Robert Bellah on religion’s place in evolution

posted by Sam Han

The Atlantic interviews Robert Bellah about his new tome Religion in Human Evolution. In the interview, he explains the impetus behind writing the book:

What prompted you to write this book?

Deep desire to know everything: what the universe is and where we are in it. The meta-narrative that is really the only one intelligible to all well-educated people everywhere in the world is the meta-narrative of evolution, which is in turn embedded in a narrative of cosmological development since 13.7 billion years ago in the Big Bang.

I wrote an article on religious evolution which was published in 1964, but I got hijacked by America. That was the problem with my “Civil Religion in America” essay—it got such an enormous response at a time when things were pretty critical, towards the end of the Vietnam War. I never intended to work on America but then I got hauled into America for decades. So it wasn’t until I retired in 1997 that I finally had time to do what I’d been wanting to do all my life, which is write a big book about the evolution of religion and religion in human evolution.

Read the full interview here.

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