This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Is God off His trolley?

I recently re-read my God Delusion and it's much better than it was. The old boy's clearly learnt a lot in the meantime. In the bit on morality he makes the point that basic morality traits are found to be universal and do not vary with geography, unlike gods. The famous trolley thought experiment invites us to let a runaway trolley squish 5 people on a track or divert it to squish 1 person on a siding. Cross-culturally the vast majority of punters think it's best to squish the singleton.

Now God could have planted the little voice in our heads that says 'Throw the switch'. So far so good - it's a net win and demonstrates the counting ability of a wasp. Super. But when the choice is whether or not to push someone off a bridge to stop the trolley - traditionally an implausibly fat man - He gets His sums all muddled and the voice says 'No!'. Even stranger, if the implausibly fat man doesn't require pushing, but only requires a button to be pressed so that he drops through a very wide trapdoor to the same fate, the voice says 'Yes!'.

So God's answer to the moral conundrum is 'No Yes'.

Ignoring cognitive science, and pretending God does morality, is God off His trolley?



Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment