God and the Arrogant Man
A Dialogue between the Almighty and an almighty know-it-all
This is a short story I wrote in September of 2008. The idea was to write a dialogue with God, to imagine how such an encounter would go. I got some pretty good responses to it back then, so I figured it was worth sharing here.
If you're interested in hearing more of my thoughts on God, here's a related hub I wrote:
"God? It's me. Listen, I know we haven't talked in a while, but I have some things I want- no, I really need to talk to you about...
"Look, there's a lot of evil in the world, and frankly it just bugs the hell out of me. I mean, I can't even turn on the news without seeing another story about the economy, the war, disease, famine, global warming, genocide... I mean, come on! You're supposed to be the holy father; the shephard guiding your flock. Well, where's all this guidance I'm hearing about? The world's going to hell in a handbasket, and I don't see you doing much about it. So, what gives?! Do you care about the problems we mortals face down here? Can't you do anything about it? Are you even there?! Hello!!"
"I am here, my son. I am always here, and for as long as you have lived, I have been with you. I see your joy as well as your pain. Yes, I am indeed here."
"..Is that so? Well, at least that's settled for now. But that doesn't answer my other question. Why is there so much evil in the world?"
"Just as I exist, so does the Devil and all of his works."
"So why don't you do something about it? Couldn't you do away with all the pain and suffering if you really wanted to?"
"Hypothetically, yes. I could take away the things that cause you pain."
"Then why don't you?!"
"Why would I?"
"...Is this a joke? All over the world, people are bombarded by misery. Didn't you say you see my pain?"
"So, don't you care?"
"Of course. You are all my children, and it brings me great sadness to see you in pain."
"So, that brings us back to the almighty question: Why don't you do something about it?!"
"My son, I blessed you with a mind of your own. There is no point in answering a question that you already can find the answers to yourself. So, I ask you, my son, why do you think things are the way they are? Why do I let my children, whom I love so dearly, experience pain and suffering?"
"...Hey, are you using the Socratic method on me?"
"You are perceptive. Don't forget, he was also my son, created in my image. Who do you think blessed him with his mind?"
"Gotta love a deity with a sense of humor. Okay, so why do I think you let people suffer? I don't know... It can't be because you don't care, right? We already ruled that out."
"And it's not because you don't have the power; you do."
"So, what does that leave? I'm running out of options, here."
"Be patient. Try to approach the idea from another perspective. Imagine for a moment that you are a father. You have a son, whom you love dearly. With all of your being, in everything you do for him, you wish for his health and happiness."
"Now, imagine that, throughout his early years, you do everything possible to prepare him for life. You feed him, wash him, clothe him, and shower him in love."
"I think you're being a little generous with my hypothetical parenting abilities, but okay."
"Finally, the time comes for his his first day of school. What do you do?"
"Well, I guess I'd give him his lunch and school supplies, tell him how proud I am and stuff, and send him on his way."
"What if he says he does not wish to go to school. He would rather stay home with you."
"I reassure him that everything is going to be okay, and give him the extra push out the door. Maybe walk him as far as the school bus."
"Suppose he wanted you to go with him, then. He asks you to come along and help him through school."
"Well, that won't work."
"Well, I mean, I want to be supportive of him, but he has to do it on his own. If he's really that nervous about leaving home, I might go so far as driving him to school and drop him off at the door of his classroom. Heck, maybe I'll even stick around the first few minutes until he finds his feet. But I couldn't just stay with him the whole time."
"Good. Now suppose he still asks why you don't stay. He thinks his homework is too hard and wants you to do it all for him."
"I can't do that. If he doesn't learn it himself, it doesn't count."
"So, maybe he then decides he doesn't want to go to school anymore. He tells you he wants to stay home with you where he feels safe."
"He can't do that."
"Because he just can't."
"That's not good enough. He is a smart child, like his father. He wants to understand everything. How can you make him understand why you want him to go to school?"
"Okay... Well, I guess I'd try to explain to him, the world is a big place. I mean, yeah, it can be scary, but that's what's exciting about it. There are all kinds of amazing things to learn and experience. Things he'll never get to enjoy if he just stayed home all the time. If I just let him stay home and do all the hard stuff for him, he might be content and safe, but he'd never get to enjoy the rewards of those things to the fullest. He needs to see the world for himself, for all the good and bad it holds. He needs to live his own life without me hovering over him. That's why he has to go to school. He needs to be his own person."
"Even if school is hard or scary sometimes?"
"Of course. How can he ever know the joy of doing something for himself if he never tries? How can he succede if he's never failed? How can he love if he's never had anything to hate? How..."
"How can he truly cherish life if he can't live it to the fullest, to take the good with the bad? He can't... unless I let him. No matter how hard things get in the real world, I can't do everything for him. I can be there to make him feel better when he's sad, but I can't do his work for him. If I did that, he'd never be his own man; just an extension of me."
"So... that's it. That's the answer, isn't it?"
"What do you think?"
"I think it's a pretty good answer."
"And you came up with it all by yourself. How do you feel about that?"
"Kind of good. It makes sense, after all. And it's not like I'm going to go questioning my own reasoning."
"How would you have felt if I had just told you the same thing?"
"Probably not as good."
"Because I'd feel too much like it was just an answer to shut me up, not a real justification. I realize this is probably bordering on blasphemy, but I just trust my own words more than I do anyone else's, even Yours."
"And so, in letting you answer your own question, I was allowing you to reach the conclusion yourself, rather than simply having it handed to you, which you wouldn't have accepted anyway."
"Do you understand now why this is so?"
"Because I'm a man, and you blessed me with a mind of my own. I am whoever I want to be, and for better or worse, my decisions in life are my own. To pass off these responsibilites to someone else would mean giving up what makes me who I am. Above all, mankind yearns to be free, and the only way that can happen is if it is left to learn, grow and change on its own."
"That is true."
"...You planned that all along, didn't you?"
"...You sneaky little fella."
"Remember, my son, I did not say whether you are correct. This notion is your own."
"True... Wow, I must be some arrogant bastard to think I can totally unravel Your plan in a day. But, as far as I can tell, I've come as close as any man ever has."
"Indeed, my son."
"Heh, God, you were having a hell of a good day when you made me..."
©2008 Dan Mayer
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