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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Evolution

Dawkins' God From the Selfish Gene to the God Delusion

By: Alister E McGrath(Author)
208 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Dawkins' God
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

A fully updated new edition of a critically acclaimed examination of the theories and writings of Richard Dawkins by a world-renowned expert on the relation of science and religion

- Includes in-depth analysis of Dawkins’ landmark treatise The God Delusion (2006), as well as coverage of his later popular works The Magic of Reality (2011) and The Greatest Show on Earth (2011),and a new chapter on Dawkins as a popularizer of science
- Tackles Dawkins’ hostile and controversial views on religion, and examine the religious implications of his scientific ideas including a comprehensive investigation of the ‘selfish gene’
- Written in an accessible and engaging style that will appeal to anyone interested in better understanding the interplay between science and religion


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Darwinism: The Rise of a Scientific Theory 7
- Natural Selection: Charles Darwin 9
- The Mechanics of Inheritance: Gregor Mendel 18
- The Discovery of the Gene: Thomas Hunt Morgan 21
- The Role of DNA in Genetics 24
- What’s in a Name? “Darwinism” or “Evolutionary Theory”? 26

2 The Selfish Gene: A Darwinian View of the World 32
- Introducing Dawkins 33
- Dawkins’ Approach: The Selfish Gene 38
- The Place of Humanity in a Darwinian Universe 44
- Are Genes Really Selfish? 47
- What Remains of the “Selfish Gene” Approach? 51

3 Blind Faith?: Evidence, Proof, and Rationality in Science and Religion 57
- Faith as Blind Trust? 60
- Is Atheism Itself a Faith? 68
- Is Christian Faith Irrational? 71
- The Problem of Radical Theory Change in Science 77
- The Limits of Science 80
- Mystery, Insanity, and Nonsense 82

4 The Blind Watchmaker: Evolution and the Elimination of God? 86
- The Contours of a Darwinian Worldview 86
- Is Darwinism a Complete Explanation? 91
- God as an Explanatory Hypothesis? 93
- The Elimination of Purpose: Dawkins on Teleology in Nature 96
- The Divine Watchmaker: Paley’s Grand (but Correctable) Mistake 98
- Dynamic Conceptions of Creation: Augustine of Hippo 107
- Natural Selection and Religious Beliefs: Darwin’s Views 111
- The Christian Reaction to Darwin 116

5 Cultural Darwinism?: The Invention of the Meme 120
- Universal Darwinism: The Evolution of Culture 120
- Introducing the Meme 122
- Introducing the “God-Meme” 125
- Is Cultural Development Darwinian? 128
- Do Memes Actually Exist? 131
- The Flawed Analogy between Gene and Meme 133
- The Redundancy of the Meme 136
- God as a Virus of the Mind? 139
- Moving On … 143

6 The God Delusion: Dawkins on Atheism, Science,  and Religion 144
- The Cultural Location of The God Delusion 145
- The “Warfare” of Science and Religion 149
- Natural Science Leads to Neither Atheism Nor Christianity 155
- Science, Faith, and Evidence 157
- A Darwinian Explanation of Belief in God? 162
- Awe, Wonder, and Religion 166

Conclusion 170

Select Bibliography 173
Index 184

Customer Reviews


Alister E. McGrath is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. One of the world's leading theologians, he has written numerous critically acclaimed books, including The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (Wiley, 2013), Why God Won't Go Away: Engaging the New Atheism (2011), and Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology (Wiley, 2011). He is also the author of some of the most widely used theology textbooks, including the bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction now in its fifth edition (Wiley, 2010).

By: Alister E McGrath(Author)
208 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Media reviews

In Dawkins' God, McGrath has written a brilliant book, and it is difficult to think that the exposition of Dawkins' writings and their religious implications, will ever be better stated, explored and criticised... at once dispassionate, robust and readable. Richard Harries, Times Higher Education Supplement "Alister McGrath's book Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life does a fair and sophisticated job of summarising my position." Richard Dawkins, Times Higher Education Supplement "Dawkins is disposed of with panache, and with McGrath's ususal clarity and conciseness." Theology "Wielding evolutionary arguments and carefully chosen metaphors like sharp swords, Richard Dawkins has emerged over three decades as this generation's most aggressive promoter of atheism. In his view, science, and science alone, provides the only rock worth standing on. In this remarkable book, Alister McGrath challenges Dawkins on the very ground he holds most sacred - rational argument - and McGrath disarms the master. It becomes readily apparent that Dawkins has aimed his attack at a naive version of faith that most serious believers would not recognize. After reading this carefully constructed and eloquently written book, Dawkins' choice of atheism emerges as the most irrational of the available choices about God's existence." Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project "In this tour-de-force Alister McGrath approaches the edifice of self-confident, breezy atheism so effectively promoted by Richard Dawkins, and by deft dissection and argument reveals the shallowness, special-pleading and inconsistencies of his world-picture. Here is a book which helps to rejoin the magnificence of science to the magnificence of God's good Creation." Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology, Cambridge University "This is a wonderful book. One of the world's leading Christian contributors to the science/religion dialogue takes on Richard Dawkins, Darwinism's arch-atheist, and wrestles him to the ground! This is scholarship as it should be - 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 "A timely and accessible contribution to the debate over Richard Dawkins's cosmology which exposes philosophical naivety, the abuse of metaphor, and sheer bluster, left, right and centre. Here Alister McGrath announces what every Darwinian Fundamentalist needs to hear: that science is and always has been a cultural practice that is provisional, fallible, and socially shaped - an enterprise to be cultivated and fostered, but hardly worshipped or idolised. A devastating critique." David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History, Queen's University, Belfast "Alister McGrath critically examines the places where Richard Dawkins' well-established biological science changes into the speculations which undergird Dawkins' own anti-religious faith. In his appreciative examination and ruthless analysis of Dawkins writings and the polemics associated with them, McGrath has done a marvellous apologetic job, as well as providing a particular service for those daunted by scientific authoritarianism. We are all in his debt for rigorously identifying and exposing the weaknesses of some of the commonly used arguments against the Christian faith." R. J. Berry, formerly Professor of Genetics, University College, London and President of the Linnean Society "Alister McGrath subjects the atheistic world-view of Richard Dawkins to critical analysis and finds it severely lacking in intellectual rigour. As a former atheist himself, and a biochemist turned theologian and philosopher, the author is well placed to appreciate Dawkins' well-deserved reputation as a populariser of evolutionary theory, but equally well qualified to assess his stratagem of using a biological theory for ideological purposes. This book is essential reading for those interested in the traffic of ideas between science, philosophy and religion." Dr Denis Alexander, Chairman, Molecular Immunology Programme, The Babraham Institute and Fellow of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge "With clear and incisive argumentation, McGrath takes Dawkins on and exposes many of the weaknesses in his case for atheism." Reformed Theological Journal

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