Books of the Month - March 2008
This month, I've decided to review three books. You'll see why when we're done.
The first selection for this month is "The Dawkins Delusion", by Alister and Joanna McGrath. McGrath, who holds a doctorate in molecular biophysics, was an atheist himself at one time and wonders how he and Dawkins can evaluate the same scientific evidence and draw such different conclusions about God. McGrath, in a polite, non-offensive way, systematically, meticulously and effectively picks apart Dawkins arguments in his book "The God Delusion."
Purchase your copy here and here.
The second selection this month is "Dawkins' God", by Alister McGrath. This book attempts to delve into the mindset of Richard Dawkins, who is an outspoken scientist and proponent of secular humanism, evolution and cultural Darwinism. Response is given to many of the theories, foundations and worldview he champions.
Alister McGrath, Oxford professor of Historic Theology and former atheist, offers a vast wealth of information in this volume, following the path that has led many away from faith, Opening windows into theories both for and against natural selection.
McGrath's coverage of memes and mimetics is intriguing, as it illustrates in Dawkins' own terms the types of problems he dismisses from theologians but has no problem believing outside of the religious sphere.
McGrath also touches on thinkers like Thomas Huxley, William Paley and Gregor Mendel. He also covers the idea of Lamarckism (basically, the theory that traits that have changed during the lifetime of an organism can be directly passed on to the organism's offspring) and the concept of awe.
Purchase your copy here and here.
Finally, this month's third selection is "The God Delusion", by Richard Dawkins. It would hardly be fair of me to promote books that criticize this book without acknowledging it as well.
World-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins writes in "The God Delusion": "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." Dawkins also writes that, "Evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening."
Dawkins, a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, has himself written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who dare to believe in it. Dawkins however, anticipates this criticism and claims that it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions, mainly fundamentalist Christianity and Islam. He claims that these religions close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation.
Even some confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of Dawkins rhetoric, like the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, attempting to draw on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. Dawkins also attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism by using evolution to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but is less convincing in promoting the idea that the world would be better and more peaceful without it.
Purchase your copy here.
Labels: Books of the Month