Miles Kington: The folly of seeking all wisdom in one book

Even the atheists tended to worship 'Das Kapital' or 'The Origin of Species'
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The Independent Online

It's time to take another visit to the United Deities, I think. Down here on Earth the different religions may bicker and snarl, but up in Heaven the gods have set us all a good example by getting together regularly for a series of comradely no-holds-barred meetings, united in their dismay at what we humans are up to. So here are some more minutes from the latest celestial symposium.

It's time to take another visit to the United Deities, I think. Down here on Earth the different religions may bicker and snarl, but up in Heaven the gods have set us all a good example by getting together regularly for a series of comradely no-holds-barred meetings, united in their dismay at what we humans are up to. So here are some more minutes from the latest celestial symposium.

1. The chairgod said that the first item on the agenda was what the American government quaintly referred to as "Koran abuse". It had been alleged in the magazine called Newsweek - falsely, as it turned out - that Islamic prisoners had been made to suffer by Americans by seeing pages of the Koran torn out and desecrated.

2. All beliefs had sacred writings attached, of course, and all believers are offended by blasphemy, but did Allah have any comment to make on this particular act of desecration ?

3. Allah said that it was some little time since he had read the Koran. Indeed, it was even longer since he had written it. But he had intended it to be the last word on religious matters, and so he stood by everything he had dictated to his prophet.

4. The chairgod said that that did not answer the question. He was more concerned with the effects of belief in a book. What did Allah think when veneration of a book led to serious bloodshed and loss of life?

5. Allah said he was very touched that his readers were so loyal to his book. He was fond of it himself, as it was the only book he had ever written. In publishing circles that might well make him a one-hit wonder. But when the book went on selling so well year after year, that did not really matter.

6. The chairgod said that he had still not answered the question to anyone's satisfaction. Was he trying to imply that he did not want to get involved in discussing the Koran?

7. Allah said that the chairgod had got it in one. He personally stood by everything in the Koran. But then Christianity stood by the Bible as the inspired word of God, and so on round the globe. They could not all be holy writ. Unless they were all holy writ. Perhaps all holy books are different reflections of the truth.

8. Odin, head of the Norse gods, said that that was wet, soft liberal nonsense and he knew it. If he did not know by now that there was no such thing as the truth, only various different truths, then he did not deserve to be a god.

9. Jupiter said that nobody actually deserved to be a god. All the gods he knew had got where they were either by being very cross the whole time and punishing people, or by offering their followers rewards and blandishments and treats which, in most cases, were not forthcoming.

10. Either way, it was not a pleasant sight. And then the poor followers had to devote so much of their time to reading these interminable books which all claimed to be the word of God.

11. Humanity had made a fool of itself so often by insisting that all wisdom was contained in one book. This was true even of atheists, who tended to worship Das Kapital or The Origin of Species.

12. There were some Americans, continued Jupiter, who seemed to believe that everything in Newsweek was sacred fact. Would Americans take to the streets, looting and burning, if pages of Newsweek were used by infidels as lavatory paper?

13. Not in his experience, said the Christian God. The only thing venerated in America was the American flag.

14. Incidentally, said Jupiter, would it be in order to offer congratulations to the Christian God?

15. The Christian God said suspiciously that that depended what Jupiter had in mind.

16. Jupiter said that he had read that Catholics and Anglicans had finally agreed on the status of God's mother.

17. The Christian God said that he would rather they left his mother out of this.

18. Allah said he would rather they left the Koran out of this.

19. The chairgod said they would therefore move on to the next subject, which was a critical look at the latest Star Wars movie.

More of this soon.

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