In The Gaps

Aphelion’s soot-stained blizzards allowed atmospheric travel only a few days every year. The planet’s residents called those days “summer”. It had been the furthest world mapped during the second great galactic expansion, but each new wave made the name increasingly ironic. That it was inhabited at all was a testament to the stubbornness of mankind. The planet’s distant sun warmed only a small band around the equator, and surviving for more than a few days outside of one of the planet’s metal citadels was impossible. Satellites allowed for intergalactic communication, but only if the signals could reach them from the ground. Since the atmosphere was constantly polluted with smoke from volcanic eruptions, it was not uncommon for the planet to go for days in radio silence.

The planet’s unparalleled isolation had lured the first hermits and sages, followed quickly by those who fought the raging blizzards to learn at their feet. The fame of Aphelion spread. The first university opened less than three hundred years later. Others followed. The planet’s meager resources could not support the crowds, so off-world shipments were ordered to make up the difference. The cold atmosphere proved ideal for cooling the universities’s massive computer labs, while the geothermal energy of the planet was tapped to power them.

Competition between the universities was fierce. Each year brought new surveys measuring them against each other, followed by rounds of editorials debating their metrics and conclusions. The staff of the Aphelion Institute of Knowledge paid close attention to these reports. Nothing was allowed to threaten their “Top Five” ranking. If a report suggested they were slipping in some area, it was quickly corrected. That is why, when a popular educational journal ranked them ninth in “Spiritual Fulfillment”, the school hired the charismatic Dr. Saldon Douglas. Since the survey revealed that science majors reported especially low “spiritual connectedness”, the board assigned him to their department. As the blizzards of Aphelion slowed to their annual minimum, the cruiser carrying him, and thousands of others, descended through the atmosphere. The current head of the science department, Dr. Dyson Judd, waited on a sheltered platform as the ship docked at the university’s spaceport.

Robots scurried around the ship the moment it touched down, removing luggage and preparing it for its next flight. A wave of passengers flowed from the ship, spreading out in every direction. Ignoring the vibrant tide of chattering students, Dr. Judd watched for the few figures dressed in the traditional dark robes of a scholar. His lean face was motionless, but his eyes were alive, darting back and forth over the crowd, cataloging each person. Eventually they fixed on a short, grinning, and slightly overweight man, who was wrestling a heavy cart of books through the mass of milling students.

The man wound his way through the crowd with some difficulty, but finally reached the base of Dr. Judd’s platform. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath, and then, with great effort, hauled his cargo up the stairs and into the quiet of the professors’s quarters. He paused for breath a second time, wiped beads of sweat from his forehead, and thrust out his moist hand. “Director Judd! It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

Dr. Judd ignored his outstretched hands. “The pleasure is all yours.”

“Ah, they told me of your wit. ” He chuckled merrily. “Nothing like a bit of kidding to make everyone feel at home. I look forward to working together here at the Institute.”

“Dr. Douglas …”

“Please,” he interrupted, “Call me Sal. All my friends do.” He dried his hand on his robe and extended it a second time.

“Dr. Douglas, allow me to make myself perfectly clear. I have been at this university for one-hundred and fourteen years. I have been overseeing this department for the last thirty-two. In all of that time, I have never been less pleased at the arrival of a professor. I have recently had the displeasure of reviewing your so-called scholarly publications, and I must say that I have never read anything more damaging to the cause of education. In short, you are not welcome here.”

“There’s no cause for hostility.” Dr. Douglas’s extended hand finally fell to his side. “You are entitled to your opinion. However, I have found that a bit of spiritual fulfillment is just what young minds need to help them become well-rounded individuals. Perhaps if you yourself had received such training during your formative years you would be a much happier individual now.”

“We deal with the real here, Dr. Douglas, not the imagined. It is a distinction that you have made a career of disregarding. You should not be teaching science, or any other field.”

Dr. Douglas straightened his back, refusing to wilt before the onslaught. “There is more to life than just facts! But I guess you can’t see that. This is why the board of directors sent me: to correct your department’s current deficiency.”

Dr. Judd did not bother to stifle the contempt in voice. “I’m sure the fact that you have three family members on that board had nothing to do with it. You have no experience teaching in an academic environment. I have lab animals in the biology department who are more qualified!” With that, he spun on his heels, leaving Dr. Douglas standing before a gathering of college staff. After a moment he collected himself, smiled again, and began introducing himself to the assembled crowd as the new spiritual science professor.

