This is a historically well-researched book which argues the case for God (religion?) with insight and understanding of what makes people religious, which the new atheists don’t seem to get. But it also reminds the spokespeople for religion that they should leave matters of the mind (explaining the world, etc.) to science, and concentrate on the experiential aspects of life where religions play an important and indispensable role. “The point of religion,” she rightly observes, “(is) to live intensely and richly here and now.” Such views on religion have been expounded by other authors as well. (See, for example, Truth and Tension in Science and Religion). What makes this book particularly valuable is that it surveys human attempts to grasp the transcendental from trans-cultural perspectives, providing rich historical examples; but it also makes the case for a more enlightened approach to religion in the Christian framework. Whether there is a God or not in people’s mind is often determined, not by any proof or ontological validity, but by how persuasive the advocates and attackers of the God-concept are for their respective stances. In this book Armstrong shows herself to be a good lawyer on God’s behalf. Given that there have been many anti-God books in recent years from scientists and journalists, and not as many on behalf of God from scholars, this book of this kind will be acclaimed by many religiously inclined people.
October 20, 2009