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The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  334 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this bold and provocative new book, the author of In the Beginning and The Reenchantment of Nature challenges the widely held assumption that the world is becoming more secular and demonstrates why atheism cannot provide the moral and intellectual guidance essential for coping with the complexities of modern life.

Atheism is one of the most important movements in modern
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by WaterBrook (first published January 1st 2004)
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Kris
Sep 12, 2014 Kris rated it liked it
Very detailed. A bit dry. Still excellent scholarship.

This topic is considered from the perspective of a highly educated upper-class British intellectual, and while there's some mention of France, Germany, and American movements, there always seems to be a British point of view present. The language is quite elevated at times, and there's lots of scrutinization and even reporting of dry facts. McGrath's dry humor leaks into the prose as well, a welcome addition to the detached academic tone. Yet
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Robert Pajer
Mar 09, 2011 Robert Pajer rated it really liked it
In the Twilight of Atheism, Alister McGrath gives readers a historical overview of atheism that includes its strengths and its flaws. His analysis is both insightful and honest without disrespect to the many great minds that believe in a godless universe. McGrath, as a Reformation scholar, even suggests, by drawing together a number of scholarly studies on the origins and development of Protestantism, that there is a significant link between the Reformation and the emergence of atheism.
He remind
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David
Oct 21, 2010 David rated it really liked it
McGrath traces the rise of atheism as a major cultural force in the West in the first half of this book. Atheism rose to prominence in part through the French Revolution and its significant critique of the failings of the French Church, the intellectual ideas of Feuerbach, Marx and Freud who all critique belief in God as a flaw in humanity, and the rise of natural science (specifically evolution). Also contributing was the failure of religious imagination; atheism was simply more interesting and ...more
Andreas Beccai
Allister McGrath is a well respected Oxford Theologian and as such his material deserves to be taken seriously. Twilight of Atheism is a book that chronicles the history of atheism with the ultimate goal of proving its demise. McGrath compares atheism to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897, in that it was the pinnacle for the British Empire, and the only direction thereafter was down. Twilight is not a rant against atheism, neither is it particularly apologetic in its tone. When readin ...more
Anastasia
Sinänsä paljon hyvää faktaa mutta kaikki kirjailijan käyttämät viittaukset jäävät puoliksi kuin sumun peittoon + huono suomennos? koska onhan 'His Dark Materials' käännetty suomeksikin (en tajunnut miten viimeisen osan otsikko on taivaallinen tasavalta?) Sinänsä mielenkiintoista historiaa mutta mielenkiintoista miten kirjailija kirjoittaa ateismista samalla myöntäen olevansa teisti.
Marije
Dec 20, 2011 Marije rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an informative book about the earlier times os nonbelief and atheism. Unfortunately, McGrath seems to have misjudged the meaning of atheism in current western societies, claiming it experienced its highlights during the sixties and has been on its way back since then. This is were his personal beliefs seem to get in the way of a balanced analysis of modern atheism.
Stephen Hiemstra
Religion is composed of our core beliefs. Just like every house must begin with a foundation, these core beliefs, hence religion, are not optional—everyone has them. Atheism, which means no gods[1], is a particularly curious religion because it is defined by what it is not. In this sense, it is parasitic drawing its strength from its host [2]. Because the line of argumentation in atheism is much longer than for traditional religions, atheism requires more intellectual energy to maintain. Neverth ...more
Amanda Birdwell
May 08, 2014 Amanda Birdwell rated it it was ok
Pretty uneven --I enjoyed reading it, and learned a lot, but I don't think McGrath is successful it tracing a coherent history of atheism in the first place, and he seems to give 20th century atheist and secular movements and culture very little consideration -- focusing on Madelyn Murray and the American Atheists to the near-exclusion of either other organized atheist and secular movements or the large body of Americans and Europeans who identify as non-believers but are not involved in atheist ...more
Chad Gibbons
Jul 25, 2011 Chad Gibbons rated it really liked it
Alister McGrath’s The Twilight of Atheism can be broken up into two distinct parts. The first and lengthier of the two could aptly be entitled ‘The History of Western Atheism’, while the second, something along the lines of ‘Speculations about the Future of Atheism’. Divided along these lines, the first section of the book stands out as a terrific run-through of atheism’s recent intellectual and political history, while the second section leaves much to be desired.



