It’s been four months but I have finally finished reading The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.
While I found it to be a slow read it was well worth every page. Slow because it was so full of information.
Perspective is greatly gained when one ventures in to this book and the ideas that Wright presents. He discusses the progression of gods during the hunter/gatherer season of life to the monotheistic god of judaism, christianity, and islam.
It’s a fascinating journey into people’s need for a god(s), the power having a god or religion provides, the distortions and mistranslations of stories over time, the changes religions have made to survive cultural changes, and ultimately the need for current monotheistic religions to humble themselves.
Wright does a fabulous job of taking an agnostic viewpoint. One in which he never sways the reader to disown the idea of god because ultimately we don’t know if one exists or not. There is not proof either way. What he does do is present the religious and nonreligious alike with a detailed portrayal of the history of god(s) and ideas in to how we as humans have evolved those gods to fit our current needs.
I gained so much from reading this book such as when Wright explains the possible mistranslations of the OT and how it is quite likely that the Israelites were polytheists rather than worshiping the one I AM.
Or his explanations for why Jesus was not the Savior we perceive him to be today. There were many end of times prophets in Jesus’ region and Jesus’ message was nothing new. There were many previous Jesus like gods prior to Jesus’ existence. In fact Jesus was shunned in his own community (something I hadn’t realized).
Reading the NT side by side with The Evolution of God provided so much insight in to the text. And while I may not buy in to all of Wright’s ideas and theories (which he never asks the reader to do) he did help put some color in to the NT texts.
My understanding of Islam is far deeper than what it had been prior to reading this book. I was floored to learn that Muhammed had originally intended for Islam to be accepting of any and all monotheists. He believed that christians, jews, zoroastrians, and muslims all worshipped the same god just know him by different names.
I’m not sure if Wright stated this in the book or if it is just something I began to ponder on while reading it. Christians look at Mormons as crazy, gullible people who buy in to their nonsensical religion given to them by an obvious false prophet. They view the mormon ideas of heaven as absurd. And they often mock how easy it is to see the flaws in mormonism such as the mormons ability to change their stance on blacks, caffeine, and plural wives for example. I really believe that this is because mormonism is a relatively new religion and so the flaws are quite easy to spot. We are watching it progress in to a religion that fits the needs of culture and societies. It clearly is getting easier for mormons to gain members as they are constantly ranked high in number of converts each year. So they are doing something right. If we had existed at the time of Jesus and when Paul began his mission to start christianity we would just as easily see all the flaws and the changes that were made to accommodate cultural/societal changes/needs. Christianity didn’t start seeing large amounts of converts until centuries later either. Same with Muhammed and Islam. He changed his stance a number of times throughout his ministry but now that time has passed those changes are overlooked and it is easier to make believers out of those who are fed the beefed up, newer and better, easier to stomach version.
I guess I am saying that all religions mimic each other. The newer ones are just easier for some to find fault with because their faults haven’t been given enough time to be erased just yet. With enough research many theists would not be able to deny the sugar coated toppings added to make their religion and god palatable either.
The last sections of the book spoke directly to the circumstances I see around me today. While I think the absence of all religions would be the best way to better the world I know that is a gigantic leap in a near impossible direction. So for now we can focus on the baby steps that seem attainable. Monotheistic religions must change in order for there to be peace on this planet or at least a step in that civil direction. Monotheistic religions are creating monsters and all monotheists are guilty of contributing to those monsters. The west must stop making the muslims out to be evil. We must stop our attacks against their religion and in this country we must provide them with the freedom to worship. We are still persecuting them in this country. We view them as enemies to the US because they are muslim and the US is christian. The media feeds this negative frenzy and we don’t bother to question the significance of all we are fed. And vice versa. The east must stop teaching that christians are the enemies of islam.
Monotheists need to accept and humble themselves enough to claim that they do not have the one true god. They have a god in which they choose to worship but reality is that arrogance is the only truth in the proclamation of your exclusive god, religion, and afterlife. That needs to change and it needs to change now!
Start the change by reading something counter to your holy religious book. Learn another point of view. Take a few weeks or months and read Robert Wright’s book The Evolution of God. But only if you are willing to read it with an open mind.