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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humble and Insightful
I've read many of Alister McGrath's books and I must say that this is one of my favorites. The book is essentially a 'situation report' of the New Atheism in our society. I actually had the day off when it came in the mail so I walked over to my local dunken donuts and read the entire thing in one sitting (not recommended!).

The book isn't very complicated, but...
Published on May 5, 2011 by Maxon A. Bruno

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad. McGrath could be more detailed, but I think he accomplishes what he set out to do.
McGrath, Alister. Why God Won't Go Away: Is The New Atheism Running on Empty? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Allister McGrath attempts to tackle what has been one of the most prominent trends of the first decade of the 21st century: Neo-atheism. The entire first section of the book is dedicated to explaining what neo-atheism is, and a number of neo-atheist...
Published on February 12, 2012 by Matthew Hamilton


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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humble and Insightful, May 5, 2011
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Maxon A. Bruno (State College PA) - See all my reviews
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I've read many of Alister McGrath's books and I must say that this is one of my favorites. The book is essentially a 'situation report' of the New Atheism in our society. I actually had the day off when it came in the mail so I walked over to my local dunken donuts and read the entire thing in one sitting (not recommended!).

The book isn't very complicated, but that in no way takes away from what you can learn from it! I think McGrath is very fair with his analysis and avoids immature jabs against its supporters. I was particularly happy with the attention paid to the online atheist community. This shows me that McGrath is with the times!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in current religious movements. This is a powerful aid to any Christian. Even agnostics (more so those who are on the fence) will definitely find this an interesting read.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Irony of New Atheism, August 16, 2011
In Why God Won't Go Away, Alister challenges the beliefs embraced by four main writers: Richard Dawkins, Daniel C Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hutchins. He refers to them as "The Four Horsemen" , the result of an informal discussion among the four in 2007.

I believe the best way to understand someone's point of view is to read what they write. Alister not only reads their books, he challenges them in debate and interacts with them in online communities. He isn't another Christian talking about what he thinks he knows; he truly knows what he thinks. This allowed me confidence in the validity of the book's content matter.

The beauty of the book is the atheists' own words are used against them. Alister exposes the flaws, weaknesses and irony in their logic. For example, Christopher Hitchens believes religion causes fanaticism, thus it needs to be eradicated. Ironically in an interview he proclaims Mother Teresa a fraud and "a shame there is no hell for her to go to". If the lack of religion is supposed to be a higher level of thinking, why would you say something this primitive?

I have read a few apologetic books before and found them condescending; this is not that type of a book. Alister treats the authors with respect. The book does lack scriptural arguments that would make this a truly apologetic resource. However, I don't believe this would be helpful for use in an apologetic setting. In my experience, it's been said "The Bible is a fairy-tale and no amount of scripture I can quote will make a difference".

The book is not an easy read, but it is also not textbook-dry. I ended the book with more questions; which is as it should be. I would recommend this book for high school and college students as well as adults.

I received this book through book blogging program. The opinions are my own.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful summary of the New Atheist Movement, December 1, 2011
I have often heard about what both people inside and outside of the church have referred to as the "New Atheism", and each time it has been mentioned, I have been foggy about what the term meant. For this reason I picked up Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath. What I discovered was a cogent, clearly written summary of the New Atheism, as well as some simple to understand criticisms and objections to the philosophy that informs the New Atheists.

McGrath begins this book by identifying the key leaders in the New Atheist movement. Then he distinguishes the unique characteristics of the movement, especially in relationship to more traditional forms of atheism. Then McGrath goes in depth about the identifying arguments and attitudes of the New Atheists. He ends the book by questioning the future of New Atheists, and plotting the future of thinking Christianity in light of living in a world where the "New Atheism" has a strong influence.

