The winner of the character contest is...
Will Foley! (aka Fenris)
Congratulations! Here is his story, and I will be sharing mine on Wednesday. Will, you can email me 1000 words of your WIP or anything else to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will critique it. :)
A bird hopped through the grass, picking at worms and bugs only it could see. Two shadows appeared and it stiffened, stretching its neck to peer at the newcomers as they approached.
“Such spirit,” said Gabriel as the bird flitted to the lowest branch of a nearby tree and began scolding them.
“Spirit,” scoffed Charles. “Maybe as an expression, but nothing more. It has merely evolved to be wary of humans.”
“Doesn’t seem so wary to me.” The bird continued chirping insults at them, its feathers ruffled up. A silence fell as they left it behind, and after a pause it swooped down to resume its hunt.
“Do you think they have souls, Charles?”
“Do you think animals have souls, like we do? There’s that spark of intelligence in their eyes, of mischief that couldn’t be carried out by a soulless machine.”
“Gabriel, remember who you’re asking. I don’t believe humans have souls, let alone animals. Souls simply don’t exist.”
“Then what do you believe, Charles?” asked Gabriel as they emerged from the trees beside a large pond. Swans sailed sedately away, while ducks scurried along the north bank, fighting over scraps of bread. “And how can you prove that souls don’t exist?”
“There’s simply no proof, Gabriel. The soul’s condemnation began when early surgeons could find no organ that embodied it. It simply isn’t there.”
“So it’s a figment of my imagination?”
Their voices echoed through the morning mist, and they fell into an indignant silence. Events such as these were commonplace between them. Both were headstrong, determined, unwilling to back down in the face of opposition—and both believed precisely the opposite of the other. Theirs was a circular argument, one that had no beginning…and no end.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Gabriel, finally breaking the silence. “I can believe what I want to. There’s a difference between faith and knowledge. Knowledge is the name for what cannot be disproved—”
“And faith is the name for a belief that cannot be proved. So why do you cling to a hypothesis that has no data to support it?”
“Because I can, and I choose to. You follow your mind, Charles, gathering knowledge that will never help you after death. I shall follow my heart.”
“In the hope that it will help you after death? Gabriel, there is nothing waiting for you!”
“Has Heaven been disproved?”
Charles sighed. “No, but neither have Bigfoot or unicorns. Gabriel, look. I’m your brother. I don’t like to see you wasting your time with something that makes no sense!”
“Not scientific sense, perhaps. But—”
“But even fictional stories make sense if they stick to their own rules. Yeah. I know.”
“The Bible is not—”
“Haven’t you read it? Don’t you see all the contradictions?”
“Yes! Acts 1:24 says ‘Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all…”’, but in Genesis 22, God has to test Abraham to see if he is truly faithful. How can God know the hearts of men, yet still have to test them?”
“Maybe the tests aren’t for his benefit,” argued Gabriel. “Maybe they’re for ours, to show us whether we truly love him.”
“That makes about as much sense as the Bible.”
“The Bible was written by mortal men.”
“Who claimed to be inspired by God! And even they contradicted themselves—the first chapter of Proverbs says that those who seek God will not find him, but the eighth says that they can!”
“You’re taking it out of context—Proverbs 1 says that only those who have refused God will in turn be refused by Him.”
“Then I can go on! James chapter—”
“Charles, I can’t expect you to find what you do not wish to find,” Gabriel said scathingly. Their voices had once again risen to a clamor that echoed across the still water, earning glares from the swans and the few humans who had chosen to rise so early for a stroll. “You call yourself a scientist, unbiased in the face of new theories, new data. And yet you already condemn something against which there is no evidence. You yourself have as many contradictions as the religion you condemn. I believe that God exists and will save me after death—the central tenet of Christianity. I have learned to accept that mortal men have flaws, which could have led to your precious contradictions.”
“So you admit that the Bible might be wrong?”
“Not in its basic form, its central meaning.”
“Only in the words that convey it, then. See? I’ve already gotten you to bend. You yourself admit that your holiest truths can be wrong on a certain level. Science has no such weaknesses.”
“I have two words that can prove you wrong. Newtonian physics.”
Charles said not a word.