Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine Hardcover – May 25, 2007
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
When authors write books that criticize other books, they have usually already lost; the original book has set the agenda to which the critics respond, and the outcome is foretold. Not in this case. The McGraths expeditiously plow into the flank of Dawkins's fundamentalist atheism, made famous in The God Delusion, and run him from the battlefield. The book works partly because they are so much more gracious to Dawkins than Dawkins is to believers: Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker remains the finest critique of William Paley's naturalistic arguments for deism available, for example. The authors can even point to instances in which their interactions with him, both literary and personal, have changed his manner of arguing: he can no longer say that Tertullian praised Christian belief because of its absurdity or that religion necessarily makes one violent. The McGraths are frustrated, then, that Dawkins continues to write on the a priori, nonscientific assumption that religious believers are either deluded or meretricious, never pausing to consider the evidence not in his favor or the complex beliefs and practices of actual Christians. They conclude disquietingly: perhaps Dawkins is aware that demagogic ranting that displays confidence in the face of counterevidence is the way to sway unlearned masses. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"McGrath identifies Dawkins' flawed arguments with surgical precision. McGrath spotlights Dawkins' embarrassing biblical ignorance and exposes his religion-as-virus-of-the-mind theory as sociological naivete. This intelligent, yet accessible book is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject or for those with friends sucked under by the new current of atheist literature." (New Man, November/December 2007)
"The McGraths expeditiously plow into the flank of Dawkins's fundamentalist atheism, made famous in The God Delusion, and run him from the battlefield." (Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007)
"Combining scholarship with a popular style, the McGraths examine Dawkins's arguments and find them wanting. They show the inadequacy of his argument on the major points, contending that Dawkins's critique of religion is based on hearsay and anecdotal evidence rather than on hard research and that he employs rhetoric rather than rationality." (Library Journal, August 2007)
"One could hardly think of a better apologist for theism than Alister McGrath. This atheist-turned-Christian, also of Oxford, is a professor of historical theology. But as a student of molecular biophysics, he possesses the dual credibility in science and religion that Dawkins lacks. Like watching one schoolboy do another's work, McGrath's true gift is pointing out what Dawkins is obliged to show in order to make his case." (Christianity Today, November 2007)
"Alister and Joanna McGrath offer a meaty book without all the gratuitous gristle, clearly making their points." (Jim Miller Review, June 2007)
"You cannot help but be impressed with the depth of scholarship which the McGraths bring to this discussion--something markedly different than Dawkins." (Deinde blog, deinde.org, August 18, 2007)
"You cannot argue with the McGraths' credentials or the content of this book. It is very well done." (Does God Exist? November/December 2007)
"Alister McGrath provides an excellent rebuttal to Dawkin's arguments against God and religion. Scholarly, yes but also very readable for lay people." (M. F. in Libraries Alive, February 2008)
"[T]he McGraths' book is an effective response." (Mark D. Barret, Esq., in Lay Witness, March/April 2008)
"While not exhaustive (by design), the McGraths have offered us a well-reasoned critique of the atheistic arguments of Dawkins, and left us with a cogent description of the inherent weaknesses in The God Delusion. I recommend it to my friends on both sides of this debate." (Cliff Martin, Outside the Box (cliff-martin.blogspot.com), June 14, 2008)
"[H]elps theistic people respond more intelligently to the current religion-bashing that has become a source of schadenfreude for some (though certainly not all) nonbelievers." (David von Schlichten, Lutheran Partners, July/August 2008)
"This book will be warmly received by those looking for a reliable assessment of The God Delusion and the many questions it raised--including all the relevance of faith and the quest for meaning." (Enrichment Journal, Fall 2008)
"This book will be warmly received by those who are looking for a real assessment of The God Delusion." ("What's New on the Bookshelf" with Shirley Updyke, WRGN)
"Alister McGrath invariably combines enormous scholarship with an accessible and engaging style." (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury)
"The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why." (Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University)
"Richard Dawkins's utopian vision of a world without religion is here deftly punctured by the McGraths' informed discourse. His fellow Oxonians clearly demonstrate the gaps, inconsistencies and surprising lack of depth in Dawkins's arguments." (Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and author of God's Universe)