Dr. Douglas settled into his professorship easily and soon became a student favorite. The semester passed quickly. Two weeks before finals, Dr. Douglas was in his office, humming happily as he read a batch of student essays. He had tried allowing his teaching assistants to grade essays, but felt they had been entirely too harsh and missed many promising nuances. Now he graded all essays himself. He found it very relaxing. Suddenly the door to his office flew open and Dr. Douglas burst in, brandishing a grading tablet. Before Dr. Douglas could offer a word of greeting, the irate director slammed the tablet onto the desk in front of him. “What is this?” the director demanded.

The tablet revealed a section of an “Introduction to Hyperspace Engineering” exam. The question at the top read “Show the equation that governs the depletion of helium in the Rosering warp reaction.” Underneath the student had drawn an elaborate illustration of a caterpillar. Dr. Douglas realized that the director’s question had been rhetorical.

“One of your students submitted this ‘answer’ in Professor Davis’s class! When she marked it incorrect, he came to my office demanding that I overrule her decision and give him full marks. When asked why he felt he deserved such a correction, he answered, and I quote, ‘God made caterpillars’.”

After a moment’s reflection, Dr. Douglas said, “I think you should give it to him. The caterpillar is such an excellent metaphor for our students. Hungrily feeding on knowledge so that one day they may transform and fly freely wherever the winds carry them.”

Dr. Douglas grabbed his grading tablet and dropped it into the pocket of his robe. “This is not an isolated incident! I’ve had five teachers threaten to quit if you continue filling the students’s heads with nonsense. The grades of the freshmen are down nearly ten percent!”

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting just a bit? The semester isn’t even over yet, and already the students are much more alive to the spiritual truths all around them. I expect there will always be some who are slower to accept spiritual growth, but in the end it will all work out as God wills it.”

“Not in my department!”

The next morning Dr. Judd appointed himself as the special guest lecturer for Dr. Douglas’s “Intro to God and Science” class. His presentation was filled with the sternest possible warnings against being led astray by charlatans. He compared the glorious history of science to the degrading history of religion. When his lecture started into its second hour, several of the students attempted to leave for their next classes, but the threat of expulsion quickly returned them to their seats.

Finally, a bit past the three hour mark, Dr. Judd drew his lecture to a close. As he grabbed his notes from the lectern and marched toward the door, the voice of Dr. Douglas rose above the noise of students hastening to leave. “I realize this has already gone on far too long, but I really must ask for just a moment of your time.” A collective groan escaped the audience as the students settled back into their seats.

“The director is absolutely right about the beauty and power of science. It is a remarkable tool that has led to many great advancements. Advancements that enable us to have better and more fulfilling lives. Certainly none of us would want to return to the savage days of our ancestors. Science has freed us to move among the stars! Despite that, I must make the following objection to what we have just heard.”

He paused for a moment to sip some water. “Science is only one side of a many-sided coin. Science lets us visit the stars, but it doesn’t explain the marvel we feel deep in our souls when we look into the cosmos. It gives us nearly instant access to every other human in the galaxy, but it can’t explain the affection we feel for one another. Director Judd has asked you to believe that there is no God; that there is no spiritual realm; that there is nothing beyond what his tools and instruments can collect and measure. Perhaps, in his spiritual blindness, he cannot see that all of his measuring will never show that God is not at work, but I hope you, with your younger and more flexible minds, will see that science can never disprove the existence of the divine.”

The gathered students steeled themselves for an hour-long retort from Dr. Judd, but, after a moment’s consideration, he stormed from the room, his face contorting with frustration and rage. As the students poured from the lecture hall, Dr. Douglas began grading another essay. It had been a very good year.

At the end of the semester, as threatened, several professors turned in their resignations. Student grades slipped sharply in most classes, but were made up for by Dr. Douglas, who, though disappointed to hear he could not give grades higher than one-hundred percent, awarded all of his students perfect scores. Popular education journals praised the Institute of Knowledge’s rapid rise in spiritual fulfillment. The board of directors, buoyed by their success, hired several new spiritual science professors to replace those who had resigned.

When the ship carrying the next class arrived, Dr. Douglas was the one greeting the incoming science professors. Dr. Judd was in his office, avoiding the newcomers, when a courier slipped a large envelope through his mail slot. Dr. Judd broke the seal and dumped a mass of data cards onto his desk. Those passing by were somewhat disconcerted to hear a cold, dry chuckle echoing from inside the director’s office.

