“By all the gods!” Dulmog exclaimed. “I just stepped on an ant!”
Dulmog picked up its lifeless body and examined it. “Yaw,” he asked, “do you think this particular ant deserved to die? Do you think he did not pray enough to his god for protection? What did this ant do to meet this fate today?”
“Mog, that ant just happened to be under your foot.”
They entered the forest and started to make their way through the trees and shrubs. Dulmog was still thinking about the dead ant. “…prayers are meaningless,” Dulmog concluded after a while of thought.
“What do you mean?” Abayaw asked.
“The ant must think to have a creator, perhaps fashioned in their image,” Dulmog said.
“The ant evolved from the wasp, Mog, about a hundred million years ago.”
“That explains his corporal existence, Yaw. But what explains his spiritual being? What gave the ants the idea of separate work assignments and an order in the nature of things?”
“Physical and metaphysical realms are governed by natural forces, Mog. The behaviour of the ants is governed by instincts, the major one of which is for survival. Science can explain to you what these natural forces are.”
“And if the behaviour of the ants is governed by instincts, how do you explain the behaviour of humans?” Dulmog asked.
“The behaviour of man,” Abayaw answered, “is a product of both his genetic make-up, and his physical and social environment. The first, is a result of the conditions in which the species evolved, the resulting behaviour of that is called human nature. The second, is the condition in which he lives, which is called culture. It would take a very long time to change the first–the mutation and variability of the genetic sequence of man that can cause diversity in his comportment and morphology. However, the second one–the environment, can be redesigned in such a way as to change his behaviour relatively instantly.”
“So prayers are meaningless, then,” Dulmog repeated. “No amount of supplication will change the course of natural forces. A dart thrown in the air will naturally follow the direction in which it was thrown. Can it change course and veer to the left or to the right if you pray for it to do so?”
“Prayers are part of our tradition, Mog. You know that. Our fathers did it before us, and their fathers before them. That is the custom!”
“But, Yaw, there’s something amiss somewhere…”