The Evolution of God [With Earbuds]

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The prize-winning author of The Moral Animal and Nonzero presents a groundbreaking examination of religion through the ages.

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2009 Audiobook New New audiobook in new case. Running time is 19 hours. Unabridged. This comes with the book already on it and a battery to make it play. Simply plug in it's ... earphones and enjoy. No cassettes, CD's. No downloads. Includes playaway earphones. Functions: Adjusts the speed of the narrator's voice. Remembers where you stopped. Read more Show Less

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The Evolution of God

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Overview

The prize-winning author of The Moral Animal and Nonzero presents a groundbreaking examination of religion through the ages.

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Editorial Reviews

Paul Bloom
In his brilliant new book, The Evolution of God, Robert Wright tells the story of how God grew up. … Wright's tone is reasoned and careful, even hesitant, 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 at. His views, though, are provocative and controversial. There is something here to annoy almost everyone.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Wright's brief reveals why religious and scientific beliefs do not have to be mutually exclusive. While his history of monotheistic religions is accessible, if not illuminating, his game theory approach to God and religious coexistence and harmony is dense and difficult to process aurally. Arthur Morey delivers a flat and monotonous reading. While he does inflect, his projection lacks the emphasis and energy to sustain listeners through all 19 hours of this production. A Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, May 11). (July)
Library Journal
While the diatribes of the "new atheists"—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and company—have made headlines in recent years, Wright (The Moral Animal, Nonzero) takes a decidedly more friendly approach to human religiousness. Although he shares their materialist, naturalist assumptions, he argues that over time human notions of God have "gotten closer to moral and spiritual truth….Religion hasn't just evolved, it has matured." Making the best recent scholarship accessible to the general reader, Wright follows the historical trajectory from polytheism through monolatry (worship of one god among many) to monotheism, focusing primarily on the evolving vision of God in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur'an, and ending with a discussion of religion's place in human evolution. In his focus on scriptures, Wright avoids the philosophical terrain covered more intently in Karen Armstrong's The History of God and The Great Transformation. VERDICT Wright's approach will appeal to a broad range of readers turned off by the "either/or" choice between dogmatic atheism and religious traditionalism. Recommended for all readers engaged in consideration of our notions of God.—Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Wright (Nonzero, 2001, etc.) joins the decade's bandwagon with a tome explaining away God as something people made up over time. Focusing on the monotheistic, "Abrahamic" God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the author trains his critical eye and evolutionary insight on the Bible and Koran and what they represent. In opposition to the Talmudic accounts of Abraham, Moses and other patriarchs, Wright sees a faith adapted by an indigenous people from polytheistic roots for social and even political reasons. "Apparently Abrahamic monotheism grew organically out of the ‘primitive' [religion] by a process more evolutionary than revolutionary," he writes. Extant scriptural accounts are the work of layer upon layer of editors who slowly turned polytheism into monotheism to serve the purposes of the times. None of this is particularly new; what Wright adds is his own language about how God, or rather our view of God, changes morally over time. "Monotheism turns out to be, morally speaking, a very malleable thing," he writes. "Circumstances change, and God changes with them." For instance, Wright argues that Jesus as most people know him, and indeed as the New Testament presents him, is very different from the "historical Jesus" gleaned by scholars from analysis of the texts. This argument has been gathering force for nearly a century, but the author adds an analysis of how supposed additions to Jesus' teachings came about due to moral issues faced by his later followers. Namely, preachers such as Paul wanted the movement to grow, and therefore ascribed to Jesus a love of all peoples and a universal mandate for evangelism. "Traditional believers," as Wright calls them, will find all this adifficult pill to swallow, but they do not appear to be his intended audience. Offers little new scholarship, but the in-depth approach yields original insights.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615458189
  • Publisher: Findaway World
  • Publication date: 11/28/2009
  • Format: Other
  • Product dimensions: 4.74 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

I The Birth and Growth of Gods

1 The Primordial Faith 9

2 The Shaman 29

3 Religion in the Age of Chiefdoms 46

4 Gods of the Ancient States 70

II The Emergence of Abrahamic Monotheism

5 Polytheism, the Religion of Ancient Israel 99

6 From Polytheism to Monolatry 131

7 From Monolatry to Monotheism 165

8 Philo Story 188

9 Logos: The Divine Algorithm 216

III The Invention of Christianity

10 What Did Jesus Do? 245

11 The Apostle of Love 264

12 Survival of the Fittest Christianity 288

13 How Jesus Became Savior 303

IV The Triumph of Islam

14 The Koran 329

15 Mecca 344

16 Medina 355

17 Jihad 375

18 Muhammad 389

V God Goes Global (or Doesn't)

19 The Moral Imagination 409

20 Well, Aren't We Special? 431

Afterword: By the Way, What Is God? 444

Appendix How Human Nature Gave Birth to Religion 460

A Note on Translations 484

Acknowledgments 486

Notes 489

Bibliography 542

Index 555

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Evolution of God truth explored and revealed

    Robert Wright captured my spirit from the first page sharing his own personal religious expression through the response from his mother's church. The answers for the personal decision to seek, believe, or worship God is an individual one. The book explores man's many reasons for the search. This book expanded my mind having me rethink history, and man's understanding of the world, while connecting past behavior to why I, today, follow the practices that I do. The book was thought provoking revealing religious practices, and beliefs from past, current, and future possibilities. Where are we going, and is it important to know the ending, or is the bases for it all living within our connection to breath which is the common factor for life. What do you think?