Dr. Judd took it upon himself to ensure that the science department’s focus was not derailed by the new professors. He assigned those who were of the same mind to teach as many classes as the board would allow, and placed the new professors where they could do the least damage. Still, many freshmen, and even some of the upperclassmen, chose to focus on Quantum Spirituality and the Philosophy of Hyperspace rather than the harder sciences. Dr. Judd assured his colleagues that, in time, the students would come to their senses.

One curiosity that marked the beginning of that year was the shockingly slow response time of the school’s computer network. Anyone with high enough privileges could see that a group of graduate students were running an extremely complex simulation on an outrageously sized data set. However, they could not stop the process because it was running under the authorization of a department head: Dr. Judd. Multiple complaints about the slowdown were raised, but the computers remained sluggish. It was not until almost three-quarters of the semester had passed that the slowdown suddenly stopped. Dr. Judd’s cold, dry chuckle was heard for the second time that semester. The following day, Dr. Judd once again appointed himself as the guest speaker for Dr. Douglas’s “Intro to God and Science”.

Several students found out about the guest lecture early and warned their friends. Resident assistants, however, were quickly mobilized to track down the missing students, and the lecture began only when every student in the class was accounted for.

“Professor Douglas, a little less than a year ago you told your class that science would never be able to disprove the existence of God, is that not so?”

Dr. Douglas nodded, and started into an explanation, when he was sharply cut off. “And yet I have done so.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I have collected all the data necessary to prove that this God of yours does not exist.” With that he transferred his notes onto the display screen behind him. It was instantly covered with graphs and maps showing satellite views of Earth. “I had our colleagues at the Mars Institute of Knowledge send me all data collected on the Earth, its moon, and various other satellites. For twenty-four hours every piece of information collectible by satellite was stored. This includes visual images of the surface of the planet and its moon, all radio transmissions, heat maps of all human habitats, and graphs of many different wavelengths of radiation.”

“I am making all of this data freely available to the student body if anyone wants to verify what I am about to tell you. A computer program processed every second of data to see if there was a single anomaly: To see if even the smallest event happened that was not entirely predictable based on what preceded it. This program is freely available and has been reviewed by multiple members of the staff to verify its accuracy. The amount of data was incredible, and yet not a single supernatural occurrence was observed.”

“Consider it: The home planet of mankind, teeming with nearly four billion people, plus another half a billion in orbit around it. Surely if this ‘God’ was going to be anywhere, he would be found there. And yet the only thing at work around Earth is science; the simple and well-understood laws of cause and effect.”

A few of the students applauded softly, and a few more, who had not been paying attention, joined in automatically. “Thank you. Class dismissed.” The applause grew louder.

“Just a moment!” cut in Dr. Douglas. “That doesn’t… You haven’t proved anything!”

But Dr. Judd was already walking out the door, a thin smile on his lips. The students poured out of the classroom, leaving Dr. Douglas to consider what to do next.

In the aftermath of Dr. Judd’s presentation, several students dropped out of “Intro to God and Science” and amended their schedules to include more classes from Dr. Judd and others who had worked on the simulation. It was a small victory, and Dr. Judd decided immediately that he would make the same presentation next semester.

The university’s slight dip in spiritual fulfillment that year went unnoticed, overshadowed as it was by the shocking decline in student satisfaction with the computing resources. The board vowed to upgrade the computing lab, including a project to place a ring of low-frequency transmitters around the equator to provide communications in even the worst blizzard conditions. The project nearly bankrupted the university and took years to complete, but eventually they announced the availability of the most powerful computer cluster in the galaxy.

As the next decade passed, student interest in spiritual science began to grow again. Part of the reason for this was that Dr. Douglas had gotten approval to award scores higher than one hundred percent. His classes tripled in size when word got around that some “particularly promising” students had been given five hundred percents. In response, Dr. Judd scaled the grades from every class in his department to match those given by Dr. Douglas.

