The NYTimes book review today, Sunday June 28th reports on THE EVOLUTION OF GOD by Robin Wright. It seems to be a worthy book to explore. But only controversial if one still harbors the illusion that the Bible is 'God's word' verbatim.
Like any religioius text it reflects its authors–human beings who fully believe they are inscribing a message from Divinity. Yet it is clear that the message emerges from the personal belief and the historical and cultural milieu of the author [s].
It is often shockingly obvious to readers of the Hebrew Bible/Torah/Five Books of Moses that the early Biblical portrayal of God is less than flattering. This is an anthropomorphic tribal God who participates in contests with other tribal gods and of course wins. [Would love to see the other tribe's rendition of the events]. Whoa! What happened to that most cherished of religious doctrines, monotheism? Could it be the obvious–it hadn't evolved as a belief at the time of this writing. In fact the Bible reflects not monothesism but henotheism–our 'God' is the best among others.
The early Biblical God demands violence, sacrifice and slaughter of the offending tribes. In fact King Saul loses his position when he fails to eliminate every man, woman, child and beast of the offending tribes. Nice God, right?
So when we read about the tender, merciful, loving God…..when God becomes the universal Deity. When we read Christian and Jewish mystics [ie Kabbalah] and see God us undefinable with feminine as well as masculine attributes……–how does that happen? Clearly it happens over time, over the evolution of human thought, over re-consideration of human values and goals.
Does God evolve? Who know? The French Jesuit Pierre Teillhard de Chardin thought so and nearly lost his job over it.
For certain we need to recognize that what we know or don't know about Divinity is filtered through our own human minds. If our own perception of Divnity changes, then our religious literature will reflect this transformation. Of this, and very little else, I have no doubt.