Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

The Case for God

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

The Case for God

Article excerpt

THE CASE FOR GOD. Karen Armstrong. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009- Pp xviii+ 406, hardback, $27.95. ISBN 978-0-307-26918-8. Reviewed by Geoffrey W Sutton (Evangel University, Springfield, MO).

Karen Armstrong is a leader in religious affairs. She is a best-selling author with demonstrated expertise in the monotheistic faiths. In addition to her many speaking engagements, she is a United Nations Ambassador for the Alliance of Civilizations.

The Case for God is a misnomer. In the introduction, Armstrong explains her plan to review the history of religious thinking, which illustrates her theme that things have changed in recent decades. Before the age of reason, people sought meaningful ways to view life events; hence, mythos provided guidance and functioned as a primitive psychology. As people learned ways to control their lives and the environment, a greater emphasis on logos (reason) developed. Eventually, these two perspectives appeared disparate. An important part of her thesis is that the notion of belief has changed. Religion has been rationalized and is responsible for the recent rise of fundamentalism and atheism. The Case for God becomes a case for understanding the perspectives of religious others derived from a humble stance toward what can be known in contrast to the certitude presented by religious fundamentalists and secular scientists. "There is a long religious tradition that stressed the importance of recognizing the limits of our knowledge, of silence, reticence, and awe. That is what I hope to explore in this book (xviii)."

Armstrong divides her work into two major parts. The first six chapters trace the origins of religious responses as evident from prehistoric art through the variations of sacred teachings and more importantly the development of rituals and disciplines that afforded everyman a cultural path to the sacred. She demonstrates a broad knowledge of Eastern Religions, which precedes her analysis of more recent and familiar Western monotheisms. Following these early chapters that read more like a history of religion, a more thematic approach emerges as she addresses the reason and faith narratives of Greek and Jewish origin. …

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