The Case for God – It’s My Blog and I’ll Screed if I Wanna
by Karen Armstrong
5 out of 5 stars
I don’t get it. How can anyone in today’s scientific age after we’ve split the atom, gazed at the 14 billion year-old edges of the universe, wiped out polio and squeezed a thousand strands of fiber optics through the eye of the needle still believe in Creationism? And please explain to me what kind of whacky religious faith would get so red in the face insisting that the hole in the ozone layer and global warming are part of God’s plan while committed gay and lesbian couples are not. I’ve completely had it with the entire faith-based scene – that strange universe running parallel to the one wherein I exist that’s filled with willfully ignorant people whose whole idea of faith (something that by definition requires one to take a leap towards) is twisted into a credo based on inerrant, irrefutable certainties. And I’m up-to-here with all the equal time our so-called liberally biased “lamestream” media gives to charlatans who earn their PhD’s in scientific fields just to give themselves an air of authority when it’s time to turn around and debunk the accepted scientific tenets of their fields. I want these religious bigots out of science, out of my state, out of my public schools and out of my face!!
God, it feels good to get that screed off my chest! Now, let me apologize. I don’t mean to sound so hot and bothered … only kind of hot and bothered. I want to get along with anyone I may have just offended. We need to find a place where people of faith and people of science can come together. That is, come together and share ideas while not force-fitting our opposing round credos into the other’s square holes. And the person who can lead us to this promised pool of fragrant oils and crystal waters is Karen Armstrong, that ex-nun with a highly evolved brain and a highly attuned mystical heart.
I think I’ve read just about all of Armstong’s books, but if you haven’t and you wanted to pick just one it should be The Case for God. It’s a must read for anybody interested in what religion is all about today versus what it SHOULD be all about. Armstrong traces human spiritual thought from prehistoric caves to the present. She is unflinchingly critical of present day religious fundamentalists, and the compulsion they feel to turn the myths of our biblical traditions into absolute literal truths. She is equally as scornful of the bigotry and bull-headedness found on the other side of the spectrum: modern atheists like Richard Dawkins who are every bit as black and white in their thinking as are the religious nuts they so love to hate.
In The Case for God Armstrong reminds us that it is only in recent times – since the late 19th century and largely as a response to Darwin’s theory of evolution – that people have felt compelled to turn the “mythos” of the Bible into a kind of mixed up and butt-dumb theology. Before modern science and technology had such a firm grip on our consciousness, people were comfortable with the notion of two separate ways to arrive at truths: mythos and logos. Armstrong urges us to take a lesson from the ancients and to get beyond our present way of thinking about the world that so often pits the brittle dogmas of one side against the other. She wants a post modern synthesis of the two schools of truth, a religiosity that deeply explores the ancient myths while allowing us to learn all there is to learn from cutting edge science.
To Armstrong’s way of seeing things, there will always be truths that lie just beyond our ability to quantify or put into words. Seeking that mystical “otherness” lying just beyond our ken is what religion should be all about, while pushing the boundaries of the known empirical universe is what science should be all about. The two can co-exist. Neither way is the ONE WAY, and neither mythos nor logos will ever completely explain the separate realms they each explore. Indeed, the minute we find answers to all our religious and scientific questions will be the minute we cease to be human.
Here endeth my lesson …
For additional reading on both sides of this issue may I suggest the following 5 star books:
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner
The Gift of the Jews, by Thomas Cahill
America’s Prophet, Moses and the American Story, by Bruce Feiler