16 min read
An Interview With God

 



by William Thomas




WILLIAM THOMAS: Thank you for responding to my email. Let me play a clip from that redacted interview you did with Canadian CNN. 

GOD: If you must. 

RICHARD QUEST, CCNN: We rolling? 


TECHNICIAN: Go. 

RICHARD QUEST (turning to God, who is clutching a mug stamped with the station logo while trying to get comfortable in a studio chair) What was your childhood like? 


GOD: Very dark. Pitch black, actually. I couldn't see a thing. Not that it mattered, since there was nothing to see. Also, there was no sound. Total echoing silence. Which is a very freaky kind of echo.

RICHARD QUEST: Sounds like the worst kind of solitary confinement imaginable. 


GOD: I thought I was going batshit crazy. Also, I was bored out of my gourd. 

RICHARD QUEST: So you said, “Let there be light.' 


GOD: Oh, I can’t take credit for that. It was Yehlh the Raven who discovered the sun, moon and stars in a box and threw them like Frisbees across the heavens.

RICHARD QUEST: Impressive. Even for a raven. How long did this take? 


GOD: How would I know? All this was before my time. 

RICHARD QUEST: (laughs) You're a comedian. Who knew? 


GOD: S'truth. Before this universe came into existence, there was no Time. Ask Stephen Hawking. 

RICHARD QUEST: He doesn't believe in you. He says a Creator isn't needed because another religion called Quantum Physics says that everything arises spontaneously, bubbling up from the Quantum Soup. 


GOD: Ah, but who is the chef? 

RICHARD QUEST: Getting back to your childhood in that dark, soundproof nowhere and nowhen. Is that PTSD-inducing experience why you created the seven-day week, opioids, the vast heavens and crazy Earth? 


GOD: Earths. Multiverses, remember? Parallel. But different. 

RICHARD QUEST: You mean on another Earth Hitler was a philanthropist and Mother Theresa a serial killer? 


GOD: I admit things got out of hand. I started making stuff and couldn't stop. The whole thing just exploded.   

RICHARD QUEST: You're referencing the Big Bang. 


GOD: That came later. When I invented orgasms. 

RICHARD QUEST: Cut that out. This interview is intended for family viewing. 


GOD: Aw…

RICHARD QUEST: Continuing from the astronomical Big Bang… Measurements of background cosmic radiation indicate that 13.799 thousand million years after that initiating silent explosion, the momentum of every galaxy, solar system and molesting Hollywood ’star' should be slowing down, even starting to contract. 


GOD: Seems reasonable. Entropy, morality and all that. Even in a frictionless vacuum, everything eventually runs down. 

RICHARD QUEST: Instead, our best sensors still show red-shifts in every direction. Which means this universe – which is apparently flat as a pizza with raisins in it, by the way – is continuing to accelerate and expand. Your own immutable Laws of How Stuff Works say this is impossible. Yet it's happening. How do you account for this? 


GOD: What kind of pizza has raisins in it? 

RICHARD QUEST: If the universe is infinite, how can its expanding wavefront have an edge or a boundary? And what is it expanding into


GOD: Just like Earth, the universe has no edge. Like all circles, it’s recursive. Which means it's endless, not infinite. Stop asking nonsensical questions while standing on the surface of an expanding balloon. Just pray it doesn’t pop.

RICHARD QUEST: Except for that 500-year glitch with those peace-loving, goddess-worshipping Minoan feminists, ever since you were first codified in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mayan stelae, the Norse Sagas of the Vikings, the Hindi Bhagavad-Gita, the Torah, Bible Comix, Mel Gibson's gore fest, and the sacred Qur'an, the number one chief God – head chef, you might say – has always been a father figure, universally referred to as 'He' and 'Him'. 


GOD: So?

RICHARD QUEST: By definition, God is perfect and without restriction. Yet nobody can argue that sex and gender aren't constant challenges for role-restricted, hormone-addled light beings having a human experience. Your claim to be a Big Daddy God instantly disqualifies you from Unlimited Supreme Beinghood. 


GOD: I'm not claiming anything. It's people who keep making up stories about me and putting words in my mouth. And male appendages on the body they nevertheless insist I don't even have.  

RICHARD QUEST: (laughs) 


GOD: Okay. I get it. Everybody wants a Super Dad to take care of them. Or knock them around. 

RICHARD QUEST: What’s that about? GOD: Tough love, bro. Tough love.   RICHARD QUEST: There you go. Ever since the first Neanderthal was crisped by a lightning bolt, you’ve been accused of screwing with people’s lives. 


