A god sat on his throne of clouds and observed the world beneath him. This was one of his least favourite planets, a pathetic little blob of green and blue in an old-fashioned section of the universe. He didn't know why he'd chosen to watch them, barely paying attention, the way they watched their televisions.
The inhabitants had named it Earth, but it was known by a much more offensive name in ethereal circles.
The natives here, a mostly sapient race called humans, had messed up. Many planets had races that had failed, but few had failed as dramatically as the humans. While other cultures explored the limits of knowledge and scientific advancement, humans had apparently given up, inventing instead a billion and one ways to amuse themselves without achieving anything worthwhile.
The slacker species of the universe – a species predisposed to play.
Last time the god had watched here, the humans had just worked out exactly what gravity was and how it worked. It was hardly a mystery but they treated it with great excitement. Now, the god found the world had changed. Judging from the flags and footprints, they had at least made it to their moon. A quick scan of the planet though revealed that there were no rockets able to achieve the feat again. Was it a prank? Surely they hadn't just given up…
They'd managed to split the atom; the faint scent around an island sliver in the northern hemisphere told the god that. They had used it for evil, not good, not working out the true power of such a discovery. They'd split the atom and then just … stopped? Gone back to their televisions.
The god watched as the people worshipped – not gods, but each other. Certain people were revered and obsessed over. But as the god looked closer, he noticed something else. Something had happen to the wiring of the human brain. They'd discovered something no one else ever had.
The god looked down at the naked apes' interactions. They sang and danced, they kissed and held hands. They married and divorced, they argued and enjoyed each other's company, sometimes simultaneously. They caused drama and they revelled in it, emotions bouncing through the atmosphere as they loved and hated and feared and worried and felt pride all at the same time. They cared for their children, their parents, their friends. They had friends! The god smiled with contentment.
It suddenly didn't matter if humans had never orbited a neutron star, or found the end of pi, or found a way to replicate matter. They still had physical bodies, they obsessed over trivia, some of them were still captivated by religion, but none of it mattered.
Humans, and humans alone, had discovered love.