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The Case for God by Karen Armstrong
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's review
Jan 17, 2010

it was amazing
Read in January, 2010

Karen Armstrong is always solid and thought-provoking with her historical take on the evolution of the concept of God. This book takes that approach, linking the belief in god to social and individual good.

Quite frankly, I do not always understand the finer philosophical points that she makes, but her overall theme is intelligent, wise and full of insights. I loved her chapter discussing the absolution of the "new atheists" such as Dawkins, suggesting that the religious and nonreligious alike may be headed for a less certain form of belief in the future, mirroring the progress of science from what was once certainty but what is now less certain--i.e. the change for newtonioan physics to einsteinian physics more aptly follows line the line from shakespeare--
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The chapter "the unknown god" makes the primal human need for ritual and belief clear.

With her work, I always think I would be served by rereading. This is my favorite of her writings so far.

her take on fundamentalism is particularly interesting: groups essentially basing their identities on their status as marginalized persons--thus attacks from outside only bind the insiders more together.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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William I don't think Armstrong tries to argue that because Newtonian physics was superseded by relativity, there might be a supernatural God after all. That is not what the book is about at all.

message 2: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken The finer philosphical points she attempted to make were important but in several instances she chose to imply things that were rather tumbled interpretations of some of the ancient theologians, philospphers, and prophets. Some were fairly accurate and some were rather contorted.

She drew on Pagan philosophers and shoe horned her monotheistic gods into their systems when she could and, as usual, seems to blame things on reason itself rather than the desire to prove ones assertions with argumentation and logic.

Still her thesis was fairly interesting and provides an alternate view on religion that is actually constructive and encourages exploration, which is a good thing.

On the other hand if you were excited about how she treated with Hitchens and Dawkins and the so-called 'new atheists.' I would suggest dimming your enthusiasm. Despite the scholastic seemings of the book it ends up settling for a combination of false accusations of straw man and more than a tinge of ad hominem.

She suggests that by ignoring this strange chimerical christo-buddhist backstory she has constructed that the 'new atheists' are straw manning religion by assailing fundamentalism. The problem with this is that fundamentalism is ubiquitous in two of the three big monotheistic middle eastern religions, so therefore her accusations as to their simplicity falls a bit flat.

message 3: by Hank (new)

Hank Cochrane This is clever and not at all thoughful

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