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The Proof

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The Proof

Postby TaylorVann » Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:08 pm

This is the first complete short story that I wrote so it seems appropriate to start with this one. I started writing it for my own amusement and then used it for an assignment for a SciFi lit class i was taking. It is about six pages long in MS Word. Let me know what you think of it!

Here it is...

Curtis Jones did not believe in god, he believed in physics. His fervor for his belief led him eventually to a PhD in Physics. He was working with a group of physicists and chemists on the grand unification theory, a theory that would tie together and explain all the workings of the universe. Scientific advances like relativity, quantum physics, and string theory had given him an absolute certainty that given enough time man could know and understand everything. This was his religion, and he was a High Priest.
To be honest, Curtis gave little thought at all to God, or religion. The universe obeyed rules, it worked in a certain way that could be studied, understood, and manipulated. The grand unification theory was well on its way to completion, much helped on its way by Curtis, and once the rules of the universe were understood, it would finally put to rest all of this nonsense about the supernatural.
That was the plan any way. A small side benefit to understanding the cosmos. Not that he was openly hostile to any one who believed in God, he had no personal investment in the nonexistence of God, he merely thought the whole business foolish and tended to be a bit condescending around “believers”. One such believer was Charles.
Charles had been Curtis’s room mate in college. By an odd coincidence, if there is such a thing, they ended up living in the same town. They would meet for coffee occasionally, although lately their conversations had been all about the same thing.
After college Curtis went to graduate school, and Charles found religion. Something happened to him that summer that changed him, he was on fire for God. Giving up every thing he had worked towards, he dedicated his life to spreading the good news. China, Mexico, and Russia had been his missions in the ten years since they had shared a dorm room. And now, here in Los Angeles, his new mission was Curtis.
At first when they would get together, it was normal small talk. “What have you been up to?”, “ Did you hear about so and so ?”, Do you remember that one time…”. Curtis enjoyed getting to know his old friend again, and he tried his hardest not to feel sorry for his poor misguided friend. He did not realize that Chuck felt the same way about him. Until the conversations changed.

“Are you content with life, Kurt?”

“I am at times”

“What I mean is, are you content with your life, with where it has gone?”

“What are you driving at Chuck?” He knew exactly what Chuck was driving at.

“ You are working so hard trying to find something, you don’t even know what it is. You believe it is there, and that it will give you certainty and understanding in life, but you have no proof that such a thing exists.”

“That’s why I have to look for it”

“You’re looking to science for answers, but you should be looking to God. I was looking for the same thing as you are, and I found it, and it has made my life complete.”

“The universe acts according to rules. If you can figure out the rules, all of the rules, you can figure out the How and Why. I am looking for the How and Why.”

“God is the How and Why, you are looking for God”.

From then on their conversations took roughly the same course. Curtis defended science, and Charles preached. These conversations often became heated, but never unfriendly. Curtis liked the mental exercise, he also liked hearing the passion with which his friend spoke. He had developed a great respect for Charles although he would never admit it to his colleagues. One evening over coffee the conversation went where it always went, but this time something was different. Charles started talking like a scientist again.

“Kurt, you are a bad scientist”

“ME?”

“Yes YOU, you haven’t been approaching this problem scientifically, granted neither have I but I’m out of practice”

“What in Gods name are you going on about” (he grinned slightly at his own pun)

“I am absolutely sure that God exists. You are absolutely sure that he does not. Week after week, we sit here drinking coffee and talking ourselves in circles, and never achieving any thing. I have no proof supporting my belief. You claim to have science supporting your claim, but all you have to support your claim is lack of proof. I contend that, by your own belief in science, you can not be an atheist”

“But there is no proof that he exists”

“Exactly! Scientifically speaking, it is impossible to prove the nonexistence of a thing. You could search for an eternity and never find God and that would not prove that he did not exist. But you have never even looked, you have FAITH, without proof, that God does not exist. And that is why you are a bad scientist”

Curtis was astounded, Charles had never tried to bring logic into the conversation. In fact he avoided it at all costs, he preferred to talk about faith. Now he was challenging Curtis’s faith, and Curtis saw exactly where he was going. Curtis said nothing, and so Charles continued.

“I have a challenge for you. Do you remember Professor Eckmann? How he always drilled into us that a good scientist must work tirelessly to try to disprove his own theories. How else can he know if they are true? You should try to prove the existence of God. I’m serious, you are so sure that the universe is governed by a set of absolute rules that can be discovered. Challenge that hypothesis, look for God in your work, you might be surprised by what you find. If you are right you will find nothing and your faith in the soundness of your theory will be that much stronger. But if I am right this might just be the answer that you and your whole team, have been looking for.”

