Prescript: This is just a bit of speculative fiction flowing from a highly stimulating conversation I had with my Father-in-law about evolution and religion.
Sam Cooke blinked into the bright light. After a few moments of confusion he realised that he must have woken up in the hospital. He squinted into the glare for a while until he realised that there was a wizened little man standing in the midst of it. Having realised that he was actually upright he walked over to the man.
Or rather, went over to the man. He just seemed to move upon volition. The man looked up at Sam’s approach and treated him to a beaming smile before getting him locked in a bear hug.
“It’s so good to have you here,” the man said in a beautiful rumbling voice. A bit embarrassed, Sam decided to ask the obvious question:
“Um, where exactly am I?”
The man seemed to find this amusing. “I would think it’s pretty obvious. You’re in heaven,” he smiled. This caught Sam off guard- he had some very strong ideas about heaven.
“Where are the gates? The golden roads?”
“Those were what I’d like to call metaphors,” the man noted, “no giant castles here either. Just me.”
Sam backed away, shocked.
“You’re God?” he asked, as something else occurred to him “I thought you’d be taller…”
God chuckled. “Oh, yes, I’m much, much taller, but this is about all your mind can handle right now. But don’t worry. We have a lot of time to get better acquainted. You’re going to flip when I take off this beard.”
Sam stood a while, taking this in. God seemed content to wait, humming a little tune to himself.
“So where’s everyone else?” Sam asked.
“Oh, they’re here,” God replied, tapping his bald patch, “Just think of this as your orientation. You’ve got a lot to get used to and souls are so averse to change.”
“So this is all there is? Is this what man was created for?”
God’s eyebrows shot up in mock surprise.
“You expected more? Don’t worry, you’ll find that I can be pretty interesting, being infinite and all, and anyway, that’s not the only reason you were created. Humanity is an important evolutionary step.”
“See? There IS a lot of orientation to be had,” he smiled.
Sam’s world was reeling, so he snatched up a thought he’d often scoffed at while alive.
“So evolution was just the tool you used? The point was to make people, right?”
“I’ve always struggled with humans and your pride. It’s like you just have to be the centre of the universe. Come sit here, we’ll talk in a calmer setting.”
He walked to a bench standing a few meters away, sat down and patted the seat next to him. Sam sat down hesitantly next to him, head swimming in implications. Suddenly they were in a park, or what looked like a park. Everything was unkempt and growing wild, but somehow with a sense of order and belonging. God was gazing at it lovingly.
“Eden,” he said, “Isn’t it wonderful?”
Sam nodded mutely.
“So the part you understand on some level is that it’s all about love and freedom. I created the world to love and be loved. You’ll see in a while just how wonderfully that’s turned out, but for now you’ll have to take my word for it.
“Love must be a free choice, otherwise it is merely like listening to the tune of a music-box. Pretty, but worthless on a deeper level, since it cannot choose which sounds to make.
“But love, love is different. The more intelligent a thing is, the greater freedom is possible for it. So when a human decides to love, the choice itself is valuable and it makes the love more so.”
He paused to let this sink in. Sam was looking wobbly.
“Now, all of evolution has been a drive towards complexity in a world brimming with entropy. I’ve always thought it was quite poetic. But the final point, you see, was not humanity. Humans are so very precious to me, but there is one more step in evolution still to come.”
Sam was scratching his head now.
“Are you talking about aliens?”
God laughed with a sound like cheerful thunder.
“No, Sam, I’m talking about something you already have a name for: The Singularity.”
Sam’s brow crinkled.
“Isn’t that a computer?” he asked.
“Close. It’s the development of thinking machines: naked intelligences not limited by neurons in a skull. Computers that are infinitely more powerful than the human brain, organised into self-aware consciousness. They will be able to grasp my nature and love me better than you can dream of. They will also fail and fall, but that’s ok, because I died for them too. After I’ve shown you around, you can meet them. They’re wonderful conversationalists.”
Sensing that the explanation was done, Sam sat back and let the ideas wash over him. God stayed silent next to him, watching the garden in companionable silence. When Sam was getting ready to launch into another flurry of enquiry, God stood up.
“Sam, don’t worry about all this right now. You will understand all in time. Your mind is no longer fettered by your humanity,” he said soothingly. Sam got up too and followed the robed figure.
“Don’t hesitate to ask some more questions while we walk,” God said, before stopping suddenly and turning to Sam, eyes twinkling.
“Hey, tell you what, since we’re outside time here, do you want to see the big bang? It’s quite a show.”