The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister McGrath & Joanna Collicutt McGrath

In this short response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Alister McGrath comes out with guns blazing, and he has the credentials to do it. McGrath is not only a well-known theologian, but like Dawkins he too is a professor at Oxford University (historical theology) and a scientist (molecular biophysics). With this background McGrath is well positioned to analyze Dawkins’ arguments. His critique: Dawkins misrepresents his sources, stretches the facts, makes up unpersuasive pseudoscientific ideas (e.g. memes) to bolster his position, and in general simply does not prove his case.

McGrath accuses Dawkins of leading the charge of a new secular fundamentalism (pp. 96-97): “Fundamentalism arises when a worldview feels it is in danger, lashing out at its enemies when it fears its own future is threatened” (p. 96). With this in mind McGrath writes, “The God Delusion is a work of theater rather than scholarship—a fierce, rhetorical assault on religion and passionate plea for it to be banished to the lunatic fringes of society, where it can do no harm” (pp. 96-97). Before anyone takes Dawkins’ rants too seriously they would be wise to read this little volume.

It should be mentioned that McGrath has a few problems of his own. He, unfortunately, holds to the theistic evolutionary theory, has apparently bought into some form of the New Perspective on Paul and accepts an allegorical approach to the book of Revelation. But for a quick critique of Dawkins’ book it is excellent.