After many fruitless attempts at explaining why people were wrong to use the word god as they did, and tiring of answering their questions as to whether he really did in the end believe or not in god, Chouang Tseu decided to tell the following story:

An atheist and a christian fell madly in love and decided to marry. They were very happy together, but though they shared an interest in many similar activities, they could never agree on the problem of god and argued through many nights exhausting themselves into the wee hours of the morning. So one day they said: we cannot agree on the existence of god, nor can either of us understand why the other so vehemently holds to the position e does. Let us have a child, both of us will teach e what we believe, and whatever conclusion the child eventually comes to, that will be the better truth.

So they gave birth to an infant and each parent spent much time with the child talking, reading and answering questions about god. On e’s eighteenth birthday both parents sat down with their child and asked e: so, now that you’ve grown up understanding both views of god, please tell us, which is right: is there a god or not? The teenager paused for a long while and then answered: you are both wrong, but you were right in what you did. Now i see with two eyes, whereas both of you had only one. And i see that your problem was never the existence of god, but god eself: there is no god such as either of you describe e, for everyone of your descriptions were always woefully inadequate, like the pictures i used to draw which no one could make out. Nevertheless, god is the most powerful word you ever taught me. It fueled both of your lives, and now it fuels mine; only i can use it much more effectively than either of you ever could, because i have learned never to dull it by pinning it down.


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