A CELESTIAL SCENE. The Archangel GABRIEL sits at a medium-sized desk. He will look down, as though consulting notes, then glance upward as though in thought, and then write, perhaps with a stylus (definitely not with a quill). As two other angels approach, he rises to greet them.
ENTER the Archangel MICHAEL, and ARARIEL, another angel.
GABRIEL: Oh, thanks for stopping by. I’m spending more time on documentation than I imagined at first. I had a couple of questions.
MICHAEL: We’re all a bit off balance, I’m afraid. Needless to say, nobody’s ever seen a project of this magnitude before.
GABRIEL: I take it that Raphael had a successful Day Three, with dry land emerging, ready for plants, leaving us to concentrate on Heavenly Bodies today. Is this largely an aesthetic exercise?
MICHAEL: Well, for Earth’s inhabitants the effect will be mostly visual. But it turns out that there’s a lot of physics involved.
GABRIEL: One thing I’ve noticed is that the Firmament isn’t where I expected it to be. Weren’t we going to have Earth sort of between two bodies of water, above and below?
MICHAEL: I think we’ve managed to stay true to the vision set forth in the promotional materials. What we came up with is a user interface that will appear as described, and behind it a system that is, if anything, even more elegant. When we realized that this was not to be a single performance – that life was going to continue beyond Day Seven — we concluded that we had to make Creation self-sustaining. Our idea is that Divine Intervention will still be possible, but that it should be unnecessary for long periods.
This altered both the shape of the Earth and the concept of the Firmament. I think Arariel is better at explaining this than I am.
ARARIEL: One of the first things we realized is that living things are going to require air to breathe, if they’re going to grow or move. So we designed an atmosphere. It will be largely transparent to them, so no need to change the description, but its composition is actually fairly critical. The genius part about the atmosphere is that it does some of the work envisioned for the Firmament. The atmosphere can take water from the seas, store it, and return it to the land as rain. And, being transparent, it allows for a lot more flexibility when it comes to our Heavenly Bodies. For instance, the Sun can provide warmth and light from a comfortable distance now.
GABRIEL: This is a lot to take in. So, there will not be a covering with holes to admit light?
ARARIEL: We haven’t forgotten about stars – but there are a couple of other concepts we need to go over first. When we were thinking about the atmosphere – air to breathe, like we mentioned earlier – well, we needed a force to keep it in place. The solution is gravity, a kind of mild affinity that physical substances have for each other. Gravity will keep objects and beings from rattling around and will allow some of them to move from one place to another. It’s gravity that will keep the seas separate from the land, and allow the rain to fall. But gravity also suggested a new shape for the Earth itself. Instead of a flat Earth, with water piling up in the middle, we’ve now got an Earth that is spherical.
GABRIEL: That sounds like a pretty noticeable change.
MICHAEL: Well, we all may have visualized a flat Earth, but I don’t think that’s inherent in the concept. And besides, the Earth is so large that, to anybody actually standing on it, it appears to be quite planar.
ARARIEL: Turns out that the sphere is the ideal shape for large objects. For one thing, the heat of Creation tends to make them molten, and then they just naturally ball up. But from a design standpoint, you don’t have to worry about what to do with edges and things. Also, they look nice in rotation.
MICHAEL: So here’s what we settled on. We’ll have our Sun, a big, constant source of heat and light fairly nearby. And the Moon, largely ornamental but with some practical functions involving time and tides. Then – and this may sound pretty radical – for the tiny lights in the Heavens, we’ll have more bodies like the Sun, but each of them very, very far away.
MICHAEL: Well, let’s face it, we’ve got a lot of unused space. This gives a kind of consistency to the whole universe. Plus, if this thing is a success, we will be able to replicate it without any disruption.
ARARIEL: Or, if there are problems with this Earth, we could produce a second iteration elsewhere on fairly short notice.
GABRIEL: So all these Heavenly Bodies go around the Earth once each day? It would be nice to see a model or at least some drawings.
MICHAEL: Well, that’s one more point we should probably bring up.
ARARIEL: With the Heavenly Bodies so large and so distant, it’s not practical to have them actually travel around the Earth each day. Instead, in this plan, the Earth rotates, and the other bodies appear to rise and set. Upon completion, the term “Day” will be defined to be the time that it takes the earth to make one turn. Oh, wait, pardon me. We still have the Moon actually traveling around the Earth, but on a different schedule.
GABRIEL: This seems pretty ambitious. Can all this be in place before the start of Day Five?
MICHAEL: It’s getting the atmosphere in shape that will take some time.
ARARIEL: Plants growing on Earth have already begun the job of changing the original Mist into air suitable for sentient creatures. As the Earth cools, they’re taking a vital substance called Carbon from the air and stockpiling it in the soil. We’ve calculated that a balance will be reached at a temperature that the eventual inhabitants will find pleasant.
MICHAEL: Given the gift of Fire, Adam and his descendants will be able to choose how warm they want to be. And – here’s a feature that we’re particularly proud of – burning more carbon actually increases the ability of the atmosphere to retain heat, making less burning necessary in the future. Temperature should pretty much regulate itself.
GABRIEL: Well, I’ve got to admit, it sounds like everthing has been thoroughly thought through. A lot of the work is in the details, isn’t it?
MICHAEL: We’re prepared to expand our presentation if need be.
GABRIEL: Well, you’ve certainly convinced me. And you’ve already got approval from On High. By the way, how many are we to expect? Adam, and then probably a mate. And you mentioned children. If the world is as large as you say, I suppose there’s plenty of room?
ARARIEL: We’re rating the Earth for as many as two billion.
GABRIEL: [Startled] Did you say “Billion?” I guess I needn’t have worried.
[All three angels chuckle.]
GABRIEL: All right then! We’ve got a long Day ahead of us.
[Exeunt MICHAEL and ARARIEL. GABRIEL returns to his desk, his pondering and his writing. Curtain falls.]
Author’s note: The oldest files I have regarding this work are from early November, 2021. I had spent some time before that looking for likely angels to use for characters, and reading about the Creation story. I can’t say when I first had the basic idea for the play.
I can say this: in March of 2022 I watched the repeat of a Saturday Night Live performance, originally broadcast on May 22, 2021. In it, the week’s guest-host, Anya Taylor-Joy, appears as an angel in a skit about the design process for the first humans. I recalled seeing the earlier showing but was surprised at the similarities with my own play — the word “billion” is a laugh line in each of them, for instance. I can promise that I didn’t consciously draw upon the earlier work, but it seems likely that I was unconsciously influenced by it. Or it may have been Divine Intervention, but at any rate apologies and thanks to those earlier Authors.