Monday, June 10, 2013

Alister McGrath Interview Transcript

The following transcript is from an Apologetics 315 interview with Alister McGrath. Original audio here. Transcript index here. If you enjoy transcripts, please consider supporting, which makes this possible.


BA: Hello this is Brian Auten of Apologetics 315.
Today's interview is with professor Alister McGrath, professor of theology, ministry, and education and head of the Centre of Theology, Religion & Culture at King's College, London. His studies range from a DPhil in molecular biophysics to a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford. He is noted for his work in historical, systematic and scientific theology. He is also author of a number of theology textbooks, scholarly articles, academic textbooks, as well as popular works. His works range from books in systematic theology and scientific theology to works dealing with the new atheism, apologetics and the Christian intellect.

Thank you so much for joining me today for this interview, Professor McGrath.

AM: Well it's a great pleasure. I look forward to our discussion.

BA: Now as you know, many people have heard of an atheist professor from Oxford, who was raised in a Christian home but who became an ardent voice for atheism. But others might want to hear about this Oxford atheist who became a Christian. Obviously, I'm talking about you, but would you mind telling me a bit more about your background and that journey?

AM: Well, I'd be delighted to. Richard Dawkins and I, I think, have traveled in precisely the opposite directions, which I think shows us that things aren't as quite straightforward as he thought they were. Anyway, I began studying the natural sciences in high school back in Northern Ireland, in the late 1960s. And it just seemed obvious to me that, you know, science eroded any space for God...that science proved what it believed. There was no room for any faith or anything like that, and therefore I came to take the view that basically religious people just turned their brains off, where scientists were completely attuned with the need for evidence-based reasoning. And I would have agreed with Richard Dawkins on so many points...you know, that for example, faith is about running away from the evidence, but science is about facing up to it.

So, until I went up to Oxford to actually study the natural sciences, I think actually I would have been very much like Richard Dawkins. I was very aggressive, I was very confident in my atheism, and generally took the view that religious people just hadn't turned the "on" switch in their brain. Then I began to think about things in much more detail. I began to read about the history and philosophy of science. I began to read Christian books. I began to talk to atheists and Christians, and began to realize that things were not as simple as I had realized. I had thought that atheism was intellectually very robust and that Christianity was just wishy-washy, lacking any rigorous foundation. And to cut a very long story short, I just began to realize that atheism wasn’t as intellectually strong as I had thought it was. Whereas, Christianity seemed to me to be really attractive and very robust and I ended up then becoming a Christian during my first year at Oxford University.

BA:  Well, speaking of Professor Dawkins, as a fellow colleague at Oxford you’ve had the rare opportunity to debate him, and you’ve also debated or had dialogue with some of the other New Atheist personalities like Daniel Dennett [and] Christopher Hitchens comes to mind. But what is your view on the overall tone and the content of atheism, if you will, as a movement today? Where do you think the main challenge lies for Christians to answering the New Atheism?

AM: I think the New Atheism is distinguished by two things. First of all, it repeats old arguments. We call it the “new” atheism, but actually it’s very old. It recycles old and very often discredited arguments from earlier generations. But, I think what’s new about it is its aggressiveness and its - how should I put it - its utter dismissiveness. It doesn’t take religious people seriously. It ridicules rather than engages, “Only a fool would believe this.” The rhetoric is very, very strong - perhaps covering up an obvious evidential argument as a weakness. And so for me the New Atheism is very, very strong on its rhetoric - its dismissal both of religious belief and religious people. In fact, its arguments are surprisingly weak. And so for me, Christians really ought to, I think, just get used to the rhetoric and say, “I’m not going to allow this to get to me.” And say, “Look, you can call me whatever names you want to, but do you mind if we look at the arguments and the evidence, because I think there may be a problem for you here.”  So we mustn’t feel discouraged. We mustn’t feel - how shall I put it - blown away by the rhetoric. We just say, “Look, there are some arguments here that I think we need to look at. You may call me a fool, but I have to say that your arguments aren’t good enough.”

BA: I’m thinking of a couple of books you’ve written on this subject, The Twilight of Atheism and The Future of Atheism, which is a dialogue between you and Daniel Dennett. But, in the Twilight in particular, you mention that although the ideas of atheism are nothing new, the future (in a sense) is largely dependent upon the attitude and actions of Christians and other religious people in society. So could you kind of unpack that a bit? How is atheism’s future determined, do you think?

