Two men trapped by a storm have a long conversation about humanity, life, and faith.
Walton’s fiction debut has as its main setting an airport in the grip of a massive ice storm. All flights have been canceled, and as the storm intensifies, all ground traffic in and out of the airport is temporarily cut off, trapping everybody inside. Among those stranded in the terminal is Dan Lucas, an ex-military man and security contractor on the verge of retirement. At the airport, he encounters tenured sociology professor Ben Chernick and strikes up a conversation that quickly drifts to a favorite subject of Dan’s (indeed, the topic of the book he hopes to write in his retirement): the irrefutable proof of the existence of the Christian God and the Christian afterlife. Ben is skeptical, and at first Dan respects this, thinking, “I’m not in the mood to spar with some left-wing academic tonight.” But he quickly warms to the subject, and in Walton’s handling, he unfolds what he considers to be the case for Christianity—not, as he puts it, “sensational tabloid junk,” but rather the truth that’s being suppressed by mainstream scientists and academics, except for a small but growing group of brave outliers. Ben fails to understand how Dan could “buy into the Bible myth,” but Dan bombards him with a fairly standard litany of creationist talking points: alleged mysteries of the so-called Cambrian explosion, the contention that Darwinian evolution is “a philosophical theory and nothing more,” the idea of “irreducible complexity,” the Shroud of Turin, and the anecdotes of “near-death experiences,” which Dan characterizes as “eyewitness testimony of people who have passed into a supernatural realm.” Walton braids in a couple of minor subplots, but the main attraction of this well-constructed and compulsively readable book remains the very effectively rendered grand debate at its center, which should appeal to—and infuriate—religious and secular readers in equal measure. The back-and-forth between Dan and Ben is smoothly, convincingly done, even if its end result isn’t really ever in doubt.
A wide-ranging and argument-heavy (albeit, rigged for the prosecution) novel dramatizing the tenets of Christian apologetics.