Malfunction gthe Divine
MALFUNCTION OF THE DIVINE
Priest Bryan Connor finished off his nightly prayers and settled in to bed. It had been a long day; he was busy in the morning tending to the monastery garden, the afternoon was spent discussing multiple theologies with the newest intake of hopeful priests whilst finally the evening saw him spending time asking questions to what the general public referred to as ‘the God Box’. This device, which Connor amongst other religious folks devoutly referred to as ‘the Divine Invention’ as opposed to the less reverential ‘God Box’ was a true work of technological genius re-appropriated by the Combined Church of the True God, founded in 2061. The device was a device of great knowledge; it was the single largest source of divine scripture and chronicled various events of engagement between man and God, The device was programmed by a collection of technologically sound religious followers; a team of modern monks as it were, which busily went over all forms of scripture from literally every sect, every faith and every news story to gain the most complete image of God possible. Where there were disagreements with the role of God between the programmers, all results were placed in anyway. The device worked by having the user ask the Divine Machine a question regarding faith or God. The answers would then be drawn from the entire cannon of man’s knowledge of God. Priority of results was obviously given to the ancient and established faiths like Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity. The machine was purely used as a matter of faith, and to provide answers for troubled religious scholars. Most major churches or synagogues possessed a similar device, although they were not commercially available as of yet. The Combined Church of the True God whilst still relatively new in the grand scale of world religions was still devoutly followed by millions over the various world zones and by citizens stationed on the moon for over 30 years. The Church had been formed by a man called Robert Blume in 2029. He was a theological professor at Oxford University who claimed to have an intense and personal religious experience. The account goes that whilst working on a book that examined the major similarities between the major faiths in a room at the Oxford University Library a strong beam of light came through the small window of the study and illuminated the four major sources of religious knowledge he had in front of him; a Bible, Torah Scroll, Koran and New Testament were all highlighted by a strong beam of light. Lore then has it that Blume heard the words of God briefly whilst fully illuminated by the light through the window which should barely have covered a page in the Bible. The voice is reported to have told Blume, ‘You have been chosen, tell the people of the true word of God’. Then the voice and light left, and Robert Blume was left with the apparent words of The Lord ringing through his ears. He immediately leapt up from his chair, left the books in the library and literally ran back to his quarters to start writing down the major connections he had made that morning combining the scripture from the major religions. Blume spent years collating all accounts of the Word of God, and before he died he was able to produce a massive volume of work entitled ‘The Divine Word’. Following the work of monks and scholars using future technology these words were then put into a computer which was then fully programmed with all knowledge of God. Priest Bryan Connor had certainly become an addict of asking the device questions. The answers always reassured him as to the true wisdom and beneficence of God. It was because he was always asking the right questions.
Bryan came down to the great hall having said his morning prayers and vows. He collected a bowl of muesli from the breakfast area and settled down to speak to some of the newer entrants to this monastery who had decided to study and learn here in Winchester City in Zone 2. Whilst he would never admit this himself, it was well known that many hopeful monks and promising religious scholars who wanted to dedicate their lives to God went to Winchester in order to learn from the wise and incredibly learned Priest Bryan Connor. He was well known and respected in public circles. He was pretty much alone in religious terms for having a Sphere page, and he was regularly called upon by the media to provide the Combined Church with a say on matters of public conscious. When he wasn’t busy speaking to the new intake, or asking questions of scripture to the Divine Machine, Father Connor was often getting recognised. Rare trips out from the monastery were often hazardous, with some people politely addressing him and thanking him for some message other he had delivered on TV, whilst plenty of other times he would get accosted by youths shouting out fairly offensive obscenities such as ’there’s that religious tosser’ and other choice remarks. Leaving the quiet peaceful bounds of Winchester monastery was not something he choose to do lightly. Today however was certainly an occasion where he had deemed it necessary to intervene. A Justice Minister from Zone 3, Kenneth Wells, had decided to publicly make the argument that religions, no matter how inclusive, were no longer relevant in the maintenance of social order. Father Connor had obviously prepared numerous cautious replies to the main question; admittingly he had spent most of the last evening consulting the Divine Mechanism about how best to show religion in it’s various forms is still very relevant with regards to social order. Bryan was convinced the bet immediate response was to focus on how our laws, and the foundation of ‘society’ as a nation was ultimately dependent on the laws God has given us. Through utilising quotes from Deuteronomy and Judges, Father Connor felt certain he would be able to reply the notion that somehow