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Calculating God Audiobook

Calculating God

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Publisher's Summary

In this Hugo-nominated novel, an alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer, Hollus, asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho. A shocked Jericho finds that not only does life exist on other planets, but that every civilization in the galaxy has experienced extinction events at precisely the same time. Armed with that disconcerting information (and a little help from a grand unifying theory), the alien informs Jericho, almost dismissively, that the primary goal of modern science is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods.

BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains how the creationism vs. evolution debate informed the writing of Calculating God.

  • 2009 Audie Award Winner, Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • ©2000 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Is Sawyer Canada's answer to Michael Crichton? Very possibly yes." (Montreal Gazette)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (80 )
5 star
 (34)
4 star
 (28)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.1 (33 )
5 star
 (12)
4 star
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3 star
 (8)
2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (32 )
5 star
 (16)
4 star
 (16)
3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Miriam Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom 01/12/2009
    Miriam Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom 01/12/2009 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
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    Overall
    "A Thoroughly Good 'Read'"

    I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I found it to be well constructed, thought provoking, well paced with many unfolding layers and contexts. The story begins simply enough with an alien landing on earth to talk to a palaeontologist. The focus of the collaboration between alien and human is initially about whether or not God exists and the creation of the Universe. The early part of the story recounts the debates that develop between the two parties, each maintaining an opposite point of view. As the story unfolds however, the focus subtly and gradually shifts from this a discussion, to an exploration of the relationships between the characters in the book. We learn about the palaeontologist, his world and family, and about the alien's world and family. We witness the bond of friendship growing between both individuals. The story continues to expand, and weaves in as a part of the plot, some of the current forces which are occurring in our society. The development of the plot in this way adds a real thriller element to the story, as well as maintaining the interest and pace of the book.
    Overall the book explores some fascinating hypotheses about life and it's existence, the rise and fall of species and civilisations, the structure and nature of civilisations depending on what their thought structure is based upon, life and death of an individual at a personal and an inter-relational context. It also throws in some fascination facts about the Universe in which we exist.
    A most thought provoking, interesting and engaging "read". In essence it is a real 'human story' with an unexpected twist at the end. I still find myself thinking about some of the ideas, concepts and hypotheses presented in the story.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Inerness, United Kingdom 03/09/2008
    Martin Inerness, United Kingdom 03/09/2008 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    185
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    162
    51
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    92
    6
    Overall
    "a good, or is that god, thought experiment"

    I really found the idea of this book interesting at first so decided to give it a go. If you have ever thought much about evolution and creationism I think you will find it entertaining. There was almost a retro feel to the aliens in this book, not sure why, but they just seemed like that? But for the price it was certainly worthwhile and really quite enjoyable. I will be getting a few more of these titles.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    podge 06/01/2015
    podge 06/01/2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    8
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    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable read, but..."
    Any additional comments?

    Skip the first 2' 45'' or so. The authors introduction, in my opinion, takes away from the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gavin Jones 18/10/2015
    Gavin Jones 18/10/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    REVIEWS
    67
    27
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    Performance
    Story
    "Starts at a Gallop. Ends in a Canter"
    Any additional comments?

    Great start. Wastes no time getting stuck in. The premise is intriguing. The main alien is a hoot. Ultimately just fizzles out but takes a long time doing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy otley, west yorksls21 2bp, United Kingdom 07/04/2013
    Wendy otley, west yorksls21 2bp, United Kingdom 07/04/2013 Member Since 2011
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    61
    3
    Overall
    "enjoyable, informative and makes you question"

    I bought this after having listened to other books by this author.

    If you try to explain the story to anyone they will think you are mad for listening to it and that it must be a boring book, but the story line is not only entertaining but also informative. Sawyer is very clever in the way he weaves true science into his stories and I find myself wanting to know and understand more about the science. At times I go back to listen to to certain areas again and I think I would now like to actually read the book.

    I am writing this review before I have finished listening to the book, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am enjoying the story, the science and the questions it makes me ask myself. It is based on creationism but Sawyer makes you question eveything and deosn't preach. I am enjoying the book so much that I bought the actual book for a friend who is a staunch catholic because I wanted her ideas to be questioned.

    All I would say is listen with an open mind and try to follow the science rather than being put off. It is deffinately a book I will listen to many times and that is very unsual for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve 02/12/2009
    Steve 02/12/2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    12
    8
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    Overall
    "I don't regret listening to it, but..."

    The story is well written, and well read, and some of the details of alien biology / behaviour I thought were brilliant. I commend the author for writing this book, I am glad it exists, and would recommend it!

    BUT, and for me this is a **massive** but, the main human character - the paleontologist - is rubbish at his job! He is likeable and quite a decent person, decently enough written etc, but he seems to not actually know much about evolution! I feel he is quite poorly researched, granted the book was written in 2000 and I am inclined to give the author the benefit of the doubt that the information we have at our disposal these days was not available to a lay audience back then... though I suspect I am just trying too hard to defend him, because I did like quite a bit about the book.

    I think anyone armed with a copy of Dawkins' books, The Greatest Show on Earth, and God Delusion, would blow the vast majority of the arguments out of the water (see spoilers below for more detail) AND be left with a better knowledge of evolution than the protagonist!

    And the early misuse of the Occam's Razor made me cringe!

    Overall a good book, just seriously hindered by the author's research, or lack thereof

    ---------
    Potential spoilers below - but important clarifications
    ---------
    I said that Dawkins' books would blow the "majority" of the arguments out of the water, because some, indeed the only good ones are based on alien knowledge, ie the author's imagination.

