The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine

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Overview

2008 Christian Bookseller's Covention Book of the Year Award winner!

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 ...

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The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine

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Overview

2008 Christian Bookseller's Covention Book of the Year Award winner!

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers 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
Library Journal

In his 2006 best seller, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, who has made his reputation as generally a fine popularizer of science, argued that belief in God is no more than a delusion and that atheism is the only respectable position for a thinking person to adopt. Alister McGrath (historical theology, Oxford; Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life), originally an atheistic molecular biophysicist, and his wife, Joanna (psychology of religion, Heythrop Coll., Univ. of London; coauthor, Meeting Jesus: Human Responses to a Yearning God), see Dawkins as a brilliant thinker who went down the wrong path with his last book. Combining scholarship with a popular style, the McGraths examine Dawkins's arguments and find them wanting. They do not respond to every one of his points; instead, 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. Where Dawkins's criticisms are justified, they have no problem agreeing with him and in fact have nothing but praise for his earlier works. Recommended for all libraries.
—Augustine J. Curley

Does God Exist? November/December 2007
"You cannot argue with the McGraths' credentials or the content of this book. It is very well done."
November/December 2007 - Does God Exist?
"You cannot argue with the McGraths' credentials or the content of this book. It is very well done."
New Man
"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."
Christianity Today
"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."
Jim Miller Review
"Alister and Joanna McGrath offer a meaty book without all the gratuitous gristle, clearly making their points."
Deinde blog
"You cannot help but be impressed with the depth of scholarship which the McGraths bring to this discussion--something markedly different than Dawkins."
M.F. in Libraries Alive
"Alister McGrath provides an excellent rebuttal to Dawkin's arguments against God and religion. Scholarly, yes but also very readable for lay people."
Mark D. Barret
"[T]he McGraths' book is an effective response."
Cliff Martin
"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."
David von Schlichten
"[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."
Enrichment Journal
"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."
"What's New on the Bookshelf" with Shirley Updyke
"This book will be warmly received by those who are looking for a real assessment of The God Delusion."
Rowan Williams
"Alister McGrath invariably combines enormous scholarship with an accessible and engaging style."
Michael Ruse
"The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why."
Owen Gingerich
"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."
Doctor - Timothy Johnson
"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."
Francis Collins
"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."
David G. Myers
"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."
M. F. in Libraries Alive
"Alister McGrath provides an excellent rebuttal to Dawkin's arguments against God and religion. Scholarly, yes but also very readable for lay people."
Dr. Timothy Johnson
"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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830837212
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2010
  • Series: Veritas Books
  • Pages: 119
  • Sales rank: 826,786
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Alister McGrath (D.Phil., Oxford University) holds the chair of theology, ministry and education and is head of the Centre for Theology, Religion & Culture at King's College, London. He was previously professor of historical theology at Oxford University and is president of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. He is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world, and his works have been translated into twenty-four languages. His many scholarly articles have appeared in leading academic journals, and he is the author of many books including Christianity's Dangerous Idea and The Dawkins Delusion?

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 Meeting Jesus: Human Responses to a Yearning God.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Deluded About God?
2. Has Science Disproved God?
3. What Are the Origins of Religion?
4. Is Religion Evil?
Notes For Further Reading About the Authors

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 3, 2009

    Another fake ex-atheist

    The moment a so-called ex-atheist writes about atheists being god-haters is the moment they prove they have never understood the atheist mind. They were, at best, weak Christians/theists. You have to believe in a god in order to hate it, that would make the god-haters actual believers or theists, not atheists. This is a projection of the Christian mind. Why they would pose as ex-atheists? It is to try and add false authority to their statements about atheists. This is just another way Christians have found to tell us who and what we are instead of just asking us.

    17 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2010

    Dawkins is deluded!

    This was a very simple and concise analysis of Dawkins' approaches/arguments in the God Delusion. While McGrath doesn't really make a case for religion, he does point out the extreme bias and denial Dawkins makes in his writings. I encourage everyone to read this and understand how fundamentalism exists in all worldviews, including atheism, and no matter how much one wants their view to be correct, if evidence is ignored there simply is no case.
    McGrath certainly casts a distasteful light on Dawkins (no doubt because of Dawkins' radical and often unsupported statements). That is the only problem I had with this book. Nonetheless, it's one to be read...it's precise, logical, and offers insightful interpretation for readers to knowingly analyze and sort out information others present.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Numerous errors in logic for such a short (90 page or so) book

    Early in the book, atheists are referred to as God haters. Sigh, if the authors meant this literally, then they have a lot to learn about atheism. Atheism is non-belief in a deity. You cannot hate someone you don't believe in. I am not sure if that line was just a throw away line of red meat to appeal to those who dislike atheists to begin with. After all many Christian conservatives are actually of the opinion that atheists really do believe in a deity but they are just denying it so they can engage in immoral or amoral actions. Which of course is total rubbish but common among the rightwing who views nonbelievers as cowards on a battlefield, ie, "no atheists in foxholes."

    The authors disagree with Dawkins (and mine) that faith is belief in something without evidence. But, the authors give no evidence in counter to this position. I hear some Christian apologists (such as the authors of this book) who take a more intellectual view of religion, but as Dawkins and a number of atheists have pointed out, the more intellectual view of religion is in the distinct minority. So, when Dawkins, Hitchens etc are citicizing religion they are actually criticizing the real religious views of the majority of Christians. The Christian right is (unfortunately) a powerful institution and their beliefs and how they impact society are definately up for criticism. Views of a few Christian PhDs in theology who have no political power are just not relevent in the "cultural wars" of greater society as those who follow Pat Robertson. Lastly, this book is marked at $17 for a short 90 page book? It should be half that cost at that. It's more of a long essay.

    The authors agree that the "god of the gaps" argument (which says something in nature can only be explained by a deity) is wrong because it has proven time and time again to be wrong. See, god of the gaps was once used to explain volcanos, earthquakes etc. Indeed, the Christian right still often blame well explained and well known natural events on a deity's wrath. They do this in lieu of say, reading a science book. But, the authors of this book ask why should explanations work? Basically why can we have the ability to explain action x through say the scientific method. To me it is real simple. We observe a natural event and all the data we can observe about it. We can test it through various experiments. That a tornado is two different air temperature pockets (simplistic rendering of course) meeting and how we can observe this by observation somehow is proof or evidence or shows the necessity of a deity I have no idea. Not only do I disagree with this, I can't even understand the logic behind the belief.

    The authors mention the argument against a deity by Dawkins (and others) that a deity would very probably be more complex then what he created. Such as the universe of life. This argument is not really challenged but dodged, a common occurence throughout the book. I will give the book two stars because next to some on the Christian right, this is a much better or written book.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Choir

    An interesting read if you are already informed on Richard Dawkins and his works.

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Concise and insightful read

    This author outlines and documents the changing tone in Richard Dawkins' successive books. He is even-handed about the problematic issues raised in the Watchmaker, but fairly criticizes Dawkins as his philosophy and supposition move away from logical thought to the point where even atheists seek to distance themselves from him in The God Delusion. McGrath also accurately points out the logical flaws in Dawkin's theories, stated as fact, so this was a very enjoyable read for me. I highly recommend it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2010

    The Truth At Last

    The McGrath team hit the nail right on the head about Dawkins!!! All Christians need to pray for his soul, which he so foolishly disregards.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Large gaps in logic are everywhere in this book. The author seem

    Large gaps in logic are everywhere in this book. The author seems to me to be another false ex- atheist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted May 19, 2009

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    Posted March 22, 2011

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    Posted May 26, 2009

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    Posted November 24, 2012

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    Posted April 4, 2009

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