By Gary Sloan
July, 16, 2001
Zod was distraught. On his
burnished throne he drooped, raiment disheveled and crown askew, as
winged ministers fluttered about. No one had ever seen him like this.
For an eon, he had radiated empyreal serenity, unalloyed by sublunary
emotions. While the ministers dispatched the affairs of the kingdom,
he sat erect, silent, and still-musing, with imperturbable mien, on
infinity. No one disturbed him.
He had last spoken some
15 billion years ago. Informed that space-time was ready to undergo
a phase transition to trigger rapid expansion of the universe, he said:
"Close the pearly gates and activate the kaon shield. Then switch to
Now, with a formal cluck,
Zod summoned his prime minister, Yod, who alit by the throne. After
a sotto voce exchange with the distressed monarch and a bustling round
of whispers with technicians, Yod addressed his cohorts-now, wings folded,
perched on golden bars: "Our flux capacitor malfunctioned. It discharged
a pristine batch of brain waves from planet #3182551728-in the local
vernacular, earth. When the waves struck the king, he instantaneously
decoded them. Regrettably, his majesty now knows earthlings believe
A crescendo of susurrations
whished through the vaulted chamber fretted with incandescent quasars.
Silence fell when Zod stood up and hopped forward. Fixing his pink eyes
on a quasar, he spoke with pensive restraint.
"When I set the initial
conditions for the universe, I included a parameter designed to prevent
brains from conceiving of supernatural beings. Since all phenomena have
natural causes, the conception seemed a pernicious superfluity. The
late evidence from earth corroborates the assumption.
"As you may recall, my intent
was to maximize autonomy, lucidity, courage, knowledge, wonder, and
joy. Instead of frittering away their lives on bootless illusions, intelligent
beings would unravel the subtle intricacies of nature. The quest for
understanding would be inexhaustibly gratifying. New discoveries would
perpetually delight. Disease, pain, injustice, labor, even death would
be vanquished. Eventually, these creatures would learn to seed their
own universes." With faint irony, he added: "In short, they would be
Suddenly, his voice quivered:
"Oh, what a falling off was there! These earthlings. . . . Let me be
Shifting his gaze toward
the ministers, he gathered himself and continued with quickened delivery:
"They are obsessed with a deity many call God. They think he both created
the laws of nature and contravenes the laws. They think he watches them
and listens to them, rewards them and punishes them. They try to get
on his good side by obeying his orders and observing primitive rites.
Though no prayer has ever been answered, they doggedly beseech him.
Rain or shine, they bow their heads or drop to their knees like abject
serfs. Even their leaders pray. All their lives, these wretched creatures
attend meeting where speakers expatiate on the imaginary deity. They
study ancient books, laced with barbarous fancies, which they call his
Zod took a deep breath and
slowly exhaled. "They have specialists-they call them theologians-who
pontificate on God's attributes. They say he is an omnipotent, omniscient,
omnipresent, omnific, omnibenevolent, immutable, eternal, incorporeal
When Zod paused, the prime
minister ventured: "Why, that's absurd."
"And then some. A fetid
stew of non-sequiturs and rank antinomies. Some compound the offense
by asserting they believe God exists because the belief is absurd. To
us, that is insanity. They call it wisdom."
The minister of revels,
Kod, piped: "Take heed, your majesty. These Godmongers may try to deify
Zod nodded. "No doubt-a
mere astrophysicist, with a penchant for antiquated polity and contemplative
silence. I do have at present one omni attribute: omniconfused. Fifteen
billion years ago, I carefully rechecked my figures before the head
technician fed them into the Universe Seeding Accelerator, USA. Every
particle, virtual and real, was plotted, every wiggle of every superstring-in
all twenty-three dimensions--calibrated, every neural configuration
mapped. Everything looked go. Each galaxy would evolve a species of
rational beings, scornful of superstition, hocus-pocus, and humbuggery
of every ilk."
He sighed. "I thought my
equations were flawless."
On his perch, the minister
of internal security, Wod, flapped. When Zod looked his way, the minister
said: "Your highness, can it be coincidence our former head technician
was named God? After he programmed your equations into the USA computers,
he vanished. He could have fiddled with your figures."
Zod hopped sideways. "Of
course! He could invert the no-deity parameter and specify appellations
for the imaginary deity along with other particulars."
"God was vainglorious, vindictive,
and resentful of your authority," said Wod, "yet an accomplished mathematician."
The ministers all flapped to signify agreement.
"Ah," said Zod, "I now understand
why the earthlings' heaven has winged messengers, streets of gold, and
pearly gates. God's way of twitting us."
"His cockiness may be premature,"
said the prime minister. "The technicians have examined a new tide of
earthling brain waves. They reveal a statistically significant spike
on the axis for atheism. Our good God, it seems, should have rechecked
Zod brightened. "In any
case, we shall seed other universes."
Copyright 2001 Gary Sloan