Print Version May 25th, 1997
God? Are you there, God? Moses said to ask, so here I am asking. I want to ask you, God, about the dinosaurs. I guess it’s Steven Spielberg’s fault they’re on my mind, but they are. “Ask now about former ages, long before your own,” said Moses. Well, how about 65 million years ago? By the way is it all right to call you God, God? … I hope so!
What I want to know is why you made them, the dinosaurs. No, that’s not it … I want to know … why did you make them if you were going to let them die? God knows—oops sorry—they were around for a long time—longer by far than we mammals—let alone the speck of time my own species has been walking on our hind legs. They peopled this planet for thousands of millions of years. They ate, they fought, they frolicked, they made their music and made their children. They were tiny and they were enormous. They were drab and they were gaudy. They were ferocious and they were gentle—they were all the things that we are—in their own way. And now they’re gone. All of them. We haven’t been around for a hundredth of the time they were and yet we think we’ll be here for ever. Did they ever think that? Were any of them wise enough to wonder? And did any of them in their dino-way ever wonder about you?
OK what’s my point? Is that what you want to know, God? Well what I’m wondering is this: did you like them? You made them … but did you like them? And if you did … where’ve they gone?
Did the poor beasts bore you? Is that what happened? Were you just twiddling your celestial thumbs while they were your tenants? They were kind of showy but not much company? Is that it?
Now that I think of it the dinosaurs themselves were latecomers—only turning up on this blue planet in the last fraction of its history. What were you doing for the other millions upon millions of years before you had even dinosaurs to play with?
To a bipedal mammal like me, just down from the trees, it seems like this world must have been here for ever. But I guess that’s not true. Go back far enough and even the earth isn’t here, even the sun. Our star itself is a latecomer in the universe—one of the second generation born from the drifting ashes of other long dead suns. And even those first stars didn’t form until the universe was well into adulthood. My God! (Sorry!) But I can’t imagine that length of time! What were you doing? Didn’t you die of boredom?
If I were you—hey, we can all dream—if I were you I’d’ve found a quicker way. None of this coalescing and burning and drifting. None of this emerging and evolving and going extinct.
What’s it all been for? … For us? Don’t look at me like that! How can it all have been for us? For me? All of that. OK, forget about the stars, forget about the dinosaurs—hey—forget about the shark, the elk, the chimpanzee, the mosquito—forget about them all. Just tell, me this. Did you really wait all that time, waste all that space, for us? Dwindle all that infinity, all that eternity, for one insignificant species, from a minor planet, way out on the limb of a galaxy somewhere on the edge of nowhere. And not even for a species—for a trifling little tribe from the desert’s margin. And not even for a tribe—but for this woman and for that man—fleshy, fleeting, bags of water and guts. It’d be a miracle to even care for us a bit. And we’re not just small—we can be nasty with it. So what were you thinking to abandon everything and pitch your tent with ours—to come even closer and be one of us! It’s beyond belief. Are we that lovable? Are you that crazy?
Don’t look at me like that! … How can we deserve it? How can we respond? All we are is what you’ve made us. And yet you’ve made us part of your own self. You’ve opened your heart to us. You’ve adopted us into your own life. Of who you’ve always been. Have we been there since before it all began? Will we be there after it’s all ended?
“Ask,” said Moses, “ask has anything so great as this ever happened or has its like ever been heard?”