My jogging companion didn’t show up yesterday. He was suffering from muscle spasms in his back, and decided to take the day off. So, I was on my own for the daily five mile walk. It was a gorgeous day…sunny, light breeze, a few wispy clouds, about 70 degrees. Just right to wear a sweatshirt and work up a little sweat.
About a mile into the walk, I came to a deserted section of the trail. My mind had been wandering aimlessly as my feet carried me along, not needing any guidance. I was recalling a conversation of a few days before with a devout Christian. I had challenged him to justify his belief in the existence of God. He had returned the compliment, challenging me to prove His non-existence. I had given my usual answer…I was skeptical, doubting the proposition in the absence of any evidence, and I assured him that I was open to any evidence of God’s existence. If any were ever presented, I would not hesitate to change my position.
Suddenly, a very loud sepulchral voice said, “What sort of evidence would convince you?”
I stopped in my tracks and looked around. I was completely alone, surrounded by the greenery of the forest. Then, I started looking more closely at nearby trees, looking for wires leading to speakers.
I hesitated. I had some Christian friends who would love to pull a trick like this on me. You just can’t trust those people! And then, I suddenly realized that whoever was speaking had known what I was thinking!
“I…I’m not sure, but you certainly have my attention,” I said, as I continued to peer behind nearby trees. Finally seeing nothing, I stopped and just stood, looking around.
The voice seemed to come from everywhere; all around me and above me. Spooky!
“Okay. Are you…God?”
Whoever he was, he sure didn’t talk much. The single word sentences made me wonder if he had been reading Hemingway.
“Well…” I tried to keep my voice steady…”It looks like I was wrong to think you didn’t exist.”
“Don’t worry about it. Everybody on this planet has got it wrong.”
I relaxed a little. If he really were God, he could have smashed me into a road pizza in a nanosecond, and I was still standing there.
“Why are you here talking to me?” I asked.
“Been watching this planet for awhile. Looks like it’s approaching a critical stage of development.”
I screwed up a little courage. “Why did you pick me to talk to?”
“Absolutely random. I wanted to talk to a representative of the dominant species…”
His voice trailed off, with just a tinge of disappointment. I had the fleeting impression that he wished he had found a better specimen to talk to.
“How is our situation critical?” I asked.
“The usual. Population and technology explosion. Social development lagging. Planet habitability degrading.”
“What do you mean ‘usual’? Are there other planets at our stage of development?”
A sigh. “Too many. I told them there were problems with the design.”
“My responsibility is just this galaxy cluster.”
“How many of you are there?”
He ignored my question. “Even so, it’s a huge job. Have you any idea how many planets there are to monitor? No, of course you don’t. Most of them develop without a problem, but some…like this one…things get out of hand.”
“What do you do to correct the problems?”
He went on as if he hadn’t heard my question. “We start each planet with a DNA seed, and let it develop naturally. As more complex life forms develop, the most successful combinations of genes propagate…”
I couldn’t help myself. I interrupted. “You mean the organisms that those genes reside in…”
A laugh. “Don’t take this personally, but you are just the receptacle for the genes. If you get a good combination, you will survive long enough to reproduce and your genes will propagate into the next generation. If you die before you reproduce, your genetic code becomes…history.”
“The problem comes…” He went on “…and I warned them about this…when one set of genes becomes dominant, overwhelming the others. It’s usually a very aggressive strain that destroys the planet through wars, ecosphere pollution and wasteful depletion of resources. Eventually, they are faced with extinction…if they don’t develop interstellar travel. We have to be very careful, because they are like a disease, just waiting to spread. All they need is the means to reach other planets, and they will spread, infecting a whole galaxy. We have had it happen, and had to…”
“Had to what?”
A pause. “Take steps to control the infection.”
I gulped. Was this the Apocalypse that the Bible predicted? A businesslike God inoculating our galaxy to prevent the spread of the human infection?
He must have sensed what I was thinking. “Don’t worry. From what I have seen so far, this planet is a long way from posing any danger to the galaxy. But you are in danger of implosion.”
“Destruction of habitability. Total extinction. It happens fairly frequently.”
“Can you give us some clues how to avoid it?”
“Hey, Bert! Bert! BERTBERTBERT!!!”
I looked up and Herb was waving both arms, trying to get my attention. Herb is a retired lawyer whom I run into out on the trail occasionally.
“Wow, you must have been in another world. I had to yell at you four times to get your attention!”
“Yeah. I really was in another world, Herb.”
But I didn’t tell him where I was. He would have thought I was crazy.
Please select one or more of the following statements that best reflect your opinion of this story.
a) This is blasphemy and you are going to go to Hell. May the Real God have mercy on your soul.
b) You are an infidel so you are lying or deluded or ignorant of the truth. There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. Allahu Akbar!
c) This is the stupidest thing I have ever read. There is only one God, and he created the Earth and all its living things, and he created us in his image. He didn’t plant a seed and let it develop willy nilly.
d) You did not talk to God. You were deceived by Satan who is trying to lure you away from the real God and his Son. Everything this fake god says is false. God is not concerned about deterioration of the Earth. It is part of His plan. We don’t need it much longer. The End Times are near. Get ready!
e) I thought you were an atheist. Changing your mind? Well, at least you are not converting to Christianity. This smacks of deism.
f) This is really boooooring. Why don’t you write about paint drying. It would be more interesting.
g) You are obviously a believer in global warming and all that BS. What a cheap way to promote your agenda.
h) None of the above. Here is the real answer: _________________________________