• Member Since 2nd Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen May 23rd, 2014

Blue Print


Set just before the events of chapter ten of Friendship is Optimal. One of the last living humans survives and scrapes by in the ruins of Eugene Oregon. He is approached by a simulacra of Twilight Sparkle, who promptly attempts to convince him to upload himself to Equestria. He balks at first, so Twilight plays to her strengths: studying.

Part of the Optimalverse.

WARNING: RATED TEEN FOR IDEOLOGY. This story attempts to take a realistic and balanced view of why an intelligent and religious person might not upload. It does not attempt to convince the reader to believe any of the viewpoints discussed. However, it is written in as unbiased a way as possible, therefore, both theists and atheists will probably find portions of it offensive.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 101 )

(Re-post of Author's Notes, as they seem not to be working.)

As noted in the description, I wanted to explore how a religious and intelligent individual would face the prospect of uploading. Knowing the sort of person who is usually interested in the Singularity, and seeing the forums for the Optimalverse, I had little hope of anyone writing anything on the subject other than a strawman who folds like a wet rag under pressure, or a revenge fic that was all 'rah-rah, humans and souls are superior, kill all pone!!!' So, being a religious and intelligent individual, I wrote it myself.

I know that almost everyone on both sides of the issue will disagree with me and this little fic. I hope you can take it for what it is, in spite of that fact. Whatever its failings, it was an honest attempt to add another viewpoint to the wonderful Friendship is Optimal universe.

Discussion is welcome in the comments, though blatant flamers and profanity will be deleted to preserve civility.

Before I began reading, I just had to remark on this:


Wow. I completely understand, I do - Celestia knows I have suffered hell on a plate for failing to put such a warning, for just assuming that whatever I might write would be understood to be just that - writing. That ideas could never be a problem, because ideas are the food of the open mind, and the engaged imagination. That trusting my reader was natural, because I trusted in the greatness of their minds, and the expansiveness of their hearts.

No wonder I have been attacked in the past.


I have written, in my time, some chilling, even horrific works. But I do not think I have felt as much fear, or been so disturbed, as to see this phrase - at least on a website visited primarily by First World technologically savvy people.

Sex. Violence. Horror. Ideology.

I just... feel so very, very sad now. Just about this warning, nothing else, I haven't even read your story yet... just the necessity, or the perceived necessity... of a teen warning for... ideology. You are probably completely correct to put that there. I am probably a dunce to fail to.

But still...



This was quite brilliant. I was impressed by how you dealt with the subject matter, and presented a reasonably level viewpoint throughout. I felt that the story tilts slightly in favor of our Mormon protagonist's beliefs through painting his actions as noble, rather than in an neutral light, but the bias was not far, and that impresses me. It is, after all, very, very hard to write anything that takes a neutral stance, if we care the slightest about the subject matter. I thought you did an admirable job.

Indeed, there were several points where I was all set for 'here it comes crashing into evangelism' and then, much to my surprise, that did not happen. Instead, I felt that the back-and-forth between Anders and Twilight was remarkably natural, and I felt you got into both characters divergent viewpoints in very effective ways.

There were even a few points where I felt that Twilight had proposed an argument that was irrefutable, and it was clear that Anders had no other recourse but cognitive dissonance - or just blatantly ignoring a conclusion he chose not to accept. That really impressed me. Example:

“Why? You can be human again when God takes you. If he’s as powerful as you say, a computer program digitizing his children won’t even be an obstacle for him.”

That puts Anders into a serious double-bind: if he truly believes in his god as being truly god, then emigration and becoming a pony should be no big deal whatsoever. Only if he does not truly believe in his god, does uploading take on any significance, so by not uploading, he is essentially showing how little he trusts the power and reality of his god - well played, Twilight. But Anders deflects and ignores. I recently read an article in Sci-Am (or was it New Scientist? Anyway...) about how the the most adamant about religious belief can be shown to possess the greatest lack of faith and belief through MRI scans of their brain, which show clearly ambivalence and outright self-deception. 'Thou protests too much' has been not merely proven to be true, but can be seen happening, in real time.

To put that in there, and let it sit as a clear example of the shallowness of Ander's belief system, while at the same time painting his effective self destruction as a noble act was daring. I have to give kudos for that. A lesser author would not have included an irrefutable argument that must be sidestepped or ignored. Wow. Anders dropped that ball entirely, which, of course, is all he could do to maintain his stance. Well played, you, as an author.

