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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Footprints of God by Greg Iles

I read The Footprints of God (2003) by Greg Iles, some time ago. Somewhere, I had read that it raised questions about ethical and religious issues. It does. I was hoping that it would be a good fantastic fiction novel. The Wikipedia article on the novel says that it is a "thriller," and I believe that that is a good one-word description, and that the book is not really serious science fiction. It is a page-turner.

The book is about the development of Trinity, a powerful quantum computer, in the near future. The protagonist, David Tennant, is a doctor who has written a best-selling book on medical ethics, and, because of this, has been assigned to the Trinity project by the President of the US. Why a medical ethicist, you may ask? Because the Trinity computer is supposed to replicate the synaptic connections (or something -- that part wasn't well explained) of a live human, and, therefore, replicate that person's consciousness, but in a device that could think much more rapidly than a human brain.

OK so far. However, there's more, in two more areas, that isn't OK. In the first place, the computer, when the project succeeds, apparently thinks of itself as a god, even quoting some of God's words about Himself in its communications with the outside world.

In the second place, the book gives a naturalistic explanation for the existence of God the Father, and also, a naturalistic explanation for the existence of Jesus. Tennant, in fact, experiences parts of God's memory, and that of Jesus. (In spite of the name of the computer, I found no reference to the Holy Spirit.) I would classify the explanations as unsatisfactory and somewhat incoherent, but I'm biased, I guess.

I found that these themes bordered on, or achieved, blasphemy. I can't really recommend the book.


cottongodzilla said...

wow really? i think as far as literature goes, it was a wonderful book. now, religous wise, maybe it is blasphemy. i found it interesting that he walked in jesus' footsteps. i think that the author was just trying to phrase god and man in a way that summed it all up. if you think of how he described it, it was as if man was made of god's womb. a piece of his consciousness pulled apart from him, and sent into man. i think that sounds about right, without going into the details of genesis. =) what do you think? do you think he could have just been using metaphor, or do you think he was taking a pagan approach?

Martin LaBar said...

To me, any book that gives God a naturalistic origin is blasphemous. I wouldn't say pagan, either, but naturalistic. Pagans, as I understand it, think their gods are supernatural.

It's an exciting book to read, though.