AM: In the book The Twilight of Atheism, I make the point that atheism’s arguments are very well-known, very well-rehearsed, and there’s nothing very new about them. So I ask, “Well, where’s it going to go in the future?” And the point I make is that atheism is reactive. It’s not really a body of positive beliefs; although, atheists very often will say they are. The really defining characteristic is a rejection of religion. And if religion is weak, well - there’s not much motivation for being an atheist. But if religion is very strong and very aggressive, then actually atheism can easily arise as a reaction to religious strength. And one of the reasons we’ve seen the New Atheism is, paradoxically, because of the strength of religion in the world and especially Christianity in North America, and that really has riled atheists who feel that Christianity ought to have died out years ago. In many ways, I think the New Atheism is the “last hurrah”...the big attempt to try and reverse the flow, and that I think accounts for its aggressiveness. If we look at a history of this, in many ways the event that triggered off the New Atheism was 9/11, which was seen by all the leading New Atheist as demonstrating that religion was dangerous, but also a very real presence in the world today. I think that one of the things I’d want to say is that Christians who want to engage the New Atheism need to be aware that this isn’t simply a battle about ideas. It’s also about the form of Christianity we model. And in many ways we ought to model a gracious form of Christianity, because to come out all “guns ablazing”, modeling a very aggressive form of Christianity simply...how shall I put it...ratchets up the odds. It makes it even more difficult to have a sensible dialogue. It is very, very hard for the New Atheists to say, “Religion is arrogant, dangerous, and diluted” when they’re talking to very gracious, very intelligent dialogue partners. I think that we need to be aware of the best way that we can subvert the New Atheist rhetoric is by being polite, gracious, and above all, being able to show the weaknesses in their arguments.

BA: I want to ask you how you feel about the “old atheism”, so to speak, and the New Atheism. In particular, how they might define themselves. It used to be that atheism was the belief that “There is no god” and now it’s a little more slippery. Now it’s, “I simply lack a belief in gods.” Is this a cop-out, or semantics, or what is your opinion on how that shift in definition has taken place?

AM: Well, I think we do have to recognize that the word ‘atheism’ designates a spectrum of possibilities. It might be refer to someone who says, “Well, you know, I don’t believe in God,” meaning: “I don’t believe in God, but I haven’t really thought about it very much. In fact, at some point in the future I might change my mind.” The New Atheists very often treat that kind of person as an atheist; I would say they are agnostic. They don’t know the answer. They are not religious believers, so in one sense I suppose they are atheists, but they’re not principled atheists. If anything, they are what some scholars would call an apathetic atheist. Then there are those who have thought the thing through and really do believe that there is no god. Look very carefully, that’s a position of faith: “I believe there is no God.” Actually, a lot of those are very, very reasonable, very, very gracious people who just say, “Look, I’ve thought about this. I don’t think there is a God. I know you’ve thought about it and think there is a God, and we respect that position. Actually we understand how you’ve come to that position, but it’s not one we share.” And these people are generally very good in discussion and debate. [They are] very honest about the weaknesses of their own positions. Also I think a very important point is [that] they are absolutely clear that it is rational to be a Christian. They just take the view that it’s more rational to be an atheist. Then we come to the New Atheism, and it’s in a different ballpark. It ridicules rather than argues. It aims to portray religious believers as idiots. It claims a monopoly on rationality. It’s a very aggressive and very arrogant form of atheism. I think it’s interesting to note that most of its chief critics are not Christians like myself but other atheists who find themselves embarrassed and humiliated by its arrogance and its intellectual superficiality.

BA: That’s helpful. Moving on here just a little bit, I want to explore the importance of theology in the work of Christian apologetics. One of your newer books is The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind - that’s the U.S. Title. The UK title is Mere Theology, and in it you give an overview of the purpose and the place and the relevance of theology. So what’s your goal in that book?

AM: My goal, I think, is to make believers into thinkers and thinkers into believers. All I’m really doing there is I’m taking one of the things that Christ says very, very seriously. He says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” In many ways I’m saying to my readers, as I saw now to my listeners, “Look, part of our discipleship is to supplement a discipleship of the heart and a discipleship of the hands with a discipleship of the mind. We need to go deeper into our faith to appreciate it, to understand it, to really take delight in its ideas and how they make sense of life. That’s good for us. It really brings a new depth and quality to our own faith, but it also enables us to engage our culture and be able to explain to people why Christianity makes sense, to help them grasp why it’s so important and realistic. In short, it really allows you to do good informed apologetics.

