Photo via Wikimedia Commons
One of our Middle East writers, Karl Sharro, got an exclusive interview with God. He talked to Him about His beginnings, the situation in the Middle East, and what He thought about the movie Noah.
VICE: Good day. What’s the best way to address you?
God: Just call me God.
It’s an honor. It’s been a while since you have granted a personal audience to a human. May we ask you why is it always someone from the Middle East?
It’s a gesture of nostalgia on my part. Monotheism took root there, and it’s obvious why I would like that. I also thought it would be amusing to allude to those encounters from the past.
Why now? What has changed? It has been a while since your last interview.
I have a whole universe to run, obviously, and there are areas of priority. But it’s also part of the pleasure I get from these projects like Earth—I can put together the ingredients and then let them develop on their own. But I thought now is a time for another appearance, something lighter in tone. I am quite intrigued by the internet and social media; I see potential there.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did it all start? Why did you do it? What was the motivation?
If I gave you the answer it would be cheating. You are meant to discover the answers for yourself. But that in itself is a partial response to your question. There are clear philosophical indications of what I call the conditions of existence.
Is this about what philosophers call free will?
If I were to put in terms of the limitations of human language, then the answer is yes. And there’s no denying that this is mainly how I have historically communicated with human beings.
Has that caused problems in your experience?
Some people are too literal; that is the biggest issue. I wouldn’t call it a problem; it’s part of the process and the conditions of communication. There are uncertainties, but it would be very boring from my point of view, otherwise.
Back to the Middle East. What do you think about what’s happening there now? There is a lot of conflict, and a lot of it is connected to religion. What are your thoughts on that?
I have always had that issue with people who think they are doing things for me, or in my name. If I wanted the world to work like that I would have said so. But in giving you the freedom, you are obviously free to make that mistake. This is what makes the process interesting.
So you would be reluctant to intervene personally and put an end to this conflict?
People in the Middle East are arrogant. They tend to think of me as a local guy and that I should therefore care about them more than others. And that breeds a sense of abdication of responsibility, which manifests itself in their language. Phrases like inshallah [God willing] epitomize this. This is intellectually lazy. You have to take responsibility for your own existence.
It’s remarkable how some of those answers sound like I have written them myself.
I speak to you in a language you understand. It’s something I have always done.
Any ideas for new books? Again it has been a while since your last one.
I have questions about the format. Things have moved on over the centuries, particularly the last one. You might get the occasional powerful best seller, but a few months later nobody’s talking about it anymore. Look at that man Gladwell; he’s done very well for himself through this process. But it’s ephemeral. If I come back it will have to be in a unique way; there's a lot of expectations.
What about podcasts, blogs, Youtube channels?
I wouldn’t say no immediately, but it would have to be special. Again, because of your successes, people have increased expectations.
What did you think of Noah? I assume you have viewed it, being all-seeing and all of that.
It’s an amusing take. I have watched over the centuries as people have interpreted this story in different ways, so it’s an over-familiar narrative for me. I would have liked to see more existential considerations.
You can tell me: Did that really happen? Were you that upset with humanity?
You’re projecting human traits onto a divine being; that is a classic mistake. It’s a common attitude, but it makes watching you add to your own speculation about my true nature amusing. The story may or may not have happened. The real question is what you can learn from it; let’s put it that way.
What do you think of atheism?
I used to like atheists. There used to be grand atheists who took the intellectual independence that I gave them very seriously and pushed it to its limits; I admired that. It was big and daring. But today I see pettiness and small-mindedness, shrill denunciations and lack of intellectual ambition. It bores me.
Thanks, again, God. This was very enjoyable. Is there anything you would like me to take back with me?
Take those two tablets with you and preach their message. I’m joking of course. It’s a self-referential thing.
Karl Sharro is an architect, writer, satirist, and commentator on the Middle East. He has written for a number of international publications and writes a blog, Karl reMarks, about Middle Eastern politics and culture, with occasional forays into satire.