Jerry Adler interviews Bob Wright:
Human nature is pragmatic and people are by and large willing to cooperate when it’s in their interests. My world view is based on the belief that religion isn’t where the real intellectual action is, it’s a response to facts on the ground, a function of human nature and the circumstances in which human nature finds itself...I don’t think Jesus ever preached, or even believed, in universal love. That doctrine emerges after his death, as the Jesus movement is taking shape in the Roman Empire. It reflects the kind of cosmopolitan values you see in an empire. Historically, moral progress has been driven by the expansion of social organization, which seems to have been an inevitable product of technological evolution. Religion reflects that progress, and mediates it, but doesn’t drive it.
He also addresses the so called new atheists:
I think attributing all the problems in the world to religion can have unfortunate political consequences, because it makes us ill-inclined to address grievances and defuse tensions. Dawkins has said that if not for religion there would be no Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If you believe that, then Obama needn’t bother trying to stop the settlements. We know religion isn’t going away. So if the problem is religion, why make the effort to improve the facts on the ground?...I think Sam Harris believes there is a transcendent source of meaning in the universe, and although I might get there by a different route, I tend to agree. I would say there’s reason to believe there is some sort of purpose unfolding through the natural workings of the world. This doesn’t by itself establish the existence of a god, much less a good one, but it seems to cut against the grain of pure atheism. I don’t know what he would say to that, but it would be fun to have that discussion.
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2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan