In a prologue to his 1898 play, "Caesar and Cleopatra," George Bernard Shaw put words in the mouth of Ra, "who was once in Egypt a mighty god."
Ra begins, telling the audience "I ask you not for worship, but for silence." He then continues:
"think not that ye are the first. Other fools before ye have seen the sun rise and set. ... As they were so ye are; and yet not so great; for the pyramids my people build stand to this day; while the dustheaps on which ye slave, and which ye call empires, scatter in the wind even as ye pile your dead sons' bodies on them to make yet more dust."
After colorfully telling the audience off, Ra winds up, "And now I leave you; for ye are a dull folk, and instruction is wasted on you. ... Farewell; and do not presume to applaud me."
One naturally wonders whether a real God would be more generous if new technology allowed us to hear Him directly.
Lacking this technology, I have taken the liberty of imagining what He might say. (I am not the first to put words in God's mouth, which people have done from time immemorial.)
Without further ado, voila!
And God spoke:
I was asked to evaluate the state of the world.
Naturally, I am saddened whenever I see you abusing and killing one another. But I am especially distraught when you do this in the name of religious beliefs.
There is a game where people sit in a circle and one player whispers something to the person to the right. The listener repeats this message to the next person, etc. After the message has gone full circle, it is badly garbled.
Religious doctrines based on valid conclusions of visionaries have suffered similar decay.
Perhaps you should tear down all the churches, synagogues, mosques and temples of all religions. Perhaps you should pension off the pope, other high religious poobahs and theological bureaucrats, and use the savings to help the poor
But much good has been done by many pious people. Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are filled with decent people enjoying fellowship with one another and striving to live virtuously. Their conflicting visions of me are no more surprising than the blind men's different perceptions of the elephant in the famous poem.
So do not destroy these places of worship, but don't believe everything their leaders say. Like you, they are mere mortals. Use your judgment to see if their words make sense!
And for heaven's sake, don't let them con you into holy crusades or pogroms!
Creating a universe where I was unwilling to live myself would have been irresponsible. So I have walked among you in various personas and locations over the millennia. But I was not always well received, so I no longer do so openly.
As Fyodor Dostoevsky found out, I was captured once by the Inquisition and treated very badly, and this was not the only time. His Grand Inquisitor scene in "The Brothers Karamazov" tells the sad story.
Do not treat other people badly. I could always reincarnate you as someone you are mistreating. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not just a moral precept. You may literally be doing it to yourself! (Human economists would call this "internalizing the cosmic externalities.")
By all means keep your places of worship, but post a simple epigram from Thomas Hobbes ("Leviathan," 1651) above their main entrances:
"If Livy says the Gods once made a Cow speak, and we believe it not; we disbelieve not God therein, but Livy."
End of God's address.
In the interest of consistency, readers should also feel free to apply Livy's maxim to the present article. It will be good practice.
Paul F. deLespinasse is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. Read Professor Paul F. deLespinasse's Reports — More Here.
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