Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Review: "The Religion War"

I just finished Scott Adam’s book “The Religion War”. It’s a very short, but interesting, read. Like “God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment”, it’s designed to present a series of philosophical questions set in a coherent, fast moving story. Actually, “The Religion War” is the sequel to “Debris” with the new Avatar developed at the end of the first novel as the main protagonist in the second. As many of you already know, Scott Adams is the creator of the “Dilbert” comic strips and books. I enjoy them immensely as the “Dilbert” daily calendar on my work desk testifies. I’m not so sure how popular my “Dilbert” collection is with upper management, but I suspect that I’m too far out of their radar for any of them to notice much. Anyway, Scott Adams is also a highly intelligent person who tends to let a bit of condescension creep into his narration on a pretty consistent basis. In this case, the “Avatar” is supposedly the most aware person on the planet who can cause amazing things to happen primarily based on his ability to recognize patterns in the world. I have little doubt that Mr. Adams seriously identifies with his main character. What I find most ironic is his penchant for over analyzing issues to the point where his conclusions are off base in a university professor sort of way. You know what I mean. In other words “I’m correct and I dare you to try and outwit me” (as opposed to arriving at an actual truth). Still, the hook in his writing is that he tries to get the reader to identify with the main character, as well. He does this with a style I call “genius by proxy”. If a character supposedly understands everything in the world and the reader understands the character’s explanations, then that means the reader must be highly intelligent, as well. In the first book, “God’s Debris”, Adams makes it clear that the logic is flawed and that the reader must find the flaws. That was a good move, in my opinion. But in “The Religion War”, this is not the premise. Nowhere does Scott tell you that the logic is flawed. I found that a little disturbing, since the entire novel revolves around one’s belief in God. So, my final opinion is that if you want a quick interesting read, you couldn’t go wrong with “The Religion War”. However, one should keep in mind that the logic presented when addressing the nature of God is highly suspect and certainly would not hold up well under the scrutiny of genuine theological scholars.


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