What I found unique about the New Atheism is the fervor of its leaders. One of the arguments of many of these men is that religion is not just wrong, but in fact religion is destructive and evil. Much of this line of argument, although being around among average people for a long time, gains new steam after the violence of 9-11 by religious Islamic fundamentalists. A traditional atheist believes that Christianity is illogical, and focuses on reason. The "New Atheist" aggressively seeks to evangelize people to be atheists because they believe that religious faith must be destroyed. They believe that religious faith is dangerous. The "New Atheists" tend to attempt to be logical, but in fact much of the "new atheism" is polemical, and calls their disciples to aggressively fight against the wretched religious folks.

This book is kind-hearted and grace-filled. It is also a book full of strong Christian conviction regarding the truth about God's existence and the gospel of Jesus. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with issues about whether there is a God. I would also especially commend this book to believers who are struggling with doubt.

(this book was given by the publisher in exchange for an honest review)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Atheism Won't Run God Off!, August 10, 2013
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

A better title might be, "New Atheism Won't Run God Off!". I wasn't familiar with McGrath before reading this book but I have since seen his name around several theological volumes. Because of the title, I really looked forward to the opportunity Thomas Nelson gave me to review this book. It reminded me of Francis Schaeffer's book "God Is Hear and He Is Not Silent". Turns out this book is much more about New Atheism than it is a defense for confidence in God.

"The New Atheism is different. It's defined not so much by being white, male and middle class--though it is worth noting that its four leading representatives are all Anglo-Saxon Protestant males from remarkably similar backgrounds of privilege and power -- as by its anti-theism -- an intense anger against religion, which is held to poison everything Christopher Hitches puts it with a commendable conclusion: "I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist." This anti-theism is equally evident in the writing of the other "Four Horsemen." But surely this leads to the group defining itself by what it's against rather than what it's for." (McGrath, pg. 36)

McGrath quickly shows the heartbeat of New Atheism is really Anti-Theism. I was excited to learn that I was going to find good research into New Atheism and quickly dug into it. He does a good job of keeping it interesting and covering all the basics in an introductory manner.

I will keep this book around for whenever I want to "brush up" on this topic, the primary proponents and some basic weaknesses to explore.

McGrath breaks the book into three parts:
1. What is the New Atheism?
His approach is to first introduce us to the four men who have done the most to encourage this so called "new" form of atheism. By following simply biographies on these men we begin to see the personal character that is propelling them to such angry and cynical rhetoric. It is easy to then begin to understand the definition quoted earlier. Who are these "Four Horseman"?

A. Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith" (2004)
Harris argues that Faith provides an age of "weapons of mass destruction" to do truly evil things.

"Note that Harris's primary concern in "The End of Faith" is not to defend atheism but rather to portray religion as dangerous and deluded. Ideas that should be regarded as symptoms of mental illness--such as praying--are tolerated in Western culture simply because we've gotten used to them. Religious moderates blind society to the danger of religious extremists. The problem is not extremism or fanaticism as such but religion, which engenders such attitudes in the first place." (McGrath, pg. 5)

B. Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion" (2006)
Dawkins is a British writer who has taken great lengths to carve a niche out of carving up Biblical Theism.

"First, Dawkins declares that faith is fundamentally irrational. There's no evidence for the existence of God. Those who believe in God are therefore running away from reality, seeking consolation in a make-believe, fairy-tale world... Faith is "blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence." It's a "process of non-thinking" or "a persistently false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence." It's "evil precisely because it requires no justification, and brooks no argument." (McGrath, pg. 13)

C. Daniel Dennett, author of "Darwins Dangerous Idea" (1995)
Dennett is not nearly as abusive in his language and is thus less recognized. But his primary contribution to New Atheism lies in his efforts to explain belief in God as a result of evolution. He sees natural selection as the cause of man's desire to believe in a God that does not really exist. He chooses to start from this proposition rather than discovering that God does not exist empirically and then determining to explain why man persists belief in God.

