If I told you I'd interviewed God, you'd probably think I'd gone more crackers than a box of Jacob's. After all, as the famous quote goes, "If you talk to God, you're religious; if He talks to you, you're psychotic".
You might be a bit less worried if I confessed that I meant Facebook God, a colourful comic creation who first appeared on the social networking site in September 2011. 'God' gained 200,000 followers in His first year of existence; His devotees now number over 1.2 million (more than the entire UK population of Sikhs, Buddhists, Pagans, Jains, Wiccans, Baha'i, Zoroastrians and Scientologists put together).
Before Facebook, the divine social media sensation appeared on YouTube, entering the first episode of his series Good Lord into the 2009 Playboy Animation Contest. The goal of the competition was to create the next Family Guy or South Park. God says He "unjustly" did not win the $10,000 grand prize. What's a deity to do? Lord knows.
His followers literally bother God, posting questions on His Facebook page for Him to answer. These range from the comic ("Why does my girlfriend call out your name during sex?") to the heart-wrenching ("Do you think me being gay is a sin?"). In response, God provides funny, gentle and kindly answers. (His answer to the latter question was: "Not a sin at all. The biggest sin is to try and live your life to suit the narrow-minded thoughts of people who truly don't care if you're happy or not. You got one short life. You gotta be true to yourself and find love where it feels right for you... Keep being awesome!")
I'm not allowed to know the answer to the ultimate question: "Who created the creator?" The interview is set up by the Lord's Hollywood talent publicist and manager, who "connect" me with "Jehovah Yahweh".
Jehovah tells me, "I am available to answer any and all questions". Still grieving the loss of his mother, who died suddenly in November, he is friendly, polite, genuine and says he enjoyed the atheist bus campaign. Over to his alter-ego...
Very pleased to meet you, God. Just to give our readers a bit of back story, you released a book - The Bible - which was a runaway bestseller. Over 2,000 years later, you've yet to pen another. A touch of writer's block, perhaps?
Hello, mortal. I'd like to be very clear on this - the LORD had absolutely nothing to do with the writing of the book known as The Bible, or any other religious text for that matter. Those were all written by confidence artists and therefore should be disregarded as rubbish.
But God, those texts quote you directly! Here's one from the Bible: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LORD". Shouldn't you have put out some sort of disclaimer, to let the 2.18 billion Christians in the world know that it's not your work?
Those texts quote humans who were putting words into the Divine Mouth! I had nothing to do with the writing or publication of The Bible. How could I? I wasn't even awake! When Jesus got back to Heaven from being crucified, we had a huge party to celebrate. I drank an ocean of ale and passed out for a couple hundred years or so. Humans call this time period 'The Dark Ages.'
I'm surprised Jesus was still talking to you, let alone partying with you. Anyhow, you've explained what happened with the New Testament, but what about the Old Testament? Was that also the result of an enormous bender?
I'm not going to say that nothing in the Old Testament really happened; there was certainly a flood that I started. I also smote the hell out of those two cities (I can't recall their names just now). It's the interpretation of these events that's all wrong. For example, the entire book of Leviticus should be torn out of every Bible and pissed on. I spit on Leviticus. That part says I hate shellfish and gay people. Nothing could be further from the truth! I love shellfish! I love gay people! I created them both!
Is that why you've taken to Facebook and YouTube? To let people know the true Good Word of the LORD?
EXACTLY! I finally found a way to communicate to humans without melting their faces off from My Radiant Awesomeness.
Splendid. I just watched your Playboy Animation Contest cartoon entry, Good Lord: The Smiting. Unfortunately, my two-year-old daughter wandered in just as you yelled "Shut your f***ing face!" at a cartoon Richard Dawkins, before blasting another male atheist's head off with an assault rifle, spattering blood all over the screen. Will my toddler be telling a child psychologist about this in ten years' time?
No, your child is only two and will not remember this. Long-term memory doesn't start until age five.
While looking at your Facebook page, I notice that you say you need to earn money, hence selling t-shirts with your image on. Can't you just create some dollars?
