The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine  -     By: Alister E. McGrath, Joanna Collicutt McGrath
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The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine

Inter-Varsity Press / Hardcover

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World-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins writes in The God Delusion: "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." The volume has received wide coverage, fueled much passionate debate and caused not a little confusion.

Alister McGrath, along with his wife Joanna, are ideal to evaluate Dawkins's ideas. Once an atheist himself, he gained a doctorate in molecular biophysics before going on to become a leading Christian theologian. He wonders how two people, who have reflected at length on substantially the same world, could possibly have come to such different conclusions about God. McGrath subjects Dawkins's critique of faith to rigorous scrutiny. His exhilarating, meticulously argued response deals with questions such as: Is faith intellectual nonsense? Are science and religion locked in a battle to the death? Can the roots of Christianity be explained away scientifically? Is Christianity simply a force for evil? This volume is a Veritas Forum Book.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 144
Vendor: Inter-Varsity Press
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 083083446X
ISBN-13: 9780830834464
Availability: In Stock
Series: Veritas Forum Books

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Publisher's Description

World-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins writes in The God Delusion: "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." The volume has received wide coverage, fueled much passionate debate and caused not a little confusion. Alister McGrath, along with his wife Joanna, are ideal to evaluate Dawkins's ideas. Once an atheist himself, he gained a doctorate in molecular biophysics before going on to become a leading Christian theologian. He wonders how two people, who have reflected at length on substantially the same world, could possibly have come to such different conclusions about God. McGrath subjects Dawkins's critique of faith to rigorous scrutiny. His exhilarating, meticulously argued response deals with questions such as Is faith intellectual nonsense? Are science and religion locked in a battle to the death? Can the roots of Christianity be explained away scientifically? Is Christianity simply a force for evil? This book will be warmly received by those looking for a reliable assessment of The God Delusion and the many questions it raises--including, above all, the relevance of faith and the quest for meaning.

Author Bio

Alister McGrath (D.Phil. D.D., Oxford University) holds the chair of theology, ministry and education and is head of the Centre for Theology, Religion & Culture at Kings College, London. He was previously professor of historical theology at Oxford University. He is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world and is the author of many books including and Joanna Collicutt McGrath studied experimental psychology at Oxford, then went on to specialize for some years in clinical neuropsychology, and subsequently studied Christian theology, particularly biblical studies. Currently she is lecturer in the psychology of religion at Heythrop College, University of London. She is also coauthor with Jeremy Duff of

Publisher's Weekly

When authors write books that criticize other books, they have usually already lost; the original book has set the agenda to which the critics respond, and the outcome is foretold. Not in this case. The McGraths expeditiously plow into the flank of Dawkins's fundamentalist atheism, made famous in The God Delusion, and run him from the battlefield. The book works partly because they are so much more gracious to Dawkins than Dawkins is to believers: Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker "remains the finest critique" of William Paley's naturalistic arguments for deism available, for example. The authors can even point to instances in which their interactions with him, both literary and personal, have changed his manner of arguing: he can no longer say that Tertullian praised Christian belief because of its absurdity or that religion necessarily makes one violent. The McGraths are frustrated, then, that Dawkins continues to write on the a priori, nonscientific assumption that religious believers are either deluded or meretricious, never pausing to consider the evidence not in his favor or the complex beliefs and practices of actual Christians. They conclude disquietingly: perhaps Dawkins is aware that demagogic ranting that displays confidence in the face of counterevidence is the way to sway unlearned masses. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

"McGrath identifies Dawkins' flawed arguments with surgical precision. McGrath spotlights Dawkins' embarrassing biblical ignorance and exposes his religion-as-virus-of-the-mind theory as sociological naivete. This intelligent, yet accessible book is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject or for those with friends sucked under by the new current of atheist literature."
"Alister McGrath invariably combines enormous scholarship with an accessible and engaging style."
"The McGraths expeditiously plow into the flank of Dawkins's fundamentalist atheism, made famous in The God Delusion, and run him from the battlefield."
"[H]elps theistic people respond more intelligently to the current religion-bashing that has become a source of schadenfreude for some (though certainly not all) nonbelievers."
"This book will be warmly received by those looking for a reliable assessment of The God Delusion and the many questions it raised--including all the relevance of faith and the quest for meaning."
"This book will be warmly received by those who are looking for a real assessment of The God Delusion."
" The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why."
"Richard Dawkins's utopian vision of a world without religion is here deftly punctured by the McGraths' informed discourse. His fellow Oxonians clearly demonstrate the gaps, inconsistencies and surprising lack of depth in Dawkins's arguments."
"With rigorous logic and exquisite fairness, the McGraths have exposed Dawkins's very superficial understanding of the history of religion and theology. Because he is so 'out of his depth' in these areas, Dawkins uses his fundamentalistic scientism and atheism to constantly misjudge the possibilities for dialogue between religion and science. Thank God for scholars like the McGraths who are committed to finding truth in both."
"Addressing the conclusions of The God Delusion point by point with the devastating insight of a molecular biologist turned theologian, Alister McGrath dismantles the argument that science should lead to atheism, and demonstrates instead that Dawkins has abandoned his much-cherished rationality to embrace an embittered manifesto of dogmatic atheist fundamentalism."
"In this crisp and cogent book, Alister and Joanna McGrath note, among other things, how fundamentalist scientism fuels antiscientific Christian fundamentalism. They also remind us of well-documented associations between an active faith and measures of health and well-being. A must-read contribution to today's debate other whether religion spreads dangerous falsehoods or benevolent wisdom."
"McGrath has distinguished himself . . . as an historical theologian, [and] a generous, . . . witty writer who brings to life topics that would turn to dust in others' hands."
"Combining scholarship with a popular style, the McGraths examine Dawkins's arguments and find them wanting. They show the inadequacy of his argument on the major points, contending that Dawkins's critique of religion is based on hearsay and anecdotal evidence rather than on hard research and that he employs rhetoric rather than rationality."
"One could hardly think of a better apologist for theism than Alister McGrath. This atheist-turned-Christian, also of Oxford, is a professor of historical theology. But as a student of molecular biophysics, he possesses the dual credibility in science and religion that Dawkins lacks. Like watching one schoolboy do another's work, McGrath's true gift is pointing out what Dawkins is obliged to show in order to make his case."
"Alister and Joanna McGrath offer a meaty book without all the gratuitous gristle, clearly making their points."
"You cannot help but be impressed with the depth of scholarship which the McGraths bring to this discussion--something markedly different than Dawkins."
"You cannot argue with the McGraths' credentials or the content of this book. It is very well done."
"Alister McGrath provides an excellent rebuttal to Dawkin's arguments against God and religion. Scholarly, yes but also very readable for lay people."
"[T]he McGraths' book is an effective response."
"While not exhaustive (by design), the McGraths have offered us a well-reasoned critique of the atheistic arguments of Dawkins, and left us with a cogent description of the inherent weaknesses in The God Delusion. I recommend it to my friends on both sides of this debate."

