Alister McGrath is tiresome – in the same (agonizingly familiar) way so many theists and defenders of theism are tiresome. Tiresome via misdescription, is what they are. Strawmanism for short. They keep saying (over and over and over again) that atheists say X when atheists don’t say X, or Dawkins says Y when Dawkins never does say Y. Funny that (apparently) no editors ever strike them over the head and say ‘Stop that, he says no such thing.’ I would, if I were their editor. I’d love to strike them over the head.
Deep within humanity lies a longing to make sense of things. Why are we here? What is life all about? These questions are as old as the human race. So how are we to answer them? Can they be answered at all? Might God be part of the answer?
Sure, it ‘might,’ but so might a lot of things. Or not. That doesn’t get us very far.
Richard Dawkins, England’s grumpiest atheist, has a wonderfully brash way of dealing with this. Here’s how science would sort out this muddleheaded way of thinking: everyone else just needs to get out of the way, and let the real scientists, like himself, get to work. They would have these questions sorted out in no time…Science has all the answers…
Smack! Bad, Mr McGrath; do it over. He says no such thing. ‘Brash’ yourself. Accuracy counts.
This is what he says.
McGrath imagines that I would disagree with my hero Sir Peter Medawar on The Limits of Science. On the contrary. I never tire of emphasising how much we don’t know. The God Delusion ends in just such a theme. Where do the laws of physics come from? How did the universe begin? Scientists are working on these deep problems, honestly and patiently. Eventually they may be solved. Or they may be insoluble. We don’t know.
Maybe McGrath confuses saying ‘scientists are working on these deep problems’ with saying ‘science has all the answers.’ But if so, that doesn’t say very much for his care in reading and analysis.