Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Alister McGrath - The Twilight of Atheism and Dawkins' God

Considering the amount of media attention given to Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion it is somewhat of a surprise that it took a while before someone published a book in response. Alister McGrath, like Dawkins a professor at Oxford University, has published Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. McGrath, a former atheist, has quickly ascended to the top of the ladder as one of Christianity's leading apologists and one of the church's most popular theologians. He clearly relishes tearing into the debate over the existence of God and his passion for his subject is evident on most every page.

Of course, how one responds to McGrath's writings will depend on whether one agrees with him or not. Like just about everything else in the debate over the existence of God, where you end up depends on where you start. I find McGrath to be an extremely compelling writer who makes some incredibly insightful points; of course, I also share his faith and point of view so perhaps that's why he seems like a genius to me. Read some of his reviews on the web by unbelievers and you'll find them to be less than impressed, probably because they don't agree with much of anything he believes.

Regardless, McGrath is a writer of note who cannot be ignored, and if you are at all interested in the current debate over the question of God's existence, both of these books are incredibly helpful. Of the two, The Twilight of Atheism is my favorite and one I consider a modern classic that qualifies as an essential read. Dawkins' God is more technical, and if like me science was not your strong suit, there are parts to read more slowly. The first chapter, on a Darwinian view of the world and the fourth chapter, about Dawkins' strange idea of memes, are a little heavy on science. That being said, there is a lot of rich material in this book that pokes numerous holes in much of what Dawkins has to say about faith.

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