Customer Review

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Practice what you preach, 30 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine (Paperback)
This short book is several times longer than its content justifies.
In 'The God Delusion' (TGD) Richard Dawkins (RD) clearly states 'That you cannot disprove the existence of God is accepted and trivial.'
He even has a chapter 'Why there is almost cerainly no God.' He also clearly states that religion is not 'the root of all evil'.
Alister McGrath (AM) devotes over half of 'The Dawkins Delusion' (TDD) to arguing that (1) you cannot disprove the existence of God and (2) religion is not the root of all evil, and then has the chutzpah to claim this as a triumphant refutation.

He seems deeply confused over the nature of atheism. He makes a great deal of his conversion from atheism to Christianity - 'I was an atheist in the late 1960's' and 'the truth and relevance of atheism as a young man.' AM was born in 1953 - in the late 1960's he was in his early to mid teens - certainly a schoolboy, barely a youth, and certainly not a 'young man'. His ideas of atheism seem locked in at this level of maturity - how else could he commit such a howler as RD 'preaching to choirs of God-hating atheists.'? How can you hate something which does not exist? He continually refers to faith and fundamentalism as applying to atheism - but these relate to a belief system - and atheism is hardly a belief system - unless you call asking 'where's the evidence?' one.

When AM admonishes RD for doubting the sincerity of Freeman Dyson becuase 'he was a Christian who wasn't particularly interested in the doctrine of the Trinity', he is being economical with the truth. FD actually stated 'I am content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels' and 'I do not make a clear distinction between mind and God.'
There will be many who doubt that FD is a 'true believer', - but what interesting ommisions by AM.

AM also degrades both himself and FD by endorsing - by repeating - FD's statement that 'Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were avowed atheists.'
AM and FD sem to equate anti-Christian with atheism.
It is easy to find quotations from Hitler showing him to be (1) a committed Christian and (2) a dedicated anti-Christian, - but his belief in providence and/or destiny never seems to have wavered - concepts which imply a guiding higher power - hardly atheistic.
Stalin was almost certainly an atheist, but his atrocities were directed at a competing authority system, not simply because he was an atheist. Even today, you are much more likely to be killed because of your beliefs by a believer of another faith than by an atheist.

AM is also selective when he quotes RD.
'The God I know and love is described by Dawkins as insipid, summed up in the 'mawkishly nauseating' idea of Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. While some readers will take offence at this description, this is probably the mildest criticism of religion in the book.'
RD actually wrote 'To be fair, this milksop persona owes more to his Victorian followers than to Jesus himself. Could anything be more mawkishly nauseating than Mrs C F Alexanders 'Christian children all must be/ mild, obedient, good as he'?
RD also wrote 'Indeed Jesus, if he existed (or whoever wrote his script if he didn't) was surely one of the great ethical innovators of history .' and 'Perhaps because I don't live in America, most of my hate mail is not quite in the same league, but nor does it display to advantage the charity for which the founder of Christianity was notable.'

When RD gives his now-famous description of the God of the O.T. - every word of which can be easily justified, AM writes that this is not the God that he, or anyone he knows, knows. Maybe not, but 44% of Americans (Gallup 2008) believe thatb God created human beings pretty much in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years. Some high-level evangelists attributed hurricane Katrina to divine judgement on the lifestyles in New Orleans. AM classes these as a lunatic fringe. Lunatic maybe.

AM also accuses RD of being selective in his treatment of the O.T. If so, it is as nothing to AM's transgressions. He claims that the Pentateuch shows forgiveness and compassion, setting limits on acts of revenge (whatever happened to 'an eye for an eye') and prohibiting slavery - Leviticus 25.
Leviticus 25,39-42 does prohibit slavery, but only for fellow Jews. Leviticus 25,44-46 instructs (not merely permits) the aquisition of slaves from 'the nations that are round about you' and 'the children of the strangers that sojourn among you' and emphasises that these are possesions, to be passed on as an inheritance.

AM also shows an apparent lack of biblical knowledge when he mocks RD and memes. 'Yet has anyone actually seen these things, whether leaping from brain to brain or just hanging out?' The only implication - if you cannot see it - it doesn't exist. John 1,18 'No man has seen God, at any time' Own-goal McGrath scores again!

AM claims that Jesus did not display an in-group mentality - Matthew 15,24 comparing a Caananite woman, and all her tribe aa dogs.
He also claims that Jesus never hurt anyone - but he cursed to sterility a fig tree which had no figs - though it was not the season for figs Mark 11,13-14 and 20-21. What sort of person would cut down an apple tree because it bore no fruit in mid-winter?

AM describes 'Dawkins method : ridicule, distort, belittle and demonize. Still, at least it will give Christian readers an idea of the lack of scholarly objectivity or basic human sense of fairness which now pervades atheistic fundamentalism'

Ridicule memes
Distort Dawkins view of Jesus
Demonize Hitler and Stalin as atheists
Belittle RD's biblical knowledge (almost as bad as AM's)
Scholarly objectivity and fairness systematic, selective partial quotations.

Again and again AM levels accusations at RD which are not only false, but easily shown to be so. The ones listed above are only a representative sample - try comparing the two books regarding Einstein, Swinburne and Rees.
These accusations include ' substituting turbocharged rhetoric and highly selective facts for careful evidence-based thinking.....let readers draw their own conclusions about the overall reliability of his evidence and judgement.'

AM is dscribed as a prolific author. Perhaps if he wrote less and read more - I suggest he starts with The God Delusion
and the Bible - he would shoot himself in the foot less often. As it is, he hasn't a leg to stand on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Sep 2012 09:57:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Sep 2012 10:07:44 BDT
Astrodan says:
A good, pithy review. I've since got a copy of this after reading 'The God Delusion', and am struggling to find the willpower to finish it.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details



Top Reviewer Ranking: 83,533