The Religion War by Scott Adams

If God’s Debris was an interesting, if not particularly powerful, thought experiment, its sequel can only be described as simplistic and absurd. The book has an incredibly implausible plot, caricatures instead of characters, sophomoric and unfounded philosophy dressed up as profound insight, and a Utopian ending no more plausible than the plot that leads up to it. In short, I didn’t like.

The Religion War finds the deliveryman turned Avatar from God’s Debris facing a world bent on destroying itself. It seems the world has been divided up between the Christians and the Muslims. The Christian side is led by General Cruz, a man with a gigantic ego unburdened with doubt who believes he is being used by God to destroy those who threaten his way of life. The Islamic side is led by the terrorist al-Zee who also believes his God is using him to save the world from the Infidels.

Our hero needs to prevent these two leaders from destroying the world. General Cruz is planning to use his superior firepower to exterminate the Islamic side while al Zee is planning on destroying the Christians with biological weapons planted in every major city while he hides in his underground bunker.

For those who, despite my reaction, do want to read the book I won’t spoil the ending. But the book is filled with ridiculously implausible events as the Avatar runs around using near superhuman powers to try and stop the two leaders from killing everyone.

The argument underlying the plot is that ideas are like the software to the world’s hardware. Normally, religion is a false but beneficial idea that helps people get through life. But at some point these “software programs” become corrupted and threaten to destroy the world. The Avatar needs to find the reboot button. You see there is a person in the world who is the starting point for influence in the world. They don’t know it, but their ideas and preferences begin an ever expanding circle of influence that has the potential to change the world. If he can find this person and convince them of the futility of the war then he can stop it from happening.

Yes, it is as implausible and silly as all of that. And to top it all off, here is the phrase that leads to world revolution and peace: “If God Is So Smart, Why Do You Fart?” That’s it folks. That is the best that Adams could come up with! You see if religious people could just put aside their delusions and arrogant assumptions and really grasp this insightful and life changing phrase they would see the world as it really exists. In this fictional world Adams declares this “the most powerful question in human history.” I realize that this is likely meant to be a humorous twist, but this is just pathetic.

I was literally offended when I got to the end of the book. I couldn’t believe that Adams went to all of that work just to offer a shallow and sophomoric atheism (or perhaps agnosticism). Adams goes so far as to call faith “stupid.” He asserts that the dictionary defines faith as “belief without evidence” and defines stupidity as “unreasoned thinking” and asks the readers to draw their own conclusion. One little problem exactly what dictionary defines faith like that? I used and found this:

1) Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2) Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
3) Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
4) often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
5) The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6) A set of principles or beliefs.

Using my own Oxford English Reference Dictionary I get:

1) Complete trust or confidence
2) firm belief, esp. without logical proof

Adams conveniently removes the logical proof and material evidence from the definition to imply that faith is irrational and “stupid.” If you are going to insult people you should bring more than dictionary parlor tricks and science fiction accounts of the way the world works.

Perhaps he is just trying to be controversial, or attempting to shock the reader into thinking about his own beliefs, but I found it insulting and ridiculous. The whole book is full of futuristic visions of a world saved by technology that allows unlimited and unimpeded communication. As if the thing standing in the way of world piece is universal cell phone use. As if religion is a giant delusion but science and technology are the answer to all of the worlds problems.

I will take my delusions thank you very much!

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. hmm…i did find the book good, not because of the style with which it was written or anything technical, but because of the story itself.

    the silliness of the events and how they happened reflects the author’s humor and is meant to entertain. i don’t know that many people who would bother to read a dead-serious story on what was almost the end of the world. i’d like to think that’s not what fiction is for.

    but the silliness of the events does not overshadow the possibilities shown in the story, which are evident in the realities happening as i type, as you read. people display their arrogance and ignorance by poking fun at other people’s religion (danish comics depicting allah with a bomb for a turban), people leading their countries to attack and invade other countries because of paranoia and fear of people with different beliefs, people are leading their people to kill and die and wage war in the guise of o religion war, in the name of a god they don’t really even believe in. people use other people’s faith to gain power.

    what’s so silly about communication being the ultimate tool in worldwide peace, or at least something close to it? if only everyone is given a chance to air out herhis thoughts, the truly silly ideas will ultimately die.

  2. Dude, I don’t know what your problems are with this book. It’s fiction and yet you’re complaing that the events aren’t realistic enough? Please

    I mean, yeah, the Avatar sure can travel quickly, not to mention find top-secret locations pretty fast, but again, it’s fiction. Deal with it. And where’s the Avatar’s “near superhuman powers”? He’s an old, fragile man, but really smart aware. I found the whole “Prime Influencer” concept just as ridiculous as you probably did, but I guess unlike you, I did what Scott Adams told me to do and remembered that this is fiction and not be taken seriously. He specifically makes sure to emphasize that in the hopes that people could just look past the fact that he’s taking certain liberties to get his story rolling.

