice have to depress us? No. It can empower us. And it should empower us.

I am a Humanist which means, among other things, that I believe in the power of human agency. We humans don’t have to accept the status quo if the status quo sucks. And when bad people win, it definitely sucks.

We have agency which means we can change things if we want to, but we have to work at it and take responsibility to do it.

This is why the absence of cosmic justice is so empowering to me. The universe is not sentient. It isn’t concerned with justice. It just is. This means the universe isn’t capable of taking on the job of punishing bad people no matter how much we might want it to.

If bad people are going to be brought to justice, it will be because good people stood up and did something.


Cosmic Justice is a bad idea

I find the idea of cosmic justice disempowering precisely because it takes the tools of justice away from us. Knowing that the only way justice will be served is if I make it my responsibility to do something empowers me.

So the next time you find yourself lamenting the lack of justice in the world, remind yourself that if justice is to be found, it will be through the actions of your fellow humans. Then come and join us and commit to making a difference.


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The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.

Written by Jennifer Hancock.



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