Alister McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, and he has just published an article in ‘The Times’ attacking what he calls the “ideological fanaticism” of Richard Dawkins, and he has recently published a book along the same lines called ‘The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine’, which was co-written by Joanna Collicutt McGrath and published by SPCK (the Society for the Publication of Christian Knowledge).
McGrath’s article commences:
Deep within humanity lies a longing to make sense of things. Why are we here? What is life about? These questions are as old as the human race. So how can we answer them? Might they be answered at all? Might God be part of the answer?
Astute readers will have noticed that McGrath starts with the arrogant assumption that this thing he refers to as “God” actually exists, without so much as providing the slightest shred of evidence whatsoever that it does, or that it has the attributes he implies it has.
Undeterred, McGrath continues with his ad hominem attack, and uses Dawkins’ The God Delusion’ as evidence for claiming…
Richard Dawkins, England’s grumpiest atheist, has a wonderfully brash way of dealing with this [the questions raised by McGrath in his above quote]…Belief in God is just for those who are mad, bad or sad. Science has all the answers – and God isn’t even on the shortlist. Only science-hating idiots think otherwise. End of discussion.
Now only someone who has not actually read The God Delusion’, could attribute such statements to Dawkins as McGrath has; either that, or McGrath’s claims are simply duplicitous, mendacious and evidence his complete lack of honesty, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which of these circumstances apply to McGrath.
However, there is little doubt in my mind, at least, that McGrath is a man without a shred of integrity, since he continues his attack on Dawkins with this piece of deliberately duplicitous irrelevance…
Two other interesting books appeared in the same year as Dawkins’s. Owen Gingerich, Harvard University’s distinguished astronomer, published ’God’s Universe’. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, brought out ’The Language of God. Both these scientists, with a long track record of peer-reviewed publications, made the case for belief in God as the best and most satisfying explanation of the way things are.
Readers will note that McGrath implies that the case that these two scientists make to support their alleged ‘belief’ in God is authoritative, by direct reference to their respective “long track record of peer-reviewed publications [in accredited scientific journals]”, whilst deliberately failing to point out that is a complete non sequitur. No one, irrespective of their scientific credentials, has ever been able to produce any empirical credible evidence proving the existence of the entity which McGrath refers to as ‘God’, far less have they been able to publish their peer-reviewed findings in an accredited scientific journal.
Furthermore, McGrath ignores all the latest evidence from neuroscience, which has demonstrated by dozens of elegant studies that this so-called “belief in God” to which he refers is little more than dysfunctional neural activity, and, consequently, that the object of the ‘belief’ has no objective reality whatsoever..
Clearly McGrath is aware of these flaws, as he has to employ sophistry in a rather weak attempt to justify his faith in something which science and ratiocination cannot verify, but which all the evidence shows is a delusion on the part of the so-called ‘believer’…
It is worth reminding ourselves that the hallmark of intelligence is not whether one believes in God or not, but the quality of the processes that underlie one’s beliefs.
In other words, whilst McGrath and his sort are unable to produce any credible empirical evidence proving the existence of the entity which they refer to as ‘God’, atheists are expected to admire their intelligence for being able to produce their duplicitous and mendacious arguments, peppered with convoluted sophistry, in support of their faith, but we are not to be permitted to point out that, despite their best efforts, their faith in the existence of this ‘God’ of theirs is neither supported by evidence nor logic.
That McGrath is becoming desperate by now is evidenced by this quotation from C. S. Lewis:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because of it, I see everything else.”
It is only a small pity, perhaps, that no one pointed out to either Lewis or McGrath that anyone who believes that the sun rises is mistaken – a fact which has been known since the days of Galileo Galilei, at least. But then McGrath is not one to allow facts, or truth, to stand in the way of his irrational faith.
McGrath winds up his dishonest little polemical tirade with this…
Christians will argue that their worldview represents a superb way of making sense of things…they know that they can’t prove that God is there, any more than an atheist can prove that there is no God. Christians or atheists, base our lives on at least some fundamental beliefs that we know we cannot prove, but nevertheless believed to be reliable and significant.
If that statement, more than anything, fails to demonstrate McGrath’s complete dishonesty and the lack of integrity, I cannot imagine what more evidence you, dear reader, would require.
In one paragraph, McGrath is reduced to the absurd claim that Christianity is justified simply because it enables psychologically dysfunctional people to cope with the aspects of existence they are unable to comprehend or face up to. He then tries to justify this with that much misused old canard, and complete non sequitur, that atheists cannot prove that this entity he calls ‘God’ does not exist, whilst carefully failing to point out that the onus rests entirely on him, the allegedly learned Professor of Theology, to prove that this ‘God’ he claims to ‘believe’ in does exist.
And as for his claim, “Christians or atheists, base our lives on at least some fundamental beliefs that we know we cannot prove, but nevertheless believed to be reliable and significant,” is yet another non-sequitur, because (a) there is an everyday semantic difference between ‘belief’ and ‘faith’, and , (b )there is a de facto complete and utter difference between what psychologists and epistemologists call a ‘justified true belief’ and irrational, supernatural, unsubstantiatable faith in something which cannot be credibly demonstrated to exist at all.
In conclusion, your article demonstrates that you, Professor Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, have absolutely no personal integrity or academic credibility whatsoever, in my opinion.
However, there may be those who are prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. In which case, there is one of two alternatives available to them. Either (a) if you genuinely do believe in this entity which you call ‘God’, then you are psychologically dysfunctional, irrespective of the magnitude of your intelligence, or (b) if you are simply professing to believe in this entity which you call ‘God’ in order to further your more material needs, then you are a complete and utter charlatan and fraud.
I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which alternative they think applies to you, Alister.