    And he offers justification for the farting question. He made it a point to explain in the story that the reason for that being as powerful a question as possible is because that while there have been many more insightful and thought-provoking questions out there, this one is different in that:

    A) It’s simple and it rhymed. You can’t ask a serious question to a person that’s thought-provoking and expect them to react the same way, like, for instance, “Why was God so childish that he felt the need to banish Adam and Eve and every last descendant of them (read: us) from Eden to live as mortals in a place rife with disease and death?” or “If God made Adam in his own image, and Eve from Adam, then doesn’t that mean God is flawed as well?” or “If God is omniscient, then shouldn’t he have known that this was going to happen in the first place?” or “Why would he bother making humans anyway since he’s supposed to be perfect, meaning ‘lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind.'” or “If God is so perfect and so smart and so powerful, then how is this the best world he could come up with?” See? These questions will probably leave you pondering the nature of God (as long as you don’t have a closed-mind), but aren’t as catchy or simple. Why does the iPod do so well? Not because it’s the best, but because it’s simple to use and attractive.

    B) It was said by the Prime Influencer person, so it doesn’t matter if the question was “If God is so smart, milk milk lemonade, around the corner fudge is made,” she said it and therefore people will listen. Deal with it.


    And finally, it is true that the definitions of faith and stupidity don’t exactly match up with their actual definitions, which I was kind of diappointed about because I was going to use that in a discussion with my more religious friends. But yet again, another one of your complaints is voided by the fact that you want to keep acting like this book is non-fiction, when in fact, IT’S FICTION and Scott Adams can say the definitions of faith is “Don’t worry: I’ve got an idea- an idea so smart my head would explode if I even began to know what I was talking about” if he wants; It’s HIS universe.

    Deal. With. It.

  3. The Religon War is allegedly the sequel to God’s Debris, which was supposed to be a thought experiment, or more accurately a parable (1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.)

    As parables, God’s Debris and the Religious War suck, just as they suck as fiction. This is, after all, the author of Dilbert, not a noted intellectual.

    Adams’ works are like the writings of Intelligent Design advocates; they are so frought with bad analogies, mistaken “facts” and debunked philosophical concepts that it would take a proper education or several books to explain why.

    Adams should stick to crude scribbles and office humor.

  4. A thought experiment. Fiction. You say its a parable. I say you are not capable of accepting it as it is. A thought experiment. Fiction. If you didn’t enjoy it, then don’t complain, You admitted and had to know it was fiction before you read it. If you have written a book that is better, then I would like to read yours, then I will criticize it. To be a critic is easy, you only have to pretend to read and then form an opinion. The writer had to create the story. We all will walk away with an opinion, good or bad. I think it has done its purpose, to create thought, which has caused a voicing of opinion, making the reader think. Scott Adams, job well done! Your thought experiment worked.

  5. C’mon, fiction is fiction! It doesn’t have to be realistic, although it still is an amazing book. If you remember the intro, Adams’ goal was to provoke some thought out of his audience, and he did a good job of that. These debates are exactly what he wanted. He knew there would be people who loved it (me!) and people who thought it was the stupidest thing ever written.
    As for your opinion on the quote, “If god is so smart, why do we fart?” it became known worldwide for the fact that it was short, it rhymed, it was pretty funny, and nobody would think of good comeback.
    I also think a character like the avatar made the story infinitely better. This novel is amazing and I hope Adams writes more like this.

  6. Infallibility in the Bahai writings does not mean never being wrong. Baha’u'llah for instance was wrong on some historical and scientific matters. Bahai infallibility is in the first place an attribute of God, and as such is shared with the whole creation, and its meaning is defined as “free from sin” that is, not bound by sin, free to do otherwise.

  7. Let me tell you my sincere opinion: in order to have a religion war, you must fist have religion. There is no religion in my opinion and I will explain why: church leaders raise 7 million dollars from donations and after that, they use the money for a lobby against gay marriage, all the money… I guess that homeless hungry people that die everyday will have to wait, won't they? How can you spend 7 million dollars on such a stupid thing? Gay marriage will happen anyway so use that money for people that actually need it.
    Feast of Tabernacles

  8. @ Jim

    “As parables, God’s Debris and the Religious War suck, just as they suck as fiction. This is, after all, the author of Dilbert, not a noted intellectual.”

    Adams is a member of MENSA. Maybe you’ve heard of it, it’s a high-I.Q society. The only requirement to join, literally the ONLY requirement, is that you score above a set level on an intelligence test.

    I think that makes Adams a ‘noted intellectual’.

  9. He stresses in the beginning of God’s Debris that it’s a work of fiction. He tells us that he doesn’t necessarily believe all the ideas he postulates in the story and he goes as far as to say some of them are down right wrong. He challenges us to think it through and try to separate the fact from “what just sounds correct”.

  10. “He asserts that the dictionary defines faith as “belief without evidence”

    “One little problem exactly what dictionary defines faith like that?”

    “2) Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”

    Enough said. You’re an idiot.

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