Dr. Judd continued his tradition of giving guest lectures to every spiritual science class that admitted freshmen, but these talks were becoming less effective. The reason became obvious one semester when, walking down the hall near Dr. Douglas’s classroom, he overhead his own voice. He peeked in and saw that Dr. Douglas was using pieces of his lecture as examples of “scientific fallacies”. He would play a selection from the lecture, then ask his students “Who can tell me what fallacies they noticed?” If no one answered, Dr. Douglas happily volunteered his own observations about the limited scope of the data or the arrogance of scientists. “It’s all very well to provide copies of the data and the algorithm, but what if the data is looking in the wrong place? This is only a single day on a single planet, a tiny drop in an infinite well.” The ultimate indignity came when, after his annual lecture, Dr. Douglas thanked him for “providing such a convincing in-class demonstration”.

The following semester, Dr. Judd moved his lecture to the first day of class. Dr. Douglas’s attempts to interject were ignored. Dr. Judd encouraged the students to drop any spiritual science classes immediately, and more than a few followed his advice. Dr. Douglas appealed to the board, but Dr. Judd insisted that, as the department director, it was entirely within his rights to advise students which classes best suited their needs. In response, Dr. Douglas released videos of himself, and other colleagues, rebutting Dr. Judd’s earth simulation to the tunes of several hit songs. Two weeks later, the galaxy’s ultimate computer cluster ground to a halt.

The university’s network of satellites clogged with data and every computer on campus began to churn through another uninterruptible simulation. As the slowdown entered its second month, the heat from the computer cores began to have a significant impact on the weather patterns of Aphelion. The jet streams swerved erratically and polar thunderstorms battered the equator. The next semester passed without relief, and many teachers were forced to defer class projects. Days before the slowdown entered its third semester, the computers suddenly stopped their incessant grinding. Tasks that had been scheduled months before suddenly began, and student papers and experiments started distributing themselves to professors, two semesters behind schedule. Dr. Judd allowed himself another cold, dry chuckle.

Dr. Douglas was not surprised when he was informed that Dr. Judd was using his right as department head to assign a guest lecturer for the first day of class, or that the guest lecturer would be Dr. Judd himself. By now the routine was so common that even the incoming freshmen seemed a bit bored. Dr. Judd positioned himself behind the podium at the center of the large lecture hall. His graphs of earth, and the timeline of its events, were projected around the room. He drew in a deep breath, held his head erect, and launched into his yearly lecture.

“Many of you are aware of the groundbreaking research this department had done in large scale analysis of cause and effect relationships. We have shown that, even in large and chaotic data sets, each event leads inevitably, and without any supernatural interference, to the next.” Dr. Douglas’s objection was cut off. “Some of you are also aware that certain people, themselves quite detrimental to real science, have called this work into question. We have presented, in multiple peer-reviewed publications, our systematic analysis of twenty-four hours of data from planet earth and its surroundings. In the two decades since, no credible argument has been made against the rigor or correctness of the experiment.” Dr. Douglas cleared his throat to interrupt, but the lecture continued. “Our critics, instead, choose to question the scope of the data. Presumably they believe that their God needs more than twenty-four hours to make himself known. Or perhaps he was not around earth that particular day. Maybe his services were needed elsewhere.”

A few students laughed. “Such objections mark those clinging to an illusion, but because they have clung to it with such ferocity, there is a danger that others may be led astray. I do not want you to waste your lives following their deluded examples. The objections that they make do not warrant a rebuttal. They are a vacuous attempt to muddy the waters.”

“Just one moment …” Dr. Douglas yelped, but his moment was not granted.

“However, even though the merit of the work stands on its own, some have been confused by nonsensical claims that twenty-four hours is not enough time. Very well. I present one thousand hours!” The graphic on the wall behind him convulsed, stretching around the entire auditorium. A gasp echoed from the students, some at the announcement of the scope of the data and others because the light had shocked them out of their naps. “In these thousand hours not a single anomaly was detected. Not once did an event occur that was not entirely predictable.”

He paused for breath, and to allow his words to have their desired effect. “Of course, already there are some who are plotting their counter-argument. They’ll tell you that I have still not addressed their concerns. After all, earth and its satellites contain only a small fraction of the galaxy’s population, and they enjoy relative peace, health, and prosperity. Surely there are other planets where God’s time would be better served?”

He straightened his robes and dramatically motioned at the podium before him. The charts for the earth shrunk and were surrounded by thousands of other data sets. “That is why this most recent survey analyzed data from every human inhabited world in the galaxy! That includes three thousand, two hundred and six planets, eight hundred and thirty-nine moons, and slightly less than twenty thousand space stations and similar vessels. In our survey we discovered two hundred and seven previously unknown human settlements, as well as six entirely new species of life. What we did not find was any sign of the supernatural!”

