Item description for A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Gifford Lectures) by Alister E. McGrath...
Overview Are there viable pathways from nature to God? Natural theology is making a comeback, stimulated as much by scientific advance as by theological and philosophical reflection. There is a growing realization that the sciences raise questions that transcend their capacity to answer them-above all, the question of the existence of God. So how can Christian theology relate to these new developments? In this landmark work, based on his 2009 Gifford lectures, Alister McGrath examines the apparent "fine-tuning" of the universe and its significance for natural theology. Exploring a wide range of physical and biological phenomena and drawing on the latest research in biochemistry and evolutionary biology, McGrath outlines our new understanding of the natural world and discusses its implications for traditional debates about the existence of God. The celebrated Gifford Lectures have long been recognized as making landmark contributions to the discussion of natural theology. A Fine-Tuned Universe will contribute significantly to that discussion by developing a rich Trinitarian approach to natural theology that allows deep engagement with the intellectual and moral complexities of the natural world. It will be essential reading to those looking for a rigorous engagement between science and the Christian faith.
Publishers Description Are there viable pathways from nature to God? Natural theology is making a comeback, stimulated as much by scientific advance as by theological and philosophical reflection. Science is increasingly raising questions that transcend its capacity to answer-above all, the question of the existence of God. So how can Christian theology relate to these new developments? In this landmark work, based on his 2009 Gifford lectures, Alister McGrath examines the apparent "fine-tuning" of the universe and its significance for natural theology. Exploring a wide range of physical and biological phenomena and drawing on the latest research in biochemistry and evolutionary biology, McGrath outlines our twenty-first-century understanding of the natural world and discusses this new understanding's implications for debates about the existence of God.
Citations And Professional Reviews A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Gifford Lectures) by Alister E. McGrath has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 08/01/2009
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Studio: Westminster John Knox
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.8" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date Feb 16, 2009
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN 0664233104 ISBN13 9780664233105
Availability 0 units.
More About Alister E. McGrath
ALISTER McGRATH is a fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and a senior member of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology and Religion. He is a consulting editor at Christianity Today and the author of numerous books, including the bestselling In the Beginning and The Journey. He lives in Oxford, England.
Alister E. McGrath currently resides in Oxford. Alister E. McGrath was born in 1953 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford, King's College, London, UK King's College London.
Alister E. McGrath has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Gifford Lectures)?
not his best Apr 10, 2010
This excellent writer is one of the most important alive. But this is not for me his best book. It becomes very detailed and complex.
If you are already an angry atheist, anything McGrath writes will just make you angrier. Stick to Dawkins. But if your faith is more subtle, you might try McGrath'sThe Science Of God: An Introduction To Scientific Theology instead.
Or if you have already done that and want to try a different approach to spirituality, have a whack at John Cottingham's The Spiritual Dimension: Religion, Philosophy and Human Value.
An alternative way of looking at natural theology Mar 15, 2010
While one might guess from the title that this book is about the anthropic principle, it's actually about an alternative way to look at natural theology. In a 2005 book ("Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life") McGrath concluded that William Paley's "Natural Theology" was an experiment that had failed as an approach to Christian apologetics. In his 2008 book "The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology," McGrath presented the basic elements of a new vision for natural theology. This 2009 book describes his alternative approach to natural theology, which McGrath labels a Trinitarian approach. It involves applying counterfactual thinking to natural theology, which results in an "explanatory unification" that "resonates strongly with our observation and experience of the world" and "the capacity to confer meaning."
The usual approach to natural theology can disclose a god, but not the God of Christianity. "Deism holds that God created the world; theism holds that God created the world and continues to direct it through divine providence; Trinitarianism holds that God created the world, continues to direct it through divine providence, and guides the interpreters of both the books of nature and Scripture through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian approach to natural theology does not prove the existence of God, but "offers a high degree of consonance with what is actually observed."
McGrath begins with a brief history of the place of natural theology, from "proving the existence of God" to using it to argue "that Christianity makes better sense of the empirical evidence than any of its alternatives or rivals by interpreting nature on the basis of Christian beliefs." Quoting McGrath: "One of the most fundamental concerns was the intellectual integrity of Paley's core argument. How could one speak of observing "design" in nature? One observes nature, but one infers design in nature. Design is not an empirical datum, but reflects the interpretation of what is observed."
Chapter 8 is the best discussion of Augustine's views of creation that I have yet seen anywhere. McGrath demonstrates that Augustine believed that God brought everything into being at a specific moment, with embedded causalities that emerged or evolved at a later stage, which we now refer to as the "big bang" and biological evolution. McGrath supports his views with numerous references to Augustine's "De Genesi ad litteram (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis)."
Chapters 9-14 present applications of counterfactual thinking to anthropic phenomena, origins of life, the curious chemistry of water, chemical catalysis and the constraints of evolution, and the mechanism and directionality of evolution. These chapters are also very good summaries of the current research in these areas. Alister McGrath has an excellent grasp of what's currently going on in a wide range of sciences and presents it in a readable style.
The extensive footnotes are thoughtfully placed at the bottom of the page on which they occur, and there is a 36-page bibliography and a 4-page index. This is a well-referenced book. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in natural theology.
The Title is a Bit Misleading Mar 8, 2010
The book is mostly about reconciling theology, or more specifically, Augustine of Hippo, with Neo-Darwinism. Mainly a promotion for Natural Theology. As I am not interested in these ideas, this book was a dissapointment for me. There is really very little time spent on the idea of fine tuning in the universe. But if you're really into Natural Theology and how it can fit in with Neo-Darwinism, I'm sure you'll love it.
Some good points but ... Feb 7, 2010
This book has some good points, but a lot of detail & most of it is over my head. (I am an engineer, not a theologian.)
A Contemporary Natural Theology of Evolution Jan 5, 2010
"A Fine-Tuned Universe" , by Alister McGrath, who has PhD's from Oxford in both theology and biophysics, extends the idea of fine-tuning previously applied to creation to evolution-- although in a very general way, by which I mean that one can make out instances of design where improbable steps take place: for example the critically important role of water in folding a certain protein. It is an excellent updated account of evolution which unintentionally makes Dawkins' account seem quite dated, and also obsolete, as the "Selfish Gene" has been shown not to be sufficiently general to merit the role of basic transmission mechanism.
McGrath's writing is a bit dull, but what did you expect from a genius writing on a very technical topic ? It is well worth struggling through. The only other criticism of McGrath's scientific writings is that they always seem a bit teasing, as if they are introductions to something wonderful.
Most importantly, McGrath devotes a chapter to St. Augustine's account of creation, which is remarkably modern. Augustine places "rationes seminales" into matter, which are metaphorically like seeds of God's intentions, essentially like virtual forces. So it is something like Paley's watch which has self-building, evolution and reproduction built in. McGrath quotes someone as saying that God's creation of the universe is a miracle. but even more miraculous that creation is able to create itself.
McGrath also uses a trinitarian formalism, which because of his dull writing is there, but is a little hard to pick out. Still, it is a contemporary natural theology (his words).