Was Alister McGrath once an atheist of the "rotweiler" type?


Alister McGrath bills himself as a former atheist, now outspoken Christian, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. However, can anyone please point me to McGrath's testimony concerning exactly how well thought out his atheistic beliefs were prior to converting to Christianity, and exactly what prompted him to convert? I'd be interested in reading more about that. I haven't found such information at his website yet. Though I did run across this interview between McGrath and a talk show host that prompted an interesting comment by one viewer who wrote:

"Alister McGrath's... assertion that he was once an atheist of the 'rotweiler' type is... untrue. How many of your viewers are aware that McGrath's 'atheism' had not even managed to outlive his teens? He became a Christian when he'd just turned 18. Yet, listening to him, you'd think that he had discovered answers to all the imponderables that religious people and non-believers have been discussing for centuries. McGrath further claims that it was religiously motivated violence in Northern Ireland which made him turn against religion. [But]... people like myself who live in Northern Ireland know that the violence hadn't even started when McGrath had already become a Christian... A recent Belfast newspaper interview has McGrath claiming that when interviewed by Dawkins, McGrath's stance had Dawkins shuffling and taking refuge in evasiveness. Of course, now that the video is on Dawkins's website we can see that McGrath is the one who can't answer a simple question without melting the ears of his listeners..." [6/12/2007 4:56:18 AM Nigel]

The Uncut Video discussion between McGrath and Dawkins that Nigel spoke about above is located at Dawkins's website here.

I also found this video debate in which McGrath was involved, as seen on Channel 4's "The trouble with atheism," a debate between Alister McGrath and Peter Atkins, 22nd Mar 2007. Peter Atkins is a Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University, well-known atheist and supporter of Richard Dawkins.

And Ravi Zacharias the Christian apologist posted this recording of a debate between Prof. McGrath and Richard Dawkins: "Does religious belief damage the health of a society, or is it necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society?"

Personally speaking, I've known about McGrath's apologetics for a while. I sent him an email a while back documenting that he was wrong in his (hagiographic) biography about John Calvin for having complained so much about the agnostic Aldous Huxley's having not provided a reference concerning the incident of a child having been executed in Calvin's Geneva for striking his parents. It turns out McGrath simply hadn't done enough history homework to realize that such references existed, as well as references to children being hung by their arms in gallows in Geneva to show the public that they deserved execution, and other children having been threatened with execution for playing games on Sunday.

3 comments:

Goldstein said...

I see, he wasn't really an atheist or not much of one?

Is that like the claim that a former Christian was not really a Christian or not much of one?

As for solving the "imponderables" at 18, big deal. Ayn Rand became an atheist at 13, and Russell was also a teenager.

Commentators who are confused by this need to remember the First Law of AtheistDynamics: What applies to US does not apply to Them.

The Second Law is that "WE are smarter and better than YOU and, darn it, people like us!"

Hallq said...

I have no trouble believing that Alister McGrath was an atheist, but it looks as if he wasn't nearly as hard-core as he lets on. When I first began reading his writings and saw his obsession with communism, I figured he had been a hard-core college communist who took the party line on religion without thinking about it much. Then I learn he was 18, and I don't know what to think.

Hallq said...

*18 when he converted. Ooops. Really do need to get better at proofreading.