[PDF] ↠ Dawkins' God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion Author Alister E. McGrath – Thomashillier.co.uk

Dawkins' God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion 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 , As Well As Coverage Of His Later Popular Works The Magic Of Reality And The Greatest Show On Earth ,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


10 thoughts on “Dawkins' God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion

  1. says:

    This book is a helpful response to much of Dawkins earlier work before his massively popular The God Delusion This book was originally published before The God Delusion came out and does not interact with it However, one will find it a beneficial critique of Dawkins as a whole First, McGrath is both a scientist and a theologian He is an expert on the history of idea and the history of both theological and scientific development He respects Dawkins as a scientist where Dawkins makes rea This book is a helpful response to much of Dawkins earlier work before his massively popular The God Delusion This book was originally published before The God Delusion came out and does not interact with it However, one will find it a beneficial critique of Dawkins as a whole First, McGrath is both a scientist and a theologian He is an expert on the history of idea and the history of both theological and scientific development He respects Dawkins as a scientist where Dawkins makes reasoned and empirical observations but is quite honest about when and how Dawkins jumps the shark into irrational critiques of religion with little or no logic, historical depth and empirical research to the extent that he even makes assertions trends established by the best scholarship and research McGrath points this out through the work McGrath begins with a discussion of evolution and the role of genetics, including Dawkins the Selfish Gene He then goes on to show historically and philosophcially that evolution did not entail the rejection of God The reader may be surprised to find numerous 19th century theologians who accepted evolution along with scientists established at the forefront their field who either believe in God or believe that Darwinism cannot adjudicate on the issue.McGrath shows how Dawkins critique of William Paley misses where most Christians have stood on issue of God s relationship to the universe Beyond that, he shows how scientific theories are often advanced by trust in a prevailing theory until there is a paradigm shift This undercuts Dawkins notions radical empiricism as the only means of science Indeed, McGrath shows that Dawkins himself is stuck in a sort of idealist 19th century worldview that is peculiar to a time period where naive notions about the Enlightenment and prospoerity abounded Such notions have long since been tempered by World Wars, the failure of atheistic regimes, such as the USSR and the philosophical critiques of modernist utopias Finally, McGrath shows the almost utter worthless of memes, cultural replicators analogous to genes He dismantles it from scientific, historical and sociological perspectives McGrath helpful points that religion and science have not historically been at odds and Christianity iscomplex that Dawkins belittling and infantile caricatures For example, McGrath points out that no serious Christian theologian has ever held that faith is blind trust in contradiction to all evidence as Dawkins posits While not the last word on these issues, McGrath steers us away from the rocky shoals of Dawkins reductionist, straw man and disrespectful arguments, directing us to the deeper seas where the issues are debated with deeper seriousness, mutual respect and academic integrity


  2. says:

