Rachael's Reviews > The Case for God

The Case for God by Karen Armstrong
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's review
Oct 30, 10

I largely enjoyed this book but I had to give it 3 stars because the position she advocates is an arguable one, to say the least, but the book gives no indication of that whatsoever. Armstrong argues that 'real' religion, or at least religion as practiced by the majority of humans for most of history, wasn't about belief propositions. Indeed, people knew that belief propostions couldn't be taken as historical fact. No, religion has been about some ineffable sense of transcendence, or a way of being to be practiced, not a straightforward explanation of the universe. The way she defends this massive proposition is to select at her convenience thinkers which she thinks fits the mold. She argues that things changed with modernity, and the preoccupation with 'proving' God's existence and explaining his attributes was born out of a modern preoccupation.

Now I learned some great things from this, something that particularly sticks out is the enlightening explanation of the trinity. I also think she's right to point out that it makes no sense to fully explain God's nature if God is truly so much more than human beings- at some point our language should fail us. But is this really the heart of religion for most people most of the time? I think beliefs matter much more than she thinks. Unless God really was somehow active in some predictable manner in the world I do not think it would be a concept with much power.

She also doesn't seem to much time or thought to the more sophisticated versions of natural theology. She mentions Paley's argument from design as fi that is the height of rational inquiry into demonstrating God's existence. There are some very powerful arguments that at least suggest the thorough rationality of accepting God's existence. Perhaps the heart of religious life isn't made out of this kind of rational inquiry, but to exclude it altogether is to live life with a limb cut off. She talks about faith being a matter of the full will, a total trust and commitment, if that is so, then why shouldn't the rational mind also be included?

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message 1: by Nikki (new)

Nikki interesting review...

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