Synopses & Reviews
In this sweeping narrative that takes us from the Stone Age to the Information Age, Robert Wright unveils an astonishing discovery: there is a hidden pattern that the great monotheistic faiths have followed as they have evolved. Through the prisms of archaeology, theology, and evolutionary psychology, Wright's findings overturn basic assumptions about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and are sure to cause controversy. 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 future harmony.
Nearly a decade in the making, The Evolution of God is a breathtaking re-examination of the past, and a visionary look forward.
"In his illuminating book, The Moral Animal, Wright introduced evolutionary psychology and examined the ways that the morality of individuals might be hard-wired by nature rather than influenced by culture. With this book, he expands upon that work, turning now to explore how religion came to define larger and larger groups of people as part of the circle of moral consideration. Using a nave and antiquated approach to the sociology and anthropology of religion, Wright expends far too great an effort covering well-trod territory concerning the development of religions from 'primitive' hunter-gatherer stages to monotheism. He finds in this evolution of religion, however, that the great monotheistic (he calls them 'Abrahamic,' a term not favored by many religion scholars) religions Christianity, Islam, Judaism all contain a code for the salvation of the world. Using game theory, he encourages individuals in these three faiths to embrace a non zero-sum relationship to other religions, seeing their fortunes as positively correlated and interdependent and then acting with tolerance toward other religions. Regrettably, Wright's lively writing unveils little that is genuinely new or insightful about religion. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In his brilliant new book, The Evolution of God, Robert Wright tells the story of how God grew up....Wright's tone is reasoned and careful...and it is nice to read about issues like the morality of Christ and the meaning of jihad without getting the feeling that you are being shouted at." New York Times
"Wright (Nonzero, 2001, etc.) joins the decade's bandwagon with a tome explaining away God as something people made up over time....'Traditional believers,' as Wright calls them, will find all this a difficult pill to swallow...Offers little new scholarship, but the in-depth approach yields original insights." Kirkus Reviews
"The title of Robert Wright's new book -- The Evolution of God
-- will surely put some people off; indeed it seems designed to do so. So many religious believers in the U.S. have so much antipathy toward the idea that evolution might explain anything, it seems highly unlikely that many of them will pick up a book whose title suggests that God, of all things, might have evolved -- let alone (dare I mention it?) a book containing a chapter titled 'Survival of the Fittest Christianity.'" Troy Jollimore, truthdig
(read the entire truthdig review
The prize-winning author of The Moral Animal and Nonzero presents a groundbreaking examination of religion through the ages.
In this sweeping, dazzling journey through history, Robert Wright unveils a discovery of crucial importance to the present moment: there is a pattern in the evolution Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and a "hidden code" in their scriptures. Through the prisms of archeology, theology, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology, Wright repeatedly overturns conventional wisdom to show how and why religion can strengthen the social order-even in an age of globalization-and explains why modern science is not only compatible with religion, but actively affirms the validity of the religious quest.
Vast in scope and thrilling in ambition, The Evolution of God brilliantly alters our understanding of God and where He came from-and where He and we are going next.
About the Author
Robert Wright is the author of Nonzero, The Moral Animal, and Three Scientists and Their Gods. He is a contributing editor to the New Republic, Time, and Slate, and he runs www.BloggingHeads.com, a rapidly growing Web site for intellectual discourse. He has also taught in the Philosophy Department of Princeton University and the Psychology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in New Jersey.