Customer Reviews for

The Case for God

Average Rating 3.5
( 96 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 5
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Armstrong explains it all

    In this book, Armstrong lays out the history of philosophical and religious concepts of God, primarily in the Judeo-Christian tradition and churches.

    Her writing is exceptionally clear and straightforward. her essential theme is that God is fundamentally unknowable.

    All of the "idolatrous" notions of God over the centuries are very clearly human projections. They are in no way based on revelations of the true nature of the Divine, which human minds just cannot fully understand and describe.

    This is a great book for seekers. It is also very good for understanding the views of others. Her material on American fundamentalism is superb.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    More than the title suggests

    "We are talking far too much about God these days, and what we say is often facile." That opening line hooked me on Karen Armstrong's new book, The Case for God. As a devout atheist, I was not immediately drawn to the title, but the latest book by this eminent scholar of religion seemed destined for my 'essential reading' list. Within a few minutes it became clear that this was not just one case for God, it was a history of the variety of cases made for god over many centuries and cultures. As presaged by the opening line, Armstrong's focus is on the God beyond "god", the mystic's g*d whose very name cannot even be known, the ultimate of the universe. The book's title could just as easily be, "The Quest For Certainty".

    The book opens with a chapter on the twilight before history, Paleolithic cave paintings and their potential meanings. What meaning or use might they have had for the original people who made these images? She explores some potential parallels with our contemporaries who live in Neolithic societies. What meanings do these images offer us for the nature of God, the nature of our understanding of God, or our understanding of our images of God?

    From this starting point Armstrong delves directly into the interplay of mythology, meaning, belief and being. She probes the parallels that can be found in mystical foundations of Hinduism, Daoism, Buddhism, Judaism, and other ancient religions of the Middle East, Mediterranean, India, and China. In chapter 2 Armstrong explores the beliefs about God among the ancient Israelites. So far this could be a retelling of her earlier History of God, but in chapter 3 entitled 'Reason' she expands the scope significantly by encompassing the early Greek Philosophers. Often their story is divorced from the religious subject matter and placed with the history of science. Armstrong's treatment brings them closer to the mystics. The call to a life of compassion becomes the common factor across many styles of belief and practice. In the following chapters Armstrong traces the ebb and flow of exegesis between literalism and allegory, between orthodoxy (right words) and orthopraxis (right action), between theology and philosophy.

    Armstrong explores the development of a variety of flavors of atheism. Often they are critical of the shallow, facile orthodox religious beliefs that deny the deep mystery of the Universe and may border on idolatry. Secularism is identified as a political movement which has sometimes identified religious practices to be economic disadvantages. Modern Atheism is called "a form of secular fundamentalism" which falsely propagates the absolute incompatibility of religion and science. Modern fundamentalism is drawn out as a reaction to these.

    In her Epilogue, Armstrong returns to the question of the purpose of religion. "Religion is a practical discipline, and its insights are not derived from abstract speculation but from spiritual exercises and a dedicated lifestyle." Armstrong places religious practice in closer relation to art, music, creativity, and a life of compassion. "Religion's task. was to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there were no easy explanations and problems that we could not solve: mortality, pain, grief, despair, and outrage at the injustice and cruelty of life."

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    Well written, and as unbiased as anyone can be about religion.

    It's definitely not an "easy read" (keep a dictionary handy), but Armstrong provides a comprehensive review of how past cultures and philosophers have approached their belief in God and the mysterious. Armstrong does a good job of putting people's faith into the perspective of the times that they lived in, and examining how that has changed over the past several thousand years. She skims over Islam (briefly mentioned as it spread to Western Europe), which was a little disappointing to me, and other than a few mentions of Eastern religions, this is primarily about Greco-Roman philosophy, Christianity and Judaism. I enjoyed the book (I had to return my copy to the library and went out and bought my own), and if you've ever wanted to know more about how Christians and Jews have changed in their justification for faith and how they practice their faith, this is the book to read. As I mention in my header - it's hard to find books about religion that aren't overtly biased from either a preachy-religious perspective or an angry-atheistic perspective. Armstrong's tone through this book was respectful (and almost kind) towards all the people and faiths she analyzed, which I think is missing in a lot of discussions about religion. I will say, if you are a fundamentalist (of any faith), then this probably isn't the book for you since the writing is very frank about how our views of God and the Bible have changed over time and in relation to the external pressures facing people through history.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    The Case for God....?

    Karen Armstrong takes the reader on a whirlwind trip through the history of religions. The message is that we have become reliant on finding a definite truth. This attitude came out of the scientific changes of the 1600-mid 1800s when people thought science could arrive at absolutes. To protect themselves many religions turned toward strict sets of beliefs requiring everyone else to be wrong. Although science no longer expects to have absolute truth (hypotheses are expressed in probability and are tentative), many religions have stayed stuck in their "truth" and disparage the truths of other religions.