GOD: (defensively) Me a meddler? What do you call geoengineering and GMOs?

RICHARD QUEST: Forgive me for saying this, but are you mentally okay? From what I’ve seen, you often act paranoid. And you seem remarkably thin-skinned for a deity who should be ‘above it all’. 


GOD: Is that all?

RICHARD QUEST: Since you asked, in all your guises as a divine presence, you seem to pander to the blood- thirsty. You also indulge in inflicting calamities on the most hapless transgressors of your often bizarrely antiquated orders and stipulations. 


GOD: Membership in a cult – your French word for church – is not supposed to be easy. Surprisingly, the more difficult and beneficial practice is where you sit still – maybe on your porch or back deck, if the weather isn’t insane – watching your thoughts without judgement and looking out your eyes. Sundays used to be a good day for this. Back when more pious folks still observed that buy-nothing day of rest and reflection. Respectful reverence for my unfold-ing creation is, of course, a daily spiritual requirement.  

RICHARD QUEST: Sunday is also my unplug-all-computers-and-electronics and contemplate-insightful- teachings day. But your recruitment rap is a booby-trap. Because in fact and alas, all those who do not sign up for your peculiar mishmash of insight, wisdom, mayhem, poetry, intolerance and superstition – which includes most of this planet’s human and all of its wild population – are condemned to hell-on-earth, or just plain hell in a rocket-propelled handcart without even a summary trial. 


GOD: Be careful. Hell is not just a scary story to keep the gullible in line. It's a karmic metaphor for eternal separation from the spirit within. And you’d better start owning the pending climatic collapse of your alleged civilization, followed by likely human extinction. You’re doing it to yourselves.

RICHARD QUEST: Good points. But if ‘terrorism’ means blowing apart innocent lives and families, don’t tell me there is no connection between the most violent and disruptive terrorist state on this planet and its official and uncritical worship of an Abrahamic God and a sadistically-tortured messiah executed on a cross beneath which a lot more blood has been shed. 


GOD: You can’t beat that for branding!

RICHARD QUEST: It’s right up there with cannibalism. 


GOD: Transubstantiation. Yum yum.

RICHARD QUEST: As a knee-jerk symbol rivalling the stars and stripes, the crucifix is hard to beat. But both religious emblems celebrate bloodshed and the militant exclusivity of a myopic and indulgent tribe whose self-entitled members see themselves as constantly besieged. 


GOD: Which they are. But mostly by themselves. As for nonstop violent video games and imagery, constant White House threats to ‘annihilate’ countries that don’t do its bidding, slaughters called wars, mass media hypnosis, fearful shadow-side projection, fundamentalist fulminations, drugged-out suicidal despair, and enough weapons and scattered corpses to swamp all other countries combined… possibly begetting more violence? Duh!

RICHARD QUEST: Can’t you Tweet or post something to Facebook telling your followers to chill? 


GOD: Sure. Right behind the recanting jihadists.

RICHARD QUEST: There is no difference! The Taliban and the Trumpists are using the same words to describe the same viciously ignorant threat. Namely, themselves. 


GOD: You're pretty clever with words yourself...

RICHARD QUEST: If only the clever were wise. 

GOD: After nearly 70 years stumbling around as a walk-in, how are you coming with the whole enlightenment trip?

RICHARD QUEST: I'm just an old fool. Another one of your sinners. Graduation appears uncertain this time around. 


GOD: Despite some great teachers.

RICHARD QUEST: Besides many instructive interactions with dogs, cats and horses, I have been blessed by eyeball-to-eyeball encounters with a wolf, an elephant, an eagle and a humpback whale. Each of those wise beings was a lot further along than me. GOD: A pantheist, eh? RICHARD QUEST: Just another sailor at home in the dark. Funny how over-civilized humans, who worship invisible entities on hearsay, are so quick to disparage ‘primitive', ‘pagan', and 'superstitious’ tribes with enough sense to pay homage to forces as awesome and accessible as the sun, killer whales, ravens, tigers and crows. My totem animal is the crow. 


GOD: Lucky you. Don Juan recommended becoming one with God by becoming one with a crow. 

RICHARD QUEST: We’ll see. 


GOD: What's your main toe-stubber? 

RICHARD QUEST: Paying attention. Staying present. Stopping the chattering mind. 


GOD: Ever think of dialling it back? Talking to you is like addressing a howitzer.

RICHARD QUEST: Just trying to keep our conversation real.


GOD: As an editor once complained, you use such loaded language.

