Can justice be done using punishment of infinite nature for a transgression of finite nature?

Atheist View

The Atheist Perspective

No. Justice by definition entails commensurate treatment. Otherwise justice cannot exist. For example, either stealing a stick of bubble gum is exactly as evil as committing mass murder, or it is not. But on no credible idea of justice can they be equal. So anyone who treats them as equal is unjust. Treating both with an infinite punishment treats them as equal and is therefore unjust. Since this analysis will show that there is always some greater evil than any specific evil, the only evil that is commensurate with an infinite punishment is an infinite evil. Humans, as finite beings, can never commit an infinite evil.

Moreover, justice itself has no value if it causes more harm than good. If justice caused more harm than good, then justice itself would be evil. Infinite punishment causes infinitely more harm than good, since the amount of suffering that results is always greater (in fact, infinitely greater) than the suffering caused by the original crime. Therefore, infinite punishment can never be a component of any system of justice that was not itself evil.

Finally, by definition, any moral being would prefer and maintain a system of justice that does more good than another system of justice. A system of justice that reforms the punished and then allows them to repurchase their freedom and happiness by achieving restitution to (and forgiveness from) all those they wronged, would produce infinitely more good than a system of justice in which punishments were infinite. Therefore, no moral being would allow any system infinite punishment--if they can create and maintain a better one, as any god could.

The Problem of Hell

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Christian View

The Christian Perspective

Ultimately there is no other way to do it as long as we are the ones paying the price.

In the end, it all comes down to a simple math problem.

If God grants me 80 years to serve Him with, and I only serve Him for 79 of those years, then I owe God one year of service:

80 - 79 = 1

If I insist on paying God back rather than accepting His offer of forgiveness through Christ, how will I pay Him back for the one year in which I did not serve Him perfectly?

Here I am, the end of the 80 years God allotted me, and I am now dead. I don't have another year to give Him!

So, since I desire to pay Him back, He allows me to try. He sends me to the place where His debtors go, where I will be punished until my debt is paid -- one year there should do the trick, right?

So now, how many years has God granted me to serve Him with?

80 + 1 = 81

So my year of paying off the debt then finally comes to a close and I did my absolute best -- I served God perfectly for this last year in debtor's prison (Matthew 18:23-35). He was very impressed with my excellent behavior, and He calls me out to settle our debts. God and I do the math and we see that God has granted me a total of 81 years in which to serve Him, and I have now served Him well for exactly 80 of them.

81 - 80 = 1

"Wait a minute!" I shout. "It appears I still owe you another year!"

"It certainly seems that way," God replies. "Want to try again?"

So God sends me back to debtor's prison for another year. At the end of the year, during which my behavior was absolutely perfect, He has granted me a total of 82 years to be devoted to Him, and I have devoted a total of 81 years to Him.

82 - 81 = 1

I'm still in His debt!

And so the saga continues, ad infinitum, as long as I refuse to accept His offer of forgiveness. There is simply no way that someone with nothing, someone who's own life doesn't even belong to himself, can ever pay back someone that owns everything, including that very man's life!

Any worldview, faith, or religion that insists upon perfect behavior from a sinner as a way to earn God's favor in the afterlife is guilty of nothing less than bad math.

The Bible states that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. If we sin at all, and all of us do, we deserve nothing more than death (Romans 6:23).

In Christianity alone has our God offered us a complete form of forgiveness that can actually fully mend the problems in our relationship -- forgiveness through Christ (Hebrews 10:12).

If you have not yet accepted His forgiveness, there is no better time than the present. You will never be able to make it up to Him on your own (Romans 3:20).

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