Daniel Quinn - Ishmael

Similar to Ayn Rand, regardless of whether one totally agrees (which hopefully isn't the case since both have some errors), somewhat agrees, or completely disagrees with the author's work, this book is sure to make the reader think.

Although this may seem like a strange book to be linked to from a page called "Books dealing with the Bible and Christianity", a portion of the content presents a very interesting interpretation of the Genesis story. The Bible isn't really the main focus of the book, but his thoughts on what the story meant to the original authors certainly makes far more sense than the usual Christian take on it.

One of the fascinating topics dealing with the various aspects of the human condition is dogma. The need that so many people seem to have not only now but also in the past to force (in varying degrees) their views of what they think is "right" onto others. Quinn shows through the fictional metaphors used in the book, other examples, and his own lack of giving definite conclusions that diversity and freethought can provide better results than rigid, homogenous populations and views. For instance, on page 170 he states, "It's going to be hard as hell for them to give it up, because what they're doing is right (in their own mind), and they have to go on doing it even if it means destroying the world and mankind with it."

A major theme of the book deals with thinking before acting. His take on our actions is that we should not only consider the short and long-term (meaning during one's lifetime) impacts, but we should also consider the eternal consequences of our actions. If I choose to do something that gives me X amount of benefit in the short run and XX amount of benefit in the long run, should I still go ahead with the action if it also includes XXX+ amount of detriment after I'm dead?

Contrary to the beliefs (and commandments) of several major religions, overpopulation is already a problem which will become very serious in the next century. There isn't an easy solution. Paying people through welfare, tax deductions, and credits for their existing kids and increasing the benefits for additional children certainly isn't helping the problem. Education is probably the key factor--but very difficult to implement in other countries and in all places where religion reigns over reality.

Here is final quote which struck a cord with me and my personal exit from Mormonism. It applies to everyone who has had to give something up and the underlying, yet not admitted to, reason why change is so difficult.

"Giving it up would mean . . . It would mean that all along they'd been wrong. It would mean that they'd never known how to rule the world. It would mean . . . relinquishing their pretensions to godhood."

I've commented further on the Rand/Quinn topic here.