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Dawkins' God Hardcover – 18 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (18 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140512539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405125390
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 1.5 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,710,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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“In this book McGrath does a good job of condemning aspects of Dawkins’ zealotry but in the process does much to condemn his own arguments as well.”  ( Journal of Religious History , 20 January 2014) "The book is important for a number of reasons ... Dawkins′ God ends with a valuable and more general chapter on science and religion, emphasising the limitations of the human mind." (The Journal of SJT, 2012) "Dawkins is disposed of with panache, and with McGrath′s ususal clarity and conciseness." ( Theology ) "Lucid and brief, without being perfunctory or dismissive, and fulfils the role of guide to the educated layperson without eliciting boredom from the academic familiar with the field ... The end result of this effort by McGrath is that, once again, I would have no hesitation in recommending the book as a basic text for A–level or first–year undergraduate students looking for their appetite to be whetted for a number of connected fields of scholarship, or indeed for the ′educated layperson′ seeking a grasp of the issues without having to wade through hundreds of pages of science and theology ... A very finely judged piece of writing." ( Kaleidoscope ) "With clear and incisive argumentation, McGrath takes Dawkins on and exposes many of the weaknesses in his case for atheism." ( Reformed Theological Journal )


" In Dawkins′ God , McGrath has written a brilliant book, and it is difficult to think that the exposition of Dawkins′ writings and their religious implications, will ever be better stated, explored and criticised... at once dispassionate, robust and readable." –Richard Harries, Times Higher Education Supplement "Alister McGrath′s book Dawkins′ God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life does a fair and sophisticated job of summarising my position ." –Richard Dawkins, Times Higher Education Supplement "Wielding evolutionary arguments and carefully chosen metaphors like sharp swords, Richard Dawkins has emerged over three decades as this generation′s most aggressive promoter of atheism. In his view, science, and science alone, provides the only rock worth standing on. In this remarkable book, Alister McGrath challenges Dawkins on the very ground he holds most sacred – rational argument – and McGrath disarms the master. It becomes readily apparent that Dawkins has aimed his attack at a naive version of faith that most serious believers would not recognize. After reading this carefully constructed and eloquently written book, Dawkins′ choice of atheism emerges as the most irrational of the available choices about God′s existence." –Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project “ In this tour–de–force Alister McGrath approaches the edifice of self–confident, breezy atheism so effectively promoted by Richard Dawkins, and by deft dissection and argument reveals the shallowness, special–pleading and inconsistencies of his world–picture. Here is a book which helps to rejoin the magnificence of science to the magnificence of God’s good Creation.” –Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology, Cambridge University “This is a wonderful book. One of the world’s leading Christian contributors to the science/religion dialogue takes on Richard Dawkins, Darwinism’s arch–atheist, and wrestles him to the ground! This is scholarship as it should be – informed, feisty, and terrific fun. I cannot wait to see Dawkins’s review of Alister McGrath’s critique.” –Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University “ A timely and accessible contribution to the debate over Richard Dawkins’s cosmology which exposes philosophical naivety, the abuse of metaphor, and sheer bluster, left, right and centre. Here Alister McGrath announces what every Darwinian Fundamentalist needs to hear: that science is and always has been a cultural practice that is provisional, fallible, and socially shaped – an enterprise to be cultivated and fostered, but hardly worshipped or idolised. A devastating critique.” –David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History, Queen’s University, Belfast “Alister McGrath critically examines the places where Richard Dawkins’ well–established biological science changes into the speculations which undergird Dawkins’ own anti–religious faith. In his appreciative examination and ruthless analysis of Dawkins writings and the polemics associated with them, McGrath has done a marvellous apologetic job, as well as providing a particular service for those daunted by scientific authoritarianism. We are all in his debt for rigorously identifying and exposing the weaknesses of some of the commonly used arguments against the Christian faith.” –R. J. Berry, formerly Professor of Genetics, University College, London and President of the Linnean Society “Alister McGrath subjects the atheistic world–view of Richard Dawkins to critical analysis and finds it severely lacking in intellectual rigour. As a former atheist himself, and a biochemist turned theologian and philosopher, the author is well placed to appreciate Dawkins’ well–deserved reputation as a populariser of evolutionary theory, but equally well qualified to assess his stratagem of using a biological theory for ideological purposes. This book is essential reading for those interested in the traffic of ideas between science, philosophy and religion.” –Dr Denis Alexander, Chairman, Molecular Immunology Programme, The Babraham Institute and Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge

