SUPER BEING: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me!”

NON-SUPER BEING: “Well, ok. But that’s kind of presumptuous. I mean, what if I worship no gods at all because I’m not persuaded there are any or that they deserve worshipping?”

SUPER BEING: “But I am the Lord thy God and I am a jealous God!”

NON-SUPER BEING: “So having me acknowledge that you are God is more for your sake than mine? Here you are demanding that I believe you are the one and only God, while I make no demands what you or anyone else believes about me. Or anyone else. I think everyone is free to think what they want about any and all subjects, though I might disagree with some beliefs, or some arguments, or some doctrines, sometimes.”

SUPER BEING: “I am the Alpha and Omega, and therefore it is only through me that you might possibly know the right way of life.”

NON-SUPER BEING: “I am not sure how you provide a model, for me, of the right way of life. You are eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, after all. Or at least you claim to be. I cannot know if your claims are true because I am certainly not omniscient.

“I am also neither omnipotent nor omnibenevolent. I like to believe that my soul is eternal, but I do not know with perfect certainty that is true. That’s why I ask many questions and listen to different points of view.

“We are very different from each other in a number of ways, including that you will rule the entire universe forever, without any serious challenge, AND you know it. There’s no risk in anything you do. You’ve never had to muster courage in the face of uncertainty and fear because you’ve never experienced uncertainty or fear. So it’s very unclear how you, as a Super Being, provide a model for us Non-Super Beings.”

SUPER BEING: “You are Non-Super, which means you will sin. By my own definition, anyone who contradicts my Super Will—in speech, action, or thought—has sinned. I alone, therefore, have the power to forgive you. But you must believe that I am the one and only God if you want to be forgiven.”

NON-SUPER BEING: “Why is forgiveness contingent upon what I do or do not believe about you or any other subject? We Non-Super Beings forgive each other all the time without demanding certain beliefs from those we forgive. If we Non-Super Beings are able to forgive just because we can and we care—regardless of what those we love believe about us or anything else—why cannot or will not a Super Being do the same?

“Further, what if I don’t care about being forgiven by you? You define sin as anything that contradicts your will. Very well. What if I have questions about whether that is good? What if I try to live best I can, with my own limited understanding of the world, always learning when I can, improving when I’m able, and making the best of life for myself and those close to me? Wouldn’t a Super Being just appreciate that effort from a lesser being who’s neither omniscient nor omnipotent?”

SUPER BEING: “But am omniscient and omnipotent and omnibenevolent!”

NON-SUPER BEING: “Right. That’s why I am not much impressed. Anything you do, no matter how great the feat, is pretty much to be expected from a Super Being. I mean, what else would a Super Being do other than be Super and do Super Great things?

“But you can be impressed by me. As a mere mortal with no foreknowledge of the future, no unlimited powers, and more temptations than any other being has ever experienced, I get plenty of things wrong. I make all kinds of bad choices.

“But when I manage to get something right and do something good, it’s not because I have Super powers. It’s because I am a very Non-Super Being who struggles against great odds and still manages to do right and good.

“The very possibility of virtue, nobility, and magnanimity requires genuine temptation and the freedom to fail, morally. If your power, your will, your benevolence, and your goodness are the same thing, then you cannot fail, morally. You cannot do something immoral. You cannot fall short of any moral standard of right and wrong. You are the moral standard of right and wrong! And if you cannot fail, morally, then you cannot experience nobility or magnanimity. You cannot know the challenge of choosing right when it’s so tempting to choose the opposite.”

SUPER BEING: “Indeed, you Non-Super Beings have many challenges a Super Being does not.”

NON-SUPER BEING: “Exactly. So cut me some slack and while I believe what my mind finds to be true. Go enjoy being the most Super of all Super Beings in the world.”

SUPER BEING: “Aw, shucks. I kinda like you, whether you believe I’m the one and only God or not.”

NON-SUPER BEING: “I like you too. Glad we had this talk. Let’s keep talking. If you are correct that my soul is eternal, then we have all the time in the world for you to persuade me of what you claim is true—and all the time in the world for me to ask questions.”