This month, the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour is show casing The God Hater by Bill Myers. I should warn you right off that this is the author of Eli, a book that has greatly influenced me as a writer, so I am quite horribly biased, though he is an international best seller, so I suppose you will forgive me for ignoring some craft choices that normally drive me up a wall.
I’ve always been quite impressed with the humility inherent in his starting off both this book and Eli with an opening statement confessing the theological limitations of his fictional treatment of the subject, or, specifically where analogies break down in the case of The God Hater.
The novel features an atheist philosophy professor who hates technology who is whisked off by his computer hacker/programmer genius/ex-con brother to fix a digitally created artificial world with a whole community full of artificial intelligences intended to simulate our world. Their problem is they’ve designed their unnamed creation from a “closed box” naturalistic perspective. The programmers are shocked and perplexed that they cannot convince a peaceful, sustainable, civilized society to naturally evolve on the digital world they have intelligently designed. Indeed, survival of the fittest has led only to the sort of violence that led to one flood in our world and several huge fails in their simulation.
After godless eastern mysticism also fails catastrophically, the atheist reluctantly turns to introducing Judaism and, since the tour has already partially spoiled this aspect of the plot, eventually discovers the hard way why God’s plan for our salvation is the only way to save their creation or ours.
Myers was right, his analogy breaks down, but much of the contrasts between the mistakes of the atheists’ playing God and what the God of the bible did is quite beautiful in that it accurately depicts the mindset of the characters while giving glory to God in a backwards sort of way. I walked away most grateful for how the Lord is so vastly superior to the AI people’s Programmer. I loved the way Myers depicted the imageo deo of our creation, with the AIs all being based upon Nicholas’s son. Similarly, our world was originally created perfect and good just as our maker is. The simulation is inherently fallen and failing from the start since it was created by fallen human beings.
In my one attempt at being unbiased, I shall say, for his topic, I didn’t find the novel preachy at all, but those especially sensitive to that might want to consider that the God Hater is at heart a Christian apologetic, albeit one that is fast paced, engaging, surprising, and altogether fun to read. I devoured this offering in about twenty four hours.
If you want to see if anyone else is less biased than me, check out the other stops on the tour:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Morgan L. Busse
Carol Bruce Collett
CSFF Blog Tour
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
I enjoyed your thoughtful review. It didn’t bother me at all that the analogy broke down. Bill said himself that it wasn’t strict allegory (things rarely are).
I do feel you gave a bit too much away for those who may be reading your post that haven’t read the book yet.
Karri, if I understand correctly that you think I was being critical when I’m actually horribly biased in the author’s favor, you might not want to even bother reading my unbiased reviews. That was seriously the most wildly praising review I’ve written in I don’t know how long. I never called it an allegory. It’s an analogy, and I made it as plain as I know how that he did a marvelous job of giving God glory even through the limitations of the analogy.
In regards to giving too much away, I said what I did in consideration of the fact the blurb the tour provided us gave it away in even more detail, and it didn’t really spoil anything for me as a reader. Where a Christian is going with this wouldn’t have been much of a surprise anyway.
Thank you for reminding me of the part I didn’t like, but can’t complain about without *really* spoiling the end. 😉
Andrea, I thought your post was giving praise where praise was due. Good job. Yes, Mr. Myers’ analogy did break down, something you pointed out, that he admitted. I had no problem with that. If he had pretended that the computer community was a perfect representation of the world, that would have been a much greater problem.
I thought there was a significant amount of correlation to make people think.
Definitely a book I can recommend!
BTW, I think I read somewhere that Mr. Myers said Eli was the flip side of this one. Was that in the foreword?
Thanks. I shouldn’t have gotten so defensive. I just get so frustrated/sick of being reacted to like I’m being more critical or disliking a book more than I really am, ‘specially when I absolutely loved it. Impressed as I was by his humility, I never meant my comments on the analogy’s limits to be a criticism, quite the opposite. The guys playing god were exactly what sinful human beings with their world view should be and he did a wonderful job giving God the glory through it all. Since it’s a Christian and book and going to be read by a Christian audience especially. The analogy’s “break downs” in my view draw attention beautifully to just how incompatible such lies disguised as science actually are with the gospel, and he does it far more effectively and gently than I have ever managed to be.
Flipside–yeah, he comments on that in the forward and explains what he meant in the Q&A at the end. Eli asks, “how would the gospel go down if happened today rather than 2000 years ago?” The God Hater, he writes in the Q&A, explores, “the story from God’s perspective, the logic that makes Divine intervention necessary.”
Not sure it’s so much a flip side as another angle, myself.
Even though this particular book didn’t hold much appeal to me, I appreciated Myers’ humility in his approach. The fact that he was so open about the short-comings of certain aspects of the allegory made me able to read the book without being distracted by those limitations.
I feared that the novel would be extremely preachy, given the subject matter, however, I agree with you that for the most part he handled things well, without becoming heavy-handed.
Oh, and I definitely don’t think you gave too much away. 🙂
Thanks, Sarah, I appreciate that. 🙂 I definitely respect his humility and his way of tackling such subject matters, making us think (where others might merely lecture us) while keeping us engaged and on the edge of seats.
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