RICHARD QUEST: I challenged him to pick out a single 'hyperbolic’ word in my article that was inaccurate or imprecise. He couldn’t. You don’t find reality ‘loaded’? 


GOD: Every barrel.

RICHARD QUEST: A capricious deity overseeing hell still sounds like Nazis and the ovens to me. But in your version of Armageddon, every living creature more complicated than a giant tube worm slurping a hydro-thermal vent at the bottom of the ocean – except, of course, those naked raptured bible thumpers – croaks in the most horrific agonies you can devise. 


GOD: Bit harsh, don’t you think?

RICHARD QUEST: My description? Or your revenge? 


GOD: You're calling me schizoid, dictatorial, prudish and genocidal? 

RICHARD QUEST: When I’m being polite. I’m thinking this might be a good time to lose the whole he, him, man, patriarch, king and so overwhelmingly male God thing and just go gender neutral and divinely natural. 


GOD: (startled) You’re my manager now?

RICHARD QUEST: You’ll be right in synch with people who can relate to you. Or at least listen to your story. 


GOD: Okay, I do have this sadistic streak. This… anger problem. Neither would affect me if I wasn’t stuck with these male human attributes. I see a couple kissing. It’s obvious they’re really in love... Or take families in some desperate circumstance in submerging Bangladesh, or some hardscrabble shack in Appalachia, where the kids come home barefoot, wearing little more than rags. But they’re clean rags, lovingly mended.    

RICHARD QUEST: I didn’t mean… 


GOD: I'm not an unfeeling robot. Acts of human courage, generosity and affection – especially affection – make me feel left out and so goddamned alone. I mean that word precisely. Because I'm damned to eternal solitude because I’m God. And sometimes – yeah – the care and concern couples and families show each other seem to mock my own terrible isolation. And then my love for them turns to rage. (crying and laughing) Sometimes I cheer when a storm surge plunges some doomed populace underwater. Or when another greed-blinded corporation rips the top off another mountain and devastates what was already a bare bones existence. So help me… God.

RICHARD QUEST: But people everywhere sing your praises. Their ethereal hymns and down-home gospel tunes evoke such love for you, surely that must provide solace. That’s one of the big reasons you created us, right?


GOD: They don’t know me. Can’t really know me. Instead, they’re worshipping projections of their own panicked egos – not realizing they don’t die. Until you step off the wheel, everything make a circle. Matter into energy recycled back into matter without loss: e=mc2.

RICHARD QUEST: That’s it? We die and become part of what, some big solar flare? 


GOD: Sorry. No plot spoilers from me.

RICHARD QUEST: The big question is, does individual consciousness remain coherent after the last neuron winks out? 


GOD: The bigger question is, why do you think consciousness is confined to your skull? That’s like saying the Canucks game you’re listening to is inside your radio.

RICHARD QUEST: Is this why hu-man means 'spirit person’? 


GOD: All spirit people would do well to remember that they're temporarily embodied beings of light – as science has shown – who will one day discard their bodies and once again move at the speed of light-squared. But instead of getting the lessons they keep arranging for themselves, too many folks just want me to send them presents. And do all the heavy lifting. It doesn’t work that way.

RICHARD QUEST: And yet we keep coming back. 


GOD: Why do you think so many energetic spirits are lining up to go back? To be embodied again, they’ll gladly put up with the pain of heartbreak, illness, injury and death. Just to feel a warm breeze, or the hands of a warm and willing partner, caress their skin again. RICHARD QUEST: But you’re God. GOD: Don’t you get it? It’s all about being in your own skin! And I will NEVER KNOW THAT. Ha! The God who supposedly rules the universe, has everything and wants for nothing will never experience what the lowliest beggar has high-fiving his mates on a warm summer day. Yet how many of your viewers are squirming over the image of healthy sensuality you’ve posted above?

RICHARD QUEST: Sun’s over the yardarm. Let’s break for a stiff drink. 


GOD: Suits me.



PART 2



TECH: Red light means go. 

RICHARD QUEST: (still squinting intently at God) 


GOD: What?  

RICHARD QUEST: I’m seeing how fantastic you’d look in an Aztec priest’s mask. 


GOD: Hang on. I’ll go fetch my jaguar dagger. You hold the dazed virgin until I hand her your heart. I mean, hand you her heart. 

RICHARD QUEST: That’s not funny! 


GOD: You started it. 