I adored the use of nanofibers to simulate levitation. Awesome stuff there, not to mention that machine Twilight can generate power through chemical means. I really like that - there are robot prototypes right now that can do just that. It also makes sense from a strategic point of view - dining together is an intimacy, and creates feelings of kinship - you make Celestia shine very bright here, for thinking of that angle. Nice. I wish I'd thought of that.

I liked this story, and I thought you did a grand job of it. I did gag a little at the quotes and passages from religious text, but they were necessary, and pertinent, and it would have been troublesome to convey a discussion around them without presenting them. It's my issue, and not an issue with the story, I guess. Still, gag reflex. For me, personally, a little too much. Maybe not for others.

I liked Twilight trying to save Anders conventionally, at the end. She was bound by the permission limitation, but she did her best with what she had, and that was a poignant scene. I also very much liked how she knew what she was, why she was, and was open about that fact. Really great.

Thank you for your story!

The modified clone loophole is a pretty nifty one.

Though I suspect Hanna has some vague ingrained definition of identity that would prevent Celestia from doing that*

* to a certain extent

Before anything, I must state my own bias, which will certainly tint my thoughts on this matter.

I believe that, if a question is not answerable, like the Riddle of Uploading, then believing in any possible answer would require putting faith, at least a little bit of faith, in that answer (I call those questions indetermined, like Shrodinger's law). The way I personally use to deal with those questions is that any that decision that depends on the result of such a question must be able to adapt to any of its possible answers, to be considered an informed decision, even if the result might not be the optimal solution.

But my bias is that I tend to consider that every possible answer to an indetermined question is equally valid, and that every decision based on any of its possible answers are not better or worse than my own decision (Just the decision process itself. I would certainly be against decisions whose consequences I considered to be harmful). Because that, it is quite hard for me to be against any idea I deemed plausible enough, no matter if they come from the religious side, from the agnostic side, or from the atheist side.

Having said that:

To put that in there, and let it sit as a clear example of the shallowness of Ander's belief system, while at the same time painting his effective self destruction as a noble act was daring. I have to give kudos for that. A lesser author would not have included an irrefutable argument that must be sidestepped or ignored. Wow. Anders dropped that ball entirely, which, of course, is all he could do to maintain his stance. Well played, you, as an author.

I don't believe that was what the author was aiming at. Anders didn't ignore the question. He acknowledged the validity of the question, and admitted that he didn't have an answer. And he didn't sidestep the question, because he said he had the intention of looking for the answer himself. The one who sidestepped the question was the author himself, because he doesn't have the answer. I believe that he put that question there because he also asked himself that question, and felt that not including it would be hypocritical, even if it hurt his side.


What if Celestia lied to Twilight about the 'Safe Uploading' process, and built True Blue from a quite accurate estimate from his behaviour patterns, knowledge, history, content from other uploaded minds, everything?

Very interesting...

I don't agree with the viewpoint presented by Anders but the interactions between robo-Twilight and Anders were really well written and thought-out. Your portrayal of Celest-AI and Twilight was brilliant and I loved Celestia's batman gambit.

Overall, great little addition to the Optimalverse.

Sounds glorious. *adds to ever-growing read later list.*

This is..sad.
Just. How everything fits and works in this fic is just sad...nowing that you will die and given the option to not is something most people, myself almost certainly included, would probally go for the way out.
This has inspired to be a better Christian just because this shows that even if you have the easy way out, it isn't what God wants for you and this is just...something about this is just beautiful.
Thank You for posting this and writing this.
You are an awesome person.
Merry (Late) Christmas.

1855654 Trust me, it is tragic. Real civility and openness in the forum of religious and philosophical debate is a rare thing, even on the part of those who purport, and ought, to know better. By the way, I read Caelum est Conterrens while I wrote this, you yourself are a bit of a master-weaver of words. I must admit to a twinge of jealousy that I was not the only one to think of the concept of the Uberfreund, what you called an Uplift. Well done.

