You have God's corpse. What do you do with it? (aka the TOWING JEHOVAH thread) (open spoilers)

At the beginning of the aforementionednovelby James Morrow, the book’s main character–disgraced oil tanker captain Anthony Van Horne–is visited by the archangel Raphael, who tells him that that God has died. This is neither a a hoax nor an illusion. Raphael is is real, speaking the truth, and–along with the rest of the heavenly host–dying of grief. The universe is unaffected by this death, for this is a non-contingent, Newtonian sort of cosmos set up so that it can continue without its creator–whose corpse, incidentally, is identifiably that of a Caucasian male, albeit two miles long and floating in the ocean. It is impossible to remain an unbeliever in the vicinity of the corpse; its lingering mystic aura provides its bona fides in a way none can deny.

Knowing that Death is speeding their way, the angels have carved a tomb for the Lord of Hosts in the Arctic and charged the Catholic church with arranging the burial. Obligingly, the Vatican buys a ship, hires Van Horne to captain it, and orders him to take the body to the icy mausoleum. But not everyone aboard is on board with this plan for perpetual interment. Some think it a better idea to cremate the body. Others hope that life may still linger in the divine neurons, and that God is not dead, but comatose, and thus think of the Arctic plan as less burial than cryonics. One character, an (perhaps former) atheist, thinks that validation of the paternalistic and eurocentric vision of God is terribly dangerous, and so hatches a plot to attack the corpse militarily and send it to the bottom of the ocean.

What would you do, and why?

The premise does not make any logical sense to me. How can God have a body or be dead?

Honestly, I don’t think I would care what happened to the body. I’d be indifferent. Maybe I’d cut off a thumb for a souvenir.

Does God have a crank in this story? I bet you get get a lot of money on eBay for God’s crank.

I’d carry out the angel’s plan except I’d take the corpse to Antarctica. The arctic ice is melting and will most likely be gone in a few short years. I’m surprised the angels didn’t know this fact.

Accepting the conditions specified in the OP, then I do what I’m asked to do, and tow the body to the prepared location. Perhaps doing such would earn me a measure of redemption. If not, the book/movie deals to follow will make me rich enough to enjoy the hell out of the rest of my days.

I could not, however, vote for such an option in the poll, as the first choice appears to imply dismembering the corpse rather than allowing it to rest without being disturbed. :smiley:

Neither does the Lord of the Rings trilogy*. However, Towing Jehovahdoes have a hot, dspairing, horny nun dancing naked in God’s navel, whereas Peter Jackson, feckless wanker that he is, never even showed us Eowyn’s nipples despite several obvious opportunties to do so.

One hypothesis put forth in the novel – by the Catholic priest assigned to oversee the disposition of the heaveny remains–is that God died of His Own volition because he wanted humanity to move past the worship of Him, perhaps to a strictly Kantian ethic. Judging that it was best that humanity know he was no longer the constant in every equation, He thus incarnated himself (two miles tall, as I said earlier) and tossed himself into the atmosphere.

The Corpus Dei is smiling, by the way. Don’t think I mentioned that.

I believe so. The priest is initially surprised, but shortly decides that God chose to have genitalia because otherwise He would seem sterile, barren–limited.

One thing I left out of the OP was that, in the course of the story, an island that may be Atlantis rises from the seabed. The ruins there give evidence of a pagan civilization, and the priest speculates that the death of Yahweh has allowed the older, heathen order to reassert itself in a small way. There are several possible implications if this is so.

*The MOVIE trilogy, that is. Professor Tolkien did not write a trilogy; he wrote a single book. I bring this up because I’m a pedant.

Ralph, Gabe, Uri, and the rest are not on top of their intellectual game, as they’re busy dying of grief and that takes a lot out of a archangel.

How are YOU planning to dig a big enough hole? You have an oil tanker at your disposal, not the starship Yamato.

You may vote for the first option without fear of impiety, as the hole is of ample capacity to hold the Corpus Dei. It’s not like Mike couldn’t get the measurements. I think the angels who did the actual excavation (presumably with their heat vision, as everybody knows angels are really Kryptonians) died in the process.

Also, God tastes like McDonalds - fittingly, the food of the masses.

OK. Besides, nothing in the OP eliminates Heinlein’s version of Hell as portrayed in JOB: A Comedy of Justice, and that was a pretty cool place.

Carve it up as relics. Found a new religion.

‘God is dead’ as a philosophical statement implies religion is wrong.

‘God is dead’ as a statement of literal truth implies that, while mistaken about His immortality, religion is, in its basic conception, correct. The corpse is proof, and the angels who brought it are proof of the ongoing existence of higher powers.

Conversely, carve it up, and try to figure out what made it tick, attempting to apply knowledge gained to bettering humanity.

Failing this step, go back to option 1.

Uhh… can anyone supply me with the short Phillip K. Dick passage about finding God’s corpse?

I don’t have my Dick library at present, but in a novel Character 1 mentions God, and…

Character 2: God is dead. They found his body floating in space in Calligyus 54.

Character 1: *They don’t know that was God. The autopsy only showed that it was the carcass of a being that was probably capable of creating the universe. *

Voted for #3 - the way I figure it, I’ve been hired to carry out a funeral, so I should do that, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure that your corpse really is one.

In the context given I’d do as suggested. I’m atheist but I wouldn’t suppress evidence just to be right. My next statement would be "There was a god, the world still sucked. It’s dead, now what are we going to do? Status quo? Or move in the right direction without ‘daddy’ watching over.

[del]Place him on a life-support throne and feed him psykers, using him as a beacon across the Empyrean.[/del]

[del]If I eat his heart, do I gain a portion of his strength?[/del]

I’d bury the corpse as they asked.

Our Friends From Frolix 8, by Phillip K. Dick:
“God is dead,” Nick said. “They found his carcass in 2019. Floating out in space near Alpha.”

“They found the remains of an organism advanced several thousand times over what we are,” Charley said. “And it evidently could create habitable worlds and populate them with living organisms, derived from itself. But that doesn’t prove it was God.”

Thank you much, Contrapuntal.

As for the present corpse, the only rational thing to do is drop it off in R’lyeh.

The necessary zoning was grandfathered in there. Try putting it anywhere else, and the paperwork is never going to get done.

Holy crap.


Wonder why they asked me. I am no friend to the angels! Why are you asking me to dispose of a corpse?

Hide some more.

In effect, shut my eyes and hope the problem goes away of itself.

You could just be on the ship by accident. The character who hatches the plan to send the Corpus Dei down to where Atlantis was is a castaway who thinks that confirmation of God’s existence, even if He is now beetle food, is likely to begin a new Dark Age.

Hide and hope a 2 mile long corpse disappears? Your plan, it has a problem.

How much plastic surgery would it take to turn a two-mile corpse into a tentacled eldritch abomination?

I read the book, but don’t feel much need to vote. His books are decent and this one was a fun romp, but it was more about Tim Robbins-like story-telling than it was a forum for exploring lots of big questions…

His book Only Begotten Daughter (I think that’s correct) was better…