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Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins$
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Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226608402

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226608426.001.0001

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The ideological uses of evolutionary biology in recent atheist apologetics

The ideological uses of evolutionary biology in recent atheist apologetics

(p.329) Chapter Thirteen The ideological uses of evolutionary biology in recent atheist apologetics
Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

Alister E. Mcgrath

University of Chicago Press

During the first few years of the twenty-first century, a number of high-profile populist books offering an aggressively atheist critique of religion appeared. This “clustering” of prominent works of atheist apologetics may be attributed to the fact that developments in biology, especially evolutionary biology, have profound negative implications for belief in God. Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, both published in 2006, argue that the Darwinian theory of evolution erodes many traditional metaphysical notions—such as belief in God—through its “universal acid.” Several saw Darwinism as a potential challenge to at least some aspects of the traditional Christian view of creation, but most early evolutionists, including Charles Darwin himself, rejected the notion that they were promulgating or promoting atheism. Drawing on the recent works of Dennett and Dawkins, this chapter explores how Darwinism has been transposed in recent atheist apologetics from a provisional scientific theory to an antitheistic ideology. In particular, it considers the ideological use of the biological sciences, especially evolutionary biology, in recent atheist apologetics.

Keywords:   evolutionary biology, atheism, atheist apologetics, Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, God Delusion, Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell, antitheistic ideology, creation

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