Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: The Big Question by Alister McGrath

This is the kind of book one should expect from Alister McGrath: pellucid, distilled, organized, somewhat reserved, and focused on, as the title would indicate, big questions. McGrath maintains his knack for finding a perfect quote -- one by CS Lewis summarizes a 600-page book I just read in a sentence -- and for pointing all aspects of big questions I haven't thought of. For example, I've been thinking a lot about how Christianity paved the way for science, but hadn't realized how the doctrine of Original Sin specifically led to an empirical, experiment-based natural philosophy. I appreciate this book but it isn't McGrath's best, because (as he acknowledges directly) he's not good at conveying his own inner sense of wonder and fitness. He's telling, not showing, because that's the kind of writer he is. I also wish his critique of Sam Harris's moral philosophy in a late chapter was a little more pointed. The fact of the matter is that McGrath focuses on explaining, not entertaining, and I appreciate how he does that once again here. I personally prefer his books written to Christians to ones like this written to a more general audience is all.

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