The Twilight of Atheism

Today’s book is The Twilight of Atheism by Alister McGrath. I was prompted to read it because my apologetics class was reviewing several of the “New Atheism” books and it struck me that all of them were written after McGrath composed this semi-obituary for atheism.

It has a lot of fascinating historical stuff about atheism and how it came to be so dominant. It also notes that in terms of argument, the theist/atheist debates have kind of reached a stalemate, leaving a lot of  intellectual bullying and bludgeoning to be done (which seems evident in Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris in varying degrees – but also in some Christian apologists). Three things that seemed interesting:

  1. The fact that the historical existence of atheist cultures and nations has made it harder for atheists to simply oppose the corrupt and evil church (atheism lived out has plenty of its own dark elements).
  2. The almost unquenchable human searching for spiritual meaning (illustrated by comparing the original Star Trek with later versions!), which seems to suggest problems about the atheist agenda.
  3. The dynamic nature of Christianity means that previous anti-theistic arguments are less effective today (e.g., arguments that worked against Victorian era Anglicanism are not really well targeted on Latin American Pentacostalism)
  4. The role of imagination in this debate. McGrath mentions the loss of Christian imagination by the Victorians as a contributing factor to the cultural dominance of atheism, the loss of imagination among modern atheists (in different ways, of course) and the role of imagination in the resurgence of religion (e.g., Lewis, Tolkein, Sayers, O’Conner, etc.). He has a bit of discussion on the imagination beyond this. Given the recent comments from Greeley I posted on science fiction, this is an area I think I need to reflect on a bit.
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2 Responses to “The Twilight of Atheism”

  1. geekysteven Says:

    Have you read the God Delusion?

    • Carl Sanders Says:

      Yes, read Dawkins, most of Harris (End of Faith) and a few others. It’s an interesting blend of information. In the end, it seems not a particularly strong argument (a lot of repetition of key points, it seemed to me).

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