God wasn’t relevant to the laws of society. He would make the claim that a basically lawful society, which was surely the bedrock of any society whether modern or ancient, depended upon certain laws and tenants. ‘A society could not exist for example if murder was widespread on the streets for example‘, he would argue. A ‘society’ as this Minister had decided to focus upon, surely required some basic engagement with the laws of God in order to be viewed as viable. The main argument that Father Connor was going to present was that if you remove God as basically any faith conceived of him, then you would be living in a society that wasn’t worth it’s salt. This type of encounter wasn’t rare for Father Connor; most years at some point he would be required to brush down the old crimson cloak and visit a TV station in order to counteract some upstart World Government official, seemingly heart-set on abandoning any form of religion or even acknowledgement of God. It saddened him at times to see the levels of bile on these politicians faces whilst they were spewing out often the same garbage trying to oppose the one being that is unquestionable in the universe. His match record had been flawless so far; nine encounters and unquestionably nine victories. His opponents so far had mostly been made to look stupid and ironically delusional in their secular veracity which was often painfully clear in their attempts to question the wisdom of the Combined Church of the True God. None had really challenged him, other than this particularly intelligent Senator from Zone 6. He had made the argument that if the God of Exodus and Genesis was still the operational deity that we know today, then why hadn’t he intervened during the times of great struggle and starvation for the African Continent which now made up the majority of Zone 6? If God had intervened to destroy the Pharaohs, then why hadn’t he defeated and drowned the individuals behind the similar repression of African citizens? Father Connor was very calm in his answers and reproach. He refrained from giving the old-fashioned and outmoded argument that somehow God as an entity ‘became’ kind through the life and death of Jesus Christ, but instead gave the counter argument that only after true repression could and would God intervene. He didn’t intervene to prevent the death of Jesus, nor did he intervene to prevent those who followed Islam from entering into terrorism. The argument was made by Father Connor that the lack of intervention into certain terribly events shouldn’t be blamed on God, but instead should be blamed on the failure of man. Absolute repression would and did result in Divine Intervention but failures in the operation of man were sadly left to be treated and slowly repaired by those that caused it. He made the argument that God is truly selfless and gives himself for our freedom and liberty; continuous intervention from the true being the Church of the True God believed was a singular deity could not be a common occurrence if we were to ever be truly free and liberated people. God did not intervene to stop the persecution of Job, nor that of the African people; the Israelites were different, possibly because the known deity of Yahweh is now different. Questions of course followed this point, but Father Connor was able to overall calmly explain the beneficence of God and his ultimate wisdom in minimally intervening. The Senator looked as if he wanted to disagree during the time of the interview, but afterwards when the cameras were off he went over to Priest Connor and calmly thanked him for his views on the matter. The Zone 6 Senator Mbuti was indeed a religious man also, albeit a Christian, and calmly agreed that he would no longer blame God for the problems that the people of Africa and Zone 6 had experienced. The personal resolution that the Senator offered reminded Father Connor why he was in this whole business in the first place. Most of the other candidates had offered basically the same staid arguments along the lines of ‘why should a barely seen ancient entity have a direct influence on our now modern 21st Century daily lives?’ The answer he gave was almost a cliché now, ‘oxygen is fairly ancient but I’m still of the opinion that we require it’. Some continued in the same vein though, ‘Well we used to need cauterisation and leeches, but I think we are coping better with science’, this always prompted a more measured response ‘True sir, but like the knowledge of science the knowledge of God continues to expand. Much as I’m sure you’d agree that the world isn’t flat, we here at the Combined Church of the True God believe that God himself isn’t actually a man in the sky with a grey beard. Indeed in the same way that the Muslims have always refused to depict the prophet Mohammed, we here at the Combined Church are very reluctant to use images to depict God himself. We believe that God himself is even more undoubted presence than established scientific tenants like gravity.’ So far the eight people who had turned up for the televised interview went away slightly bruised by the encounter in least in egotistical terms. The main approach given that scientific knowledge is still relatively new whilst God is relatively ancient surely we should be following the more modern idea? This manner of thought made the job of Father Connor so much easier; rather than being challenged on matters of debatable scripture such as those lines that possibly acknowledged the legality of slavery, the acceptability of multiple murders or the cursing of infidels, he was simply challenged on grounds of context. God was somehow thought by certain politicians to be ’out of context’ with the modern world. The existence of life meant that the context of God was always relevant he thought. This meeting with the Justice Minister of Zone 3 would prove to be hugely influential in changing Father Connor’s thoughts and even his beliefs.