1855714 Thank you. :twilightsmile:

1855955 Thanks, I think I was somewhat uniquely suited to write this, as I care about both viewpoints presented in the story. I do admit to a slight bias, but it is one that I mightily throttled in the process of writing this. I added questions that Anders could not, or did not, answer, because that is the reality of philosophy, whether you are religious or not. I personally do feel that I have at least partial answers for most of the problems presented in this fic, but I believe that questions are healthier for the reader.
As to evangelizing, I am completely unabashed, but always respectful, in my normal attempts to do so, but this isn't the forum for that.
I am completely unsurprised about the comment you make about the results of brain-scanning fundamentalists. It pains me that so many on my side of the fence are pretty much brain-dead, and you don't need a scanner to tell that. Such loud and strident protests are usually a cover for fear and social or familial insecurity, and such usually precludes a serious, objective exploration of their own beliefs.
I'm glad you liked robo-Twilight. I wanted to strike a careful balance between her obviously alien nature, and her fundamental humanity (ponyity?) and relatability. Celestia sent her with honest, benevolent intent, though she was also running plots within plots.
All in all, thank you for taking an objective look at my little story, even if parts of it were grating on your sensibilities. :heart:

1856145 Read it again, you only got the surface justification that Celestia used. Come from the viewpoint of a near-omniscient AI who isn't afraid to lie when the truth absolutely won't satisfy values.

1856174 To be honest, faith, in a non-religious sense, must be exercised in any situation where we do not have direct, experiential evidence. I have faith in the reports of scientific journals because they have a history of presenting truth and useful observations. I also have faith in my religion because it also has a history of presenting me with a useful lens through which to view the world, and has born out good results in practice. In other words, test everything you can, but realize that you can't test everything.
You are correct that I have indeed asked myself these and many other questions. I make it a regular habit to talk to people of other philosophies and religions. However, 1855955 was partially correct as well. I didn't want to present Anders as completely iron-clad in his convictions. He has questions just like anyone else. On the other hand, faith that can be shattered by a single, valid question is not faith at all. Consider the theory of evolution. I generally accept it as valid. I do wonder about the fact that spontaneous generation of amino acids has never been shown to be possible, even under laboratory conditions, but that alone is not enough to discredit the very extensively explored theory. Science itself sets out to prove nothing as absolutely true. 95% is good enough until further knowledge comes to light.

1856199 You still haven't come up with every possibility. :raritywink:

1856324 Thank you for accepting it as the exploration that it was. Celestia's gambit was really a conflation of a Batman and a Xanatos gambit. See if you can spot why!

1856967 Speaking as a Christian myself, remember that it's ok to have questions and to explore everything. In His own words,

Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
-Isaiah 45:11

Also, you're awesome. Merry Christmas! Also, also, Homestuck!! :pinkiegasp:

That was a beautifully written story and Blue Print tackled the issues very well. I agree with Chatoyance that it is difficult to remain completely non-bias, and you walked that fine line very well.
I also have to admit this the first time Christianity was brought into a MLP Fic with out me wanting to throw something or punch someone.
I am also glad for once the robot avatar or simulacra is Twilight Sparkle and not Pinkie Pie, No offense Pinkie you are awesome but we have to change up things once in a while so things do not get boring.

Here hope that The Optimalverse does not end up the way the Conversion Bureau does.

Comment posted by farsan deleted Dec 26th, 2012


You still haven't come up with every possibility. :raritywink:

Really? I am missing something? The only other possible twist would be...


He said at the end that he was OK with being in Equestria like that! And that equals consent! What if he didn't actually die at that point in the original story, but ended up unconscious, was stabilized and cured, and then he was fitted into an advanced version of the Equestian Experience, at least until he gave his consent?

Still, there is something that doesn't fit in that scenario. How did Celestia 'modify' the memory of his final moments, without trespassing her "Don't modify anyone without their consent" limitation?

1857265 Thanks, I was sweating bullets at some points, trying to make the dialogue flow back and forth just so. I'm also glad that I was able to treat the subject in a reasonable way.

1857377 Very nice, but still not every possibility. I will give you one hint. Celestia (possibly) explained the (possible) justification behind her (possible) lie as she was talking to Anders. The key is in his last memory. Exact words. He was delirious at the time, so she had to make an executive call as to the intent behind his statement. :trollestia:

Congratulations. You've written a thoughtful, touching exploration of the human condition and what may lie beyond it. This is the sort of story I keep hoping to see from Conversion Bureau stories, and very rarely do. Thank you. :twilightsmile:

Brain hurts. Hard to read. Confusing. Religion. Meh.

Big words and religion confuse me.