    At the end, the author, asks us to look back to the early days of many religions when people were taught spiritual exercises and experienced rituals that lifted them out of this worldliness and created an emotional connection to something beyond ourselves. These were ways to discover truth, which is more important than believing certain things others insist are the true.

    I am not sure she made a "case" for God but she did make a case for recreating these exercise and rituals.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2012

    Summary: This book is interesting, but Christians (and God-belie

    Summary: This book is interesting, but Christians (and God-believers of other religions) beware: this book reveals how there really isn't anything special, let alone supernatural, about God.

    The author systematically explains how every modern religion traces back to myths originally crafted by primordial man during the days of cave dwellers. The author is not against religion per se. If a person finds benefit in following a religion, and in doing so becomes a better person, especially as it might lead that person to interact better with others, then the author is all for religion. However the author contends that religion should be looked at for what it is: precepts based on myths that have evolved over time to help man cope with the realities of life. The author _is_ against people who are fundamentalists in their religion: people who take their religion as a literal truth, given by an actual God. The author does not single out any one particular religion, though Christianity is the religion most cited.

    With regard to Christianity specifically, the author does go into much detail explaining how the Bible was actually authored. The author's explanation adheres to the mainstream, scholarly explanation: that the Old Testament began as separate manuscripts, written by separate groups. These separate manuscripts were later combined to invent a unified history for nomad tribes which were previously independent. This was done as a way of bringing those tribes together under one rule. (i.e. the Bible was crafted as a means to promote a political agenda.) With regard to the New Testament the author explains how different authors wrote stories about the historical figure, Jesus, as a way of conveying their different messages to different people to achieve their agendas.

    The author also explains the original intent of the Biblical texts, explaining how the original intent and meaning of the words in their original context has been lost or twisted by fundamentalists. As an example, the word, "believe," in its original context meant only to "devote oneself as a follower". It didn't mean, as it does today, to believe something to be true. Thus in the original context, phrases such as "believe in Jesus" were never meant to suggest Jesus was some supernatural being.

    The author concludes by discussing how "God" has finally died out, as evidenced by the sharp reduction in church goers. The author attributes this to people finally realizing religion for what it is and thus keeping it in its proper place.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Karen Armstrong Has Written a Masterpiece on Humankind's Peception of God

    Karen Armstrong has done it again. She has written a readable and comprehensive book that informs humans of how our perception of God has changed over time. She has woven philosphy and science into her writing and demonstrated how these disciplines informed and affected how we view good.
    The most important message of the book is that it is only in the 19th and 20th centuries that the Bible has been viewed as the unalterable words, not word, of God. This change was occasioned by the growth of science and materialism. Everything had to be empirically proved. So defenders of faith had to find a way to have the Bible meet the standards of science. In contrast, historically, the Bible was seen as metaphors, allegories that helped us understand the world and our need for meaning in our lives. It was not taken literally.

    A. Eric Rosen

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    Very thought provoking.

    This book a rich story of religion (world-wide) and its influence throughout history. It's well researched, thought out, and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    God With Us

    Karen Armstrong has provided an excellent historical overview of the progress of the notion of God throughout human history. It is unencumbered by grand leaps of faith or personal preferences. It is objective. In the end, the importance of a personal God for human advancement seeps through the pages into the reader.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Points out the oddness of our current views, makes strong case

    Armstrong has a point to make, and does so without hiding it too much, namely that for the last 5,000 years "God" has filled a role that worked remarkably well for humankind. And that while that role was slightly different in various cultures, the endpoint was similar. Her main point is that in the last 250 years we have slowly but steadily moved away from that viewpoint and in doing so have created the current either/or envronment surrounding God and religion. Very well stated, though she does use some selective facts. Still, her reach is amazing and I personally found the book wonderful.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    This book provides an explanation of fundamentals, provides important historical perspectives, and provides ways of thinking about God and religion that are important.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2012

    Horrible book

    It always amazes me what Christians think is "proof" of their beliefs. This drivel wouldn't stand up in a junior high school debate. The circular reasoning, straw man arguments, and projection in this book make it a blueprint of how to lose an argument.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2012

    It is good for christians

    I am just a kid,to be excat 11years old and i am a christian and if you are a christian then you will like this book very much and i mean you will like it it is a very good for christians or people who are searching for god in your life come and read this book you might eve learn a thing or two

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    Good Book

    There are good ideas about the case of God. It is clear and educational. But its final presentation is not well done. Maybe it is something wrong when the press work was done.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2010

    Great book for a better understanding

    I am currently a high school student looking for better answers on life and the beyond and this is a great book. It is an understandable reading for most ages with the only problem being the use of ancient greek and latin words and meanings. Great book overall.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    The best book to date on the subject of God

    This book is a very realistic view of God and where the original idea came from. It also makes a compelling case for the need to explain events in our lives that cannot be understood logically. I would recommend this to anyone who has an open mind and wants to learn more about life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2009

    insightful

    Insightful book.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 21, 2010

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    Posted January 23, 2010

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    Posted January 2, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews
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