Son: Daddy? Where do cats come from?
Father: They come from other cats.
Son: But where do all cats come from?
Father: Well, they come from the rest of the world. Things kept happening in the world, and then one day, with all those things happening, cats happened, too.
Son: Where do things come from? They had to come from somewhere, right?
Father: Maybe they were always there. Maybe there have just always been things.
Son: But why are there always things?
Father: Maybe it’s impossible for there to be nothing.
Son: So there has to be something.
Son: Do there have to be cats?
Son: Why not?
Father: Well, cats and other things like this chair and our house, and you and me, might never have happened.
Son: What about stars and the sun, and Mummy? Could they not happen?
Father: Yes. Everything in the world might not have happened.
Son: But there always has to be something.
Father: I suppose. That seems right. At least, I can’t think of what it would be like if there was nothing at all. The idea makes no sense. How could nothing be? How could nothing do nothingness?
Son: I don’t understand.
Father: Well, imagine if there was just space, stretching out forever, with nothing in it. Can you imagine that?
Father: Would that be nothing?
Son: I don’t know.
Father: It wouldn’t! It would be space. And space is not nothing.
Son: But Daddy, what if cats and stuff like the chair, and people, and just everything had never happened. What if there wasn’t even space? Would there still be something?
Father: If everything that might not have happened had never happened at all, then there would still have to be something. Even if there was nothing else, there would have to be a way for there to be something. And that way would be something.
Son: Why would there have to be a way for things to happen?
Father: Well, if there wasn’t, then nothing could ever happen. But things do happen, so there has to be that way.
Son: And that way would be a thing that had to happen.
Son: And it would be there no matter what else happened.
Father: Yes. I suppose it would have to be.
Son: So it couldn’t be like other things, that might not happen.
Father: No. It would have to be quite different.
Father: Well, let me ask you this. If it always had to be there no matter what, could there be a time when it wasn’t?
Son: No. It has to be there.
Father: So it didn’t come to be?
Son: No. It was already there.
Father: So that makes it very different from other things, that might not have happened. It never started, and it can never end.
Son: Yeah. It’s a forever thing.
Father: Do you think this forever thing that has to be there is really there?
Son: Yes. It has to be.
Father: OK, let me ask you another question. Do things come from nothing, or do they always come from other things?
Son: They come from other things.
Father: Are you sure? Why couldn’t they come from nothing?
Son: That’s silly, Daddy. That’s like saying that a man might have come from nowhere.
Father: OK, I buy that. Things have to come from other things. Is that true of the forever thing? Did it come from something else?
Son: No. It was always there. It didn’t have to come from anything, because it was always there.
Father: Alright: that’s another way that the forever thing is different from all other things. It didn’t come from anything else, and they all did.
Father: Where did they come from, when there was only the forever thing, and nothing else?
Son: I guess they had to come from the forever thing.
Father: So the forever thing is sort of the place that all the other things come from.
Son: I guess. Yeah.
Father: So say there was only one thing other than the forever thing, and it was a red thing. Where did it get the redness?
Son: From the forever thing.
Father: Right! It had to. There was no other place to get it, right?
Father: Is the forever thing red?
Son: I don’t know. Maybe.
Father: Well, what if a second thing came along and it was a green thing? The green came from the forever thing, too, right?
Father: Does that mean that the forever thing is green and red, both? What about blue and yellow, and black?
Son: Hm. I guess the forever thing is all the colors at once, somehow.
Father: Interesting. But it isn’t any one of them, is it?
Son: No. How can that be?
Father: Well, think about space. It could hold anything, right?
Son: Yes. I see.
Father: The forever thing is the way that things are able to be colored, just like it is the way that they are able to be in a place. It gives them color, even though it isn’t colored.
Son: What about shape? Does it give things their shape?
Father: Sure, why should shape be different than color? The forever thing gives other things whatever they need in order to be themselves.
Son: Is the forever thing like Mummy?
Father: Yes. No. Mummy had some of the things in her that were needed for there to be you, but not all of them. Some of them had to come from outside Mummy.
Son: Like food.
Father: Uh … yeah. But the forever thing is not like Mummy, because it didn’t need anything from outside itself. It had everything in it that was needed for cats, and for you, and for Mummy too. And for space.
Son: The forever thing must be very big.
Father: Yes. Bigger than anything; bigger than everything put together.
Son: Where is the forever thing?
Father: That’s a good question. It couldn’t be in any of the places that might not have been, like our house. Not at first, anyway, because in the beginning there just wouldn’t have been any places like that. They wouldn’t have happened yet.
Son: Is the forever thing in a place?
Father: I suppose that it isn’t. Maybe in some ways the forever thing is like a place, and all the other places are in it.
Son: So it is everywhere.
Father: Yes, right. That’s a much simpler way of putting it.
Son: Does the forever thing know about me?
Father: Let’s think about that. Does it know about anything?
Son: I don’t know.
Father: You know about some things, though, right?
Father: Look at Belle. Does she know anything?
Son: Yes. She knows she is in your lap.
Father: Is she asleep?
Son: Not yet. She’s still twitching the end of her tail.
Father: She’ll be asleep soon, if Bo doesn’t come along and try to steal her place. Where do you think Belle gets her knowing?
Son: She gets it from the forever thing.
Father: That seems reasonable.
Son: I bet the forever thing knows lots better than Belle.
Father: Do you think he knows you, then?
Son: Yes. But better than I do.
Father: I just noticed something. I called the forever thing “he,” as if he were a person.
Son: He must be a person. He knows stuff.
Father: Is that what people do?
Son: Yeah. Unless they are totally stupid.
Father: And he’s not stupid.
Son: No. He knows, like, everything.
Father: So is the forever thing a person just like you?
Son: No. He knows everything, and I don’t. I’m sort of like him, though.
Father: How are you like him?
Son: Because I am.
Father: You are like him because you are like him?
Son: No, silly. I am real, and he is real.
Father: I see. I think you are right.
Son: Does the forever thing have a name?
Father: Well, not exactly. I mean, names are usually given to things by other things. Mummy and I gave you your name. But if the forever thing gives everything to all other things, how can any of them give him a name?
Son: So he doesn’t have a name?
Father: It’s an interesting question. Lots of people have agreed that he has told us what to call him, so I suppose you could say that he named himself.
Son: What did he tell us to call him?
Father: “I am.”