Alister McGrath, Professor of H
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Matthew
May 05, 2008 Matthew rated it liked it
With numerous books which explore religion from a sociological standpoint, trying to explain believer's faith through economic, social, or other causes, it is good to see atheism receiving a similar treatment. Alister McGrath, a former atheist turned Christian theologian, explores the history of atheism, building a case for its rising popularity and success in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as its subsequent(?) decline. He credits three individuals: Feurerbach, Marx, and Freud f ...more
Shelly
Jan 14, 2012 Shelly rated it really liked it
Not knowing what this book would be about, I was a bit hesitant to jump right in to reading it. But it was recommended by a trusted friend, who proved to be right on how much I’d be able to relate to the content of the book.

Twilight of Atheism traces the timeline and geography of atheism that has encompassed different parts of the world. His style of writing makes what could be a boring subject into a riveting one. My mind soaked up his arguments and explanations like a sponge. The history conta
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Donald
Mar 14, 2008 Donald rated it liked it
I have read several essays and have heard lectures by McGrath over the past couple of years. His credentials are formidable and his philosophical reasoning is articulate and sound. He is an Anglican scholar and professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mcgrath/

McGrath is aware of historical/cultural milieu. He writes of the salient junctures in Western intellectual history that brought modern atheism into a credible worldview. His orientation is from a British
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R.P. Bosman
The title in Dutch from the book of Alister McGrath can bring the reader on the wrong idea that atheism has taken his final downfall. The English title is much better: The twilight of atheism: the rise and fall of disbelief in the modern world . It is not giving this idea.

Alister McGrath gives in this book a very interesting and good overview from were atheism came from and why its is not so more from our time. The culture background is very good seen by him and he shows were atheism is wrong in
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John
Jul 27, 2007 John rated it liked it
Judging from recent best-seller lists, this book (published in 2004) might seem to have been premature in its farewell to atheism.
Or not.
"The Twilight of Atheism" is more about history than arguments, and the history is fascinating. McGrath sees the golden age of atheism as beginning with the fall of the Bastille in 1789 and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
McGrath's bottom line, as I understand it, is that atheism isn't doing very well these days because it's not compatible with
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Nicholas Whyte
May 01, 2010 Nicholas Whyte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1430527.html

Yet another book on religion where I basically agree with the author but found the book itself really unsatisfactory.

Basically, McGrath seemed to me to be asking the wrong question. His argument identifies 'atheism' as a collective identity more than is really warranted by his own evidence; towards the end he seems to almost criticize atheists for not being as well organised as the Church, which sort of misses the point. More widely, he never makes it c
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Tim
Mar 02, 2016 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Alister McGrath is a well researched academic of Theology and Science. He also brings an interesting, and I think, balanced perspective to the topic of atheism, as a former atheist himself. The first half of "The Twilight of Atheism" is an outstanding illustration of the historical rise of atheism, easily worthy of five stars. The second half is a bit more dry in presentation and not as fluid. The twenty six pages of notes and citations at the end display how much thought went into this work. Th ...more
David
Sep 13, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Good piece of intellectual history that surveys the rise and fall of atheism in the modern world. McGrath reviews the spread of atheism in the West from the storming of the Bastille in 1789 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Lots of interesting biographical insights into various figures as well as numerous useful quotations. I thought his best angle was how atheism sold itself as the key to liberation during the French Revolution of the late 18th century and the Russian Revolution of the ea ...more
Tim Kimberley
Apr 15, 2015 Tim Kimberley rated it it was amazing
I've seen mixed reviews of this book. I thought it was spectacular. You may disagree with McGrath's overall analysis that Atheism has been tried at wide-scale levels and found wanting. It is now in serious decline. Even if you disagree with where he ends up, I think it is hard to criticize his research and incredible knowledge of the subject. He is highly sympathetic (as a former leader in atheism) and is able to show the true foundations of the movement in men such as Ludwig Feuerbach. The book ...more
John
Jan 24, 2016 John rated it really liked it
An excellent book about the history (and rise and fall) of atheistic thinking. If you are looking for a readable, yet well researched, book about atheism and its history, this is the book for you.
Michel Van Goethem
Dec 31, 2014 Michel Van Goethem rated it really liked it
The Twilight of Atheism by Alister E. McGrath The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World
by Alister E. McGrath
Joe
Mar 04, 2012 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book.

