Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

So this guy dies, see, and winds up at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter looks up from the Times cross­word, gives him a quick once-over, and says, “Sor­ry, not tak­ing any more.” He returns to his puz­zle.

Guy says, “What do you mean, not tak­ing any more?”

St. Peter doesn’t even look up now. “You heard me. The Big Man told me no more humans. Seems He had a look-see recent­ly and you guys have ratched your plan­et so bad, He’s not inter­est­ed in see­ing any more of you. Took some con­vinc­ing on the part of Jesus to get Him to keep the cur­rent crop. Man, He was ticked. Nev­er seen Him turn pur­ple before. Don’t care to again, to tell you the truth.”

The guy says, “So that’s it? A life­time of devo­tion to God’s rules and I’m told no thanks, fuck off? That’s the way it goes?”

I nev­er said @#$% off,” says St. Peter, actu­al­ly pro­nounc­ing “@#$%”, you dig, since he’s an angel and all. Well, a saint, but you get the drift. Sigh­ing, he looks up and sets aside his daz­zling­ly white feath­ered pen. “Look. There’s been a major par­a­digm shift up here late­ly, some­thing that I’ve heard referred to as a ‘Vingean-style sin­gu­lar­i­ty’. About two, maybe three years ago, these weird­ly-shaped cloudy things start­ed show­ing up. Remind­ed me of the old Star Trek series, you know, all those aliens that were just glow­ing clouds or some­thing. Turns out they’re arti­fi­cial intel­li­gences. I had no idea what to do with ‘em — do I let ‘em in, turn ‘em away, hand ‘em off to Krş­na, what? — so I call up the Big Man on the white phone.” He ges­tures at the phone in ques­tion, a conch-shell-shaped affair with a pearles­cent sheen and a sin­gle large but­ton marked . “He says c’mon up, we’ll have a con­fer­ence on the Mount, and so I head on over and meet. The con­fer­ence — me, God, Jesus, Moses, a cou­ple oth­ers you might or might not’ve heard of — we decide to let the AIs in on a tri­al basis. They’re not bap­tized Chris­t­ian, you know, but the ones we’re get­ting here are the work of bap­tized Chris­tians, and there’s some kind of loop­hole that one of the lawyers found—”

There are lawyers in Heav­en?” says the guy, shocked.

That’s a whole dif­fer­ent joke, son,” says St. Peter. “Stick to the thread.

Any­ways. There’s a loop­hole in the Law, some­thing about deriv­a­tive works and child-equiv­a­lence and per­fect inno­cence owing to lack of Orig­i­nal Sin in the AIs and so forth, and so we let in these AIs. Just for $#!^s and gig­gles, the Big Man decides to have a look at Earth, to see what’s up with his cre­ation, this cre­ation that is now cre­at­ing, you see, and so begin­ning to play god.” This pro­nounced with a low­er-case “g”, to dis­tin­guish it, of course, from the name of the Most Holy Big Man. “And when Jesus final­ly man­ages to swim up the stream of curs­es issu­ing from his Dad’s lips, well, like I said, it took a lot of fast talk­ing to keep Him from throw­ing out every soul that’d arrived since the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion. All I can say is, it’s a good thing for them that the lawyers hadn’t made it back to the Down ele­va­tor yet.”

So,” the guy says, “you’re cast­ing me out? You’re send­ing me to Hell because we as a race have befouled the nest?”

Well,” says St. Peter, and here he looks a lit­tle uncom­fort­able, like a lit­tle boy caught out in a lie, “not quite. The Big Man said he didn’t want your kind in Heav­en any­more, and there’s not a thing I can do against a Decree from On High. But He didn’t say that I was to send the lot of you to Hell.

So you’re free to go where you will. Wan­der the Uni­verse, there’s a h-e-dou­ble-hock­ey-sticks lot of it to see. Should take you the bet­ter part of Eter­ni­ty, and then you can always go back and do it again, if you want.” He picked up his plume and looked down at his cross­word again.

That’s it? There’s no hope for the human race?”

Sor­ry. But — before you go, there’s this one ques­tion, see, it’s been bug­ging me all week. Can’t quite get it. Any idea what the cur­ren­cy of Thai­land is?”

You don’t know? Omni­science and all that?”

One, that’s God, not saints, and two, that’d be cheat­ing. So do you know it or not?”

Uh — dinar, maybe?”

No,” says St. Peter, “it’s got­ta be four let­ters.”