The Twilight of Atheism
by Allister McGrath, Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-50061-0
© 2004, 306 pages, $23.95, hardback
Allister McGrath is a professor of historical theology at Oxford. This background gives him unique credentials in discussing the history of attacks on religion and how atheists and religionists responded to those attacks. The first 170 pages of the book detail the major atheists from Voltaire and conditions in France in the early eighteenth century to Lenin and the early twentieth century. Not only does McGrath detail the historical events and philosophies but he also shows how major figures in other disciplines were connected to atheist beliefs--Freud, Marx, Dawkins, Nietzsche, etc., are all included.
The second part of the book shows the resurgence of religious faith and the weakness of modern atheism. McGrath shows the weakness of many atheist arguments and tells the sordid story of Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her murder. He also shows that atheists historically have been just as guilty of intolerance as religionists.
The last chapter of the book is titled, "The Fading Appeal of Atheism" and shows that evidence now exists which shows the importance of religion in human terms. McGrath develops the idea that atheism succeeded because it was viewed as having freed mankind from religious intolerance and oppression, and now that view can no longer be maintained. He then goes on to show the positive things religion has given and will give in the future--community, help in overall health and well-being, and solutions to world problems and pain.
We recommend this book highly. It is well written, easy to use as a reference source, and has a user friendly index and table of contents.
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