    Also the Paleontologist seems to have an intellectual crisis over whether or not evolution is true, even though what the alien tells him is compatible with evolution by natural selection! The 'god' the alien has 'proof' of is not one I recognise from any bible passage I have read ;)

    I also suspect that the research regarding certain astronomical events is also lacking, but I know less about that area.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Ross
    Sandy, UT, United States
    11/10/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Started great, ended stupid"

    The first 60 minutes of this book had me very excited and anticipating a great experience through to the end. The last 1/3 of the book? Not so much... The premise of blending science with religion (at least this author’s rendition of ‘religion’ just came off an nonsensical and left me more laughing than contemplative. The idea of a in space as ‘God’ just made me chuckle. The author also wimped out and didn’t even make a fictional attempt at dealing with the concept of the soul and the possibilities of life after death. Sad, because this book started off so great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A fan
    denver
    17/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good"

    Reminds me a little of Out Of The Silent Planet.

    I enjoyed the writing style and overall topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jer
    12/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome and thought-provoking"

    I really enjoyed this audiobook. I consider myself to be a scientific person with agnostic tendencies and this was right up my alley. The philosophy inside seemed very well distilled. Not too dry, not dumbed down, just right. No straw man arguments in the discussion of God. But the book does not revolve around that per se. The story was very interesting and the character development and pacing was great. The narrative performance was top-notch. One of my new favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Indra Dhanush
    Pennsylvania
    09/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"
    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert J. Sawyer again?

    Probably not


    What about Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer ’s performance did you like?

    Narration was excellent


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Only the narration


    Any additional comments?

    Maybe there were some redeeming qualities in the later portion; I only got through the first third. At that point, I couldn't get past the implausible handling of an alien actually visiting earth. And there was nothing new or fresh in the ideas presented. It felt like an awkward construction of an ID platform.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Airielle
    06/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listen"

    I've listened to it twice and been enthralled both times. Fascinating ideas put forth in a compelling story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    04/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting Premise"

    While presented as a story, this book offers to put forth an alternative way of considering ourselves within the universe by using the story characters as tools to deliver counterpoints to the author's philosophical vision.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Josh P
    17/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story with some amazing concepts of the origin and purpose of the universe"

    The author does a great job of blending science and science fiction. He's obviously done his research (even if he does take a few liberties) and creates an interesting tale of the story of a grand designer. A few scientific missteps here and there (a supernova's energy from a star 400 light years away somehow reading earth in a matter of weeks and a convenient dismissal of the multiverse theory) but it all works to create a fascinating story. Highly recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dubi
    New York, NY
    13/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "God the Scientist"

    Having read three Sawyer audiobooks, I have sufficient sample size to draw conclusions that apply to Calculating God as well as his other books, that I would expect to find in books yet to be read:

    1. Sawyer loves to examine the intersection of science and theology. His personal bias may be toward rationality, but he always gives religion more than a fair hearing, never forcing his own views upon his characters.

    2. His research is impeccable. You can never criticize his background material, always fully explained. However: you may criticize him for explaining too much, from losing focus on plot and character development as he gets carried away explanation. Or it may just bore you.

    In Calculating God, Sawyer tells you right up front what he's up to. What would the debate between evolution and intelligent design look like when presented with proof of the existence of god? In this case, if aliens arrived on Earth and presented such proof.

    The first half has extensive detailed debates between the alien and a human paleontologist on evolution, intelligent design, god, physics, the nature of the universe. I liked it, but the level of detail may be too much for readers just looking for a good first contact yarn. Fortunately, the characters are well developed despite the weighty material, especially the alien.

    The second half is more action, less science and theology, definitely more preposterous -- I deduct a star in my Story rating because the whole creationist terrorist, supernova, starchild threads strain my credulity (hard to suspend disbelief after so much time and effort has gone into presenting a basis that is both scientifically and theologically sound).

    But my big problem with the subject matter is that Sawyer takes faith out of the debate. The argument is between random evolution and directed evolution, the latter by a god working toward scientific rather than religious ends. That kind of sidesteps the real issue, doesn't it? I think so.

    Finally, there is controversy over the conclusions reached by the characters. Sawyer warns us within the story not to ascribe their beliefs to him. He notes that he was careful to make sure that the characters state them, not he as narrator, that both sides are presented equally. And he notes quite drolly that an author is not obligated to believe what he writes -- George Lucas doesn't believe the force is real just because he made Star Wars, J.K. Rowling doesn't believe in magic just because she wrote Harry Potter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    19/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "thought provoking"

    Really neat plot idea. At lot of impressive science. very original, great story and characters. I'd give it 5 stars but my only complaints would be it's difficult to picture a lot of the scenes (it would be easier to read as a book, also considering a lot of the heavy material that really makes you think) and it was a little bit slow moving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BRYAN
    16/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Like the idea of God it leaves something to be desired."

    GOOD BOOK!
    I think I remember some of the reviews saying this book upset Atheists and Theists alike; but I'm not sure why? I don't think either party is portrayed "negatively". Though I suppose neither side gets heir way either?
    I enjoyed the book thoroughly and think it's worth your time it does provoke one to think outside their party lines but does not put the exclamation that I thought it might have had the book made a more dramatic conclusion.
    I do recommend the book though it was very well read and a fascinating thought experiment into the "what if".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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