Father Connor was beginning to panic; it was already the day before the television interview with the chap from Zone 3. The new training priests had gathered outside of his doors when Father Connor emerged from his morning prayers. The small congregation outside were looking nervous; as was often the case before the Combined Church was represented on TV. Trainee Father Davies asked the first question of doubtlessly many.
‘Have you heard Father Connor that Mr. Wells is a former member of the Combined Church? They re saying he is going reveal secrets about a monastery in Zone 1!’
He answered the young man in his same normal, well honed and calm manner.
‘No I hadn’t young father. Many people I have been interviewed with and have spoken to have been former members of our church and many others. It does not provide an immediate concern Father Davies’.
Another nervous looking young priest asked a question,
‘Have you heard Father Connor that this man has met you before during his training? They say that he has secrets about you in particular and your beliefs’
‘I would not want my beliefs to be secret, Father Jones. I think that this chap Mr. Wells I believe, will provide the normal level of difficulty in dealing with. I would imagine that he has similar questions to the other members of the World Government I have dealt with’.
The young trainee priest persisted though.
‘This man is different though Father. They are saying he is the person that is going to start the downfall of our church, in the same way that the Christians and Catholics were challenged’
‘We cannot avoid challenges if we wish to aid people and offer salvation to their lives Father Jones. Please, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to consult the Divine Mechanism this morning to fully prepare for this interview’.
The young men quickly parted, many offering warm words of encouragement to their most famous older Priest. He had trained most of them how to gain optimal use of the Divine Mechanism; something told him he would need to get the most out of the machine prior to meeting this man, Mr. Wells.
Father Connor arrived by the room storing the Divine Mechanism; the room was known by the priests as ‘God’s Bedroom’. He crossed himself and then entered, heading solemnly over to the very old looking computer situated by the back wall. He powered on the device by instigating a retina scan and soon enough the screen lightened up, offering a simple search box in which to scan for answers in scripture. The types of questions he would need to ask went rushing through his head; should he search for answers about the life of Jesus after the resurrection? Should he be checking for why Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son? Questions kept churning through his mind like clothes in a spin cycle. He decided upon the first question needed for interview preparation; ‘Why is evil allowed to be more dominant than good?’ - the machine internally went into full speed mode, nodules doubtlessly connecting with other nodules, microchips being scanned for tiny pieces of digital programming- when it had finished, about 0.3 seconds later the answer was left on the screen.
‘Good is relative to man. Only God himself is truly good. Henceforth evil on Earth will always be more prominent. See New Testament, Book of Job and the satanic verses’
As usual, Father Connor felt a wave of relief upon receiving the answer. This time he decided to search the machine for a question that Mr. Wells would be more likely to ask himself.
‘Why do natural disasters happen?’
‘Who says they are natural’
The response left Father Connor feeling a bit shocked but somehow not surprised, the answer would somehow not be effective however he thought when responding to someone like Justice Minister Mr. Wells. He tried again following a similar vein of thought,
‘Why does so much of the world have to suffer’
‘No-one has to suffer’ came the reply.
