1. Why you selected the particular book?
The diverse religious activities and the differences in faith and belief have divided men into different denominational groupings. For several centuries, religious groupings have engaged in physical and verbal combat in an attempt to spread its faith. However the most fundamental conflict stems from an opposing belief coupled by a summary of socio-cultural differences. These differences have ushered in conflicts that escalated into atrocities and bloodshed. Other conflicts have made religious differences as the organizing point to justify their own superior ambitions. Armstrong however stressed on a comparative history of the three monotheistic religions and exposed the frailty in each belief. Her insistence on the monopoly of truth committed by Christianity, Islam and Judaism as superior to other sects has developed an idea of a supreme being with human similarities. The idea of a personal supreme being has been supported by these religions which condemns and marginalize others. Such idealistic behavior of presenting God as a bigger version of man retreats and spins man away from the virtue that the faith teaches.
In our present era, God has been adapted to meet the demands of the fast-changing ideas. Armstrong believes that some religions would eventually die out while others would gain strength or change direction. This has actually seen proof in people changing their religious affiliations. Her book is an interesting read that awakens us to the struggle for a religious meaning to an aggressive and extreme personalized stance that totally erases the ethical proportions that embodies that teaching of God. Further in Armstrong’s book, a well-balanced critical perspective on how the Western faith catered to the rise of atheism is clearly presented. It exposed how atheism evolved not merely on the basis of disproving the religious scriptures but as a result of the theological excesses committed in the past years.
2. What is the author’s purpose in writing the book?
In our own century, the idea attached to God has been revised several times to meet the demands of the present population. Armstrong believed that when religious ideas cease to be effective, they fade away (376). After so much tribulations and conflicts, the thought that religious roots may cease to exist provides a comforting scene for Armstrong who has seen a drastic shrinkage of religious denominations as common views changed. The reading public’s response in a book with Armstrong’s magnitude has indicated the public’s hunger a theological change. For her, God has been remade to portray a vision that endorses the history and supremacy of the strong to work for their cause. Religion thereby has a social purpose and the idea of God according to Armstrong serves a function for a culture to survive. People have always resisted any type change unless the proposed change fits in with their social and cultural order and lifestyle. This is what Armstrong has continued to stress in her book.
Further this book Armstrong aims to express in her history that traditional society practiced spirituality. Men sought nature and use these forces to work for him. Somehow this was depicted in Genesis that was also suggested by Armstrong that Abraham’s God was El (14). Myths evolved around Abraham’s God that was not supposed to be taken literally according to Armstrong. However when behavior or actions of “God” enabled people to show their best and perform effectively, the concept became highly accepted. The Koran according to Armstrong also taught that God had created Adam in his own image which is why he ordered the angels to bow down and worship the first man (229). Armstrong’s work however signifies that God is either personal or transcendent. He can “encourage perpetual immaturity,” or be “essentially subjective and personal enlightenment” which Armstrong stresses can be a very good thing. She means to relay the message that a transcendent God, when not planning a revolution, is subject to the manipulations of mankind. He could be a racist or a revolutionary depending on our personal views which has been mirrored after man’s own image to portray a supreme being.
For modern religion, she stressed that Christianity is faced with atheism which evolved as a rational choice after the Reformation. She also exposed the limitations that Islam has also struggled in order to reconcile religious views with their economic and political position. Modern Islam seeks to either pattern their behavior from western views which altogether eased their strict sanctions over traditional religious practices like Iran and Turkey. The Jews after seeing the horrors of the century have lost forbearance and instead focused on a political battle over the Israeli state. One thing however continues to become a mundane search for everyone which is to seek the truth throughout the long history of God’s existence.
3. Review of the ideas presented
The understanding presented in Armstrong was Christianity, Islam and Judaism’s belief that a one true God and religion would evolve (151). Armstrong presented that any conflict should have been erase as they all share a certain similarity existing along the same line of conflict. Biblical evidence according to Armstrong has suggested that the leader Moses convinced his people El and Yahweh were one and the same (21). For her, the call for a one true God is a call for unity among religion. This unity hopes to recognize the aspiration of others but will seemingly focus on a true worship. Additionally, excessive intellectualism is frowned upon which is damaging to the faith. Armstrong provided that is God is not to become an indulgent endorsement of our own egotism, religious experience must be informed by an accurate assessment of its content (205). She stressed a repeated warning against making God into an endorsement of egotism. The Koran is likewise clear that there is to be no compulsion in religion (155-6).
God is love as further endorsed in Armstrong’s work which is positively effective in the history of monotheism which speaks of a God who is on the side of the impotent and the oppressed (20). Further she stressed that God would live in a loving brotherhood, and not in a stone temple (71). It follows then that each human being is a unique epiphany of the Hidden God, manifesting him in a particular and unrepeatable manner (237). But the human mind has conceived concepts that go beyond reticence requiring considerable skill and mental balance when certain symbols emerged.
Armstrong has established the roots of atheism were founded on the discovery of biblical errors. Mark’s gospel, which is the earliest of its kind to dismiss Jesus as a god, presents that Jesus was a perfectly normal man, with a family that included brothers and sisters (80). Although the reliability of Mark’s gospel is in question nevertheless Armstrong also insisted that Paul did not believe that Jesus was God incarnated and perfectly adding that the doctrine of incarnation developed only later (83). Christianity is heavily contradicted with atheism as a rational choice against the stringent doctrines of the Christian religion.
4. Analysis and evaluation of the author’s work
History of God is a comparative study of monotheistic religions and their experience of the divine throughout history. Armstrong has capitalized that making God to suit one’s personal needs has been practiced all throughout history. The fame of this book certainly banks on how Armstrong seeks to diminish the faith of those who seek to live in within the doctrines of their faith. God comes out as callous, self-righteous and entirely lacking in the compassion and coherence to be worthy of veneration.
The best seller status that Armstrong’s book has gained in England is a clear indication though that the public has a hunger to know the truth which has been hidden or concealed. Her apparent endorsement that persons of the cloth and religion might as well be dead serves to instigate lambaste against a belief that she had abandoned. Her distaste for Christianity is riddled by misleading statements that build up certain theories as an indubitable fact. God in Exodus was presented as an example for the people of Midian whom Moses lived in exile. She refused to present that scholars have discredited this belief and continued to bloat the theory as a fact. Theologians have also debated over the compression of several thousand years of history into over four hundred pages of Armstrong’s book. Everything is fast paced that endorsed the acceptance of non-western culture and frown upon the western culture.
5. Personal reaction and conclusion
This book produces disorienting yet eye-catching effects as a reading inspires an uprising in history that proclaims God as a God of revolution. Given this build-up, her discussion over the mystical tradition leaves a void for she has nothing else to say after promoting immanence. While projecting religions, she does emphasize a tolerance for Islam and Judaism while castigating the western tradition of Christianity that she grew up in. These profound averments against “western” religion has created inattention and laxity on greater issues that passed off unscrutinized leaving the reader in midair like Armstrong’s lack of discussion over Newton’s obsession with the Book of Revelations.
In conclusion, Armstrong’s book could have provided a better skill is balance was exercised in handling the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Her condescending tone reflects how she used the deity into a form that best suits her interest. Although she has exposed the struggles of Islam as it tries to suit to western behavior and the Jewish focus on a political status of Israel, the search for the truth prevails. Further she has reflected that a huge amount of strong adherence against excessive intellectualism is damaging to the faith. Her assessment and endorsement of how atheism evolved during the Reformation period is spun over a rational clamor for truth over the long history of God’s existence.