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 had 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 spacetime 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 automatic pilot."
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 in deities."
A crescendo of
susurrations whooshed 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, these 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 like us."
voice quivered: "Oh, what a falling off was there! These earthlings.
. . ."
gaze toward the ministers, he gathered himself and continued: "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. Even
their leaders pray. All their lives, these wretched creatures attend
meetings where speakers expatiate on the imaginary deity. They study
ancient books, laced with barbarous fancies, which they call his Word."
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 spirit."
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."
of revels, Kod, piped: "Take heed, your majesty. These Godmongers
may try to deify you."
Zod nodded. "No
doubt - a mere astrophysicist, with a penchant for antiquated polity
and contemplative silence. I do have at present one omni attribute:
omniconfusion. 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. "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
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."
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 his figures."
"In any case, we shall seed other universes."