Recently I have been commuting to work for my new job. During my total driving time of two hours, I have been listening to a variety of different Catholic podcasts. One of the apologists that I enjoy listening to is part of Catholic Answers, Trent Horn. What makes Mr. Horn’s apologies appealing to me is his very firm background in logic rooted in the Classics. During the radio show, Mr. Horn often opens up the forum to take calls of those who are either confused by Catholicism or firmly object to them. However, I would make a critique of the show, although he is very understanding of other viewpoints he and the other host often force every caller into answering leading closed questions rather than having an actual discussion. After the person either agrees with Mr. Horn, or sometimes hangs up, the show always cuts to commercial break thus ending with that final point.
One of the topics of Mr. Horn’s show that aired two days ago was Catholic Morality. Mr. Horn asked callers to call in and explain what and why they objected to Catholic Morality. Of course, many of the topics discussed were on the subject of life, the value of it, and the dignity of every human being. One caller, who admitted he was an Atheist, called in and asserted that religion offers nothing new to the table—an assertion I’ve heard made by many atheists. Mr. Horn and the gentleman eventually deduced the separation in their beliefs based on that Mr. Horn believes that what God reveals to be moral, such as how to worship, is not something that can be discovered by biological instincts as claimed by the caller.
The discussion then either developed or regressed—I’m still trying to decide between the two—into general philosophical examples of moral dilemmas. One of the dilemma’s that stuck out to me was one that for some reason that I had thought of a couple of days prior to the radio show. The name of the dilemma is often referred to as the “Trolley Problem,” and as I have seen employed often to catch Christians in a “gotcha” moment to claim that Christians would naturally by moral instinct either save the most life. The problem often with Moral Dilemmas is they are most likely always logical fallacies for they often exclude the middle, another option, or what is also known as “tertium non datur: ”
The Trolley Problem is often framed as this scenario: A speeding train is heading toward a railroad car carrying five people. You can save these five people by hitting the train switch, which will change the direction of the train. However, the train will then turn towards one person on the tracks killing that person, or you can simply do nothing letting the five people die. The answer to the scenario is indeed complicated, however, it concludes that your action has only two possible results based on your logical reasoning. It forces one of Christian moral principle to choose to allow someone to die. One of the fundamental problems with is that the moral dilemma attempting to measure the general psychology of temporal perception forcefully and fallaciously negates the proper Christian response. A Christian, who has ultimately chosen to no longer live his own life, but that of Christ, as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians (2:20) would seek to offer up his own life to save the entirety of the group. Of course, the gotcha crowd will attempt to either assert that only two outcomes are possible, but in the course of the actual event: A. No one would know it. B. No, in fact, the psychologist or philosopher doesn’t either. In fact, it’s a complete failure to understand Christian philosophy to attempt to eliminate hope with forced probability of outcomes.
Mr. Horn used another dilemma example, a War Chief would either get to rape a woman or he would murder a village of 1000 residents. After Mr. Horn explained to the caller that he would not let the War Chief rape the woman as an exchange, the caller was flabbergasted. “You would let him KILL 1000 people!” Mr. Horn reminded the caller that the Christian open to the grace of God cannot be complicit in intrinsically evil actions because we start to justify one evil as greater than another then ultimately the cost is too high. Finally, Mr. Horn ended with this scenario: A man breaks into his house and says, “I will kill your wife and let your family live, or I will kill you all.” Mr. Horn to the stunned callers silence said, “I will not choose to kill anyone, I would simply say may God have mercy on all of our souls.”
What the world, the philosopher, and the psychologist have forgotten is that the seeds of Christian moral philosophy are the seeds of martyrdom. All Christians value life as a gift; however, we must all pray for the Grace of God to give us the understanding of our call to truly love our neighbors.