Many Christians believe that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God. When asked for evidence that God exists, they point to the Bible and the stories describing all the miracles God performed. That neat little piece of circular reasoning is about as logical as the idea of a self-eating watermelon.
I was lying in bed thinking about this one night, and when I finally fell asleep, I had a very strange dream. It was a few days after I had returned from a trip to South Africa. The brain often weaves personal experiences into dreams, and this was a good example.
I was sitting in a bar on the waterfront in Cape Town, drinking a beer and watching the late afternoon sunlight fade on Table Mountain. Suddenly, a very attractive young lady slid onto the bar stool next to me, smiled, and struck up a conversation.
Now, I am on the shady side of seventy years old, so I didn’t think she was looking for romance. I noticed that she was pretty animated about something, and I asked her what was so exciting. She replied that she had just come from a very inspiring service at her church. Just to make conversation, I asked her what denomination of church she attended.
“I belong to a very small church called ‘Brevision.’”
“Never heard of it,” I said. “What does the name mean?”
“The name is derived from Brevibacterium linens, the bacterium used to make Limburger cheese. The central belief of our church is that Pluto is made of Limburger cheese.”
Now, I pride myself on being a pretty cool guy, not easily bamboozled. My first thought was that she was pulling my leg, but her expression, deadly serious and intense, kept me from laughing out loud. “Pluto?” I bleated.
“Yes. You know: the smallest and furthest planet.”
“Ex-planet,” I corrected, trying to recover a little ground. “It has been downgraded to dwarf planet.”
She shook her head sadly, and an expression of annoyance flashed across her flawless face. “Yes, it’s sad that scientists don’t recognize its importance. We believe that it is at the exact center of the universe.”
“How many members does your church have?” I asked, struggling gamely to keep the conversation going.
“It varies—twelve to fifteen. At the moment we are down to twelve.”
I didn’t want to offend her, but I just had to ask, “Why do you think Pluto is made of Limburger cheese?”
“We don’t think it is. We know it is.”
“But how can you know that? Nobody has ever been there, and we have only faint and blurry images.”
“We just know,” she said, flashing an incandescent smile that made me wish I were forty or fifty years younger.
“Look,” I said, “Limburger cheese is made from cow’s milk. I think it is highly unlikely that there are cows on Pluto. So it seems to me that it is also highly unlikely that there is any Limburger cheese there.”
She looked at me as if I were a child and said very condescendingly, “You must be a scientist. Your thoughts and logic are all based on your experiences here on Earth. Limburger cheese is just a bunch of chemicals, and he could easily make all of it if he wanted.”
She eyed me as if I were an idiot. “God, of course.” It was a long journey, but we had made it all the way from Earth to Pluto to Limburger cheese to God.
“So the members of your faith believe in God?”
She looked at me with those gorgeous eyes and blinked. “How else can you explain all that Limburger cheese?”
From the author: This was written several years ago when the New Horizons probe was still billions of miles from Pluto. Now that we have seen some detailed photos of Pluto’s surface, is my beauty’s Brevision faith repudiated? Not so fast. Beneath those ice mountains and rivers of liquid nitrogen, scientists may find a solid core of Limburger cheese.