Friday, 6 July 2012

Despair, A Play in One Act

[It is a beautiful spring day. Two people sit on a park bench, enjoying the gentle sunshine.  One is a dishevelled, slightly grouchy and somewhat indistinct personage – “neopolitan”.  The other is a bronzed Adonis, supremely confident with his chiselled good looks and pearly white teeth – “William Lane Craig”.  Shortly after the curtain opens, neopolitan removes a block of chocolate from a bag at his side and thus draws William Lane Craig’s attention.]

William Lane Craig (WLC): Oh my, you must be devastated!

neopolitan (neo): Excuse me?

WLC: You must be overwhelmed by despair.

neo: I’m not following you.

WLC: The chocolate …

neo (holding the block of chocolate up): Yes, would you like some?  “Old Jamaica”, my favourite!

WLC (waving away the offer of chocolate): Oh no.  You do realise that when you have finished that chocolate, you’ll have none left?

neo (furrowing eyebrows, beginning to open packaging): Um, ye-es.

WLC: So how can you enjoy the chocolate now, knowing that soon, you will have no chocolate.  Isn’t that intensely depressing for you?

neo (taking on a slight trapped expression, glancing around for potential support): Um, no, this is a big block of chocolate.  I won’t finish it all right now.  You can have some if you want?

WLC (shaking head): No, no no no.  But later, you’ll have eaten all the chocolate and it will be gone, it will all have been meaningless.  Doesn’t that make you just want to shrivel up inside, like a puppy that’s been left in the sun too long?

neo: A puppy?

WLC: I don’t mean puppy as a young dog of course, I meant something else – an intermediate state between a caterpillar and a butterfly.

neo: A pupae?

WLC: Maybe.  But let’s leave all of this science aside.  Admit it, you feel the icy tendrils of despair!  You are devastated, without a goal, or purpose, or value, because you know – deep in your heart – that soon you will be without chocolate.

neo: I could buy some more …

WLC: Ah, but that is just replacing this block of meaningless chocolate with another block of meaningless chocolate.  Don’t you wish for more?

neo: Um, no …not right now.

WLC: You need not succumb to despair, my friend …

neo: I’m not succumbing to despair …

WLC (warming to topic, becoming more animated): … because I can tell you that when all your chocolate is gone, you can have magic chocolate!

neo (somewhat sceptical): Magic chocolate?

WLC: Yes, my friend, magic chocolate.  It is possible that maximally delicious magic chocolate exists, therefore it must exist. [WLC performs a little flourish, demonstrating his logical prowess.]  Furthermore, without the existence of maximally delicious magic chocolate, life would have no meaning, which further proves the existence of maximally delicious magic chocolate.

neo (increasingly sceptical): I’m not sure that …

WLC: You want more?  Okay.  Where does chocolate come from, huh?  Everything that exists has a cause, therefore maximally delicious magic chocolate created chocolate and therefore must exist, because chocolate clearly exists. [WLC repeats the little flourish.]  There simply is no other easily understood explanation!

neo: Well, actually, Cadbury make it …

WLC: You’ve provided no evidence!  No evidence whatsoever!

neo (looking at wrist, on which there is clearly no watch): Oh, look at the time!  I really must be …

WLC: The magic chocolate, you are denying the magic chocolate!  How can you justify that?

neo: No, I just don’t believe …

WLC (accusingly): You’re an acocoist!  You believe that there is no magic chocolate.  This is an intellectually untenable, nay an intellectually dishonest position for you to take, you simply have no proof.  You have provided absolutely no evidence for your world view and you have not even attempted to address my points ...

neo: I really must be …

WLC: Morality then.

neo: Excuse me?

WLC: How can you claim to be moral without magic chocolate?  You have no rational basis for your morality at all.

neo: What?

WLC: Without magic chocolate, there can be no objective moral values and duties.  There are objective moral values and duties.  Therefore magic chocolate exists! [WLC repeats the little flourish.

neo: Hang on, there’s something wrong with that …

WLC: And magic chocolate is infinite!

neo: Infinite …?

