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The Evolution Of God: The origins of our beliefs


The Evolution Of God: The origins of our beliefs

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    Available in PDF Format | The Evolution Of God: The origins of our beliefs.pdf | English
    Robert Wright(Author)

In The Evolution of God, Robert Wright, award-winning author of the bestselling books Nonzero and The Moral Animal, takes us on a sweeping journey through religious history, from the Stone Age to the Information Age, unveiling along the way an astonishing discovery: that there is a hidden pattern in the way that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all evolved.

Through the prisms of archaeology, theology, evolutionary psychology and a careful re-reading of the scriptures, Wright's findings repeatedly overturn conventional wisdom and basic assumptions about the great monotheistic faiths.

Looking at the forces that have moved the Abrahamic faiths away from belligerence and intolerance to a higher moral plane, Wright finds that this previously unrecognized evolutionary logic points not toward continued religious extremism as the media would have us believe, but towards future harmony.

** 'Robert Wright is a riveting writer, compelling and compulsive. Once he gets a truly big idea going, he grabs you by the coat lapels and doesn't let you go. He is a master of lucid and persuasive prose (IRISH TIMES)** 'An important book (SUNDAY TIMES)

4.3 (4445)
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Book details

  • PDF | 576 pages
  • Robert Wright(Author)
  • Abacus (4 Nov. 2010)
  • English
  • 10
  • History
Read online or download a free book: The Evolution Of God: The origins of our beliefs

Review Text

  • By Mr G M R Evans on 3 August 2017

    This book is good in parts. The first four chapters are infected with Wright's belief in the snakeoil of evolutionary psychology and he gets some thing wrong - like claiming that all hunter-gatherer societies have religion (obviously he's never read about the Piraha). He really shines on the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) - this section is outstanding for its depth of research and the quality of the writing. He's gullible on Jesus, giving Mark's gospel far more credibility as a factual account than it deserves, and he doesn't even touch on the mythological Jesus view promoted by Richard Carrier and several others, which is rapidly gaining ground. He's fascinating on Paul, but there gaps in his knowledge of Islam. Overall, a worthwhile book to read - but it needs to be read critically.

  • By Amazon customer on 3 September 2017

    I purchased this as a birthday gift for my partner, and he says that it's fascinating, easy to read, and builds a compelling case for its main thesis.10/10 and highly recommended!

  • By Hashim_Al on 16 December 2011

    I really like Robert Wright, and I love his online presence and previous book (The Moral Animal - highly recommended) but I feel he has gone a bit soft on this one. In this book, I fear, he is letting his agenda cloud his search for truth. In that sense it appears he is not being sincere in his conclusions or that he is mistaken or (very possibly) the subtlety of his argument has gone completely over my head.After reading up to the final chapter and agreeing with most of it until then I feel his conclusions about moral reality and "purpose/god" are wrong.To see why, I want to use his own analogy from one of Wright's old but brilliant interviews with Steven Pinker where they discuss the eye and then morality.The eye evolved to appreciate the naturally occurring phenomena of binocularity, Euclidian geometry and parallax etc in order to construct 3D mental images from 2D retinal image.Morality like mathematics is naturally occurring in the universe - so co-operation, reciprocal altruism and non-zero sum logic are mathematical algorithms that just happen to work, like Euclidian geometry , without any need to invoke "special consideration" i.e "higher purpose" or "divinity" that then might imply a "divinity" as a reason for them. Instead, through strategic self interest human minds converged on to these naturally occurring moral math, that in so doing improves wellbeing beyond the individual, and therefore gives the appearance of enlightened moral behaviour. There is nothing divine or special about this.Without human brains there is no such thing as right or wrong, only a cold meaningless universe of matter and energy. The sense that moral truth is "special" is an illusion of our human minds, as the sense of right and wrong are emotionally loaded in order to give them the necessary clout to alter our feelings and behaviours to aid in achieving the ultimate (via the proximate) goal of genetic proliferation. All human thoughts, feelings and actions are animated by human emotions, but in reality the feelings of "being wronged" or "gratitude" or "respect, fear and love" to mention a few emotional drives are just electrochemical neural circuits firing i.e. illusions.In effect what Wright does is to wrongfully attribute higher meaning/purpose to the results of natural selection because it is amazing and great that it evolved a mind capable of feeling moral emotions. What he overlooks then is that his sense of anything being "important" or "valuable" is an emotional illusion that humdrum natural selection instilled in him. And therefore the moral sense deserves no more special consideration for higher meaning or purpose or divinity than say, 3D visual perception.

  • By Marcus on 21 January 2012

    A tour through religion from prehistoric animism, through Shamanism and Polynesian religion to the three Abrahamic faiths. Robert Wright pulls in ideas from evolutionary theory, such as Dawkins' idea of memes, and a rather simplified version of game theory to show how human ideas of god(s) have changed over time. As other reviewers have commented, there are some large omissions, such as non-Abrahamic modern religions. Arguably Wright's treatment of Shamanism and non-Hebrew polytheistic religion is also rather superficial, but what can you expect in a book of only 500 pages? This is also true of evolution, game theory and particle physics, which Wright touches on to give support for his own ideas; if you want to learn about these theories, look elsewhere, for example Dawkins' books. When it comes to Christianity and Judaism, Wright's academic credentials shine through. He writes in an informed and balanced way that is also clear and easy to read, though sometimes a little informal for my taste. I am sure his lectures are entertaining.And what of its contribution to the "God Delusion" debate? Religious fundamentalists are likely to throw this book down in disgust, though they should try not to. Atheists will read the book nodding in agreement with 90% of it, and are likely to learn from it, unless they have studied academic theology and know his source materials already. Wright argues that religion is not as harmful as Dawkin and Hitchens claim, but it would be possible for to concede these points whilst remaining an atheist. I think there is useful reading here for the religious liberal too, though it is tucked away in the afterword and an appendix, where Robert Wright has hidden his arguments for the existence of a real, as well as a perceived, God. Unlike the rest of the book, which is easy to follow, these arguments are condensed and abstruse -- I suspect that they are flawed, but it rather hard to tell. Please Dr Wright, could you expand these arguments into another book?

  • By m. dosa on 15 March 2017

    very interesting walk through religious historys from early shamen to modern religion,pondering the who what where when why over all a good read prompting me to read more on this subject

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