Are you a Philo fan? Robert Wright is, as you can see in the video above.

Wright devotes a couple of chapters in The Evolution of God to exploring the Hellinistic Jewish philosopher’s influence on religious philosophy. Here, Wright illustrates his view that Philo helped give us both a morally and an intellectually modern God:

“…it’s worth taking a look at the ancient Abrahamic thinker who tried supremely to have it both ways: to see divinity abstractly, as a kind of logic running through history, yet to do so in a way that preserved the emotional satisfaction of traditional religion.”

Quote from Philo
(photo: Andy Dayton)

My introduction to Philo came through a quote that’s posted on the desk of our managing producer: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” (a quote apparently often wrongly attributed to Plato or Socrates).

After hearing Wright talk about Philo, I’ve been digging around to learn more about this man who straddled two worlds, and why, though not widely accepted in his time, he holds resonance for ours. Are you a Philo fan?

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I love the work that all of you do at Speaking of Faith! Thanks for the excellence and breadth of your work! I am now going to discover whether or not I am a philo fan:-) Keep up the good work! S.

Mr. Wright gets it wrong. There are any number of shooting himself in the foot moments to choose from but none quite reaches the degree of bald faced denial and equivocation than his dismissal of the role religion plays in the Palestinian -Israeli conflict.

Where the origins of the conflict are complex, its persistence and intractability can be directly traced to the absolutist positions maintained by the orthodox faith floggers on either side. If your god, unequivocally documented by his "holy" scripture, has designated you as the sole proprietor of the land, then there is nothing left to be negotiated.

Could the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have more to do with the trauma of the Holocaust, and the more general experience of discrimination by a distinct and rather successful culture trying to survive in various parts of the world, only to find itself persecuted in times of economic stress. Isn't it reasonable that some, not all, in that culture, would seek to establish a refuge back "home". The biblical "title" has been around for thousands of years. Modern Israel, would seem to have some other basis than that "title". The ethnocentric like the comfort of a political entity or ethnic enclave based on shared values and appearances. I don't condone Israel taking land. I think they should buy it for a fair price. Displaced Palestinians might feel less retailiatory if they were compensated for their loss and thus able to build a new life. Perhaps someone of German background can explain what that nation has done to help. Maybe I, as an Amerian citizen, can advocate that more of our annual aid to Israel be in the form of the compensation of Palestinians, instead of the latest weaponry or barrier technology.