Author : Kevin Crisp

The segutar’s primary “facial” orifice oozed with puss and gurgled as it laboriously produced sounds that be interpreted by the translator unit. “We have some additional questions for you, Mr. Anderson. Many of your earthly artifacts and customs seem devoted to a concept that has no parallel among us.”

“And what concept is that?” Anderson asked.

“What is ‘religion’?” it gargled.

Oh boy, thought Anderson. “Religion? Well, I guess it’s a set of theories in things beyond what science has shown to be fact.”

The segutar paused for a moment, as it tended to do when communicating new information telepathically to the hive mind. “So religion is a term that describes theories earthlings have yet to test scientifically?”

“No, I mean religion involves belief in things that are ultimately untestable.”

“We do not understand ‘untestable’. Do you mean that your scientific instrumentation has not been developed to test the hypotheses?”

I’m not handling this well, Anderson thought. “No, I mean religion is founded on questions to which the answers are ultimately unknowable.”

“What does ‘unknowable’ mean?”

“It means we can never really prove it or disprove it.”

The segutar sucked thoughtfully for a moment. “How can you be certain about what you will or will not know in the future? Do you not wish to know?”

“No, that’s not it. See, these beliefs are very old, and people are really psychologically and culturally invested in them. They pre-date scientific methods and are not founded on evidence.”

The segutar drooled pensively. “Why would you believe something for which there is no evidence?”

“Well, I don’t believe in any religion. There is no evidence in my view, but I have a neighbor who disagrees.”

“Is he defective? Does he rave?”

“No, he’s a pretty normal guy, just a bit eccentric and old fashioned, I guess.” Anderson felt his neck and face beginning to flush, and a strong desire to terminate the interview possessed him. He tried to change the topic. “Do you have insanity in the hive?”

The segutar paused, then slowly dribbled, “When the part cannot serve the whole, it must be eliminated.”

“Well, my neighbor’s not crazy, just different.” How do you explain differences of opinion to a hive mind? Anderson wondered. “To him, there’s plenty of evidence, at least in support of his particular religion anyway. I’m sure he’d be pretty adept at discrediting the evidence other people base their religions on, though.”

“His religion? Their religions? Are there different, conflicting systems of untestable, unknowable hypotheses?” The segutar was beginning to show the intergalactic equivalent of exasperation.

“Yes, there are literally hundreds of different religions. And even within a particular religion, believers believe in them to different degrees. Some take them to be 100% literal, and others accept only subsets of the beliefs. Look, this conversation is making me a little uncomfortable. Can we move on to the next topic?”

The segutar was quiet, but somehow Anderson didn’t think he was communicating with the hive mind. He thought the alien was simply flummoxed.

Finally, the segutar blubbered, “You are uncomfortable discussing religion?”

“Yes. It’s sort of considered to be rude to talk about it.”

“When we uncover nonuniformities in the fact matrix, we consider it of utmost importance to end the crisis immediately by seeking a common resolution.”

“Yes, well, we’ve tried that but we just end up killing each other.”

The segutar sat back in its chair and communicated telepathically with the hive mind. After several moments, the hive mind resolved the issue for ‘their-self’. Earthlings were defective and required elimination.

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