Curtis was intrigued, he didn’t think that that it would work, but he had to give it a try. Charles had him good, and there was no way to settle it but to accept the challenge.
There was no need to tell the rest of the team that whenever he hit a snag in the project he thought to him self, maybe this is God here. They would probably have excommunicated him for heresy. Never the less any time an equation did not work out right, any time a prediction didn’t fit the observations, any time it seemed that there was something missing, something wrong, he wondered, maybe this is it. But after a year of this he had not found any thing. He hadn’t actively searched but he felt he had fulfilled the challenge. He now jokingly referred to any error as God. He let his colleagues in on the joke and they all had a laugh. Conversations with Chuck had become stale, and they eventually stopped meeting up.
The project had also become stale. No new advancement, no new understanding, nothing was working. The closer they got to the answer the more problems they encountered, things that should have worked did not, and things they thought couldn’t happen did. They tried to come up with explanations for these anomalies, tunneling, dark matter, and fluctuations in space-time, but the truth was they had no idea what was going on. Curtis was working on linking these anomalies, seeing if they stemmed from a common miscalculation or misconception that could be solved or corrected for. Insomnia fueled much of his progress. When one sleeps only three hours a night, and consumes more coffee than food, one can accomplish many things. On one such sleepless, dark roasted Colombian night he saw it, these mistakes were God. Not the joke, but the omnipotent. He had shuffled and rearranged the data for the 107th time that night and all of a sudden there it was. Laid out before him, clear as day and incontrovertible was God and the angels, Heaven and Hell, sin and redemption, Everything! He stood up, he stared, and then he ran. As fast as he could, not knowing why he was running or where he was running to. And then he was at a door and he was pounding on the door, and he kept pounding until he found himself face to face with a very sleepy and confused looking Charles.

“He exists, He’s real, really, absolutely… GOD!!”

“I know”

“No, I mean he really exists, no one can doubt it, it’s so simple, so true, and it’s been looking us right in the face”

“I know, that is what I have been telling you all along.”

“No, you don’t know I just found it, no one has ever known before! You believed, but you never knew! No one ever has, they couldn’t have, but they will, My God, do you know what this means?”

“It means that there is going to be a lot of changes happening very soon.”

From the beginning, science and religion have been at odds. Now the two had merged, each confirming the other and so predictably, the animosity had increased. The news of the discovery took some time to reach the general public, but when it did, no one was left without an opinion. Society was in an upheaval, and broke up into factions each with a different, strongly held belief. Four main groups emerged, their self given names were; The Gnostics, The true believers, the Atheoscientiests, and The Apathetics.
The Gnostics were by far the largest group. The now completely extinct agnostics claimed that because we had no evidence of the existence or non-existence of God we could never know for sure, and so they called themselves agnostic, without knowledge. The Gnostics saw now that there was evidence of His existence, and now they were Gnostic, with knowledge. Unbeknownst to most people in the world, there was an ancient mystic religion that also called them selves Gnostics, but there was no relationship between the two.
The Gnostics saw the evidence of God and believed it because they believed in science. Many Christians were glad for the proof of their belief, and many scientists excepted religion now that they had the proof that had until now been missing. The Church of the Devine Proof had, at its peak, 5.2 billion members. Sermons had become a bit drier than in pre-proof churches. Sunday school became lessons in math and science, so that the proof could be understood by all. Doctrine was no longer discussed, Sin, Redemption, Heaven and Hell, now all being thoroughly understood could be described with such detail as to leave no room for speculation. It sort of took the fun out of it some thought, “but it is better to know what we are up against than to stumble around blindly”. The Gnostics were, in general, more easy going than the other groups, and although they thought the others foolish, there was no real hatred felt. This relationship was not reciprocal.
The True Believers, as they called them selves, had declared a spiritual war against the Atheoscientiests, and most vehemently against the Gnostics. The True Believers claimed to be the only ones who could achieve the Kingdom of Heaven. They believed in God, and yet denied the proof of his existence. His existence could not be proven, science did not have the authority to bring God into existence through proof, only through faith could God be known.
They saw this new “knowledge” of God as an evil plot to rob the souls of men, so they could never be redeemed. Once the proof was read, no man could be a true believer, he would have knowledge of God, and so could not have Faith. They cited Genesis 2:16-17
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

