Monday, July 20, 2009

Robert Wright Interview : The Evolution of God

Bill Moyers interviews author Robert Wright about his recent book The Evolution of God.

BILL MOYERS: I don't find any traces of cynicism in the book. In fact, I want to ask you about something you say toward the end. You say that, "Human beings are organic machines that are built by natural selection to deal with other organic machines. They can visualize other organic beings, understand other organic beings, and bestow love and gratitude on other organic beings. Understanding the divine, visualizing the divine, loving the divine--that would be a tall order for a mere human being." But we've not given up trying, have we?

ROBERT WRIGHT: No. And I think, you know, in a way we shouldn't. I mean I think if there is you know, something out there called moral truth. And we should continue to try to relate to it in a way that brings us closer to it. And it--

BILL MOYERS: I don't understand what you mean. Out there?


BILL MOYERS: What did--

ROBERT WRIGHT: Did I say that?

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, you've said it several times. I mean--

ROBERT WRIGHT: I should be careful.

BILL MOYERS: --if you don't--

ROBERT WRIGHT: Because I don't-- what do I mean. I don't--I mean what. Transcendent is a very tricky word. And I get into trouble from hardcore materialists by using it because people think, "Oh, you mean spooky, mystical, ethereal stuff." I don't know exactly what I mean by transcendent.

I may mean beyond our comprehension. I may mean you know, I may mean prior to the creation of the universe or something. I don't know. But I do think that the system on Earth is such that humanity is repeatedly given the choice of either progressing morally in the sense of accepting more people into the moral circle or paying the price of social chaos. Okay?

I would say we've been there before and we're there now. That, you know, we are approaching a global level of social organization. And if people do not get better at acknowledging the humanity of people around the world in very different circumstances, and even putting themselves in the shoes of those other people then we may pay the price of social chaos. So the system is set up that way. And that's just an intriguing fact to me that seems to create a kind of moral axis that we can't help but orient ourselves toward or try to orient ourselves toward.

Watch the entire interview: Bill Moyers Journal July 17th 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Nearly 15 years ago, I became interested in understanding our perception of happiness and why it appears fleeting in nature. During this time, I ran across a book called Flow written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In his book Csikszentmihalyi discusses how finding the right level of attention and challenge can transform one's experience into a heightened state of focus and immersion.

While Csikszentmihalyi's theory of flow gave me my first exposure to the idea of fine tuning one's attention, it was his next book, The Evolving Self, which I found most interesting. Specifically, Csikszentmihalyi explores how reflecting on the nature of evolution, consciousness and the self, can help us direct our attention in ways that advance society and humanity as a whole.

The title of this blog is based on the third chapter of this book, The Veils of Maya, which reveals how our genes, culture and even our concept of self can hijack control of conciseness.

More recently, I've begun studying Buddhism because of it's practical nature and focus on mindfulness. The result is a form of philosophical Buddhism, which lacks belief in reincarnation or a supernatural definition of Karma. As the Buddha supposedly said, "You will not be punished because of your anger, you will be punished by your anger."

I hope to explore these ideas, and more, here on this blog.