SciFi Short Stories: What is God?

Nov 22, 2011   #scifi  #asimov  #weir 

Some short works of science fiction have some fascinating takes on how reality works, on who or what God is. These three stories are all very short, and each show a different facet of how things could be.

Warning: the discussion of each of these stories contains spoilers.
    These stories are short; read them before the discussion.

###Isaac Asimov: The Last Question (1956)

I wrote a more indepth analysis of this story separately. The Last Question is a seven part story that takes up about 12 pages. In this story, the great AI called the AC shepards humanity through various phases of its existance and then continues processing through the heat-death of the universe until it finally answers that last question. We created the computer who created it’s sucessor, and eventually, trillions of years later, one of their sucessors will become God.

###Isaac Asimov: The Last Answer (1980)

The Last Answer is a conversation (narrated in third person) between the freshly deceased atheist physicist Murray Templeton and a god. Murray was 45 when he died of a heart attack while working in his lab.

I find this one to be the saddest scenario. By the end of the story, Murray settles down to his task – thinking for enternity to find a way to destroy the god who created this copy of his mind at death. This god who made a copy of Murray and countless others for the purpose of aiding in the search for a method of destruction of the god. The entire point of an eternal existance is apparently to search for the means of your own destruction; I wonder how the transhumanists would feel about that.

###Andy Weir: The Egg (somewhere between 2009 and 2011)

The Egg is a conversation, related in first and second person, that occurs in the (first) few moments of someone’s latest after-life. The recently deceased character died in a car crash with a truck at the age of 48; he left a wife and kids behind. This is the shortest of the stories listed here.

I find this one to be very cheerful, as it says that we’re all one being, and that we’ll be a god when we grow up. We must be cosmic-dragon-sized to need a universe-sized egg to hatch from, and to have fingertips as complex as human minds. There’s also the nice connection that even as we’re trailing our finger tips through the experience of life, we feel the need to build things. To build mini-universes in the form of games, that mirror the bigger universe that our parent built us as an egg. Considering how complex we make our computer systems, how many layers of abstraction/complexity must be involved in designing an entire universe, a whole reality?


I recall reading another story considering this topic, but unfortunately I’ve forgotten all the meta-data that would help me find it. In it, we (as in humanity) were all spirits/gods/soul-energies. We were bored. Thus, we created a simulation-game to play; this is the universe that we perceive as reality today. We became caught up in the game, and forgot that it is a game, forgot how to stop playing. I forget the exact plot, the exact story-line, whether the characters had names.

I have no idea where I read this story or when, but I loved the recursive aspect of it. We are playing a simulation-game of life, where we build simulations and imitations of life (The Sims, computer AIs, etc).