He explains why spirituality has a role today and why science, contrary to conventional wisdom, affirms the validity of the religious quest. And this previously unrecognized evolutionary logic points not toward continued religious extremism but to future harmony. Nearly a decade in the making, The Evolution of God is a breathtaking reexamination of the past and a visionary look forward.
©2009 Robert Wright; (P)2009 Tantor
"[An] in-depth approach yields original insights." (Kirkus)
This book was very well-done. There was a good flow, good research, and reasoned discussion. I know that our tendency is to rate these sorts of books in ways that reflect how much the author's theology or point of view reflects our own, and my 5-stars for Wright's book certainly suffers from that bias. He builds a very coherent and unemotional case for the existence of "something" we call G-d. He describes how our description of that "something" is far more a reflection of the culture at the time the description was made than it is any sort of true reflection of this "something". How could it be otherwise? We're just people - how could we truly understand and describe this "something" if it's truly a force impacting the entire universe?
If a reader is tied neatly and closely to a particular orthodoxy, a literalist of one brand of scripture or interpretation of scripture, that reader might not enjoy this book. For anyone who finds persistent and nagging questions that they'd like to see discussed openly and honestly, this is a book you'll enjoy. The beauty of Wright's perspective is that he's not a flaming atheist with an agenda to disrespect religion and convert everyone he can to his brand of atheism. He appears to be someone who's spent a great deal of his life pondering and exploring 'the divine", and has presented here an excellent description of what he finds at this point in those ponderings.
For this audible version, I will say the reader was OK, but I don't think he enhanced the writing at all.
While the book does a fair job of trying to develop a coherent story of the evolution of god or God, it dwells way too much on Islam and how we (not of the Islamic faith) can better get along with them. The author wants us to understand not only the evolution of Islam but to buy into his theory of why they (some) are terrorists, why they do what they do and how we can appease them, and thus move society forward. And while I may buy into this notion it really deserves to be in another book with a different title (“Why Islam Will Always Be In A Non-Zero Sum Game With The World”).
Over all the book seemed very well researched and I especially liked where the author took the trouble to rebut some of his own arguments, toward the end of the book. I was just disappointed that the author tried to include is justification of Islam and Muslim’s in a book that purported to be about the evolution of God.
I also agree with one of the reviewers that the narrator sounded like he fell asleep a couple of times. AND I know he knows how to pronounce the word specific but in a couple of instances it came out Pacific.
This book started with an excellent anthropological view of the gradual change of gods over time. Then it became a book on Game theory, and a very round about justification with LOTS of hand waiving explanations on why it is okay to still maintain your current religion. It stopped being about evolution of the idea of gods and became why it is okay to keep the same traditional religion. After the countless time some game theory term was mentioned within a five minute segment, I simply stopped listening. Perhaps it gets back on track, in the third segment, and perhaps some day I will start with the third segment and check. Not likely though.
Enjoy the beginning.
Okay, I'll admit it. I bought this book because it was ON SALE! I ran through my credits kind of fast this year, and filled up the void with some interesting sounding stuff. Was I surprised! This book is a gem! This guy, Robert Wright, had a great idea, to approach the idea of how religions have evolved in human culture. He focused on the three Abrahamic faiths -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- going back to the dawn of recorded history, about 30,000 years ago and gave lucid and factual arguments for how religion came into being.
Let me say this, Mr. Wright is neither trying to proselytize or alienate the reader. He simply reports his research and allows you to draw your own conclusion. He argues both for and against the topic, which is really great. In the end, it is a very "thought-provoking" (how many times have you read that in these reviews?) piece on the reasons behind what we believe in. I came away with the opinion that the author wanted to shed light on how religious beliefs began and how they changed and why religion may be important to most people on the planet.
For a long time now I have questioned the existence of a god, as defined by the Abrahamic faiths. I have read several versions of the Bible, and at the start, found it difficult to believe some of the stuff that was in there. But I am a spiritual person, and cannot discount a divine intelligence in this universe. I'm just not sure that the god that the religions are touting is the god for me.
This book has given me insight to the God that I want to believe in, one that coexists grandly with the scientific discoveries that we are making every day about this world, our universe and everything in it. Well done, Robert Wright.
The one thing I did have a problem with was the non-zero-sum concept. I have just learned that the author penned a previous book that explained all that, but I hadn't read it. I think he should have recapped a little on the subject before he just started referring to it. Now I shall have to read the other book and possibly reread the Evolution of God book again. Psst! I have listened to this book three times already, and never got tired or bored.
Provides a center reading and view point for the discussion of religion among the secular. Could be on a par with William James and The Varieties of Religious Experience. Makes me want to learn about Philo of Alexandria and the divine logos. I first encountered the distinction between personal and social salvation in this book, which appears to me to be a useful way to organize some important religious ideas.
A direct question for theists in this book is the basis for their singular conception of god and a historical weight of evidence showing gradual development of a singular conception as opposed to an instantaneous revelation and change. A silent question for theists in this book is the basis of a singular conception of the divine living in a world which on the surface is a plurality of concepts and cultures. Perfection is conceivable in many forms... perfect circles, perfect squares, perfection could come in as many forms as can adapt to different niches, and in the exciting discovery of new niches leading to new forms.
Another step for a constructive engagement on this profound subject.
This is not an easy audio book to digest. I've replayed a more than a few parts to try to suck in all the details. But the research put into this book is fantastic. I do feel as if I am getting a much broader understanding of western religion and it's evolution. If you want to put in the effort, you will be rewarded at the end with a deeper insight into modern religion.
Extremely well researched, reasoned, and fair. For anyone who wants a materialistic explanation of religion via a detailed investigation of the specific contexts that led to conflicting ideologies, THIS IS YOUR BOOK. Of course, I really would like to know what the real scholars think of all of the claims and explanations. So far, I haven't found anything yet.
I come from a Non-Denominational Evangelical Christian background (yeah, i helped vote him in, sorry) and I was a Biology major in college. I originally majored in Biology to better understand Evolutionary Theory so that I could help debunk it and enlighten those blinded by it and save them for Jesus. What I found was that though the theory of Evolution is not provable beyond a bible thumpers shadow of a doubt, it is a very good scientific theory and its the best we got in terms of thinking concretely and logically. Taking those same principles, Mr. Wright applies them to how the thought of god could have evolved very naturally with the rise of civilization. He has very very good evidence and solid theories to back up this idea of his. It was a life changing and challenging read. As a Christian, it totally ripped my faith apart and left me feeling empty inside. Since I was about 16-17yrs old my self-worth and my confidence in myself (which I had for years felt it to be very solid and rewarding) was based solely on the existence of God. This book really challenged me on this issue and after listening to it, I went through a very dark time trying to work though the different issues that he placed before me in his writings. Part of me had wished that I had not listened to this book, but an other part of me was glad that this challenge was given to me because the thought of believing something and identifying with something which was false was very unappealing to me, rather discussed me and brought in thoughts of suicide and apathy. Through much time, thought, and what at first felt like empty emotionally draining hurtful prayer I was able to comeback to a Christian faith, but it is definitely not the same one I had before. I cannot say that this book was the only instrument in this process that I went through but it was definitely the heavy weight that broke the camel's back more than the straw. If your a zealous neo-Darwin atheist, you'll love this book. ;)
This book was extremely interesting, and enlightening, but was definitely a lecture. I normally listen to books during my commute (about 1 hour 15 min each way), and go for entertainment. I figured that I would give this a try. It was interesting enough to keep my interest, but didn't help shorten the commute at all. Kind of felt like listening to a good lecture in college, but not something I would listen to normally on my "free" time
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