The courtroom was a huge, Gothic masterpiece of architecture, its curving pillars driving high into the top of the building, a huge, ornate, stained glass skylight turning the air red, green and gold. Of course, it was not truly a courtroom, rather, a cathedral, as the judge had seen fit to hold the trial in God’s own house, for the purposes of his own sadistic amusement. For some reason, God was not restrained by guards, but rather, had eight armed and armoured soldiers surrounding him on all sides, to restrict his movement but not contain him too tightly. This, God suspected, was a precaution, in case he proved to be God after all. They really ought to have trussed me up like a chicken. It would have been substantially more amusing, God thought to himself, suppressing the urge to laugh. The insolence of humanity has gotten worse than I thought. They even have the nerve to worship different religions. I suppose they would have no idea that Zeus, Horus, Jupiter and all like them bent the knee to my rule. He looked up at the benches upon which the prosecution and the defence had settled, facing one another; at the faces of both the prosecution lawyer and his own, William Jennings Bryan, one of his staunchest supporters. He had vehemently denied that he needed a lawyer, but when Bryan offered to represent him, he did not pass up the opportunity. Among his defenders were William Paley, a philosopher that strongly supported his case, Dante Alighieri, possibly the greatest poet of all time, and about twenty bishops, creationists and monks. God’s heart lifted. Dante was likely to win this case for him singlehandedly. He was one of a small number of people to have seen his Kingdom of Heaven and lived to tell the tale. Plus, his skill with words had caused him to be known as the ‘Father of the Italian Language’. On the side of the prosecution were Clarence Darrow, Bryan’s sworn enemy and a cunning lawyer, Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist, and Charles Darwin. God ground his teeth at the sight of Darwin. He was the scientist that had created the concept which shone doubt on the accuracy of the creation theory in the first place; evolution. The urge to singe Darwin’s beard off of his face was almost irresistible. God chided himself silently; If you reveal your powers now, all the amusement of this trial will have gone to waste. He wished he had managed to persuade his son to turn up for the trial. But Jesus had been stubborn, and had not showed up, as he felt it was his duty to assume the stewardship of Heaven in his father’s absence, what with Michael leading the armies of heaven, Raphael running the Great Hospital, Gabriel somewhere off running errands, most like, Uriel was probably busy sunbathing 24/7 (literally, in the sun, as he was charged with the maintenance of the sun and ensuring it didn’t malfunction), Raziel barely spoke, which was probably a good thing, what with his being the master of secrets, and Azrael, although available, would not make a suitable steward, as he did not have the right mental state to rule a huge kingdom. Being in a room with him was like being chained to a chair, ten metres away from a timed bomb; there is always a large chance it will explode and kill you, but an equally large chance that you will stay alive, if a bit battered. So God grudgingly accepted Jesus’ request. There was no-one more suited to the task than his son, anyway, with the exception of Metatron, but God never truly trusted Metatron. He was a bit too powerful. He was snapped out of his thoughts by the sound of the judge, calling the court to session. “This case is to determine the innocence or guilt of Jehovah, allegedly the Master of Heaven and creator of the universe, of committing fraud,” the judge announced, with a thick Russian accent. God flinched slightly when they used his Hebrew name; names spoken in Hebrew had power, and shouldn’t just be bandied about carelessly by judges with impenetrable accents. “First, let us hear the case of the prosecution; Mr Darrow, you have the floor.”
Clarence Darrow took his place in front of the jury. He cleared his throat, and began his statement.“We are, as you know, attempting to prove God guilty of these charges of fraud, and will do so with the testimonies of our two witnesses. As my first witness, I would like to call Dr Richard Dawkins to the stand.” Dawkins strode over to the podium, with an unnerving smugness. “You are, in fact, Richard Dawkins?” Darrow asked.
“What are your beliefs on the creation of humankind?”
“I believe that life is, essentially, DNA. The process of evolution and the programming of life through DNA renders the concept of a creator God pointless. There just isn’t a need for one, as DNA works like a computer program; it is coded, and continues by itself without any prodding from a superior power.” Dawkins seemed quite pleased with himself. Darrow smiled in satisfaction, but he asked another question anyway; “What evidence is there for your theory?”