Strangely in that moment, Father Connor felt a wave of frustration at the Divine Mechanism; it vexed him to have to deal with cryptic impersonal responses to questions that greatly troubled the world. At that point he decided to switch off the ageing powerful device. For the first time since Father Connor had consulted the machine it had not given him comforting answers. By increasing his level of questioning in preparation for facing a potentially hostile opponent, he had only succeeded in increasing his own levels of personal doubt. The response to the question about natural disasters particularly troubled him; why did good people have to die in disasters and accidents such as floods, volcanoes, hurricanes and tsunamis. Perhaps the world as we know it hasn’t moved on so much from Noah he absently though. The wrath of God would be unlikely to appear from a bearded fellow from the heavens he thought. As a member of the Combined Church of the True God the answers somehow troubled him more. Why would a God that would send down his son, the holy man Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and then punish us with literal waves of natural disasters? Despite so many questions about faith being answered by the Divine Mechanism, personal matters of faith remained pertinent to Father Connor. He felt frustration at the ultimate loneliness of conscious existence. Even a man of his faith and standing so often felt distant from God, if not more so than people who did not worship any form of faith. Being so close to a machine of such power only invariably raised questions as opposed to answering them. So often he just felt like asking, ’Lord can you solve my doubt’, yet somehow he inherently suspected that the answer would be ’No’. It felt to Father Connor as if doubt were as vital to being a believer in God as proof was. If God were a certainty in his being and his actions surely we would not earn or be deserving of salvation? He felt like salvation was an important matter, something that was either learnt through close teachings of the Torah or through understanding the limitations of the self through the love of Jesus Christ or indeed through comprehending the potential for joy or torture in the afterlife as shown through the Koran. God instructed us through many ways yet somehow Father Connor felt frustrated that their remained so much doubt. His recent answers from the Divine Mechanism, which although clearly designed by theologians and holy individuals was still the closest understanding to the mind of God known. Somehow knowing the mind of God was what began to trouble Father Connor. It was the understanding of likely realities that was proving more problematic to the Father than matters of faith. Faith as an agent alone was as insular as doubt, he realised that. He believed that simply acting on basic tenants from any religion and then depending on the notion of that faith would not necessarily bring salvation. In his heart of hearts he hoped eventually the questions and answers provided by the Divine Mechanism would eventually lead to a greater comprehension of the intentions and laws of God and thus a greater possibility for individuals to be saved. Heaven and Hell whilst widely believed in by members of most known religions including his own were not fully understood. Heaven and Hell existed as polar opposites of a nominal future. Potential destinies for the good and wicked alike. They were as instructive to Father Connor as the day’s horoscopes. He didn’t have a certain understanding with regards to either possibility or indeed any other potential futures. Heaven and Hell as ideas couldn’t influence him when answering questions about faith or religion. Gone were the days when answers to questions about God and the church could be answered with a swift ’obey the church and you’ll go to heaven, sin and you’ll go to hell’. Matters had certainly progressed from the idea that simply building the right tabernacle, not drinking or gambling or believing in Jesus will get you into Heaven. The afterlife wasn’t a tool Father Connor was prepared to readily yield. It was a last resort for dealing with questions. He didn’t want to answer anyone on television with righteous rhetoric; it would not help spread his faith to say, ’look if you do this you will have the joys of heaven’. Engagement with God should never have a transactory feel to them; God’s judgement whilst finall and unquestionable was also quite individual and fluent. A man who sinned in mind but in action praised the Lord could go to hell. Conventionally bad people certainly had the chance to go to heaven as well. The key aspect that Father Connor wanted to emphasise was that our judgements of righteousness as humans could not even dream to match those of God; even if as priests, we fully ascribed Jesus with the ability to lift sin, it would not affect the true nature and judgement of God by a jot or tittle. Questioning matters of destiny and faith to a close degree in preparation for