NEWS: Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God

421px-Blake_ancient_of_daysKaren Armstrong has a new book out, The Case for God. The former Roman Catholic nun turned “Jesus Seminar” fellow and prolific historian has in 27 years published almost as many books. Perhaps the most famous is her 1993 work, A History of God. Armstrong is also renowned for her interfaith initiatives, advising responsibilities for Bill Moyer’s popular PBS series, and meetings with members of both the UN and US Congress. In her latest book, Armstrong offers what she sees as an alternative to the interminable debate between religious fundamentalists and atheist secularists.

In short, she argues that, though religion has at all times been a practical discipline, religion in its initial formations was never intended to be a system of rational propositions; in other words, we should not think of religion as a set of scientific facts about the physical world, human existence, or even God. Instead, faith was not “something that people thought but something they did.” Ritual, according to Armstrong, was always more important than epistemology and early believers intended scripture to be read symbolically rather than literally. However, a result of the ages of Reason and Enlightenment was the loss of this notion. In the end, Armstrong hopes her book will shed some new light on the long conflict between secularists and scriptural literalists.

To hear Terry Gross interview Karen Armstrong on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” click here. To read a recent book review of The Case for God, click here.

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