One of the minors, let’s call him ‘Moses’, proclaims that he has found a hidden map which describes a secret escape tunnel. With a massive digging effort, they can reach the escape tunnel in less than a year. The followers of Moses argue that he must be correct. After all, the mining company would never put them into this mine without some means of escaping.
Others claim that there is no such tunnel, that the map is an obvious forgery. They point out that there are rational reasons why the escape tunnel must not exist. It would be virtually impossible for a second tunnel to be dug without it being known. Also, if the tunnel is there, why did the company not simply tell everyone. They point out various suspicious aspects of the map which indicate that it was drawn up far more recently than Moses claims, and that it looks far more like a map made by a single person that by the company. They argue that a system of rational law should be put into place and that, so long as no one violates those laws, they should spend their remaining time as they see fit.
The followers of Moses argue back that there are many reasons why the map may have been secret. It is possible that the Company did not want the escape tunnel used unless it was a last resort. After all, the tunnel does not have the same level of safety as the main tunnel, and is not designed for constant use. It is even possible that the Company kept the existence of the tunnel secret so that the minors would not lose confidence in the security of the main tunnel, which they had always believed to be impervious to mishaps. They point out to the non-believers that, when the escape tunnel is reached, those who dug would be rewarded by the Company, and those who did not would be harshly judged.
Some argue that, while they really don’t believe Moses, it is far better for them to go along with the charade. After all, this belief would give the group purpose and meaning for the year of life which they had left. By performing the ritual of digging for the escape tunnel, the people would maintain their hope, and would live a more fulfilled and happy year. In addition, they are afraid that if all conclude that there is no escape, that the group would deteriorate to immorality and chaos. They also point out that, while there are undeniable problems with the authenticity of the map, no one can offer an absolute proof that the map is forged.
Yet others argue that, while there is certainly no tunnel, there is always some hope that, through some process unknown to them, a rescue is remotely possible. Perhaps there is some new digging technology which they are unaware of. Even if they can not fathom a rational rescue, they can not rule it out completely. They advocate that, while the group should not waste their time and effort in meaningless digging, the group should accept that they do not really know what their future holds.
So what would you believe?