Customer Reviews for

The Case for God: What Religion Really Means

Average Rating 3.5
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  • 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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  • 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 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 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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