She is not brash enough to say "I believe this..." what she does say makes it absolutely clear that:
(1) She blames the belief in big man in sky for ruining the ability of modern religious thought to proceed in a sophistacted fashion and understand science.
(2) She makes it quite clear that she considers belief in big man in sky to be stupid literalism. >Literalism is always the stumpier option.
let's look at the quote:
Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive.
Up front we are told that religious thinking lags behind scientific thinking. But this is not because scinece is true and religion is false. that's probably what atheists want to see in it but it's not true as will become plain in a minute. I'm sure atheists read that to mean all religious thinking is stupid and primate and to as good as science. That is clearly not what she's saying. It's so obvious there's no way a thinking person could read it this way unless they were so longing to have her agree with the atheist prattle.
In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.
this is a description of mystical theology and the God beyond God concept, which will be made even more clear in a moment. Now I supposes probably most atheists read this phrase and says "that says religion is fiction it's made up stuff and not true. Anyone who thinks that's her meaning is an idiot and can't read. Contrast this with what she said before, which view will see as the "screw up" or the one "lagging behind" that she mentions in the fist section? Well it is not this one, so it obviously has to be the big sky the sky since these the only two that she talks about.
But by the end of the 17th century, instead of looking through the symbol to "the God beyond God," Christians were transforming it into hard fact.
This is the beginning of the section where he will lay the blame on the shoulders of literalistic scientific thinking theists and not on the God beyond God concept. In this phrase she says they were transforming the expansive mystical theology into a literalistic (she calls "hard fact") way of thinking. that this is negative become clear immediately.
Sir Isaac Newton had claimed that his cosmic system proved beyond doubt the existence of an intelligent, omniscient and omnipotent creator, who was obviously "very well skilled in Mechanicks and Geometry." Enthralled by the prospect of such cast-iron certainty, churchmen started to develop a scientifically-based theology that eventually made Newton's Mechanick and, later, William Paley's Intelligent Designer essential to Western Christianity.
Odds are she would not think Paley was great, so in linking his thinking to that of Newton she's obviously lambasting Newton for trying to make religion scientific. She's saying that the Newtonian are ones who made it literalistic. The scientific thinking is degrading the expansive God beyond God sophistication and bringing it down to a literalistic level of big man in the sky. Why does she talk about the Mechanic? What's the difference in big man on throne and big mechanic in the sky? the big mechanic in the sky is just a slightly more educated version of big man in sky. That it leads to Paley is a bad thing for her as I don't think she is a creationist or the argument form design type.
But the Great Mechanick was little more than an idol, the kind of human projection that theology, at its best, was supposed to avoid.
this proves it! She links the big mechanic in the sky with the big man in the sky and that's bad because it's just a projection and calling it an "idol" definitely condemns it. But I'm sure that atheists read that and thought she's saying all belief in god is like that. In reality it's perfectly obvious that she's distinguishing between big man in sky and God beyond God. Atheists see this as referring to all religion no doubt. Clearly she is distinguishing.
God had been essential to Newtonian physics but it was not long before other scientists were able to dispense with the God-hypothesis and, finally, Darwin showed that there could be no proof for God's existence. This would not have been a disaster had not Christians become so dependent upon their scientific religion that they had lost the older habits of thought and were left without other resource.
now they read this and to them it says "all region is stupid and all we need to science." they see her say others after Newton dispensed with God and they think she's saying "we can all dispense with God of any concept." But we already know that she sees the big scientist in the sky thing of Newton as a come down from the ancient notion of God beyond God and being itself. Since that's a come down the other alternative has to be better. So she is not saying all ideas about God can be dispensed with, that's obvious that she's not saying that.
Symbolism was essential to premodern religion, because it was only possible to speak about the ultimate reality—God, Tao, Brahman or Nirvana—analogically, since it lay beyond the reach of words. Jews and Christians both developed audaciously innovative and figurative methods of reading the Bible, and every statement of the Quran is called an ayah ("parable"). St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if a biblical text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically. This remained standard practice in the West until the 17th century, when in an effort to emulate the exact scientific method, Christians began to read scripture with a literalness that is without parallel in religious history.
How many atheists read this and think she's describing a process of making things up and she thinks that's stupid and she blames all religion for doing that? I would wager that almost atheists read it that way. Obviously, she's describing a good process, the choice that she thinks is better than the guy in the sky, the one that has been degraded. We already estabilshed that. she clearly says there's a come down and Newton brought us down form a better way to think about God and here shes' describing what that is.
Most cultures believed that there were two recognized ways of arriving at truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was superior to the other; they were not in conflict but complementary, each with its own sphere of competence. Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life's struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a good myth showed you how to cope with mortality, discover an inner source of strength, and endure pain and sorrow with serenity.
So atheists read this and say "surely she wouldn't accept myth as a valid way to think. myth is fiction it's a lie so she wouldn't like that, that's unscientific." But that's exactly what she likes. Clearly there's a type of postmodernism in her thinking that is anti-chronocentric. In other words she doesn't see ancient world people are being stupid and everything they did was wrong. She believes there is timeless truth and people of all ages discover it. Notice that she's saying good things about it. "a good myth helped you cope with morality." That's not a criticism it's a good thing.
In the ancient world, a cosmology was not regarded as factual but was primarily therapeutic; it was recited when people needed an infusion of that mysterious power that had—somehow—brought something out of primal nothingness: at a sickbed, a coronation or during a political crisis. Some cosmologies taught people how to unlock their own creativity, others made them aware of the struggle required to maintain social and political order. The Genesis creation hymn, written during the Israelites' exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion. Its vision of an ordered universe where everything had its place was probably consoling to a displaced people, though—as we can see in the Bible—some of the exiles preferred a more aggressive cosmology.
Here she clearly identifies herself with a kind of new agie postmdoern thinking, the sort of Campbell and Elaide thing. That's a good reason to think she supports the God beyond God idea. She doesn't say "I think this..." but the intelligent person can gather what a person supports from what they say even if they are explicit about it. Atheists can't do this for obvious reasons. But those of us who learn reading comprehension can do so.
She doesn't say "I believe in Being itself" but she even uses the phrase "God beyond God" (Tillich) and does she say about it? She says that it's better, it has good threatening uses, it can perk you up and transform your life, it was degraded and religion was made more literalistic and less able to cope by trying to make it scientific and that Newton just had a big guy in the sky. Newton's guy in the sky was a bit mechanic but he was still a guy in the sky. So clearly she prefers the other approach.
Maybe she doesn't actual believe that God is being itself, but she clearly understands the concept, doesn't think it's stupid, and supports it over the literalism of the guy in the sky.