Volume 93, Issue 18

Thursday, September 29, 1999


I'll take bland for $200, Alex

Skepticism Inc. not questionable

An open letter to Lorne Michaels

Nails hit it right on the head

Cooper has whip-crackin' good time

Guitar Wolf luckily speak universal language of music

Skepticism Inc. not questionable

Bo Fowler
Skepticism Inc.

The narrator of the story is a shopping cart, the richest man in the world sells nothing and the planet's only religious hope is a beautiful woman who interprets the Bible into such vagaries as toast eating being a sin. Intrigued?

At the ripe age of 28, English writer Bo Fowler has produced a novel which glides along an enticing narrative track.

The narrative begins in 2022, a few years after the advent of the infinity chip – a mechanism which brought sentience to all worldly appliances. A short time after this futuristic milestone, Fowler's story zooms into a Shop-A-Lot supermarket where our narrator works. Next door to the market is the most famous little church in the world – the church where Edgar Malroy got his start. Malroy's claim to fame is the quote which took the world by storm - "Put your money where your metaphysics are."

The philosophical premise at the heart of Skepticism Inc. is the dissection of organized religion, most strikingly illustrated through the character of Malroy. Malroy becomes the most famous man in the world because he takes bets from people regarding the answers to various metaphysical questions, such as "does God exist?" His business becomes so successful that all of the world's religious leaders begin to wager money as a sign of their devotion.

The point Fowler tries to make is that no metaphysical assertion is more correct than others and the ideas which organized religions use for concepts like God and heaven are completely arbitrary. Fowler reinforces this skeptic perspective within the plot by having all religions endangered and many of the fragmented religious sects extinct due to Malroy's scheme. By the time their leaders recognize the grand and blasphemous scam, they and their members are already addicted to the betting and Malroy's ridiculous television antics.

The shopping cart is another model within the novel of how arbitrary our beliefs are, as it travels up Mount Everest in search of God or proof of God to win his own bet with Malroy concerning God's existence.

Fowler uses a tested formula effectively to relay his messages, the book being a vehicle for his philosophical preferences. In fact, the only parts of the novel which laboured were those in which Fowler took his preachings overboard.

Judging from the insightful Skepticism Inc., this author and his philosophies will undoubtedly be heard from in the coming years.

–Mark Lewandowski

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Copyright The Gazette 1999