God: A Human History

God: A Human History

From the bestselling author of Zealot and host of the new CNN series Believer comes a fascinating account of humanity’s struggle to make sense of the divine, and how the idea of god, from its prehistoric origins to its emergence as a single divine personality, continues to offer new ways of connecting people of different faiths today....

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Title:God: A Human History
Author:Reza Aslan
Rating:

God: A Human History Reviews

  • Anton

    5 ⭐ stuff. Many thanks to NetGalley, publisher and author for sharing the ARC.

    Honestly, my experience with ARCs so far was very disappointing. Also, I haven't encountered

    before. So my expectations were pretty low to start with.

    But then I started reading... and was blown away. This is such a strong book. It is succinct, very balanced, logical and delightful to follow. The author is a fantastic storyteller! This is a non-fiction story that will steal you away from your fiction TBR. Th

    5 ⭐️ stuff. Many thanks to NetGalley, publisher and author for sharing the ARC.

    Honestly, my experience with ARCs so far was very disappointing. Also, I haven't encountered

    before. So my expectations were pretty low to start with.

    But then I started reading... and was blown away. This is such a strong book. It is succinct, very balanced, logical and delightful to follow. The author is a fantastic storyteller! This is a non-fiction story that will steal you away from your fiction TBR. The language is gripping and immersive.

    If you have enjoyed

    books

    and

    - you will enjoy this book too, I am sure.

    I started making highlights/notes on my Kindle and probably ended up highlighting over a quarter of the book! This gem is full of insightful facts, examples and observations. It is also remarkably accessible. I freely admit to a long history of giving up midway many other books on comparative religion. This one is remarkable.

    I guess what I am saying, this book is out next month. Check it out. It is well worth your time. I will be getting myself a hardback copy for my bookshelf and future reference.

    I also plan to give another Reza Aslan's title a go

    . He appears to be top shelf non-fiction writer.

  • Fiona

    In July, I read a book called

    by E. Fuller Torrey. It presents the evolutionary theory of the creation of gods by examining the cognitive development of man and I found it truly fascinating.

    In this short work, Reza Aslan similarly explores the creation of gods by man. It's not a scientific approach and I found little if nothing new in the first two thirds of the book. I appreciate this is largely because I'd already read To

    In July, I read a book called

    by E. Fuller Torrey. It presents the evolutionary theory of the creation of gods by examining the cognitive development of man and I found it truly fascinating.

    In this short work, Reza Aslan similarly explores the creation of gods by man. It's not a scientific approach and I found little if nothing new in the first two thirds of the book. I appreciate this is largely because I'd already read Torrey's work. In the final third however, Aslan explores comparative theories of gods or God, looking closely at Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His analysis is excellent and leaves me wanting to learn more about the origins of religious thought, narratives and materials.

    It seemed inevitable to me that Aslan's arguments would lead to the firm conclusion that gods are, or God is, a human construct. In his work

    he provides a critical analysis of the human construction of the Jesus narrative and this work looked to be heading to a similar rational conclusion. Then, in the final pages, Aslan, who was raised in Islam, converted to Christianity and then returned to Islam, talks about his most recent conversion to Sufism and his 'epiphany' when he came to realise that God is all. In other words, God is everything and everything is God, whether you believe it from a spiritual viewpoint, religious or scientific stance, everything in our universe including ourselves is God. We are evolutionarily programmed to humanise our gods but "God" in his / the Sufi view has no material existence.

    I was rather taken aback by this, what seemed to me, sudden change in direction from a logical, measured view to a spiritual one.

    I enjoy Aslan's writing and thinking but I was a little bit disappointed that his conclusion, to me at least, appeared to signal that he wasn't so much exploring the question of who or what or why or if there is a god or gods but seeking in the end to justify his own belief. I'm left wondering how someone with such depth of knowledge and learning of the human construct of gods, the historical machinations that led to, for example, the creation of the Jesus cult and monotheism, can still have such a profound faith. The answer is that throughout the evolution of man this need for a superior being or beings has continued to be innate. Belief in a soul that is separate from the body has emerged in every society throughout time and it is this belief that, in Aslan's own words,

    and that is why it's so difficult to resist.

    With thanks to Random House UK and NetGalley for a review copy.