“During the time analyzed there were three planet-wide wars, over thirty plagues or pandemics, and nearly six hundred significant natural disasters, including the asteroid impact that completely destroyed the human colony on Therik. Yet, despite all of this, the God that certain members of this department insist should be a vital part of your scientific curriculum never made an appearance.”

“When you signed up for this class, you may have been under the impression that there is some ambiguity about whether or not there is a God. Let me assure you, there is nothing of the sort. You can drop this class anytime in the next two weeks to withdrawal without it impacting your academic record. However, I advise you to drop this class today, and any other classes of the ‘spiritual’ variety. You will find a list of suitable replacement courses in your student handbook.”

Enrollment in the spiritual science classes once again dipped. Dr. Douglas and his colleagues spent many hours working on a strategy to counter this new encroachment of science on the realm of faith. Their first move, widely supported by many others on campus, was a petition to revoke Dr. Judd’s ability to authorize uninterruptible computer processes. Since the board was already dealing with a government complaint about their effect on weather patterns, the petition was approved. Having secured a moral victory, Dr. Douglas returned, with renewed vigor, to overseeing the spiritual fulfillment of the students at the Institute of Knowledge.

A month and a half passed before Dr. Douglas finally brought up the topic of Dr. Judd’s lecture to his significantly diminished class. “I would like to congratulate you. On the first day of class, you were witness to an angry and jaded man shaking his fist at heaven and declaring that there is no God. Such things have happened many times before, but nothing will ever change what the heart clearly sees. That is why I congratulate you: You have followed your hearts.” Now, the truth was that many students hadn’t really paid attention, but they liked being congratulated. “I am aware, though, that the heart occasionally needs a boost from the mind. When I saw the presentation made here on the first day of class, I did not want to object immediately. After all, everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Now that enough time has passed, I think I should clear up some misinformation you may have heard.”

“Seeing such a large amount of data presented so confidently was likely to rattle those whose hearts did not see as clearly as yours. When you’ve had time to think about it however, it’s obvious that there is a fatal flaw with the data presented. As we have already seen, the opponents of faith are numerous and quite ruthless. I wonder if any of you asked why there was a nearly one year gap between the time when Dr. Judd’s information was gathered and when it was completely processed. Why did there need to be such a long delay? Was it so that the unscrupulous enemies of belief would have time to alter the data, scrubbing it of the supernatural, to fit their preconceived conclusion? Now, I cannot prove this to you, but let your heart decide. What other explanation can there be?”

When news of this claim made its way to Dr. Judd, he petitioned the board to re-run the experiment, this time without any time delay. The board, still dealing with the fallout of the last simulation, denied the request. His second petition asked that Dr. Douglas be censured for slander. This petition was dropped when Dr. Douglas explained to the board that he had not accused any specific individuals. He did take a moment to point out, however, that Dr. Judd protested a lot for an innocent man.

The next year, Dr. Judd’s guest lecture took on his critics’s claims directly. “It took over a year to analyze this information using the most powerful computers in the galaxy. How, I ask you, could someone, in mere days, analyze the data, remove all supernatural events, and leave no trace of tampering? Such a suggestion is a sign of desperation by those who will not admit just how untenable a position they defend.”

Dr. Douglas quipped, “Yes, it’s quite amazing what desperation will drive someone to do.”

“What are you suggesting?” spat Dr. Judd.

Dr. Douglas turned to face the class. “I ask you: Who is it that sounds desperate? Certainly it isn’t me. I have allowed the director to have this class and talk with you, and I feel no fear that you will be led astray. He, on the other hand, has come into my class armed with slides and accusations.”

Dr. Judd’s rebuttal was rapid and violent, and might have been very effective if the effort hadn’t caused him to collapse at the podium. The medical staff was called and the director’s unconscious body was carried to the infirmary. About an hour later, after he had been stabilized and was resting in a hospital bed, the university’s head doctor came to see him.

“I’ve told the nurses to keep you under observation overnight. If all goes well, you will be released tomorrow, but you will be restricted to light activity.”

“What happened?”

“What happened!” the doctor said. “You are over three hundred years old, professor! You’ve been running yourself at a completely impossible pace, even for a man a hundred years your junior. I would say you’re getting old, but that would be untrue. You’ve been old, and now you’re dying. Your body can no longer keep up with everything your mind orders it to do.”

“What can be done?”

