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Extended Audio Sample The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,358 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Armstrong Narrator: Karen Armstrong Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao.

Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith.

Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors? Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level.

She makes a powerful, convincing argument for drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age. Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations. She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from “dedicated intellectual endeavor” and a “compassionate lifestyle” that enables us to break out of the prison of selfhood.                                          

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Armstrong’s argument is prescient, for it reflects the most important shifts occurring in the religious landscape.”


  • “The time is ripe for a book like The Case for God, which wraps a rebuke to the more militant sort of atheism in an engaging survey of Western religious thought.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A thoughtful explanation, well-sourced and impressively rooted in the writings of theologians, philosophers, scholars, and religious figures through the ages…If Armstrong is out to bring respect to both reason and faith in the search of that transcendent meaning, she has done well.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “Armstrong is ambitious. The Case for God is an entire semester at college packed into a single book—a voluminous, dizzying intellectual history…Reading The Case for God, I felt smarter…A stimulating, hopeful work. After I finished it, I felt inspired, I stopped, and I looked up at the stars again. And I wondered what could be.”

    NPR, All Things Considered

  • “In over a dozen books [Armstrong] has delivered something people badly want: a way to acknowledge that faith can be taken seriously as a response to deep human yearnings without needing to subscribe to the formality of organized belief.”


  • “Armstrong’s thesis is provocative, and her book illuminates a side of Christianity that has recently been overshadowed.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “One of our best living writers on religion…Prodigiously sourced, passionately written.”

    Financial Times

  • “Karen Armstrong is one of [a] handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion…As in so much of the rest of her hugely impressive body of work, Karen Armstrong invites us on a journey through religion that helps us to rescue what remains wise from so much that to so many…no longer seems true.”

    Observer (London)

  • “With characteristic command of subject and crispness, the prolific and redoubtable independent British scholar and former nun takes yet another run at the world’s religious history…She’s conceptual, humanistic, and exceedingly well-read…[An] articulate and accessible sweep through intellectual history. The ‘unknowing’ of the mystics has its virtues and its place, but being well-read and knowledgeable makes one powerful and persuasive book.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Celebrated religion scholar Armstrong creates more than a history of religion; she effectively demonstrates how the West (broadly speaking) has grappled with the existence of deity and captured the concept in words, art, and ideas…A brilliant examination…[An] accessible, intriguing study of how we see God.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The new book by premier contemporary historian of religion is a history of God…Presenting difficult ideas with utter lucidity, this registers at once as a classic of religious and world history.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Armstrong offers a tour de force…Highly recommended for readers willing to grapple with difficult but clearly articulated concepts and challenges to the ‘received’ ways of perceiving religion. A classic.”

    Library Journal

  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Isla McKetta | 2/20/2014

    " I loved this book. Armstrong engaged me in a discussion about religion that made me feel part of a larger tradition even though my own views do not conform to what feels normative in our time. The prose was lucid and the analysis insightful. I would recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in expanding an understanding of man's relationship with God. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Uzma Naz | 2/14/2014

    " I wish she had added more about other religions besides Christianity. She hints at it but doesn't get very extensive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jonathan | 2/4/2014

    " I enjoyed this book immensely. Armstrong provides a view on religion which is very salutary, as she isn't proselytizing. Much of the material was in a previous work of hers, but it is handled with a new focus. The depth of her historical grasp is inspiring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by John Wylie | 1/18/2014

    " Well worth reading. Armstrong knows religious history cold and introduced me to change in meaning of belief over the centuries. "

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