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)

    Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy! All opinions here are my own and are not influenced by them.

    Admittedly, I do love Reza Aslan, though. I’ve read two of his books and one of them completely changed my viewpoint on things. My religious studies professors sometimes talk about him to bring up various issues since he’s a well-known guy who studies religions and talks about them. Not only that, but I’ve often wondered how

    Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy! All opinions here are my own and are not influenced by them.

    Admittedly, I do love Reza Aslan, though. I’ve read two of his books and one of them completely changed my viewpoint on things. My religious studies professors sometimes talk about him to bring up various issues since he’s a well-known guy who studies religions and talks about them. Not only that, but I’ve often wondered how/why we decided to make such inventive religions and their function.

    The approach Aslan takes basically covers history from prehistory to, give or take, 1000 CE. He starts with what various possible prehistorical religions, or what we may know of them. Then, polytheism and onto failed attempts of monotheism. Judaism, then Christianity, and finally Islam. Not only that, but Aslan also brings in more than religion. Psychology gets brought up quite often, and actually, a few things that I’ve studied on my own for various papers. Anthropology also is brought in, as is sociology.

    I was convinced up until the conclusion that this would get 4.5-5 stars. However, the conclusion got too preachy for me. Aslan, in a way, said how people should believe in God or what to believe. While I was raised in what he described and it’s present in most religions, as he pointed out, I wasn’t a fan of how it was presented. Hopefully, before it gets published, it’s changed to a suggestion for how to approach religion since it’s a very personal thing.

  • Mehrsa

    This book is well written and fascinating. As an Iranian, I especially love that he includes the vital history of God and religion that began in Iran. The content however is very similar to Robert Wright’s Evolution is God and Karen Armstrong’s history of God. But I suppose the outcome is different. Reza ends up in Sufism and Wright in secular Buddhism and Armstrong in Christian mysticism. But as Azlan seems to say, it’s the same thing. The other books are much more thorough. Harari also takes u

    This book is well written and fascinating. As an Iranian, I️ especially love that he includes the vital history of God and religion that began in Iran. The content however is very similar to Robert Wright’s Evolution is God and Karen Armstrong’s history of God. But I suppose the outcome is different. Reza ends up in Sufism and Wright in secular Buddhism and Armstrong in Christian mysticism. But as Azlan seems to say, it’s the same thing. The other books are much more thorough. Harari also takes up this theme in his books. Also, Greenblat in Adam and Eve. So while this is not a super original story, it was still worthwhile

  • Rebecca Foster

    Although comparable in scope to Karen Armstrong’s

    , this is more of an anthropological and sociological approach to how religion arose.

    created God in

    image, Aslan argues. Using ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ as representatives of primitive humans, he explores what seems to have been intuitive: the idea that the soul survives after death; the notion of a three-tiered universe (heaven, Earth, and an underworld); and animism, or the conviction that all things have a spirit. Cave paintings

    Although comparable in scope to Karen Armstrong’s

    , this is more of an anthropological and sociological approach to how religion arose.

    created God in

    image, Aslan argues. Using ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ as representatives of primitive humans, he explores what seems to have been intuitive: the idea that the soul survives after death; the notion of a three-tiered universe (heaven, Earth, and an underworld); and animism, or the conviction that all things have a spirit. Cave paintings bore witness to belief in a world beyond this one.

    Aslan surveys various theories of the origin of religion – dreams, wonder at nature, wish fulfillment (Freud), or social cohesion (Durkheim) – and traces human development through agriculture, the domestication of animals, the production of epic sacred texts, and the gradual shift from many gods to a High God to the one god of monotheism. From here he tracks the rise of trinitarian thinking (including the various heresies surrounding it) and takes a sidetrack to discuss Islam, especially the Sufi tradition he’s familiar with.

    This is a surprisingly short book; rather than just setting out evidence and letting readers draw their own conclusions, it adopts a firm perspective: all this God-talk should lead us back to pantheism, a return to that primitive animism. “Do not fear God. You

    God” are the last words before the extremely lengthy bibliography and notes (nearly 50% of the Kindle book). I only skimmed this because I was getting bogged down in somewhat familiar detail, but I think people fairly new to the content would find this a useful introduction. It’s certainly interesting to get the perspective of a Sufi from Iran who now lives in L.A.

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