Surprised by Meaning Paperback – 12 Oct 2010
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"McGrath provides a crisp, readable, and deeply personal witness to Christian faith in the age of science. Easily dismissing the unreasonable and self-contradictory beliefs of the 'new atheists,' McGrath's book offers an inspiring theological vision, one that can make very good sense of contemporary scientific discoveries." John F. Haught, Georgetown University, and author of God and the New Atheism and Making Sense of Evolution
About the Author
Alister E. McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College in London. A world-renowned theologian and Christian communicator, he is the author of numerous influential books, including The Dawkins Delusion, Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution--A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First and A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (WJK).
Top customer reviews
One weakness the book has, though, is that its origins as a set of separate lectures is sometimes a little too obvious. The progression from one chapter to the next is not always as smooth as it might be and occasionally we find ourselves reading the same thing several times over.
1. Looking at the big picture
2. Longing to make sense of things
3. Patterns on the shore of the universe
4. How we make sense of things
5. Musings of a lapsed atheist (here he looks at the New Atheism)
6. Beyond the scientific horizon
7. A Christian viewpoint
8. The deep structure of the universe (here he looks at the Anthropic Principle)
9. The mystery of the possibility of life (a further look at the Anthropic Principle)
10. The accidents of biological history? (a look at Darwinism)
11. History, culture and faith.
12. The heart's desire: Longing for significance
13. Surprised by meaning
NB My copy of the book has 136 pages not the 112 pages as shown on Amazon.
I am left to ponder how many more rebuttals of New Atheism it is necessary to read however; the driving force of New Atheism seems to have demonstrably lost the intellectual credentials it aspired to portray that would set it apart from religious thinking. There are perhaps other writers to engage with now, not least other more incisive atheist writers.
This book provides some nice short overviews of areas of the philosophy of science and in particular the anthropic principle. For me it provides a good summary and a pointer to other books for further study.
I am perplexed about the emphasis on Christianity however. In the book McGrath makes numerous statements about this or that aspect supporting the Trinitarian viewpoint contained in Christian theology. I could not see that however; he appeared to be making pro-theist arguments or more specifically those consistent with the Abrahamic faiths, but rarely until the very end of the book was Christ specifically mentioned to support this pro-Christian argument.
I am not a Christian, but seek out serious pro-theist perspectives in the science/ philosophy and religion area. Since many writers in English are Christian a certain Christian bias is inevitable; but such arguments rarely depend on Christian theology to the exclusion of other viewpoints. If I was not familiar with McGrath's previous work, this over-emphasis (in my view) on Christianity in the book reviews would have made me dismiss this book as a simple apologetic. As a single example, even the quotes from CS Lewis in the book are pro-theist in outlook rather than pro-Christian!
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