He entered the room as if into a temple. The great, looming marble pillars, the somber drapery, the three chairs massive and oaken, raised conspicuously above the common area. The scene pressed upon his mood like a dark, heavy cloud. Here it would be decided.
On this stage, tomorrow, he would play the play. Why him? His confidence had all but forsaken him and his hope slowly drained away as he imagined what it would be like. In front of the world judges and in combat with the Other. The Other's victories concerning this matter were many and his reputation astounding. The Other simply sowed the seeds. There was really no reason to make a point. All he had to do was play his pipe of doubt, and they followed, danced even, as if they were somehow relieved. How could he think that he would change it?
He put his head in his hands as if to cradle his foreboding and give comfort to the flicker of courage he had left. If only he could sleep, then maybe it would pass, all a dream, into the mist, and he would not have to face the Other, the judges, himself. There was more to this than just winning. There was its meaning to all the others, the people, those who really wanted to know if it were true.
In this room would focus the question of the ages. And the judges, they would make a decision that would be a once-and-for-all decree. That was to be it. One chance, his chance, the last chance, and perhaps his undoing.
He sat in silence, then rose slowly and walked out into the fading sunlight. As he looked to the horizon he took heart. For the sun which was just above the earth line, hanging for the moment as if deciding whether to set or to rise, had spread its rays upon a crack in the walkway. In this crack ever so softly a green shoot was inching its way to the surface, as if it knew its way to the sun. He smiled because this was his story as well. He only had to inch, not run, to his sun. Tomorrow would tell whether he would be strong enough to pierce through a different kind of concrete.
The sun rose. Tomorrow came. It was the moment. People from the world over pressed into the courtroom until there was room only for him, the Other, and the judges. When he arrived he was astonished at all who were there. Was this case of that much interest? He acknowledged their shouts of encouragement and was mute before the flower girl who, blushing, carefully placed a red rose into his hand then slipped away into the crowd. When he came to his seat, he looked around the room where he had been the evening before and breathed deeply as if to take in the importance of the scene.
It was not long after he had taken his place that the Other entered the room, and it was as if, like a magnet, the Other pulled all that was there to his side. Magnificent! The Other's confidence radiated throughout the courtroom like light. Applause rang out from the crowd and continued as thunder until the Other stood before the opposing advocate's table and remained standing till the judges appeared.
There were three judges, robed in black and draped in authority. There were three because there could be no ties. Always a winner, always a loser. There would be a decision for the people to hold onto without question. When the judges spoke, the matter was concluded. The judges sat, he sat, the Other sat. The crowd took their places. The Other was to be first. He rose, came before the bar and addressed the judges.
'Your Honors. It is for a momentous task that you have been called to this august place this day. We are not here to decide on a matter of import to one person or even to a multitude of people. No, it is a matter of supreme importance for all people. And it is our duty, I dare say, our honor, to consider it on this historic day.
What have we before us, then, that is of such momentous import? We have none other than the question, 'Does God exist?' We have come from every corner of the world to arrive at an answer once and for all. We have done this so that, finally, our laws and our lives can be made suitable according to the answer.
I, your Honors, have come here as advocate for the negative. I propose to prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that we cannot validly say that God exists. I will show that even if we cannot agree that there is no God, then at least we can agree that we can never know if there is one. And, if I might be so bold, I propose that these two propositions in practice amount to the same thing.
Now that we are clear as to what we are about, let me begin.'
Deliberately hesitating in his speech, the Other fixed his glance upon him like a bull ready to charge a matador. The gauntlet was down. The battle had begun.
'Your Honors, let us begin by being brutally honest. 'All that matters is matter.' What is the meaning of this statement? It is simply this. When we come down to it , we must admit that all there is is matter. Mass and extension and all those qualities that come to us in empirical experience. Color, size, shape, odor, taste, texture, flexibility, sound. I could go on, but the point is clear. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we have no doubt there is matter in the universe, but we have intense doubts about there being anything that we commonly call mind
Seeing is believing. What cannot be grasped by the senses cannot in all honesty be said to exist. Of course, there are those of us who want there to be a spiritual dimension to our reality. There are those of us who need the comfort of thinking there is such a dimension. But in reality we can think of spiritual things only by referring to our sense experiences and abstracting away their material dimension. Spirit is nothing more than a mental construct, like a unicorn or Santa Claus. There is no doubt that we can come to some meaning for the word 'spirit' or 'mind' or even 'soul,' but it comes to us bathed in doubt. Why? Because we cannot validate them by the one way we are sure to come to an experience of what is real, -the senses.
'Mind,' you may say, or 'spirit' is not available to the senses by its very definition. Is that supposed to convince of us of its reality? Certainly not. It only serves to convince us of its invalidity as a concept that refers to reality. I will tell you what 'mind' and 'spirit' are available to -- the power of imagination. Creative imagining is our way of coming up with ideas like mind or spirit from the raw materials we take from the world through our senses.
Now our imagination surely leads us into a kaleidoscope of colorful and fantastic lands. But if we do not hold our imagination accountable to a standard of objective truth, it may lead us into lands which may appear real to us but are really no more valid than the private worlds of a child or a psychotic. The dimension of mind or spirit is a fantasy land. It cannot be validated as true because we cannot empirically verify it, and empirical verification is how we come to objective truth.
Therefore, your Honors, we cannot be honest with ourselves and speak of a spiritual dimension of reality. And because we cannot honestly speak of a spiritual dimension of reality, we cannot truthfully speak of God as a reality, since God, if God is anything at all, is spirit not matter.
Now this is not to say that we are unable to fashion in the labyrinths of our fertile imaginations something that appears to be God. There are already multitudes who have an idea of God that they use as a guide for their daily tasks. But having an idea of God does not mean that there is a God, just like thinking of a unicorn does mean that one will actually appear. I submit that it is not God who created humankind, but it is humankind who created God. Since this idea of God could not have come from objective