The cardinals were confused and disheveled, having been woken up once again from their deep slumber. As they scrambled into their seats, the chatter began, incoherent as always.
"What now? I thought we all would have some sleep, so we could recover from Stephen Hawking's declaration that god was not necessary for creation."
"He said that?"
"Who said that?"
"That doesn't sound so bad. Darwin said something similar quite a while ago, and we have survived."
"Something terrible must have happened, indeed. Otherwise, why were we awakened at this ungodly hour of 8 in the morning!"
"Tsk, tsk, cardinal [inaudible], you know better than to take the lord's name in vain!
"I heard rumors that a pair of human egg and sperm have been chemically synthesized."
"Can't be true. Scientists are quite a distance from getting there. Until then we'll have bread and wine on the table."
"Well, what then? Have the Iranians exploded a nuclear device? I knew that could happen any day now."
"Is this a drill for the Armageddon?"
"Were you at the special screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night? It was awesome."
"Who's cuter, Emma Watson or Bonnie Wright?"
"I think Daniel Radcliffe is the cutest of all."
"Silence! Our most blessed father is here."
"Good morning, esteemed cardinals."
"Good morning, most blessed father."
"Cardinals, we have a problem. They have broken through the 100 milliseconds barrier at CERN."
"What, I thought there were no barriers to break through after the Berlin Wall."
"Where is CERN?"
"What is CERN?"
"Quiet, children, sorry, cardinals. CERN, Switzerland, is the home of the Large Hadron Collider. Scientists there have been able to trap anti-matter for 170 secs. Not once, but 38 times. It's impressive."
"Of course. It's good news, right? Anyone who traps anti-Christ, that too in a cauldron, must be impressive."
"Not anti-Christ, you idiot, anti-matter. And, not cauldron, but Hadron."
"Poor fellow, he must have forgotten his hearing aids."
"Well, it's not good news. The achievement takes science one step closer to unifying quantum theory and general relativity... towards a theory of everything."
"You don't say!"
"What is quantum theory? From its name, it doesn't sound like it can be of much consequence."
"I hear there is a special relativity, too. What is special about it?"
"God is the theory of everything. Everyone knows that."
"Be quiet. I am afraid there are some serious implications here for our beloved church. Foremost, it strengthens the hands of Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and all their fellow atheists. If they stumble upon a new theory of everything, then we'll be left with nothing. No special status at the UN, no immunity from criminal prosecution for sexual abuse, no tax exemption..."
"That would be terrible, indeed, holy father. What can we do?"
"We must somehow discredit CERN before it's too late."
"Most blessed father, may I be granted permission to speak?"
"Yes, cardinal dean, what have you to say?"
"Surely, they must use a lot of computers at CERN?"
"Most certainly they do, cardinal. Even a pretty little choir boy could tell you that."
"I am sure holiness has heard about our rival from the renegade faith, Rev. Jim Peasboro, and his book, 'The Devil in the Machine: Is your computer possessed by a demon?'"
"Are you saying that the CERN computers are possessed by demons? It's possible, of course, but I find Rev. Peasboro’s theological reasoning about demonic computers rather unconvincing. My personal computer assistant, Dev Peter, tells me that he may have confused the daemon with demon." [hesitant laughter all around]
"I have more than just Rev. Peasboro’s speculation about demonic computers. Have you checked the backside of your laptop lately, holy father?"
"Watch your language, cardinal dean. Do you see anyone on our holy father's lap? How could he check her backside?"
"Shut up, idiot. Go on, cardinal dean."
"Your holiness, there is an evangelical flock in Brazil, who call themselves, 'Paz do Senhor Amado' ('Peace of the beloved Lord'). It's founder, 'Apostle' Welder Saldanha, has made the startling discovery that... I shall not dare utter its name in the presence of the most blessed father... has sneaked its symbol into multiple holes in modern computers. They are called USB ports and they lead to the very soul of the computer. It is with much hesitation that I show you this. Please forgive me.
Apostle Saldanha has forbidden his sheep from using any computer that carries the symbol on its body. I urge our most blessed father to use his influence, and get the Swiss government to ban the use of all computers with USB immediately. That would cripple CERN for quite some time to come."
"Brilliant idea! Thank you, cardinal dean. It surely buys us some time. Meanwhile, my esteemed cardinals, I urge every one of you to put your dirty... er... dazzling minds in the service of our lord. Let us develop a theory of nothing to counter their theory of everything. Let's give thanks to god and pray that god will help us to go forward with strength and faith in the joy of his resurrection."
Hat Tip: the freethinker: The Devil and your computer