The opinion that a belief in immortality is logically indefensible gains strength, paradoxical as it may seem, from the very fact that most of the western world desire that the belief may be true.
John McTaggart, ‘Some Considerations Relating to Human Immortality’, International Journal of Ethics, vol. 13, no. 2 (January, 1903), p. 170
Nothing is true merely because it is good. Nothing is good merely because it is true. To argue that a thing must be because it ought to be is the last and worst degree of spiritual rebellion–claiming for our ideals the reality of fact. To argue, on the other hand, that a thing must be good because it is true, is the last and worst degree of spiritual servility, which ignores the right and the duty inherent in our possession of ideas–the right and the duty to judge and, if necessary, to condemn the whole universe by the highest standard we can find in our own nature.
John McTaggart, ‘The Necessity of Dogma’, International Journal of Ethics, vol. 5, no. 2 (January, 1895), p. 150
Pain is an evil–all our morality implies that. Even if we have a right to forgive the universe our own pain–and I doubt if we have the right to do even this–we have certainly no right to forgive it the pain of others. We must either believe the pain inflicted for some good purpose, or condemn the universe in which it occurs.
John McTaggart, ‘The Necessity of Dogma’, International Journal of Ethics, vol. 5, no. 2 (January, 1895), p. 156
If it is suggested that there is no evidence that the universe is working towards a good end, the doubter is reminded of the limitations of his intellect, and on account of this is exhorted to banish his doubts from his mind, and to believe firmly that the universe is directed towards a good end. And stronger instances can be found. An apologist may admit, for example, that for our intellects the three facts of the omnipotence of a personal God, the benevolence of a personal God, and the existence of evil, are not to be reconciled. But we are once more reminded of the feebleness of our intellects. And we are invited to assert, not only that our conclusions may be wrong, not only that the three elements may possibly be reconciled, but that they are reconciled. There is evil, and there is an omnipotent and benevolent God.
This line of argument has two weaknesses. The first is that it will prove everything—including mutually incompatible propositions—equally well. It will prove as easily that the universe is tending towards a bad end as that it is tending towards a good one. There may be as little evidence for the pessimistic view as for the optimistic. But if our intellects are so feeble that the absence of sufficient evidence in our minds is no objection to a conclusion in the one case, then a similar absence can be no objection to a conclusion in the other. Nor can we fall back on the assertion that there is less evidence for the pessimistic view than for the optimistic, and that, therefore, we should adopt the latter. For if our intellects are too feeble for their conclusions to be trusted, our distrust must apply equally to their conclusion on the relative weight of the evidence in the two cases.
John McTaggart, Some Dogmas of Religion, London, 1906, pp. 67-68
So far as punishment is vindictive, it makes a wicked man miserable, without making him less wicked, and without making any one else less wicked or less miserable. It can only be justified on one of two grounds. Either something else can be ultimately good, besides the condition of conscious beings, or the condition of a person who is wicked and miserable is better, intrinsically and without regard to the chance of future amendment, than the condition of a person who is wicked without being miserable. If either of these statements is true—to me they both seem patently false—then vindictive punishment may be justifiable both for determinists and indeterminists. If neither of them is true, it is no more justifiable for indeterminists than it is for determinists.
John McTaggart, Some Dogmas of Religion, London, 1906, p. 163
Pain […] may not be the only evil, but it cannot be denied to be evil.
John McTaggart, Some Dogmas of Religion, London, 1906, p. 15
I may be wrong in believing that matter exists independently of me. But the suggestion that I am wrong in believing I have a sensation is absurd. The belief is not sufficiently separable from the sensation for the possibility of error. I may, of course, be wrong in believing that I had a sensation in the past, for memory may deceive me. And I may be wrong in the general terms which I apply to a sensation, when I attempt to classify it, and to describe it to others. But my knowledge that I am having the sensation which I am having is one of those ultimate certainties which it is impossible either to prove or to deny.
John McTaggart, Human Immortality and Pre-existence, London, 1916, pp. 26-27