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“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
“The argument goes something like this: ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' “‘But,' says Man, ‘The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' “‘Oh dear,' says God, ‘I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.
“‘Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
“Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book Well That About Wraps It Up For God.
“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”
Arthur let out a low groan. He was horrified to discover that the kick through hyperspace hadn't killed him. He was now six light years from the place that the Earth would have been if it still existed.
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