- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; First Paperback Edition edition (1 July 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099524031
- ISBN-13: 978-0099524038
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 92 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Case for God: What religion really means Paperback – 1 Jul 2010
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"One of our best living writers on religion...prodigiously sourced, passionately written" (Financial Times)
"A journey through religion that helps us to rescue what remains wise from so much that to many in Britain today no longer seems true... Armstrong is one of the the handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion" (Alain de Botton Observer)
"A tour de force of learning. A hefty history of theology, philosophy and science, and how they converge, it knocks Dawkins and Hitchens into an intellectual cocked hat...Armstrong rejoices in the unknowableness of life and searches, logically enough for meaning therein" (Sunday Herald)
"It isn't an easy read - why should it be? - but she is wonderfully clear and insightful - and not out to convert anyone" (Daily Mail)
"Dense and brilliant, chastening and consoling. Whether or not it sells as well as the latest Hitchens or Dawkins will be a measure of us, not the book" (Sunday Times)
An essential book for our times: a thoughtful, cultured response to Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists.See all Product description
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However, that would be exactly what the author resists. Her main point is that we expect religion and faith to be easy and straightforward and clear. But it is not. We have become lazy and want a neatly defined God served up to us. We should return to the earlier concepts of simply accepting that our language and understanding cannot describe God. We should engage in religious rituals and the “hard work” and through those we arrive at our own concept of God. Ritual is valid and helpful.
There are fascinating facts in the book and I highlighted many sections. I learned in this book that Copernicus was NOT the first to propose the Sun at the centre of the solar system, that was proposed in third century BC by Aristarchus.
The description of logos (logic) and mythos (mythology), why they should coexist was truly enlightening. For the first time in my life I understood the purpose of mythology – to show us how to deal with the things that logic or reason cannot explain (death, grief, heroism, tragedy). They describe good and bad reactions and behaviour specifically to inform us, because logic cannot do this. Good old Greeks – they knew a thing or two.
God and science being accepted at the same time, is interestingly described as a cyclical process throughout history, with theologians and scientists originally being quite happy to describe a complementary coexistence. Also the conflicts between Bible literalists and non literalists is well described. And why fundamentalism came about.
I was SO glad when I got to 80% on the Kindle and found the last 20% was references which I did not have to read because it was just a bit too long and detailed. It is a massive piece of work. The word “apophatic” is clearly the authors favourite word, a bit overused (31 times) and not always logically, but seemed to be thrown in as an extra adjective. The book could have said as much, with the same authority, by using less obscure language. But so easy to criticise - so hard to produce such a good piece of work as this truly is.
Did it change my outlook? For me, the book affirmed that science, logic and reason continue to advance, but they do this in a human dimension. There is a dimension beyond them which, in history, was always accepted, as being beyond science. And history can teach us a thing or two.
Among other things I find that every 'original thought' I have tried to express has already been expressed more effectively hundreds or even thousands of years ago!
The best book I have read in years!
The book argues that the religion that is spoken against, condemned - and even ridiculed - by various authors such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens is often that of a very literalist approach to "Holy" texts - an approach that itself is a modernism and not grounded in authentic spirituality. Karen Armstrong is a very good guide to what can only be seen as a deeper and more profound approach to Reality, an approach that she argues has in fact been at the heart of the major Faiths.
A very fine book and well worth reading - even re-reading! Thank you Karen.
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