God, Pluto and Limburger Cheese

Many Christians believe that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God. When asked for evidence that God exists, they point to the Bible, and the stories describing all the miracles God performed. That is a neat little piece of circular reasoning that is about as logical as the idea of a self-eating watermelon.

I was lying in bed thinking about this one night and when I finally fell asleep, I had a very strange dream. It was a few days after returning from a trip to South Africa. The brain often weaves personal experiences into dreams, and this was a good example.

I am sitting in a bar on the waterfront in Cape Town, drinking a beer and watching the late afternoon sunlight fade on Table Mountain. Suddenly, a very attractive young lady slides onto the bar stool next to me, smiles and strikes up a conversation.

Now, I am on the shady side of seventy years old, so I don’t think she is looking for romance. I notice that she is pretty animated about something, and I ask her what is so exciting. She replies that she just came from a very inspiring service at her church. Just to make conversation, I ask her what denomination of church she attends.

“I belong to a very small church called Brevision.”

“Never heard of it,” I say. “Tell me about it. What does the name mean?”

“The name is derived from Brevibacterium linens, the bacterium that is used to make Limburger cheese. The central belief of our church is that Pluto is made of Limburger cheese.”

Now I pride myself on being a pretty cool guy, not easily bamboozled. My first thought is that she was pulling my leg, but her expression, deadly serious and intense, keeps me from laughing out loud.

“Pluto?” I bleat.

“Yes. You know, the smallest and furthest planet.”

“Ex-planet,” I correct, trying to recover a little ground. “It has been downgraded to dwarf planet.”

She shakes her head sadly and an expression of annoyance flashes across her flawless face. “Yes, it’s sad that scientists don’t recognize its importance. We believe that it is at the exact center of the Universe.”

“How many members does your church have?” I ask, struggling gamely to keep it going.

“It varies. Twelve to fifteen. At the moment we are down to twelve.”

I don’t want to offend her, but I just have to ask. “Why do you think Pluto is made of Limburger cheese?”

“We don’t think it is. We know it is.”

“But how can you know that? Nobody has ever been there, and we have only faint and blurry images.”

“We just know,” she says, smiling an incandescent smile that makes me wish I were forty or fifty years younger.

“Look,” I say, “Limburger cheese is made from cow’s milk. I think it is highly unlikely that there are cows on Pluto. So it seems to me that it is also highly unlikely that there is any Limburger cheese there.

She looks at me as if I were a child and says very condescendingly, “You must be a scientist. Your thoughts and logic are all based on your experiences here on earth. Limburger cheese is just a bunch of chemicals, and he could easily make all of it that he wanted.”

“Who’s he?”

Now she is eyeing me like I am an idiot.

“God, of course.”

It was a long journey, but we made it all the way from Earth to Pluto to Limburger cheese to God.

“So the members of your church believe in God?”

She looks at me with those gorgeous eyes, and blinks. “How else can you explain all that Limburger cheese?”

 
Author’s Note
This was written several years ago when the New Horizons probe was still billions of miles from Pluto. Now that we have seen some detailed photos of Pluto’s surface, is my comely companion’s Brevision faith repudiated? Not so fast. Beneath those ice mountains and rivers of liquid nitrogen scientists may find a solid core of Limburger cheese.

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