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Dawkin's God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life Paperback – 15 Nov. 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 81 ratings

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"A timely and accessible contribution to the debate over Richard Dawkins’s cosmology … A devastating critique." -- David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History, Queen’s University, Belfast

"Informed, feisty, and terrific fun. I cannot wait to see Dawkins’s review of Alister McGrath’s critique." --
Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University

"McGrath has done a marvellous apologetic job, as well as providing a particular service for those daunted by scientific authoritarianism." --
R. J. Berry, formerly Professor of Genetics, University College, London and President of the Linnean Society

"McGrath subjects the atheistic world-view of Dawkins to critical analysis and finds it severely lacking in intellectual rigour… essential reading." --
Dr Denis Alexander, Chairman, Molecular Immunology Programme, The Babraham Institute and Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge

"[A] tour-de-force… Here is a book which helps to rejoin the magnificence of science to the magnificence of God’s Creation." --
Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology, Cambridge University

From the Author

Extract from the opening chapter of Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life.

So why write such a book? Three reasons may be given. First, Dawkins is a fascinating writer, both in terms of the quality of ideas he develops, and the verbal dexterity with which he defends them. Anyone who is remotely interested in ideas will find Dawkins and important sparring partner. Augustine of Hippo once wrote of the "eros of the mind," referring to a deep longing within the human mind to make sense of things – a passion for understanding and knowledge. Anyone sharing that passion will want to enter into the debate that Dawkins has begun.

And that thought underlies my second reason for writing this book. Yes, Dawkins seems to many to be immensely provocative and aggressive, dismissing alternative positions with indecent haste, or treating criticism of his personal views as an attack on the entire scientific enterprise. Yet this kind of overheated rhetoric is found in any popular debate, whether religious, philosophical, or scientific. Indeed, it is what makes popular debates interesting, and raises them above the tedious drone of normal scholarly discussion, which seems invariably to be accompanied by endless footnotes, citing of weighty but dull authorities, and cautious understatement heavily laced with qualifications. How much more exciting to have a pugnacious, no holds barred debate, without having to have the stifling conventions of rigorous evidence-based scholarship! Dawkins clearly wants to provoke such a debate and discussion, and it would be churlish not to accept such an invitation.

I have a third reason, however. I write as a Christian theologian who believes it is essential to listen seriously and carefully to criticism of my discipline, and respond appropriately to it. One of my reasons for taking Dawkins so seriously is that I want to ask what may be learned from him. As any serious historian of Christian thought knows, Christianity is committed to a constant review if its ideas in the light of their moorings in scripture and tradition, always asking whether any contemporary interpretation of a doctrine is adequate or acceptable. As we shall see, Dawkins offers a powerful, and in my view, credible, challenge to one way of thinking about the doctrine of creation, which gained influence in England during the eighteenth century, and lingers on in some quarters today. He is a critic who needs to be heard, and taken seriously.

But enough of such preliminaries. Let’s get on with it, and start delving into the Darwinian worldview which Dawkins has done so much to explore and commend.

Alister McGrath

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wiley-Blackwell (15 Nov. 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 210 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1405125381
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1405125383
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.3 x 1.22 x 22.23 cm
  • Customer reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 81 ratings

About the author

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Alister McGrath is a scholar and writer who is presently Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University. After initial work in the natural sciences, McGrath moved into the field of Christian theology. He is best known for his definitive and widely used textbooks on Christian theology and his authoritative biography of C. S. Lewis. As a former atheist, McGrath is fascinated by the interaction of faith, science, and atheism, and writes regularly on these themes.

McGrath was born in Belfast in 1953, and holds both Irish and British citizenship. He lives in the Cotswolds near Oxford.

For McGrath's website, including details of his weekly Youtube postings and videos helping you use his theology textbooks, go to

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