The human idea of God has a history, since it has always meant something slightly different to each group of people who have used it...Indeed, the statement "I believe in God" has no objective meaning, as such, but like any other statement only means something in context...[E]ach generation has to create the image of God that works for it. [p. xx]Note that sly little word has, as though one could not do without an "image of God"! Buy that assumption and you've piled a load of baggage on yourself.
The same is true of atheism. The statement "I do not believe in God" has meant something slightly different at each period of history. The people who have been dubbed "atheists" over the years have always denied a particular conception of the divine. Is the "God" who is rejected by atheists today the God of the patriarchs, the God of the prophets, the God of the philosophers, the God of the mystics, or the God of the eighteenth-century deists? [p. xx, starting immediately after the previous quotation]I'll have to see, as I begin to read the next 399 pages of Armstrong's book (not counting the sixty additional pages of glossary, notes, suggestions for further reading, and index), whether I have the patience to continue reading, the patience to concern myself with the creations of mankind's religious imagination qua mental constructs.
And I'll have to see whether I detect in myself any need parallel to Armstrong's to "create a sense of him for myself." For several months now I have much enjoyed the freedom from any such sense whatsoever. If it's "obvious" to some that God exists, it's just as obvious to me that there's no such X.