P leaned back in his chair and swiveled his eyes towards me. “How many Gods do you suppose there are?” This seemed like a ridiculous question and I told him so. “But why do you suppose it is so ridiculous?” came the reply. I did not feel, given P’s intelligence, that I really had to answer this question, however since he had asked it with a degree of sincerity I decided to answer. “It is ridiculous because firstly the idea of a God is totally incoherent and secondly even if we allow some sort of definition we will then have no actual way of answering the question. The only instance in which we can answer it is a kind of historical review of all the known religions and their Gods, though this too might prove tricky as there may be translation errors in some of the texts which will result in some entities which we might classify as minor spirits being classified as Gods and vice versa.” “You are right of course” said P “and yet when one has talked to the spirits themselves, do you not think that one is in a better position to answer this problem?” I cringed at his tone, which he had been effecting since he had been talking to J -a disembodied being of some kind. “I am not sure we can trust J’s pronouncements upon the matter any more than Jesus’ frankly” I replied somewhat curtly.
“I know what you mean” P began again “I just think, this time we have a better case to sort it out, I think I have the necessary proof, this side of the coin and the other so to speak.” I became confused “P you are confusing me today. This is not an unusual occurrence so I am not surprised by it however its regularity does not make it any less confusing. Presuming the two faces of the coin are somehow this reality and the one that J inhabits, what is the proof that you refer to?” “Who mentioned proof?” “You mentioned proof, you often mention proof, it is like a talismanic word to you.” “You misunderstand me, I did not ask the question of you, I was merely recalling a conversation with J in which he uttered those words.” “Go on…” “I was speaking to J about the problem, musing to myself almost upon the topic of proof when it said enigmatically ‘who mentioned proof?’ I said that I was thinking about proof, so probably I did. To this it remarked that proof shall be mine.” “And..?” “The presence left.” “So what was the proof?” “I didn’t understand its nature at first, indeed there would be some -I suppose you would count amongst them- who would say I still don’t understand it. Nevertheless the proof begins like this: Later on in the day I felt I should like to know the number of J.” “The number of J?” “Yes, you will be aware of the tradition of entities having numbers. I wished to know the number of J.” “And did you obtain it?” “I did.” “And what was this number?” “Before I tell you the number I must tell you how I obtained it.” “Then do so please, for I am eager to hear the number of J.” “I was not actually talking to J on this occasion, rather I chose to find this number out by a divinatory method. The reason for this is that the spirits can be mendacious and hence it is wise to sometimes bypass direct contact with them and employ a more truthful method of revelation. Divinatory methods are one such.” I felt a rising sense of rage and flabbergastation at this “P, have you not on previous occasions argued for how we should trust the spirits for function largely as just another consciousness, which -as your argument ran- we usually trust? Yet now you seek to bypass the mode of direct contact as untrustworthy!” “Am I to apply one rule to all situations? What foolishness do you speak? If I wish to obtain your bank details am I going to ask you for them? No I must use subterfuge and modern technological methods.” I raised an eyebrow. “Divination, bypasses the direct word of these entities and plugs straight into akashic data, which if checked suitably can on occasion be extremely reliable.”