A writer tries to answer all of life’s mysteries by having a Socratic dialogue with God in this debut philosophical work.
Bagisbayev begins his broad examination of human life with an equally broad list of questions. Perhaps the most important ones are: “Why do we have so many moral rules....[W]ho invents the rules and why should I comply?” For the author, the answer to these and many other deep queries can be found by unifying different scientific and theoretical approaches to human behavior. To that end, he constructs what he calls a “neither scientific nor anti-scientific...neither theological nor atheistic” scenario—specifically, a dialogue in which a fictional protagonist speaks directly with God every morning, allowing the deity to prod him into new ways of thinking. This dialogue addresses three principal notions: “The Law of Gene Preservation,” “The Law of Freedom of Choice,” and finally, “The Law of Humandynamics,” which says that freedom of choice increases over time. Bagisbayev’s protagonist addresses thorny issues of history and politics while God gently encourages his thesis that everything can be understood as extensions of nature’s physical laws. The book includes references to real-world scholars and studies throughout, but its real focus is using logic to connect abstract concepts to their real-world incarnations. As translated from the original Russian by Joanna Dobson, the conversations between God and the protagonist rely heavily on wordplay, engaging rhetorical strategies, and a dry sense of humor that helps to ground the lofty subject matter: for example, when the protagonist wants to investigate the origin of numbers, God wryly asks, “Are you going to teach me to count?” At times, though, the book’s incredible breadth overshadows its engaging arguments and funny moments, often leaving readers with more questions. It’s most focused and purposeful when Bagisbayev builds on a specific theme, such as the disparities between ancient religions and contemporary morality.
This ambitious book’s unique structure offers some unusual, intriguing moments.