    Note This review was written a long time ago which was when I read the book It may not totally reflect my modern opinions, which have changed drastically since 2007 in the realm of politics at least.Dawkins God A Critical LookThis essay is a critical look at the ideas of Alister McGrath, who argues against some of Richard Dawkins ideas I will deal with the arguments that he uses against Dawkins Chapter Two The Blind WatchmakerMcGrath portrays Dawkins ideas as being Darwinism is neca Note This review was written a long time ago which was when I read the book It may not totally reflect my modern opinions, which have changed drastically since 2007 in the realm of politics at least.Dawkins God A Critical LookThis essay is a critical look at the ideas of Alister McGrath, who argues against some of Richard Dawkins ideas I will deal with the arguments that he uses against Dawkins Chapter Two The Blind WatchmakerMcGrath portrays Dawkins ideas as being Darwinism is necarssarily atheistic Darwinism is the only way to explain the world because as God and other expalantions like Lamarckism fail as explanatory principles Dawkins reasoning goes along these lines It either came about by creation or it came about by some form of evolution The mind first view the creator explains nothing, because it leaves us with the bigger problem of who created the creator Thus, we end up in an infinite regress of gods if we do not postulate some way of getting complexity from non complexity, hence evolution see Dennett 1995 Dawkins 2006 McGrath has three objections to Dawkins positions 1 The Scientific method is incapable of proving or disproving God s existence Science only deals with naturalistic explanations If we are to answer the question of whether God exists, we cannot decide by science.2 Just because God need not be invoked in the explanatory process of evolution doesn t mean he doesn t exist 3 The God as watchmaker idea is an outdated view of God s creation and not typical of the Christian tradition.Objection OneDawkins would agree that one cannot prove disprove the existence of God But that does not mean that we cannot say anything about God by using science If one wanted to be philosophical, one could argue that we can t prove anything , we haven t proved any of our scientific theories correct, only that they are not false based on the evidence Popperian falsificationism As I argued in my article Meaningless Propositions and God the God Hypothesis makes predictions about reality, and thus can be tested using science Withdrawing it form rational enquiry effectively makes God a meaningless idea Thus, science can comment on the supernatural.McGrath cites an example where 2 theories in science are equal, and we don t know which one is correct, but people decide which one is right Firstly, they don t dogmatically assert which one is right, and the evidence will eventually be king when it comes in Secondly, scientifically, theism and athiesm are not on the same footing atheism isparsimonious It fits withfacts eg problem of evil, callousness of the universe, etc and is less ad hoc than theism If one is an atheist, a lot of facts are already explained problem of evil etc Also, what other grounds are there to decide other than science Personal experience But we know people s personal experiences can contradict science People can appear to percieve ESP or spirits even though there s no evidence those things are real Of course, people from all religions have these experiences, and there is no way to tell which if any are authentic Objection TwoIf we don t need to invoke God as an explanatory principle for anything, and we have no evidence for his existence, it s pretty likely he doesn t exist It is again,parsinious to postuate atheism.Objection ThreeI think that Mr McGrath has failed to note the millions of Christians who do believe in a creator who created the world instantaniously in 6 days They do exist, most notably in the United States but some British people also believe it.Chapter Three Proof And Faith This chapter s structure seems to me a little messier, so this review of ideas will be also Dawkins defines faith as belief without evidence McGrath doesn t agree with this definition, and says that faith is based on the evidence, and cites and mentions Christian Theologians to make his points The problem with this is that if faith was based on evidence, it would be called knowledge McGrath doesn t even try to argue that belief in God is based on evidence I mean, this is the point where you would expect the typical theistic arguments to come out, eg Argument from Design or Anthropic Coinicidences, Dembski s Information Theory, Moral Arguments, Arguement from Beauty for example And he makes none of these I was a little surprised at that, because he has made the assertion that belief in God is based on evidence, without attempting to present any evidence.Another problem with his arguments is that he does what he accuses Dawkins of doing in Chapter 2 picking a group unreperaentaive of Christians Christian Theologians, in general, only speak to intelligent, well educated, moderate in politics and Biblical interpretation Christians They do not encompass the views of your average Bible Belt fundamentalist God could have designed the universe to be self sustaining.I ll just hand over to Sam Harris on this point The fact that a bowdlerized evangelical Christianity can still be rendered compatible with science because of the gaps in science and the elasticity of religious thinking does not mean that there are scientific reasons for being an evangelical Christian God doesn t need to be explained as he could just be a brute fact.The principle of Occam s Razor applies here If God supposedly just exists, why can t the universe muliverse matter energy just exist Dawkins atheism is overconfident and too brashly concluded, and