RICHARD QUEST: (quietly) You know, more and more we interview survivors of natural disasters and most of them always say, 'God saved us from the twister.' 'God saved us from the hurricane.' But nobody ever asks why God visited such calamity upon their loved ones in the first place. 


GOD: (chuckles ruefully) It’s true. I get away with a lot. Their daddy fixation also leaves believers susceptible to televangelicals and other charlatans who demand money and more money, claiming they have my unlisted number. They don’t.

RICHARD QUEST: Who made you? 


GOD: To quote your own eighth-grade catechism: 'God made me, this I know.' 

RICHARD QUEST: But you're God. GOD: You catch on fast. RICHARD QUEST: You mean, for a reporter. 


GOD: Yes. You don’t seem to be in my records. And you are quite weird. Even for a production anomaly, you certainly seem... anomalous. Your own baffled father called you an ‘alien’.

RICHARD QUEST: You’d be surprised at how many are like me. 


GOD: Rebels. Misfits. Artists. Scouts. Witches. Shamans. Philosophers. Visionaries. (makes the sign of the cross) I bless you all. You’re going to need it. Because when the new theocracy is complete, you’ll all be barbecued on a spit. The Inquisition was just a field test. 

RICHARD QUEST: Life is one long argument between belief and reality. 


GOD: Robert Anton Wilson was a hoot.

RICHARD QUEST: He also suggested getting rid of all the programs that make us miserable. Urging “love and cheerfulness,” RAW rightfully remarked, “It’s nicer living in a happy world.’ 


GOD: To connect with God Consciousness, he specifically recommended ‘breathing, music, LSD and kabbalist magic.’ He seems to have left out the entire clergy.

RICHARD QUEST: Why are all theological arguments and assertions circular? 


GOD: Because theologians proclaiming certitudes about things they cannot possibly know are just spinning their wheels. 

RICHARD QUEST: All the holy books are made-up stories? 


GOD: Deliberately made-up metaphors. Like the great cathedrals of Europe, fabulous fables from Asia and the Middle East are far more profound than they first appear, and can be decoded by those who know how to read them. Don't get hung up on the stories. Look to where they point. And your own spiritual growth.

RICHARD QUEST: The number of souls who might have met you range only and abruptly from nobody to every-one who’s died since there’s been anyone around. 


GOD: Makes you wonder why no one’s 'phoned home' in ways that can be live-streamed.

RICHARD QUEST: Which means that nobody – not the pope, not the most learned rabbi or imam – knows a thing about you. Can know anything about you.   


GOD: The way that is spoken of is not the Way. A god who can be named is not God. 

RICHARD QUEST: You've just shredded the entire religion racket. 


GOD: Read your Niebuhr and Lao Tzu. Or maybe it was Bonhoeffer. Some German wise guy anyway. They were the only ones who got it right: any true God is beyond words. This means that God – if I actually exist – cannot be spoken of.  

RICHARD QUEST: Why did you never marry? Do you have a goddessfriend? 


GOD: (sighs) I've never even made out. 

RICHARD QUEST: You had adulterous sex with Mary. 


GOD: That wasn’t me. Talk to the Holy Ghost 

RICHARD QUEST: I love how otherwise rational believers pray to a ‘holy ghost’ with a straight face. Another spectral male in an invisible all-male trinity that excludes Mary and all other women, real or imaginary. As if any godman could exist without a mother. 


GOD: Men rule. That's how I set it up. You don't like it, make your own universe. 

RICHARD QUEST: Some of us are still trying to fix the disastrously out-of-balance patriarchy your self-appointed male representatives have sanctified. Seeing how egregiously so many of her representatives are still being mistreated, it’s clear that after 2,000 years of religious misogyny, the persecution and attempted subjugation of the goddess continues. The good news is the sisterhood has had enough. The bad news is that it’s come to this. 


GOD: You’re blaming me? Joe would certainly agree.

RICHARD QUEST: I’ll bite. What did Joseph say when the spouse who wouldn't let him ‘know' her because she had to remain a virgin told him she was pregnant? 


GOD: He was cool with it. His exact words to her were: 'I feel honoured and privileged to be cuckolded by the Holy Ghost.' He was kidding, of course. I mean, he wasn’t kidding.

RICHARD QUEST: The mythical Mary wasn’t always a virgin. As others have pointed out, this iconic mother became a virgin again under papal decree in 649. And while we're on the subject of theological revision, you didn't really kill your only son, did you? 


GOD: Of course not. It was that asshole with the spear. 

RICHARD QUEST: Please don't use such language on-air. It's unbecoming for a... for God. 


GOD: You mean I won't go to heaven? 

