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The Summer Camp Analogy

By Michael Runyan ~

Imagine there is a summer camp with lots of children. It is a typical one-week affair with a staff of administrators. On the first day, a child finds a letter that states,

“On the third day I will arrive at the camp. Every child who paints a star on their forehead will be taken to an amusement park while those who don’t will stay behind and spend all day cleaning the camp.” 

It is signed ‘Bob.’ Nobody knows who Bob is, assuming he is a real person, or whether he or someone else wrote the letter. Most of the children dismiss this as a prank and take no note of its requirement. In fact, they later find other letters signed by other names making similar promises. However, a few kids, who somehow believe ‘Bob’s’ letter is possibly true while the others are fake, paint the star ‘just in case.’ Sure enough Bob shows up on the third day and takes them to an amusement park. The disgruntled remainder, many of whom followed the directions of other (now to be shown fake) letters morosely do clean-up duties, and rightly claim that they are being treated unfairly.

It should be obvious that the reward/punishment scheme is inequitable because the evidence supporting the letter’s authenticity did not match the magnitude of the consequences. This would be different if the letter stated that children with stars on their forehead would be given a Popsicle. In that case the limited evidential credentials of the letter would be somewhat commensurate with the consequences of compliance.

Applying this analogy to Christianity, the letter would be the Bible (and the other letters other holy texts) and the amusement park would be heaven. Like the letter, the Bible is almost entirely of unknown authorship and the existence of God (Bob) is not definitively known. Yet the purported consequences of either complying with or rejecting it is incalculable. This exposes a titanic disconnect- the quality of evidence supporting Christian theology is woefully insufficient to legitimize its plan to divide humanity into heaven and hell. A real god intent on doling out massively significant post-life rewards and punishments would assuredly make sure that EVERYONE was given solid, incontrovertible evidence of the factual truth of this divine plan. Based on this fact alone, we can be assured that Christianity is false.