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Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; Original edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664236928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664236922
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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).

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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It is great reading for anyone interested in the topic.
Libby
It's a complex topic that is expertly presented in an informative and easily understandable fashion.
Sam A.
McGrath is the best of the current English writers in the tradition of C.S. Lewis.
Gary D. Patterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bruggink on April 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on material originally presented in a number of lectures given by Alister McGrath in 2009 and 2010. Some of the material in this book appeared previously in chapters 7 and 11 of McGrath's book "The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind".

McGrath describes this short and very readable book as an exploration of "the deep human desire . . . to make sense of things." He examines the need for clues to a deeper level of meaning, the nature of faith, the scientific method, the flaws in the arguments of the New Atheists, the limits of science, and the human desire for more than science can provide. The book also includes brief discussions of the beginning of the universe, the anthropic cosmological principle, fine tuning at the biological level, the implications of developments in the anthropic principle, design/convergence in evolution, and how Christianity makes sense of history, culture, and faith. McGrath points out that the conclusion that we are here by accident is not demanded by evolutionary biology itself, but by adding an aggressive and dogmatic atheism to biology.

While recognizing that there is more to Christianity than trying to make sense of things, McGrath (a former atheist) argues that Christianity involves believing that certain things are true and that Christianity provides a framework which makes more sense of the world than does atheism. Throughout the book McGrath supports his points with excellent illustrations and a relevant selection of quotations from philosophers and others. The book includes 11 pages of Notes and an 8-page Index.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a brief and well written description of the impact of science on Christianity and a critique of the New Atheism.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By rossuk on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gary D. Patterson on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who have never read anything by Alister McGrath, this is a great place to start. For regular readers of his
work, this is like a well aged wine. McGrath is the best of the current English writers in the tradition of C.S. Lewis.
Serious thinking at the highest level. Origen would be proud!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 1, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a recent Christian convert from the "New" Atheism I find Professor Mcgrath's book to be a extremely well-written and persuasive book on the Christian worldview and how it relates to Post-Modern society. The only downside I can think of is that a few of the books arguments were covered in The Dawkin's Delusion (A title that had to be picked by publishers to incite controversy as I doubt Mcgrath has a mean bone in his body. Seriously He's the Mr.Rodgers of Christian apologists)but even so they are brought into greater detail in this book.
I also highly recommend "The Twilight of Atheism".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wordsworth on August 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a gift from a dear friend with a deeply spiritual soul. As a writer it seems to me that we are seeking to make sense of the absurd dichotemy between what we can reasonably discern and harsh, cruel reality as it so often exists. Essentially, we can undertake two options: 1) try to make sense of our existential condition by the use of our reason and science 2) find a lens that takes us beyond our reason. Atheists seem to prefer Option 1 and denounce as intellectually dishonest Option 2. My personal preference is to follow Option 1 until life makes no sense and then to kick into Option 2 through the use of faith. Having once been an atheist as a younger man, I commonly found it maddening that reason was so limited in the face of life's great mysteries. Isn't it reasonable to assume that as one human being in a vast universe millions of light years in its range that one's reason cannot possibly understand everything. In other words it is the mark of a highly reasonable human being to understand the limits of one's reason. So what does do about what lies beyond reason? Surely, faith is a reasonable approach to transcend reason when reason hits the wall. Faith is more robust and takes one further than reason when reason reaches its limits. Science and reason alone have never brought me personal meaning. Science can explain the facts of existence but it, too, has a blind faith in itself as a panacea. To find true meaning one needs a lens and faith offers one which enables one to look beyond superficial facts, even complex and elegant discoveries of science, into the real existential questions: 1) Who am I? 2) Do I matter? 3) Why am I here? 4) Can I make a difference? A person using the lens of faith can answer these four existential questions about the meaning of life.Read more ›
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