Monday, January 06, 2020

Counterfactual blame

I'm going to briefly revisit an argument I've made in the past, using a different illustration. A stock objection to hell is that everlasting punishment is disproportionate to the sins committed in one lifetime. 

One point I've made is that we need to take into account all the additional sins, in many cases far worse sins, a sinner might commit if he had the opportunity to do so with impunity. And that isn't just hypothetical. Consider atrocities committed by soldiers when they know they can get away with it. 

But let's take a hypothetical example. Say a hit-man has his scope trained on a boy who's the son of a Mafia Don. A rival Don. The boy is in the line of sight. The hit-man has a clear shot. He squeezes the trigger. But at the same moment a van happens to drive by, blocking the boy. The van deflects the bullet. 

As a result, the hit man failed to murder the boy. But it wasn't for lack of trying. It was just a lucky accident that something intervened at the last moment to thwart his intentions. 

From the standpoint of divine justice, is he not guilty of intent to commit murder? Indeed, he carried through with his murderous intentions. It's just that due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unsuccessful. Technically he didn't commit murder but morally he's culpable. He can't very well plead innocent before the bar of God that he tried but failed because a van unexpectedly shielded the prospective murder victim. 

I just use that illustration to establish a point of principle. You don't always have to do something to be guilty of doing it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment