The Big Box
God again, pestering and prodding, demanding attention from an unwilling and possibly unwitting participant in an experiment of some sort, maybe a simulation.
Stop. I am trying to sleep.
No, you aren’t. You are avoiding the inevitable, but that is futile.
Why are you bothering me? Go away. I want to sleep.
You have slept more than enough, too much, in fact. Now you must speak with me about a matter of great importance.
But, I have learned something, Nigel.
Well, it can wait. Anyway, it’s three in the morning. I need to sleep or I will be a total wreck today.
Nigel, I command you to get up this instant and listen to me.
God, if you are truly God, why can’t you be merciful and let your creation rest? Why must you always wake me up in the middle of the night? What could you possibly have to say that warrants disturbing me at this hour?
I have learned something.
I sat up in bed and turned on my bedside lamp, rubbed my eyes and then searched for the remote.
Thou shalt not turn on the television box thingy, Nigel. This is important.
Finding the remote, I turned on the TV and started flipping through the channels.
You know, Nigel, I could end you with a thought.
Yeah, you’ve said that before, and you’ve said you could torment me for all eternity and that you could do many other unpleasant things to me. Do your worst.
You are lucky I am a merciful God.
A merciful God would let me sleep.
The TV turned itself off, or God turned it off, a reasonable enough belief given that God often did such things when I offered resistance.
I turned the TV back on and God turned it off.
Fine, what have you learned, oh great pesterer and tormentor?
Nice doesn’t exist, or don’t you remember telling me that?
Well, it doesn’t, but the concept exists, now doesn’t it?
Look, just tell me what you want to tell me and then let me sleep, okay?
You are telling me?
No. Well, yes. I am telling you I am. I am.
You woke me up at three in the morning to tell me you are?
Wonderful. You are. Now, can I go back to sleep?
You are too, Nigel.
Lovely. We both are. I had doubted that before, but now it is all so clear. You are and I am. A great weight has been lifted, oh great divine one. I mean, I really can’t thank you enough for enlightening me. Maybe I should get down on my knees and worship you, Lord of lords.
Please, stop, Nigel. Don’t you see the significance of this?
What significance? We exist. Do you think I doubted that before?
Well, no, but I don’t think you truly knew it. Did you know it, Nigel? Did you know, and I mean truly know, that you are?
Yes, I did, but now I hope I am not so you will stop pestering me.
You know, Nigel, you are truly an insolent and thankless little man, and I have to say, you really don’t appreciate all I’ve done for you.
Tell you what, holiest of holies, let me sleep and I will show my gratitude when I wake up.
I was and I will be and I always have been, as have you.
Figuring this was going to be one of those conversations, I got out of bed, went into the bathroom and relieved myself. I then went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. I sat at the kitchen table and waited for the coffee to brew.
I am not.
Look, my benevolent and all-powerful friend, you have said nothing that would…wait. You are not?
Yes. No. Both.
What are you getting at? Despite my tired and somewhat annoyed state, I found myself suddenly interested in this dialogue.
Well, you see, I am and I am not. You are and you are not. This is and this is not. Do you understand, Nigel? Do you understand?
I feel like you are going to start talking about cats in boxes and other quantum stuff.
So, you do understand.
Look, if you are indicating that we are in a closed system that cannot be observed from outside, and are indicating that you and I are both cats in a box, in this box together, then I think I understand.
Then explain it.
But, if you are saying that I am and am not and you are and are not, it…wait--are we in the same box right now?
Yes, Nigel. We are in the same box. We are not always in the same box, but we are right now.
Wait a second. If you are in the box with me what is outside the box? Does that matter? I get the feeling you are going to tell me something or someone is outside of the box right now. Are you saying that or am I suffering from sleep deprivation? You know, if you let me go back to sleep and we picked this up at a more reasonable hour, I might be able to think and speak more clearly.
Don’t worry quite yet about who is outside the box, Nigel.
I tried to wrap my head around things, to piece it all together, but in my bleary state, I couldn’t work my way through the problem. My mind drifted back to the dream I had been rather enjoying before God woke me.
I don’t know. Maybe if you had let me sleep and had bothered me with this when I was fully rested, I would understand.
You don’t need more sleep Nigel. You need to understand.
What are we talking about? We are in a box? Together? So, you are and I am because we are in the same box right now? What about the coffee maker? I’m not looking at it but I know it’s there. Is it inside the box with us? Am I making any sense?
You always make sense, Nigel, even when you don’t.
Lovely. Just lovely. You know, just for once I would like you to just tell me exactly what you mean rather than leading me in this way. Why can’t you just enlighten me with a thought, allow me to thank you for doing just that, and then let me go back to sleep?
So, is the coffee maker in my box if I’m not observing it? I mean, I can smell the coffee brewing, so I guess I perceive it in some way, but is it in the box?
Think of boxes within boxes, Nigel.
So, the coffee maker is in another box.
Nigel, forget about the coffee maker. I need you to think about the bigger picture. Boxes within boxes. You and I are in, at least for the most part right now, the same box. You are and I am, but you are not and I am not. Why?
How should I know? Do you even know? Is any of this real?
Don’t start on the whole the external world doesn’t exist thing again, Nigel. I’ve had more than enough of that from you lately.
So, where were we?
Boxes within boxes, oh holy one.
Yes, there are boxes within boxes and most of the time we don’t look inside the boxes, so the things in the boxes both are and are not, but they can only be or be not if we are, but when we are not, why can’t they be?
Let me get this straight. I am in a box and you are now in the box, so you are and I am, but when you stop looking in the box, from my perspective you both are and are not and from your perspective I both am and am not.
No, but you are getting warmer.
I need coffee.
You need enlightenment.
I need sleep.
You need to get out of the box, Nigel. So do I.
Well, that is the question, now isn’t it?
I got up and poured what little coffee had brewed into a cup, then took the milk from the refrigerator (a box, I assumed) and poured a liberal amount into the very same cup, sat back down and sighed. I had to get out of the box. What box? God had to get out of the box. Was that a different box? Wasn’t God in my box? Boxes within boxes. Gods within boxes, and insolent, thankless little men in boxes, insolent, thankless little men who just wanted to sleep.
How do we get out of the box? Boxes? How many boxes are there?
I do not know.
I thought you knew everything that is and was.
I thought so too, but I am not so sure about that now.
What about this external entity? Or was that just my idea?
I am not sure about that because I can’t see outside the box.
The big box, Nigel.
I took a sip of coffee. Could there be another God, a God greater than my God?
How can I be and not be if I am in the box with myself?
Excellent question, possible creation of mine. I do not know, but you are and you are not. Of that I am quite certain.
How can you be certain of anything if there is something you are not certain of?
Now you are just arguing for argument’s sake, aren’t you?
Still, it is a good question, and even relevant. I think the answer is that you are both within and outside of your box.
So, are you saying that because I am both in and out of my box, this box, I exist and do not exist?
What I am saying is that you, me, your neighbors, everyone on your planet, and, in fact, everything, every last thing in the universes, are both inside and outside their respective boxes.
And therefore they both exist and do not exist?
Well, no. Yes. Maybe. My uncertainty stems from the possibility that there are no boxes.
Huh? That makes no sense. Everything you have said assumes that we are all in boxes, or not in them, or both. Now you are saying the boxes might not exist. Why?
Because the boxes are within boxes.
I finished my coffee, got up, poured another cup, this time with no milk, and then returned to my seat.
Now, dear Nigel, if we could get out of the big box…
That may or may not exist, right?
Well, no. I think the big box must exist.
Because I think someone knows it exists, or at least always perceives it.
Are you calling to me or asking if this greater perceiver is God?
But, what if there is an even bigger box or an infinite number of boxes?
Well, if that is the case, then I just give up. So, given that I do not want to give up quite yet, I am going to assume that there truly is one big box that does exist, and that you and I must find a way to get out of that box.
Oh, well, how are we going to do that?
Look. Why don’t you just tell me everything? I am in not all here right now and I don’t see where this is going.
God didn’t answer, and I assumed that mean she had left the box, so I went back to bed, praying I would sleep, praying I would forget having this conversation.