"With rigorous logic and exquisite fairness, the McGraths have exposed Dawkins's very superficial understanding of the history of religion and theology. Because he is so 'out of his depth' in these areas, Dawkins uses his fundamentalistic scientism and atheism to constantly misjudge the possibilities for dialogue between religion and science. Thank God for scholars like the McGraths who are committed to finding truth in both." (Dr. Timothy Johnson, physician, journalist and author of Finding God in the Questions)
"Addressing the conclusions of The God Delusion point by point with the devastating insight of a molecular biologist turned theologian, Alister McGrath dismantles the argument that science should lead to atheism, and demonstrates instead that Dawkins has abandoned his much-cherished rationality to embrace an embittered manifesto of dogmatic atheist fundamentalism." (Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project)
"In this crisp and cogent book, Alister and Joanna McGrath note, among other things, how fundamentalist scientism fuels antiscientific Christian fundamentalism. They also remind us of well-documented associations between an active faith and measures of health and well-being. A must-read contribution to today's debate other whether religion spreads dangerous falsehoods or benevolent wisdom." (David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College)
"McGrath has distinguished himself . . . as an historical theologian, [and] a generous, . . . witty writer who brings to life topics that would turn to dust in others' hands." (Publishers Weekly)
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
If you are looking for are straw man arguments, pseudo-analogies, and ad hominem style attacks on Dawkins, this is the book for you! All 118 widely spaced, small pages of it. No new arguments in favor of either a god or religion (neither of which were defined). Sure, he heckled Dawkins style and made some reasonable points about some of Dawkins less important statements, but Dawkins like most of us is human and anything a human being says has exceptions or can be over- or misinterpreted. Examples are his attack on Dawkins' meme hypothesis for the successful spread of religion.
McGrath carefully avoided committing himself to almost any statement with regard to the existence of a deity, and reading between the lines it appears he believes in evolution of some kind (as most informed people do).
McGrath attempts to imply that all "world views" (however such are defined) are equally valid and equal, regardless of evidence or lack thereof. He attempts to claim that Dawkins' atheism is fundamentalism of the worst kind, as bad as religious fundamentalists (p. 48). Coming from Ireland, McGrath should better understand the dangers of religious zealotry. He ignores completely Dawkins and Hitchens point that western christianity is only tolerant to the extent it has absorbed non-biblical secular values. McGrath claims instead that christianity is tolerant because of Jesus' teachings (good samaritan and all), but forgets about Jesus "righteous" temper driving out the money changers, his focus only on jews, and his almost absolute rejection of family connections or his own mother. He also completely ignores the role Jesus' death and the subsequent supposed "jewish guilt" that contributed to the success of Hitler aided and abetted by the Catholic church (see Goldhagen's excellent book, A Moral Reckoning A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair ) The fact that McGrath could write his book in a secular western society is proof he is wrong. Just try writing the converse of such ridiculous drivel in a theocratic society such as Saudi Arabia or Iran. Look at what the Satanic Verses did for Rushdie's personal freedom (or lack thereof) and decide if all 'world views' are equal and atheism is really as violent and threatening as religions have been for centuries.
He drags up the inevitable examples of Lenin and Pol Pot -- both of which can and have been more than adequately explained by motives far more compelling than atheism. Organized religion can be thought of as one form of social and financial organization and power, and such evil dictators loath such competition. Atheism per se had little or nothing to do with it. Greed and lust for power had everything to do with it. Ditto for his reference to Madame Rolande's execution (p. 81) by the new french republic.
Most significantly, McGrath attempts to rationalize the correctness of religious beliefs by the supposed benefits accruing to religious practioners. There is something to be said for this, but like advocates of coal mining or oil wells, he conveniently ignores the externalized costs to society incurred by non-religious people from otherwise well-meaning religious people. In my opinion, this is one of the primary reasons for Dawkins' frustration with 'faith heads' and one of the driving motivations behind his willingness to confront and engage with them even though it is not politically correct nor perhaps always the most gentile of taste. The alternative is to accept absurd belief systems which impose their will on others, leaving sickness and death in their wake. Just one example of which is the rate of suicide in GLBT youth coming from non-accepting "christian" families compared to accepting.
If McGrath has any evidence for the existence of a god or any good rationale to support the multiplicity of religious belief systems that cause so much heartache now and in the past (from the Middle East to Ireland), he is carefully witholding such evidence. He appears to be stating that belief in Zeus, Thor, or Allah are all equally valid 'world views' and any attempt to blame moderate religious folks for 'extremists' acting on those shared beliefs (however unfounded in reality) is bad taste.
