Oh, My Pop Culture Nam-Shub: Snow Crash and Religion as a Virus

“What it comes down to is this: any information system of sufficient complexity will inevitably become infected with viruses—viruses generated from within itself.”

snow crash coverI’d never read a Neal Stephenson book before Snow Crash, so I had no idea what to expect upon opening it. I got a wild ride of a plot full of commentary on capitalism, computer programming, religious history, and language. Also, for anyone who thinks diversity is a new thing in the sci-fi genre, take several seats—it was written in 1992 and its main characters are a mixed-race Black/Japanese guy and a fifteen year old white girl, a Latina lady is a major supporting character, and the villain, an Aleutian native, is motivated in great part by his desire for revenge on America for what the government did to his people. This isn’t a straight-up review of the book, though, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the religious themes that ran through it. One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was the idea that religion is the neurological equivalent of a virus (computer or otherwise). While the way it was presented was interesting, in the end I found its implications somewhat insulting to people of faith.

Spoilers for the story below.

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