I was thinking about privacy recently. The NSA has been reading a lot more than they let on. And there are starting to be organized responses and protests as many people are angered and concerned over the invasion of the government into our privacy. It is troubling to think that everything you do is being observed and monitored and evaluated. But some people aren’t troubled at all by this. And I started to speculate as to what leads people to be differentially concerned. I don’t think it easily splits down partisan lines – the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement are both equally disturbed by government invasion of privacy. There are probably individual personality differences in desire for privacy, or paranoia, that influence people’s responses.

But it also occurred to me that- many people who believe in an omniscient deity believe that they are always being watched and evaluated by a higher power. That higher power is perceived to be benevolent, which is possibly but not necessarily true of the government. Nonetheless the feeling of chronic surveillance may be less disturbing to people who are religious and are used to feeling as though their actions are always noted, than to folks who are used to believing that actions taken in private are in fact private. This possibility is entirely speculative with no data whatsoever to back it up, but it would have interesting political ramifications were it true.

  One Response to “Idle Speculation about G-d and Privacy”

  1. The principle that “God is watching you” is an important one for religion and certainly explains some of the success of religion in encouraging moral behavior, regardless of whatever role God may play.

    As a Christian, I don’t think God’s chronic surveillance makes me any more comfortable with the NSA’s chronic surveillance. But Christianity has a strong doctrine of living life in honor of governmental authorities, even if those authorities are jerks who persecute or execute Christians. That factor makes me more tolerant of the foibles of the NSA, President, Supreme Court or any other group in government whose actions disturb me.

    I think that many people are unconcerned about the NSA spying because it doesn’t hurt them or anyone they know, and people in places of high power assert that this spying is necessary to prevent someone evil from hurting a lot of people. We forget how easily this power can get abused.

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