Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Bob Wright Kicks All Manner of Ass, Or, I Read Books so You Don't Have To
Philosopher, historian, commentator, grand poo-bah of the mighty Bloggingheads.tv site Bob Wright has a new book out, modestly entitled The Evolution of God. I would have preferred something a bit more grandiose, like The Almighty: A Memoir or Me 'n' the Lord: Bob Wright and God Through History, but this is good enough. Cato Unbound has an adapted excerpt from Wright here.
Gist: The more groups think in terms of zero-sum (the number of resources available to all groups is fixed, so every dollar/job/widget/worshipper/soul/whatever Group A gets is a dollar/job/widget/worshipper/soul that Group B can't get) the less tolerance groups will tend to show about their differences (Group B will often find itself at war, both metaphorically and literally, with Group A), while the more groups think in terms of non-zero-sum (occasionally called "enlightened self-interest") the more likely they are to be tolerant and interact, since the focus shifts from fighting over who gets which piece of the pie to growing the overall size of the pie. This is an argument Wright has put forth in other books, most notably Nonzero, and articles and here he uses it to describe the interplay (or, all too often, lack of same) among religions.
There. To paraphrase Peter Griffin, I just saved you seventeen bucks and a number of likely boring, boobless hours. Possibly boring and likely boobless though it might be, The Evolution of God will be making its way to my reading list. This is a smart guy who writes smart stuff and in today's world more than ever, such stuff should not be ignored.