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The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine Hardcover – May 25, 2007
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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)
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"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)
Top customer reviews
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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.
Dawkins' blindness to his own irrationality is amazing given that his intellectual discipline demands solid, scientifically derived facts for any claim made. McGrath easily shows how Dawkins has completely thrown this training away when it comes to the concept of God and those who believe in him. Though McGrath doesn't go into "why" Dawkins does this, the reader with any wisdom can discern that Dawkins doesn't really know whether God exists, but he desperately wishes that he doesn't, and believes if he makes his argument loudly and stridently enough, then his wish will come true. It is the behavior of a person who is acutely aware of his own sin and wants to continue in his sin without accountability. Dawkins' irrationality, then, ultimately derives from fear of ultimate judgment.
I only gave 4-stars because of the section discussing health-benefits of religion in a person's life (when Dawkins seems to mean there isn't any possible benefit). I may have missed it but I didn't see a citation to any studies (they may be there and I missed it?) But I have read studies in a health psychology course a few years ago so I know the studies exist, I would have liked to have seen them included.
Perhaps because of some kind of professional courtesy or personal restraint, McGrath does not seem to see that Dawkins would lose a lot of money, fame, honors, if he were to retreat or even become less dramatic about his atheism.
Since McGrath cannot talk about Dawkins and his money, the whole book seems beside the point.
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