I opened the door and stepped in. Raw pain filled me at the sight of my painting. 'Show me what it looked like, before the fire.' His request surprised me, but I did as he asked. With eyes closed, I projected the exact details of the painting I had poured my soul into. Just as I had experienced his love of surfing in a visceral way, he shared not just the visual beauty of my work, but the love and passion with which I had dedicated myself to it. 'Thank you. Now, it will never truly be gone.' I choked back a sob and went to Mr. K's office.
Will these millions of children, for generations upon future generations, know that some of their atoms cycled through this woman? [...] Will they feel what she felt in her life, will their memories have flickering strokes of her memories, will they recall that moment long ago when she stood by the window, guilt ridden and confused, and watched as the tadr bird circled the cistern? No, it is not possible. [...] But I will let them have their own brief glimpse of the Void, just at that moment they pass from living to dead, from animate to inanimate, from consciousness to that which has no consciousness. For a moment, they will understand infinity.
The Emperor, you see, protects... He protects mankind, through the Legions, through the Martial corps, through the war machines of the Mechanicum. He understands the dangers. The inconsistencies. He uses you, and all the instruments like you, to protect us from harm. To protect our physical bodies from murder and damage, to protect our minds from madness, to protect our souls... There are insane dangers in the cosmos, dangers that mankind is fundamentally unable to comprehend, let alone survive. So he protects us. There are truths out there that would drive us mad by one fleeting glimpse of them. So he chooses not to share them with us. That's why he made you... Remember, Garviel. The Emperor is our truth and out light. If we trust in him, he will protect.
...I don't believe in Him, and if He does exist, I don't like Him. His type of gods aren't gods who echo how mortals behave. They're gods who are held up as example of perfection to be emulated. They're not gods of the people. They're remote and inaccessible, they demand blind, unthinking obedience from their followers. They're dictators. We Aesir and Vanir, by contrast, are mirrors. Other gods rule. We reflect and magnify. We are you, only more so. We share your flaws and foibles. We are as humanlike as we are divine, and I think we are all the better for that.
I don't think humanity just replays history, but we are the same people our ancestors were, and our descendants are going to face a lot of the same situations we do. It's instructive to imagine how they would react, with different technologies on different worlds. That's why I write science fiction -- even though the term 'science fiction' excites disdain in certain persons.