So, does God exist and does it matter that much?
Recently, during a standard morning routine which includes drinking no more than 2 cups of strong black coffee and flipping through as many articles as I can make time for on my favorite new website, I came across a six year old interview Bill Moyers did with Robert Wright.
To be honest, as soon as I saw how long the video was, I decided there was no way I could spend that much time on something that happened that long ago and I just moved on.
After several days of not being able to let go… I simply had to go back and see/hear what was really being said about this topic.
I don’t regret my decision.
For the believer and non-believer alike it is incumbent upon all of us, I think, that we give some serious consideration and reflection to Wright’s thesis that God has evolved (or, as I see it, we have evolved Him); short of being overly dramatic here… if there are to be future generations, it matters what we do – in this one – to solve the Human Race’s crisis of mass murder in the name of an ever-evolving God that is (and I say this as a lifelong believer) at best an idea conjured up by men to explain the unexplainable…and quantify the unquantifiable.
The reason for the interview was to promote Wright’s new book (at that time), “The Evolution of God”. In the book Wright suggest that, among the three monotheistic religions ( Judaism, Christianity and Islam), the question of “whether God truly exists may not be as important as how the idea of God has changed over the centuries, often struggling to evolve from the idea of a belligerent deity to one of tolerance and compassion.”
As the interview wears on, it becomes clear that Wright put forth a great effort in the book to remain focused on the historical record of human interaction with regard to religion rather than singling out one or the other… or pitting believers against non-believers and choosing sides… and for that I give him top marks.
Already having surpassed my self-imposed word count limit, your time-dear reader-will be better spent watching the video for yourself and drawing your own conclusions rather than watching me prattle on in this post about matters that are nothing more than my own personal take. There is an exchange at the end of the interview that is worth pasting in here in order to set up my close, and whet your appetite for watching the interview in its entirety.
At the end Moyers reads this excerpt from the book and asks Wright to respond:
“…the way the human mind is built, antipathy can impede comprehension.” Rationality. “Hating protestors, flag burners and even terrorists makes it harder to understand them well enough to keep others from joining their ranks.”
I will let Wright’s response take up the last few lines of this entry, but before I go I should point out that it is more difficult to “understand and sympathize” than it is to just hunt down the bad guys and facilitate an early meeting with their maker; the older I get, however, the more I realize that killing the bad guys will not kill what makes them hate us… and killing what makes them hate us is-ultimately-the only effective way to move beyond the era of mass murder in the name of a God not everyone even believes in. Now, before you yell at me through your computer screen, take heart: Wright has the words to answer your cries for justice:
“It’s a tricky balance to strike because on the one hand, understanding terrorists and how they became terrorists, which is in our interests if we want to discourage the creation of more terrorists, tends to involve a kind of sympathy that in turn can lead you to say they are not to blame for what they did.
And you don’t want to say that because as a practical matter you have to punish people when you can when they do bad things. So you don’t want to let go of the idea of moral culpability but you do need to kind of put yourself in their heads. And that is really a great challenge in the modern world.”
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