(In one of the comment threads on my blog here the other day, the idea came up that, in The Book of Job, God and Satan act like frenemies. That notion reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in a great many years, which is a dialogue I once imagined taking place between God and the devil. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the supreme leaders of heaven and hell talking together; this is one of the ways in which I explored that. What’s interesting for me personally is that I wrote this before I was a Christian. I thought I might share it with you, insofar as I think it captures the mindset of so many non-Christians. What’s really interesting, to me, is that I’m not sure I’d write this much if any differently today.)
[GOD’S chambers. GOD is preparing for bed. There is a knock on his door, which is ajar.]
DEVIL: Hello? Divine One? Are you in there?
GOD: No. Go away.
DEVIL: (peeking in around the door anyway) Oh, you’re getting ready for bed. Please don’t let me interrupt you. (He enters.) Oh, wow. I love what you’ve done with your personal look. It’s fantastic. So primitive. And those robes! That tattered, windblown, too-wise-for-words look is just the best. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you, my friend, are an unqualified genius of fashion. You really should go into marketing, or something.
GOD: Yeah, and you should become an air conditioner salesman. Look, you can’t imagine how thrilling it is for me to once again behold your beady eyes and cloven feet, but I was about to try catching a few winks here, if you don’t mind. I know this will come as a big surprise to you, but some of us have better things to do with our time than to sit around all day listening to fires crackle.
DEVIL: Oh, my. And I’m supposed to be the uncharitable one. If only people knew.
GOD: What is it that you want?
DEVIL: Well, the most amazing rumor made its way into my little world today. And it was so arresting that I simply had to at least run it by you.
GOD: What? What have you heard?
DEVIL: Well, the way it came to me, is that sometime in the very near future, you intend to introduce an entirely new life form onto that excellent little planet you created awhile back — the one with all the water? If it’s true, then I, for one, am thrilled beyond telling. The moment I heard of the very possibility of it, I thought, that is exactly something he would do. What a creator he is! A true master. And I meant it. Giving that little guy down there—what was his name again? . . . Ahmed? . . . Avram?
GOD: (grimly) Adam.
DEVIL: Yes, of course, Adam. Giving Adam a female to play with! One of his own kind! That’s just such a wonderful, wonderful idea. So kind. So thoughtful. So generous. This is why you are where you are today.
GOD: I try.
DEVIL: Oh you do! You do! And you succeed! I, for one, thought those gargantuan, lumbering creatures you originally put on that planet were nothing short of marvelous. Maybe not too much to look at, true. And not exactly geniuses. But their size! Just magnificent. Really inspirational. I kid you not: it broke my heart when all those … what did you call them again?
DEVIL: Dinosaurs all expired in that awful way they did. Such a tragedy. But that’s all behind you now, isn’t it? Now you have this! A female version of Adam! Oh, and you will never believe what else I have heard about her.
GOD: (darkly) Do share.
DEVIL: I have heard that she is going to come as fully equipped, in her way, as is Adam — that she will be as splendid a female specimen as he is a male. Can you imagine? Well — of course you can imagine; what am I asking? It’s just mind-boggling. A complete model! Fully functional! Teeth! Sweat glands! Skin! Nerve endings. Everything — and, as I heard it, everything — that a man could want. So, you must tell me: Is this rumor true? Are you really going to add a female human to your ever-growing menagerie down there? And remember: lying is a . . . oh, what’s that mortifying word you use again? A “sin”?
DEVIL: Thank you. And I’m sure that you have many splendid qualities of your own.
GOD: (leaping up, pacing about) How in heaven’s name do you get your information? What? Do you spend half your time outside the Pearly Gates, jabbering at my angels, telling them all about what a wonderful health plan you can offer them if only they’ll turn renegade!
DEVIL: Oh, come on. I’m sure it’s no news flash to you that I hardly have to go recruiting. My friend, you must be aware of how many come to us from up here, practically begging for a change of scenery. Listen, far be it from me to tell you how to run your paradise, but have you ever thought that installing a jacuzzi or two up here might not be the worst idea in the world? A place to go dancing, maybe? A pool table? Again, it’s none of my business — but it may not be in your very best interest to keep everything up here so constant.
GOD: Oh, right. And maybe we can just turn those jacuzzis up to about a million degrees, huh? I’ll tell you what, “friend”: you worry about your domain, and I’ll worry about mine. I’m doing fine, thank you very much.
DEVIL: No argument here. I know you do very well indeed. And I certainly did not mean to imply that you are anything less than the end all and be all of all that ever was or could ever be. (Wistfully.) I can only dream of obtaining such influence myself. Well. I’ve wasted enough of your valuable time. It has been fantastic to see you again. I only stopped by to congratulate you on yet, if it’s true, another creative cosmic coup. And now, it’s off to slumberland for you; I shall impose upon you no longer. As always, the pleasure has been mine.
GOD: Tell me something I don’t know.
DEVIL: As if there could be such a thing! Ahh. If you don’t mind my saying so, it does my heart good to visit with you. You cannot imagine how dull it is, dealing with all those nasty, unimaginative little minions all day. Such back stabbers. Anyway, I’m off. Places to go, people to see. Big day tomorrow!
GOD: Damn you!
DEVIL: It’s a bit late for that now, don’t you think?
GOD: You know I’m sending the woman down tomorrow, don’t you?
DEVIL: Tomorrow? Is tomorrow really the big day?Well, you know what? Now that you mention it, I think I did hear something to that effect.
GOD: Well then, you really must reward your spy with an ice cube or something. For once, a rumor that you leeched onto is correct. But let me tell you something about Adam and Eve right now.
DEVIL: “Eve”? Is that what you’ve decided to name her? Eve? I love it! It’s so easy to spell!
GOD: Oh, shut up. I know what you’re thinking, you degenerate. You’re thinking that you’re going to go down there and turn those two into a couple of mindless, sex-crazed fornicators for you to amuse yourself with. Aren’t you? That’s exactly what you’re planning to do, isn’t it?
DEVIL: The things you accuse me of never cease to astound and dismay me. I had never imagined any such a thing.
GOD: You moron. Just because I don’t lie doesn’t mean I can’t tell when someone else is. You have “pornography” written all over your stupid face. You can’t wait to get down there to try to turn those two into a couple of raging hormone cases, so that they’ll do all that . . . all that stuff you so enjoy. Well, listen to me, hot pants: that is not going to happen. Do you understand me? Not! And do you know why that’s not going to happen?
DEVIL: How could I possibly? You’re the omnipotent one.
GOD: Because I’m going to make Adam and Eve swear to me that it won’t happen, that’s why. It’s exactly that simple. They are going to promise me that they will forever remain as chaste and pure as they day I made them, and that matter will be settled. It will be over. They would never dream of disobeying me, because they will love me, and honor me, and do everything that they possibly can to please me.
The concluding half of this post is now up; it’s “The Devil in God’s Bedroo, Part 2: The Wager.”