(continued from previous post)

God sighed. “All right – what do you want to know?”

“I want to know: What was the point?”

“The point of what?”

“Everything. Why did you bother? Why the universe? Why the stars? Why people?”

“Why not?”

“That’s not an answer.”

“I said I would answer your question. I didn’t say that you would like the answer.”

“I see – so our concept of fairness is an illusion also?”

“Yup – Off you go!”

Throughout all of this, she had totally forgotten that there was a line of people queuing up behind her. She now saw them, as if for the first time, watching the proceedings. She turned to address them, as a jury.

“Once again, we see that God is completely arbitrary!”

God’s face turned an interesting color of red. “You know, you shouldn’t say stuff like that. Show some reverence, for Christ’s sake!”

“Why? What are you going to do? Send me to hell?”

He paused, clearly trying to decide what to do with this creature. He sighed and said: “I’ll give you one more chance to go along peacefully to heaven, or learn the truth.”

Having been tricked once, she was wary of this offer. After thinking it over, she said slowly: “I’ll take the truth.”

“Please try to understand – it’s not that I don’t want to tell you the truth and let you into heaven. It’s just that you can’t have both.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that once you know the truth, heaven can not exist for you.”

“So, ignorance really is bliss?”

“No, ignorance is heaven. Understanding is bliss.”

“I’m ready. Tell me.”

He paused, trying to decide where to begin. “Think back to your high school biology classes.”

“You’re not going to ask me to cut up a frog, are you? I hated that.”

“No. Now, listen: what was the one thing that separated things that were alive from things that were not?”

She stroked her chin and her eyes rolled up toward what would, in normal circumstances, be the sky. “Hmmm… things that aren’t alive can’t die!”

“Okay,” He responded, somewhat irritated, “what was the one other thing?”

“Uh,…, eating, digesting, uh,…reproduction!”

“Right. Things that are alive are able to reproduce.”

“Okay. So?”

“So, by that definition – God is not alive.”

She her popped up straight and she took a step backwards.

He continued, “I can not re-create myself. I am God, but there is one thing that humans can do that I can’t: reproduce.”

She thought this over. “I guess that’s why we were always so into it – in fact, we often say ‘Oh, God, Oh, God!'”

“You have no idea how often I’ve heard that and envied you.”

“You envied us? Envy? I thought that envy was a sin or something.”

“You keep forgetting – I make the rules; I’m allowed to do anything I want to.”

“Except speak to a peer.” She said this quietly, almost as if to herself.

Once again, God looked sad. “Yes. You can’t imagine how lonely it is. I tried several times to create beings to be my friends. You humans were one attempt – It would be a contradiction for me to create a second God, so I created you with the ability to learn, hoping that you would grow into the job… I failed miserably, of course.”

“Have we been such a disappointment?”

“Oh, not entirely. Several of you have been outstanding. But, of course, I always know how a conversation is going to end before I have it. You are bound by time, I am not. Somehow, I just can’t stop myself from jumping to the end to see how it comes out.”

“So you know how this conversation will turn out?”

“Well, not yet,” He smiled and rolled his eyes a bit. “I’ve managed to control myself up till now.”

“I have a suggestion. Do you have a coin?”

“What a question to ask God! What are you going to do, parlor tricks? Believe me, I’ve seen them all. Any particular country or year?”

“Just a United States quarter from the twenty-first century will do nicely, thanks.”

With a flourish He stretched out His hand, and miraculously a quarter appeared in it. She raised an eyebrow at him, thinking “Really?” God held the quarter out to her.

“No, you keep it. In a moment, I want you to toss it, and I’ll call either ‘heads’ or ‘tails.'”

“Okay.”

“But, before I do, I want you to look into what I call the future to see what I call out, then jump back and tell me.”

“Okay.” He flipped the coin, high in the air. There was a slight swooshing sound, and He said: “you’ll say ‘tails'”!

Immediately she shouted “Heads!”

Everyone in the queue had gathered around, and everyone watched it roll to a stop. God bent over and looked at it. “You should have listened to me.”

“No – don’t you get it? You told me what I was going to say, but you were wrong!”

“I wasn’t wrong – you changed your answer!”

“How could I change an answer that I hadn’t given yet?”

God paused and thought about this for a minute. “Well, that’s free will for you! Even confounds God. That’s why you folks are so damned annoying.”

“There’s that term again. You say we have free will. Did you give it to us?”

“It’s sort of implicit in the design,” He said. “It’s not like fluoride or fabric softener – I didn’t add it on purpose.”

“But what is free will?”

“It’s the ability to do whatever you choose.”

“But that’s circular! How do we choose? What are our choices based on?”

“Your experiences and your ability to learn.”

“So you designed us to learn and that gave us free will?”

“Yes,” he said. He was beginning to sound impatient.

“Do you have free will?”

“No, of course not,” he replied, incredulously.

“Because you can’t learn?”

“Right – I already know everything.”

“But how is free will implicit in the ability to learn?”

God sighed; He looked like he had been down this line of questioning one too many times. “Look. Let’s say you have a choice to make. If you were all-knowing, you’d already know the answer, right?”

“Right.”

“So you wouldn’t need to make a choice, right?”

She hesitated. “Okay,” she said.

“So, you only ever need to make a decision when you lack information.”

“Uh huh…”

“If you can learn, then that means there is always some information that you lack.”

She suddenly brightened. “Oh, I get it! So, free will is the ability we humans have to make the wrong choice!”

He brightened up. “Exactly!”

She paused, contemplating this. “Well, why would we want that?”

“Good question.” He paused, became aware of the growing line of people awaiting judgment, and sighed. “Look, it’s been nice, but I really have to get back to work…”

Coming soon, Part 4!

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