BA: Excellent. Some people would see a dichotomy between having a vibrant spiritual faith and being theologically engaged with their intellect or taking an intellectual approach to one’s faith. Do you think you’re trying to dispel this false dichotomy and encourage that a rigorous, intellectual approach to the faith can actually cause your spiritual walk to be more alive and more vibrant?

AM: It certainly can. But I can understand why some people might be a little anxious. As they will say, and I think absolutely rightly, “Look, faith is relational. It’s about a deeper relationship with God...with the risen Christ.” And I agree entirely. I’m not saying that we develop a discipleship of the mind to displace, or replace this very important living and loving relationship with God. I’m saying that as you fall in love with someone, you want to know more about them. You talk to them, you get to know them, you begin to echo what they think. And in many ways I’m just saying that this is an extra layer of the Christian faith. It’s a layer which I think has become more important in recent years. For example, the rise of the New Atheism has really made it all the more important that we’re able to give good intellectually informed accounts of what Christians believe and why, in the public sphere. I take great delight in noting that this is happening. I’m thrilled by some of the books I’ve seen recently and by the quality of some Christian speakers that I’ve heard. So I think what I’m saying is, look, this is not an attempt to break any of the traditional thinking about faith by downplaying the importance of prayer, or of meditative Bible reading, or of spending quality time with God. I’m simply saying maybe in our day and age this has become important. Let’s recover this older way of thinking, not to displace relationality with God, but to supplement it and be able to meet the challenge of this age.

BA: One of the things that you do in the book is, you do offer (later) a critique of some of the New Atheist ideas. How do you see a strong, theological emphasis, with believers helping the cause of Christianity, as it counters this New Atheism or presents a stronger intellectual front, if you will?

AM: One of my favorite apologists is C.S. Lewis, and Lewis I think helps us understand that the Christian faith projects a very powerful rational or intellectual, a very powerful moral, and a very powerful aesthetic vision. In other words, it captivates you at every level by its wonderful vision of reality. And I think we need to recover that...to actually be excited and challenged by the vision that the Christian faith offers us. But, I think there is an issue here that has become particularly important in the light of the circumstances you’ve just mentioned, and it is this: at the moment the New Atheism challenges religious beliefs. In other words, it’s operating at the level of ideas. Now, you and I and everybody listening to this knows perfectly well there is far more to Christianity than its ideas. It’s all about the emotions, the relationship with God and so on, but at this moment in time, it’s the ideas that seem to be the point of debate. It may be in twenty years-time it’s going to be something else, but at the moment it’s the ideas. And therefore, I think we do need to try and recover the sense of showing why Christianity makes sense, critiquing the idea of atheism, and really just rediscovering the rationality of the Christian faith. I think that there’s a real need to do theology properly to help us do good apologetics.

Just let me give you some examples of the ways in which this helps. I think it’s very easy to form the incorrect judgment that basically apologetics is a set of techniques. “Here’s how you answer this question. Here are six very good reasons for believing in God and so on.” A good, theological framework makes it clear that apologetics is a work of grace, in which we are not simply developing techniques - we are being shaped by God; we are being equipped by God. It really emphasizes that there’s a “Godward” dimension of apologetics. And that’s so helpful as a corrective to the idea that apologetics is just about learning techniques. But more than that I think, good theology helps us to deepen our vision of what the Christian faith is. It enables us, if I can put it like this, to look at each element of the Christian faith and appreciate it in its own right. And then to ask, “What might its apologetic significance be?” And it helps us to work out how much there is in the Christian faith that’s able to capture the imagination, or the emotions, or the mind of our audience. And that’s why I think theology is so important. It’s good for each of us because it deepens both our understanding, and our appreciation for our faith, but it also helps us work out how to connect up with our culture and to explain to them the vitality and relevance of faith.

BA: Well, on a practical level, what kind of advice would you have for those who are defenders of the faith, so that they can have a stronger theological foundation? What sort of practical things should they be focusing on?

