Saturday, January 23, 2010

G-d's Debris - A review. The proper

Scott Adams is well known all other the world for his famous "Dilbert" comic strip. He is less known to be software developer, CEO of vegetarian food production company and the co-owner of restaurant in California. Equally less is his renown for the books he has written.
The first of his, non-comic books was "G-d's Debris" (2001).
Described by the author as "thought experiment" this small (just 132 pages) book (available free on-line) discusses ages old philosophical problems and conundrums in a dialog between a common delivery man and an old "sage", calling himself Avatar.

Their dialog starts with a question: “If you toss a coin a thousand times, how often will it come up heads?”, and, by and by, they enter into enchanting philosophical discussion about the eternal philosophical problems of humanity. Do we have free will? If we do, how it relates to brain? What are consequences of G-d's free will? Why there are so many religions? What is the true nature and cause of physical universe? What is the meaning of evolution? and so on ...

In the discussion, the delivery man thinks and talks like common, media influenced, moderately educated person, while Avatar speaks as the one who knows everything, as a sage.

In some sense the "G-d's Debris" illustrates a kind of collision of modern practical mind and ages old philosophical thought.

Many of the explanations given by the sage are just plain baloney (in accordance to the author "thought experiment" rules and warnings). The concept of the universe as the G-d's Debris that came into existence after G-d "decided" to stop his existence, the concept of gravitation and inertia as probability, and many others are examples.

What is beautiful though, is that it just does not matter if these concepts are true or not - the essence is in bringing the common man higher in his awareness - moving him from level of scientific thinking to the "5th-level" where he recognizes that our mind is more delusion generator than "an engine" of truth...

In many dialogues of the book, the discussion is about the metaphorical nature of our knowledge - with overtones of George Lakoff's thoughts. In others we hear tones of Teilhard de Chardin deliberations, in others - the ideas of pantheists.

However, the true virtue of the book lies in its atmosphere; atmosphere of realistic irrationality - is I could call it this way. The books ends in surprising, yet anticipated way - but I will try not to spoil it for its future readers...


  1. your review was very interesting so I down loaded book right away.When I'm through it I'll make a post on my blog and get back to you.Thank you for the link. :-)

  2. Finally I've read the book and posted a review on my blog. Mirek,it was wonderful! I must say it allowed me to see a few tings in a different light. I'll be happy to know what you think about my review.

  3. Mirek, I'm really looking forward to reading this. Your review provides good context for what promises to be a refreshing look at our ways of knowing, and considering our minds as delusion-generating machines. "God's Debris" also sounds fun; I'm not sure what God would think of this but I am curious to see what Scott Adams has come up with. And I'll come back when I have questions along the way...

  4. That's good point - "what G-d would think of it" :-)

    Well, I'm in Cracow for weekend. In a hotel near all these Jewish Sages laying nearby...
    Maybe I will have some aid to understand more of this and other books ....