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The deep thinker's playpen

April 10, 2005|Christine N. Ziemba

What's God like? Are you an honest person? And what makes for great art? Such questions are the stuff of games at the interactive section of The online companion to U.K.-based The Philosophers' Magazine contains a few brain-busters that test visitors' beliefs in a higher power and moral compasses (or the lack thereof).

Have no fear if you passed on the Kant and Kierkegaard electives in college. Webmaster Jeremy Stangroom, PhD, and magazine editor Julian Baggini, PhD, created many of these activities for Joe Sixpack and not just Jung wannabes.

The "Do-It-Yourself Deity" game provides new perspectives on the omnipresent question, "What is God?" Visitors choose one or more descriptions that best suit their understanding of a higher power. Choices range from Omnipotent ("all-powerful, able to do anything") to Omnibenevolent ("all-loving") to a Personal God ("a being with whom one can have a personal relationship").

Once players select the deity's characteristics, the game determines the probability of its existence. For example, selecting an "Omnipotent" God rates pretty high on the plausibility scale. But the game's designers throw in a monkey wrench. Is the theory of an omnipotent God contradictory when it comes to doing the illogical? They ask how even an omnipotent God can make 2 plus 2 equal 5.

The game suggests that these questions help people "understand what you mean by God more deeply, and perhaps even revise your former beliefs."

For atheists who aren't into God games, several other activities examine human nature and ethical dilemmas. "Taboo" offers a series of questions and plots a graph representing where you lie, morally speaking. "Strange New World" takes readers on a "Matrix"-like trip to another reality.

And in "Shakespeare vs. Britney Spears," two artists -- from a list that also includes Jane Austen, T.S. Eliot, Kurt Cobain and Stephen King, among others -- go mano a mano while visitors select criteria to determine whose work is greater.

Don't laugh. Britney just may hold her own. And if not, we all know she could probably kick Bill's butt in a Celebrity Deathmatch.

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