AM: Well, let me make two very quick suggestions. They should read. They should read people who we know are good apologists. I’ve mentioned C.S. Lewis, and I’m sure we could easily add others to the list. And you need to read them with an agenda, and the agenda is: “What questions are they asking? How do they engage with people? What can I learn from this?” In other words, see them as the masters - what can we learn from them? But secondly, and I think this is very important: we need to listen to our culture. Listen to the questions our friends ask us, to the anxieties we see when we read the newspapers or watch TV, and we need to ask, “How could I engage with that? How could I, for example, take C.S. Lewis and engage that question? How could I provide a good Christian response to the questions being asked?” Apologetics is really about making sure that the Christian faith connects up well with the questions our culture is asking. We need to know our faith. We need to know our culture, and above all, we need to be bridge the gap between them.

BA: That’s good. As far as the church body...the local church, how do you see this engagement with theology and apologetics playing a more dominant role? How do you think that we can practically encourage that in the church at large?

AM: Well, I think the pastor does play a very critical role here. And apologetics is not simply about reaching outside the church. It’s helping people realize why Christianity makes so much sense. There are many people inside church congregations who are wrestling with apologetic questions. They’ve come to faith, but haven’t had all their questions answered. I think the pastor or the preacher needs to realize that if they want their people to be good ministers of the faith, apologists and evangelists, they’ve got to be equipped. They’ve got to be reassured about their faith. They’ve got to be helped to be able to explain it and defend it in the secular marketplace. Now many, many pastors and preachers say, “I couldn’t do this.” In this case you need to bring somebody in who can. But there’s a real need for the local church to see this kind of ministry as a priority in our present cultural situation.

BA: Would there be advice that you’d want to give to lay apologists, that would help them to succeed in getting their congregations more interested in defending the faith. You mentioned there bringing in people who are good equippers, but what sort of initiatives do you see, or would you recommend?

AM: Well, let me recommend two very obvious things that we can do, and we use both of these at the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics, where we equip people to do this kind of thing. Number one: you read some passages from a leading Christian apologist. It might be Ravi Zacharias, it might be C.S. Lewis, or it might be somebody else. And again you’re enjoying reading, but your asking, “How can we use this to help answer the questions we are being asked?” And secondly, you get a group of people together and you say, “Look, we’re going to talk about a question tonight. (For example, why does God allow suffering?) And what we’re going to do is to work our way towards a good answer that we can give to our friends.” And as you talk about this, you will find that your understanding of the answers you can give becomes much much greater because you’re listening to other people, reflecting on how they would answer it. Apologetics is about collaborative. It’s about sharing ideas, sharing insights, and beginning to realize that there are some very good answers that can be given to the questions people are asking.

BA: I want to pick up on a thought you mentioned there, about apologetics being collaborative, and it reminds me of something I’ve heard Gary Habermas say about apologetics being something we do in a community. Would you mind expanding on that a little bit more, and how you see that playing out as we move forward in that field?

AM: I think that there are people who are, how should I put it, lone rangers. They just become very good apologists, and that’s wonderful.  But if you take someone like C.S. Lewis, Lewis worked with a group of people. Above all, the people we think of as “Inklings”, and they helped him develop his answers. They would say, “That’s not good enough. You’ve got to do better. What about this?” And in interaction with people like them, he developed better answers. They both challenged him by saying, “You need to do better,” and they helped him work out better answers. And that’s why I think apologetics is best done collaboratively, where we share our ideas and approaches, we kick them around, we fine-tune them if you like, and at the end of the day we all emerge from that having better answers to give to our culture.


BA: That’s good. Now we’ve been speaking about theology and its apologetic applications if you will, but let me ask you about another subject which is related, and to which you’ve put a lot of your energies, and that’s natural theology. Would you mind describing that briefly, and then explain what role you think that plays for Christian apologetics today.

AM: Well, the idea of natural theology can take various forms, but they all have one thing in common, and that is that in some way we can use the natural world around us as a kind of navigable channel to helping people find God. In other words, you’re arguing from the creation to the creator. In many ways, it’s picking up the theme of Psalm 19 verse 1: “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord.” “You see the glory of the heavens? Well doesn’t that point towards the greater glory of God?” And it picks up on where a lot of people are in our culture. They have a very real sense of respect for nature, a love for nature, they appreciate the beauty of nature. One of the things we can do is to try and say, “Look, what you are doing is admiring or loving something that God has done. Might not God himself be even better still?” So it’s using nature as a jumping off point. It’s not saying [that] nature is God, and it’s certainly not saying that nature tells us everything we need to know about God. It’s rather saying that nature can be a gateway, or a starting point for some very important discussions about God. All of these need to be shaped and resourced by the Biblical witness, but even the Biblical witness itself very often suggests we can begin with people’s interest in the natural order and then use that as a way of leading them beyond that to discover God himself.