he is too ferocious in promoting atheism.So it isn t reasonable to believe that God doesn t exist because there s no evidence for it Dawkins would change his mind if you gave him scientific evidence And as for Dawkins promoting atheism, that s just the pot telling the kettle it s black Yes, Dawkins promotes atheism as a rational worldview But it often seems like if any atheist says I don t believe in your religion they are a militant atheist , which is completely unfair RD doesn t know anything about Christian theology, so he shouldn t talk about it so rashly and openly.Christian theology is not the same thing as the God Question One can have read quite a lot on the existence of God and know nothing about Christian theology and its history radical theory change in science, one day the scientific ideas we believe to be true may turn out not to be so.True But that doesn t mean God will turn out to be right, and all we can do is go with the evidence we do have Dawkins is wrong to call religion a source of human misery Athough religious people do evil, they also do good Science has been used to research bombs and other ethically dubious things Dawkins would say this is an abuse of science, so why can t evils commited in religion s name be abuses of religion Is it immoral to know how to manufacture a bomb Technically, if you gave me the right equipment and chemicals, I could make TNT trinitrotoluene It involves using methylbenzene and NO3 2 heated to fairly high temperature to get all nitryl groups to bond it s called listening in chemistry class It s immoral to drop a bomb in most circumstances at least but that s a different question.Evils commited in the name of religion aren t abuses in the name of religion, because many of them are imbedded in the tenets of religion cut in case of offense Immorality has nothing to do with the tenets of science, which is should be ethical as in not involving human rights abuses research Stalin was an atheist I m not sure what point this is meant to make It s Hitler Ate Sugar, basically.Chaper Four Cultural Darwinism Memetics is the theory of a cultural replicator that is passed on by imitation McGrath has some objections to the theory of memetics 1 There is nor reason to assume that cultural evolution is Darwinian, or that evolution has anything to do with culture There is telelogy in memetics and some of it is Lamarckian 2 There is no direct evidence for the existence of memes 3 The analogy between the meme and the gene is flawed 4 The meme is not needed as an explanatory hypothesis.Objection OneThere are some reasons to suggest a memetic view of culture Black s The Meme Machine has some interesting information on memetics, and some suggestions as to why it is a useful concept It does explain some things harder to account for on other views, like a purely sociobiological one eg why do we have big brains Why do we do so many things our genes dislike eg Birth Control Why is it so hard for us to stop thinking Why do we talk constantly etc Admittedly there is some teleology in cultural evolution But is this really any different from human breeders selecting the features that they like in an animal and breeding for it, ie artificial selection Artifical selection doesn t invalidate evolution.As for the Lamarckian charge, yes some cultural evolution could be described as Lamarckian or copy the product But this doesn t really matter, because the real idea behind the meme is that of a replicator How that replicator does it is not relevant to whether memetics is valid.Objection TwoAdmittedly we don t know how memes are stored in the brain But Darwin never knew how heredity worked, as he never read the works of Mendel We someday may know where memes are stored The evidence is not in on this one Objection ThreeThere is no real problem of a false analogy The idea is the idea of a replicator It does not have to be a replicator analogous to the gene in every single way In fact, everything else could be different Provided memes are replicators, the analogy is fair.Objection FourAs I mentioned above, Black s book has some interesting work on how memetics explains things better than rival theories appear to Also, at one point, McGrath suggests that atheism and theism are both memes and thus both equally valid This isn t necessarily true Atheism nor theism don t have to be memes Memes are spread by imitation I did not become an atheist by imitating other atheists, thus my athiesm is not a meme The same could occur for theism Religion is a meme, but theism merely most likely is Of course, them both being memes doesn t put them both on the same footing The Earth is billions of years old and The Earth is 6,000 years old are both memes that are obviously not equally valid.Chapter Five Science And Religion Dawkins says Religion is a medieval and uninspiring way of looking at the universe, wheras science is a wonderful way of looking at everything McGrath disagrees because he believes that religion can inspire awe and reverence of nature and creation.This criteria is fairly subjective Being as it is mainly aesthetics, it is down somewhat to opinion what a view inspires I do agree with Dawkins somewhat on this point, because because God is not an inspiring answer to anything at all, wheras science is an interesting journey of discovery about the universe we live in I don t believe I have grounds to say that my aesthetic opinion is right or better than anybody else s however Works Referenced mentioned McGrath, Alister Dawkins God Genes, Memes and The Meaning Of Life, Blackwell Publishing 2005 obviously Black, Susan The Meme Machine, Oxford University Press 1999.Dawkins, Richard The God Delusion, Bantam Press 2006.Dawkins, Richard The Blind Watchmaker, Penguin Press 1986.Dennett, Daniel C Darwin s Dangerous Idea, Penguin Press 1995.Sam Harris quotation comes from this address