this interview had conversely increased his doubt. Doubt was something that had not often troubled Father Connor, or indeed as he once simply was Bryan Connor from Frilby, West County. Even as a young child of no more than five he had a set understanding of God; he felt he knew and understood God even from that age. For him it proved to be a gift; he was able to learn quickly from hymns and prayers, from priests and teachers. He understood that to be a boy of faith, you needed to trust God, to truly believe in his intention and love. He had felt that holy love through many different sources as a boy, and indeed growing up as a young trainee priest in Winchester he began to further understand that love through comprehending multiple sources of scripture. He felt the love from God through the Bible, the Torah, the Koran and the New Testament. He understood that none were perfect about the representation of God; the conflicts of meaning were not born from conflicts within God but problems created by man and his limited comprehension. This only served to increase Father Connor’s frustration however; here he was presented with complete and unquestionable answers from scripture, yet somehow he had never felt more doubt about God in his life. He did not need to know the time to understand that the morning was over and he would need to get some lunch. Thankfully he possessed a key to the dining area; he arranged himself a sandwich and heated up a portion of pasta. Eagerly he gobbled the food. He had not had any breakfast such was his eagerness to consult the Divine Mechanism and had grown ravenous throughout the morning. Guiltily he put the plates back and prepared for an afternoon of reading, praying and thinking.
Time went by in a flash. Father Connor deeply engrossed himself with technical details and with key quotations of scripture. He did not want to be humiliated by anyone from the World Government. The questions of the morning were still lingering, yet somehow he felt far more sated having eaten. The food had helped to calm his troubled mind and hungry stomach. The troubling questions with regards to salvation and wrath had begin to ease. An afternoon of study and reading calmed him; the meek probably would inherit the Earth, David will eventually slay Goliath, the prophets of God let alone Elohim himself cannot really be conceived of as a notional identity per se and lastly rest really is possible eventually on the seventh day. The words of prophets like Elijah and Mohammed had eased his worries. The teachings and miracles of Jesus also helped remind him of the ultimately benevolent power of God. He remained aware of the questions that his opponent for the day Mr. Wells would ask, yet somehow he felt relaxed about the upcoming challenge. After all he had dealt with nine different other doubters of his faith; all of them had been dispatched with barely a second glance to any scripture required. Father Connor realised that the doubts he was having before dealing with this chap were roughly the same doubts he had always faced before embarking on an interview. When thinking about it, he realised that those feelings of doubt about God and about salvation and judgement were just the same as they were before facing Judge Curtis, Foreign Minister Dunn and even Deputy World President Clyne. He had dispatched them all with polite but forceful aplomb. Questions came and went about sin, evil and humanity. It was almost an honour to be questioned so vigorously by so many people; his television appearances and his minor fame with regards to the trainee priests at the monastery were gratefully and gracefully received by Father Connor. He had vowed not to be complacent about any of the advantages gained through minor notoriety. It would not be allowed to cloud his judgement; all questions regarding the teachings of the Combined Church of the True God would be treated with the same significance whether he was being asked the question on TV or by youngsters on the street. He felt the need to remain devout for he never hoped to feel truly satisfied on Earth. More than enough religious teachings had shown him that this life was just a step on the pathway of existence. The nature of being went beyond the needs and desires of human understanding he felt. Questions with regards to his faith and indeed his comprehension of God would always be treated significantly by him; never complacently and never dismissively. Even questions like, ‘why can’t we see God?’ would be dealt with in a thoughtful manner. To that he believed that God was not seen by us regularly, as his power was a blessing to humanity rather than an instruction. If God ever wanted to be seen, Father Connor felt that he would be. The doubts about the next day’s interview still persisted though. He was feeling confident in the manner of how to approach his accuser as it were, but somehow there was a greater feeling of apprehension this time. Almost as if God was to challenge him through this Mr. Wells.