BA: What other sort of scriptural precedents or appeals to natural theology do you see and how you would encourage people to go about using arguments from natural theology?

AM: Well, I think if we look at Romans chapter one, or of course Paul’s very famous address in Athens - the so-called Areopagus speech of Acts 17...In the case of the Athens speech, Paul, in many ways, is facing up to the fact that his Greek audience doesn’t know anything about the Old Testament; so, how can he explain who Christ is? In many ways, his answer is to appeal to the doctrine of creation - the idea [that] there is someone who’s made this whole thing, and in some way this God can be known. And what he ends up saying is, “What you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” In other words, “You have this deep sense [that] there’s something else there. Well, I will tell you who it is and how you find Him.” I think this is very helpful because, as you rightly say, there are many people who have this sense that nature is pointing towards something greater, but they don’t know how to find it. And I think our privilege can be to help them use nature as a gateway to discover the greater reality behind it.

BA: Well, let’s shift gears back to the discipleship of the mind for a few minutes. When it comes to the discipline of learning, what sort of advice would you want to give to Christian apologists who are seeking to be better equipped to defend their faith?

AM: I think one thing we all have to recognize is that we can’t be good at everything. And therefore, I would say to people that it really helps to have a good knowledge of your faith and the questions people are asking. And it also helps to be able to say, “Given my own educational background or my own professional expertise, I could be helpful in this area.” For example, using literature in apologetics, using science in apologetics or indeed, thinking about the psychology of apologetics. And so I just say to anybody listening to this: try and work out what it is that you could do. I will say - very clearly - that the deeper you go, the more excited you’ll become and you will probably be overwhelmed by the idea of what you can do and how you can take things further.

But in many ways, I think the core advice I would give you is this: first - try reading some apologists, and don’t just read them for fun. Ask: “How do they understand apologetics? How do they do it? What can I learn from this?” Then secondly, listen to the questions you hear people asking around you about faith. And ask yourself, “Is there any way that my own background [or] my own expertise might be helpful in this respect?” Because again, apologetics is collaborative, and maybe you’ve got something to contribute to the rest of us that might be very exciting and very important.

BA: You mentioned C.S. Lewis, and obviously he’s influenced you as well as countless others, but what other apologists have been strong influences in your own pursuit?

AM: Lewis has been particularly influential for me, because his own apologetic method actually operates in a number of different levels...the reason, the imagination, the emotions. So I find him particularly interesting, but of course there are others. I enjoy reading Ravi Zacharias. I particularly feel that he’s got a very good sense of where many university students are. I enjoy reading William Lane Craig. I really admire the way in which he demonstrates the coherence of the Christian faith. And there are others as well, but those will just do us for a starting point. I think the important thing I would want to say to anybody listening to this is, “Look...maybe there’s a dialogue partner you could find.” In other words, you read something and you say, “Oh, he’s on my wavelength,” or “Oh, she’s really good.” If you find that person, they can help you grow. So, one of the reasons you’re reading apologists is to try and find somebody who you think might be somebody who you could journey with and grow in your understanding in doing so.

BA: Are there any particular areas that you think may be lacking in the field of apologetics today, that you would want to see reinforced or developed to a greater degree?

AM: I think I’ve been hugely encouraged by the way apologetics has developed in the last twenty years. I think people really are rising to the challenge, and there are some obvious areas. For example, we need my psychologists. We need more sociologists to help us here. And what I’d want to say is, if there’s anybody listening to this that feels like, “I’m in a field of study, and I can see ways in which my discipline could help.” Then start thinking about making those connections. This is how apologetics is going to grow. Go to the conferences. Get in touch with apologists and see what you can do to move things forward. But I think more importantly, what we need to do is make sure we always keep in touch with where culture is. And one of the things apologetics always needs to do is to develop what I’m going to call “culture watches.” In other words, people who deliberately look at the way our culture is going. They read newspapers. They look at the lyrics of popular songs, and they try to ask, “What are the anxieties and concerns of the moment, and how can the Christian faith connect up with those? There is a lot be need to do, but I’m so pleased with how much has been done in the past two decades.

