He rejected the traditional arguments for the existence of God.
However, the eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that God was necessary in order to explain ethics.
While he dismissed many of the classical arguments for God, he felt that without God morality would be meaningless. Kant’s position is well summarized in the Ethical Theory volume of Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies:
“Kant also believes that God is a ‘necessary postulate’ of morality because morality requires that justice be done. Justice requires that the virtuous be rewarded, and the wicked be punished. Since justice isn’t always done here on earth, morality again requires immortality, so as to provide a context in which people will receive their just deserts. But this distribution of benefit and burden will not come of its own accord, even if we are all immortal. It must come from someone with enough wisdom and power to allocate the necessary rewards and punishments. And that person is God.”
Our longing for justice points to perfect and all-powerful judge.
This truth could not be more clear than on the first day of May. It is was on May 1st, 1945, that a war-torn world welcomed the news of Adolf Hitler’s death. And it was May 1st, 2011, that brought an announcement of the Navy Seals’ successful mission in eliminating 911 master mind, Osama bin Laden. Justice has been served.
But according to Kant, we all sense the injustice of our own lives. Our inability to obtain goodness and happiness for ourselves and others reveals our own moral limitations. Something is amiss. Our moral compass is off. We fear that if justice is measured out upon all injustice, then we too will face judgment. Our fears are valid.
The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our moral shortcomings are actually egregious sins against a holy God. And deep down we all understand this. Our hearts refuse to believe our rationalization of abiding guilt.
Because of our weaknesses, we need someone to obtain moral perfection and impute this righteousness to our account. We need someone to atone for our sin. And this is precisely the point of the historical account of the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ.
We cry out for justice against the likes of Hitler and bin Laden. Yet our guilty hearts betray our confidence.
Like Kant, you might dismiss the classical arguments for God. But what will you do with the dilemma you face between longing for justice, while fearing that you too will be judged?
“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5)
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 12:21)