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  1. Davidandhisharem
    Bristol England
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    OK as far as it goes
    September 6, 2013
    Davidandhisharem
    Bristol England
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Including Intro, Bibliography and Further Reading, this book is still less than 100 pages long.One can only expect so much from such a short work. What this book does not do is provide a systematic outline let alone in depth account of Dawkin's works or ideas about God and as a result of this, one is left wondering at times what Dawkins said more specifically.When Mcgrath does quote him I was really surprised to read so many badly written Dawkins passages, how cliched his ideas and victims were, and so much emotiveness with so little philosophy to back it up. The most interesting parts of the book cover the howlers Dawkins made eg about Paul writing the Epistle to the Hebrews and attributing a quote to Tertullian which the internet has provided him with; and more generally how many other atheists, humanists and non-christians were and are embarrassed by not only his agruments but also his ignorance of the bible in particular and religion overall. This is not the book to take apart such sloppiness but is an OK starting point for anyone who is wondering what all the fuss is about and has little experience of such debates.
  2. Gary Parker
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    January 10, 2010
    Gary Parker
    I found this book to be hilarious. I must say that it does not address the issues that Dawkins brings up (the few that he does bring up) but it rather criticizes Dawkins fundamentalism. If you want in depth objections to the "God Delusion", I suggest you get "Dawkins God". If you want a short book that highlights the fact that Dawkins is a crummy philosopher and produces unfounded arguments for the non-existence of God, then you should definitely get this book.
  3. Paul S.
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    December 24, 2007
    Paul S.
    Good review if you know Dawkins views. Reader benefited if argumentation is understood. I personally enjoyed the book.
  4. Chris Lutyk
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    November 7, 2007
    Chris Lutyk
    This book is not an in-depth coverage of the issues in "The God Delusion". The author writes in an earlier book called Dawkins God (I think) a much more in depth treatise. However with the release of the God Delusion new issues are brought up and a quick response is called for. "The Dawkins Delusion?" goes after these issues which come from what he calls Dawkins "atheist fundamentalism. Dawkins book is a take no prisoners bludgeoning of religion, a complete rejection of God and religion as being childish nonsense. McGrath does a good job of exposing his close-minded "antifundamentalist" attack. He points out areas where Dawkins in his zeal leaves his scientific methods such as his use of the unsubstantiated religion gene called a Meme (which he invented) to carry on his attack. The weakness of Christian fundamentalism is not its passion or its dogged desire to hold on to biblical truth but rather its closed mindedness in learning from critics and real dialog. In its dogged defense of what it sees as sacred it has a great tendency to treat its opponents with little or no respect. Dawkins models this weakness all too well with his own "atheist fundamentalism" and McGrath calls him on it. Not surprisingly many in his own atheist camp are appalled and dismayed at Dawkin's approach. McGrath's review of this book is very helpful. McGrath is not here to argue whether God exists or not. Dawkins has gone too far and this book successfully points out many of his errors. If you are looking for a detailed defense against atheism this is not it. This is an expose of an extremist. I have heard Dawkins on the radio and he sees nothing good in religion and is on crusade to cleanse the land of this blight on humanity. If only everyone was an atheist then peace, love, joy and harmony would reign. I have an atheist friend who previously saw Dawkins as a champion for the atheist cause. However he's a bit embarrassed by "The God Delusion"
  5. Deborah D'arcy
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    November 5, 2007
    Deborah D'arcy
    I was very disappointed in this book. The McGraths seem to be preaching to the choir, a choir that they believe should have already reached the correct conclusions and so don't bother to thoroughly address any of the points of The God Delusion! The authors just do not seem to understand that, as much as the fallacies of Dawkins seem self-evident to them, many people are taking Dawkins seriously. The point of a book such as theirs is to rebut his assertions one by one. They barely scratch the surface. I understand how maddening it is to try to answer arguments that are so outrageous, that they are 'not even wrong', but in writing this book the McGraths did everyone a disservice. No Dawkins supporter will be convinced to reconsider and those who are no fans of Dawkins theology (I am a fan of his other work, when he can keep his hostility to religion to a minimum) will have gained no insight into ways in which his atheism can and could be answered.
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