The courtroom fell silent (or would have, if anyone had been present to make noise) as Master of the Universe entered and took his seat. His gavel fell with the thunder of a prairie storm and his robes swirled a blizzard as he settled into his giant throne.
“Begin!” He commanded.
The two plaintiffs rose as one, the huge head sticking out of the lush cloud floating almost as high as the bench. God spoke first.
“MOTUS,” he began. “We’d like to argue our case as a” (brief hesitation) “…dialogue. If it pleases you, of course.”
The Master leaned back, his long eyelashes sweeping his cheeks as his lids drooped. The plaintiffs wondered if he was awake. But then he thundered, “Do whatever you damned well please. Things can’t get any worse than they are now anyway. GO AHEAD!”
The cloud turned slightly as God looked down upon his smaller companion. “You go first,” he said.
Mother Nature preened and smoothed her skirt of grass and branches, letting a few blades fall to the floor. She looked up at MOTUS and began.
“Most Mighty, my case is simple. I followed every law laid down by Him”, she said, with a hateful look at her co-plaintiff, “and yet the world is ruined. I was obedient and invented nothing. Dog ate dog and cat ate cat; the bigger preyed on the smaller, the richer on the poorer, and the well on the sick. My law—my ONLY law, the Law of Natural Selection—was formed in service of the plan laid out by God!” She spat out the last words and sat down with a great rustling and spilling of seeds and berries.
Now God’s cloud drifted toward the bench, bumping up against it and and leaving a little vapor trail on the fine, dark wood. God spoke. “Your Honor, Mother Nature misspeaks, as usual. It is the laws of Nature, not of God, that have destroyed the world. She says it was I who decreed that the strong should kill the weak, but yet was it not I who said ‘The meek shall inherit the Earth’”? What has happened is the diametric opposite of what I intended when I let there be light.”
“Intended?” snorted Mother. “As if you hadn’t given humans Free Will!” She stamped a small, loamy foot.
God talked faster and louder now. “I brought the world into being, I saved it from the flood, I made the animals, I gave my only son to lead humans out of the misery that their nature—the misery that Nature herself, this woman—inflicted upon them. How can God be blamed for humans’ destruction of the world?”
Mother stood again. Now whole branches fell from her gown. “God!” She almost spat his name as she faced him. “Do you mean to tell the Court that you never foresaw that the animals you created, who were forced to eat each other to survive, would require some regulation? Did you not see that the ways men act have nothing to do with the “spark of divinity” that you planted within them?” She sneered. “I think that we all know what that “spark” really was!” Her face grew greener with rage as she glared at God.
God said, “That spark was no more dangerous than the natural selection that YOU conferred on the world.”
“I conferred nothing. That so-called ‘spark’,” said Mother, addressing MOTUS directly, “was nothing other than Free Will. The spark of divinity, giving humans a goal to which they could aspire but never reach. Choices, choices—the belief in choice is what ruined the world. The misguided human creatures could not abide any laws, even those of physics handed down by you, O great MOTUS, but instead insisted on freedom to do as they wanted.”
“Go on,” said MOTUS, looking Mother in the eyes. He folded his hands and sat as still as mountains, as silent as mornings without birds.
Mother continued. “Would a colony of bees have destroyed the world? No, because the individual will lose its life to save the colony. All serve the queen, all serve reproduction blindly. It’s only humans who think they can analyze and decide ‘what’s best’. God created the animals in such a way that they have to eat each other.”
Mother turned to face God’s cloud, a stray twig appearing to be sucked up into it. She said, a bit more softly, “Natural selection had to clean up the mess that your Free Will created. My work was cut out for me. Against your gift of consciousness, I could not prevail.”
God looked stricken but said nothing. His cloud sank slightly.
MOTUS leaned forward. “Are you saying, Mother, that Free Will laid the conditions for Natural Selection to do its nasty work in humans? That, faced with Free Will, humans could invoke nothing else than Natural Selection as a guiding principle? Or,” He paused and looked from one to the other of the plaintiffs. “Was it the other way around? Did only those who had the means to exercise Free Will, come to dominate and destroy?”
No one spoke. Outside the courtroom’s huge window, the falling stars seemed to multiply, flashing blindingly against the black of the universe as they streamed past.
MOTUS wanted an answer. His giant hands fell on the bench like an eruption of lava. “Whose fault was it that things turned out like this?”, he roared. He gestured to the huge screen on the wall that showed the state of the whole world in one composite picture. “I’ve never seen it like this. Never. And you are both responsible.” He looked as if he might weep.
God and Mother were silent, awed by the brown, charred vision before them. No oceans foamed, no animals moved, no blue sky beckoned.
Then Mother spoke deliberately. “I’m saying that, once it was obvious what was happening because of Natural Selection, Free Will kept humans from stopping the destruction. They could have done so, for at least the last 60 years of Earth’s existence. But, misled by the illusion of choice, they argued and argued and argued. And did nothing.”
God’s cloud rose slightly, puffing out. “And I’m saying that, without the cruel indifference of Natural Selection, the strongest would NOT have won out. The meek would have inherited the earth. Free Will was no match for the thrill of the hunt and the power of the predator.”
MOTUS sighed and raised his gavel. “I’m tired. I must think. Court is adjourned. Please leave now.” God floated aside to let Mother Nature turn to the back of the courtroom and precede him down the aisle. As they filed out, they looked back to MOTUS as if they were one being, with God’s head above and Mother’s lush skirts below. MOTUS thought briefly, Thank ÜberMOTUS that they didn’t question the laws of physics. The plaintiffs vanished through the huge door.
That was millennia ago. MOTUS is still deciding the case.
No one will be present when he renders his verdict.