Calculating God and the kitchen sink ….

July 12, 2008

I finished Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer last night. I’m still thinking about it and will be for a while, which is good, and also desired by an author. Yet while I ultimately enjoyed it, it was also trying to read in several sections. I’m not sure that this is a “complaint” per se. The subject matter was huge, of course, but I kind of felt like everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into 330+ paperback pages.

Certain middle sections were philosophically challenging about belief in God, with discussions about ethics. And oddly, it was also almost too science laden, which admittedly sounds ridiculous to say even to me. Not only did the narrator have to deal with the appearance of an alien which wanted to examine fossils, believed in a god and God’s plan, he also had to deal with his own mortality via terminal cancer and his lifelong atheism and sudden questions about whether God does exist or not. Then there were several extensive sections that dealt with various aspects of astronomy – planets, stars, supernovas, ionization, light year distances, and so on, and of course, several stone ages, mass extinctions, dinosaur names, and even griping about how a museum is run with budget cuts and “dumbing-down” displays. Toss in some detailed explanations about how DNA, chromosomes and telomeres work, and an intervention by a black blob near Betelgeuse, and you’ve got a lot of stuff!

This would have been a killer book for a book group. But an Oprah Book Club selection it is not. Thank goodness.

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