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Evolution of God, The Hardcover – Jun 8 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Word Alive; 1 edition (June 8 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316734918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316734912
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #240,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

PRAISE FOR The Evolution of God:

"In his brilliant new book, The Evolution of God, Robert Wright tells the story of how God grew up. He starts with the deities of hunter-gatherer tribes, moves to those of chiefdoms and nations, then on to the polytheism of the early Israelites and the monotheism that followed, and then to the New Testament and the Koran, before finishing off with the modern multinational Gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Wright's tone is reasoned and careful throughout...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 out...Provocative and controversial."―Paul Bloom, New York Times Book Review

"On any list of nonfiction authors that many people may not know but should, Robert Wright would rank high. . . . taken together, The Moral Animal, Nonzero, and The Evolution of God represent a powerful addition to modern thought. If biology, culture and faith all seek a better world, maybe there is hope."―Gregg Easterbrook, Wall Street Journal

"While the diatribes of the "new atheists"-Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and company-have made headlines in recent years, Wright takes a decidedly more friendly approach to human religiousness...Wright's approach will appeal to a broad range of readers turned off by the "either/or" choice between dogmatic atheism and religious traditionalism. Recommended for all readers engaged in consideration of our notions of God."―Library Journal

"The Evolution of God offers the sort of hope even unbelievers can believe in: that we can somehow learn to talk about religion."―Stephen Prothero, The Washington Post

"Can religions in the modern world reconcile themselves to one another, and can they reconcile themselves to science?" Robert Wright-journalist, philosophy professor, and author of the acclaimed books Nonzero, and The Moral Animal-ardently believes the answer is yes. In this meaty account, the result of 10 years of scholarly research, he attempts to do so, drawing on evolutionary psychology, archaeology, and game theory to trace a common pattern in the world's monotheistic faiths. It's a thoroughly materialist account of religion and yet is ultimately allied with one of religion's basic goals: to provide guidance and comfort in a chaotic world."―Seed Magazine

"[The Evolution of God] gives me hope...The tone of the book is dry skepticism with a dash of humour; the content is supple, dense and layered...fresh and necessary."

Andrew Sullivan, The Times

PRAISE FOR NONZERO:

"An original, accessible and thought-provoking view of history...full of rich detail, ingenious insight and bold argument."―The Economist

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.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although quite lengthy, this is a high quality book about the gods of history written by an agnostic materialist. His history of the origination of god-like figures in the hunter gatherers is well researched and quite sensical. The author then traces the expansion of what the peoples view god as being as the communities in which they live grow in size and complexity. In all cases, however, the author sees that it was man, out of his needs, who created their existing image of god, and not the other way around. Religion is formed from 'the ground up' and not from 'heaven downward'.

Although he remains true to his agnostic stance Wright is able to conclude that in spite of religion's origination dynamics, there may actually be something that is 'divine' in mankind afterall. He sees that the moralistic base of most cultures, throughout time, have improved. And while history shows a repeated series of upward and downward spirals morally and spiritually, he feels that overall the moral base of the world is improving. The one critical element that this process needs is for each of the Abrahamic religions to give up their feeling of 'being special in god's eyes' and admit that they are all chasing after the same god. This is something that will not happen anytime soon.

I highly recommend this book for those persons who are researching the existence or non-existence of God and how this impacts not only the individual but society as well.
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Format: Hardcover
As the title suggests, this book explores the history of how god(s) evolved, beginning with pre-historic hunter-gather societies who had many gods, through to the birth of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Wright is a clear and compelling writer, and researched his topic well. I thoroughly enjoyed the history. The description of Polynesian religion, in particular, was fascinating, as was the description of how Judaism moved from monolatry (the belief that many gods exist but only one is worth worshiping) to monotheism (the belief that there is only one god).

Throughout the main portion of the book, Wright's main theme is that the kind of god people imagine depends on the way they view their neighbors. When people feel isolated, and that everyone is out to get them, they imagine a god who is intolerant of outsiders (non-believers). When people see their neighbors as friendly, and potential allies or trading partners, they imagine a god who is more tolerant and inclusive. Moreover, the scriptures of all three Abrahamic faiths contain portions that were written when the authors were feeling threatened, and other portions that were written when they were feeling friendly.

So, today, people can find support in the scripture for declaring jihad (or crusade) on the infidel, or for loving thy neighbor. That fact has obvious implications for the world today. If we in the West make Muslims feel that we hate them, they will hate us and radical interpretations Islam of flourish. While that is an important point, with important implications, it is also rather obvious.

The last portion of the book was, in my view, the weakest. Wright expressly states that he is agnostic; he is not sure whether God exists.
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Format: Hardcover
I was raised in a Christian family and met wonderful people, but in my teens I looked around one day and discovered that I was surrounded by many hypocrites that attended church primarily to improve business relationships and sleep with each others spouses.... not the majority of course, but enough to open my eyes. I then turned completely away from the entire concept of the existance of a god and felt that anyone that believed the stories in the bible was likely brainwashed and/or sadly an idiot. Once I entered my mid-30s, I once again became curious about the bible and God because there are so many good lessons in that book. I thought it must be that Jesus was an enlightened one ahead of his time, but there was also so much that didn't make sense. Now that I've finished this book, it's made sense of all that I was curious and confused about. I can now be more understanding of many religious folks (not all LOL) and carry on an interesting conversation or two with some of the more open minded, educated ones. I'm glad I bought this book and will likely read it a couple more times before I die LOL!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some cfitics have accused the author of limiting his analysis to the Bible. Actually I found also interesting the analysis of the Quran. Could go more in depth, but that would imply a much more extended narrative, not compatible with a single volume presentation..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Opened my eyes to who God is and where He came from; how He became who He is today.
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Format: Hardcover
The history portion of this book is interesting.

The end argument of this book is its downfall. The author apparently is "agnostic" but then he make the cliched argument that god must exist because there is morality.

This "god must exist because we are moral" argument is getting tiresome. Why does nearly every religious book that is trying to defend religion have to use the moral argument?

This is how the argument in the book works:
1.We are moral
2.There must be a god

There are countless books on the history of religion and there are now many books that examine why we are moral without bringing god into the equation. Read one of those books and forget this one.

This isn't a one star book, I would give it 2 stars, but I am giving it one star because it's rating is currently way too high.
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