(An excerpt from Volume 56 in the Collected Works of the iconoclastic philosopher Allan Stewart Konigsberg.)
Let me say at the outset of my treatise that I am interested only in the ultimate questions: Is there a God? Did He create the universe, or did He buy it ready-made from one of the better mail-order houses? How do we know what we know, and if we don’t know, how can we fake it? What is morality, and why do all the girls I meet seem to have it? What is man? What is woman? And why don’t they ever sign their real names on the register?
These are not idle questions, but a matter of life and death. I’m locking the door right now, and if one of us doesn’t come up with the answers within the next ten minutes then both of us will die. Since I am a fictional character, I assure you this will be much harder on you than on me.
Philosophy begins with metaphysics, and as Kant was fond of saying to his mirror, “I never metaphysics I didn’t like.” This cryptic comment becomes much clearer when we consider that Kant was a boob — what’s more, a boob with a speech impediment. He would say “categorical imperative” when what he really wanted was a hamburger and fries. Nor was Spinoza any closer to the truth when he defined the will as a thing-in-itself. The thing-in-itself was his wife, who divorced him for demonstrating the principle of Universal Love by giving a rubdown to a rabbi. It was Spinoza, however, who, in a brilliant paper on optics, proved that a magnifying glass could be used to commit arson.
Throughout the ages, great thinkers have gone beyond the conventional wisdom to seek the inner meaning of life. Nietzsche went Beyond Good and Evil; B. F. Skinner went Beyond Freedom and Dignity; Russ Meyer went Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. These three profoundly different geniuses have one thing in common: they will never become championship bowlers. Yet their ideas will live forever, or at least until they are made into Broadway musicals.
“What is truth?” asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer (though he did watch it later on DVD). I define truth as that which should never be uttered before a subcommittee or a microphone. Further, true Being is distinguishable from being in Gary, Indiana — especially if you try to breathe.
If God exists then human life makes sense (with the exception of Gene Simmons); if God does not exist then everything is meaningless, and there’s no point making good on those gambling debts.
Some radical theologians claim that God is dead, while others insist He’s just “resting His eyes.” Either way, He’s not taking any calls. The Bible tells us He is an angry God and a jealous God — character traits the BBC might keep in mind the next time they’re casting Othello.
God or no, all rational beings, and even Unitarians, must eventually confront the problem of good and evil. Those sufficiently enlightened choose the good, but many elect to go into real estate instead. What dark mystery of the soul causes one person to abandon wickedness for a life of sainthood, and another to become a Top 40 radio programmer?
For that matter, how can we tell that we actually exist, that we are not mere phantoms? Of course I am — as I said, I’m only a mythical mouthpiece for a sick mind — but what about you? Are you too, perhaps, an invented character with fictitious needs and desires and cold sores created by a demented writer? If I stopped talking to you would you simply disappear? And if so, could the same method be applied to a Jehovah’s Witness?
Conversely, if you stopped reading this would I vanish? Most important, would the author still get his check?