by A.J. Rose
TOPEKA, April 1 (PU). The Kansas State Commissioner of Religious Affairs announced today that despite growing controversy, her commission intends to go ahead with its planned hearings into the existence, or non-existence, of a personal deity. "We're not saying that a personal God does not exist," said Commissioner Phoebe Hrothmar in a prepared statement, "just that significant enough doubts have been raised, both within and outside the faith community, that such hearings are more than warranted.
"Think about it," the statement continued. "Would an all-wise, all-powerful, all-benevolent personal God have allowed something like the Holocaust to happen? How about 9/11, or even Oklahoma City? We know for a fact that good, churchgoing people died there. While we're quite certain that something lies behind 'spiritual' experience, the odds that it's a Guy on a throne, willing specific events, seem vanishingly small."
The Most Rev. Sniffy Snootbag of Harvard Divinity School echoed the concerns of many theologians in expressing some alarm over the Kansas decision. "If they really have any serious evidence of the non-existence of a personal deity, why won't they seek to publish it in fully-vetted religious journals? Why the grandstand play of public hearings? The whole thing strikes me as suspicious, not to say Satanic."
A spokesman for Commissioner Hrothmar's office countered that, "These are the sorts of attempts to cloud the issue which one comes to expect. Evil is Satan's fault, or mankind's, or somebody's. But is God all-wise, all-powerful, infinite, and devoid of any evil whatever -- or isn't He? If He's all-powerful, He clearly has to accept some blame for evil. If He's all-good, then He can't really be all-powerful -- so how is He any different from your kindly but ineffectual Uncle Fuddles? I mean, come on, now -- we've been patient with the illogic of all this long enough. Which is it gonna be?"
The President's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives had no formal comment, though a junior deputy who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity expressed sympathy for the Kansas probe. "Look, there are a lot of people in this office who know perfectly well that only children and the mentally impaired actually believe that a loving personal God is happy to visit non-stop plagues on mankind, only to torment the vast majority of his creatures for all eternity after their death. Be serious." Asked about the notion that despite God's best intentions Satan was to blame for mankind's suffering, he laughed. "That 'Satan' thing is a dodge, always has been. Who made 'Satan'? Did he make himself? Duh." Asked why, if these things were true, large amounts of US tax dollars are being provided to religions which espouse just such notions, he fell silent, then ventured, "Well, you have your choice, I guess. Either it's a cynical political ploy, or we have a government run by children and the mentally impaired. We're undecided here, I guess. We just keep the checks rolling out, that's our job." Asked to speculate on the effect of his office's efforts, he cryptically remarked, "Rome wasn't destroyed in a day," adding, "read your Gibbon" before hanging up the telephone. Further calls were not returned by presstime.
Harvard theologian Snootbag predicted that hearings or no, the controversy would pass. "Hundreds of millions of people have believed, and continue to believe, such things irrespective of all evidence to the contrary, evidence obvious to every child on earth -- not just here, in all countries, and in all faiths. To turn Commissioner Hrothmar's words back on her, it strikes me that the 'odds' of humanity collectively smacking its forehead, exclaiming 'What was I thinking?!,' and then making a rational effort to determine what really is behind spiritual experience...well, that's what's 'vanishingly small.' Mark my words. Kansas will pass, and we'll still be here. And people will just keep eating this stuff up like popcorn."
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