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Inventing the Universe av Alister McGrath

Inventing the Universe (urspr publ 2015; utgåvan 2015)

av Alister McGrath (Författare)

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The often troubled relationship between science and religion was seemingly damaged further by the rise of the New Atheism, which insisted that science had essentially disproved not just God but also the value of religion.
Titel:Inventing the Universe
Författare:Alister McGrath (Författare)
Info:Hodder & Stoughton (2015), 224 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Inventing the Universe: Why We Can't Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God av Alister McGrath (2015)


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Alister McGrath (° 1953) was a noble stranger to me, but apparently the man is a prominent voice in the debate between faith and science in the Anglo-Saxon world. And given his curriculum, he is clearly well versed in both domains, with PhDs in biophysics and theology, as well as intellectual history. He is a brainiac, who has come a long way himself, evolving from an atheist scientist to becoming an Anglican priest. That also says a lot about his actual position in the science-faith debate. In this booklet this development is regularly touched upon, and it spices his rather abstract argument with personal accents.
McGrath makes no secret that he is not pleased with the arrogance with which the high priests of New Atheism (Dawkins, Bennett, Hitchens, Harris) attack religion. They have a non-realistic, even downright distorted view of religions, and they are guilty of what he calls "scientific imperialism", a totalitarian view of science as the only and sufficient image of reality. McGrath is a bit sharp here, but I can broadly follow him in that criticism.
Instead, he argues elaborately for a multifocal approach to reality, and that’s an argument to my heart. Indeed, as he puts it: “Because the universe is so complex and profound, we need a rich palette of colours to represent it and enjoy it. We cannot limit ourselves to only one method of exploring reality, or a single level of description or analysis. Reality is so complicated that we need a series of maps to describe it. No single map is good enough for such an integrated engagement with our world, even though it may be adequate for a particular and limited purpose. No single story can do justice to things.”
For McGrath, a purely scientific approach will never provide a complete picture of reality. Or at least, it will never be able to provide a satisfactory answer to the ultimate existential questions we face: what is the meaning of everything? What am I doing here? Which ethics should I follow? Etc. For him there is a role and a need for other meta-narratives, such as religions. That means that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, are by no means necessarily in conflict with each other, but complement each other, each offering their own, valuable view on reality, which you can work with as an individual being.
There are very few things in this book that I personally disagree with. Yet there are some weaknesses in McGrath's story. To begin with, he offers a very cerebral approach to religions, as if they only provide a theoretical framework that provides meaning, a kind of alternative rationality; McGrath is aware of this and refers to his other publications in which he apparently also discusses other aspects of religion. Two, in his conflict with the New Atheists, he puts just a little too much emphasis on the different approaches that science and religion are, as if that implies that they have nothing to say about each other; personally, I think the critical scrutiny of religion by scientists, including those of the New Atheists, is principally justified, and vice versa. Three, McGrath is too eager to use the cognitive sciences that say that man naturally leans towards the religious, spontaneously seeks a transcendent framework to give meaning to his life; I do understand what is meant by that, but it is a bit too easy an argument as an answer the New Atheism. Last, but not least: you cannot ignore the fact that many religions and churches still indulge in a pernicious, very fundamentalist view on reality (and I certainly do not mean only certain movements within Islam, but also within Christianity); for the sake of clarity, McGrath distances himself from that, but it is a conclusion that radical fundamentalism will continue to sour the dialogue between science and religion for a long time to come.
In short, I enjoyed reading this booklet and definitely follow McGrath in his conclusion: “We need the best picture of reality that we can devise if we are to inhabit it meaningfully and authentically. Why should we rest content with a monochrome picture of reality, when an enriched vision allows us to use a full palette of colours and appreciate it more fully? This richer vision provides a ‘big picture’ of things which possesses existential traction and not merely cognitive functionality. It is a way of seeing things which enables us not simply to exist, but to live.” But at the same time, the limitation of this booklet is that it is just the starting point for a long and arduous journey. ( )
  bookomaniac | Nov 3, 2020 |
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The often troubled relationship between science and religion was seemingly damaged further by the rise of the New Atheism, which insisted that science had essentially disproved not just God but also the value of religion.

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