The morning of the interview arrived. Father Connor dressed himself in the full religious uniform; the shirt, trousers and purple cloak were carefully arranged and looking in the mirror he felt a surge of confidence again. He was a well groomed, presentable face of a major religion and would be ready to answer more questions again. The problems of misrepresentation and bad PR that other religions had been troubled with so significantly over the years hadn’t really afflicted the Combined Church; though he would never say it himself, it was widely acknowledged that the positive side of the church shown through interviews such as the ones Father Connor delivered truly enabled their faith to be seen as a positive religious brand. They were not seen as patronising, dangerous, insular or corrupt; the Combined Church really had achieved it’s objectives. Really it was about continuously achieving objectives; the faith was run as if it were a major business or successful team. Father Connor felt the need to load up the Divine Mechanism for one last question before going off to the interview. He strolled along the familiar corridors and hallways until arriving by the correct room; again his heart felt the same levels of palpitations it always did before entering the Divine Room. He opened the door and went to switch on the device when suddenly there was a flash of light and plume of smoke emanating from the plug; Father Connor felt a wave of panic. Nothing like this had ever happened to the device before. He had no idea whether or not the machine could be fixed or not. His planned questions suddenly became the least of his worries. Despite being a simple machine, any damage to it seemed to Father Connor like a consecration of the holy, as if someone had urinated by an alter or wiped their backside with a bible. He began to wildly panic; would the other priests blame him for what had happened? Would he be seen as wanting to deliberately vandalise a machine that knew more about God than he did? Questions began flowing through his mind, until something dramatically caught his eye; despite the power being switched to off, there remained a message on the computer screen. It simply said, ‘I am waiting Father Connor’
Father Bryan Connor began to gather his thoughts, was this some sort of joke? There was no power being sent to the Divine Mechanism so to all intents and purposes there should be no messages on the screen, yet somehow the machine itself seemed to be conversing with him. His thoughts and fears continued to churn through his mind and guts when he noticed that the machine had added to it’s previous question;
‘You have a question for me, Father Connor’.
He was seriously panicking now, of course he had a question for the machine, he always had questions for the machine that’s why he came down to this room to try and get answers for his numerous questions. He decided to ignore thoughts of doubt or feelings that he was hallucinating or dreaming by directly addressing the machine;
‘Why must we know of God through questions’
‘Because the truth can only be comprehended one step at a time’
The answer made sense, yet somehow infuriated Father Connor. He realised that the truth was complex and unclear, but that still somehow didn’t answer his question. Before he could think of another question the machine once again addressed him pre-emptively;
‘You wish to know how mankind can be saved’
The machine was correct, that was indeed his intention. He typed in the question, it replied swiftly;
‘Only through death’.
There was the crux of the matter; he knew the question and he knew the answer even before the machine started talking to him directly. He understood about the nature of existence and the invariably afflicted a species such as mankind. Whilst it had significantly be questioned over the years that Jesus Christ directly died for our sins, it was well enough established by most faiths come the establishment of the Combined Church that mankind will not be absolved of his sins whilst existing as a sentient being. Even our nominal beings as abstract expressions of a dormant conscious left us as beings of damnation. We could get no closer to God on Earth than we could get close to the wind or to our dreams. Father Connor realised that he even through a malfunctioning device he would probably get closer to God than most other religious beings. Through questioning the machine and processing the answers, Father Connor had gathered a more cynical and hesitant comprehension of God than even his most ardently critical pseudo-atheist political critics. The divine could only be processed by mankind, and now as was evident to him, a true comprehension of perhaps the fully divine of God himself could only be initiated a malfunctioning computer. Father Connor felt the fear of doubt and guilt bubbling through his brain like steam through a valve. He felt terrified simply by the process of typing, by the fears of asking the wrong questions, thinking the wrong thoughts, contemplating the wrong points. Then another message appeared on the screen.
‘Why must you ask me questions?’
