The following short introduction is intended to be the basis of a longer work. I am presenting it here in order to pressure myself into taking up the challenge of actually completing it. Feel free to heap polite praise and appropriate encouragement.
The old man, visibly shaken, was silent for longer than was usually tolerated in polite conversation. “You are saying that your people believe that God is a virus; some sort of dangerous infection?”, he asked. The translation device (or creature, it had never been explained which it was) instantly converted his words into rapid light bursts projected onto a cloud-like haze that shimmered above it without apparent source or sign of dissipation. This gossamer web of light and mist conveyed the language of these visitors. It looked something like glitter drifting through smoke and illuminated by an unseen spotlight. The alien itself was man shaped yet devoid of apparent sensory organs or orifices. Its face was blank; hairless, eyeless, noseless, earless and mouthless, revealing no apparent window to its thoughts.
It ‘watched’ the lights and replied in the same staccato light show played instead across the bare expanse of its torso. The light was accompanied by a light static crackle that was difficult to discern during conversation, but which was always recorded and furiously studied by newly-relevant xenobiologists all across the world. The visitor did not appear to be clothed, which jarringly revealed a lack of sexual organs. There was no familiar rise and fall of breath that one would expect from any animal, nor vestigial signs of an evolutionary past that might have included mammalian suckling, or waste elimination of any sort. It had not actually ever even claimed to ‘live’, but by popular consensus, it was considered not only alive, but male, based principally upon its chosen form of speech.
The reply emanated smoothly from the translator in the soothing voice with which it had first introduced the alien to the world 9 months earlier. It was the voice of an elderly middle school science professor or kindly wizard, perhaps, explaining the wonder of mitosis or the perils of an impending quest. It always replied in the language of the one it answered. It refused to speak to more than 1 person at any time. It always sounded like it was from somewhere vaguely nearby, but not local. It was a patient voice. It was utterly reasonable in tone, and completely devoid of threat or anger. It was a voice that had already shaken the world. It had inspired fervent joy, mad rage and already toppled a dozen governments. There was no clear indication that this was its intent. The results had been almost immediate though, and the shock waves continued. The voice had reverberated across the intricate socio-political tapestry of the Earth, pulling at loose threads, bunching cloth in uncomfortable positions and seemingly threatening to unravel it all.
“Not God”, came the reply, “God is one of the first constructs of any sentient will. It is like division by zero or the square root of -1, useful at times to assist in computing higher functions, but logically impossible. Religion is the virus, and it infects every young race. It is more dangerous than any biological agent with which you might imply I would compare it. I know your fear, though. Do not be afraid. I am not here to harm you, or to force you to abandon your disease, no matter how clearly onerous I can see it to be for your future. I have come to offer my assistance. I have come before. If I must, I will come again. I am the way, the truth and the light. Through me, you may find the peace and comfort to which all sentient beings are entitled.”
The old man did not stir, but his psyche recoiled, as if he’d been slapped. He knew these words were calculated to evoke his own experiences. He’d been warned as much during the briefings required before he was allowed to speak directly with the visitor. Still, to hear the words of his gospel turned to such blasphemous ends was nearly unbearable. He had always considered himself to be a humanist, strange as that was for someone who led so many of the world’s faithful. That came in part from the academic roots of his youth, working with children. He was no Innocent. He valued discussion, welcomed dissent and embraced the questioning of faith. That was how he’d come to his seat, as a compromise, during the Great Joining of 2202, nearly 40 years prior. This creature, though, was no man to be reasoned with, counseled or understood. This was a devil, clothed in white light and threatening to rip his world asunder. No, not his world, but the world of his flock. He could feel it in his bones. He knew it to be true. He would never be drawn into its lies. It would have to be stopped. He paused, smiling peacefully at the alien creature, while he composed himself inwardly. “I have many questions, and our time today is very limited.”, he said carefully. “Tell me more about your people, and what it is I can do to help build a relationship of trust and understanding between our worlds.”