Alister McGrath Whistles Past the Graveyard

Alister McGrath Whistles Past the Graveyard November 29, 2015

Okay, that probably overstates the case. But Professor Alister McGrath of Oxford claims, despite all evidence to the contrary, that atheism is “in decline” and will soon be trumped by faith. I’ve always found it odd when people speak about faith without addressing the obvious question: Faith in what? Is faith in Zeus going to claim victory over atheism? Faith in Huitzlpochtli?

Atheism is in decline and will be trumped by faith, the professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford has said.

Professor Alister McGrath made his predictions during the annual Parchman Lectures at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary, the Baptist Standard reports. The academic, who has degrees in molecular biology, theology and intellectual history, spoke on “why faith makes sense: exploring the rationality of Christianity.”

McGrath said he was an atheist as a young man, but faith makes greater sense of reality and transcends reason, which is insufficient for understanding the world.

“New Atheism ridicules the ‘irrationality of faith,'” said McGrath, who has debated New Atheist icons such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. “But it’s in decline, because it’s stale, dull and incredible. It provides unsatisfactory answers to ultimate questions. People want to know more.”

And yet the number of atheists has grown enormously, especially in his home country, where more than 25% of the population identifies as either atheist or agnostic, and 42% say they don’t identify with a religion. Even in the United States, a far more religious country than England, has seen significant growth in the percentage of people who identify as atheist, agnostic of non-religious. And this is especially true among younger people. By what possible standard could one claim that atheism is “in decline” in the west? He doesn’t try to make any argument for this claim other than, to paraphrase, “atheism is in decline because I think it’s sterile and empty.” But what he believes is obviously not the same as what the population believes.

“We don’t have to worry about it all that much. That’s the human condition: We know we cannot prove all the great questions of life,” he said. But Christians can offer their answers to hard questions, as well as reasons for believing them, he assured.

“The best way to persuade others is not by argument but by inviting them to step inside (of faith) and see if it helps make sense of things,” he said, citing CS Lewis. “It is not an illusion, but truth, and truth shall set you free.”

This is classic religio-babble. This guy teaches at Oxford? I’d expect an argument this bad from Josh McDowell.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!