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

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  233 ratings  ·  29 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...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by WaterBrook Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Robert Pajer
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...more
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
Chad Gibbons
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...more
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
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...more
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.

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...more
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...more
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...more
Nicholas Whyte

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...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
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
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...more
Josh Barkey
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...more
Ian Clotworthy
Jun 08, 2008 Ian Clotworthy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition 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.
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.
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.
Phoenix Talon
An excellent, in-depth look at the history of Atheism as a movement. Had some great criticisms of the Protestant movement too--well worth the read!
Toks (at GalacticTidesx)
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.
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
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.
Strong apologetic showing how atheism rose out of a reaction to the church/state establishment in Europe but how it has played out logically and practically.
Trevor Lloyd
Brilliant. Loved this book. Intelligent. Lucid. Fair. Helped me understand Christianity and culture in the last 300 years. Good chapter on George Eliot.
For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into this book. I found the history interesting, but perhaps I was hoping for more of the theology...
This is good. Atheists should read this, not to change their minds, but to get a good historical perspective on the topic.
an excellent review of the history of atheism
A truly pathetic book in many ways.
Mark Glidden
Mark Glidden marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2014
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Alister E. McGrath is a biochemist and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and currently enjoys the Title of Distinction “Professor of Historical Theology” granted by the University of Oxford. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture and The Twi...more
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C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet Christian Theology: An Introduction The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution: A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First

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