A creation story
The committee of gods met once again. They decided to make something.
“It’s been a long time,” they said.
It’s something they do every once in a while, or every once in an aeon. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. They began again.
They made a person, two arms, two legs, hands and feet, and as an afterthought, a head.
But something wasn’t satisfying about this new thing they made. Or rather, the new thing wasn’t satisfied. It sat in the middle of nothing, nowhere to put its feet. Nowhere to look, nothing to hear. Nothing to eat.
Then they decided this thing was not enough, so teased the creation into two, pulling here and there until there were separate beings. The pulling distorted their bodies here and there, making one with wider hips, and leaving something pulled long and dangly between the other’s legs.
Half of them thought this was just fine; the other half recognized that even that now there were two things, they had no context. They just sort of floated there.
So, the committee decided they would have to work harder. They built a cube for the beings, with four walls, ceiling and floor, so they had somewhere to put their feet, and something to look at. There was a window in one wall, and a door in the wall opposite.
But, still, there was nothing outside the window to see, and nothing to eat. The room just floated in space, no up, no down, no sideways.
The gods hardly noticed this detail, but they did decide to provide something to look at out the window, So, the committee approved a motion to make some animals and some plants. This seemed to work well, so they made more and more of both.
The problem seemed to be that although the plants and beasts gave the people something outside the window to look at, and, if they had figured out how, something to eat, there was still something inchoate about this new creation.
“The last one didn’t work out quite right,” the committee agreed, “so we need to think this one out more thoroughly.” A motion for further study was passed and a subcommittee formed.
Having the beasts float aimlessly through nothingness gave them nothing to stand on, and while a floating cow might pass some floating grass and grab a bite, it was hardly working out efficiently.
“I think they need somewhere to stand,” said the chairman.
“I second the motion,” said the CEO (actually, in heavenly terms, the DEO), who was the first goddess hired for the post.
And so, they decided to make a world. It seems obvious to us, but when it’s all brand new, you don’t always spot the simplest things. So, they made a world.
There were problems, however. The first world was flat, which made a large plain for the animals to graze upon, but also meant that, without something to support the flat earth, it could easily tilt and dump its cargo back into the emptiness. So, they rested the disc of the earth on the back of an elephant. But with only one as a pivot in the center, the world still wobbled. So, they made four elephants, one at each 90 degrees of the clock-circle of the disc. Oh, the problems — the elephants were then given a very large turtle to stand upon. You know the metaphysical problem here, and yes, it was turtles all the way down.
Next, the committee decided to separate the dry land from the waters. This led to a cock-up, because with the earth being flat and all, the water just poured off the edges, leaving the earth with nothing to drink.
“Perhaps if we put a ring around the edge,” said one.
“Like a dike or a dam,” said the CEO.
So they took some of the dry earth and built a circular berm around the perimeter of the thing they had made. They refilled the seas and took a long look at what they had made. It looked good, so far. Good for a day’s work.
“We’ll convene again tomorrow.”
The next day, they looked at what they had made.
“But, it is all rather dark, isn’t it?” So they put a light up above the earth. They didn’t quite think this one through, though. The center of the earth was closer to the light than the edges, like a chandelier over a table, and so, the center began to whither and burn up.
“We’ve got the geometry all wrong,” said the DEO.
“Wait, I know,” said the gruff head of the Board, shifting a cigar in his mouth, “We’ve got the geometry all wrong.”
“That’s what I said. Oh, never mind.”
So, they took the earth and balled it up like a tablecloth headed for the laundry, and created a globe. To keep everything from falling off, they put a great graviton at its center, and made everything cling to the surface of the ball.
“That seems to be working,” they said. “But what do we do with this lamp? And how do we keep it from burning the part of the earth closest to it?”
“I know. Let’s make the ball spin, so no part is always facing the light.”
But someone accidentally bumped the ball and sent it rolling away.
“Put some of that gravity in the light, too.” And so the rolling, spinning ball started to revolve around the light. It made a pretty sort of machine that delighted the board members.
The problem now was, that the man and woman, in the room on the planet buzzing around the sun sat in the middle of nowhere, a simple toy for the gods, like the giant pecking bird that dipped its beak into the water they made some aeons ago, or the hanging steel balls that knocked each other back and forth. That was Vulcan’s idea, and they ultimately decided it was utterly useless.
So, they began to pack the emptiness. If one ball was good, a handful of others must be better. Toss in some smaller rocks, like chocolate sprinkles, and let them wander around the big light.
They saw it was good and knocked off for the day. The next two days were the weekend, so the office was dark.
But come Monday, they began to dot the emptiness with more lights, enough to make a galaxy. That was fun, so they made more galaxies, making sure to load them all up with the magic gravity. This was exhausting, so they took the next day off, too.
Come Wednesday, it began to dawn on them that the operational manual for this new cosmos they had built was getting rather long, like a Congressional budget bill. There were rather a lot of rules governing how everything functioned. While it seemed to be running like a top, they worried that if anything went wrong, they might not be able to fix it.
“I remember when I had a VW,” said Phaethon. “I could fix anything wrong with a hammer and a screwdriver. This is all getting out of hand. I miss the good old days.”
Well, things did start going wrong. The first man developed an enlarged prostate; the woman eventually had to have a hysterectomy. The gods had to admit, they had rather botched the design of the human nether parts.
One of the planets they made sideswiped the earth and ripped off a chunk.
“Hey, we’ve got a moon. Why didn’t we think of that ourselves?”
Gravity got out of hand, too. Chunks began falling into each other, sometimes so much detritus that it all collapsed into a dark hole.
“Hey, we’ve created black,” said one of the gods.
“We had that before we started,” reminded the DEO.
The whole thing began wobbling, like an elephant on a beach ball that had lost its balance and next thing you know, it seized up. No amount of grease could get it unstuck. Then, it began collapsing, faster and faster, until it shrunk into a singularity — an infinitesimal dot, like the one you used to see when you turned off the TV. Then, boink, it was gone.
“Damn it,” said the god at the far end of the conference table. “Why can’t we ever get this right?”
“I blame the Titans,” said Jupiter. “The previous administration should have addressed these issues more forthrightly.”
“The shareholders will not be happy,” said Neptune. “I believe we need a change at the top. I move that the DEO resign.”
She resisted this suggestion, saying it was all a design flaw.
“We started at the wrong end,” she said. “We went about it all backwards.”
“I have an idea,” offered a nervous intern, afraid to speak up in such august company. “Perhaps next time, in the beginning, we should start by creating the heavens and the earth. The rest should fall into place.”
The gods looked at each other, gave a passing thought and in one voice responded, “Nah.”