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The title of God: A Human History is quite correct. While at the end of the book, religious scholar Reza Aslan speculates on the nature of God. Instead, this book is more about how humans may have perceived divinity from their earliest days.
In examining evidence from prehistoric cultures, we see how ideas of divinity may have first developed and how they shaped cultures for hundreds of thousands of years. But, surprisingly, scholars now believe it was religion that caused the Agricultural Revolution. Aslan explains how findings at Göbekli Tepe led to that startling conclusion.
While he touches on the Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist beliefs, the book focuses on how our concept of one God–the monotheistic deity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, developed. He shows, step-by-step, how these lines of thought developed. Rather than being a natural outcome of revelation, many decisions that shape our current conception of God were of political origin.
I was surprised to learn how the minor Canaanite God Yahweh became the one God of the Hebrew people. It was interesting to see how a concept from a small and relatively insignificant tribe grew to influence many people’s conception of God today.
The book was an enjoyable foray into the religious thought of these past half a million years. I’ve always wanted to know what motivated our ancestors and how they lived. While this book doesn’t provide concrete answers because they don’t exist, it does give a sweeping view of the possibilities.