Does belief in God make sense? Or is it simply a delusion, a sad example of wish-fulfilment on the part of lonely and longing human beings? As CS Lewis once commented, reflecting on his early beliefs as an atheist: ‘Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless.’
This issue has gained importance recently on account of present debates in our culture. Although the ‘New Atheism,’ which burst on to the scene in 2006, has now lost much of its novelty value, the questions it raises continue to be discussed. Is belief in God a rational response to reality, or an outmoded delusion, spread throughout the population by viruses of the mind, based on flimsy and naïve reasoning, and imposed by authoritarian institutions and individuals?
Allister McGrath, the theologian and apologist, spoke about the atheist challenge to faith in November 2009 in a lecture entitled ‘The God delusion? The rationality of faith’.
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Photo: Nigel Bovey