September 11 and the New Atheism

Why God Won’t Go Away, Alister McGrath, SPCK/Willow Connection, $18.50
Mere Theology, Alister McGrath, SPCK/Willow Connection, $25.50

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Alister McGrath argues that the recent widespread objection to religion gained its real traction from the suicide attacks in the US in September 2001. For years before this Richard Dawkins, for example, had argued that religion was irrational and dangerous, but it was only after 9/11 that "Islamic religious fanaticism" became of real concern to the populace, writes Kevin Mark in Kairos.

Dawkins, and other writers who emerged as the leaders of what has been dubbed the ‘New Atheism’, simplified the concern about the dangers of Islamic fanaticism to general religious fanaticism, and then to just religion in general.

After 25 years of service in the faculty of theology at Oxford University, in 2008 McGrath took up the newly established chair of theology, ministry and education at King’s College, London, and is also director of its centre for theology, religion and culture.

A skilled and prolific author, McGrath has intelligently and expertly engaged the New Atheism movement through public debates and writing, including the best-selling The Dawkins Delusion?

Why God Won’t Go Away is an excellent account of and response to the New Atheism. McGrath provides an overview of the leading writers – Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett – but also provides an informed account of groups promoting atheism on the internet.

Good follow-up reading is McGrath’s Mere Theology, its title obviously echoing CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity, a classic account for the general reader of Christian belief. McGrath’s book is a collection of lectures and talks (updated and revised for publication) on the importance and relevance of Christian theology.

McGrath is a very skilled and informative writer, and these are two excellent, timely additions to his body of work.

FULL BOOK REVIEW: Why God Won't Go Away & Mere Theology (Kairos)

LINKS:

New Atheism (Wikipedia)

Atheists are Wrong (IQ2 Sydney 6/9/11)

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