The Trolley Problem

Optional reading: Trolley Problem Wiki

A trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

In the Bible, sin is sin. So I think the only way for me to look at these examples with any sort of new lens would be with the morality of the Bible. So in my opinion, you commit a crime when you push someone off the bridge. Not to mention, there is no way to actually know for a fact that the push will work until after you send him off the bridge.

To me, that’s the problem: the assumptions. Not because they are wrong. Of course we can design hypotheticals to make us think. But in these hypotheticals, we seemingly know the outcome of our decisions. And that’s not how life works.

To know the context of the entire situation, as well as what would happen if this or if that, is necessary to make this type of decision. But in reality, we never know all the possible outcomes of a given decision. And in this one, our knowing about it has no basis in reality.

I think this line of reasoning is better applied to someone who does have future knowledge of events, like God. I’ve argued a good deal online about it, and this foreknowledge or omniscience is, in my opinion, one of the only ways to justify such an act.

Perhaps through the lens of this moral dilemma is how we should view the God of the Old Testament. What may seem like evil acts in our eyes, could be justified in the foreknowledge of what would happen on each set of decisions. So while some may judge the God who flooded the earth [or part of it] and ordered the slaughter of the Canaanites, it’s certainly possible that these events were acted upon with all other options in mind. And if the end game is something that is known for multiple scenarios, you can see why murder or flood could be the path toward the greatest good.