Jesus sat in his high house looking down on the world. "Such a wretched place," he said. "Why would anybody want to live there?"
His Prime Minister, Satan, stood by. "You know," he said. "You could intervene. Send an envoy? Establish a diplomatic mission? Maybe if we had a cultural exchange we could lift them up."
"I don't know," said Jesus. "They seem so... I don't know. So backwards? So evil? They are made of clay and they seem determined to grind each other back into clay again."
Satan paused. And thought. "I have an idea," he said. "Say we go to them. Say we give them a choice. You can either be clay in the ground or you can be stars in the sky. Your choice."
Jesus thought. "You'd go down there?"
"Sure. I'd talk to them."
"And tell them what?"
"Well. Pick and choose. Which do you want? Here or there? Good or evil?"
"That's fucked up brother. Clay? Choose?"
"Ya, well. What are we gonna do?"
"Nothing, I guess."
"I suppose. Dad won't be happy."
"So, if we go down there and interfere with their lives, what good will it do?"
"I don't know. We won't know until we try."
"You are just so sentimental."
"Ya, so? You are just so spiteful."
"What do I care about..., what are they called? Carbon creatures? Isn't that what shit is made from?"
"And trees. And kittens. And people."
"Whatever. Why do you care, anyway!"
"Because they do. Have you ever stopped to hear them sing? Or pray? Or make love to the day?"
"Like I would bother."
"Well, I've bothered. And I want to bother some more."
"OK. So what do you want to do about these human carbon singers?"
"I don't know. You're right. There's not much there. I just can't help feeling that there is more there there."
"Wait. You sound sentimental. Really? They are just mud creatures! Barely alive! And hardly aware. You know they are just autonomous creatures, right? Robots? There is no there there!"
"I suppose you're right."
"Of course I'm right. Let's just plow over the whole clay swamp down there and be done with it, eh Stan?"
"Still, what if? What if we gave the clay people a chance? One chance to be? To be a living, breathing and thinking, feeling creature? Capable of love and laughter and light?"
"And how do you propose to do that? They're just dirt!"
"I don't know. Go down to them? Pick out two. Set them aside. Maybe in a perfect setting. And give them a perfect choice.
"Give them a test. You can have this perfect knowledge. But to do so you will lose this perfect bliss. Choose. Go back to clay. Or come here to perfection. You stand in the middle. The road backwards or forwards is long. And both impossible.
Jesus pondered these words. "Nice speech, brother," he said. "And what part will you play?"
"The one I always play. The one with the awkward questions. The one who asks why and why not."
"You were always an iconoclast."
"I never saw a monument I didn't want to knock down."
"OK. I'm in. What do we have to lose? Two clay blobs vs. infinity. Bring it on!"
"OK. So, you up for a little wager?"
"If I get those clay creatures to come alive, you take them up to us. Here. In our world."
"Like that's gonna happen. And if you lose?"
"Pffttt. I don't know. I'll eat them all?"
"You already lost."
"How do you figure?"
"They're roaming around, mindless."
"Except those two. Here. I will take them. And put them in a garden."
"So? What good will that do?"
"Watch. I will make a garden of absolute delight. And a tree. Two trees! A tree of knowing and a tree of life. Two trees of fruit and the fruit of the tree of knowing gives one an idea. An idea that one is not immortal. And one is not divine, either. Indeed, that one is not part of the eternal. But leaves, in its aftertaste, the desire to be those things. And the other tree. The tree of life. Its fruit tastes of immortality. Of not knowing past or future. Me or thee. Only now. Only everything. Only eternity.
"And I will tell the clay people that they must not eat of the tree of knowing, for it will break them away from their dumb existence of animal clay that does not know the difference of day to day and that does not anticipate the future and knows not of its own death.
"Choose. Bliss of ignorance or horror of knowing!"
"And if they choose?"
"Then you will guide them."
"How will I do that?"
"Improvise! Make it up as you go along."
"If I agree to do this."
"Which you already have."
"If! What's in it for me?"
"You can create the next world."
"Brother Satan. You were always the clever one."