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ss triple helix - summer 2017,  The Great Mystery: Science, God and the human quest for meaning

The Great Mystery: Science, God and the human quest for meaning

Alister McGrath
  • Hodder & Stoughton, 2017, £9.99, 256pp, ISBN 9781473634312

  • Reviewed by James May, GP in London

I f you are looking for a confident, robust and unambiguous defence of Christian belief in the face of modern secularism, then McGrath's book may be the book for you‚ but not in the way you might expect. We are not observers, he says, looking on and describing what we see in a disinterested way from'the balcony' on the sidelines.

Instead we are journeying on'the road', experiencing life in its perplexing mysteries, talking and trying to make sense of its meaning as we go. Richard Dawkins observes the 'all too limited human mind', and CS Lewis dismisses 'thin rationalism'. Religious and scientific fundamentalisms arrogantly fail to understand or even hear other perspectives. Modernism has had its day; New Atheism has been a 'blind alley'. He debunks myths about 'secular humanism' and‚ 'progress' on the way, with his section 'what's wrong with us?' being particularly salutary, as it should be. McGrath concludes ambiguously, pointing to our need for humility and a sense of wonder; and yet throughout his exploration he gently suggests that knowledge is possible as part of a 'big picture' which we strive towards and yearn for, as we ponder the great mysteries of life. This is a thoughtful and historically informative guide to our journey on 'the road' in which revelation seems both desirable and possible.
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