Through many dangers, toils and snares

On a warm green planet spinning around a minor Antares sister star, there lives a race of intelligent beings. They think, communicate, and scheme. Their technology is so sublime that any human being witnessing it could only comprehend it as magic. As do all advanced technological species, this race has a sense of humor tending toward the cruel. They do not refer to themselves by any name, so we’ll have to call them Zees.

Looking through the meson scope, Zee One spots our cool blue globe. Zee One thinks, “Check out these entities! Some technology they have, some art they have, but gullible, yes?”

Zee Two squints through the scope. Zee Two thinks, “Gullible, yes.”

Zee One thinks, “Of course they are. They believe that an abstract, all-encompassing, all-loving, all-knowing Entity created them. And they further believe that they can communicate directly with Him.”

Zee One and Zee Two have the same thought at the same time. Zee Two grabs his protonizer and follows Zee One into the warp chamber.

They arrive at Earth as you are walking through the forest, enjoying the splendor of creation around you. Zee Two hides behind a tree and zaps Zee One with the protonizer. When you come upon Zee One, he is a familiar form: a bearded figure of infinite patience and love, in glowing white robes, perhaps with man-made scars in his hands and feet.

“I have returned!” says Zee One. Zee Two stifles a huge cackle.

“Odd,” you say. “You don’t look exactly the way I expected my Deity to look.”

“But the Deity I am!” Zee One retorts. “Behold!”

Zee Two spins his protonizer on a nearby stream and the water hisses and bubbles until it becomes a jolly little river of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

“An excellent vintage,” you say, “but I am not quite convinced that you are my Deity.”

Zee Two turns his protonizer on a clump of fallen branches. The branches wiggle into life, and become a twisty mass of black snakes. The snakes wiggle and hiss, spinning themselves in the air to lift and support one another. They form themselves into the letters HE’S REALLY GOD, with an earthworm representing the apostrophe.

“Your snakes spell precisely,” you say, “but I am not quite convinced that you are my Deity.”

Zee Two points his protonizer heavenwards as Zee One beckons convincingly. As you watch, the sky turns blood-red as clouds of methane streak across the horizon. The sun is blotted out as forks of green lightning crash overhead. As the sun goes, utter darkness instantly falls across the forest. Zee One holds the darkness for a few seconds for the correct dramatic effect, then in a microsecond, restores the sky to day blue.

“I was blind but now I see,” you say, blinking a little, “but I am not quite convinced that you are my Deity.”

You are in the forest, enjoying the splendor of creation around you, in the presence of a being that may or may not be your Deity.

And so I ask you: how can you determine your truth?

And so I ask you: when you leave the forest and tell us your story, how can you convince us that what you experienced was true?

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