…In the beginning… June 23, 2010Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in Creative Writing.
Tags: beginning, Bible, Christianity, creation, evolution, Genesis, God, religion, science
I thought quite long and hard about what could be my first post on a new blog, and in the end decided to plunge right in and share some rather whimsical creative writing I did a year or two ago.
(Short background note: My sister and I were chatting online and somehow the Book of Genesis came up. I mentioned how interesting, but slightly odd, it was that the order of creation as listed in Genesis almost but not quite mirrors the most recent theories of origins that cosmology and evolutionary biology give us. My sister speculated that, if Moses was supposed to be the author of the Bible’s first five books, perhaps he was not entirely paying attention when God explained that bit? I decided that this was maybe as good an explanation as any…)
Scene: A hilltop in the middle of the desert. MOSES and GOD are climbing up the hill. As they approach the top, MOSES stifles a yawn.
MOSES: Can’t this wait until tomorrow, God?
GOD: Don’t you want to hear about how I created the earth?
MOSES stifles another yawn. GOD looks a little hurt.
MOSES (quickly, seeing GOD’s reaction): Oh, don’t think I don’t care. It’s just it’s been a long day…and the children of Israel were complaining again, something about having to eat the same old manna for (counts rapidly on his fingers) the three-thousandth-seven-hundred-and-thirty-ninth time…and we’ve all walked a long way. When are we going to get out of this wilderness, God?
GOD (sternly): When I say you can, and no sooner! Now, do you have your writing materials ready?
MOSES, trying hard not to yawn again, quickly pulls out a bulky clay tablet, a jar of water, and a sharpened stick. GOD raises his eyebrows.
MOSES (defensively): Well, it’s all we’ve got out here! Now, back in Egypt they had nice modern papyrus, but no, you had to lead us into this cursed desert. How are we supposed to write down anything out here? I had to chisel your commandments in rock, for crying out loud! (Grumbles inaudibly to self).
GOD says nothing in reply, though his expression speaks volumes. MOSES, seeing this, sighs.
MOSES (a little sulkily): All right. I apologize.
GOD: Apology accepted. Ready to begin?
MOSES nods with a resigned expression on his face, and sits on a nearby rock, lighting an oil lamp and picking up his writing utensils. GOD clears his throat.
GOD (in a deep, resonant tone): In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth.
MOSES scribbles cuneiform letters rapidly with his stick, wetting the clay tablet from the jar of water periodically. He nods for GOD to continue.
GOD: And the earth was without form, and void: and pretty well all of it was one giant liquid blob, like water. But the rest of the universe was not nearly so disorganized. You see, Moses, your earth is only one of several planets that goes around your sun, which I also created; and the moon which goes around your earth was also made at this time. And your sun, though it looks bright to you, is just one of many stars in your galaxy – and that’s just one galaxy in the whole huge universe. For example, if you look up there, you can see a group of stars that looks like a big cup. Well, on one of the planets that goes around that star – right there – (points) I had created a very interesting race of creatures that –
GOD suddenly looks over at MOSES and realizes he is dozing.
GOD (sharply cutting off his speech): Moses! Moses! Wake up!
MOSES (shaking his head vaguely): What? What’s the matter?
GOD: Moses, did you get down what I’m saying?
MOSES (quickly looking over notes): Created heavens. And earth. Earth without form…void…water…Yep. Got it all. (Mutters to self) I think.
GOD looks a little suspicious. MOSES nods reassuringly. GOD clears his throat again and continues.
GOD: So as I was saying, your planet was rather disorganized. And the first thing I decided to do was make it a bit more organized – otherwise there was no chance life would survive. A lot of the water was in gaseous form, mixed with very nasty chemicals. So I let the earth cool down first – this took maybe a billion years, but at the end Earth had something like an atmosphere and oceans. This meant…
At this point, GOD looks over at MOSES and realizes that, not only is he dozing again, but his oil lamp is about to go out.
GOD (loudly): Moses, don’t you need some light to write by?
MOSES: (Waking up): What? Huh? Light?
GOD: I said, let there be light! (He points at the nearly-extinguished lamp.)
MOSES: (Too panicked to see GOD’s gesture): Oh, is that what you said? (Scribbles madly on cuneiform tablet.)
GOD: No, no, I didn’t say it then, I’m saying it now! (Blows on oil lamp, causing the flame to spring back up.)
GOD (exasperated): What I meant was, we need light now!
MOSES (bewildered): But we have light now. (Points at the stars above.)
GOD: What I’m trying to say is…oh, never mind. Just carry on. (Mutters to self in annoyed tone, something about stiffnecked Israelites.)
MOSES (taking advantage of the break to read over what he’s written): “And God said, Let there be light.” Has a nice ring to it. (Smiles to self.)
GOD: (Sighing) And there was light. Now, you got down that I separated the water from the air, right?
MOSES: Yep, got it. (Scribbles madly).
