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September 22 , 2008

About God, the World and People


The only relative of Bettina, a rich, Roman Catholic widow are her two nephews, Peter, a mathematician and particle physicist and George, a bookkeeper and taxation consultant. The parents of Peter and George died in an avalanche accident. Bettina neighbors are Dr. Chang Lam, a retired physician and his wife Dora. They have a good- looking granddaughter, Gertrud. Bettina and Dr. Lam’s houseguests are: Dr. Philchrist, an emeritierter professor of philosophy, and Father Stengel, their local priest. While the plot evolves, these main characters of the play are involved in various interesting discussions. Peter is asked to explain the latest research results in cosmology and the origin of life on earth, Dr. Lam talks about evolution and genetics, Father Stengel emphasizes God’s creative influence in the world, while Dr. Philchrist, who takes the Bible seriously but not literally because he finds it to mythological, accepts all scientific results and tries to fit his own belief in God into this worldview. In the play, Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal recurrence of the same events and whether his concept of an “over-man” is meant to be an evolutionary improvement of mankind, are debated. Dr. Philchrist and Father Stengel discuss the free will, infinity and the concept of time, as well as their different views of God’s influence in the expanding universe. Peter and Gertrude, who become good friends, contemplate the selfish genes, Jesus and the difference between the human and animal species. It comes as a great surprise when Peter, without explaining his reason, resigns his position as a professor of cosmology, marries Gertrude and serves as an ordained Lutheran pastor. It could be that Peter’s decision was influenced by what happened to his brother, George; but no one knows.
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