Feb 04 2005


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“I have this theory about God,” Greg announced over his donut. “I think I may have it figured out.”

“Oh yes?” Brigid said, eyebrows raised. “This oughta be good.”

“It is, it is! Now what causes all the controversy about God, really? What’s the core problem?”

“Um, lack of proof?”

“Well, sort of. More like, I suppose you’d say, lack of concrete evidence. God doesn’t leave DNA samples lying around for the FBI to collect, see what I mean? Some people encounter God, and others don’t. Some people have visions and others don’t. And of course, some people interpret every little random event as being God’s work, while others interpret it as simply the normal mechanistic functions of an uncaring universe. Everybody’s experience is different, and they’re all arguing about what really happened.”


“Well, the core problem with that, you see, is everybody is assuming that truth is universal, do you see? What if God isn’t as all-loving as people want to think? What if God is arbitrary?”

“I don’t get what you mean.”

“Well, do you remember that computer game where you had a little virtual world and you could select a person and tell them do this and another person and tell them do that, etc.?”


“Well, when you were messing with persons X and Y, the rest of the virtual world just went on its merry way, completely oblivious to the fact that a cosmic super-being was mucking about with the course of its existence. Persons A, B, and C are just following their programmed routine, you see? Now imagine that simulated person X goes to simulated person A and says, ‘Holy crap some super-powerful being just appeared to me and told me do go dancing!’ Simulated person A, never having been the active character, replies, ‘You’re batty. Where’s your proof?’ And they get into a big arguement about it, and sooner or later somebody gets hoisted on a virtual cross.”

Brigid raised her eyebrows dubiously.

“See how much that explains?” Greg said, apparently quite excited by his idea now. “Maybe the reason there’s so many different religions, and the whole exists/doesn’t exist arguement, and — here’s the big one — the whole personal/impersonal God dichotomy, is because God’s out there, set up a self-sustaining universe with natural selection and all that, and then just sticks His nose in when it pleases or amuses Him to do so.”

“It makes as much sense as anything,” she admitted.

“Assuming that the Big G exists, we know that God is whimsical — or at least a little bizarre. Look at the lemming, for crying out loud. Or worse, the cuttlefish. God can be just plain weird sometimes. People always claim that God is ‘omnibenevolent,’ but one look at the real world will tell you that is patently false. Some people are happy, others are miserable. The sweetest, most pure-hearted person ever may develop an agonizing and terminal condition without notice. There are some people who, for whatever reason, God clearly has His hate on for. The Old Testament types would say it has to do with wickedness … I doubt it. God doesn’t look at good and evil the way we do; God is a weird, alien mind to our puny little brains! So what if, as I say, He lets the world go as it will most of the time, and just occasionally, arbitrarily, perhaps even randomly sticks in his Holy Oar, stirs stuff around until He’s satisfied, then wanders off again?”

“That’s a very scary God you’ve worked out, there,” she replied. “At least a God that’s obsessed with smiting wickedness, you can placate by not being wicked. A God that’s incomprehensible, you can only be afraid of and hope your number doesn’t come up.”

“Well, yeah,” said Greg. “But that’s the world that atheists have to live in, too.”

“Eh,” said Brigid. “I’ll keep my omnibenevolent God, thank you very much. I need all the comforting I can get.”

“I don’t blame you,” said Greg. “I couldn’t do it, myself. But I don’t blame you for wanting to.”

-The Gneech

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