God’s Omniscience and NSA Surveillance

Reading a book about NSA surveillance and the Edward Snowden documents. At a particular juncture, the author says this in relation to a young Jewish girl’s bat mitzvah:

“During the ceremony, the rabbi emphasized that the ‘central lesson’ for the girl to learn was that she was ‘always being watched and judged.’ He told her that God always knew what she was doing, every choice, every action, and even every thought, no matter how private. ‘You are never alone,’ he said, which meant that she should always adhere to God’s will.

“The rabbi’s point was clear: if you can never evade the watchful eyes of a supreme authority, there is no choice but to follow the dictates that authority imposes. You cannot even consider forging your own path beyond those rules: if you believe you are always being watched and judged, you are not really a free individual.”

The author’s point is that if the government can see all your communication and know just about everything about you, they can keep you under their thumb. You will become all-obedient to their will.

As much as I have sympathy for the author’s general point in the book, I’m not sure I agree with this illustration.

Plenty of people go against God’s will. As the author later says: after mandatory surveillance is gotten used to over time, people carry on as though it doesn’t exist. I find this to be true of God’s omniscience.

One would think God’s omniscience would keep us in check, but our rampant sin shows this is not the case.

Certainly the heavy-handed “God knows what you’re doing all the time and will nail you for it, so watch out” line works on many people, but I don’t see any evidence that it leads to actual true virtue.

The failure of Old Testament Judaism seems to make this point clear. God’s omniscience did not and will not cease the desire to sin.

In fact, it will more than likely lead you to excessive, who cares, fatalistic, sin-filled rebellion.

Whether this applies to NSA snooping of your Facebook page is yet to be seen.

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