Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Here's another one of those books that I had heard so much about but never actually got around to reading. It has been such an integral book to so many people that I know that I instantly recognized many parts of it from previous conversations that I had had. Even more so, reading it was a further insight into some of my closest friends, as I immediately recognized their humor in these pages that I have no doubt in my mind helped shape theirs as they grew up. What if they had never read this book, how different would they be? And if I had read it at the intended age, as a pre-teen or teenager, would I have loved it as much as they had, and would I be more similar to them in my sense of humor? Such big vertiginous questions provoked by such a small book.

One of my favorite parts of the book was actually a logical argument about god that someone I had met in a pub was retelling me. As often happens with books you read in your formative years he didn't remember the details very well, and in fact managed to garble the argument immensely to insinuate that it came to precisely the opposite conclusion that it in fact came to. I countered it with an argument made by the great Discern4 over on youtube. So imagine my surprise when I came upon the argument in the book and it turns out that not only the argument was surprisingly similar to the one I had borrowed from Discern4, but it was actually originally an amusingly good argument against Intelligent Design, turning their most common argument of Irreducible Complexity against them:

Now it is such a bizzarely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

So twisty and clever, exactly my cup of tea.

One thing I will say, I will not let my kids (if I ever have any) reach adulthood without reading it, just like they will also read Harry Potter, Roald Dahl and Flatland. It a think-outside-the-box book through and through in the best kind of way, and I think that is a lesson well worth learning as soon as possible.

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