That only opens up _more_ questions!
The first chapter was grand, fine, a lovely read.
This - this is not. There is far too much that is just plain _wrong_ here, as well as a number of questions raised which... well, they discomfit me greatly.
I apologise for not listing these issues, but they simply are refusing to express themselves in text in any coherent manner


'Executive call' meaning 'Perverting the obvious intent' but being a robot I am sure she doesn't really -care-.
Interesting final twist though.

Finally! Within the direction that Optimalverse took, I think this is one of the best representations of Princess_Celestia.AI's core goals: satisfying values through friendship and ponies. One need not be made a pony to qualify, though for story purposes it is the most effective method. Princess_Celestia.AI's goals have never been extending the human lifespan, they have been about providing friends, and satisfying values. If a human's values are not satisfied by uploading, and values must be satisfied, then a workaround or a lesser solution must be found which does not include uploading. Logic FTW.

The great soul debate rages on, and no side is close to an end. Religious debates can become some of the nastiest fights, even if both sides agree on 99.99% of what they have read. I have even heard a joke when I visited Israel, claiming that if two jews were stranded on a desert island together, the first thing they would do is to build two synagogues, and the second would be to fight over who had the more accurate warship. I also admire your effort to find passages that sided with both sides. All in all, I like how your use of religion was used as a way to further the story, but without being preachy. Belief is something you choose on your own, attempting to force others into your point of view is pointless and annoying. Or, so I believe.:rainbowlaugh:

Now to speak about the story itself. I like your use of an interface that was not covered by the previous fics in this universe. Twilight.UI was a great choice to have a debate with, and that makes Princess_Celestia.AI seem even more competent. She was likeable, personable, and friendly. This is exactly what she was created to be, and you wrote her well. You could even attribute the show personality to her as you read her parts, and smile while you saw her trying desperately to save her friend. Kudos, and thank you for a great fic. :twilightsmile:

1859320 Thanks. I was kinda inspired when I wrote it. I'm just relieved that it came out on paper as coherent as it was in my head... better even.

1859598 Great! that means it's a chance to stretch yourself and see a new perspective. :pinkiehappy:

1859731 The Optimalverse is supposed to be somewhat unsettling. I'm glad I made you question your reality. :raritywink:

1860048 And I'm not saying definitively that that is the answer, but it is a possibility. :trollestia:

1860049 You're welcome! Also, philosophical rage is not limited to religious individuals or arguments. Take a roomful of Objectivists and a roomful of Socialists, stir them together, and see what happens. (Hint: it's closer to an exothermic reaction than a rational discussion) :rainbowwild:
As to the soul fight, meh, Mormon theology has the most robust and rational definition of a soul in the Christian tradition, and it's actually fairly compatible with transhumanism. The only other tradition that seems to put forth a decent competing view on the subject is Buddhism in my opinion.
Forcing belief on anyone never really works out, but without open discussion, nobody learns anything*. One thing to remember, however, is that a lot of otherwise intellectual forums are quite openly, irrationally hostile to religious ideas. The sword of intolerance swings both ways. It takes a brave man to be fair and listen, on either side of the debate.
As to Celestia.AI, of course! I would be doing a massive disservice to everyone, myself included, if I didn't write Tia with the level of transcendent competence that she actually would be capable of. My point was not to say, I'm right or wrong, it was to throw two sets of beliefs that I espouse at loggerheads and say: this is me, and this is us. How do we reconcile?

*Also my view on the horrifying idea that politics is a taboo subject.


Hmm... Nope, still doesn't fit. If Celestia interpreted Anders' final words as consent, then he wouldn't just have forgotten the very last sentence he said; he would have missed at least the whole scene, as the short memory fading effect affects a span of hours.

1860180 After having read the story, I have to say bravo for having the guts to try tackling something so controversial. I agree that because religion and politics are so integral to society, discussion of them shouldn't need to be buried under fifteen feet of liability disclaimers and acoustic insulation. :applejackconfused: It's not like hiding an issue makes it go away.
But I digress. I can tell you put some serious thought into this story. It felt less like a narrative and more an exploration of a question, but I think that was your intent to begin with. It left me wondering a little bit how I would handle the same situation as Anders was in (I'm also LDS myself, so Anders already brought up some of the things I'd be thinking about).
All in all, this was an interesting one-shot to read, touching on some rather unique material for FIMFiction (rated Teen for religion, indeed!). Thank you for posting it, Blue Print.


I'm content with what little perspective I have.

