cover image God: A Human History

God: A Human History

Reza Aslan. Random House, $28 (280p) ISBN 978-0-553-39472-6

Aslan (Zealot) addresses ideas about the nature of deities in this wide-ranging work that traces the history of divine beings from the beliefs of humans’ earliest ancestors to contemporary assumptions. The book showcases Aslan’s signature style—verging on academic but always accessible—and his methodological agnosticism as he sets aside claims of truth about “God” in order to explore theories on how humans have come to believe in gods, humanize them, deify humanity, and conceive of gods across the ages. Aslan is adept at translating serious academic theory into lay-reader friendly prose, but he also shares his own perspective as a person of faith and advocates for a renewed pantheism—though he says it can be called by many names. In making his case for pantheism, he barely mentions the voices of Hindu traditions, lesser known pantheistic philosophies, or specific indigenous traditions that have long held beliefs similar to those he advocates. Despite these issues, any general reader interested in religion will find much to learn about how the idea of God or gods has evolved and changed according to geographical, economic, political, and social contexts. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Cheney Agency. (Nov.)