on 12 April 2011
Alistair McGrath is always worth reading. In recent years he has written a number of excellent critiques of the "New Atheism" of people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. As a convert from atheism he has an insight into the fallacies of that movement which he exposes with great skill. In this book, though, his horizons are broader and more focussed on Christianity. His purpose is to show that Christian belief is rational, reasonable, is in accord with the world we see around us and - most importantly - makes good sense of that world. He is particularly clear that, whatever religious perspective one might come from - including Atheism - we feel driven to create patterns of meaning in what we see around us, and that those patterns of meaning always spring from unprovable beliefs
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.
In the book he looks at different aspects of the Christian world view, using the lens of science and theology. The book is based on a series of lectures in London, Scotland and Hong Kong delivered between 2009 and 2010. This time the book includes an index. This is vintage McGrath with a wider range of topics than his recent books on the New Atheism; as usual he is a very enjoyable read. Here are the chapter headings:
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.
This is an excellent book. It shows the coherence of the Christian worldview, and how meaning naturally arises from our encounter with the wonders of the world. The incoherence of athiest viewpoints that "it's just the way it is around this universe" is well shown.
McGrath has written this book well, arguing through to his conclusions gradually, and acknowledging other views both for and against his own.
I can recommend this book to other readers, particularly Christians for enjoyment and education. Atheists will mostly dislike this book, as it is dismantling their pieties and certainties in a thorough and well argued manner.
on 9 February 2012
An excellent review of the current position of Neo-Darwenism and the New Atheists. The book makes a reasoned claim that whilst science is neutral with regard to proof or otherwise of a creator, there are clear pointers suggesting an intelligence behind creation, refuting the claim of of the new atheists that Darwen has destroyed religeon. One problem with the book is that a dictionary is necassary whilst reading it.
on 20 September 2012
Despite being a stringing together of already existing material, McGrath has woven a persuasive and intelligible argument counteracting the secularists' assertion that the universe does not (can not) display signs of purpose. By its nature the book cannot count as a deep exploration of the issues, and because of this might well be open to challenge from his opponents on a number of points, but as a general, and readable, introduction to the issues involved it is to be welcomed.
on 30 April 2013
This is quite interesting book, not best by the author. In this interesting piece McGrath explore big questions from science to theology which is raised in our culture - how science is related to meaning, what is it meaning of life, what is relation of traditional religious concepts and modern scientific discoveries. Nice start for anyone interested in this questions.