article and photoillustration by Geoff Olson
On the late afternoon of the sixth day of Creation, God created consumer electronics.
“Hey, you two,” Jehovah yelled down to Adam and Eve, who were putzing around in the Garden of Eden. “I have fashioned some gizmos of Exceeding Awesomeness for thee!”
The Creator’s giant hand descended from above and pointed to a workstation with an ergonomic chair. A beige CRT monitor sat on the tabletop, hooked up to a hard drive and peripheral devices with a confusion of cables and adapters below. (For the occasion, the magnanimous deity had created an Edenic hydroelectric grid).
“What’s this?” asked Eve. Although she didn’t understand what she was looking at, she somehow knew Adam would be using it constantly.
“I call it the ‘personal computer,’” Jehovah said proudly, indicating the power button. “I say unto thee, press here!”
Adam sat down and pressed the button, and with a ping the computer made a whirring noise. “What’s happening now?” he asked after a minute or two.
“It’s booting up,” the Lord replied, in a vaguely annoyed voice.
“Booting what?” Eve asked.
“Just wait,” God replied in slight irritation, while tapping his immense fingers on a distant mountaintop. An icon appeared on the screen and then a login window.
“You’ll need a password to get into your operating system. I suggest a minimum of six Hebrew characters, and at least two numbers,” He added.
“Huh?” Adam and Eve said in unison.
“Satan on a pogo stick!” the vexed Creator boomed. “Snake! Get over here! Show these two how to use the friggin’ computer!”
A serpent with scaly, lime-green skin slithered into view. He smiled at the couple with narrowed eyes, and explained how to use the mouse to point the cursor and click on icons. Then he moved on to creating, saving and trashing files. After several minutes of instruction, a sound like a Pterodactyl squawk echoed throughout The Garden of Eden.
“What’s that!?” asked Eve, alarmed.
“Ssssound from the dial-up modem,” the serpent hissed. “We’re on 56k here. Now I will show you how to sssurf the web.”
The screen slowly loaded with flashing text and animated gifs. “It’s a bit of an eyesore right now,” God said sheepishly as the serpent used his tail to scroll down on www.paradise.com. “I’m working with html1 and kind of went crazy with the fonts.”
Suddenly, the screen froze and went blue.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” God exclaimed. “Windows again. This will never work. Let me give it a rethink.”
The computer, monitor and modem disappeared, and Jehovah retreated behind a cumulous cloud. The heavens rumbled with his muttering. Then in a flash of light, two tablets appeared on the table.
“Whoops, wrong kind of tablet. Ten Commandments are for later,” God said as the stone objects winked out of existence. In their place appeared a single, slim rectangular object that appeared to be made of burnished metal and obsidian. And God saw that it was Good. As Eve made a grab for the tablet, the serpent was delighted to see it bore an apple insignia.
“Okay, this is way better. You can be dumb as a sack of rocks and use this thing,” God said proudly. Push this button and you’re off.”
Adam peered over Eve’s shoulder as the object instantly came to life.
“Now presss here,” the serpent said, indicating the camera icon. Eve saw herself onscreen and something stirred inside her, a secret knowledge of dark things to come. She smiled and clicked. “Congratulationsss,” the serpent oozed with sibilant condescension, “you have jussst taken the firssst ssselfie.”
“Oh my God,” said Eve, pressing the tablet into Adam’s chest in disgust. “Do I really have bags under my eyes?”
“It’s just the light from the firmament,” Adam wisely replied. “But what is the purpose of thy sacred tablet, Lord? Will our progeny use it to find truth, pursue justice, and worship thee?”
“Tell ‘em, snake.”
“It is for watching catsss,” the serpent announced with barely-concealed disgust.
“Catsss?” Adam questioned, an eyebrow raised.
“Catsss and kittensss. See the lion on that hill over there? Eventually, you will domesssticate him and shrink his kind down to the sssize of a loaf of unleavened bread. And you will render the creature in a sssickening thicket of imagesss and moving picturesss. You will be ssstewards of the Earth, but YouTube housecatsss will have dominion over you.”
“Snake is being a bit cynical,” said Jehovah, interrupting. “A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without Me seeing it, but that’s not really worth seeing. However, a tabby hung up on an overhead fan, spinning around and around… now that’s worth a look. I’m a total cat freak and thine offspring will be too, in the fullness of time. They’re furry, futuristic, and funtastic.”
“Forgive me, Lord,” said Adam, his brow knitted in confusion. “I can imagine so many great uses for this tablet; to cultivate understanding among our ancestors, access far-off places, and probe the mysteries of this vast universe You have created. Are You telling me that people will use this to view ‘catsss’ and take ‘selfies?’”
“Primarily,” God said. “Along with a little something called porn. I gave thee free will, and I can foresee how you and your kind are going to use it. Actually, the uses of this gizmo are manifold, from first-person shooter games to ‘tweeting’ thy meals. Once the chosen ones get ‘the Cloud’ they’ll never look back.”
Eve was sceptical – and also slightly miffed at the “made-in-His-image” bromance Jehovah and Adam had going on. The Lord mentioned meals, and if the tablet’s uses were so “manifold,” it should be like everything else in the Garden: edible. She bit hard on a corner of the Apple device.
“Eww, gross!” she said, spitting out a fragment of glass.
There was a long silence. Adam had a sense that the entire firmament had just shifted incrementally, but sickeningly, in the wrong direction.
“Seriously?” Jehovah boomed. “The greatest thing I ever friggin’ created, that offers the knowledge of good and evil lolcats, and you try to eat it?” The wrathful deity reached down and grabbed the tablet from Eve, drawing it back into the clouds. “Holy Shit, you damaged the screen! You are both so out of here!”
Eve’s bulimia had just bought them two tickets out of Paradise, Adam thought as his partner began to sob. The ‘first man’ was having misgivings about a missing rib when a winged figure with a flaming sword flew down to the couple’s side.
“Hi, I’m Mike. I’m here to lead you both out of Paradise,” the Archangel said. “Please collect your personal belongings into this box and leave the tablet with me. Your fig leaves, too.”
The serpent smiled in silent victory. His work done, he slithered off; unfortunately right into the jaws of a lion lurking behind a large fern. Verily, there was a new sheriff in town.