Friday, 17 July 2009

Time presents bad arguments in support of the evolution of religion

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold the sufferings of Jesus 700 years before they took place. Painting by El Greco (ca. 1580). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Fundamentalism is old-fashioned. When religions meet, they bring up new, better traits of God. This is how Robert Wright interprets the development of religions.

In contrast to Ludwig Feuerbach, Sigmund Freud or atheistic comparative religion scholars, Wright does not insists that God is a human invention. He thinks that the progress occurs in how people understand what God is like.

Wright, whose book The Evolution of God was published a few months ago, recently wrote a long article in Time magazine, outlining his views on religion. He believes that religions evolve toward a more precise understanding of God.

Unfortunately, Wright’s views of the Bible stem from liberal theology that denies the possibility of miracles and biblical prophesy. Thus Wright subscribes to the Documentary Hypothesis of the Pentateuch or the view that the different names for God in the five books traditionally ascribed to Moses reveal that they stem from different sources and were thus written by different authors.

We might use a similar criterion to claim that this blog has to have at least two writers. One of them uses the word Darwinists for supporters of evolution. The other, however, uses the term evolutionists.

Wright has also adopted the view that there are two Isaiahs in the Old Testament. Liberal theologians do not believe that Isaiah could possibly have predicted the rise of Persia and the return of the Jews from exile accurately several centuries before they took place. Instead, they claim that the second half of Isaiah was written after the exile.

It is an interesting hypothesis but there is no real evidence for it. In the Dead Sea scrolls, an entire book of Isaiah is on the same scroll. Both parts of Isaiah are stylistically and terminologically uniform. For instance, The term the Holy One of Israel occurs several times in both the early and later chapters. In addition, the New Testament writers regarded Isaiah as a work written by one and the same prophet.

In other words, one should not use bad arguments in defence of God even in Time.


Sullivan, Andrew. 2009. Light at the end of religion's dark tunnel. TimesOnLine (10May)

Wright, Robert. 2009. Decoding God’s Changing Moods. Time (Europe) 173:24, 34-37. (15 June)