GOD: Very well. Next I decided that it would be interesting to have some lifeforms that lived in water, like fish and whales and so forth, and some that didn’t, like you. (Watches MOSES carefully to make sure he doesn’t drift off again.) So I triggered some earthquakes and tectonic plate shifts and such, and after a few million more years, I had a bunch of nice continents to work with, with big oceans of water separated from them. Okay? (MOSES nods and scribbles dutifully on his tablet.)
GOD: Around the same time I decided to create some real life. That took a billion years or two. It was nothing complicated at first – just a few little microscopic creatures, things you can’t see with your naked eye. These were really simple organisms – about all they could do was eat and reproduce. But those led to more complicated things, like amoebas and algae and…
GOD looks over at MOSES and sees his eyes glazing over again.
GOD (raising his voice slightly) And those, Moses, (MOSES jerks awake at the sound of GOD’s voice and scribbles quickly again) led to plants. You know, like grass and flowers and fruit trees and those sort of things. Green stuff. Stuff that reproduces by seeds and pollen. Life that gets its energy from photosynthesis – that means it gets its food from the sun.
MOSES (looking confused): Sun? You made the sun next? Did I miss something here? (Grabs for his tablet.)
GOD : Um, Moses…you did write down that I made the sun, moon, and stars, right?
MOSES: Uh, ok, of course. (Scribbles on tablet, murmuring under his breath, “Made the sun, moon, and stars.”)
GOD still looks a little suspicious, but continues.
GOD: So aside from the plants, I decided we needed some more interesting organisms. After all, plants can’t move around, or talk, or do much at all. So I started by putting together some more life forms in the sea, based on the microscopic ones I told you about earlier. New things like squids. And starfish. And anemones. And then more complicated ones like fish (MOSES looks relieved upon hearing something familiar), and some really big ones that you’d probably just call “sea monsters.” Then we got snakes, and reptiles, and so forth, and somewhere along there I made some birds. Of course it took several hundred million years, but in the end, you could say that the earth swarmed with living creatures!
MOSES is scribbling madly. GOD looks relieved that he’s paying attention at last.
GOD: Then I decided to try something a bit different: warm-blooded creatures with hair, called mammals – like cattle, and wild animals like bears, and of course humans. Yes, I created you people, last of all. (Mutters to self:) Big mistake.
MOSES: What did you say? “Let us make…”
GOD: (glancing quickly over at MOSES) Umm, yes. “Let us make…humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” (MOSES, satisfied, copies down GOD’s words.)
MOSES: (suddenly frowning and looking up at GOD): Wait. Were you talking to yourself?
GOD (a little nervously): No! No! All I said was, “Let us make –“
MOSES: No, I’ve got that, but why the plural?
GOD (Relieved): Oh, just using the “royal we.” (MOSES looks puzzled.) Never mind.
MOSES: So what next?
GOD (takes a moment to think): Oh. Well, that was just about the end. I took a look at everything I’d made on Earth, and decided it was pretty good. Not quite as good as the Vega star system, but still not bad considering how late I’d left it. So I told all of you to be fruitful and multiply – which is pretty well the one commandment I’ve ever given you that you obeyed. Obeyed it a little too well, if you ask me. (Mutters:) Note to self: next time, introduce automatic system of birth control.
MOSES is yawning again.
GOD (suddenly exasperated): Moses, haven’t you rested enough?
MOSES (eager): Rested? You rested? Sounds like a good idea! (Scribbles down something on his tablet, then picks up the lamp and stands up.) We’re done for the night, then? (He stretches.)
GOD (looking resigned) Yes, I guess you could say we’re done. Go get some sleep. We’ll talk about the Fall tomorrow.
MOSES is looking over his notes. Suddenly he frowns.
MOSES: God, I don’t think you told me. Exactly how long did it take you to do all of this?
GOD: (Surprised) I thought you’d gotten it down. Like I said, cooling the earth took a billion years or so, then a couple billion of working on the first unicellular creatures and…
GOD looks over at MOSES. He is staring puzzled at his writing tablet.
MOSES (looking completely bewildered as he peers at his tablet): Uh, God? What exactly is a “billion?” And how do I write it down?
GOD appears lost for words.
MOSES: Like, all I wanted to know is, did you create the earth in a second? A minute? An hour? It wouldn’t have taken you any longer than that, would it?
GOD starts to open his mouth, then shuts it. For a moment he does nothing, then, looking totally resigned: Let’s just say…a day.
MOSES (grasping at something he can finally understand): A day?
GOD: Well, a whole week, actually. It takes longer to create a world than you might think.
MOSES: Amazing! A whole week! I never would have guessed! (Scribbles eagerly on his tablet.) Boy, our world must really be a complicated place, huh, God?
GOD suddenly smiles.
GOD (putting his hand on MOSES’ shoulder): You don’t know the half of it, Moses.
MOSES and GOD walk slowly down the mountain. As the light of the lamp disappears behind the hill, the curtain falls.