That took Father Connor aback, he knew precisely what point was being made. He understood how a relationship with God could never be simply a one way process. He got the feeling that this machine was instructing him that God was not in fact a spreadsheet of data and answers. Ironically it seemed as if a machine was telling him not to simply address God in terms of mechanical needs. It felt to him as if perhaps God himself was instructing him through the computer in how to address him. This thought was soon dispatched though; he knew before looking at the plug that it had already been re-switched to the ‘on’ position. It may have been like this from the very start of engagement with the Divine Mechanism. The questions may have just been a pre-programmed pre-emption of his likely questions. The seemingly proactive approach of the computer could have been because of an unknown system update or brief malfunction. Typically as ever before the questions he asked of God, didn’t give answers but instead more questions. He understood however that part of his approach to answering Mr. Wells would be to convey the argument that God and in turn the Combined Church of the True God could never simply be a ‘hotline’ service or ’customer complaints line’, He understood that to truly know and love God it was important to praise the beauty and potential of existence as opposed to simply questioning the operational difficulties of particular human beings. Whatever had just happened regarding the Divine Mechanism, Father Connor felt well prepared for the interview that afternoon.
‘Good afternoon viewers and welcome to this edition of Talk Now. We are lucky to have with us today, Justice Minister for the World Government Mr. Graham Wells’
‘Good afternoon to you Ted’
‘And representing the Combined Church of the True God, our former guest Father Bryan Connor’
‘Thank you greatly for the invitation again Ted’.
‘So then, to start today’s show, as normal we would like to ask our first guest to offer a question to both the audience and in this case Father Connor’
‘Yes, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Zone 1. It is an honour to address you and the viewers today. I have a hot seat at the moment that doubtlessly many of you at home and in the audience would love to have. I possess a chair that enables me to question one of the leading figures of the latest corrupt and problematic religion to afflict the rational minds of sane people and conscious minds across the globe. Given the great opportunity that you have presented me here on Talk Now, I would like to ask Father Connor one question’
‘Do proceed Mr. Wells, the audience here and at home are already sending in comments for the ‘your discussion’ phase of today’s show’
‘Of course, thank you Ted, I would be joining them if I wasn’t here. What I would like to ask Father Connor is why do we need God when we already have machines that answer so many of our needs and problems?’
Father Connor felt his heart drop like a stone, damn how did this guy know what had been bothering him about faith and God. The host intervened after a couple of moments silence
‘Take your time Father Connor, we have a long show’
‘Yes thank you. You say religion as if it were a dirty word Mr. Wells, Well, I guess the answer would have to be that in a sense you are completely right’
‘What? Well yes I guess so’
‘Please let me continue. Yes you are indeed right in the sense that we don’t need God, any more than we need a robotic cleaner or an android lover’
‘I don’t get your point Father’
‘That’s fine, let me elaborate; what I am trying to say is that we don’t need God to provide us with what he has already given the world’
‘So you are saying we should thank God for android lovers then father?’
The audience began to laugh
‘Not really Mr. Wells. What I am saying is that the things we create and establish as meaning something are just that, creations of meaning. We do not strictly need God whilst we have so much of his power available to us’
‘So are you agreeing with me then father, if we don’t need God then he doesn’t need to exist’
‘This may be a first ladies and gentlemen of the audience, a man of the Combined Church, Father Connor, seems to be truly stumped by the questions of a man and reason and government’
‘Well not quite Ted. I’m afraid to tell you Mr. Wells that much in the same way that if you do not eat anything you will die, or if you don’t recharge your android lover then it won’t have any power…’
The audience quietly laughed knowingly at that point.
‘…subsequently then you won’t be able to either live or love’
Mr. Wells interjected strongly at that point.
‘So what are you saying then, we need food to live, of course we do’
‘Please hear me out, Mr. Wells. What I am saying is that there are certain conditions relating to our existence, and one of them I strongly believe is the presence of God’
‘But that would be your belief wouldn’t it Father Connor, rather than a matter of truth’
‘Yes it is a matter of belief, all of God is a matter of belief. I think you fail to appreciate the two way existence of the nature of God. Without him we would not know truth and existence, yet we cannot depend on him simply for those things. Yes we need food to exist, but we need God to truly come into existence’
‘I disagree with you Father Connor, if God is required for truth then why have so many religions failed? If God is required for truth then why do we not hear more from him, why does so much scripture apparently from the mouth of God counteract other examples from different faiths?’
