As our name implies, Big Think asks experts to ponder large questions—but we rarely make them this large. Topics covered in our interview with comparative religion scholar Karen Armstrong included: "Who is God?";"What does religion accomplish?"; "Can faith and science be reconciled?" and "How can we die with dignity?"

In weighing these issues, the author of "The History of God" drew on a range of formative personal and intellectual influences, from Socrates and Rabbi Hillel the Elder to an elderly nun she knew during her time in a convent as a young woman. Throughout, her most consistent theme was the need for consistent practice of the "discipline of compassion," as exemplified by her newly launched international Charter for Compassion.