BA: Well one more question, and this is for believers listening who would say, “You know, God has gifted me with a thinking mind, I’m drawn to the academic world, and I want to serve Christ as a Christian academic and defend the faith in that arena. Do you have any advice for how they should approach their studies and think with a longer time perspective?

AM: Well yes I think that you need to do this intentionally. It may take a very long time. At Oxford University we have a Christian mind course which tries to help especially young to mid career professionals work out how to integrate their faith and their professional competencies. And what I want to say is we really do need people who can do this, and it’s not going to happen over night. I’m hoping that when people listen to this they will say, “Look, I’m at the research stage. I’m at an early stage of my career, but I know it really could be important.” And I want to say to you hang in there. Try to make the relating of your faith and your professional work a priority because we need Christian voices in those disciplines, and we need Christian answers to the questions raised by those disciplines. You know, you could be the person who helps us move ahead here.

BA: You mentioned the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. What kind of people is this geared for and who would you encourage to get involved with that?

AM: Well the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics was founded back in 2004 in recognition that we needed to intentionally help apologists develop their techniques and above all to help people who thought maybe they could become an apologist get started. And we’ve been thrilled by its progress. We’ve grown and grown and grown, and today we are very pleased by the quality of people who come to us for our courses and the people who we are able to help in so many ways. We’re based at Oxford, and I think we do three main things. We run a nine-month course in Christian apologetics in both theory and practice. We run conference throughout the world where we help people to develop their own techniques and approaches, and we also write publications. If you search for Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics on the web, you’ll find out all about us and the kind of things we do.

BA: Great. Now just shifting gears again Professor McGrath; I wanted to ask you about some of your works of fiction. This includes a series called The Aedyn Chronicles. And in fact I found the first book of this series free on Kindle, and that was today. I don’t know how long it will be free on Kindle, but there are a couple more books in this series. Can you tell me more about this series and your goal in writing fiction?

AM: Well I do feel very strongly that one of the weaknesses in contemporary Christian apologetics is that we are very good at arguments. But the real problem is that for many people when they come home tired from work, they’re not going to pick up a book which deals with abstract arguments for the existence of God, but they will read novels. And in many ways fiction is the gateway to the soul for many people these days. I’ve often said to people that we need to write more Christian novels. We need to develop an apologetics of the imagination to get through to these people. And I felt I just couldn’t keep saying, “We need to do this.” I had to at least try to do it myself. So in many ways these novels are an attempt on my part to say, “Look, I’m going to try and do this. Now that I’ve tried it, maybe other people will as well.” And my hope will be that we will identify some really good Christian writers who can develop the kind of ministry that C.S. Lewis had with the Narnia Chronicles 50 years ago. We really need that and I think we really need to encourage people to try and see why fiction, for children or for anyone, can really serve an important role in today’s apologetic task.

BA: Back to C.S. Lewis. You’re working on a project that deals with the works of Lewis. Would you mind talking about that project and any other more recent books or projects that you might want our listeners to be aware of?

AM: Well thank you. The big project I’m working on right now is a biography of C.S. Lewis. It will come out in 2013, which of course is the 50th anniversary of his death. And what I’m trying to do is to really speak to people who have discovered Lewis through his films or his reputation but don’t quite know why he’s so significant. And I’m trying to explain who this man is, why he is so interesting, explaining his ideas, his arguments, his stories, and really I think trying to introduce him to a new generation. It’s a wonderful project, and I’m enjoying writing it enormously. There’s a book that’s coming out very soon in the UK and in two months in the states. It’s called, Why God Won’t Go Away. And as you might expect it’s a critique of the new atheism. It’s saying that we’ve dealt with your critiques of Christianity. Now we’re going to start asking you some hard questions like what are your positive beliefs? In many ways this takes the critique of the New Atheism further, and I really do think it will be uncomfortable for them. It really challenges their own positive approaches and positive beliefs. I think it helps us see that there’s something wrong here. The subtitle of the U.S. edition is, Is the New Atheism Running on Empty?

BA: Well I definitely look forward to that work as well as your biography of C.S. Lewis. Thank you so much for joining me. It’s been excellent.

AM: It’s been a great pleasure.

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