D. Christopher Hitchens, the late author of "God Is Not Great" (2007)
McGrath says that Hitchens' book is, "by far the most entertaining of the New Atheist works. It's driven by a passionate anger about religion, unquestionably fueled in part by the events of 9/11. But it reveals a deeper anxiety, which I believe underlies the work of other New Atheist writers as well--namely the obstinate refusal to die out as predicted by secular theorists since the 1960s. God just won't go away." (McGrath, pg. 26)

This section of McGrath's work is very interesting. He does a good job of showing the inconsistency and ridiculous notions of Hitchens.

2. Engaging the New Atheism: Three Core Themes
In the next section McGrath gives us several key thoughts that expose the weaknesses in New Atheism philosophy. His primary points are:

A. Religion is a false universal.
The new atheist go to great lengths to talk about religion as if it is a universal concept. McGrath argues that individual religions exist but not a universal concept.

B. They refuse any rationality to religious faith.
The default position of New Atheism, in the proponents minds, does not need to be defended but is just accepted. (Sounds like blind faith.) Instead, they work from the position that there is no intelligent rationale for religious faith. McGrath engages this and just be exposing the often unspoken platform reveals the weaknesses of these arguments.

C. Science is based on evidence.
Finally, McGrath shows the fallacy of depending on science as arguments against faith when the New Atheist begins from a position of faith. Their faith is that God and faith are irrational. But they have no empirical evidence to conclude this. To be agnostic and doubt God is very different than to claim there is no God for with that claim you are claiming to have proof. Without proof, you simply have faith. We can argue how reasonable the faith is but that is all.

"In a sense, the natural sciences are the one remaining aspect of the Enlightenment project that has stood the test of time. The experimental method is universally valid and blind to the culture, race, religion, or gender of its researchers. But while science may use rational methods of investigation, most notably the careful accumulation of evidence through observation and experiment, it does from time to time witness developments that are deeply counter intuitive and seem completely irrational (quantum theory providing many choice examples). Yet the question a scientist will ask is not, "is this reasonable" but, "What are the reasons for thinking this is true?" (McGrath, pg. 108)

3. Where does the New Atheism go from here?
In this concluding section McGrath shows that "New Atheism" will not be widely accepted and is already on a steady decline. They gain a lot of attention with their angst and ridicule but have no long term arguments. Instead, God is not gone and is not in danger of going away anytime soon!

The facts are:
New Atheism is a flash of anger and cynicism.
It finds it greatest attention in the flamboyance of it's proponents.
God and religious faith are not in danger from it.

This is a very good book and I do recommend it. It will provide both a good introduction and a good resource for further engagement with the "New Atheism" movement.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad. McGrath could be more detailed, but I think he accomplishes what he set out to do., February 12, 2012
By 
McGrath, Alister. Why God Won't Go Away: Is The New Atheism Running on Empty? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Allister McGrath attempts to tackle what has been one of the most prominent trends of the first decade of the 21st century: Neo-atheism. The entire first section of the book is dedicated to explaining what neo-atheism is, and a number of neo-atheist authors are discussed, including Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins.

The book is divided into three major parts: (a) What Is the New Atheism, (b) Engaging the New Atheism: Three Core Themes, and (c) Where Does the New Atheism Go from Here? McGrath also writes an excellent introduction, includes numerous footnotes, and a great "further reading" list.

The first major part of the book, "What Is the New Atheism," is simply an introduction to the topic. The two chapters included in this section discuss how this movement started and what makes it "new" compared to "old" atheism. Basically, this school of thought moves away from simply not believing in God, to being anti-God; neo-atheists fervently attempt to "convert" Christians (and people belonging to other religious groups, be it Islam, Buddhism, or Judaism) to atheism. McGrath describes categories of atheism: (1) "apathetic" atheism, or agnosticism, (2) "committed atheists," or those who actively believe that there is no God, and (3) anti-theists, which is the category that the neo-atheists fall under. These people are often referred to as "militant" atheists, who are angry about the idea that people believe in God.

