Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Evolution of God

I've just started reading the mighty tome The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. In the introduction I found this interesting quote:

"[In] this book I talk about the history of religion, and its future, from a materialist standpoint. I think the origin and development of religion can be explained by reference to concrete, observable things--human nature, political and economic factors, technological change, and so on.

"But I don't think a 'materialist' account of nature's origin, history, and future--like the one I'm giving here--precludes the validity of a religious worldview. In fact, I contend that the history of religion presented in this book, materialist though it is, actually affirms the validity of a religious worldview; not a traditionally religious worldview, but a worldview that is in some meaningful sense religious.

"It sounds paradoxical. On the one hand, I think gods arose as illusions, and that the subsequent history of the idea of god is, in some sense, the evolution of an illusion. On the other hand: (1) the story of this evolution itself points to the existence of
something you can meaningfully call divinity; and (2) the 'illusion', in the course of evolving, has gotten streamlined in a way that moved it closer to plausibility. In both of these senses, the illusion has gotten less and less illusory.

"Does that make sense? Probably not. ...For now I should just concede that the kind of god that remains plausible, after all this streamlining, is not the kind of god that most religious believers currently have in mind."

Though I would agree in part with his last statement, still, he is making a generalization about religious believers, something that happens with great frequency, that Mystical Seeker makes note of with justified consternation. Even so, this book looks like a refreshing take on a well-debated subject that to date has not satisfied every seeker, agnostic or dyed-in-the-wool believer.


Mystical Seeker said...

I probably should read this book at some point when I get a chance.

Cynthia said...

Looks like it's right up your theological alley.