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Robert J. Sawyer


Canadian SF Writer

Sawyer sat down with Science Fiction Weekly in 1996 to answer questions submitted by readers.

Q: In your novel The Terminal Experiment you introduce the concept of the "Soulwave." Was this idea born out of hope or personal belief? --Jim Johnson, jjohnson@lante.com

A: I was raised a Unitarian, but I practice no formal religion now; the last time I was in a church was when I needed to use a restroom. Throughout my teenage years, I counted myself an atheist, but these days I'm more of an agnostic. I don't know whether or not God exists, but I don't deny the possibility (on the other hand, I do deny that any God that has any personal interest in us as individuals exists -- you simply have to look around at the horrors of the world to know that that can't be true).

The idea of the soulwave isn't really born of either hope or personal belief. I believe that when we die, we're eaten by worms -- end of story. That's one of the reasons why The Terminal Experiment debunks the so-called near-death experience. But I do think that questions of immortality fascinate writers (they crop up again in my latest novel, Starplex). After all, we write so that something of ourselves will survive our death.

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Barry F. Seidman, formerly of the Center For Inquiry, claims that Sawyer supports creationism in his Hugo Award-nominated novel Calculating God. Sawyer strongly rebuts Seidman in two letters to Skeptical Inquirer here and here.

Sawyer was the final speaker at the grand opening of the Centre for Inquiry, Ontario, and his speech on atheism and the skeptical movement formed the basis of an op-ed piece by him published in The Ottawa Citizen on 4 April 2007; the full text is here.

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