Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Selective treatment

Randal Rauser 
Imagine a doctor who has enough antidote for an entire population inflicted with a fatal disease. The doctor's choice to provide the antidote only to a subset of those inflicted would invite the reasonable question: why only some? Why not all?

And replying "He didn't need to save anyone" is not a response to the question "Why didn't he save everyone?"

Imagine the entire population of Cambodia has a fatal disease. A doctor has enough antidote to cure everyone, but he refuses to treat the Khmer Rouge. He only treats Cambodians who aren't members of the Khmer Rouge. 


  1. Wow! Great come back Steve! I had thought about it for a little bit before I looked at your answer.

  2. Am I missing something, or are these people who attack Calvinism of the opinion that Christ's suffering the wrath of God to save rebel sinners was somehow owed?

    1. They're certainly using simplistic analogies as a wedge to launch the attack. But that only works on people who don't bother to think and research a topic at any depth. Simplistic analogies for people who don't want to think can be devised against any position, and Steve is responding well.

  3. Imagine a benevolent doctor who has enough antidote for an entire population infected with a fatal disease. The doctor's heart breaks. He wants to save the whole population and he has the means to achieve it. So he provides the antidote by placing it on shelves in a location he announces to the population. Some hear the announcement and accept the antidote. Others hear about the offer of a cure but are happy to die in their disease. They don't want the antidote and pour scorn on the offer. Others hear about the offer and don't believe it. They are sceptical of the offer. Some of the second and third group even question the benevolent doc's existence and/or whether they are in fact carrying a disease at all, and whether they actually need an antidote. And yet another, fourth group doesn't hear about the cure. They are isolated from the message.

    Why did the doctor not simply/actually apply the antidote to all? Why did he merely make it available, leaving it on shelves in a room and leaving the rest up to the dying?

    Replying, 'He left it up to their free choice' is not an adequate response to the question. Preservation of free choice is utterly inadequate when dealing with the suffering and dying of a population and a benevolent party's ability to provide and apply the antidote, remedy this suffering and save the entire population. If the doctor loves the whole population equally, and yearns for all to be cured, his heart breaking at the suffering he is witnessing, why does he not simply apply the antidote and save everyone?