Final Thoughts on “The Case for God” …

So, I finished reading “The Case for God” by Karen Armstrong. And what I really want to say about it is: it’s not really a case for God. Not because it represents a vision of God that’s different from how most people see God — because she traces it back through the ages and both admits that the conception is different from the modern view but that the modern view has only been in vogue for a comparatively short amount of time — or because her conception is ridiculous or not a God, but because there isn’t really a case here. She provides a wealth of historical information but it isn’t clear how that applies to her thesis, or what her thesis really is.

If I had to guess at her thesis, it would be that God fills a transcendent or mythos component for humans, and so the modern conception of God that treats like something to be logically or empirically studied basically takes away from God exactly what it was that made people want to believe in God in the first place. This is probably not a theory that would cause much consternation for anyone. And there is a point to be made that if we try to subsume everything under logos we’ll have to invent something to be a mythos to fill that need. From that, we can take the interesting conclusion that while it wasn’t a good idea to turn our mythos into logos, it’s not a good idea to turn our logos into mythos. And so perhaps we need something that we can use as this grasping for the transcendent to fill that need. Then again, the arts also seem to grasp for that, if done well, and so maybe we can indeed replace it already. Although conceptual art might cause art to become more logos than we’d like.

She also raises an interesting point that fundamentalists arise in reaction to attack, and that that’s how the latest fundamentalism has come to be, and that attacks might be causing less accommodating strands of fundamentalism to exist, like how Muslims didn’t have much of a problem with evolution but now do. Although, some might argue that that opposition comes into play only because they didn’t pay attention to the inconsistencies before, but with the attacks paid more attention to potential conflicts. So it’s hard to say if that’s a solid argument.

Ultimately, the book is a nice history but as a work of philosophy or theology spends too much time presenting evidence and not enough time saying what conclusion that evidence is supposed to support. It’s nowhere near as objectionable as some say it is but isn’t an example of particularly good theology/philosophy either.

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