THE SCENE: A circular room cut deep into stone; magma pits bubble left and right, all is lit by roaring torches that cast dark, flickering shadows. In the center, the Cephalopod Throne.
THE CAST: PZ Myers broods on his throne, chin on fist. He glowers at a horde of SUPPLICANTS, bowing and scraping before him. Many are speaking at once, but all have the same concern.
SUPPLICANT: “O Lord PZ…”
SUPPLICANT: “…Great Lord PZ…”
SUPPLICANT: “…Lord PZ, do you ever…”
SUPPLICANT: “…ever worry…”
SUPPLICANT: “…worry that your puissant and uncompromising godlessness might…”
SUPPLICANT: “…might frighten…”
SUPPLICANT: “…drive away…”
SUPPLICANT: “…terrify the religious moderates?”
SUPPLICANT: “O Lord?”
SUPPLICANT: “Perhaps you shouldn’t be so hard on the soft and unthreatening believers, who might also find goodness in science?”
SUPPLICANT: “Perhaps your atheism diminishes support for science education?”
PZ’s brow furrows, and fury kindles like glowing embers in his eyes; he rises and gestures angrily, and his servant, the Invisible Virtual Hand of the Internet, appears, virtually and invisibly, by his side.
PZ: “You dare…?”
The IVHI sweeps across the room, squashing the supplicants and casting their smeary broken carcasses into the magma pits. Smoke rises to fill the room. PZ sits again.
PZ: “But perhaps … perhaps this is a question I should consider further. Invisible Virtual Hand of the Internet, bring to me … an agnostic! One with views on religion different from mine!”
Swiftly, the IVHI vanishes and reappears (transparently) with a mostly unclothed JOHN WILKINS, who looks about confusedly and sleepily.
WILKINS: “What’s this then…?”
WILKINS: “Mururzh? What am I doing here? I was sleep…!”
PZ: “SHHH! You are just a prop upon which to exercise my thoughts. You do not have a speaking part.”
WILKINS: “Bloody hell…!”
PZ: “SHHH! I have summoned you here because your agnosticism offends me. It is tepid and uninteresting and annoying, and disturbs me personally.”
WILKINS: “I’ll have you know agnosticism is a reasonable and intellectually honest philosophical position, and one that I hold after considerable thought and …”
PZ: “Oh, put a sock in it, John. I have told you I find it offensive; I think that in response I must change my beliefs to punish you. I am therefore going to join the pagans and wiccans, and sacrifice kittens to Eris. I think also I shall change my views on a number of unrelated social issues, out of spite — so henceforth I’m going to be pro-life and anti-feminist. See what you’ve done with your willful antagonism to my former atheism? Now begone.”
The IVHI manifests itself subtly and with a flick of its unseen finger, sends WILKINS flying through the air in a south-westerly direction.
PZ: “Invisible Virtual Hand of the Internet, bring unto me another prop-person.”
With a totally silent whoosh, the IVHI swoops away and returns indetectably bearing ORAC, who appears noticeably irritated at this abrupt interruption.
PZ: “Orac! You are a Catholic, are you not?”
ORAC: “Well, yes, but I don’t make a big deal about my religion…”
PZ: “SILENCE! My questions are only rhetorical. Your nominal, tepid Catholicism offends me! Your unwillingness to slavishly imitate my beliefs about religion has so antagonized me that I have decided to celebrate Hitler’s birthday and consider seriously the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax. And oh yes, I am joining the Communist party. You regret your intransigence now, don’t you?”
ORAC: “What the…?”
PZ: “I am done with you!”
The IVHI scoops up Orac and with a hard fast overhand throw, flings him towards the east.
PZ: “Invisible Virtual Hand of the Internet, I find this intellectual extortion amusing. Bring me another.”
MARK CHU-CARROLL is plopped onto the floor before PZ. He rises with a peevish expression.
MARK CHU-CARROLL: “Melodramatic jerk.”
PZ: “Hush! “Nice Jewish boy,” eh? I am OFFENDED! How dare you respect a different religious tradition, instead of bowing before mine? I can but conclude that math sucks — no other response is possible. I plan to forget algebra immediately. I shall also ignore seatbelt laws from now on. If I die in a traffic accident, it will be all your fault. Now, GO!”
The Invisible Virtual Hockey Stick of the Internet descends and with a quick slap shot sends MARK CHU-CARROLL scooting to the east.
PZ: “Perhaps one more, Invisible Virtual Hand of the Internet. Make it a good one.”
With an inaudible snap of nonexistent fingers, ROB KNOP blinks into existence before PZ, who rises and points.
PZ: “AAAAAAH! OFFENDED! OFFENDED! RECANT! REPENT!”
ROB KNOP blinks in confusion, and wipes spittle from his face.
PZ: “I don’t even know where to begin! I’m joining the Republican party! I’m taking up cross-dressing! Blood-drinking — sounds fun! Your freakish, bizarre Christian beliefs compel me to be a hardline atheist! No … I shall become a Mormon and immediately propose to both Ann Coulter and Debbie Schlussel! Aaargh, my heart! Begone!”
PZ slumps back into the throne, panting heavily. The IVHI picks up ROB KNOP by the shirt collar, and with a casual flip, tosses him over the horizon.
PZ: “Perhaps they were right.”
With a wave of his hand, PZ summons the IVHI, which swiftly reconstitutes the SUPPLICANTS from the smoke particles filling the throne room. SUPPLICANTS gibber and cling to one another in terror.
PZ: “Fear not, my loyal clients, worshipful minions, and obedient servants. You have taught me the error of my ways. Clearly, the only force that would permit other people to value science and hold socially progressive views is my personal, patent adherence to their religious ideology. Their values are so weakly held that the mere existence of an atheist who openly rejects Christianity will hurl society into bloody chaos and ravening anarchy. I’d better be very, very quiet about my denial of Christian dogma, or the religious moderates will start raping puppies and beating up science teachers.”
SUPPLICANT: “O Lord PZ…”
SUPPLICANT: “…PZ, your wisdom…”
SUPPLICANT: “…wisdom warms us,…”
SUPPLICANT: “…warms us, but…”
SUPPLICANT: “…but your sarcasm…”
SUPPLICANT: “…your goddamned overbearing sarcasm…”
SUPPLICANT: “…sarcasm pisses us off.”
(The director would like to thank the unwilling members of the Scienceblogs Players who were dragooned into appearing in this little skit. Any injuries inflicted in their brusque dismissals are entirely virtual and invisible and we deny any responsibility for damages to persons or dignity. Their participation in this exercise does not imply in any way that they believe the existence of the godless will lead to godly puppy-raping. Supplicants were not actually incinerated, but were only mildly scorched — it was all done with CGI, and we really blew the special effects budget with that one. No hypothetical puppies are actually or virtually raped during any performance. A few kittens were sacrificed, but not very many, and we said we were sorry afterwards.)