One bright sunny day, the Lord God paid a visit to Earth. He arrived in a huge, flaming chariot that was visible to millions of people as he circled the globe a few times. Behind the chariot was a banner that read “The Lord God, Creator of the Universe” in every human language. After a few circuits, the Chariot landed, and God stepped out. He looked a lot like Morgan Freeman, but with a beard.
Angels were busy handing out press releases, and several news cameras were trained to catch His first words.
He spoke in English, at least according to those around him (He had landed not far from Oxford University), although the Portuguese news team swore he spoke Portuguese, and the Swedes, Arabs, Japanese, and so on all commented on the fact that He expressed his thoughts to the world in their own native languages.
“Greetings, human beings” He said. “I am here for one purpose only. To prove that I exist.”
At that point he raised his hand toward Oxford University, and with a small puff of smoke it was gone. An instant later, Professor Richard Dawkins, who had been sitting in his office, ignoring all the hoopla, was standing next to God, looking somewhat perplexed.
God spoke again.
A reporter from the Southern Baptist Conference Newsletter asked, “Are you really Black, I mean African American, I mean, you know, African?”
“Of course I am. I made man in my own image, right? And what color do you think Adam and Eve and all the first humans who were living in Africa were? Next question”
“Is the Bible literally true?”
“Yes. Are there any useful questions? What about you Richard? Do you have anything interesting you would like to say?
Dawkins stared in disbelief. Then he caught himself. “Is evolution true?”
“Of course it is. Another dumb question. OK, I’m out of here. Gabriel here will set up an answer line, and you all can call in. Bless you all, and try to be good.”
And with that God was gone.
A month later there were no more doubters on the planet. Gabriel had been very clear and specific. Christianity was the true religion, specifically, the Dutch Reformed Lutheran Church. Heaven and Hell were real, and, sinners had better repent.
Dawkins became an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church, and millions of Muslims, Hindus, Catholics and Buddhists became Protestants. Most of the Jews held off for a bit, claiming that they wanted to open some further discussions with God, which Gabriel finally agreed to after muttering some slightly anti-Semitic comments.
A year later, everyone in the world was attending the local Lutheran Church, where they would be told the latest edict from God. There were no more atheists, or agnostics. Everyone believed. The proof of God’s existence and power was undeniable, as the big hole where Oxford University used to be clearly testified.
Two years later, The Church put out an advertisement for ministers, because nobody was signing up. Church attendance was down to practically nothing. Surveys showed that while everyone believed in God, nobody expressed any pleasure in worship or attendance at Church. Satan worship was the new big thing, even though Gabriel had made it clear that Satan was finally defeated, and would never show his face on Earth again. The leader of the Satan cult, a man named Joel Osteen, gathered millions of followers with his slogan, “Have Faith. Only Satan can overcome the tyranny of Gabriel.”
God looked down and sighed. “Oh brother,” he said to Michael. “I guess I blew it. By proving my existence, I destroyed faith. Big mistake.”
Michael shook him. “Lord, wake up, you were having a bad dream.”
God woke up and looked at Michael. “A bad dream? Which part? You mean creating humans was just a bad dream?”
“No, Lord, that part is true. You really did that. The bad dream was that ridiculous thing about proving your existence.”
“Phew, what a relief. I didn’t think I would be that stupid. I can never allow my existence to be proven. That would be the end of free will. Also, why the hell would I have saved Dawkins like that? I can’t stand the man.”
Sy, this is beyond brilliant. It is divine comedy at it’s best. I loved all the little jokes.
At least for me, it all comes down to the cat litter box.
The way I look at it, once God proves his existence, I won’t have to clean it anymore. Heck, God can take care of it. On the other hand, if Richard Dawkins proves that God doesn’t exist, I no longer have to worry about guilt or the litter box either.
What keeps me going, and keeps the litter box clean, is the tension and uncertainty that exists between the divine and nothingness.
Thanks Greg. Glad to see you have a sense of humor. (lol). I have always said that if you really want to understand something, you need to laugh about it. As you have so continually demonstrated on your blog.
The world is best seen through the lens of humor: it takes off all the rough edges.
I especially enjoyed the line you had about the Jews. A good friend of mine who is Jewish once said that if he were stranded on a dessert island, he would build two synagogues: one as a place to worship and the other to refuse to step foot in.
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I would have loved to ask Gabriel why organized Christianity started off Catholic.
Here is Gabriel’s answer. “When it all started nobody knew it was Catholic. They thought it was just Christian. The Catholic part came a lot later”.
Catholicism is the natural trajectory of all human organization. It is just as common in government and business as it is in religion. It is what killed IBM in the 1990’s and is why the EPA tried to downplay its pollution of the Animas river. Over time, organizations turn inward to defend their own interests and forget why they were formed, becoming more and more orthodox and hierarchical.
In one of his more lucid moments, Mao recognized this by looking back at three thousand years of Chinese history. He then advocated a revolution every generation – although his methods were a bit on the radical side.
I love this. If God didn’t exist we’d have to invent him. And if God did exist we’d have to invent Satan 😉
Thanks Sheila, I dont know if you remember me from Gather, but I remember you.
I have to confess your memory is better than mine, but it’s nice to reconnect. Thank you for remembering me.
Sheila Deeth – late of Danbury, Essex? Hail, and well met, if so – and good to see we have a mutual respect for Sy!
Wow! Suddenly it’s a small virtual world as well as a small world. Wonderful to meet you again Doctor Jon.
God’s grace becomes apparent, yet again.
As someone who dwells in Osteenland (geographically, not religiously) I laughed to see his name pop up — and in such an appropriate way! Any post that can get me pondering Dawkins and Osteen forced to share a pew for all eternity is a good one.
Thanks. I consider that high praise coming from a real theologian.
Sheila – ex-doctor now: full-time blogger and working musician. As Sy says, God’s gracious provision never stops, even when it comes to the providential renewing of old friendships.
Glad to see you found a publisher (re our last correspondence ten years ago!). I’ll drop by your blog sometime (and invite you to have a coffee at mine)
“Christianity was the true religion, specifically, the Dutch Reformed Lutheran Church”
Wait a minute I thought Krusty The Clown on an episode of The Simpsons said the true religion is a mix of Methodist and Voodoo.
That’s the last time I go to a cartoon for my religious fix!!!