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The Evolution of God by Robert Wright
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's review
Jun 24, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: atheism-religion
Read in January, 2011

The Evolution of God by Robert Wright

The Evolution of God by Robert Wright is a book about the evolution of the concept of God. The author makes use of archaeology, theology, and evolutionary psychology to explain how mainly the Abrahamic religions evolved. The book 576 pages worth is composed of twenty chapters within five major sections: I. The Birth and Growth of the Gods, II. The Emergence of Abrahamic Monotheism, III. The Invention of Christianity, IV. The Triumph of Islam, and V. God Goes Global (Or Doesn't).

1. A very-well researched book.
2. The whole is better than its parts. In order to appreciate its true worth it must be read in its entirety.
3. It rewards the reader with a lot of knowledge. I finally feel I have a much better grasp on how the three Abrahamic religions evolved. The author doesn't cheat the reader either, there is plenty of solid supporting data to back his viewpoints.
4. Very respectful tone throughout. The author is very careful in being fair.
5. Where would we be without Darwin? Great use of Darwin's theory of evolution to explain the evolution itself of the concept of God.
6. Interesting tidbits throughout. Fascinating how polytheism streamlined into monotheism.
7. The author does a wonderful job of illustrating patterns in religious beliefs.
8. Religion is a fascinating topic. The author does a very good job of using scientific tools to explain the evolution of the concept of God.
9. Interesting how religious tolerance is embraced when the possibility of mutual gain exists. Many such concepts are well explained in this book.
10. Explains how the success of the three Abrahamic religions can be attributed to specific people.
11. Politicians and how they use religion to their advantage...
12. Overall great religious history from hunter-gatherer societies to now.
13. The author contends that there is also an evolution of morality. Moral progress.
14. Fascinating take of the afterlife.
15. This book is a must for those who want to understand the evolution of religion.

1. The overblown use of non-zero sum theory. It does a disservice to the reader to have to research this overused concept because it was never properly defined.
2. The book was tedious at times to read. I felt that the author took the scenic route too many times. In doing so, I felt that the book was probably 200 pages too long.
3. I agreed with a lot of his points but at times I felt he lacked conviction.
4. Near the end of the book the author baffles me with his very poor electron analogy.
5. Needed a summary chart or tables to break up the monotony.
6. Lacked great quotes or memorable phrases.
7. No use of summaries.

In summary, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright was a very difficult book for me to evaluate. The whole is better than its parts. There is a lot of good work here but the author many times belabors his points. I will reluctantly give the book four stars because of how well researched it is and ultimately it does reward the reader with very good information. However, the author ends the book with an electron analogy that baffles the mind. I can only recommend this book to those who really want to get well-researched information regarding the evolution of the concept of God. It's not a fun read but it may be a worthwhile one, you need to be the judge of that.

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