Pharyngula

Doors

Here’s an entirely hypothetical scenario.

You’re in a room with two exits, marked Door A and Door B. By each is a guardian, Guardian A and Guardian B. You need to go through one of the doors.

Door A is light and flimsy, easy to open—just turn the knob and you’re through it. Reasonably enough, before charging through, you ask Guardian A what’s on the other side.

“Joy and delight, an eternal life of perfect happiness, an end to doors and constant traveling…and all you have to do is turn that little knob, and believe.”

That sounds too good to be true, so you ask him how he knows, and whether he has been through the door.

“No, not yet, I can only go once my tour of duty here is done. But I dream of it every night, and I can also tell you that almost everyone who has come here has gone through Door A.”

You want confirmation, so you turn to Guardian B and ask if that’s true.

“Yes,” he says, “most people do go through Door A. I don’t know if it’s true about what’s on the other side, though.”

Door B is rather imposing: it’s a huge steel block, bristling with locks and complicated gadgets. It looks like it’s going to take a lot of time and cleverness and strength to get it open. It’s so intimidating, you’re not even sure that you’ll be able to figure out how to open it. You ask Guardian B if it’s as difficult as it looks.

“Oh, man, yes…it’s hard. At least it was when I was your age—now I’ve had so much practice at it that I can go through this door easily, all the time. I’m afraid I can’t just open it for you, though. I can give you suggestions and hints, but you really do have to do all the work yourself. It’s a kind of admissions test to see if you’ll be able to cope on the other side.”

This is not entirely encouraging, and you hope there’s something as good as joy and delight beyond the door, so you ask what’s over there.

“Knowledge,” says Guardian B. “Hard work. Interesting ideas. And doors—many more doors, each one harder than the next, and no end to them in sight. Clever people, all working together to open more doors. It’s a whole world, a good but complicated place.”

Guardian A screams, “HE LIES! There’s a tiger on the other side that will kill and eat you. I think it’s on fire, too. And worst of all, if you go through Door B, you’ll never get to experience the beautiful life behind Door A. Guardian B is evil, and he wants you to suffer!”

Guardian B just rolls his eyes. He’s heard this before.

“Look, kid, Guardian A means well, but he doesn’t know anything. I’ve told you the truth about what’s behind my door; maybe ol’ A is right about what’s behind his door, but all I’ve ever seen when someone opens Door A is a dark room beyond. You get to make the choice, at least so far—A and his friends want to seal off my door to ‘protect’ all the travelers who come through here.”

Your choice. What door do you go through?