“In the beginning was the Word.” What word? Said by what tongue? Indeed, said in what tongue? And by what consciousness was the Word flung Out into Nothing, as from Ark a bird? Nothing will come of nothing, we’ve concurred. A billion galaxies, from Nothing sprung? How “the beginning,” if a lowest rung Requires both ground and ladder? It’s absurd. Religions, sects, philosophies and schools, Simple or complex, always come to grief Because our grasp of Nothingness is flawed. The atheist rightly shows all gods are fools; The agnostic claims that any held belief — Including one in Nothing — is a fraud.
I’ve written poems for and against various religions, depending on my mood and on whatever idea I was exploring. But in the end I come back to disbelief. I’m a militant agnostic: “I don’t know, and neither do you!” And this acknowledgement of ignorance of where the Universe comes from is emphatically NOT an endorsement of any religion. It is an endorsement of the (probably hopeless) search by science for all the answers.
This sonnet, with Petrarchan rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA CDE CDE, was originally published in Bewildering Stories, issue 789. I’ve tinkered with the penultimate line since then, trying to improve the metre.
Nigerian scammers write bad, IN ALL CAPS,
Misspelling, losing credibility
With all except the stupidest of saps;
No fools themselves, it’s done deliberately.
No point in wasting time on those who doubt –
Everyone who responds is a clear fool:
Desperate to believe, they throw sense out –
Greedily they send cash, earn ridicule.
So @RealDonaldTrump tells barefaced lies
Unfazed by print or film-based evidence;
And fools give cash and votes as hypnotised,
Entrust the trickster with their confidence.
“Born of a virgin! Raised up from the dead!”
Faiths, too, tell huge lies – and religions spread.
This sonnet was originally published in Snakeskin. It’s key point is that the easiest people to take money off are those people who want to believe, and who demonstrate that overlooking the most blatant signs of fraud. Nigerian scammers filter for those people by making their emails deliberately implausible.
And interestingly, not all Nigerian scammers are even Nigerian. Google the term and you may find Michael Neu, a Louisiana man in his late 60swho was charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Neu is a white American–but, yes, he apparently sent some of the money to his co-conspirators in Nigeria.