I was expecting something more theological.

This book started with a history of atheism. It then moved on to look at what lead to it's rise and fall. It included some personal observations, though not to the extent that it undermined any credibility of the book itself. There was some analysis of the things that drive it and the things that undermine it.

It certainly pulls on the authors personal opinions and experiences to a certain extent, but it would be difficult to write on
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Josh Barkey
May 23, 2011 Josh Barkey rated it liked it
Oxford professor Alister McGrath's book is more a history of Atheism than anything. Himself a former atheist, McGrath writes of atheism as a historian, examining its rise and (apparent) decline as a result of various cultural forces. Although he is himself a Christian, McGrath writes of atheism with something close to fondness, and it is obvious that he values and appreciates where atheists are coming from and what they are trying to do.

I found this book to be enough of a challenge to keep it i
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Ian Clotworthy
Jun 08, 2008 Ian Clotworthy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christians and atheists
I learned much about the intellectual foundations of atheism. The book is neither a 'devastating critique' of atheism nor does it offer agreement with atheism (obviously).

It's not exactly flawless Christian apologetics, as McGrath does not anticipate some obvious atheistic counter-arguments to his critiques.

Good book though; I learned a lot, and McGrath's writing is highly readable.
Dan
Jul 05, 2012 Dan rated it liked it
Though published in 2004, this book reads as if it came out in 1990. A second edition would be helpful, since it feels as if it has missed the recent upsurge in people abandoning traditional faiths. Good history, interesting take on atheism as a faith, but almost too populist in some of its interpretations. McGrath is a good writer, but I felt I needed more penetrating commentary.
Toks (at GalacticTidesx)
Apr 14, 2011 Toks (at GalacticTidesx) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Usually I won't count a book if I was forced to read it for school, but this book was so good I couldn't deny that I read it for pleasure instead of picking out quotes. The thesis is easy to follow, the history passionate and the language entertaining. My thesis was on atheism, secularization and religion and my paper was a much better one for having read this book.
Renee
Oct 09, 2013 Renee rated it it was amazing
McGrath's understanding of the modern era's historical and sociological context that helped to create a culture where atheism could be embraced, then his outlining of its impending demise in a post-modern world was articulate and compelling. (I promise that McGrath is much more articulate than that sentence was!)
Corey Sharpe
I consider McGrath's work to be fair and balanced account of Atheism's rise and decline in modernity. The book was published in 2004, so it doesn't take into account the recent work of Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens. A sad read, showing how the church often provided fertile soil in which atheism flourished.
Joel McDaniel
Aug 23, 2007 Joel McDaniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christian Thinkers
Shelves: philosophy
It is interesting to follow McGrath on his historical journey through the advancement of atheistic thought. In the end he does an adequate job of concluding that atheism is on the decline and will probably cease to be the driving force in world thought. Great book.
Alex
Jul 19, 2010 Alex rated it really liked it
For someone who enjoys history, theology, and the debate about the existence of God this is a pleasant read. While I am unsure if I agree with his conclusion, I believe that he gives a fair assessment of atheism as a whole and it's history.
Milo
Dec 28, 2012 Milo rated it it was amazing
McGrath gives a brilliant historical and philosophical analysis of atheism along with its current status direction. I highly recommend it to believers and non believers alike.
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Alister Edgar McGrath 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, and is Professor of Divinity at Gresham College. He was previously Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College L ...more
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“The English experience suggested that nobody really doubted the existence of God until theologians tried to prove it.” 8 likes
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