I was asked today to go on BBC Radio Leeds and talk about the Dutch artist who has set up an answerphone for God. Why they thought to get an atheist on the subject I am not entirely sure although listening to the people who called in, few were taking the exercise seriously.
So here's my message to God (and I am assuming we mean the Christian god, although many of my points would generalise):
"Err, listen mate, you're rubbish at this. Seriously - they're all out there killing each other and saying you told them to do it. Be a bit more clear about your messages next time. Spell it out in clouds whenever you think there's a misunderstanding. 'Stop killing each other, I don't want you to do this.'
"Now next up - about your organisation. Bit behind the times on promoting women aren't we? Can't help noticing that Playboy these days is run by a woman while your lot all report to a former Hitler Youth member who thinks that gay rights marches are an offense to Christian values. Believe me, people are going to stop subscribing to the whole benevolent deity thing as long as you're making Hugh Hefner look like he's working hard to promote equal opportunities.
"And I sense the beep is on it's way but I do have one more question. What were the dinosaurs for? Was that just a practical joke or did you screw up and make some giant lizards on an off day, realise if you let them lose they'd kill everything and figure if you buried them in tar pits we wouldn't notice?"
And hopefully that gave you a good laugh because, on the subject of the Pope, the next thing I'm going to share with you is probably going to make you really very angry.
A woman in Brazil discovered that her nine-year-old daughter was pregnant with twins following three years of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Fortunately though the law in Brazil is extremely restrictive on abortion, exceptions are made for rape and health risks to the mother. So the poor nine-year-old was treated and is now safe. Step in Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, head of the Catholic church in Brazil who has ex-communicated the mother and the doctor but not, importantly, the guy who started repeatedly raping a girl of six years old. Presumably he was told to say three Hail Marys and put a fiver in the collection box...?
The Vatican responded of course by ... backing up Archbishop Sobrinho. The Pope's official representative for Latin America, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, said the twin foetuses have the "right to live". Really.
And the thing is me talking to God on the phone is just a bit of fun but the Vatican, whose only claim to legitimacy is that they have a "direct line" to God, are taken seriously by our political leaders. Two weeks ago Gordon Brown went to visit the Pope at the Vatican to have a chat about how to combat problems in the world. Surely the first problem to be addressed is why anyone is listening to this noxious group of people.