She appeared in line, seemingly from nowhere, with screeching tires and blaring horns still echoing in her head. Dozens of men, women and children were lined up in front of her, queuing into the mist, going who-knows-where. She looked from left to right, then spun completely around; there was nothing for her to get a bearing on; just a translucent fog that permeated everywhere. The man in front of her tapped her on the shoulder and silently motioned for her to take her place in line behind him.
Uncharacteristically, she obeyed. As the line moved forward she began to hear the vague sounds of a deep voice bellowing words, but she couldn’t quite make out what they were. Queuing closer and closer, she began to realize that there were two words being repeated, in seemingly random order:
“Hell, Heaven, Heaven, Hell, Hell…”
“What the hell is going on?” she whispered to herself, unaware of the irony. “I don’t have time for this, I’m due in court.” The line moved forward, and as it did, the mist began to dissipate. She could now see that the line ended at a sort of dais, with an old man – “sorry,” she thought, “senior citizen”, complete with flowing white hair and beard standing behind a lectern with a huge book opened in front of him.
“Heaven, Hell, Hell, Heaven, Heaven, Heaven…”
With each intoned word, the man motioned to a pair of gates either to His right or to His left. The gates on the man’s right hand emitted a calming blue light, whereas those on His left hand were fiery red. “You have got to be kidding me,” she thought, as she watched person after person passively go where they were told. “Everybody knows that this heaven and hell stuff is bullshit.”
One by one, the line shortened in front of her. Eventually, it was her turn.
“Hell!” said the man on the dais, barely looking up from His book. She did not move. He looked up, right into her eyes. “Hell, I said!”.
She suppressed a gulp, forcing herself to match eye contact. “I want an appeal!” she said, much louder than she had meant to.
She thought she saw him draw back slightly; then He chuckled slightly. “An appeal? I’m God, dammit! Who are you going to appeal to?”
She paused a moment, controlling her breathing. “I wish to appeal to reason.”
“Reason?” He responded, “What does reason have to do with it? I’m GOD, I make the rules.”
This was a good point, she thought, but did not say it. Instead, she said “Then you claim that your rules are unreasonable?”
“No, of course not – my rules are very reasonable – I ask so little of my creatures…”
“Then an appeal to reason is appropriate, since you claim reasonableness.”
It was His turn to pause a bit. “Well…”
She saw her opening and took it: “Let me ask you this – do you have a rule because it’s good or is a rule good because you have it?”
Catching hold of himself, He pulled His shoulders back and puffed out His chest. “All of my rules are good rules.”
“You’re avoiding the question. What I’m asking is: is a rule good only because you say it is, or is there another principle by which to measure it?”
Not wanting to get caught up again, the old man paused. Then He brightened: “Let’s put it this way: what I say, goes.”
“Then your rules are arbitrary?”
“Then what are they based on?”
He took on a paternalistic air. “My infinite wisdom – you do not have the capacity to understand all that I know…”
“I’m not wise enough to comprehend your rules?”
“That’s right,” He said, satisfied that He had her on the ropes now.
“Then your rules seem arbitrary, although they are not?”
He paused, not so confident on where this was going. “Uh, … yes! Just so!”
Breaking her logical calm, she exploded. “Then you have stacked the deck! You have given us only the choice between hell and contradiction – we were doomed from the start!”
“What do you mean?”
“You gave us a brain – more than that, you gave us a mind. A mind that searches for order in chaos. You gave us the equipment to search for a solution to the jigsaw puzzle, but you hid several of the pieces. Why would you create us so flawed? Did you make a mistake?”
He drew himself back, paused, then leaned forward over His lectern. “Of course I didn’t make a mistake! I created human beings with a brain to allow them to survive.” He descended from the dais and marched toward her. “Every species has something given to them which makes them special – and able to survive. It’s you who have tried to make the brain into something it was never intended to be. Your brain was never meant to unlock the secrets of the universe!”
(Coming soon: Part 2!)
IMAGE SOURCE: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S%C3%BCddeutschland-Treffen_in_Augsburg_Gott.jpg ATTRIBUTION: Neitram [Public domain]