Starting in the caves of Lascaux, where the paintings depict "a sacred world that is more effective and enduring than our own", Armstrong tells the story of man's long obsession with the numinous. Pondering the grisly initiation rites that continue among hunting peoples today, she insists that "religion is hard work. Its insights are not self evident."
Armstrong's God is far from the pop icon of the Evangelicals and closer to the "unseen power" of Shelley. If she casts a cold eye on the "defensive piety" of fundamentalism, which has gained momentum because "we have lost the art of interpreting the old tales of gods walking the earth", she is also dismissive of Dawkins and Hitchens, who "like all fundamentalists... believe that they alone are in possession of truth".
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