Several scientists gathered together and compared notes on the many scientific breakthroughs of the last century. It didn’t take long for them to decide that they had become gods themselves. So the scientists formed a committee to study the feasibility of an independence from God bill. It only took these great minds three hours to decide that Man (now capitalized) was God's equal, and We no longer needed Him.
(Two of those hours actually focused on the logo design for the letterhead used for the formal Declaration of Independence from God.)
God, being omniscient, decided to pay the committee a visit, but to show His eternal sense of humor, He waited until they sealed the Fed-Ex envelope and dropped it in the slot, thereby committing to the exorbitant non-refundable cost of an overnight express letter to heaven.
When He suddenly appeared in their conference room, He caused more commotion than Dr. Weatherall’s proposal that God should be billed for the effects of entropy, as they would be receiving a universe that was in less than mint condition. "So I hear you are now My equal, and no longer need My assistance in the maintenance of creation."
Dr. Hagglewind, the designated committee spokesman and senior researcher (the flaming torch held in the fist of the well-muscled man standing on a mountaintop in the logo was entirely his idea) recovered quickly, straightened his tie and announced, "That is right, God. We are now capable of creating life in our laboratories. We have become gods ourselves, and we no longer feel that we need to hold You in the reverence that our primitive ancestors did. You are still welcome to visit, but we're taking over operations as of today."
God nodded thoughtfully. "Sounds reasonable." He turned to leave, then looked back with a twinkle in His eye. "Oh, there will be a few legal matters to attend to. Strictly administrative, of course."
Dr. Hagglewind hesitated. The committee, being made up entirely of scientists, hadn't analyzed the legal ramifications of their decision. After a worried glance at his colleagues failed to bolster his confidence, he turned back to God and said, "What sort of matters?"
God failed to completely hide His grin (a source of tremendous debate among theologians in years to come - Focus on the Family later attempted to resolve the debate by stating that had God wanted to hide His grin, we would not have had the faintest hint of a shadow of the thought dreaming that it could conceive of the possibility that it might accidentally imagine crossing our minds) as He made the slightest gesture with His left pinkie. Suddenly they all stood on a platform suspended in the center of a hollow sphere that could easily have contained the solar system. The scientists gibbered and gabbled for several minutes at the mind-boggling scope before finally recovering enough to turn their attention back to God. Dr. Hagglewind managed to stammer, "What is this place?"
God looked around. "Central accounting. Keeping track of hairs on your head, angels dancing on pinheads, number of atoms in everything, stellar trajectories, black hole masses in milligrams, energy expended in all the covalent and ionic molecular bonds - the routine everyday stuff involved in running the universe."
Hagglewind and the others staggered cautiously to the edge of the platform, where several telescopes were conveniently mounted. Peering through one, Hagglewind was able to see angelic workers unpacking row after row of computers and setting up aisle after aisle of Dilbert-style cubicles. As near as he could tell, the entire inner surface of the sphere was being covered in cubicles. Swallowing, he turned back to God, whose grin was suspiciously larger. "You need all this to keep track of that?"
"No, you do. I keep it all up here." His finger tapped His forehead. "I'm creating this place for your benefit. Sort of a parting gift."
Dr. Hagglewind made a sweeping gesture. "But . . . there aren't enough humans in all of history to operate all these computers!"
God shrugged. "That's okay. I understand that making more people is now something that you've mastered. I'm sure you'll manage to overcome this minor manpower issue." He looked over at the far edge of the platform where a number of angels had just appeared along with a long oak table. "Ah, My legal team has arrived. Shall we?"
Dr. Hagglewind and the other scientists followed God, each seriously wondering just what they had gotten themselves into. As they approached the angels, they couldn't help but notice the grim expressions, the huge swords, and the golden Blackberries. The angels opened briefcases made of gopher wood and began removing stack after stack of documents. The great oak table began to sag under the weight. Dr. Hagglewind cleared his throat. "God, what are all those documents?"
"Lease agreements, servicing contracts, operating manuals - the things you'll need to keep this universe running smoothly." God picked up a document. "Ah, here's an important one. This is My patent on matter. I'll give you a 90-day transition period to convert all creation from My matter to whatever you intend to use."
Dr. Hagglewind gasped. "But - but we can't create matter!"
God frowned (Focus on the Family cited it as proof of the aforementioned Hidden Grin theory). "Are you certain? This will pose some serious legal issues. Since everything in the universe is made of My patented matter, you lack resources of your own to even lease the rights to it. Without an acceptable alternative, all of this will cease to exist," He overturned a massive hourglass that suddenly towered above the scientists, "ninety days from now when I repossess My matter."
Dr. Hagglewind paled at the realization that the committee had just put a three-month expiration date on the universe. "Wait! Isn't there something we can do?"
God thought for a moment (most theologians agree that this was strictly done for dramatic purposes), then waved His hand and immediately they were back in the committee's conference room. In the center of the table sat a large scroll with a golden ribbon wrapped around it. The ribbon untied itself, and the scroll unrolled with what everyone present could only describe as a majestic rustle.
God pointed to the scroll. "This is the contract I signed when I created the universe. All the servicing and maintenance is completely My responsibility. I created it as a gift for you."
Dr. Hagglewind peered at the scroll. "But there's no place for us to sign."
God nodded. "There was never meant to be. This is, after all, a gift." He rolled up the scroll and tucked it away in His robes. "I don't think you're quite ready to take over the universe. For your own good, I will decline your generous offer at this time."
The grin returned. "However, I think perhaps we can make some sort of arrangement to monitor your progress." He pulled another scroll out of His robe and set it on the table. "When you can meet this obligation, we can talk about where to go from there." And as suddenly as He had arrived, God was gone.
The scientists stared at one another in shock, but eventually all eyes settled on the lone scroll in the center of the table. With shaking hands, Dr. Hagglewind reached for it. Before he could touch it, the ribbon holding it shut popped loose and the scroll began unrolling. It fell off the end of the table, rolled out the door and down the hall. Several scientists scurried after it. The rest stared at Dr. Hagglewind, who gaped at the writing at the top of the scroll. One of them managed to find his voice. "Wh-what is it?"
Hagglewind turned to face his colleagues, sweat beading on his pale brow. "It's a utility bill for the strong nuclear force used to keep the protons in each molecule in the universe from repelling each other as the laws of magnetism and like charges demand. Without that energy expenditure, the universe would be nothing but hydrogen soup." He yanked a handkerchief from his back pocket and mopped his forehead. "He's billing us a penny a day per atom."
They all stared at the scroll. The actual explanation of the utility charge was one small paragraph. Then there was a dollar sign, a one, and a string of zeros that covered the rest of the document. As one their heads turned to follow the scroll out the door and down the hall.