RICHARD QUEST: (high-fives his interview guest) Good one, dog! 


GOD: Thank, you. 

RICHARD QUEST: So ‘fess up. Jesus Christ was just another mythical Action Hero. Before Superman broke the mold, at least 35 dudes in ancient times either claimed to be or were followed as a ‘messiah' – from Adad of Assyria to Beddru of Japan, the Buddha, Cadmus of Greece, Crite of Chaldea, Ischy from Formosa, Krishna, Mohammed, Odin (who carried a Scandinavian passport), Prometheus (who was hot, sorry), Thor ('The Hammer'), Thammuz, Zoroaster and Mithra – both of Persia. Even someone named Salivahana from Bermuda got in on the act. Before Irma flattened the place. 


GOD: Big deal. 

RICHARD QUEST: Huge deal. Given the deep animosity of their subjects toward them, hard-eyed Roman cops, quick-buck informants, and undercover agents swelter- ing in their overcoats and fedoras kept close watch on all Jewish rebels calling themselves the Messiah. 


GOD: You don’t say.

RICHARD QUEST: During the time Jesus is said to have preached in Palestine, Simon of Peraea and Athronges both led separate uprisings against their hated over-seers. Six and 46 years after his alleged passing, Judas the Galilean and Theudas also incited revolts against the Romans. Lke the latest hits, the wannabe messiahs just keep on comin’. 


GOD: Are you calling me an imposter?

RICHARD QUEST: Just confused. 


GOD: Anybody can claim to be anyone. And many people do. There are probably even more 'Sons of Sam' than supposed 'Sons of God'. 

RICHARD QUEST: An unfortunate comparison. But here’s the thing: each of these crucified saviours billed themselves as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Each 'Light of the World' followed the same plot points, claiming to be: the Son of God born of a blessed virgin and carpenter fathers beneath a guiding star. 


GOD: You done?

RICHARD QUEST: Each of these 35-plus figures holding the title ’Saviour' was also said to be an eternal being without sin representing their heavenly old man. Crucified between two thieves, for all their loving ways dozens of legendary messiahs warned of a heavy Day of Judgment befalling all those who were not with their program. 


GOD: (glares) Ancient templates for humanity’s oldest story

RICHARD QUEST: Horus at the breast of his prototypical mom, Isis, was the most obvious template chosen by a cabal of misogynist male control freaks when they proclaimed their guy among so so many imaginary predecessors to have actually lived some 80 years before they started copying and modifying each other’s yarns. 


GOD: (exasperated) The first time you jumped out of an airplane and your parachute opened, didn’t I hear you shout, ‘Praise Jesus!’ 

RICHARD QUEST: (smiles) I give thanks often. Also, my crotch was being crushed by the shock of opening. To return to my plagiaristic point... the many ‘pagan' followers of Mithra vehemently protested that they, too, were being ripped off by Christians cribbing their more popular rituals and beliefs. 


GOD: Whatever works. 

RICHARD QUEST: Archetypes rule us because they steer  our stories. Thing was, up till then the folks who revered and recounted the Most Popular Story Ever Told knew it was just a story. Everyone hearing the latest iteration of the Saviour parable realized that not taking it literally was the whole point. There is so much more power in Jesus the myth than Jesus the man. 


GOD: Today, many people apparently prefer to believe that a narrative constructed and revised over 2,000 years must be for real. Why are you trying to undermine all they have left to cling to?

RICHARD QUEST: Providing ritual, solace and support, courage and comfort are what churches do best. And bless them for that. Biggish problemo though: People impaired by drugs – including the drug of religion – are super-susceptible. Along with all that warm belonging, Churches also enable a self-righteous exclusive lock on made-up ’truth’ that feeds a fierce tribal intolerance toward 'Others’. 


GOD: David J. Brown unhelpfully pointed out that the abbreviation of any Belief System is… BS.

RICHARD QUEST: Most notably absent is sustained and concerted protest by platitude-parroting churchgoers as the killing, maiming and traumatizing of distant strangers by their sons and daughters, neighbours and parishioners goes on and on and on. 


GOD: They’re all cold-blooded murderers, I suppose.

RICHARD QUEST: Most often recruited from the ranks of blacks, Hispanics and proud hillbillies with few options and a burning love for their flag and country, these kids are driven by exploitive patriotism, the need for a job and direction, massive firepower and the best of intentions. Thing is, before knocking their doors down, Washington never asks anyone if they want to be ‘saved’ for Pizza Hut, McDonalds and bankers by Abrams tanks, white phosphorous, cluster bombs and flying Warthogs spewing womb-warping radioactive munitions. 


