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Trolley Problem and God

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Clizby WampusCat, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    I came across this in a book I am reading. Most people are aware of the ethical thought experiment trolley problem. I copied it here:

    There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:
    1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
    2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
    Which is the more ethical option? Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do?

    There are many different thoughts about what is the most ethical thing for you to do. Some will say to pull the lever to kill one over five, some will say do nothing is more moral. Lets turn this around a little. Lets say that the trolley is barreling down on one person standing on the tracks and not the five. Most people would say that it would be morally wrong, without knowing anything else about the situation, that pulling the lever to kill the five instead of the one would be immoral.

    Lets see how God answers this trolley problem.

    Luke 13:22-30 NIV
    "Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

    He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

    “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
    “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
    “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

    “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” ~ Jesus


    Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." ~ Jesus

    These verses indicate that most will not be saved. "Many" in Luke seems a little ambiguous but a "few" as said in Matthew is clear that at least more than half or most will not be saved. Probably a lot less than half. So how does this relate to the trolley problem?

    God created the universe in a way that He knows that most people will not be saved. God chose this as the way the universe will work. God is pulling the lever to kill the five to save the one.

    Now I bet many are already typing a response to say we get to choose salvation because we have free will. This is not a response to the question. If God sees the end of his creation prior to creating it then chooses to create the universe in a way that causes most people to not be saved does not allow for anyone to have free will in choosing to be saved. If God wanted a world where most people are saved, or even all, he could have created that universe. He admittedly did not.

    God chose to create a world where most people are sacrificed so the saved person can be saved. As a nonbeliever I would be sacrificed eternally, unlike Jesus, for the believers salvation. When a christian chooses to believe to be saved they are condemning an unbeliever.

    God could have made a world where we maintain free will to follow him and have the proper information to make an informed choice. He chose not to do this. The idea that most people will be unsaved and destroyed/tortured is the result of choices by God and zero choices by humanity.

    If Thanos is a super-villain for killing half of all living things in the universe then isn't God a better supervillain for killing more than half? Luckily like Thanos, it is probably made up.



     
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  2. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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    As I've told others, Christianity is as compulsory as taxation. Which is to mean we really have less free will than we think. However, the distinct advantage still goes to taxation; as most/all are much more informed/aware about the actual laws of taxation, or can at least seek to find out objectively. Where the Bible is concerned, not-so-much?
     
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  3. Caliban

    Caliban Well-Known Member

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    As an ex Christian and Calvinist--this is a very secular way of stating my old ideas. I can see how Christians will try to decouple (a train pun) the dilemma from sovereignty, but for those Christians who believe in Gods choice in election, this is a good analogy. I could see a pastor invoking this in a sermon to highlight unconditional election.
    On the other hand, atheists/non-believers/whatever are often accused of taking the same fundamentalist interpretive path as Southern Baptists when we approach the text. I think this is interesting--I'd like to see what theists say.
    It also reminds me of my first philosophy class in college--great memories.
     
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  4. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    Maybe we should call this "The Parable of the Trolley". "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a trolley ..." ;)

    Most Christians would see the single person on the side track as Jesus and the trolley as the judicial need to punish the five people on the main track (representing all of humanity). God the Father pulls the switch to divert the trolley onto the side track and kill His Son, Jesus instead. This is the vicarious punishment explanation for salvation.

    Of course that is not how you presented the "problem of the trolley", but I wanted to mention it because it seems to fit so easily with vicarious punishment.

    You presented the issue of few being saved and many being lost. That is a difficult problem that I can't rationalize.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  5. Caliban

    Caliban Well-Known Member

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    But people still die horrific human deaths everyday--what consolation is there that Jesus stood on the track?
     
  6. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    What I said is kind of a derail, because it isn't the way @Clizby WampusCat set-up the problem of the trolley in the OP. Sorry for derailing, but it seemed such an obvious way that Christians would react to a parable of a side track with one person and a main track with many people.

    On the issue of a few being saved and many being lost, I don't have a good moral rationalization.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  7. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    To be honest, I'm having difficulty connecting the trolley problem as specified by @Clizby WampusCat with the Jesus sayings about a narrow road to the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe it is a mental block preventing me from seeing.
     
  8. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jesus His own Son was sacrificed so we will be saved.

    And Jesus knows what will happen to people; so He said so.

