I finally read The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Given that I've read most of her books, several of them more than once (and taught one of them twice), it didn't exactly surprise me when the first half of the book or so was sorta familiar, but it did made it not all that fun to read.... But I perked right up around page 150, when she starts discussing John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), a theologian who "was convinced that reason could demonstrate the existence of anything" (149) and asserted that God was a "mere being"--in other words, a completely knowable entity, whom you get to know by asking the right questions and thinking the right thoughts.
I perked up because that's basically the theology I was raise with.
Armstrong then goes on to discuss an English poet, hermit and mystic named Richard Rolle (c. 1290-1348) who was all about feeling the spirit. He and a bunch of other mystics "[cultivated] a type of prayer that was devoted almost exclusively to the achievement of intense emotional states, which they imagined were an 'experience' of God," (152), which, Armstrong argued, was totally fucked up. She discusses the fact that up to that point in Christianity, and even in many other traditions to this day, those who devoted themselves to god were also supposed to serve their community, and the real mark that one had an understanding of "god" was that one would become more compassionate. Instead, in monotheism, "a flood of pleasurable and consoling emotion would be seen by more and more people as a sign of God's favor" (154). And I totally perked up at that, because that's a fair description of Mormonism, which is all about "feeling the spirit"--"feeling the spirit" is how you "have a personal revelation" that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and the president of the church blah blah blah are all what they purport to be.
She concludes part one of the book by remarking that "the 'God' with whom these so-called mystics are infatuated is simply the product of their own unhinged imagination" (157). And that is the point at which we arrive at our modern concept of God, and that is the crappy god we are stuck with these days.
The next two chapters are on science and religion, and I recommend them highly. She provides a fairly nice history of Renaissance astronomy and the process by which we moved to a heliocentric model of the solar system. I've tried about five times to summarize the chapters but none of my efforts are adequate.... Besides, what's most important to me is that she argues that atheism is really the only logical option if you apply to religion the standards of evidence and reason and proof required in science, because the god of modern monotheism, who really settled in around 1500, is a nasty, evil, incoherent, idolatrous impossibility.