‘You speak of truth as if it were genuinely an apple, or perhaps a statistic. Truth as a notion isn’t something that is there to be consumed, it is there to be strived for and yearned for. Truth simply isn’t notional reality, but rather is a point of existential importance’
‘So what you are saying is that despite of everything we have found out regarding evolution, cloning, android technology, genetically modified crops and space travel amongst hundreds of other examples of scientific progress, all that is dependent on the truth of your God’
Once again the audience started to laugh. The host began to interject.
‘That is indeed the message we are getting through the Sphere from our viewers at home’
‘That is understandable. What I would say though is that what good would any of those measures of scientific progression be if there were no life forms out there to enjoy them? Human beings have existed and thrived before science, as have creatures of other planets as we now know. The love of God allows us to progress in whatever way we want to progress. Science need not conflict with God’
‘Yet reason instinctively conflicts with faith’
‘Not exactly, human reason inherently conflicts with faith. What I am trying to say is that the questioning essential to human reason is what actually conflicts with the nature and truth of God. Truth to use a clumsy metaphor is not simply the result of a hypothetical equation but is in fact the existence of numbers themselves’
‘So you believe that God does not block but enables reason- if that is so, then why must so much of scripture and religion be concerned with providing answers that question what scientist would see as reason?’
‘Good question Mr. Wells, but again I would give the argument that the answers of science, reason or faith are all as defunct as one another. The truth we construct is eventually nominal. The chemical element of Iron is no more true than the commandment that though shalt not kill’
‘But Iron is there, it can be mined and used and studied. The words of the prophets simply offer questions or often even conflicts between religions’
‘I don’t disagree Mr. Wells, but again you are missing out on the main point. The truth as it were, isn’t simply going to be a progressive notion born of science or even as an idea of the divine through prophets; it is simply the existence of questions’.
‘So you are arguing that the only truth is the ability to ask questions?’
‘Basically yes. Having studied scripture and the Divine Mechanism we have in Winchester I can only offer the answer that I am of the belief that we are bound by certain commandments in the same way that science is bound by chemical comprehension’
‘So you are unable to offer me truth then Father Connor’
‘I didn’t say that, I am able to offer you the truth that I believe, which as I intend to argue is just as important for yourself as for me or any other member of the audience’
‘So you are saying that truth is subjective? We all need oxygen though Father Connor’
‘No I disagree, we all need what is established as oxygen, or what I would call air. We all need air in the same way that we all need space or depth or matter. The existence of science doesn’t offer an answer as to why copper conducts electricity so well, or why potassium is so combustible’
‘But you are not a scientist Father Connor, you are a priest and clearly do not understand that Potassium has a composition of elements that make it so susceptible to reaction’
‘True, but again the answers of science are just that, answers from science. They are no more the truth than the teachings of Jesus, or the actions of Abraham’
‘Again I disagree Father, we can test potassium a thousand times, a million times indeed and get the same result. The truth is earned and established by intellectual veracity’
‘Good point Mr. Wells but I would argue that the truth as you see it by potassium, or as other men of religion have seen it as the consequence of temptation, I would argue is just as nominal as one another. We don’t know truth as we don’t fully know God’
‘That is presuming he exists’
‘I think it is safe to presume Mr. Wells that there are elements in the deep reaches of outer space not yet codified by man, in the same way I believe that God exists in a manner beyond the comprehension offered by religious understanding so far. I would also argue that you cannot disprove something that exists, thus you cannot disprove God through science’
‘So simply because we cannot disprove God exists then he is real?’
‘Precisely. You seem to think that as a man of faith I need to conceive of God as if we were a white haired or brown bearded individual. I see God as something incomprehensible and ultimately unknowable, like those elements in deep outer space. There but ultimately unknown until a later date’
‘I believe we have discovered all elements Father Connor’
‘That is where we differ Mr. Wells’