Are you suggesting the LORD become a counterfeiter? That's illegal and immoral. No thanks.
More immoral than drowning millions of people in a flood?!
Hey now, that was a long time ago. I've become a new God since then.
Your 2013 Facebook persona is a lot gentler and kinder than even your 2009 YouTube atheist-slayer. Would you say you've changed since then too?
Yes, I no longer use a shotgun to smite people. I'm back to using fireballs.
You're all heart. Anyhow, you certainly seem nicer than old Mr "Eye-For-An-Eye". What's your current stance on slavery?
Slavery is an abomination and must be destroyed.
How about child misbehaviour?
Misbehaving is a crucial part of being a child. I encourage it.
And women's reproductive rights?
Men should never be allowed to write laws pertaining to body parts they don't have.
Wow, you HAVE changed! Would you agree that deities are human creations?
I would agree that every other mythical 'deity' was a human creation. I'm the only real one.
Then it's impressive that you've embraced social media so readily, given that you must be nearly 3,500 years old. My mum, who is only 65, once told me: "Darling, your father's printed out the internet. It's on the hall table."
Haha... yes, I know your mum well. Good woman.
Did you have any teething problems getting to grips with the IT aspect of it all?
The LORD knows all and sees all. Tech is not challenging in the slightest. That said, f*** printers. Printers are evil.
Amen to that. So let me get this straight: you post funny stuff on your Facebook page, you write and animate YouTube videos, and you design and sell t-shirts... anything else we should know about?
Yes, I am also working to complete my first book. This book will be special because it will actually be 100% written by the LORD.
What's it called?
It shall be known as Ask God, Volume 1. It shall be a compendium of the best questions I've been asked over time, along with My Divine Answers.
I hope thou shalt bestow upon me a preview copy. Now, I recall that on the Facebook page, you said you had a job. Are you still but a humble carpenter, or do you do something different?
I'm GM (Galactic Manager) of the Milky Way Galaxy. It's incredibly stressful.
I'm sorry to hear that. You also said you had a family. Who is Mrs LORD?
The LORD is a confirmed bachelor.
Ah. Then the 'family' you referred to must be our beautiful human race. Now, your agent informs me that "God is an atheist". Should you not, to quote Douglas Adams, "disappear in a puff of logic"?
How dare that pitiful mortal speak for the LORD?! Anyway, yes of course, I'm a huge atheist because I don't believe in a higher power. That said, I do believe in myself. If I didn't, I would vanish like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
An invisible God? Whatever next. Now, you profess to hate atheists because they don't worship you. That means I must really be in your bad books, because I created a bus campaign which ran in 13 countries, telling the world that you don't exist. Can you ever forgive me?
Of course! Now that you realise I do in fact exist, you're forgiven.
The old LORD has over six billion followers, but your new incarnation just scrapes a million on Facebook. Any plans to increase your flock?
Scrapes a million?! It's at 1.2million! !@$!%*!#!# I'm doing my best, but the world has turned upside down. Atheists love me and the religious hate me. Maybe I should re-crucify Jesus. Maybe that would help.
I think that would be, to quote an esteemed source, "illegal and immoral". And lastly: your followers have raised over £22,000 to give your beloved dad, a retired minister, a holiday, after your mother - his wife of 40 years - died unexpectedly. How did you feel about this?
We are stunned, amazed and incredibly thankful for all the love that has poured in. My dad can now breathe a little easier knowing he's not totally destitute. He has also been moved by the hundreds and thousands of messages of support. Many people have said things like, "you talked to me and helped me three months ago when I was going through a lot, now it's time to return the favour" or "You and your dad deserve to be happy, your mother must have been an amazing person and an incredible wife." Very true.
My dad reads all the comments. It has really, really helped to lift his spirits. I still miss her every day and I weep for the loss, it's only been a month... but I also know that her love and strength lives on through me. One of her favourite quotes was from Winston Churchill, who after WWII gave a graduation speech and simply said, "Never, never, never give up."
Thank you for your time, oh LORD. It's been a pleasure.
Thank you for your time as well, mortal.