The second part of the book, "Engaging the New Atheism: Three Core Themes," approaches neo-atheism on three fronts: violence, reason, and science. The first, violence, stems from the idea that neo-atheists lump all religions into the non-existent universal category of "Religion," and then views "Religion" as the source of all violence and evil. McGrath takes the time to explore this view, and then challenge it with the idea that Christianity is founded on ideals of non-violence, while atheist states, such as the Soviet Union under Stalin, tended to be very violent, especially towards religious groups.

The next chapter, on the theme of reason, is probably my favorite chapter in the book. McGrath points out that many Christian philosophers, including Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and C.S. Lewis, have argued that faith should "justify itself by argument." Richard Dawkins, a leading neo-atheist, obviously disagrees with statements like "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence...faith is not allowed to justify itself by argument." The way McGrath plays the arguments of Dawkins and his ilk against Christian thinkers that point out obvious discrepancies in the neo-atheist thought process is very well done.

Science, the third chapter in this section, McGrath discusses the purposes of science, the limits of science, and how neo-atheists use science outside of its limits. Sam Harris, another leading neo-atheist, argues that science "can determine moral values...tell us what is right." Harris fails to realize what McGrath points out: "Religion engages with questions that lie beyond the scope of the scientific method - such as the existence of God, the meaning to life, and the nature of values." The hijacking of science by fundamentalist atheists is equally as bad as when fundamentalist Christians do the same thing; McGrath quotes Thomas H. Huxley, in that science "commits suicide when it adopts a creed."

The final section of the book is "Where Does the New Atheism Go from Here?" In this section, McGrath details how neo-atheism is now viewed with skepticism, even from other atheists. When reason and science fail neo-atheists, they resort to ridicule and attempting to belittle and berate their intellectual opponents. Neo-atheists are starting to embarrass more conservative atheists, who now try to separate themselves from the fringe group that Dawkins and Hitchens have created. McGrath views this as a difficult future for the neo-atheists, and ends the book on the positive note that religion is "ineradicable."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <[...]> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Time, March 3, 2014
Why God Won't Go Away, written by Alister McGrath, begins by defining the "New Atheism" and who its proponents are. You'll recognize some of the names: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris. McGrath goes on to differentiate New Atheism from the atheism that has been around for many years. In the next section, McGrath addresses three core themes--violence, reason, and science--and where the logic of New Atheism is flawed. Part Three covers the current place and possible future status of New Atheism.

Why God Won't Go Away took me a long time to read. While the content is very interesting, I set it aside because it's so deep that each section took me a little while to absorb. (That plus the fact that my house is often noisy and I couldn't read this with all the background noise.) This is definitely not a light, fluffy book. Once I started reading it in earnest, though, I kept going back to it. I read quite a few passages to my husband, because the ideas are so compelling.

I tried to find a paragraph or two to share with you, but I couldn't. Each thought is intertwined with the last, so each paragraph needs the context of the page or section to be complete.

From an apologetics point of view, Why God Won't Go Away is terrific. It equips Christians to see the flaws in New Atheism and counter them with logical arguments. In fact, I plan to give my copy of the book to a friend who regularly debates atheists. If you are interested in Christian apologetics, I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Condensed and logical, October 8, 2011
I enjoyed this impressive work very much. This is the first time I've read one of McGrath's works, and I'm sure to be reading more. Why God Won't Go Away was very logical and convincing that New Atheism didn't work. I don't think it would be very useful as a flip-through handguide to refuting New Atheism, as it is very condensed and takes a while to read. It is more for understanding New Atheism as a whole, and I appreciate that approach. It doesn't necessarily try to prove Christianity, but shows that New Atheism fails to debunk it. To anyone interested in current apologetics, this is a really good resource that you should buy.

