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Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths Paperback – August 17, 1993

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Intellectuals Don't Need God is for people who are not convinced by the arguments of classical, rationalistic apologetics, for people who feel that Christianity must have a broader appeal that to reason alone if it is to be persuasive to non-Christians. Alister McGrath shows convincingly that reason is only one of many possible points of contact between the non-Christian and the gospel. In today's world, nonrational concerns -- such as a sense that life lacks focus, an unconscious fear of death, a deep sense of longing for something unknown we don't have but know we need -- are much more effective points of contact for apologetics. In this book, Dr. McGrath (who is both a theologian and a scientist with a Ph.D. in microbiology) combines the clarity of a brilliant scientific mind with a deep commitment to Christ and to reaching non-Christians. Intellectuals Don't Need God is for anyone who has questions about the validity of Christianity as well as for students, pastors, and lay leaders. Anyone who works with students and young people especially needs to read this book. As McGrath says, 'apologetics is not about winning arguments -- it is about bringing people to Christ.'

About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McGrath, a longtime professor at Oxford University, 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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (August 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310590914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310590910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By V. Phin on June 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Though faintly dry and reading like a guidebook, McGrath's knowledge of the history of apologetics, coupled with his unique approach, make this short book a good addition to any Christian library.
Possessing both a Ph.D in microbology and theology, Alister McGrath is exactly the sort of person the postmodern apologetic movement needs: someone with an appreciation of science from the inside. Many theologians who write concerning Christianity understand science very little, and their essays betray a hostility that science as a discipline doesn't deserve. In his book, McGrath is able to differentiate between science and scientific rationalism, the philosophy that poses the problems to a Christian worldview.
"Apologetics is not about winning arguments-- it is about winning people," McGrath mentions several times, calling into question the traditional approach (solely through reason) that has dominated apologetics for the past millenium. "Creative apologetics" is what he seeks: the melding of reason and the art of listening, responding, and understanding what brings people to faith. Thus, the first part of the book is about points of contact with the people one wishes to help; the third is about putting apologetics into action.
In-between is the meat of the book: sections on other philosophies and religions, and common reasons people are repulsed by Christianity. He seems to spend a great deal more time on Marxism than is necessary for today; however, given that this book was published in 1992, that is understandable. An updated version with an expanded section on paganism would be excellent.
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Format: Paperback
Alister McGrath is a moderately conservative theologian in the Church of England who has written numerous introductory and advances works. [p. 67.] In this book - based on lectures - McGrath provides a concise discussion of Christian apologetics. This book is neither a history of apologetics nor a comprehensive discussion of various apologetic approaches. Rather, he sets forth arguments in favor of Christianity and against secular ideologies. He doesn't follow any specific method of apologetics, but relies on the strength of different approaches. As he states, "But apologetics is not concerned with this single conclusion. It is concerned with the accumulation of pointers . . . which eventually build up to give a credible, persuasive, and attractive case for God." [p. 41.] So while evidentialism has a role in defeating the most common objections against Christianity - such as that Jesus never lived - it cannot provide all the necessary reasons for faith. [p. 54.] In fact, McGrath maintains (perhaps controversially) that Aquinas's famous "proofs" for the existence of God were never meant as proofs, but rather arguments to show the rationality of belief in God for people who already believe. [p. 35.]
McGrath also has a good discussion of such matters as Darwinism, Marxism, and religious pluralism. Also, his discussion of Calvin is quite interesting. Calvin didn't deny that there was a "point of contact" between Christians and non-Christians. [pp. 212-16.]
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Format: Paperback
Here McGrath provides the churh with a resource for entering the arena of idea exchange without coming off as elitist or contentious.
This is not an academic approach, i.e. with all the arguments displayed and chronicled and sorted, but rather a practical, useful tool for even the layperson who wants to dialogue with the various other worldviews.
I've used this book with Adult Bible Studies with great success. Many springboarded from this into more profound and exhaustive apologetics study with the likes of Craig, Geisler, etc.
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'Intellectuals Don't Need God And Other Modern Myths' is a valuable addition to an apologetics library.

It does not focus on the evidences of Christianity, although it does contain some of that. This book is more about how to interact with another person in an apologetics discussion. As the author states, 'The science of apologetics needs to be complemented by the art of apologetics." Written by Dr. Alister McGrath, one might expect more hard core science since McGrath has a doctorate in microbiology, but in this volume, he addresses the art side more.

Two things that Dr. McGrath really stresses are listening before responding and personalizing the approach to the individual. Both of these are very much needed. He compares apologists to physicians in that they both need to have a strong bedside manner or else their knowledge and skills in other areas will not be effective.

There are many very helpful areas in this book including the need to explore the presuppositions of the listener(s) and the need to use images, stories, etc., rather than just sticking with arguments, reason, etc.

Dr. McGrath does explore some of the arguments and evidences for Christianity, but these are not the main focus. For that reason, this would probably not be a great introductory apologetics work, but it is a very good one to supplement some others.
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