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Dawkins' GOD: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life Paperback – November 15, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405125381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405125383
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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)

"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

"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

"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

Review

"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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


More About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity's Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 111 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Freeman on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Many of the other reviews cover the material in the book well, so I thought I would just add one tidbit of info.

It is interesting to me that McGrath and Dawkins are colleagues at Oxford. In a recent lecture in an apologetics course, Prof. McGrath stated that before this work was published, he sent the manuscript over to Prof. Dawkins for approval, to ensure that he had represented Dawkins' views correctly.

While Prof. Dawkins obviously did not agree with the conclusions, he gave approval to the portrayal of his own views in this book. Would that more people on boths sides of this debate would take such care to make sure they are not arguing staw-men!
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120 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Omer Belsky on September 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
First thing's first; Alister McGraith is an enlightened, educated, informed Christian apologetic; I might be demonstrating nothing but my own prejudice here, but I rarely encounter such credible theistic advocates; While I often disagree with McGraith, and I think that he sometimes entirely misses the atheist's serve, his legs are planted firmly in the playing field.

McGraith offers the first book length critique of biologist Richard Dawkins' atheistic philosophy. Remarkably, he hardly addresses the main arguments Dawkins raises against theism. Instead, McGraith launches all out attack on Dawkins's weakest arguments, while ignoring the best of them. McGraith similarly ignores atheists like Daniel Dennett, who offer substantial criticism of theism similar to Dawkins's, but more sophisticated. Since Dennett's brilliant "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" can be characterized as one long diatribe against God, ignoring Dawkins's chief academic supporter is surprising (Dennett is mentioned 3 times, on points unrelated to his atheistic views). McGraith also spends much of the book on irrelevant asides, like an examination of Darwin's religious views, a detailed critique of Dawkins' concept of memes, and the history of Science and Religion.

McGraith's strongest attack regards the argument from Design. Darwinian evolution offers a crashing counter argument for the famous theistic argument from design -that God is the only possible explanation for the complexity we see around us (also known as "the Watchmaker argument"). McGraith correctly points out that the failure of the Watchmaker argument does not disprove the existence of God - merely the weakness of one argument.
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178 of 254 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on February 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
If T.H. Huxley was "Darwin's bulldog" just over a century ago, surely Richard Dawkins would be Darwin's pit bull terrier today. A leading proponent of neo-Darwinism, Dawkins is just as famous for his aggressive, almost obsessive, promotion of atheism. His many well-written books and articles have made him a formidable proponent of both Darwinian theory and secular humanism.

Yet to date no book-length critique of Dawkins has appeared from a biblical point of view. Until now that is. The just-released Dawkins' God is an important assessment and critique of Dawkins and his crusade against religion. While McGrath respects and admires Dawkins when he sticks to the realm of science, it is when Dawkins wanders out of the domain of science, attacking religion in the name of science, that McGrath shows his very real shortcomings.

Thus this book is not so much a critique of Darwinism as a critique of philosophy and ideology masquerading as science. Dawkins should know as well as anyone that science has limits, and questions of God's existence do not fall within those limits. Yet the works of Dawkins are permeated with emotive and irrational attacks on faith and religion. This misuse and abuse of science by Dawkins in this regard is a major theme of this volume.

McGrath begins by analysing Dawkins' work on genes. For Dawkins, genes are everything, or at least they can account for everything. Thus Dawkins takes neo-Darwinism as an explanation of observable natural phenomena, and elevates it to a worldview, an all-embracing metanarrative. Again, he takes science where it was never meant to go.

McGrath analyses this further in the false disjunction Dawkins time and again sets up: one either lives by blind faith or the facts and evidence of science.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Watrous on December 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I stated in a review of Dawkins' book RIVER OUT OF EDEN he is a teriffic writer and terffic scientists. On the other hand he is not a good critic of religion. Dr. Alister McGrath shows why in this book. In a mostly disspassionate style McGrath expresses some really interesting ideas. He explains Dawkins' science very well and the good aspects about his science. He then critiques Dawkins' criticism of religion and shows many of the flaws. One of the major flaws is that Dawkins critiques Pailey's view of God"Tthe Watchmaker" as the only view of God and shows it's flaws. Dawkins is correct in showing the weaknesses of that theologically understanding of God and McGrath and many theologians agree with him on that. Unfortunately Dawkins does not really have any knowledge of other theological views of God. Another problem that McGrath shows is that Dawkins is ignorant of theology (Christian or otherwise) and is ignorant of the history of religion and religious ideas (Christian and otherwise). McGrath also points out some of the flaws in Mementic theory. Finally, McGrath shows the flaws in the belief that science and religion are at war with each other. Obviously, there have been and, sadly, still are tensions between science and religion, but there has also been mutual understanding between them that Dawkins ignores. McGrath does not write this book to prove that God is real or religion is true; he writes it to show that Dawkins' view on religion and God is flawed. In this his book is successful.
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