Share story

MADRID (AP) — British scholar Karen Armstrong on Wednesday won Spain’s Princess of Asturias award for social sciences in recognition of her investigations into world religions.

Organizers described Armstrong as an international reference point for her comparative studies of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

A holder of the Order of the British Empire title, Armstrong’s works include the bestselling “The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and “Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World.”

Armstrong, 72, said she was “moved” at having won the prize.

Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone, she said she began writing about religion not out of peace or love, but because she saw fear and what people with prejudice and hatred were capable of doing.

“We are living in a global society (but) we can’t live with one another,” she said, pointing out how events “in Afghanistan today can have repercussions in London or Manchester tomorrow.”

“I doubt that we are going to survive as the human race,” she said.

She described the recent Manchester terror attack as “horrible, terrible.”

“What is it that drives people to commit these acts? There are no single answers,” she said.

Known for her criticisms of the Roman Catholic church, Armstrong studied to be a nun but left her convent after seven years, an experience she wrote about in her first book, “Through the Narrow Gate.”

The 50,000-euro ($56,000) award is one of eight Asturias prizes handed out yearly by a foundation named for Crown Princess Leonor. Others categories include art, sports and scientific research. They are presented each fall.

British historian Mary Beard won the social sciences award last year.