If God’s Debris was an interesting, if not particularly powerful, thought experiment, its sequel can only be described as simplistic and absurd. The book has an incredibly implausible plot, caricatures instead of characters, sophomoric and unfounded philosophy dressed up as profound insight, and a Utopian ending no more plausible than the plot that leads up to it. In short, I didn’t like.
The Religion War finds the deliveryman turned Avatar from God’s Debris facing a world bent on destroying itself. It seems the world has been divided up between the Christians and the Muslims. The Christian side is led by General Cruz, a man with a gigantic ego unburdened with doubt who believes he is being used by God to destroy those who threaten his way of life. The Islamic side is led by the terrorist al-Zee who also believes his God is using him to save the world from the Infidels.
Our hero needs to prevent these two leaders from destroying the world. General Cruz is planning to use his superior firepower to exterminate the Islamic side while al Zee is planning on destroying the Christians with biological weapons planted in every major city while he hides in his underground bunker.
For those who, despite my reaction, do want to read the book I won’t spoil the ending. But the book is filled with ridiculously implausible events as the Avatar runs around using near superhuman powers to try and stop the two leaders from killing everyone.
The argument underlying the plot is that ideas are like the software to the world’s hardware. Normally, religion is a false but beneficial idea that helps people get through life. But at some point these “software programs” become corrupted and threaten to destroy the world. The Avatar needs to find the reboot button. You see there is a person in the world who is the starting point for influence in the world. They don’t know it, but their ideas and preferences begin an ever expanding circle of influence that has the potential to change the world. If he can find this person and convince them of the futility of the war then he can stop it from happening.
Yes, it is as implausible and silly as all of that. And to top it all off, here is the phrase that leads to world revolution and peace: “If God Is So Smart, Why Do You Fart?” That’s it folks. That is the best that Adams could come up with! You see if religious people could just put aside their delusions and arrogant assumptions and really grasp this insightful and life changing phrase they would see the world as it really exists. In this fictional world Adams declares this “the most powerful question in human history.” I realize that this is likely meant to be a humorous twist, but this is just pathetic.
I was literally offended when I got to the end of the book. I couldn’t believe that Adams went to all of that work just to offer a shallow and sophomoric atheism (or perhaps agnosticism). Adams goes so far as to call faith “stupid.” He asserts that the dictionary defines faith as “belief without evidence” and defines stupidity as “unreasoned thinking” and asks the readers to draw their own conclusion. One little problem exactly what dictionary defines faith like that? I used dictionary.com and found this:
1) Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2) Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
3) Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
4) often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
5) The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6) A set of principles or beliefs.
Using my own Oxford English Reference Dictionary I get:
1) Complete trust or confidence
2) firm belief, esp. without logical proof
Adams conveniently removes the logical proof and material evidence from the definition to imply that faith is irrational and “stupid.” If you are going to insult people you should bring more than dictionary parlor tricks and science fiction accounts of the way the world works.
Perhaps he is just trying to be controversial, or attempting to shock the reader into thinking about his own beliefs, but I found it insulting and ridiculous. The whole book is full of futuristic visions of a world saved by technology that allows unlimited and unimpeded communication. As if the thing standing in the way of world piece is universal cell phone use. As if religion is a giant delusion but science and technology are the answer to all of the worlds problems.
I will take my delusions thank you very much!