    And Jesus knows what will happen if you trust in Jesus >

    "'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" (Matthew 11:28-29)

    And Jesus knew many would refuse Him, even though He has come here in Person and has loved us by so suffering and dying for us. Yet, though Jesus is so un-conceited, ones think they are too good for Jesus! Ones even accuse Him of being unfair. He has been better than fair, to suffer and die like He did, so ones will not go to hell.

    So, rather than try to get God to answer to me, I do well to answer to Him. And Jesus says >

    "'For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son," (John 5:22)
     
  9. Andrewn

    Andrewn Well-Known Member CF Ambassadors Supporter

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    Suppose that my job is to build computers and that some of them work as intended and some do not. Do I go on building computers hoping that a few would work? That would not only be wasteful but also unloving. It makes more sense to try my best to fix as many as possible of those who need fixing, and to divert the trolly away from as many people as possible. So, how does this apply to Jesus' statements?

    In the Gospels of Luke and Matthew we read about an entrance / doorway and a way / road without it no one can enter into life. This is obviously a reference to Jesus himself:

    Joh 10:9 [Jesus said,] "I am the door! If anyone comes in through Me, he will be saved. He will come and go and find pasture."

    Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    The NT summarizes God's plan to save the world in this way:

    Heb 1:1-3 At many times and in many ways, God spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets. In these last days He has spoken to us through a Son,whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He created the universe. This Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word. When He had made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

    Joh 3:17-18 God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Son of God.

    Jesus provided the entrance to immortality, a free gift. But Some people try to enter into life through other doors, windows, or climbing over the fence, or do not try to enter at all bec they do not believe in the afterlife. Matthew describes their fate with the word, "destruction." Luke describes it as follow, “There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth."

    These who do not try to enter through the one legitimate way will face an unpleasant fate. We can't legitimately doubt this. The NT describes their state after death as "Gehenna." This is not eternal Hell.

    I don't believe in universal salvation bec I think God respects free will and will not admit people to heaven against their wishes. However, there is evidence that some souls may come to repent of their sins and believe in the Son of God. I'm not a Roman Catholic but I think that many Protestants (at least mainline / liberal) also believe something similar to the following statement from the Catholic Catechism section 847:

    "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337"

    I will be challenged by both Agnostics and Evangelicals, but I have to say my conscience. We need to keep in mind that one second in "Gehenna" is a terrible painful state. But this is where some people choose to be who reject the Son of God.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  10. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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    You apparently continue to confuse the concept of "free will". Please look at your above statement, and then please see how I stated the following below, only modifying the words in (brackets):

    "We need to keep in mind that one second in (prison) is a terrible painful state. But this is where some people choose to be who reject (paying taxes)."
     
  11. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    This has nothing to do with the OP.

    God created the world as it is.
    God knew most people would not be saved and either be punished forever or destroyed.
    God could have created a world where most, if not all, people are saved.
    God therefore decided most people would not be saved.
    God threw the switch to kill the 5 over the 1.
     
  12. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    I agree. This notion that if God reveals himself to us and what he expects of us then we lose free will is nonsense. It would give us the proper information we need to make a decision. As it is we are left guessing.
     
  13. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    I would like a theist to tell me why this is incorrect. It may be flawed in some way.
     
  14. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for being honest.
     
  15. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    Why is there a narrow road? God created the world in a way where most perish. He could have created a world where most are saved. He chose to create the world this way. He effectively switched the trolley from hitting the one to hitting the five. Or saving few over the many.
     
  16. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No . . . the five are already dead, in sin. And God does what is right with each one, personally. So, this is not just a numbers thing.

    And the one He saved, though we were "dead in trespasses and sins", like the 5.
     
  17. Clizby WampusCat

    Clizby WampusCat Well-Known Member

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    Who decided they were dead in sin? Who came up with the concept of sin in the first place? Who made the universe so that most would perish?

    Could god have made a universe where most or all people are saved?
     
  18. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, God knows if people are dead in sin. So, He does not really decide this, but He knows.

    How the universe is made is not what decides who will perish. But yes God made the universe.

    People are saved, in this universe; so it is possible to be saved, here . . . in spite of all the evil with all its stuff to keep our attention away from God and loving.
     
  19. Andrewn

    Andrewn Well-Known Member CF Ambassadors Supporter

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    In post #9, I explained that, indeed, most people will be saved. But as the saying goes, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  20. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Oh no! Not another ... interlocutor !!! Supporter

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    ...... :doh:
     
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