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

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405125381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405125383
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Alister Edgar McGrath (born 1953) is an Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian, scientist, and Christian apologist, who is a professor at the University of Oxford, and is Professor of Divinity at Gresham College. He has written many other books, such as Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith, Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things, A Cloud of Witnesses: Ten Great Christian Thinkers, Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths, etc.

He wrote in the introductory section of this 2005 book, “The real issue for me is how [Richard] Dawkins proceeds from a Darwinian theory of evolution to a confident atheistic worldview, which he preaches with messianic zeal and unassailable certainty… this book is not a critique of Dawkins’ evolutionary biology. I… propose to engage… the broader conclusions that he draws from these, particularly concerning religion and intellectual history…. My concern… is supremely the critically important and immensely problematic transition from BIOlogy to THEOlogy.” (Pg. 10-11) He continues, “So why write such a book?...
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This is the first McGrath book I've read so far, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I can relate to him personally as we have similar backgrounds, but it's not necessary in order to appreciate the book. His arguments are good and concise, and he explains things well. Although he initially says he's prepared to write a rebuttal of Dawkins on his (Dawkins') own terms - to use the same kind of rhetoric he uses - it's remarkably free of that, only bringing in an incredulous tone when it's needed. That is to say, it's not full of that sort of "This is what these people believe - isn't that just so stupid?" attitude, except, well, when it is just so stupid. And even then he explains why, unless it's obvious.

I would tell anyone expecting a review of Christian theology or even McGrath's own personal beliefs to look elsewhere. And that's a good thing. McGrath points out what is wrong with Dawkins' claims, not why someone should be offended by them personally as a Christian. He doesn't say that Dawkins is wrong because the Bible says he is. The only time he even seems to bring Christianity itself into the picture is when he is correcting a false conviction or claim about Christianity that Dawkins has made. Even now I really don't know what the particulars of McGrath's personal Christianity are - he just doesn't go into them.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of his work.
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