The Case for God

The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong

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  1. This quotation from Karen Armstrong is a little dense, but does a good job of summing up the problem with the personal God (as opposed to other notions of “God”):

    “Idolatry has always been one of the pitfalls of monotheism. Because its chief symbol of the divine is a personalized deity, there is an inherent danger that people would imagine “him” as a larger, more powerful version of themselves, which they could use to endorse their own ideas, practices, loves, and hatreds –– sometimes to lethal effect. There can be only one absolute, so once a finite idea, theology, nation, polity, or ideology is made supreme, it is compelled to destroy anything that opposes it. We have seen a good deal of this kind of idolatry in recent years. To make limited historical phenomena –– a particular idea of “God,” “creation science,” “family values,” “Islam” (understood as an institutional and civilizational entity), or the “Holy Land” –– more important than the sacred reverence due to the “other” is, as the rabbis pointed out long ago, a sacrilegious denial of everything that “God” stands for. It is idolatrous, because it elevates an inherently limited value to an unacceptably high level. As Tillich pointed out, if it assumes that a man-made idea of “God” is an adequate representation of the transcendence toward which it can imperfectly gesture, a great deal of mainstream theology is also idolatrous. Atheists are right to condemn such abuses. But when they insist that society should no longer tolerate faith and demand the withdrawal of respect from all things religious, they fall prey to the same intolerance.”

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