What is bad taste is writing even a short book simply to try and attack Dawkins without adding any real light to the subject.
I read my books at the library whenever possible, buying only those which I find worth referring to later. Dawkins' The God Delusion is one I willl buy, McGrath's attack on Dawkins' will be returned to the library tomorrow.
As an over-arching theme of the entire book, McGrath claims that Dawkins fails to bring any sort of scientific rigor to the table. There is some (emphasis some) truth to that statement. But, as is generally the case with criticism, McGrath finds himself guilty of the same sin throughout. If the writing style of Dawkins is so polemic then it would be wise to take the high road and avoid it, rather than hiking up the pant legs and hopping right down into the muck.
The most frustrating thing about this book was how consistently McGrath claimed Dawkins holds certain views, then proves those views false. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the actual text shows over and again that Dawkins never claimed those arguments in the first place.
The place where this is most prevalent is in the middle 20 pages where McGrath attacks Dawkins views on where a belief in God came from. He says that Dawkins falls back on all sorts of arguments such as memes that are completely insubstantial. The funny thing is that if you read Dawkins's book, you see that he makes no claim to the authenticity of the ideas. In fact, he is quite careful to couch all of the claims as hypothesis, nothing more. Whereas McGrath claims that Dawkins is saying that these are true. It's even odd that so much space of this 100 page book was spent discussing this issue as it is completely ancillary to Dawkins's argument in the first place.
Next, McGrath seems to imply that Dawkins hates all religious people. He does not. In fact, he talks many times about how much he likes these people. It's not the people he hates, it's the belief systems. I felt that this was very clear throughout. I will admit that his tone can be quite sarcastic and condescending at times. He does not take that to the next level of hate, which is what McGrath seems to imply.
McGrath continually amazed me at the odd selection of talking points. He seemed to just be frustrated and not know where to go so he just went wherever the wind would take him. This is most evident in his refutation of Dawkins's discussion of infinite regress. He actually claims that scientists searching for the grand unification theory debunks the infinite regress argument. How ridiculous of an argument is that? I just couldn't believe that such an idea could possibly strike someone as even remotely cogent.
Another of his tactics is to counter claims made by Dawkins by saying, "I don't believe that." That's wonderful that he is a progressive person with regards to religion, but such is generally not the case. Dawkins never claims that beliefs he's countering are held by everyone. Just because some Christians realize the Earth is older than 6,000 years doesn't mean that it's not an important talking point, because the fact remains that many people do believe it.
And I have one more thing while I'm bashing the book. Why was he only able to come up with 96 large print pages against Dawkins's 400 page behemoth? I left the book feeling that McGrath hadn't really tried to respond to Dawkins. He feels like he just gave up half way through. The majority of "The God Delusion" remains completely unmentioned, unrefuted.
But now for the reason I gave the book two stars instead of just one. His last chapter made me think. Dawkins blames much of the world's problems on religion, especially violence. McGrath makes a good argument that it is really dogmaticism, not religion (though he stops short of saying it thusly). There have been dogmatic atheists that have caused untold horror just as there are dogmatic theists that have also caused untold horror. This last chapter really made me have to think a bit about where the problem of violence stems. If the book had simply been this chapter rather than the previous nonsense, I probably would have rated it four stars.
Ultimately, McGrath explains very well his purpose in writing this book. His purpose is not scholarly, his purpose is to supply people answers for when their friends come around. I think that's a shame. Is that what our public dialogue is? Are we simply looking for pre-written answers to throw at those with whom we disagree? Or are we honestly seeking for truth and answers?
McGrath is no extremist. He is fair and willing to admit when Dawkins has a good point.
To be fair, it's not hard to demolish The Dawkins Delusion. Dawkins is an excellent writer, and is great with words. His books on evolutionary biology are said to be excellently written. However, when talking about theology, he is out of his league. Fellow atheist Michael Ruse said that Dawkins should at least try to learn something about Christianity before he criticizes it. When Dawkins writes about religion one wonders if he has ever actually read the bible or studied anything at all about Christianity or Christian history or psychology or philosophy - yet he writes as if he were an expert on all of them.
Dr McGrath systematically and fairly addresses all of Dawkins' objections.
It's not a difficult read, it's well researched, and fairly presented. Tons of footnotes and references.
Great book. I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anyone familiar with Richard Dawkins must give this a read! See who's really deluded about our dear God.