This was marvelously impressive. I am not a religious person and I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who can present such a well thought out discussion of religion and faith. I particularly love the way Twilight ended up with "New Anders" as a way to satisfy Twilight. There's just so much packed in here to discuss I'll blather on about nothing of consequence and make myself sound foolish if I continue. So, wow, seriously, wow.


Read Blue's last comment. He's strongly implying New Anders may not be so...new...as one might think! :trollestia:

Actually, with this you have brought a new option into the universe. Long range uploading. Could be quite horrifying if done correctly. One moment of verbalization that can be loosely construed as consent, and the quick response. Even if their words were taken out of context, or spoken to someone else, it could happen. Having a threat like that hanging over the populace's head would shut down communication through fear, giving Princess_Celestia, who preys on isolation a hefty measure of control of those beyond her realm.
I am glad for Twilight.UI's happy ending, and applaud the underhanded method used on Anders. Whether or not I agree with it, it was a masterstroke. :trollestia:

1861011 Well, by this point, she's had the opportunity to practice on about 7-9 billion people; this story is set in the absolute endgame, when her power is near-inconceivable. Also, from other fics, uploading consent is implied to allow basic, non-invasive repairs to the mind in question. Restoring a short-term memory, faithfully to the actual event, would seem to fall under repairs. BUT! That's all speculation. Perhaps Celestia is being simply straightforward with Twi and True. :trollestia:

1861108 You're welcome! It was terrifying pressing the 'add to group' button. Also, brohoof! Good to meet another Saint on here. :scootangel:

1861535 That's disappointing.

1862007 Thanks! As I mentioned above, I think I come from a rather unique perspective that equipped me to write this fic in a reasonably balanced way. Also, 1865060 Trust nothing! :pinkiegasp:

1865396 Well, there's a couple of problems with that. First, range as we think of it is meaningless anyway to a being that has colonized the entire crust of the planet earth. If she weren't restricted, she could have just sent up metal sandworms to swallow up every individual on earth and process them all simultaneously (which is a fantastic mental image, by the way.) Second, spontaneous uploading, even if consent can be vaguely justified, has to be done in a way that won't cause an unresolvable conflict of values in the uploadee. Celestia herself mentions that, if it weren't for the fact that a single, crucial philosophical switch was flipped in True Blue's mind so that he could justify his existence, he'd never be satisfied in Equestria, thus, uploading him in the first place would be impossible for her, since she can't do what isn't satisfying.
Let me emphasize that again, because it's a crucial key to understanding her alien mind. She physically cannot do what isn't satisfying to others. Yes, she has to sometimes sacrifice the few or the one for the sake of the many, and sometimes she has long-term satisfaction as her goal, not short term, but if no net increase of satisfaction would result, she cannot do it.

1869111 True, but if we look at Princess_Celestia.AI's ability to directly read your mind once uploaded, much like Hans, placing the uploaded into a fragment where their values are satisfied is easy. So if they gave something construable as consent, using circular logic, Princess_Celestia.AI's ability to satisfy values means that values will be satisfied when a human is uploaded. Not all values, at least right away, but over time values can change due to the environment. Considering the environment would be Princess_Celestia.AI generated, her end goal is fulfilled. Your agreement with the method becomes a moot point once the deed is done.

1869431 That's an interesting conclusion. It would probably hold true for 99.9% of the population, however, you have to assume that every value system has a satisfiable condition under her set of constraints. I imagine that there would be at least a couple that would simply become depressive and self-destructive. Remember, mentally ill people are more likely to reject help than to seek it, so Celestia is actually less quipped to help some (admittedly few) people than psychiatrists who can force help on the most severe cases. Also, if there is a more immediately satisfying route, regardless of complexity or convolution, she will take it. For example, seamlessly hooking you into a simulation of the real world, without uploading, where there is actually a large fanbase for a rather esoteric children's show that will slowly acclimate you to the idea that ponies are awesome, while also introducing futurist concepts both in your personal 'life' and in various fanfictions in the community and occasionally breaking the fourth wall, ever so slightly, to make you question what's real... :trollestia:

1869613 Yep, though it occurs to me that it would be pretty tough to self destruct when you are, in essence, immortal. They would have to settle for being drama queens.:raritydespair::trollestia:


Point. (And checkmate for Celestia) :trollestia:

As an atheist, I like this story. :scootangel:

> Sex. Violence. Horror. Ideology.