This book was provided free by Booksneeze. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed here are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Job Half Done, December 24, 2011
The premise of the book is to unmask the "new atheism" movement and the reasons for its deep seated hostility toward people of faith. The author frames his explanation of the movement by first presenting the history of the movement and highlighting its major contributors. The major contributors are summarized and major themes of the movement are explained in enough detail to afford the reader sufficient background to understand the underlying positions of the "new atheist" movement.

Where this book falls flat is on the explanation of "Why God Won't Go Away." Perhaps it is an unreasonable expectation of mine, but I was hoping for an ecclesiastical argument that would directly combat the misguided and obviously faulted logic of the "new atheists." I was looking for a presentation with solid evidence as to why Christianity is so logical and true. Alas, all that was revealed is that mankind has a magnetic needle that points to the "magnetic pole of God."

By the way, the answer to the last question presented as posed by a student is, "Absolutely."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dubious Disciple Book Review, July 15, 2011
McGrath comes out of the gates with guns blazing against the New Atheism. He's a debater, having met Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitches in debates, and his competitive stance shines through. He refuses to meet atheists on their level, insisting that "faith doesn't contradict reason, but transcends it." Questions such as, "What are we all here for?" and "What's the point of living?" are legitimate questions, and we're right to seek answers to them, but science isn't going to help.

There are three parts to the book:

Part I: McGrath discusses the New Atheism and its major proponents, giving a brief description of the work of Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens. The New Atheism, he explains, is about more than promoting disbelief in God. It's about intolerance of religion completely. It is aggressive anti-theism. For many, the New Atheism has become arrogant and increasingly disconnected from the real world.

Part II: McGrath puts his research to work against the New Atheism, concluding that: (1) Atheism has simply failed to make its case that religion is necessarily and uniformly evil. (2) Belief is actually quite rational. Some of the arguments here are quite interesting, and I'm still contemplating their validity. (3) Science is inherently limited in what it can prove. McGrath quotes Stephen Jay Gould as saying, "Science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it."

Part III: A short little section about the New Atheism's future that's worth reading if only for its humorous conclusion.

The book is definitely engaging, if a little frustrating because of its limited focus. Let's be clear on what this book is not. It is not an argument for the existence of God. McGrath never once defines what he is defending--the entire point of the book seems to be to discredit the New Atheism--so I'm hoping this book was meant to lead into his 2011 book, Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things. I'll see about getting a review copy of that one.

In the mean time, I'm left hanging. If I reject atheism, what am I supposed to replace it with? There is, for me at least, a vast difference between accepting the possibility of a divine creator and believing in that creator. Then, there is a vast difference between believing in a creator and assuming the God of the Bible is that creator. Finally, there is a vast difference between believing that Bible writers have found God and believing that the Bible is the Word of God, endorsed by God Himself. So, we'll hopefully see where McGrath goes with this in his next book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but it could've gone deeper, November 16, 2014
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McGrath is a good writer and one of the first people to tackle the "New Atheism" head on. This book, Why God Won't Go Away, basically takes the New Atheists to task for their overly broad generalizations about religion and general lack of ability to discuss the philosophical arguments. Indeed, McGrath even states that the "science and reason" that many love to talk about as part of the New Atheism is potentially incompatible in the end. Some of the ideas, like the "meme theory" that seems to have gone out of vogue, are pseudoscience at best.

All in all, this book shows that the New Atheism isn't new at all- it's actually very old. Most of the arguments are recycled from earlier atheists and not presented particularly well. McGrath writes clearly and concisely. He manages to craft an excellent refutation of the New Atheism in only 147 pages. However, it is here that the book loses out. While the brevity is admirable, the fact remains that McGrath only superficially examines the New Atheism. Another 100 pages in which he discusses the four major works (End of Faith, God Delusion, Breaking the Spell, and God is not Great) would have been welcome. While this is a good book, the brevity prevents it from being even better.
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Why God Won't Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running on Empty?
Why God Won't Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running on Empty? by Alister E. McGrath (Paperback - May 17, 2011)
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