Friday, May 20, 2005

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I have finished Alister McGrath's Dawkin's God. It is a good book and much more recommended than Roger Steer's Letter to an Influential Atheist, reviewed earlier on. McGrath chooses his ground carefully and attacks Dawkins where he is vulnerable rather than holding any hostages to fortune. For instance, the meme concept is torn to pieces (Dawkins himself has now wisely retreated from it)and various anti-religious rants are analysed and found to be, well, rants. What this books does not do is argue for anything. It is wholly negative and defensive although very effectively so. Steven Carr has objected that McGrath doesn't deal with the problem of evil, which is almost certainly the grounding of Dawkins' atheism. This is true and I expect McGrath deliberately avoided it simply because he knows he can't deal with such a complex problem in such a short book. Perhaps it would make a good follow up work as I would be interested in what he thinks.

McGrath concedes that Dawkins is a great explainer of science. I can vouch for this having enjoyed two of his books despite the wholly explicit atheist agenda. McGrath also reveals Dawkins as an absolutely dreadful philosopher and historian of science who makes so many errors it can reduce his whole argument to an amorphous blob. I don't know if Dawkins will be taking these criticisms on board although it is notable that his latest book, The Ancestor's Tale, is much shorter on the usual anti-religious editorialising. So perhaps he is getting the message after all.

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