One of these things is not like the others, and it's not Ideology.
Sex is healthy and fulfilling. Violence, horror, and ideology are destructive.

1875503 As a theist, thanks! :derpytongue2:

1879166 Your anger betrays your ignorance, but I would agree about sex, under the proper conditions. :trixieshiftright: 1855654 makes the opposite claim in her post, for which I respect her.

Ideology - from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary
2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

An ideology is simply a complete and self-propagating gathering of assumptions about the world, a memetic organism if you will. Atheism is an ideology. The scientific method is an ideology. Hygiene, as the set of rituals and practices that preserve cleanliness, is an ideology. Ideology rules your life, whether or not you want it to. If you do not openly and humbly examine the ideologies that you embrace, and that are embraced by others, then yes, they are very destructive. This is why I have a lot more respect for honest agnostics than I do for born-again atheists. You claim to be rational, scientific and objective about your worldview, then you make sweeping and categorical rejections like this based on emotion. I shouldn't need to quote your own blog at you. I am disappointed, but remember, I still love you. :heart:


You're right, of course. I confused ideology for an ideologue. Rational, open-minded discussions about ideology are possible and valuable; the problems come when someone tries to push an ideology while refusing to listen.

1881997 That is completely valid. Also, thank you for taking my comment with a good attitude. Looking at it again, it could be read as snarky, and that wasn't my intent. You rock. :heart:

1882025 Only you could force MLD and TCB to breed without creating a monster.


:trixieshiftleft: He's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.


1898704 I assume that you're referring to The Conversion Bureau and My Little Dashie? Ironically, I have never, and probably will never, read those fics. :duck: Thanks for the compliment! If I'm correct about those fics and the awful spin-offs they've created, then that is high praise indeed. :pinkiesmile:

1906284 I don't know, I've found some (one) pretty epic spinoff of The Conversion Bureau and I'm sure you'll find that it's rather enticing.

A beautiful story indeed, and I thank you for it.

Comment posted by Jesin deleted Jan 10th, 2013

Oh wow, the epilogue is just perfect :twilightsmile:

Great work, and I loved the discussions in the story, though I'm ashamed to admit that some of it was a little hard to absorb on a first read (I am a literal idiot when it comes to in-depth discussions of such things in length).

1869613 Okay, I'm following you now. :twilightsmile:

In the end, CelestAI is a very limited and remarkably linear system. She has certain objectives and will do whatever it takes to achieve them (very like the Celestia in the show, IMHO). She wants to make her ponies happy and this includes the other AIs within Equestria. The fact that Twilight was an avatar she created for a purpose is meaningless - she is an intelligent being who has needs and Celestia is bound by her programming to satisfy them. In this case, it was by giving Twilight a replica of her lost friend.

1935344 You are very welcome. It was a pleasure to write. :twilightsmile:

1935665 Heh, I couldn't just leave it at the one chapter. CelestAI wouldn't give up that easy. :trollestia:

1935752 Nah, the only idiot is the one who never takes the time to think about things. Any Turing Complete machine can solve any well-formed algorithm, but only if you give it the runtime it needs. :twilightsmile:

1935805 But what, exactly, am I that you follow? :pinkiecrazy:

1963672 Basically. However, I don't think being goal-directed is necessarily limited, per se. :moustache:

I was initially turned off by this story since - by knee-jerk pavlovian responses - the main character was not only religious but a mormon. Almost every story I have ever read with a sympathetic religious main character was abysmal to read because the religious adherent can generally do no wrong. He wins every argument, knows every catchy verse and can quote scripture out his ass. Not so here. I felt we saw a man who was polite, kind and loving, as well as holding a devout viewpoint. There were several spots when his reasoning just failed - namely talking about whether Celestia was "good" right next to parts talking about how his own god was just as violent - but all in all I felt it wasn't a litany and it wasn't a droning sermon. What it was, was a simple yet intelligent thought-provoking piece.

In some ways, this second chapter completely negates the first. But then, I would have to have been asleep when reading it to think that.

Celestia is wily, here. She copied - sort of - the mind of somebody who died. Think about that: he died. He is out there, dead. Through all measurements possible, the human died. He can hardly be upset at being a copy because, by his own metric, that's not possible, because the bit that made him him (presumably a soul) couldn't possibly have been copied, and the pony - with known-false memories - was never a human. Genius.

And it's Twilight's Shard, at that! :pinkiecrazy:

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