I’ve been concurrently reading the following three books (links will take you to Amazon):
- Karen Armstrong’s History of God
- Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion
- Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God
and it’s been interesting to read them in conjunction – the first and the last are very complementary, especially since Wright cites Armstrong frequently. Of course, the concept of looking at the notion of the Divine from an evolutionary perspective would seem to be right in line with Richard Dawkin’s book, but, in fact, The God Delusion was very disappointing to me. I have always loved the logical way that Dawkins presents complex ideas, and my thinking about science was influenced early on by The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. I was really looking forward to seeing how he would spell out clearly and logically his rational for rejecting the existence of God. Unfortunately, it seems that, on this topic, Richard Dawkins can’t be objective, but seems to have suffered deep scars from early experiences with the church that lead to his only being able to call names, and making snarkiy comments – not logical at all – all emotion.
Armstrong’s book is very dense (I haven’t finished it yet), and I suspect I’ll have to reread it a few times (if I get the time). In a way, I think that Wright’s book is sort of a “lite” version of Armstrong’s, and his writing is a little more accessible – he sometimes wanders off with citations that he then says don’t really have anything to do with the point he’s trying to make…oh well.
At the end of the day, God is a tough subject to grapple with, but I appreciate both Armstrong’s and Wright’s attempts to follow the strands of the three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – through the centuries, in their cultural contexts. These three religions didn’t develop in isolation – their early adherents interacted with one another, and with other religions around them, and there was mixing and mingling of ideas all the way along. I think that the most intriguing aspect of Wright’s The Evolution of God is that he posits, as a final conclusion, that the notion that the idea of God is evolving doesn’t necessarily prove that God doesn’t exist, but, actually, that God does exist, and it is simply our imperfect human conception of God that is ever-nearing a closer approximation of the ultimate truth, in parallel with science which is also continually getting closer to a complete understanding of the nature of reality. I think that’s a very optimistic thought!