aah, I see Virgil has brought us another wanderer. Let me be the first to say “Welcome to the city of Dis”.
I see your curiosity has brought you to the Sixth Circle of Inferno, living proof of God’s sublime stupidity. Here resides those who were put to the
flames on a mere technicality. You find yourself amidst great and eloquent human beings. Behold! Gaze upon gentle Epicurus, a once elegant, generous
and equanimous soul, as he burns in his sarcophagus for eternity, in the same manner they burned his books. Witness them all burn, all of them, and at
the same time, understand that God’s stupidity is really man’s stupidity. It is with this sadness that I remain here, a perpetual witness to their
martyrdom. I, like you, am not dead, but nonetheless find myself among these souls, unwilling to turn my gaze from their cinders. I am here on my own
accord, a willing witness to this crime. And you, all unarmed and nonchalant, may perhaps buckle beneath the burden of your own meditations upon these
horrors. You do not seek the minotaur, for you are ill-equipped for such a task. No; you seek the wrongly condemned so as to bear witness to their
eternal suffering. You’ve found the right place. In due time, perhaps you’ll find yourself on an empty black shore along the lake of fire with the
rest of us cold nominalist apostates who made the swim. And perhaps, like me, you will need a friend now more than ever, for it seems we are all stuck
in this lonely circle together. Perhaps.
Dry off, my friend. Sit by the tomb-fires. Tales will be told.
If you’ve made it this far, you have undoubtedly come to understand that humans are the only species of beings who can think of things that do not
exist. Our earliest artifacts are humanoid figures with feline heads, an animal that has yet made entrance into the fossil record. Humanoids with
feline heads have never existed, yet we have statues of these beings as if we were able to observe them in waking life. Such are all gods. And
Diogenes was right to deface the currency—“all was base metal with lying superscription”.
Yes, we are the only animal that can speak about things that do not exist, and in doing so, we are the only animal who stamps real things with lying
and symbolic superscription—this is how our language differs from, say, the green monkey’s; or the comical parrot, who can be taught to say
anything Plato can say. But the parrot, it seems, is unable to think about things that do not exist, and cannot formulate ideas that have no reference
to anything in the world. This is the reason we have come to dominate the planet. We are the fictitious animal.
We sapiens are the last extant species of human beings, a once insignificant species among other human species that has come to dominate the world.
Imagine an earth where we still walked side-by-side with our human brothers, the Neanderthal, Erectus and Denisovans. What would the culture be like?
What would the religions be like? Would man still be the measure of all things? Would we still consider ourselves fallen angels sculpted in the image
of God? Probably. However, such speculation is useless, as we have long forgotten whatever relationship we once had with them, and worse, by what
methods we made them go extinct. Whatever hope there is to find an oral history on such matters were likely lost to genocide within our own species.
Nonetheless, the universality of language in modern sapiens might shows that we had the trait of language long before we expanded to the far reaches
of the globe, and thus, may have condemned our neanderthal brothers and sisters with the same condemnation we inflict to this day—inspiring hate for
things that do not exist, and taking it out on things that do.
The next time you get the opportunity, try to convince our cousin the chimpanzee to accept a cheque for millions of bananas over one actual banana. As
you try to hand him your slip of paper, your promise, your contract, and all the while, threaten him with eternal damnation if he doesn’t accept
your gift, watch as he laughs in your face. He isn’t smart enough to understand, right? Yet, if the average city-dweller and our nimble friend the
chimpanzee were lost in a dark wood, I would bet all my bananas that the chimp would survive longer.
What is the difference between God and the state? What is the difference between religion and politics? What is the difference between the judge and
the priest? The President and the Pope? What is the difference between a nation and a congregation? A slave and a consumer? What is the difference
between divine and natural law? The Big Bang and the first cause? What is the difference between the cross and the almighty dollar? Superficially, a
few different symbols and semantics here and there—underneath, nothing. Whether “natural” or “divine”, whether theist or humanist, whether
scientific or not, whether right or wrong, these inventions have served the same historical function—providing a set of legitimacy and stability to
the human order for the sake of cooperation, marked with fictitious authorities and decrees from nowhere outside the human mind. Gossip has propelled
the species, my curious friend. Story-tellers and story-listeners. Language.