A Peter Singer inspired question pops up in the WordPress postaday stimulus today: “An out of control train is about to run over a pile of happy puppies. You are standing at the control switch and can pull the lever to direct the train onto a different track, saving their lives. But that other track has a smaller pile of equally happy puppies on it.
What do you do and why?”
Peter Singer is a contemporary ethicist and the question is beyond hypothetical. We have wrestled with similar issues in the local “Salvation Today ” Lent program, where the latest question was posed “Do you have a pessimistic or optimistic outlook on the future of the human race?”
Pessimism would answer the hypothetical by suggesting we are limited to two options, depending on which track we direct the out of control train. Optimism suggests a plethora of alternatives, limited only by imagination, but responses already in are roughly grouped around slowing or redirecting the train or snatching the puppies away with various devices. (The picture shows another!) Transposed to something like the ecological threat, the metaphors are suggestive – use our collective creative will and brilliance to slow down the pollution producing juggernaut or snatch the human race away in an interstellar net to another habitable planet. Prizes for those who identify which is more feasible. Or we could limit ourselves to the original alternatives – using some mechanism to decide which category of the human species will survive a natural or human-created cataclysm.
All this will, no doubt, be hotly debated in the final session of our Lent series next Wednesday night.
[Edit – of course, this is only one aspect of the nature of our “Salvation” discussions – more context in tomorrow’s post]