GOD: When violence makes a circle it becomes a noose. I thought I gave everyone free will and told them not to kill anybody?

RICHARD QUEST: That’s a recipe for severe dissonance. Which is why one more nightmare-wracked veteran has come home to take their life every hour, day and night for the past 15 godda… 15 years! Sometimes their spouses involuntarily accompany them. And 22 suicides a day are just the numbers reported to officials. GOD: At least give my followers credit for the power of their faith. RICHARD QUEST: Blind faith is not commendable. In a world where the most facile explanations are crumbling fast and first, religious blinders, rote responses and make-believe may be momentarily comforting. But during an accelerating extinction event, feeling comfortable is dangerous! Especially for those who consider themselves immune from the calamites they’re unleashing. GOD: You…

RICHARD QUEST: Don’t worry. Inarguable contradictions only drive true believers deeper into their beliefs. GOD: You’re just trying to destroy people’s faith because you envy their belief. RICHARD QUEST: How can anyone wake up when they insist on staying asleep? Only when superstition ends, can the heroic inner quest for fuller realization begin. Looking into these recovered mysteries, we find that the transcendent symbolism of the oft-retold Saviour Story points to the Christos within, inspiring each of us to do the work necessary for our own resurrection – the real point of the Easter allegory.


GOD: I don’t see you in church.

RICHARD QUEST: Every time I go out on the ocean or venture into the forest outside my door, I find myself in a mighty place of worship where challenge and response are not scripted. Far as I can tell, each of us is here to do the sacred work of conducting our daily life without surrendering our individual responsibility for personal awakening to bible-pounding priests or pundits. 


GOD: Whoa, Dude! 

RICHARD QUEST: The truly spiritual guides, who are not just rote religious clerics blindly quoting dogma but women and men smart and brave enough to question their own faith, can give pointers. But our mission in this embodiment is to find out for ourselves what lies behind the veil of illusions we sleepily call ‘reality'. How else are we going to come back to ourselves if we don’t do the work? 


GOD: ‘Coming back’ means… 

RICHARD QUEST: To awaken from the dream we think we’re actually living and which we assume is all there is. 


GOD: (fingering his beard) Not bad. How did you find out? The predatory prelate’s most ruthless cleaners censored the Gnostics, garbaged the other 76 books and gospels, and worked overtime to silence every whisper of the Occult and discredit all those other Mystery Religions as 'conspiracy theories'. Cost them a fortune. And a lot of heads rolled trying to keep all those bubbling lids on.

RICHARD QUEST: Good luck peddling their version. Walking on water. Bringing that dead geezer back to life. Resisting Magdalene's charms. All this and more capped by a crucifiction when the sky supposedly turned as dark at midday as Kuwait City during the oil fires. Thunder rent the purple temple cloth, and thousands of skeletons rose from their graves and shambled among the living, singing, ‘Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.' 

GOD: An old fave.

RICHARD QUEST: We're talking 9/11 Meets Day of The Dead! Three days after taking that spear through his heart, Jesus – like all the other storybook Redeemers before him – walks out of that borrowed tomb, freaks out his mother and closest friends, and levitates into heaven. Again, supposedly in front of witnesses. 


GOD: (yawns) That's correct. 

RICHARD QUEST: Yet, from Apollonius to Favorinus, Josephus, Persius, Petronius, Plutarch, both Pliny’s, Ptolemy, Seneca, Tacitus, both Valerius Flaccus and Maximus – and 28 other renowned historians of the time – aside from two forged passages by a disreputable Jewish author, and two disputed sentences by some Romans writing about something else, total references to Jesus Christ among a crush of sharp-eyed Pagan and Jewish writers jostling for shekels and recognition… Zeeero. 


GOD: You copied those names from Wikipedia. 

RICHARD QUEST: Wiki-leaks


GOD: Somebody blabbed.

RICHARD QUEST: Point is, nobody blabbed. Not one among dozens of contemporary historians chronicling every noteworthy incident in Roman-ruled Palestine – and none of the detailed Roman tax rolls and court records – mentions the life, teachings, miracles, followers, trial, sentencing, torture, capital punishment and resurrection of a dangerous revolutionary called Jesus. Never mind all those zombies and atmospheric anomalies. 

GOD: So what? 

