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