HEAVEN--In an interview God held with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Sunday, He admitted that Pope Francis was right when he said, "The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace."
Asked by Cooper why God led so many people for so long to believe that hell was real, God explained, "It's a behaviorist technique I thought up to get people to behave, kind of like the lump of coal that so many parents use to scare their kids into behaving. It's my way of scaring (excuse the pun) the 'hell' out of people, who are, in general, predisposed to lie, cheat, steal, sleep with their neighbors' wives, and all those other commandments that Moses supposedly brought down from Mount Sinai."
"You mean," gasped Cooper, "that the Ten Commandments aren't real either?"
"No no, of course not," chuckled God, "but's it a great story! And didn't you love Charlton Heston in the role of Moses in DeMille's fictional account of Exodus? But seriously, how else do you keep a tribal society from falling apart unless you have a few rules to keep people in line? After all, as general guidelines, most of them make a lot of sense."
Cooper asked, "But what do you think of Pope Francis' contention that hell is only real in a metaphorical sense? That, as Francis puts it, 'Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul?'"
"That's nonsense too," explained God. "Atheists are some of the kindest, most gregarious people I know! Richard Dawkins and I, along with some of his friends, often meet in a pub in London to discuss evolutionary biology. And, since Christopher Hitchens passed away in 2011, he and I often meet to discuss my non-existence. A kinder, more generous man I've never met, and the guy can hold his liquor, too."
Persisted Cooper, "Then you subscribe to Darwin's theory of evolution, too?"
"In spite of evidence to the contrary--Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and that bigoted asshole on Duck Dynasty come to mind--I do believe that human beings reached the biological complexity they now have through a slow accumulation of adaptations brought about by natural selection over millions of years. And Dawkins is right, by the way: I had nothing to do with it. The God Delusion pretty much demolishes the idea of Intelligent Design."
Cooper then asked: "Well, if the Ten Commandments were just a ruse, if hell isn't real, and if You aren't responsible for the behavior or even the existence of human beings, then why do You exist?"
God pondered this a moment, scratched his head, and then disappeared.