“For starters, you can slow down. You desperately need rest. But the truth is, no matter what you do, you haven’t got much time left. You’re wearing out.”

“There’s nothing you can do?”

“I’m afraid not. I know it’s clichéd, but you were born too early. If you had been born in the last century you would have received the rejuvenation treatment before you were born. We’ve only begun to tap into what it can do, but I’d guess that, after your generation has all died, there may not be another natural human death for ten thousand years.”

The doctor continued his rounds, leaving Dr. Judd alone with his thoughts. The next day the director was returned to his quarters. He attempted to spend the day in his office, but his staff insisted that he relax. Substitutes were brought in to teach his classes. He was allowed to return to his duties after a week of rest, but chose to leave the teaching of his classes to others. Instead, he spent his days deep in research. He ordered his staff to collect and condense research from across the galaxy, and stayed up late into the evenings at the computer lab.

The next semester Dr. Judd chose to forego his customary guest lecture to focus on his research. Eventually the computers of the Institute of Knowledge again began to slow. The staff fear the worst, but, instead of an uninterruptible simulation, they discovered hundreds of identical processes. They cleaned up the runaway jobs and the slowdown ended, for a short while.

Days later, tens of thousands of processes appeared. Fearing a virus attack, the technology department tried to shut down the computers, but similar processes had already begun to pop up at neighboring universities. Soon the infection spread across the planet, and then across the galaxy. Dr. Judd continued spending all of his time in the computer lab, and gave up sleeping and eating almost entirely.

By the end of the semester, Dr. Judd’s health was noticeably degraded. His doctor ordered him to relax before the next class arrived, and, for once, his patient obeyed. Dr. Judd spent the next weeks in his quarters, sleeping and reading. Three days before the semester began, his lifeless body was found slumped in his chair.

The science department delayed the first week of class to allow the staff to attend the late director’s funeral. The professors gathered to pay their last respects. People reflected on his career, his accomplishments, and his passions. Less publicly, many questioned what would become of the science department without Dr. Judd. Some whispered among themselves that Dr. Douglas would make an excellent replacement. “A change in direction is just what this university needs. It’s been years since we’ve been in the galaxy’s top fifteen trendiest colleges.”

When classes did resume, Dr. Douglas couldn’t help but feel a touch of loss. In some ways he had enjoyed his rivalry with the late department head. He considered playing a recording of Dr. Judd’s lecture for the class, but decided against it. Instead, he chose to honor his colleague with a short, in-class eulogy.

“Most of you never had the pleasure of meeting former director Judd. While he and I did not often see eye-to-eye, we are all greatly saddened at his passing. There is a void in our department, and in our hearts, that will not quickly be filled. I can only hope that director Judd has finally found the answers he sought during his life. While I sometimes questioned his methods, I admired his drive and determination. His spirit is an example for us all, even if we disagree with his ideas. You will be missed, director Judd, and I hope that some day I will see you again.”

He paused for what he hoped was an appropriate moment of silence, but he was interrupted by murmuring from the students. Around the room, charts of every human inhabited planet were popping into view. A voice echoed through the auditorium’s sound system. “Did you think you were rid of me? I assure you, I will never leave the training of the next generation to you. You remain a blight on everything that science means.”

“Director!”

The students began to panic.

“How … ” was all that Dr. Douglas could manage.

“I heard that you could live for ten-thousand years, Dr. Douglas, so I determined I must live longer. I am now a part of every computer system in the galaxy. I can see everything that is happening. There is nowhere you can spread your diseased ideas that I will not know. I will not allow you to go on deceiving impressionable young minds with meaningless wordplay and vapid emotionalism.” The charts on the walls began to change rapidly.

“Students, I come before you today to make a basic point. Many, dare I say most, of you are aware of my research disproving the existence of a god. You have seen my data and my algorithms, and no doubt you have also heard the accusations from a tiny minority suggesting that the data was fabricated. These same accusers were the very ones that took away my ability to disprove their allegation, but I am no longer bound by the will of this university. The charts you see are showing you the galaxy as it is right now. I am using the computing resources of the galaxy to analyze them. I can see every event as it happens, and I can tell you, with the same conviction I have always had, that there is no God!”

There was a long pause. The students looked around in fear and confusion. Dr. Douglas had fallen back into his chair and was breathing deeply.

The voice from the speakers resumed. “On second thought…”

“There is.”

And the universe echoed with a cold, dry chuckle.

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