This story is rapidly on its way to becoming out of date.
The inspiration was two-pronged. Some scientists were speculating that our reality might be a computer simulation, akin to the holodeck on Star Trek. I don’t believe that, of course, but it was an intriguing and downright unsettling idea. The other driver behind this was the life-simulation video game “The Sims,” one I’ve never played but is still around.
Of course, there is also the biblical passage from John 1, among my favorites. This underscores the eternal nature of Jesus and his unwavering love for humanity—to the point of death.
Thus we encounter Taylor Wayne, the brilliant scientist who “creates” a universe as detailed as the one we inhabit, and how his desire to love his creation leads to his ultimate sacrifice.
It’s worth noting that this is a broad effort to get at an ancient question: If God loves us so much, and he’s all-powerful, why does he allow bad things to happen? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer for that—Billy Graham once said that there’s an element to evil in the world that we’ll never understand—but the perspective I offer here is one of allowing for genuine love. We want our children to love us because they truly love us, not because they’re “programmed” to do so. We teach them in the way they should go, then we release them to make their own decision and their own mistakes.
That’s not a satisfying answer by any means, and it raises lots of questions, ones we should ask. God is big enough to handle our hard questions, even our angry ones.
One could argue that “A Sheep Oneself” is pretty “on the nose.” I accept that. I don’t think every parable has to be vague or subtle. Sometimes we need our nose broken.