Monday, May 06, 2019

Life in the compound

A stock objection to Christianity is that it's unreasonable for God to punish people simply because they refuse to believe in him. Indeed, the accusation is often harsher: God must be an emotionally insecure, egotistical bully if he cares that much what human think of him. 

As a matter of fact, I don't think God's self-esteem is indexed to what humans think of him–although freewill theists often act like that's the case. Rather, the problem is what it says about us. 

The problem runs much deeper than belief. To revisit an illustration I've used in the past, it's like people are born in a concentration camp. It's not a question of losing their freedom. Rather, captivity is their situation from the outset. The question is what, if anything, they will do to get out.

The camp is rumored to have a hidden tunnel which some prisoners use as an escape route. However, most prisoners make no effort to confirm the existence of the tunnel. They are content to live out their days in the concentration camp. 

Indeed, they are very protective about their captivity. If they overhear a prisoner plotting to escape, they rat him out to the prison guards. They cheer when he's shot. 

Many unbelievers don't make any serious effort to find out if Christianity is true. They know that death is inevitable. Although they may not believe in the afterlife, they haven't seriously investigated the question. Instead, they piss away their life in utter indifference. There might be a tunnel right under their feet, but they don't bother to look for the entrance. They plant flowers in the graveyard. Decorate the barracks. Compose patriotic songs about the concentration camp. Snitch on disloyal prisoners. 


  1. It seems we could even carry that analogy further. Suppose the rumor also includes the idea that the camp will be bombed at an unspecified time. Some prisoners go around talking about communication from some kind of “allied headquarters” telling them so and urging their fellow prisoners to make their escape before the bombs fall. The prisoners who make no effort to escape or to even to check out the reliability of the communication from headquarters can’t very well call foul when the bombs start falling.

  2. Even the prisoners who don’t hear the rumor of the bombing occasionally see a flyby of heavy bombers in the distance, and loud explosions nearby. Some of the guards duplicitously explain that the bombers are part of their own forces and nothing to worry about, but the prisoners can plainly see that the bombers’ targets are in the vicinity of the camp. Some prisoners distrust the guard’s phony explanations and seek out the truth. Others, comfortable where they are, suppress their natural curiosity and assume the guards are right and will protect them.

  3. Captivity is indeed their situation. Sad thing is, because of their inherited nature, they have no desire to get out. Their inherited nature causes them to prefer captivity to escape. Adam has caused them to have a view of the outside world as worse than where they are. Tragically, by simply being a descendant of previous prisoners they’ve got a genetically sealed desire to stay right where they are. Their will to escape is not within their control as it could? be. Unless their depraved veil is lifted from without they cannot see any need, nor have the slightest motivation for change. It is thusly they “willingly”? perish.

  4. Plato's... I mean, Steve's Allegory of the Concentration Camp