No True Believer was allowed to go to school, the proof was taught in schools now. Neither were they permitted to learn any math or science independently. If the proof could not be understood, it could do you no harm. Some extreme sects were completely illiterate and shunned any knowledge or learning that was not directly related to surviving and worshiping God.
It wasn’t long after The True Believers had formed themselves into a coherent group, that the fires started. Libraries mainly, and laboratories, but there had been attempts at some universities, and even public schools. Anywhere that knowledge was gained, stored or distributed was to be destroyed, so that no souls could be robbed by the force of Knowledge. The “of good and evil” qualifier was quickly dropped, so as to simplify the doctrine, and make the selection process easier, it all had to go.
The True Believers found an odd ally in the Atheoscientiests. If asked, each would tell you that they vehemently despised each other, but in the area of science they had the same opinions, and the same goals. The Atheoscientiests were, before the proof, known as atheists. Not your run of the mill atheist who if it came up in conversation would admit that they did not believe in God, be it from lack of proof, or lack of interest. No, they were the evangelical atheists, who would spread the bad news to all those poor lost believers. They preached their disbelief to anyone who would listen, and many who would not. They were so fervent in their lack of belief that it defined their entire existence, and the proof threatened this. They had no evidence for the non-existence of God, but they did not need it, they had faith. They would never accept that God existed, but Science left no room for doubt, so it had to go.
And such as it is that faith denies proof, and so also it was that the Atheists denied science. Being passionate, and now feeling threatened, the Atheists organized and codified their disbeliefs, and before all else, they came up with a name. Atheoscientiests seemed an adequately descriptive modification of their previous name. Furthermore they came up with names for their newly found nemeses. The Gnostics they called the Theoscientiests , implying the direct polar opposite nature of values. The True believers they called the Theists, implying a partial opposition. Nobody ever said that these people were very imaginative. The Apathetics they call the Apathetics… because they did not really care enough about them to come up with a new name.
These were the sides taken in the war. It started gradually, first with protests, then with mobs, and then the fires. The Gnostics were perfectly willing to coexist with the other groups, but the attacks on the libraries were unforgivable, and extreme action had to be taken to protect the wealth of human knowledge accumulated over the aeons. One would think that the Gnostics, simultaneously fighting two idealistic, extremists, militant factions, would have been quickly overcome, but things being as they were they flourished. They had the large advantage of embracing knowledge and using it to their benefit, although knowledge and reason are often overcome by passionate ignorance. Their main advantage was that although the True Believers and the Atheoscientiests had sworn to destroy knowledge and all those who collected and distributed it, they wished to destroy each other even more. The enemy of my enemy is encroaching on my territory.
The Atheoscientiests could not see how anyone who believed in God could not believe in Science, it was inconsistent. The Theists did not have the right to deny science, because they lacked the necessary Disbelief in God. It was an outrage, especially because the two groups were often lumped together by the rest of the world. Who you are is important, but often it is more important who you are not, and so it became more important to make perfectly clear that they hated each other. It was also important that proper credit was given for acts of violent. They would sabotage each others attempts at destruction, discover each others hideouts and reveal them to the Gnostic armies, and often outright murder each other. Eventually the Gnostics were almost completely uninvolved in the battles, and except for the occasional bombings and arson, and they busied them selves with eradicating both armies as hide outs and bases were revealed to them.
The government was unable to stop the fighting for the simple reason that the government no longer existed. It quickly dissolved when the stronger more organized units precipitated. The dissolution of all governing bodies forced people to choose sides, because within each group was a certain security and stability, each took care of their own and worked together against common enemies. The Gnostics took care of most of the infrastructure, paving roads, generating electricity, purifying water and refining fuel. Some militants would attack the generators, treatment plants, and refineries, but most were smart enough to realize that, as much as they hated the Gnostics, they did need water , electricity and oil.
But with all their technology, intellect, and power the Gnostics could not stop this war. And with all of their ideals, belief, passion and determination, neither the True Believers nor the Atheoscientiests could win it. In the end it was the Apathetics that returned the world to normalcy. The apathetic lived a life lacking in both the passion expressed by the fighters, and of the calm confidence of the Gnostics. They lived their life without a thought for science or religion, worrying about how to get by, working for whoever could pay them (usually the Gnostics). Completely uninvolved with the war, the apathetics were often harassed for their lack of conviction or for being cowards, or for working for the enemy (who ever that is); but they just did not care what was said about them as long they could go home and eat, and drink, and watch TV at night after work.
The generations passed, and the proof lost its novelty. Nobody alive knew what it was like to wonder if God existed, to be unsure about life or the universe. From a young age children were still taught about the Proof, although they were no longer taught how to understand it. They were told that it existed and that it worked and that was good enough for most. The True Believers and the Atheoscientiests became less strict about knowledge when they realized that none of them could get a job without an education. All of the True Believers knew the proof, and some probably believed it, although they would never admit to it. Many Atheoscientiests became scientists, claiming that, although science is not real, useful results can be obtained by applying scientific principles to real-world events. Eventually a new government formed and society went back to almost what it had been before the long forgotten Curtis Jones made his all important discovery. The three churches maintained steady membership, but most members did not really practice, they just did not care, they had better things to do. The world was once again calm, complacent, and lacking in turmoil and passion. And so the most important scientific discovery, and theological revelation in all of history, was swept into obscurity by the ever prevalent force of human Apathy.
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Re: The Proof

Postby Bmat » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:06 am

As with your other story, Feed Us!, the concept is intriguing. The mainly narrative style in The Proof makes it a bit drier reading, yet the flow is smooth. The story is well-imagined. I'd say that both of these stories are high quality. I could easily see especially The Proof in an SF publication.
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Re: The Proof

Postby TaylorVann » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:23 pm

I do not write dialogue well, i need to work on this. that is one of my goals in the coming year, along with publication, is to work on my dialogue. right now i do mainly narrative and as you mentioned it does get a little stale. Thanks for the feed back!
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