  3. says:

    This was a fantastic book Alister McGrath is a good writer and enjoyable to read In this book he dissects and rips apart Richard Dawkins piece by piece It s a fair treatment of the data and arguments and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the relationship between science and faith.


  4. says:

    A part of science vs religion controversy It critizes the anti religion school led by Dawkins and its idea of evolution biologically dna and spiritually meme Not so very convincing, as expected And rather boring.


  5. says:

    Too much biology focused I was hoping for aphilosophical theme.


  6. says:

    I really enjoyed this book because it is a really good response to Richard Dawkins and his arguments against god Let me mention somethings in this like it tells you on how Richard Dawkins refutation on the watchmaker argument doesn t refute God s existence, how a scientific method can prove or disprove god and on thing I realised while reading this book is that all those people that credit god for evolution , an agnostic choice on whenever god caused or didn t evolution and an atheist saying ev I really enjoyed this book because it is a really good response to Richard Dawkins and his arguments against god Let me mention somethings in this like it tells you on how Richard Dawkins refutation on the watchmaker argument doesn t refute God s existence, how a scientific method can prove or disprove god and on thing I realised while reading this book is that all those people that credit god for evolution , an agnostic choice on whenever god caused or didn t evolution and an atheist saying evolution doesn t need god and it turns out you don t need to because it doesn t link to an atheist, agnostic or a religious person understanding of the world


  7. says:

    Richard Dawkins is a compelling author with serious chops Any book claiming to take on Dawkins must be similarly compelling from an author with similar chops Alister McGrath has written, and is, one.McGrath adopts the right approach here, IMO He does three things skillfully Accepts science By endorsing the core of evolution and showing his excellent scientific depth in other domains, McGrath creates credibility for himself and avoids dismissal of his rebuttal Puts Dawkins in context S Richard Dawkins is a compelling author with serious chops Any book claiming to take on Dawkins must be similarly compelling from an author with similar chops Alister McGrath has written, and is, one.McGrath adopts the right approach here, IMO He does three things skillfully Accepts science By endorsing the core of evolution and showing his excellent scientific depth in other domains, McGrath creates credibility for himself and avoids dismissal of his rebuttal Puts Dawkins in context Science and people exist, and should be interpreted within a context McGrath provides the context for Dawkins science, andimportantly, the context for Dawkins himself McGrath provides credible assertions that the latter is what drives Dawkins to his anti religious assertions, and that it is less so his science Simultaneously, he lauds Dawkins as being an important, credible, and welcome voice in the human dialog about religion Identifies Dawkins logical scientific missteps He gracefully shows how the pretty veneer of Dawkins narrative uses common logical slight of hand tricks to make a point, and how Dawkins has allowed his anti religious views to become a religion of his own.No matter your religious beliefs, McGrath is worth reading.Footnote I have two reasons for giving this 4 stars instead of 5 Formatting The kindle version of this book is formatted with all footnotes at the end of each chapter Because this is HEAVILY footnoted, Kindle readers must flip through dozens of footnote pages at the end of each chapter to keep reading For the Kindle version, all footnotes should be grouped at the end of the book Lacks a contrary world view While McGrath does a handy job of describing and posing challenges to Dawkins world view, he doesn t go far enough to provide his own concise, competing world view his philosophy of God, philosophy on the relationship between God science, etc I guess I ll need to go buy other books by him to discover it


  8. says:

