IT WAS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS, a lull in the battle. Somewhere up ahead, a company of Trolls split by platoons, half each taking the north or south path up the sides of the gorge. The plan was to circle around behind the enemy artillery and capture the guns. Once successful, they were to turn them on the enemy forces down in the valley. If one or the other won through, but the other did not, the victorious units were to turn their guns on the opposite side of the valley.
Dolly took a canteen and gulped down huge drafts of water. She drained the thing and sat gasping for air when she was done. Drummond unhooked his own canteen from his belt and drank with greater restraint than the doll.
“No God, huh?” she said suddenly, tangentially. “How can we be so sure.”
“Oh, we can’t,” Drummond said. “After all, we have only explored a tiny fraction even of our own solar system. And what we know of the physics of the Universe gives us little clue. Still and all, nobody’s ever found any concrete evidence for the existence of an uncaused first cause.
“‘Cept the Big Bang,” Dolly said proudly, as though she’d scored a direct hit.
“Well,” Drummond said. “Not even sure of that. It’s possible — barely possible, but still you have to admit to the possibility — that the Universe just… happened.”
“Suddenly… Universe,” Dolly said.
“Yeah. Now, the absence of evidence is hardly dispositive. In fact, it’s not even indicative, if you follow.” He looked at her significantly and she nodded her understanding back at him. “As the saying goes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And one would be a fool to assert on that basis that there is no God.”
“Takes a leap of faith either way, eh?”
“So, what did create the Universe?”
“Well, there are physicists who wonder if it isn’t so that, at the bottommost layer of reality, beneath all the subatomic particles and the various forces at play in the Universe, all there is is the math. That the numbers themselves constitute actual reality.”
Dolly made one of those conceptual leaps that made Drummond wonder at her mind. “So the map is the territory?”
“Well, say rather that humanity has confused somewhat the essential nature of things. That we have — through a flaw in our perception engines, so to speak — mistaken mapness for existence-ness. That what, from our limited perspective, seems to be the map is actually the territory, and what we have taken for the territory is merely the projection of the numbers into our particular space-time in shapes, textures, and colors that we can perceive. No more or less than viewing fluorescent pigments under ultraviolet light changes their appearance to our eyes, or an Escher drawing of a hypercube appears to be impossible — unreal — on a flat piece of paper or a computer screen.”
Dolly was quiet for a long time. She reached out and snared Drummond’s canteen in the silence and helped herself to a few swigs from it. He let her.
“So what’s that got to do with God?”
Drummond smiled. He was so proud of her.
“So… what if, rather than having created the Universe…
Dolly’s eyes lit up.
“…God is the Universe!”
Right in one, Baby Doll. Right in one.