You are probably familiar with the thought provoking question, “Can God create an object so big, that even He cannot move it?” Brain teasers like this are something I have always enjoyed thinking about and discussing objectively with other geeks like myself. Pontificating about puzzling paradoxes like this is not only enjoyable, but it also exercises your mind and gets you thinking about things in different, often eye-opening, ways. This week’s edition to the Scott Drotar Literary Review is a novella that not only presents an interesting quagmire to consider, but it also goes on to pose an interesting life philosophy to ponder. This week I present “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams’s philosophical mind-bender, “God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment.”
Adams, who states at the very beginning that the ideas he presents are not necessarily his beliefs but merely a thought experiment, structures his work as a long dialogue. To sum it up, a delivery man gets to a house to deliver a package, and when he goes inside he meets an old man. The rest of the book is a conversation between the delivery man and this wise, old gentleman. They cover numerous concepts from philosophy and theology throughout their discussion (including the kitchen sink at one point), but one of the main focuses, which spawned the title of the book, is about God’s omnipotence. It is presented that for an all powerful God, the only challenge would be destroying Himself (a similar enigmatic inquiry to the one I asked above). It is proposed that in order to test His power, God annihilated Himself into a finitely infinite number of pieces, which in turn created the universe (a “big bang” if you will). All of the matter and energy in the universe are little bits of God, or God’s debris. The movement and action of the universe, which are governed by the laws of probability, is God trying to reassemble Himself. This is an interesting premise to think about, and it delves into numerous topics including free will, God’s will, and motivational psychology.
“God’s Debris” is a quick read, and everyone I know who read it did so in a few hours in a single day. This is partly due to the fact that the book is only 144 pages, but it is also a result of the clear, concise writing style of Adams. While a lot of texts on deep, philosophical concepts are filled with difficult terminology and dry, complex sentence structure, Adams manages to give a thorough discussion of these topics in a way that is straightforward and easily understood without sacrificing much depth. This is actually an example of another interesting concept covered in the book, “Occam’s Razor,” which proposes that the simplest answer is usually best. Despite the fact that the content of this thought experiment is complex and will leave you scratching your head, thanks to the accessible writing style and clear use of examples to illustrate each point, you will have no problem getting through this text with a good understanding of the ideas he presents.
Even though I am a fan of pretty much any book that makes me think in new, creative ways, I think “God’s Debris” is a great read. Other than the fact that I wish it was longer, I do not have anything negative to say about this brain tickler. If you enjoy thought provoking books and philosophy, you will get wrapped up in this book, finish it in one afternoon, and think about it for days afterwards. Since anything that makes you think differently is a good thing, this brief, powerful text is a real treasure for the mind. If you are looking to exercise your mind or a quick read for a plane ride, you should pick up a copy of this book. This week I don’t even have to deliberate, and I give Adams’s thought experiment, “God’s Debris,” a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.