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3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Arquebusier1572 on 7 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading many of the other reviews of this book, it's pretty clear that most had their minds made up before they ever opened it. I don't recognize in many of the hostile reviews the book that I read. This probably shows that both Dawkins and McGrath are inevitably preaching to the choir, to use a religious metaphor - that Dawkins (writing about religion) will persuade many zealous atheists, despite the (sometimes almost unbelievable!) superficiality of his analysis, and that McGrath will persuade many devout Christians, despite the circularity of some of his arguments.
So, having said all that, Dawkins' God is a lucidly written book, which homes in relentlessly on the weaknesses in Dawkins' treatment of religion - it's strength is that it covers a wide range of Dawkins' writings (rather than just book - a number of Amazon reviewers seem to have missed this, terming Dawkins' God a rebuttal of The God Delusion - read the footnotes!). Its weaknesses are threefold, I think.
First is that at times McGrath on Dawkins is guilty of the same sin as Dawkins on religion - he asserts without sufficient evidence. Yes, this is a short book, for general readers, but some more substantiation is needed of claims about the nature of faith. McGrath is doubtless right that many university-based theologians don't treat faith as simplistic, which is one of Dawkins' major arguments, and very annoying to the many Christians who do blend faith and reason. But there are also many religious people who DO have a very simple faith - and in fact many Christians, at any rate, are proud of that, and actively try to promote simple and simplistic faith, rejecting any use of reason or science.
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An excellent book by someone who has both the scientific and the theological understanding to explain and engage with Dawkins. He shows up the difference between Dawkins' meticulous accuracy in matters scientific and his cavalier approach to faith in general and Christianity in particular, which he has not taken much trouble to understand.
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I might as well come clean straight away - I'm an unashamed fan of Alister McGrath. He has helped me - a scientist - to become convinced of the rationale for faith and the intellectual integrity of the Bible . My debt to him, and to Francis Collins, Denis Alexander, John Lennox and the BioLogos community is immeasurable. All have greatly influenced my world-view and strengthened my faith, but it is perhaps with Alister that I can identify most closely because I've heard him speak on more than one occasion, and he has patiently and graciously answered my questions. So I didn't come to this book as an entirely "neutral" reader.

Nevertheless, I seriously believe that this book will challenge even the most committed "New Atheist", and clarify the thinking of Christians, too. One of McGrath's real strengths is his ability to speak to the academic in a style nonetheless accessible to the intelligent lay-reader, and in that regard this book is a real tour-de-force. I definitely recommend reading what Dawkins himself has to say in The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker first, however, since this book specifically addresses those. And it seems only fair to tackle The God Delusion, too. But for those who feel that is all a bit too much, there is the excellent full debate between Dawkins and McGrath available on Youtube to set the stage for understanding them both.
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This book was recommended to me by someone who disagreed with much that Dawkins has written. I found its arguments very clearly discussed and illustrated with much interesting detail. A very enjoyable read.
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133 of 184 people found the following review helpful By J. Knight on 23 Oct 2006
Format: Paperback
Alistair McGrath wrote this before Richard Dawkins brought out "The God Delusion", and it will be interesting to see later revisions because Dawkins answers many of his points. However, The God Delusion is, for the most part, a more thorough articulation of points Dawkins has made in various other forums, so McGrath's book remains mostly relevant.

I recommend this book, it is, with momentary exceptions, an enjoyable read, and a good introduction to the wonderful world of modern liberal Protestant theology. The language is accessible except where McGrath is forced to descend into the obscurantist world of theo-babble. McGrath's arguments against Dawkins are about as sophisticated as they get. And therefore it is extremely interesting how totally unsatisfactory, in fact rather pathetic, they are.

McGrath starts with a precis of the mechanism of Darwinian evolution, and of Richard Dawkins' work that is correctly described by Dawkins himself as admirable. He has criticisms of Dawkins' sometimes confrontational approach that is, to some extent, justified. His criticism of Dawkins' idea of 'memes' is understandable. But you may already be seeing where the problem is; while his arguments are without doubt more sophisticated, the actual points being made are just the same as everyone trots out whenever they're criticising Dawkins: he is arrogant, his meme theory is flawed, he is claiming authority beyond his qualifications, and his characterisation of religion is a flimsy strawman. None of these really address the arguments made and are distinctly unsatisfying.

The claim of authority, for instance, presupposes that there is a qualification one must obtain before one can legitimately comment on religion.
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