Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath

In WHY GOD WON’T GO AWAY author Alister McGrath explores the beliefs of a movement of militant anti-theistic thinkers known as the New Atheists. This movement’s leaders are known as the Four Horsemen—Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. Unlike atheists of the past who haven’t believed that God exists but have at least been tolerant of those who do, members of the New Atheism are characterized by their firm attack on religious belief. In fact, people like Christopher Hitchens have labeled religion as inherently evil and the cause of the world’s most significant tragedies.

McGrath engages the New Atheism in three areas—violence, reason, and science. Tackling violence, he shows that religious belief, while sometimes a cause of tragic violence when abused, isn’t the sole source of violence in our world. Using examples from history, he shows that atheism when abused has been just as much a cause of violence. The New Atheism relies on reason and science and propose that since belief in God cannot be proven by either of these, he cannot possibly exist, yet McGrath shows clearly that reason and science are limited on what they can do. For example, science cannot speak on issues of meaning or value. Reason can only take you so far. However, he does show that belief in God can actually be rational, using examples of philosophers of religion such as Alvin Plantinga and his idea of the “other minds.”

McGrath does a great job of showing how misguided the New Atheists are. They staunchly oppose religious belief as inherently evil, but provide no solutions of anything better. Their belief, which Christopher Hitchens asserts is not a belief, seems to be really more about what they can tear down than what they can construct. As McGrath shows, this is a shaky foundation on which the New Atheism is struggling to survive. As he explores the works of the Four Hoursmen in particular, it’s hard not to get a sense a deep resentment and anger by these men toward the God they claim doesn’t exist. And their hatred and insulting remarks toward those who believe in God aren’t endearing to a movement that seems to be seeking to rid the world of its evils.

WHY GOD WON’T GO AWAY is a quick and informative read about a crucial issue, and McGrath comes out making his point clearly and respectfully.

I received this book for free from booksneeze.com

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