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In The Evolution of God, award-winning and bestselling author Robert Wright takes us on a sweeping journey through history, unveiling a discovery of crucial importance to the present moment: There is a pattern in the evolution of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and a "hidden code" in their scriptures. Reading these scriptures in light of the circumstances surrounding their creation, Wright reveals the forces that have repeatedly moved the Abrahamic faith away from belligerence and intolerance to a higher moral plane. And he shows how these forces today let these faiths reassert their deep proclivity toward harmony and reconciliation. What's more, his analysis raises the prospect of a second kind of reconciliation: the reconciliation of science and religion.
Using the prisms of archaeology, theology, history, and evolutionary psychology, Wright repeatedly overturns conventional wisdom:
Contrary to the belief that Moses brought monotheism to the Middle East, ancient Israel was in fact polytheistic until after the Babylonian exile.
Jesus didn't really say, "Love your enemies," or extol the Good Samaritan. These misquotes were inserted in scripture decades after the Crucifixion.
Muhammad was neither a militant religious zealot nor a benign spiritual leader but a cool political pragmatist, at one point flirting with polytheism in an attempt to build his coalition.
Wright shows that, however mistaken our traditional ideas about God or gods, their evolution points to a transcended prospect: that the religious quest is valid, and that a modern scientific worldview leaves room for something that can meaningfully be called divine.
Vast in ambition and brilliant in execution, The Evolution of God will forever alter our understanding of God and where He came from--and where He and we are going next.
Praise for The Evolution of God
"[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
"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."
"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