Philosophy, Science and the God Debate (Part 2) - Alister McGrath, Keith Ward and John Lennox
#126 Debate - Lawrence Krauss vs John Lennox - Science, the Universe, The God Question - 2013
|Alister Edgar McGrath|
23 January 1953 |
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Occupation||Theologian, priest, historian, apologist, professor, scientist|
|Tradition or movement||Calvinism, Anglicanism|
|Notable ideas||Theistic evolution, Renewal of Natural Theology|
Alister Edgar McGrath (born 23 January 1953) is a Northern Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian, scientist, and Christian apologist. He currently holds the Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. He was previously Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture., Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and was principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, until 2005. He is an Anglican priest and is ordained within the Church of England.
Aside from being a faculty member at Oxford, McGrath has also taught at Cambridge University and is a Teaching Fellow at Regent College. McGrath holds three doctorates from the University of Oxford, a DPhil in Molecular Biophysics, a Doctor of Divinity in Theology and a Doctor of Letters in Intellectual History.
McGrath is noted for his work in historical theology, systematic theology, and the relationship between science and religion, as well as his writings on apologetics. He is also known for his opposition to New Atheism and antireligionism and his advocacy of theological critical realism. Among his best-known books are The Twilight of Atheism, The Dawkins Delusion, Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, and A Scientific Theology. He is also the author of a number of popular textbooks on theology.
McGrath was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Downpatrick, County Down, where he attended Down High School. In September 1966 he became a pupil at the Methodist College Belfast, where his studies focused on mathematics, physics and chemistry. He went up to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1971 and gained first class honours in chemistry in 1975. He began research in molecular biophysics in the Oxford University Department of Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Sir George Radda, FRS and was elected to an E.P.A. Cephalosporin Research Studentship at Linacre College, Oxford, for the academic year 1975-6, and to a Domus Senior Scholarship at Merton College, Oxford, for the period 1976-8. During these three years, he carried out scientific research while studying for the Oxford University Final Honour School of Theology. He was awarded an Oxford D.Phil. for his research in molecular biophysics (December 1977), and gained first class honours in Theology in June 1978.
McGrath then left Oxford to work at Cambridge University, where he also studied for ordination in the Church of England. In September 1980, he was ordained deacon and began ministry as a curate at St Leonard's Parish Church, Wollaton, Nottingham, in the English East Midlands. He was ordained priest at Southwell Minster in September 1981. In 1983, he was appointed lecturer in Christian doctrine and ethics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and a member of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology. He spent the fall semester of 1990 as the Ezra Squire Tipple Visiting Professor of Historical Theology at the Divinity School of Drew University, Madison, New Jersey.
McGrath was elected University Research Lecturer in Theology at Oxford University in 1993 and also served as research professor of theology at Regent College, Vancouver, from 1993 to 1999. In 1995, he was elected Principal of Wycliffe Hall and in 1999 was awarded a personal chair in theology by Oxford University with the title "Professor of Historical Theology". He was awarded the Oxford degree of Doctor of Divinity in 2001 for his research in historical and systematic theology, and was a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion. On 1 September 2008 McGrath took up the Chair of Theology, Ministry and Education in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King's College London. In 2013 he was awarded his third doctorate from Oxford University, a DLitt, Division of Humanities, for research into science and religion, and natural theology. He is married to Joanna Collicutt McGrath and they have two grown up children. McGrath was included in "The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors" list.
A former atheist, McGrath accepts evolution. In 2004 McGrath suggested in The Twilight of Atheism that atheism was in decline. He has been highly critical of Richard Dawkins, calling him "embarrassingly ignorant of Christian theology". His book: The Dawkins Delusion? – a response to Dawkins's The God Delusion – was published by SPCK in February 2007, and the two had public debate on the topic, "Does religious belief damage the health of a society, or is it necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society?"
McGrath has also debated with Daniel Dennett, at the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum (February 2007) in New Orleans, as well as Christopher Hitchens at Georgetown University. He was interviewed by Richard Dawkins about his book Dawkins' God and faith in general for the television documentary The Root of All Evil? McGrath's interview was not included in the final cut, but the unedited footage is available online. He states that he is not opposed to atheism itself, but rather the views of atheism held by people such as Dawkins.
Among McGrath's more notable works are:
R. T. France
|Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford
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