I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while. It came out early in the anti-theism years and was somewhat passed over. Too bad, because it really covers the history. I’m only up to Aristotle so far, but I’m sure it’s going to be good. What’s weird is to read about things that happened back in Greece before Plato and see how well they relate to things now, the effect of different viewpoints gathering in cities, the impact of a scientific discovery on religion. She doesn’t just stick to theist/atheist splits either, she introduces new terms like “graceful philosophies”; those groups that don’t need a lot of stuff, but have much need for gods either, so they create a philosophy of living well. Think “Self-Help” section at Barnes and Noble. This is a common reaction to times when long held traditions are being questioned.
In the intro, she provides not so much a definition of religion as an explanation of where religion-ists come from. She calls it the “rupture” between the reality we live with day to day, where people are not particularly smart or moral or in harmony, and the one we see when we take a universal view. In that view, we dominate the landscape, we are the smartest creature around, the pinnacle. Religion says, either that is the illusion and it means nothing that we are in control, or the physical world itself is the illusion and our focus is wrong. And these aren’t two different types of religion, they both show up to some degree in most scripture.