Main Question or Discussion Point
Ages ago in school I wrote this little story. I had a word limit and a specific purpose for the work, and this is how it ended up. Given some of the topics posted recently, I thought some of you might find it worth a chuckle.
The Atheist And God
Note: I use the word God so as to not single out any particular religion, but to represent all myths of singular sentient entities which are involved in myths of universal creation and such. The word "god" is a noun, not a proper noun, so it does not specifically refer to the Christian religion (the name of their god, after all, is Yahweh or something, which for some strange reason is rarely used).
An atheist is sitting on a park bench by the Yarra River in Melbourne, Friday afternoon. As he's feeding the birds and watching river boats and such, a man dressed in strange white robes appears in front of him. The man looks about sixty, with a long white beard and long white hair, kind blue eyes.
The white-robed man says "Hi there. Mind if I sit and talk with you?"
"Go ahead," replies the atheist. "It's almost a free country."
The older man sits beside the atheist, and says "I'm God. Creator of all. The beginning and end of everything. He Who Watches. You know, the Big Guy?"
"I'm here because, as you may already know, you're an atheist. Sometimes I like to make an appearance and try to steer people in the right direction, open their eyes to a wider world."
"Uh-huh," the atheist nods, tossing a piece of bread to a bird.
"You don't believe me?"
"No. Nice day though, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," agrees God. "So tell me, what might it take to make you believe I'm God?"
The atheist shrugs, replies "I don't think it's possible."
"Really? Well, that is an interesting idea. You don't think it's possible that omnipotent God can make you believe it is God?"
"Well, let's see if that's true. Let's start with your disbelief. Why?"
"It's not hard to figure out," says the atheist. "First, there is the possibility that the entire universe is not real as I think it is. Maybe everything is a figment of my imagination. Or maybe I was severely injured in a car crash a few years ago, and everything I've experienced since then has been some kind of delerium while I lay brain-damaged in a coma. Or maybe everything I experience is generated by electronic stimuli, and I'm just a brain in a great big computer system. I can't disprove these possibilities, but I believe they are unlikely. So, let's assume everything is real, an objective universe. The tree does make a noise even when I'm nowhere near the forest. With me so far?"
"Fine. The universe is real. Next, to believe in a singular entity which created the universe, we must accept that the universe had a beginning, that it was created at some moment. That question is far from answered to my satisfaction. For all any of know, maybe the universe didn't have a beginning, and may never end. The notion of everything having a beginning and end, I think, comes from all those stroies we humans have been telling each other for thousands or millions of years. Maybe the universe never began, but was always here, and will always be here. So the idea of a creator is not really a contender for rational discussion."
"Is that it? A little bit of scientific uncertainty precludes the possibility of me being God?"
"No, it reduces the probability of you being God. The fact is, we humans are quite good at learning, and the fact that our science and all our thought enables us to create functioning machines and discover the nature of orbiting worlds and such clearly demonstrates that we are on the right track. Our ability to work so well with logic, possibility, and probability has set us on the track to understanding everything - which we will, some day. I think that is fairly likely. Every step forward in our understanding makes the probability of you being God less likely."
"And what if I was to demonstrate my own capabilties? What if I turned that building over there into a frog? Or reversed gravity throughout the universe?"
"First, I would consider the possibility that I am hallucinating. Then the possibility that it always was that way, and I was hallucinating before. Then the possibility that I'm under the effects of some mind-affecting drug or device, or hypnotism, or something else of the sort. If I believe these things you mentioned are real, then I must consider the possibility that you either have access to technology which is being kept secret from the rest of the human race for some reason, or you are some rather powerful non-human entity with technology far more advanced than ours. The fact is, any such trick you might possibly perform is only likely to make me think you have advanced technological or psychic abilities. Maybe you could be an alien from Proxima Centauri or something. These are the more likely explanations."
"So all my powers are not enough to convince you? Then what is?"
"As I said, you probably can't convince me of such a thing. In all likelihood, you're just some crazy old man who got out of a nursing home while the guards weren't paying attention. Sorry, I don't want to seem cruel, but it's a very likely possibility in such a conversation."
"Understood," replies God. "A very interesting case you've built. What if I was to take you back in time, show you how I created the universe?"
"Hallucination," the atheist shrugs. "Already covered this stuff, old man. Illusion induced by some technology or ability I'm not yet aware of. But it might make a cool television show."
God makes a snorting noise, rather annoyed.
"Let me ask you about your belief, old man," says the atheist. "What makes you so sure you're God?"
"I am God," God replies.
"But how do you know that?"
God sits, considering.
"You could be a brain in a great big machine," says the atheist. "Or a brain-damaged comatose car-crash victim. Or maybe the whole damn thing is just your imagination. Maybe you're just a crazy old man. You could turn that building into a frog, reverse gravity throughout the universe, do all sorts of things, but would it all be real, or just part of the illusion or dream? How do you know you're God? I mean, doesn't it seem rather unlikely?"
God sits, considering. At last he says "I've never come across reasoning like that before. The fact is, I must now at least consider the possibility that I'm not God."