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As Oxford professor and arch-evangelist of atheism Richard Dawkins continues his crusade against religion, we finally have the first book-length critique of The God Delusion: Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine (InterVarsity Press).

One could hardly think of a more contrasting figure to Dawkins or a better apologist for theism than Alister McGrath. This atheist-turned-Christian, also of Oxford, is a professor of historical theology. But as a student of molecular biophysics, he possesses the dual credibility in science and religion that Dawkins lacks. Further, McGrath authored Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life in 2004, and is thus thoroughly familiar with Dawkins's other writings. This is especially helpful for calling Dawkins to consistency.

For example, Dawkins's central argument is that God's existence cannot explain the world because he must be at least as complex, and therefore as improbable, as the world itself; and such an improbable entity would also require explanation. Recalling Dawkins's earlier work Climbing Mount Improbable, McGrath notes Dawkins's admission that humanity's existence itself is overwhelmingly improbable. But of course we exist. "We may be highly improbable—yet we are here," writes McGrath. "The issue, then, is not whether God is probable but whether he is actual."

Although McGrath's response is provocative, it is precisely at such points in The Dawkins Delusion? that one wishes McGrath had plumbed the depth of Dawkins's philosophical naïveté. In asserting that God is improbable, the zoologist is out of his habitat. Probability theorists have developed complex equations to tackle ...

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hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2007

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