A Holy World War, NBA-Style

07/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While attempting to make a mark on history and the record books, Coach Yahweh finds himself facing unprecedented criticism. The aging leader of Team Monotheism is accused of arrogance and complacence, and for allowing the game to pass him by. Even while some of Team Monotheism's fans have been staking out positions for a victory parade in New Jerusalem, Yahweh's God Squad finds itself looking uphill in the Worldview Championship Series, facing its biggest deficit since the Pharaohs' dynasty.

Scrappy underdog Team Atheism has bolted to a lead in the series, thanks to the aggressive style and intellectual prowess of rookies Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- who unlike most opponents have refused to be cowed into submission by Yahweh's past reputation. Meanwhile, Team Atheism Coach Charles Darwin has been able to get inside the heads of Team Monotheism players by likening their ancestors to lizards.

Team Atheism's sharp elbows and relentless wit have defenders of the faith crying foul, with British cultural critic Terry Eagleton deriding Dawkins and Hitchens as a two-headed intellectual bully called "Ditchkins," and Stanley Fish recently dismissing the two infidels in the New York Times as "schoolyard atheists."

"I see the Good Lord and His faithful can dish it out but they cannot take it," counters Coach Darwin. "Examine the Old and New Testaments and the Quran: The Lord is continually mocking idols for being mute, dumb hunks of wood and metal, while bragging about His own mighty deeds. But now His prophets go scoreless in most games, while Team Atheism is helping mortals to fly through the air and helping the blind to see and the lame to walk. I don't know, maybe our guys just want it more." Adding insult to blasphemy, rookie Dawkins crowed to the media after last night's win, "We'd have swept Team Monotheism by now if the league office didn't give them credit for 'healing' a guy from a common cold after six days of prayer, or for making a statue cry."

Coach Yahweh Himself seems to alternate between indifference and anger when questioned about His team's recent underachievement. One moment, He boasts that He is unconcerned and immutable, and that His people are "predestined" to win it all. He even claims to have been behind Team Atheism's scientific miracles, all of which has led to recurring allegations that the sport, like the NBA and pro wrestling, is fixed. Yet in the next moment He threatens to rush from His court-side throne and smite his opponents with lightning and sulfur.

Colleagues of Yahweh contend that, while His rate of miracles has declined dramatically since Biblical times, His team has been victimized by injuries. Still, it is a stunning turnabout from past eras, such when Team Monotheism swept a Middle Eastern Regional Championship on Mount Carmel, as recorded in 1 Kings 18. Then, hapless priests of Baal watched as their past-his-prime deity was an embarrassing flop. Meanwhile, a bold and young Yahweh, with a cocky prophet named Elijah at his side talking trash to Baal's priests, consumed a sacrifice with a mighty heavenly fire.

Team Atheism's marketing group has begun mimicking the NBA's "Where Amazing Happens" promotional campaign by taking out billboards that say: "Monotheism: Where Nothing Happens Outside of an Overactive Imagination."

That leads to charges of rudeness and belligerence, yet Darwin insists they're better behaved than Team Monotheism in its own heyday. "You'll recall that Elijah celebrated the Mount Carmel rout by ordering their fans to round up and kill the 450 Baal priests," the coach said. "When we massacre a team, we don't do it literally, the way they've always done it. And don't even get me started on how they rubbed out the Canaanites' cattle and chickens."

Trade rumors have swirled, with the idea that Yahweh may create a superstar-pairing with Brahma or the Tao, pantheist icons with whom He parted company long ago. Such a move would create a marriage of convenience. It may diminish Yahweh's glory but could also be a strong enough combination to withstand the theological critiques of the know-it-all Darwin crowd.

Yet many league sources see this as unlikely. Already a jealous coach, Yahweh has compounded difficult matters by alienating some of his own players, constantly hogging credit for their past successes. "I cannot believe Yahweh would allow other gods to share in his glory," said one source, "even if unbelief is the other option."

Still, Team Monotheism fans are as resilient as those of the Chicago Cubs, certain their team will rise up miraculously in the near future. Darwin, for his part, rolls his eyes. "Sure, the miracles are always just around the corner. Meanwhile, I think our team has really, uh, improved, or, uh, matured, over time. What's the word I'm looking for...?"