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Evolution of God

    This is a fantastic book. If you find the evolution of religious thought interesting, you will enjoy this publication. Anyone that takes the time to read this offering will understand why religions have been with us throughout history. Although, the author may not see religions in a positive light, he does believe that they can help people to live in harmony. Buy, read, learn, and enjoy.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    This book attempts to find commonality in the conflicting religions of the world.

    The Evolution of God dares to address the history including similarities and differences in three religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Mohammedanism) that all claim to worship the same god. The book is innovative and insightful in its treatment of where the religions started and how they changed in time as much by the needs of man at the time as by devine inspiration. It is good food for thought presenting compelling facts and reasoning to a subject that is usually overridden with dogma.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    A well written and thought out dispassionate look at the evolution of the concept of "God" in the 3 Abrahamic religions.

    The idea of a secular view of God is very provocative. This book, even with Mr. Wright's frequent flippant comments is definitely not an easy read and behind all the snide and snarky remarks lies serious matter for thought, though probably not for discussion. I found the book engaging and difficult to put down. His major premise of religion adjusting to the "truths on the ground", true or not, was well argued. Many historical examples are invoked to support his position, most of which I, personally, must take on faith that he is correct.

    I think his little sermon at the end on how to address the current issues with the Moslem world on the mark but probably more appropriate for the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times than this book.

    Overall, one of the best personal development books I've ever read.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2009

    Slick, glib, shallow

    Wright's explanaiton of St. Paul's success by his own admission is highly speculative, incomplete and one dimensional. So what is the point? He is honest in admitting the limitations of his approach and conclusions but also tries to leave the reader with the impression that he has explained Paul and early Christianity. He has not. Paul was more than the slick entrepreneur that Wright makes him out to be. His comments at time are too facile, even silly. See his characterization of Tertullian's famous remark that pagans would marvel at the love Christians showed to one another. For Wright this means they did not love all humanity.

    Wright does not cite in his bibliongraphy works by Gesa Vermes, Paula Fredriksen, Raymond Brown and John Meier (except for Vol 1 of Meier's magisterial four volume history of Christ and first century Christianity and Israel) That is almost enough grounds to dismiss the book which at times reads like a management consultant report at a business conference.

    John Mulqueen

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    How Nabu, the Mesopotamian god of accounting, and others influenced the evolution of western monotheism

    Wright provides engaging, comprehensible descriptions of the emergence of different religious streams that built into the three western monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He is clear on his sources, his facts and his speculation. His objective, admittedly materialistic approach assesses how certain strains of thought came to dominate and others disappeared. His key dynamic is his assumption that over time, self interest drives people to select for non-zero sum paths.

    Wright's own path and conclusions may be rote stuff to religion scholars, but as a somewhat religious and educated person, I found most of them quite intriguing. It's fascinating but not necessarily fun. I found myself thinking "Gee, I didn't really need to know that" a few times, as certain assumptions about the development of the Old Testament were dissected.

    The wrap-up and conclusions with Wright's view on how a contemporary intellectual can reconcile faith with science is interesting, complex and, at least in my case, less satisfying.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2009

    Evolving God

    Traces how our perception and views of God have changed from early beginnings of religion to how we see our relationship with God now. Does not actually force a reader to believe in God but just details how historical events have changed how "God" is viewed by Christians, Jews and Muslims and how we must look at things to follow our religious beliefs. This is not a quick read and the author makes a few assumptions that I could not agree with, but in all a very good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Open your mind and listen

    This is an amazing book. Robert Wright use extensive research and dry wit to provide a forum for understanding so much about our religious beliefs. He moves into areas that are uncomfortable for those who are not willing to take a hard look at their own belief system.

    Whether you agree or not with his conclusions (and he hesitates to draw many instead leaving it open for you to decide) it is hard to argue with his logic. This book makes you want to read more, learn more and understand more of things we really don't have the answer to & yet have the most profound impact on our lives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great walk through alternative history for a mainstream point

    This is a great book that gives credence to all peoples beliefs, like a landscape flowing it cracks of water into one major point. It it is a non-bias read, and nobody ought to make comment unless they are willing to stay the course on this one. A good follow up read would be "The Missing Message" by G Michael Price

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2009

    READ ESSAY BASED ON THIS BOOK IN JUNE 15 TIME MAGAZINE BEFORE DECIDING

    Mr. Wright's brilliant and persuasive article, Decoding God's Changing Moods, propelled me to order The Evolution of God forthwith. I expect the book (upon which the article is based) will contain the same witty and logical overview of history and its effect on mankind's perceptions of God. Upon actually reading the book, just released, I may submit a proper review.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    I think Wright has hit the nail on the head regarding how faith

    I think Wright has hit the nail on the head regarding how faith and belief have evolved over thousands of years. This is not exclusively 
    about Christianity or Islam. It is about out propensity to change our religious beliefs based on a variety of influences over long periods
    of time. Regardless of how you might feel about how he treats a specific religion, his premise is spot on in the larger picture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    Great book

    Insightful. Raw. Real. I highly recommend

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    One of those books I refer to frequently

    A very enjoyable and informative book. I consider it a great addition to my library. For me it was a new and interesting take on how we view god. I highly recommend it to for all open minded people.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    Too Hip and Cool

    This author loves the "zero sum game" and "thinking out of the box" too much. He turns boredom into aggravation with his style.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A very realistic view of religion.

    This book is an excellent history of religion. It makes you think and question the religion you grew up with. It makes you think about how religion has to change to keep up with science.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    Excellent

    Excellent. Well organized and clearly written.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    A clear-minded examination of the evolution of our concept of God in the three Abrahamic religions.

    A detailed, well documented study of the development of the idea of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Professor Wright approaches the subject with as neutral a position as is humanly possible--even raising doubt as to the actual existence of God. This is good history, lucidly written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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