The Evolution of God

Robert Wright, Author . Little, Brown $25.99 (567p) ISBN 978-0-316-73491-2

In his illuminating book, The Moral Animal , Wright introduced evolutionary psychology and examined the ways that the morality of individuals might be hard-wired by nature rather than influenced by culture. With this book, he expands upon that work, turning now to explore how religion came to define larger and larger groups of people as part of the circle of moral consideration. Using a naïve and antiquated approach to the sociology and anthropology of religion, Wright expends far too great an effort covering well-trod territory concerning the development of religions from “primitive” hunter-gatherer stages to monotheism. He finds in this evolution of religion, however, that the great monotheistic (he calls them “Abrahamic,” a term not favored by many religion scholars) religions—Christianity, Islam, Judaism—all contain a code for the salvation of the world. Using game theory, he encourages individuals in these three faiths to embrace a non–zero-sum relationship to other religions, seeing their fortunes as positively correlated and interdependent and then acting with tolerance toward other religions. Regrettably, Wright's lively writing unveils little that is genuinely new or insightful about religion. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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