Skip to main content

Noted scholar to speak on God, religion and peace


February 17, 2010

Journalist, scholar and author Robert Wright suggests an idea that he believes holds a solution to world peace.

God must change, Wright asserts in his newest book, "The Evolution of God." He must have a burst of "moral growth" that will enable Jews, Christians, Muslims and everyone else to live together without rancor.

Wright will discuss his ideas in a free lecture sponsored by ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. The lecture will take place at 1:30 p.m., March 2 in Old Main's Carson Ballroom on Arizona State University's Tempe campus.

Wright believes that the idea of God has changed throughout the course of human history, starting from the localized deities of hunter-gatherer societies all the way up until the global monotheisms that we see today, and must keep evolving.

He states in his book, "So if the god of the Abrahamic faiths is to keep doing what he has often managed to do before – evolve in a way that fosters positive-sum outcomes of non-zero-sum games – he has some growing to do."

The idea that God can, has and should change not only raises questions for traditional views of the three Abrahamic religions, but also challenges modern atheists. For example, Wright asserts that “I’ve suggested that there might be a kind of god that is real. This prospect was raised by the manifest existence of a moral order … The existence of a moral order, I’ve said, makes it reasonable to suspect that humankind in some sense has a higher purpose. And maybe the source of this higher purpose, the source of the moral order, is something that qualifies for the label ‘God’ ...”

Wright’s position that God and religion have had and will continue to have a role to play in fostering peace also challenges a number of popular stereotypes about the role of religion in conflict.

Wright’s study of the evolution of God leaves him between a number of camps. He has said reactions to his book from theologically liberal ministers have been good, and from theologically conservative Christians "less good." And he has had a lot of negative feedback from what he terms, “proselytizing atheists."

Wright is editor-in-chief of Bloggingheads.tv, a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and the author of a number of books on science, religion, international policy and human nature, including “The Evolution of God,” “The Moral Animal” and “Nonzero.” His books have consistently been described as “brilliant,” “bold,” and “must reads,” and all of them have been best sellers.

Wright also writes on a wide range of issues related to technology, religion and foreign policy, particularly the war on terrorism, for media outlets including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Foreign Policy, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Financial Times. He is a contributing editor for The New Republic and a contributor to Time and online magazine Slate.

Tickets are not required for the lecture, but RSVPs are encouraged at http://csrc.asu.edu/.

For more information, visit http://csrc.asu.edu or call (480) 965-7187.