Rating: 3 out of 5
Every now and then, I get recommendations from people who love certain books so much that they let me borrow their copies just to hear what I thought. Even in my own book club, it seems that my passion for reading makes me such an influential force in their book selections that it causes me to wonder if I should add the title, "Book Matchmaking Expert" on my business card.
This time, I was given God's Debris: A Thought Experiment, written by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Published in 2004, it's only 132 pages, so if you have some free time during the holidays, you can finish it in a few hours.
This story is structured like a Socratic dialogue: The protagonist is a package deliveryman who spends a day blowing off work by debating philosophy with an elderly man on his route.
This tale starts off strong with a lot of questions regarding the meaning of life and the existence of a god. The main character is forced to re-evaluate his preconceived notions about science and religion, which opens his mind and encourages freethought.
However, there's a reason why I would have never chosen this book myself, and that's because Scott Adams is a known misogynist. As amusing as I find the comic Dilbert, it's saddening to read that Adams supports men's rights activism by discounting the existence of the gender wage gap and perpetuating rape culture.
Why is this relevant? I was nodding along to this book up until the philosopher starts making stereotypical claims about gender roles, specifically that women can only feel loved if men continually make sacrifices for them, and men are only interested in women as long as they prove useful to them:
Women define themselves by their relationships and men define themselves by whom they are helping. Women believe value is created by sacrifice. If you are willing to give up your favorite activities to be with her, she will trust you. If being with her is too easy for you, she will not trust you.
Men believe value is created by accomplishment, and they have objectives for the women in their lives. If a woman meets the objectives, he assumes she loves him. If she fails to meet the objectives, he will assume she does not love him. The man assumes that if the woman loved him she would have tried harder and he always believes his objectives for her are reasonable.
This heteronormative baloney undermines Adams' own theme of self-awareness: what began as a "thought experiment" devolves into one blowhard's opinion.
The ending also turns lackluster by proclaiming that humanity is divided into different groups, ranging from ignorant sheep to the enlightened. I came away disappointed, because it's very clear that Adams believes that he's more intelligent than everyone around him, and his smugness leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
That said, if you can gloss over Adams' trolling, this is an amusing bite-size exercise in stretching your brain. To accomplish this without dealing with the author's ego, I would just suggest that you cut out the middle man and study Socrates instead. I highly recommend Plato's Symposium to learn about the origin of the universe and the meaning of love. Sure, everyone couldn't stand being around Socrates either, but at least he was hell of a lot smarter than this comic writer.