Salon.com has an interview with Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God. This quote reminded me of James’ discussion of medical materialism. Here the point isn’t so much what is going on medically (!) with God, as taking a look at some non-spiritual, i.e., material, causes or explanations for why God’s moods change so much.
At the very beginning of your book, you describe yourself as a materialist. This raises an interesting question: Can a materialist really explain the history of religion?
I tend to explain things in terms of material causes. So when I see God changing moods, as he does a lot in the Bible and the Quran, I ask, what was going on politically or economically that might explain why the people who wrote this scripture were inclined to depict God as being in a bad mood or a good mood? Sometimes God is advocating horrific things, like annihilating nearby peoples, or sometimes he’s very compassionate and loving. So I wanted to figure out why the mood fluctuates. I do think the answers lie in the facts on the ground. And that’s what I mean by being a materialist.