Alister Edgar McGrath (born 23 January 1953) is a British Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture. He was previously Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and was principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford until 2005. He has also taught at Cambridge University and is a Teaching Fellow at Regent College. McGrath holds two doctorates from the University of Oxford, a DPhil in Molecular Biophysics and a Doctor of Divinity in Theology. He is an Anglican and is ordained within the Church of England.
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 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 into the Church of England. In September 1980, he was ordained deacon, and began work 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. McGrath 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 1993-1999. 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. 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.
McGrath accepts evolution. McGrath was formerly an atheist. 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:
- Understanding the Trinity, Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1988, ISBN 0310296803
- Understanding Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, ISBN 0310479517
- Bridge-Building, Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1992, ISBN 0851109691
- Intellectuals Don't Need God & Other Modern Myths, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, ISBN 0310590914
- The Renewal of Anglicanism, Harrisburg: Morehouse, 1993, ISBN 0819216038
- A Life of John Calvin (1993) ISBN 0-631-18947-5
- A Passion for Truth: The Intellectual Coherence of Evangelicalism (1996) ISBN 0-8308-1866-9
- Iustitia Dei, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0521624266
- Science and Religion: An Introduction (1998) ISBN 0-631-20842-9
- Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought (1998) ISBN 0-631-20844-5
- I Believe: Exploring the Apostles' Creed (1998) ISBN 0-8308-1946-0
- T. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography (1999) ISBN 0-567-08683-6
- The Journey: A Pilgrim in the Lands of the Spirit (2000) ISBN 978-0-385-49588-2
- Christian Theology: An Introduction (2001) ISBN 0-631-22528-5 (often used as a seminary textbook)
- The Christian Theology Reader (2001) ISBN 0-631-20637-X (containing primary sources referred to in his Christian Theology)
- In the Beginning : The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language,and a Culture (2001) ISBN 0-385-72216-8
- Glimpsing the Face of God: The Search for Meaning in the Universe (2001) ISBN 0-8028-3980-0
- The Reenchantment of Nature: The Denial of Religion and the Ecological Crisis (2002) ISBN 978-0-385-50059-3
- Knowing Christ (2002) ISBN 0-385-50316-4
- A Scientific Theology v. 3 (2003) ISBN 0-567-08349-7
- A Brief History of Heaven (2003) ISBN 0-631-23354-7
- The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (2003) ISBN 0-631-229-396
- The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World (2004) ISBN 0-385-50061-0
- Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life (2005) ISBN 1-4051-2538-1 (A critique of scientist Richard Dawkins' attitude towards religion)
- Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Century (2007) ISBN 978-0-06-082213-2
- The Dawkins Delusion? (2007) ISBN 0-281-05927-6 (A critical response to Dawkins' book The God Delusion)
- The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (2008) ISBN 978-1-4051-2691-5
- A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (2009) ISBN 0-664-23310-4
- Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth (2009) ISBN 978-0-06-082214-9
- Mere Theology: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind (2010) ISBN 0-281-06209-9
- Chosen Ones (Series: The Aedyn Chronicles Volume: 1) (2010) ISBN 0-310-71812-0
- Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things (2011) ISBM 0-664-236-928
- Why God Won't Go Away: Engaging with the New Atheism (2011) ISBN 0-281-063-877
- Flight of the Outcasts (Series: The Aedyn Chronicles Volume: 2) (2011) ISBN 0-310-71813-9
- Darkness Shall Fall (Series: The Aedyn Chronicles Volume: 3) (2011) ISBN ISBN 978-0-310-71814-7
- Reformation Thought: An Introduction (2012) ISBN 0-470-672-811
- The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (2013) ISBN 978-0470672792
- C. S. Lewis- A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (2013)
- ^ University of Oxford, "Alister McGrath", University of Oxford
- ^ Banner of Truth Trust General Articles
- ^ What is an Evangelical Anglican?
- ^ http://www.auss.info/auss_publication_file.php?pub_id=333&journal=1&type=pdf
- ^ Sound and fury of the New Atheists - Alister McGrath - The Times (London) - RichardDawkins.net
- ^ Why God Won't Go Away: Reflections on the "New Atheism"
- ^ Thank God for the New Atheism – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- ^ Theology and reality: Critical realism in the thought of Alister E. McGrath - Udini
- ^ Wipf and Stock Publishers
- ^ Alister McGrath | Participants | Profile | Closer to Truth
- ^ Prof. Alister E. McGrath - Home
- ^ a b c Biography on official website
- ^ ISSR List of founding members
- ^ World-leading Theologian joins King’s
- ^ The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors
- ^ Nigel Bovey. "Alister McGrath talks of God, science and Richard Dawkins". Christian Evidence Society. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "All I can say is that, with complete integrity, there are many Christians who see evolution as illuminating the way in which we understand Genesis and as giving us an enhanced vision of how God brought the world and humankind into being. People can make evolution atheistic but it doesn't have to be."
- ^ Roger Morris. Is ‘Theistic Evolution’ a Cop-Out?. Faith Interface. "Modern proponents of theistic evolution include: Dr Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2007). Prof Alister McGrath, former Oxford molecular biophysicist and current Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College, London. He is the author of numerous books and textbooks on Natural Theology and Scientific Theology. Rev. Dr John Polkinghorne, Physicist and Theologian from Cambridge University."
- ^ Nigel Bovey. "Alister McGrath talks of God, science and Richard Dawkins". Christian Evidence Society. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "‘As a child I never had any interest in Christianity,' he says. ‘I went through the motions of going to church with my parents but neither my heart nor my head was in it. It was while I was at the Methodist College, probably aged around 15 or 16, that I became an atheist - somebody who deliberately and intentionally does not believe in God and thinks that anyone who does believe in God is mentally deficient or seriously screwed up.'"
- ^ Interview on CBC: The Hour 18 May 2007
- ^ "Audio Visual Resources". Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Archived from the original on 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2007-04-07., includes sound recording of the Dawkins-McGrath debate
- ^ NOBTS - Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett debate the future of atheism at Greer-Heard
- ^ Christopher Hitchens Debates Alister McGrath - FORA.tv
- ^ Unedited footage of McGrath's interview
- ^ Science and Religion: A New Introduction - Google Books
- Chung, S. W. (ed.). Alister E. McGrath and Evangelical Theology: A Dynamic Engagement. Carlisle: Paternoster, 2003. ISBN 978-0-8010-2639-3
- Keating, James F. "The Natural Sciences as an Ancilla Theologiae Nova: Alister E. McGrath's A Scientific Theology." The Thomist 69 (2005): 127-52.
- Myers, Benjamin. "Alister McGrath's Scientific Theology." Reformed Theological Review 64 (2005): 15-34.
- Shipway, Brad. "The Theological Application of Bhaskar's Stratified Reality: The Scientific Theology of A. E. McGrath." Journal of Critical Realism 3 (2004): 191-203.
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