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addabook - Calculating God
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Calculating God
A Novel
Robert J. Sawyer
read on April 1, 2014

Along with A Short Stay In Hell, this is the best possible fiction book I'm pretty much ever likely to read. It's just fantastic. It's fun and well driven and it made me think twice about a few core things. I especially liked the non-religious perspective it took. The book entirely divorces the idea of religion from the existence of a god. God exists or it doesn't, but religion is a man-made phenomenon. That isn't to say that the book entirely espouses deism either, or the idea that God must not care or even know about individual people, just that it certainly explores that option. Anyway, a great book. A few notes of tidbits I enjoyed:

  • There was a lot of talk of why Earth hasn't been visited by aliens (until ow, in the book), and the general answer being that there is remarkably little time (on a cosmological scale) in between when a civilization is advanced enough to emit any kind of signal (radio, space travel) that it exists, and the time that it develops and uses weapons powerful enough to extinguish it.
  • Related to the above, which I'd heard before, Sawyer introduced a second option: that civilizations transcend into digital-esque immortal consciousnesses (i.e., go live in The Matrix) forever.
  • At one point God was hypothesized as an emergent, non-biological intelligence the resulted from the big bang.
  • God hypothesized as a Schrodinger-like character that observes us, and by doing so causes us to exist. And not only that, but that he chooses a particular path to observe."
  • When Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess, it did so by seeing all the possible positions the chess pieces might have, not just at the next turn, but also at the one after that, and the one after that, and so on. If God existed, did he see all the possible next moves for all his playing pieces?"

Author Bio:

Robert James Sawyer CM (born April 29, 1960) is a Canadian science fiction writer. He has had 23 novels published, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and many anthologies. Sawyer has won the Nebula Award (1995), the Hugo Award (2003), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2006).