“The only actual evidence for either evolution or creation supports evolution. That is proof enough.” “Thank you, Dr Dawkins. For my next witness, I call on Charles Darwin.” Darwin walked, a little sheepishly, God noted, to the floor. “Explain to us, Mr Darwin, your theory of evolution, if you will,” Darrow was beginning to sound a little concerned, thought God. Dawkins’ lack of evidence has become a source of worry for him. This is better than I’d dared hope. Darwin coughed loudly, and about twenty seconds later, after the coughing had subsided, he spoke, a little dramatically; “The theory of evolution is, quite simply, the process through which life progresses on the Earth. When an animal or plant species is failing in its habitat, over the course of thousands and sometimes millions of years, the animal’s body will gradually change and adapt itself to its surroundings more efficiently. Thus, the adapted animals will survive, but the old, failing ones will die out. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection*.” “What evidence is there for your theory, Mr Darwin?’ “It is twofold; I have examined certain species of finch in the Galapagos Islands, and each species has, although still the same type of bird, evolved its own unique beak shape for a particular food type, thus proving that animals can adapt for survival. This was in fact what led me to formulate my theory. Also, I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars*. It would have been enormously sadistic, and not in fact beneficent at all.” Darrow had a very visible smirk on his face at this point. “Thank you, Mr Darwin. That will be all, your Honour.” The judge raised his eyebrow, but didn’t comment.
“Would you like to cross-examine any of Darrow’s witnesses, Mr Bryan?” Bryan shook his head. “In that case, it is time for the case of the defence. Mr Bryan, you have the floor.”
Bryan stood up, and announced, “We are here to prove that God is not guilty of fraud, and that the firmly held belief of millions, nay, billions of people throughout history is correct. For my first witness, I call William Paley to the stand.”
Paley walked, annoyingly slowly, to the podium. God supposed this made sense, as he had been dead for a while, and the resurrection and rejuvenation process was quite jarring. He would know, as he invented the process himself, with the help of Azrael and Raphael. Paley eventually got there, and Bryan stood on the other side of the podium. “Explain to us, your Watchmaker analogy,” Bryan told him.
Paley entered a coughing fit not unlike Darwin’s. Yet another unfortunate side effect of resurrection. “Imagine, walking along a path one day, and seeing a watch on the ground. You pick it up, and open it. Your immediate thought is that it was designed and created by an engineer or inventor, not that it had just appeared there. Why, then, is it impossible for people like Darwin or Dawkins to view the world in a similar light, for it is even more intricate and complicated.”
“Thank you, Mr Paley. My next witness is-“
“Hold it there, Mr Bryan,” Darrow was on his feet now, “Have you any evidence that God is actually the great creator, or is this all based in ridiculous beliefs?”
Bryan’s face had begun to turn purple with rage at being interrupted. “I didn’t see Dawkins giving any evidence. Therefore surely his testimony is just an unproven belief also?” spat Bryan.
“Darwin gave enough evidence to support Dawkins well enough. But your entire premise is based on the unproven, so your next witness isn’t going to much help either,” shot back Darrow. God sighed exasperatedly. I create a species, intending it to be perfect, and yet their biggest weakness, their ego, constantly slaps me in the face and reminds me of my failure. Maybe I should have sent the flood to the entire world, not just Palestine, he thought. The judge, at this point, called for order, and for Bryan to call on his second witness. Bryan did so gladly, smirking at Darrow for his being rather humiliatingly told to shut up in court. “I call to the stand Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language.” As the trial was taking place in the 21st century, and Dante had died in 1321, he could not be resurrected, and so the closest to the real Dante they could get was his spirit. God had gotten Azrael to pull some strings and get him out of Heaven, and Raziel had ensured that everyone but God and Bryan thought he had been properly resurrected. God had planned this trial meticulously in the days leading up to it, to ensure that it all worked in his favour. After Dante had floated over to the witness stand, Bryan addressed him with a nod. “I am correct when I say that you are Dante, author of the Divine Comedy, in which, during the Paradiso volume, you describe your journey through Heaven?”
“Si, I am Dante.” Dante kept his answer concise, the sign of one that had experience in a courtroom, which surprised God, but he kept his surprise hidden behind his usual stoic expression, and merely twitched an eyebrow. “Please describe to me, then, what the Kingdom of Heaven looked like,” Bryan queried. This was not a fantastic question, in God’s opinion, as Heaven appeared differently to every new soul or, in rare cases, visitor.
