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Dawkins' God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-96478-1
208 pages
January 2015


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 (2006), as well as coverage of his later popular works The Magic of Reality (2011) and The Greatest Show on Earth (2011),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
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Darwinism: The Rise of a Scientific Theory 7

Natural Selection: Charles Darwin 9

The Mechanics of Inheritance: Gregor Mendel 18

The Discovery of the Gene: Thomas Hunt Morgan 21

The Role of DNA in Genetics 24

What’s in a Name? “Darwinism” or “Evolutionary Theory”? 26

2 The Selfish Gene: A Darwinian View of the World 32

Introducing Dawkins 33

Dawkins’ Approach: The Selfish Gene 38

The Place of Humanity in a Darwinian Universe 44

Are Genes Really Selfish? 47

What Remains of the “Selfish Gene” Approach? 51

3 Blind Faith?: Evidence, Proof, and Rationality in Science and Religion 57

Faith as Blind Trust? 60

Is Atheism Itself a Faith? 68

Is Christian Faith Irrational? 71

The Problem of Radical Theory Change in Science 77

The Limits of Science 80

Mystery, Insanity, and Nonsense 82

4 The Blind Watchmaker: Evolution and the Elimination of God? 86

The Contours of a Darwinian Worldview 86

Is Darwinism a Complete Explanation? 91

God as an Explanatory Hypothesis? 93

The Elimination of Purpose: Dawkins on Teleology in Nature 96

The Divine Watchmaker: Paley’s Grand (but Correctable) Mistake 98

Dynamic Conceptions of Creation: Augustine of Hippo 107

Natural Selection and Religious Beliefs: Darwin’s Views 111

The Christian Reaction to Darwin 116

5 Cultural Darwinism?: The Invention of the Meme 120

Universal Darwinism: The Evolution of Culture 120

Introducing the Meme 122

Introducing the “God-Meme” 125

Is Cultural Development Darwinian? 128

Do Memes Actually Exist? 131

The Flawed Analogy between Gene and Meme 133

The Redundancy of the Meme 136

God as a Virus of the Mind? 139

Moving On … 143

6 The God Delusion: Dawkins on Atheism, Science,  and Religion 144

The Cultural Location of The God Delusion 145

The “Warfare” of Science and Religion 149

Natural Science Leads to Neither Atheism Nor Christianity 155

Science, Faith, and Evidence 157

A Darwinian Explanation of Belief in God? 162

Awe, Wonder, and Religion 166

Conclusion 170

Select Bibliography 173

Index 184

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Author Information

Alister E. McGrath is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. One of the world’s leading theologians, he has written numerous critically acclaimed books, including The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (Wiley, 2013), Why God Won’t Go Away: Engaging the New Atheism (2011), and Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology (Wiley, 2011). He is also the author of some of the most widely used theology textbooks, including the bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction now in its fifth edition (Wiley, 2010).
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Priase for the Previous Edition

"Wielding evolutionary arguments and carefully chosen metaphors like sharp swords, Richard Dawkins has emerged over three decades as this generation′s most aggressive promoter of atheism. In his view, science, and science alone, provides the only rock worth standing on. In this remarkable book, Alister McGrath challenges Dawkins on the very ground he holds most sacred – rational argument – and McGrath disarms the master. It becomes readily apparent that Dawkins has aimed his attack at a naive version of faith that most serious believers would not recognize. After reading this carefully constructed and eloquently written book, Dawkins′ choice of atheism emerges as the most irrational of the available choices about God′s existence." Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project  

“In this tour–de–force Alister McGrath approaches the edifice of self–confident, breezy atheism so effectively promoted by Richard Dawkins, and by deft dissection and argument reveals the shallowness, special–pleading and inconsistencies of his world–picture. Here is a book which helps to rejoin the magnificence of science to the magnificence of God’s good Creation.” Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology, Cambridge University

“Here Alister McGrath announces what every Darwinian Fundamentalist needs to hear: that science is and always has been a cultural practice that is provisional, fallible, and socially shaped – an enterprise to be cultivated and fostered, but hardly worshipped or idolised. A devastating critique.” David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History, Queen’s University, Belfast    


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