Born Under Tyranny

Kim Jong Il

I was watching some old videos of Christopher Hitchens debate various Christians (I’m sure Ian approves) and something struck me about one of his arguments about religion. Hitchens makes the claim that those who believe in God must believe that everyone is born under a sort of tyranny where everyone has to obey this divine ruler and the various capricious laws set down by the ruler. It occurred to me though that there is no way in which we cannot look at our lives as anything but being under some kind of totalitarian dictatorship. I cringe at echoing sulking teenagers everywhere, but they do have something right, they did not ask to be born, none of us did. We are brought here against our will to serve out our time. It’s hard to isolate this sentiment from the angry, emotional teenager, but I think we can say the same thing with a sort of stoic shrug. All manner of forces are governing our lives, from the base-level physical, chemical, biological to the social, political, historical forces that are all there whether or not there is something that we might call God behind them or karma or an impersonal material universe. Conversely I have seen both theists and atheists suggest that life is a gift (and both argue that as such it somehow bolsters their respective claims). That life may seem like an imposition does not require a God either.

A final note: I think might invite less scorn in the comment section if I point out that I am not saying that my life or life in general is- or should feel- this way, only that we can argue that we are under a celestial dictatorship either way. We are still here not so much against our will but rather without any consideration of it Рfor who among us wills ourselves into living Р for our appointed time, until death.