In honor of the holiday season, the eminent professor Ruggleteapot decided to write a book denying the existence of a supreme being.
Ruggleteapot understood that, among the cognoscenti, the question had been moot for centuries. Only fanatics, fools, and flagellants thought otherwise.
He also realized that such a book—tentatively entitled Religion is for Nincompoops—would sell like gangbusters during Christmas.
“Why are you writing about this, Jonas?” asked Dr. Ted Tunnell, his more reasonable and far less successful colleague. “It seems pretty unimportant, academically speaking.”
Ruggleteapot took a few puffs on his cherrywood pipe as he considered the question. “I’m doing it for the people,” he said. “They’re every bit as superstitious as their Neanderthal forebears, and it’s high time they stop using religion as a crutch.”
Tunnell, who had experienced a divine revelation several months ago but kept quiet about it for professional reasons, shook his head disapprovingly. “What’s so wrong with adopting an unverifiable belief? Maybe thinking it is what makes it so.”
“Don’t give me that nonsense, Theodore. That’s all well and good for an introduction to philosophy course, but both of us know that there isn’t a god,” Ruggleteapot said.
“You’re just going to be preaching to the converted. The only people who read your book will be the ones who believe in atheism.”
“Oh no, not at all. I’m introducing some new evidence and making new arguments,” said Ruggleteapot.
“Are you?” Tunnell asked. “What are they?”
“There just isn’t anything out there, Theodore,” Ruggleteapot insisted. “It’s all right in the here and now. You can’t go backwards or forwards.”
This question of God could be reduced, Tunnell thought, to a simple yes or no proposition. Yet it wasn’t a proposition in the technical sense, because it could never be true or false. To be perfectly honest, its answer didn’t matter any more than the answer to a fairy tale or a fancy work of art. “Is that what you really believe?” he asked.
“It wouldn’t change things even if I didn’t,” Ruggleteapot said.
Tunnell envisioned a monograph that would take the same lazy potshots at mistranslated, misinterpreted religious scriptures and cunning charlatans as the ones that had preceded it. “No, I can’t imagine that it would,” he said.