Friday, December 07, 2012

Why God Won't Go Away

I just finished reading Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath. I found the book a few weeks ago while visiting our local library branch. It was an interesting read, giving an overview of the "New Atheist" movement, especially their chief writers, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens.

The book is short and easy to read. In addition to describing the New Atheist movement, it also points out its weaknesses, and makes the claim that at the time of writing, 2010, the movement was in decline. Although I think the book does a good job of pointing out the problems of the New Atheist, it never goes deep into any of the arguments. It's informative for someone who is already a believer, but it is not likely to be persuasive for an unbeliever.

Another issue I have with the book is its optimism. Even if the New Atheism is failing among intellectuals, I think it has had an impact on the greater culture at large, which may not examine the arguments too carefully. Through rhetoric and ridicule, the message is getting out that religion is irrational and dangerous.

So although McGrath is correct that the New Atheists will not eradicate religion, it's provided plenty of material to confuse people and provide excuses for those who want to reject God.


Alister McGrath fan (@AliMcGrathfan) said...

=) McGrath is ever an optimist when it comes to the triumph of the Gospel. He helps me keep things in perspective when I'm keen to fret about our culture and future. For more in depth analysis on the new atheism, try his Dawkins' Delusion:Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine or Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life.

Greg Graham said...

Thanks for the McGrath references; I will check them out. I'm ultimately an optimist on the triumph of the Gospel, "upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." However, I don't know the exact shape this triumph will take, and I think things will likely get worse before they get better. Regardless, we should be prepared and not get discouraged if things do get worse. Our hope is not in positive trends, but in the fact that Christ is King.

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