U.S. author traces "evolution" of God

Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:03am EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - U.S. author Robert Wright traces the history of God and suggests that it might point to the unfolding of something divine, though perhaps not in the sense that most people of faith would envision.

In his new book "The Evolution of God," he takes his readers on a journey through the spiritual beliefs of our ancestors to the development of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The book has two convergent paths. One traces the material history of faith looking among other things at how "scriptural interpretation is obedient to facts on the ground."

The other path is a more speculative one that Wright compares to Darwinian evolution and leads to the notion that our history has been one of moral progress, which suggests that something divine may be afoot.

Wright spoke to Reuters about his book and his ideas, which are sure to provoke a lot of debate.

Q: "One question you raise -- and it seems to be a central thesis of your book -- is the notion that if history is naturally pushing us toward moral improvement perhaps it is a sign of divine purpose. Can you elaborate for our readers?"

A: "Ever since hunter-gatherer days the scale of social organization has increased to the point where now we are on the brink of a global society. All along the way that has forced us to expand our moral horizons in the sense of including more and more people of different ethnicities and nationalities in the category of neighbor in some sense.

"So in America, in some sense, we consider all Americans our neighbors and I think that's moral progress ... compare that kind of really inclusive perspective to what prevailed 2,000 years ago or 2,500 years ago when members of one Greek city state viewed members of another Greek city state sub-human. And we are challenged to expand our moral horizons in the sense that if we fail to social chaos can ensue.   Continued...