For some damn smart pleasure reading . . .
So I’ve found that I’m at the stage in writing where I can only do so much a day before I burn out, so at night after I’ve gotten my daily chunk of writing done, my reward has been reading which is only tangentially related to my work.
And the one I’m working on now is great, highly recommended: “The Evolution of God,” by Robert Wright. His basic thesis: our notion of god has evolved in relation to our psycho-social needs, and the psycho-social needs of human society at different stages generally explains why their notion of god is the way it is. Moving from hunter-gatherers to collections of city states to early states, he then analyzes in detail the three abrahamic traditions. Right now I’m in the section where he’s picking apart biblical sources on the evolution of the Hebrew god, comparing them to new archeological and textological evidence, and while I thought I knew some about the state of Biblical scholarship, this is much more in-depth than what I’d read before. Chocked full of surprises.
I haven’t enjoyed a ‘non-fiction’ work like this since “Guns, Germs, and Stell,” which it really reminds me of. Robert Wright made his name with “The Moral Animal”, the book which introduced many people to evolutionary psychology, and how the evolution of altruism from chimps (NOT the most altrustic beings) is in fact the hard problem to be solved in terms of human evolution.
His next book, ‘Non-zero’, links evol.psych. with game theory, and is a big fave of Bill Clinton. I never finished it, just seemed to obvious to me. But ‘Evolution of God’ is pretty amazing. Its meticulously researched, and while I’m no religious studies scholar, it seems he sites widely, explains minority reports to his arguments, etc.
Anyway, I’m really enjoying it, and learning a helluva lot. A third of the way through, hoping the rest is as good.