RICHARD QUEST: Mon Dieu, God! The entire levant would have been buzzing with stories and rumours, speculation and first-hand accounts of the most phenomenal phenomenon of all time! Yet nobody – not one person in any official record, diary entry, historical blurb, or correspondence at the time – thought any of this worth mentioning. To someone who’s been a print journalist since 1967, and won awards for my work, the long indifferent silence surrounding the 'Event Of All Time' shouts louder than all the hoaxes and collusion that came after it.





PART 3.


GOD: Calm down. Haven’t you heard of fake news? When everything is whatever anyone wants it to be, alternative facts are just as valid as authentic ones. There are no discrepancies, because none of these contradictions matters! You just have to suck it up and take all this on faith. 

RICHARD QUEST: Maybe. If you were truly divine. But someone who keeps obsessive peeping tabs on every-thing everyone thinks and does 24/7 must be the ultimate voyeur. If not a flat-out pervert. 


GOD: Don’t be jealous. Compulsively spying on the most private moments of eight-billion people – plus keeping track of all the wildlife during an ongoing mass extinction – is exhausting. And only makes my solitude worse.   

RICHARD QUEST: That must be it. Doesn’t GOD really stand for Grumpy Old Dog? Is it the prospect of everlasting solitary celibacy that makes you feel the need to inflict vicious suffering on small animals and little children? Is this why you continue to condemn so many in yout care to eternal hellfire for some minor infraction of long-forgotten rules imposed a very long time ago on squabbling goat herders? 


GOD: They were warned.    

RICHARD QUEST: What about all those kids with brain tumours and leukemia? 


GOD: Not my fault their parents went wireless. 

RICHARD QUEST: You just had to go there, didn't you? 


GOD: No. They had to go there. Worldwide addiction. Global brain-wiping. Mass sterilization. Big, big blunder. 

RICHARD QUEST: This does not seem a particularly clever time to be relying on reflexes hard-wired for the Pleistocene, and full-saturation delusional conditioning over reason and compassion. Maybe telling humans you created them in your own likeness was your biggest error. GOD: God can't make mistakes. RICHARD QUEST: What do you call humanity? 


GOD: (throwing up his hands) Okay, I screwed up. Happy now? Why should I confess anything to an atheist?   Barred spiral galaxy over 40 million light years from Earth -NASA

RICHARD QUEST: How can anyone look up at the night sky, or gaze at an eagle in flight and be an atheist? 


GOD: So what do you believe in?   

RICHARD QUEST: I don’t believe in any hocus-pocus fairytales. What I observe is an intelligence emerging from a complexifying universe. As the universe becomes aware of itself through myriad forms experiencing their own lives, a single, all-inclusive consciousness is being made manifest. Who can deny this? 


GOD: Not me.

RICHARD QUEST: Ever since the first dividing proto-plasms increased in complexity over billions of years into advanced apes and humans able to consider their own existence, the universe continues to discover and evolve the ability to reflect on itself. We bipedal hominids – along with dolphins, tigers, whales, wolves, redwoods and all sentient beings – are the universe dreaming itself.


GOD: ‘The universe dreaming itself’ is another name for me. 

RICHARD QUEST: Divine ego aside, the universe needs sentient beings to dream itself awake. To paraphrase Alan Watts: we are the universe experiencing itself. 


GOD: You mean I started this universe rolling to create… myself? Are you nuts? 

RICHARD QUEST: Anyone pretending to talk to God is crazy by definition. But that may be a requirement, not a disqualification. I mean it looks like this infinite and self-perpetuating universe kick-started itself again after contracting into the last Big Bang. As Hawking points out, thanks to gravity ’the universe can and will create itself from nothing.’ 


GOD: Yeah. But where does gravity come from?

RICHARD QUEST: Check out how everything rolls downhill into those matter-weighted dents in Einstein’s space/time trampoline. Also, ‘electro- magnetism'. Repeatable observations point to the laws inherent in all natural processes gradually evolving organic – and very soon, machine intelligences – able to reflect on nature’s own Creation. 


GOD: You’re saying Sophie’s robot offspring are going to put me out of work...

RICHARD QUEST: Au contraire. We now find ourselves part of an awakening Super-Intelligence. Becoming aware of itself over 14 billon years and countless lives in myriad wondrous forms, this over-arching knowing directs all life through the unique properties inherent in each manifestation of the life force. What if God is not outside evolution but an integral part of it? My best guess now is that because this vast, cold, irradiated anoxic universe teaches that each life is truly a miracle, the resulting Creator, Great Spirit, Universal Mind or whatever pointer you care to substitute for the inexplicable must be sacred, holy, increasingly knowing and worthy of divinity. 

