The year was 1947. Two men sat in a diner. The first, a man mostly failing at his dreams of being an accomplished science fiction author. The second, a government-contracted epidemiologist. On most occasions while waiting for the waitress to bring their breakfasts, they took turns ignoring each other as they exchanged senseless banter not worth being repeated.
Today was different.
The author, Lafayette, began. “I read in the newspaper today that a war broke out over Kashmir.”
“I’m not sure what’s more surprising,” James, the doctor, replied. “You being able to read, or people fighting over wool.”
“You truly are an idiot. Kashmir. It’s the land between Pakistan and India,” said Lafayette flatly.
“Whatever. Are you getting a beer?”
“It’s 11:00 in the morning…”
“Right. Two beers?”
The pair were sitting at a booth. A waitress walked over, smiled at the men and placed two menus on the table.
After the greetings, Lafayette continued. “So, you know they recently gained independence from Britain. Pakistan is mainly Muslim and India mainly Hindu.”
“So, two countries are at war because their leaders are angry their dicks are too small?”
“Can we just once try to have a conversation that doesn’t boil down to jizz and penis jokes?” asked Lafayette agitatedly.
“Maybe they just don’t understand the worth of a fine wool?”
“Painful. You are pretty useless aren’t you.”
“I am generally and specifically a waste of cells.”
The author ignored James’ asinine comment and tried to return to his chosen topic. “In all seriousness, though, when I look at religious people, not only do I see man-sheep, but also history in the process of being repeated.”
“One penis joke and we can talk about your boring subject,” James persisted. It was his favourite subject, after all.
Lafayette had no choice but to humour him. “A bunch of scientists recently convened in Shelter Island to discuss the theoretical properties of your penis. They call it Quantum Mechanics.”
“Theoretical because no one knows whether it exists,” James retorted.
“You think with your penis; therefore it is.”
Pretending not to have overheard their juvenile jokes, the waitress returned to the table. She asked if the men were ready to order. They were too enthralled with themselves to have even glanced at the menus.
James was finally content to continue the original conversation. “So you are basically saying this is a religious war?”
“Yeah. It’s horrendous,” answered Lafayette. “Think about all the violence and suffering caused by religion. There must be some way to solve it. Some way to ‘cure’ religion.”
“What if all the world’s religions were really invented by aliens in an effort to mass-brainwash us before they eventually conquer us?” James replied.
“How does that even make sense?”
“What part of the world makes sense?”
“There must be some way to make people not religious anymore,” Lafayette lamented.
Before commenting, James shifted his sitting position. He was finally getting serious. “Well, there are several ways to try to find cures for diseases. Sometimes we try to identify patient zero, and trace the path of infection to understand how the disease spreads. Or, if we can take cultures of the bacteria causing the disease, we can see how it spreads in animals and try to come up with different cures.”
“That’s interesting,” said Lafayette. “So, basically, I could try to create my own religion?”
“No clue how you concluded that, but sure. It would be very tricky, you know.”
“Yes,” Lafayette answered with his finger on his chin. “But if I could do it, I could watch how people join, and then try, behind the scenes, to convince people to leave the religion – watch how it evolves and fights back, and adapt the methods I learn. Then once I get people off my fake religion, I could take the principles and apply them to all the world’s religions.”
“This instead of penis jokes?” James crossed his arms and leaned back in the booth. “What would you call it?”
“I’m not sure yet. I guess something ‘sciencey’ since its purpose is a research project.”
“Sounds good, don’t forget to include aliens.”