It's not really real (A History of God)

I have recently acquired A History of God by Karen Armstrong. It was an educational but nonetheless painful read.

A History of God is about the singular God of the three Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is mainly about the how the theologies of the 3 religions changed through history. The book then ends on the note that the 3 religions must evolve new theologies to survive the current "empirical age".

I said that reading the book was painful because it really is quite heart wrenching to see human beings literally making shit up as they go (and that is pretty much what evolving new theologies mean). Yes, I am speaking as a person living in the "empirical age" but I think my "bias" is well justified. The ramifications of empiricism is much further than what Karen Armstrong seems to imply.

Karen Armstrong stressed repeatedly throughout the book that the stories about God (in the holy books or theologies conjured by religious thinkers through the ages) are never meant to be taken literally. Apparently, previous religious thinkers understood that. Karen goes so far as to say that God is not be understood as part of objective reality - God is "known" through subjective experience. Be it rationalistic, philosophically inclined school of thought or full on mysticism, God has always been thought to be incomprehensible or indescribable at least to some extent.

Right of the bat, she says the following.

A History of God, Page 5
Despite its other-worldliness, religion is highly pragmatic. We hall see that it is far more important for a particular idea of God to work than for it to be logically or scientifically sound. As soon as it ceases to be effective it will be changed - sometimes for something radically different. This did not disturb most monotheists before our own day because they were quite clear that their ideas about God were not sacrosanct but could only be provisional. They were man-made -- they could be nothing else - and quite separate from the indescribable Reality they symbolised

And indeed, through the book, the religious figures through history is said to create their own interpretations that were emphasized to be not rational, logical or scientifically accurate. For example, we have a statement like this:

A History of God, Page 76
For the first time, the Israelites became seriously interested in Yahweh's role in creation, perhaps because of renewed contact with the cosmological myths of Babylon. They were not, of course, attempting a scientific account of the physical origins of the universe but were trying to find comfort in the harsh world of the present.

That theme will ring throughout the book. So, literalists out there, you guys are just freaking wrong according to history.

Karen seems to think that a God that is not objective reality but known through subjective, religious experiences somehow solves the problem. And if I understood the underlying theme of the book, it seems to be saying that we just need to imagine a new theology like we've always done in the past. Is that what she really meant?

God is not real, he's just in your head - and that's a good thing? For the religious populace, that would turn everything they claim about their God on its head. As far as I'm concerned, if you enjoy such acts of mental masturbation, go ahead - just don't impose it on people.