March 27, 2007

From Edward N. Haas:

Re: Brain mishaps produce “cold” morality (March 21): Your article overlooks what may well be, by very far, the chief cause of “cold” morality. That chief cause is undue confidence in the consequence forecasting ability of one’s own puny little 4 pound brain. In my writings, I explain what that means so: You’re out hunting with a high-powered rifle on the side of a mountain. From your vantage point, you can look across a gorge and see men working with jackhammers on an opposite slope. You can also see that, unknown to them, they are about do dislodge a boulder which shall then roll down the mountain, crash into a school bus and kill dozens of children. Shouting can do no good, because the workmen cannot hear above the noise of the jackhammers. The same can be said of shooting at the ground around them. The only way to stop them and save the children is to shoot one of the workmen. Unfortunately, only the upper portion of each workman’s body is exposed; and so, that means you must shoot one of them in the chest or the head. Given the power of your rifle, that means you must kill one of the workmen.

Would you shoot? Most people reply yes. I then add: Seeing their fellow workman’s head burst asunder, the workmen run for cover; the boulder is not dislodged, and the bus goes its way unmolested. It tops the mountain, starts down the other side. Not far along its way, its brakes fail, the bus races downhill at breakneck speed, crashes into the back of another school bus, and the impact throws the both of them into the path of an oncoming tanker loaded with propane. The head on collision throws all 3 vehicles over the edge of the mountain, and their downward plunge lands them on the top of a school. A huge explosion of propane and gasoline then kills a thousand school children, dozens of teachers, and everyone in the three vehicles. If you could foresee that as a coming result of your act of shooting the workman, would you still shoot him? Most people then answer no but will often add: “That’s merely an unforeseeable unusual twist of fate.” That, though, is the problem, namely: When we try to base our decisions on what consequences our puny little 4 pound brains foresee, we all too often get suckered into a disaster which produces a result the exact opposite of what we sought to precipitate. Many a great literary work is based on that theme. Some realize that, and some do not.

Those who realize it will never turn to “cold” morality no matter what the condition of their brains, because they will say: “One must NEVER abandon that ancient well tried moral principle which tells us never to target the life of what is known or reasonably suspected to be human and innocent. That’s because our power to read the future is too flawed and shall all too often turn and bite us. Therefore, no matter what consequences our puny little 4 pound brains foresee, we will never trust them enough to kill an innocent person. Instead, we prefer to trust that the consequence-forecasting ability of that ancient, well-tried moral principle is far more reliable than that of our puny little 4 pound brains.” In short, rather than having anything to do with the condition of one’s brain, “cold” morality is strictly the result of an exceedingly ignorant and stupid ability to imagine that a puny little 4 pound brain can so reliably read the future as to produce more good than bad consequences by killing innocent people.

One cannot determine the morality of an action on the basis of what consequences we can foresee. The only way to use consequences to determine the morality of an action is to foresee the sum total of all the consequences which shall ever follow from our action. However, if anything in life is supremely obvious, it is this:Our puny little 4 pound brains cannot possibly foresee more than an astronomically insignificant fraction of that sum total. Only an INFINITELY informed mind could possibly foresee that sum total. Only those intellectually decrepit enough to think otherwise ever turn to “cold” morality. Further details can be found in one or more of my 16 books available at many places on the internet.

Edward N. Haas
Pearl River, LA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir, we may have "a puny 4 pound brain" but it has enabled you to write 16 books you think are worth reading.


March 30, 2007 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you suppose the mental ability to write 16 books is something highly significant? In comparison to others, it may well be, since the vast majority of people never write one book, let alone 16. But, compare the knowledge contained in those books to the knowledge we need to have to elminate human misery and give us real control over our environment. Do that, and you can hardly fail to realize that the knowledge contained in those 16 books is but an astronomically insignificant fraction of what is needed. And why is that knowledge so insignificant? It's because, with our puny little 4 pound brains, we are simply too intellectually defective to produce more than an astronomically insignificant fraction of what we need to know in order to use an appeal to consequences to justify violating that ancient moral code which warns us not to deliberately shed the blood of the innocent.

April 01, 2007 4:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, I don't know you, so I'm guessing here, but it strikes me that one should not strive so to hide their faith. That only leads to headaches. The only infinite mind that actually does exist, the one that reveals Himself in the Bible, has told us simply and succinctly, "No murder." I think He knows a bit more about the situation than any of us. On the implied matter of abortion, to quote the recently published August 2007 St. Louis Amigan, "Blaming an infant for incest or rape does not remove the penalty for murder that comes through the murder of that infant." We could, well, discuss, situational ethics until our faces turn blue, but God has already addressed it: "No murder."

William F. Maddock
St. Louis Amigan

May 01, 2007 4:28 AM  

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