Customer Reviews for

The Case for God: What Religion Really Means

Average Rating 3.5
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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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  • 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 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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