“As one who sees in dreams and wakes to find the emotional impression of his vision still powerful while its parts fade from his mind – Just such am I, having lost nearly all the vision itself, while in my heart I feel the sweetness of it yet distill and fall*.” God could understand why this man was considered a legend in Italy. However, there was a bit of a problem with his answer. Darrow capitalised on this immediately. “So what you are saying is that you cannot remember what Heaven looked like, and the only thing you can remember is something anyone could read out of a Bible any day of the week. Once again, there has been absolutely no evidence provided by your witness, and therefore he has been utterly, incalculably useless to you.” Bryan could not think of any adequate response to this, but Dante could. “There should not need to be any evidence for a concept that is, in its nature, not of this Earth, as no earthly evidence could truly be relevant to it. It is blasphemy to even suggest that a being as magnificent as God has somehow committed a crime.” Sycophantic and annoying though they were, medieval humans would always be appreciated by God for their unrelenting insistence that he existed. Dante was no exception to the norm in this case. The judge banged his gavel for some reason known only in his mind. “As you all know, due to the bias that would come from creating a jury for this case, I shall decide whether God is in fact innocent or guilty. I believe I have reached a verdict, after having heard the cases of both sides. I declare the defendant to be guilty of the charge of fraud, due to the defence’s incapacity to produce firm evidence. I therefore sentence God to ten years in prison. Would the defendant like to say anything to close the case?” There was silence, and then God laughed. A huge, booming laugh that filled the courtroom. Perhaps most importantly, a mocking laugh. “This has all been quite interesting, really. Discovering how the legal system works these days, how mistrustful the human race had become, and how, even though you’ve accused me of fraud, you still have my trial take place on the Moon and completely covered up by world governments, just in case I was who I claimed to be. Do you know what this shows me? That there are parts of you, however small, however overpowered they are by the rest of your mind, that still believe. I must say, I’d hoped for better, I mean, sure, it makes sense you would all be a little sceptical considering the lack of evidence. In a strange way, this free spirit and curiosity about your origins makes me quite proud of you. But in the beginning, when I first wrote the blueprints for humankind, I planned to create them with the intention that they’d never guess who I was.
Unfortunately, my blabbermouth son Jesus dished the dirt on me and then you all found out. It was acceptable at the time, I mean; I did have to slightly tweak the Roman’s thoughts so that they’d kill Jesus and return him to heaven as a punishment, but at the end of the day I had a large portion of humankind worshipping me, and my ego thought that was great, so I let it slide, eventually. A mere two millennia later, and most of humankind don’t believe I exist anymore. I finally decided that I would go through with my original plan and that humans would eventually forget me, and then this trial was called for and I thought I’d attend to see how it panned out. Unfortunately, as I want the gradual slide back into Atheism to continue- simply for the sake that the religion my son started has grown into something horrible, in which some unworthy Italian is picked to have a very strong and yet annoyingly unnecessary opinion in how the belief in me should work, and it’s all quite sycophantic and pathetic- I now have to kill everyone in this room. If you die with dignity, you’ll join me in Heaven. If not, then, well, Lucifer will be getting a couple of new residents in his fiery halls. Azrael, come!” the head bailiff suddenly convulsed and collapsed. A black haze formed around him, and when it cleared, his uniform had been replaced by a black suit, his hair hade turned jet black, as had his eyes, his skin was extremely pale and in his hands he held a large scythe, with a blade of pure, cold iron. With the grace of one who had spent the last two millennia honing his skills, he slashed down the other two bailiffs before they could draw their batons. Their skin and flesh disappeared into the air and their skeletons split apart on the ground. The blood on the Angel of Death’s scythe froze instantly and dropped off. Darrow, ever the brave citizen, grabbed a fountain pen and threw it at Azrael. In an effort to save him, William Paley jumped in front of the flying pen and it hit him square in the throat. Before the blood would inevitably jet out from his corpse, he dematerialized into Heaven like the two bailiffs. After seeing this, God drew a pistol from his pocket and shot Darrow in the forehead. Darrow burned away in a red cloud of hellfire, before he could hit the ground. Dante and Bryan were nowhere to be seen, and God hoped that their deaths had been valiant enough for Azrael to have sent them to Heaven. God spied the Judge, Dawkins and Darwin hiding under the prosecution’s table, and before he could shoot them, Azrael had decapitated the judge and Darwin. God stopped Azrael from killing Dawkins, and pulled him up. “You, Dawkins, I am prepared to spare, on the grounds that you are still in your original life and therefore it would be cruel to end it, plus, you are an Atheist, and so hopefully you will help to bring down the blasphemy that is the papacy of Rome. Before you say it, yes, I know the judge and the bailiffs were in their initial lives, but when they died, they went to Heaven. If you died, you would become Lucifer’s body slave. It would be even crueller to kill you, on that basis.” Dawkins nodded as if he understood, then lunged for a sharp wooden splinter and jammed it into God’s gut. God sighed deeply. “Not a fantastic idea, there, Dickie.” God slammed Dawkins’ head hard into the defence table, and Dawkins disappeared in a hellish blaze, and all that remained of his skull was a coarse white powder. God pulled the splinter out of his gut and he healed in less than five seconds. Azrael and he were the only ones left. God took one last look at the damaged courtroom, sighed again, and the room filled with a brilliant white light as God and the Angel disappeared into Heaven.
* – Actual Quote