A Man Lives in the Control Room of the Universe

Rain beats down on the tiny country village, and only dim light escapes from the pub on the edge of town. Inside, though, it is warm and sleepy. A group of philosophers sit in the corner, relaxing after a vigorous day’s probing the secrets of reality. One of them has squandered his time, however, and the rest are generously attempting to set him straight.

“All I am arguing is that one cannot simply discount an anthropocentric reading of the universe,” says the one philosophers. The others all laugh.

“From your chair maybe!” calls one.

“We don’t account for much in the broad scheme of things,” said another.

“You won’t get far with that kind of outdated thinking! Does the sun revolve around the earth?

“Are the stars stuck into the firmament like so many buttons?”


Flustered, the initial speaker sips his drink in silence.

“There is no alternative,” says another man, sitting by the fire and smoking thoughtfully. “The universe is vast beyond comparison. The stars, galaxies, and planets swirl around and around, expanding into infinity. Our little rock is tiny and insignificant, and even on it our meager cities are like little piles of glowing ashes, liable to being scrapped off at any moment. We are a successful species in a successful biosphere. Like ants. Nothing more.”

Meanwhile, in the Control Room of the Universe . . .

A man is standing, scratching the skin on his face where the beard turned to cheek. He yawns, his mouth stretching wide open and revealing his teeth.

“It won’t be long now” he says to himself, reaching down with a hairy hand and touching a small golden lever labeled “Raising the Dead.” His eyes scan the other controls, like “Supernovae Special,” “Expansion Meter,” and the of course, the never-used, “Off.”

Seeing the fireside skeptic on the screen, the man squints. “Let’s see how many hairs are on his head,” he mumbles. A figure appears on a screen, and he smiles. “A bit less than he would like others to think.”

He walks over to the Weather Panel and taps a few hurricane levers, moving some up and others down, clicking the seasons dial slightly forward.

He looks at his handiwork.

Then, “Again!” and punches the Supernova Special.

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