    Some decent comments and criticisms of Dawkins work I think he rightly attacks Dawkins for infusingcertainty into his claims than is warranted by the evidence inferring atheism from Darwinism for instance, or not being sufficiently mindful of the possibility of radical change within science given past scientific revolutions McGrath is correct I think, in stating that the obvious implication of Darwinism is agnosticism and not atheism, particularly not the excessively confident atheism Some decent comments and criticisms of Dawkins work I think he rightly attacks Dawkins for infusingcertainty into his claims than is warranted by the evidence inferring atheism from Darwinism for instance, or not being sufficiently mindful of the possibility of radical change within science given past scientific revolutions McGrath is correct I think, in stating that the obvious implication of Darwinism is agnosticism and not atheism, particularly not the excessively confident atheism that Dawkins claims is a logical extension of Darwinism Russell s skepticism I have always felt, was areasonable stance and I am inclined to agree with McGrath on this.It is sad that this book came out before the God Delusion and therefore does not interact with it McGrath s defense of Christianity as a hermeneutic tradition that seeks authenticity by constant reinterpretation in the light of evolving science was quite terrible His assertion that god is an ultimate that can only be described and is not in need of explanation is also difficult to stomach.McGrath believes that the Christian definition of faith is nothing at all like Dawkins understanding of it i.e the Christian faith is not blind trust without despite evidence He cites W H Griffith Thomas s definition of the Christian faith which, he says, affects all of man s nature It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence, continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will So for McGrath, the Christian faith, though it exists outside of the scientific method, is nevertheless rational, based on adequate evidence and in fact, uses something akin to the scientific method to reach its conclusions He feels this is a good reason for science and religion to work together, so that the scientific method may be applied to exegesis this last bit is implied At no point does he make the case for why exegesis should be considered valid knowledge as opposed to empirical observed evidence


  9. says:

    One of the challenges that I find in reading the works of Richard Dawkins critically is that so much seems intuitively right to me So for me this book was an attempt to see the weaknesses perceived by others I think McGrath is fair in some of his points, especially a broad division of the Dawkins corpus intoempirical, andrhetorical piles, with greater merit in the former But I think fairness to Dawkins requires recognition that McGrath s highly educated strain of Christianity is b One of the challenges that I find in reading the works of Richard Dawkins critically is that so much seems intuitively right to me So for me this book was an attempt to see the weaknesses perceived by others I think McGrath is fair in some of his points, especially a broad division of the Dawkins corpus intoempirical, andrhetorical piles, with greater merit in the former But I think fairness to Dawkins requires recognition that McGrath s highly educated strain of Christianity is by no means all that one encounters the belligerence of Dawkins is not in a vacuum, and Christian vehemence against science in general, and Darwin in particular is not hard to find McGrath is probably convincing for those who already agree with him Certainly, the theist who had preceded me through the public library copy I read seemed to feel that body blows were being landed, defacing the text in his relish But if Dawkins s characterization of faith as belief in the absence or even contradiction evidence is unsatisfactory to a theist, the definition that he quotes with praise strikes me as unsatisfactory as well Ultimately, McGrath provides the key to criticizing his own work the argument is the weakest where the rhetoric is the strongest What could berhetorical than the praeteritio of saying we can t judge atheism by its effects in communism, but its effects under communism were really horrible For those whose dogmatic slumbers have been disturbed by the nasty clang of Dawkins, McGrath will provide a pleasant sedative But I expect he will make few converts


  10. says:

    It s difficult to for me to accept any theological positioning on our realities when one is an agnostic atheist who used to be a Christian I read this book because I believe in giving myself a balanced input of perspectives when it comes to matters of existence, purpose, meanings of life, etc But, I guess, because of the difficulty I have in accepting theological positioning, I found it hard to not say this is just ridiculous.I will grant that McGrath made a solid effort to be scientific in It s difficult to for me to accept any theological positioning on our realities when one is an agnostic atheist who used to be a Christian I read this book because I believe in giving myself a balanced input of perspectives when it comes to matters of existence, purpose, meanings of life, etc But, I guess, because of the difficulty I have in accepting theological positioning, I found it hard to not say this is just ridiculous.I will grant that McGrath made a solid effort to be scientific in his propositions here But he uses a lot of pseudo science His evidence is personal experience His reasonings are circular His refutations of Dawkins various assertions are weak at best, and it left me with the impression that McGrath is just an indoctrinated drone who s slightly offended that anyone dare say that his god doesn t exist Moreover, this comes across as an attack on Dawkins, rather than an attack on Dawkins ideals and ideas


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