Alister McGrath on Richard Dawkins

In light of the upcoming release of The Dawkins Delusion, Alister McGrath has written a nice short piece on Richard Dawkins in the Daily Mail with the cheeky title, “Do stop behaving as if you are God, Professor Dawkins.” McGrath’s previous book on Dawkins is titled, Dawkins’ God.

This new book is a basically an engagement in popular apologetics along the lines of N. T. Wright’s rather unnecessary new book, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth about Christianity? Both Wright and McGrath tend to engage in pop apologetics at the expense of careful theological reflection. Will people actually benefit from these books? Perhaps. Is it the best use of their time? Probably not. In the end, it makes for entertaining print wars, but not much else.

HT to David Berge of Where the Sidewalk Ends.


Shane said…
the best review of dawkins i've read is terry eagleton's. Eagleton is not, to my knowledge, a religious man. But he does hate people who think stupidly.

My favorite line has dawkins carping about something and then eagleton responds that Dawkins' objection is a bit like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms?

love that.
I disagree with your dismissal of McGrath and Wright's more popular works. I think it VERY important that scholars of their level also write popular works--or else laity are left with the likes of Rick Warren or Max Lucado.
Anonymous said…
in response to m. w-w, i would say that if only N. T. Wright were not a bigot, but alas, there you go.

his ideas are sometimes good, and sometimes quite awful (especially when he's trumpeting for bigotry and repression, but not only then); but i would hesitate to label them scholarship.
D.W. Congdon said…
Personally, Michael, I think McGrath and Wright have much better things they could be doing (and are doing, to be fair). This is not to say that writing at a popular level to address current social issues is not important; it most definitely is! But a whole book addressing the gospel of Judas?? That's just a cash cow. And now a whole book bashing Dawkins just like Dawkins bashes Christianity? Is this really necessary?

The problem with apologetics is well-known to anyone familiar with Barth's polemics against apologetics (with which I entirely agree). But what's especially bad about these books is how defensive they are. That is, both books are attempts at responding to what are seen as significant cultural attacks on traditional Christian belief. Rather than playing on the defensive, Christian thinkers need to be on the offensive in the sense that they need to be writing constructive, positive proposals for what Christian faith looks like today. These constructive responses should take these arguments and challenges into consideration, but rather than always responding, we need to concern ourselves much more with actually saying something worthwhile, something both timely and timeless. These books by Wright and McGrath will be forgotten by next year.