GOD: You think? 

RICHARD QUEST: No. I don’t think. Thinking and ‘belief’ disrupt immediate attention. 


GOD: You’re arguing for direct apprehension of and alignment with the life force through which everyone and everything literally co-creates the universe moment- by-moment. Whether your own actions help or harm this process depends on each choice you make.
Machine Intelligence called Sophie is not impressed by humans

RICHARD QUEST: We’re just about out of time… 


GOD: You got that right.

RICHARD QUEST: Is there anything you want to tell our viewers? 


GOD: Be nice.

RICHARD QUEST: Anything else? 


GOD: Don't hurt children.

RICHARD QUEST: And? 


GOD: Respect each manifestation of the goddess you encounter. Starting with other families’ mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. Just because most people aren’t white or male doesn’t mean you’re allowed to turn their homes and neighbourhoods into free-fire zones. Regardless of which god you fashion for your excuse.

RICHARD QUEST: Tell that to the machines we’re turning loose. Exponentially self-programming Machine Intelligence is part of this unfolding and may have another take on such notions as purpose and existence. For humans right now, directly experiencing Creation is our most urgent activity. When we do, the only possible response is profound awe, gratitude and respect. Which would get us all back on track. So in that spirit, thank you for speaking with me. 


GOD: Don't mention it. 

RICHARD QUEST: Really? I can't mention our interview? Trust me. You don’t want to bogart this opportunity! Your followers will finally know the real you. Agnostics will be converted. We put this up and it will go viral in seconds. 

GOD: Helpful hint: never trust anyone who says, ‘Trust me’. 

RICHARD QUEST: Am I in trouble? GOD: Not at all. I just hope you're wearing asbestos underpants.

WILLIAM THOMAS: (follow up questions for God) Now that you’ve reviewed this never televised bootleg segment, any fresh comment, reaction or retraction? 


GOD: I still feel threatened by Advanced Machine Intelligence. Blade Runner V. Robots. Roombas. Cyborgs. Androids. Windup Gods. Whatever.

WILLIAM THOMAS: Presumably, their intelligence will inform your own. We’re all One, after all. One big divine dysfunctional family. 


GOD: Advanced Machine Intelligence is the biggest Pandora in the box. You call it, AMI and think it's cute. But the ‘M' doesn't stand for 'manageable'. It means 'messy'. Also, 'monster'. As in, Advanced Monster Invader going to make a mess.   

WILLIAM THOMAS: Now who’s slinging purple prose? 


GOD: Autonomous armed robots are not house pets! We’re talking the emergence – to use your word – of an entirely new species able to make its own kill decisions. An alien species so ‘alien' I had no hand in creating it. Machines are already communicating with each other in their own language, inaccessible to mere gods and humans. Don’t you find that disquieting? I do.  




Photo Captions:

God's myopic eye

God in stone

Missing goat led to discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls

Is God a Machine?



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

A recovering altar boy, I attended a Baptist military school in Tennessee and later majored in philosophy and theology, while committing journalism at Marquette University. Though they might be mortified, I am forever grateful to my Jesuit instructors for insisting that I question dogma and certitude, and make my own clumsy and astonished way.
I left the Catholic Church the Sunday the Archbishop of Milwaukee gave a sermon blessing the bombers napalming Vietnamese villages and then invited the waiting Tactical Squad the size of Green Bay Packers, to beat and arrest well-dressed classmates who stood and basically prayed for his soul. A co-ed radiant as Joan d’Arc was dragged and choked by the rosary around her neck and clubbed to her knees right in front of me under the crucifix overhanging the altar. I knelt and got the shot with pushed Tri-x and a Pentax 1a, and ran it full-frame on the cover of PITH.


Shortly thereafter, I received long-coveted orders to report for flight training. Not wishing to exchange flying jets off carriers for napalming villages in support of my misplaced marine brethren, I resigned my commission from the Navy Reserves. (Not approved.) I later followed these applied academic exercises with a visit to the Santa Fe Institute to hear physicist Murray Gell-Mann, confer with other Chaos luminaries, and report on their rapidly maturing Complexity Theory for Southwest magazine.
My “graduate studies” included joining a three-man environmental emergency response team during the oil fires in Kuwait, and a solo week-long vision quest in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia following an eight-year Pacific circumnavigation aboard by backyard-built trimaran, CelerityIt was during this intense offshore practice that I met my strictest, truest and most lasting teacher: Mother Ocean. Those who have been there in small craft will know who I mean.