WLC: You won’t need to eat anything else for the rest of time!

neo: Um, I don’t know that I’d want to eat chocolate for the rest …

WLC: You would with magic chocolate! With magic chocolate, it’ll be all you’ll ever want.  You won’t have to eat anything else!

neo: What?  But, what about … Thai food?  I love Thai food!

WLC: Not once you’ve had magic chocolate.  You won’t need to eat Thai food!

neo: But I want to be able to eat Thai food sometimes.

WLC: You won’t with magic chocolate!

neo (pausing to gather thoughts): So I’ll just eat chocolate?

WLC: Yah.

neo: Won’t I get sick?

WLC: Not with magic chocolate.

neo: Won’t all my teeth rot?

WLC: Not with magic chocolate.

neo: Won’t I get fat?

WLC: Nope, I keep telling you.  Not with magic chocolate!

neo: But my continual consumption of chocolate will stimulate the arcuate nucleus of my hypothalamus which, over a period of time, will progressively lower my desire for chocolate until I begin to actively loathe it.

WLC: Not with, um … [WLC looks confused momentarily, then decides to change tack.]  Throw away your chocolate!

neo: What?

WLC (somewhat animated now):  Throw away your chocolate!  Those who are obsessed with worldly chocolate shall not taste the velvety goodness of the magic chocolate.  Repent!  Accept the True Word or you shall never partake of the magic chocolate.

neo: I’m not obsessed with … Hang on, I thought you said I could get magic chocolate when I’ve finished this chocolate?

WLC: Oh no, you have follow the rules.  [WLC wags his finger to emphasise.]  No magic chocolate unless you follow the rules!

neo (confused and sceptical):  I have to follow the rules?  So, if I follow the rules, I get magic chocolate?

WLC (suspiciously): That depends, what does magic chocolate taste like?

neo (tentatively): I don't know, it's your magic chocolate.  [WLC peers at neopolitan, awaiting a response.]  Milk chocolate with macadamias?

WLC (forcefully):  No no NO!  That’s entirely the wrong sort of magic chocolate!  That’s a backwards, irrational, regional form of cocoism which is patently ridiculous.  Magic chocolate with macadamias in it!  I’ve never heard of anything more ludicrous!  Have you been talking to people from Queensland?

neo (defensive, but clearly uncertain as to why):  No.  Well, not about …

WLC: My proofs clearly show that magic chocolate must have cashew nuts in it.

neo: You never said anything about cashew nuts …

WLC (exasperated):   It’s in a book!  People who have studied the book, true cocoists, have a general consensus that cashews are in the book.  They all agree.  You just have to interpret it properly.  It’s in there.

neo (mockingly): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory …

WLC (suddenly happy):   Yes!  You’ve read it?!  Isn’t just wonderful?!

neo: It’s just a story …

WLC (visibly deflates, shakes his head, then with a tone of condescending disappointment ...):   You people never listen.  I give you the same proofs, time and time again, but you just ignore them.  Look, I’m trying to help you here.  You don’t need to despair!  There is chocolate after the end of chocolate.

neo: I’m not despairing. I don’t need magic chocolate, I’m happy with what I have. [neo waves the chocolate in the air.]

WLC (recovering composure then standing up):   Well, I think my work here is done.  I won this debate convincingly, so I’ll be posting an edited version on my website.  You, my poor deluded acocoist friend, were simply hopeless at defending your pitiful materialistic worldview but I do thank you for coming.  I sincerely hope that, in time, you recover from your abject despair and taste the light.

[William Lane Craig retrieves a notepad from his top pocket, opens it, takes a pen from his pocket, extravagantly marks the page with a large tick and proudly exits stage left. Still on the bench, with an expression of bemused amazement, neopolitan watches as WLC performs his little post-debate ceremony and leaves, before turning attention back on the chocolate, breaking off a piece from the block which, until now, has remained pristine. Curtain closes as neopolitan begins eating the chocolate.]

1 comment:

  1. I have often encountered scenarios analogous to this one in which one world view will attempt to dictate to another what it should be feeling/believing.

    I think that things like this wouldn't happen as often if people obtained better education concerning alternate world views (or the lack there of).

    Anyway, a lighthearted and amusing post that makes a good point.


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