Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath
Alister Edgar McGrath
Born 23 January 1953 (1953-01-23) (age 58)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Residence UK
Nationality British, Irish
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford
Religion Anglican
Awards Royal Society of Arts

Alister Edgar McGrath (born 23 January 1953) is an Anglican priest, theologian, and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture. He was previously Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and was principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford until 2005.

McGrath is noted for his work in historical, systematic, and scientific theology, as well as his writings on apologetics and his opposition to antireligionism. He holds both a DPhil (in molecular biophysics) and an earned Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Oxford.



McGrath was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Downpatrick, County Down, where he attended Down High School. In September 1966 he became a pupil at the Methodist College Belfast, where his studies focused on mathematics, physics and chemistry. He went up to Wadham College, Oxford in 1971 and gained first class honours in chemistry in 1975. He began research in molecular biophysics in the Oxford University Department of Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Sir George Radda, FRS and was elected to an E.P.A. Cephalosporin Research Studentship at Linacre College, Oxford, for the academic year 1975-6, and to a Domus Senior Scholarship at Merton College, Oxford, for the period 1976-8. During these three years, he carried out scientific research while studying for the Oxford University Final Honour School of Theology. He was awarded an Oxford D.Phil. for his research in molecular biophysics (December 1977), and gained first class honours in Theology in June 1978.[1]

McGrath then left Oxford to work at Cambridge University, where he also studied for ordination into the Church of England. In September 1980, he was ordained deacon, and began work as a curate at St Leonard's Parish Church, Wollaton, Nottingham, in the English East Midlands. He was ordained priest at Southwell Minster in September 1981. In 1983, he was appointed lecturer in Christian doctrine and ethics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and a member of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology. McGrath spent the fall semester of 1990 as the Ezra Squire Tipple Visiting Professor of Historical Theology at the Divinity School of Drew University, Madison, New Jersey.[1]

McGrath was elected University Research Lecturer in Theology at Oxford University in 1993 and also served as research professor of theology at Regent College, Vancouver, from 1993-1999. In 1995, he was elected Principal of Wycliffe Hall, and in 1999, was awarded a personal chair in theology by Oxford University, with the title "Professor of Historical Theology". He was awarded the Oxford degree of Doctor of Divinity in 2001 for his research in historical and systematic theology,[1] and was a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion.[2] On 1 September 2008 McGrath took up the Chair of Theology, Ministry and Education in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King's College London.[3] Mcgrath was included in "The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors" list. [4]


McGrath espouses evolutionary creation.[5][6] McGrath was formerly an atheist.[7][8] In 2004 McGrath suggested in The Twilight of Atheism that atheism was in decline though the standard of scholarship in that book is disputed.[citation needed] He has been highly critical of Richard Dawkins, calling him "embarrassingly ignorant of Christian theology". His book: The Dawkins Delusion? – a response to Dawkins's The God Delusion – was published by SPCK in February 2007, and the two had public debate on the topic, "Does religious belief damage the health of a society, or is it necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society?"[9]

McGrath has also debated with Daniel Dennett, at the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum (February 2007) in New Orleans.[10] He was interviewed by Richard Dawkins about his book Dawkins' God and faith in general for the television documentary The Root of All Evil? McGrath's interview was not included in the final cut, but the unedited footage is available online.[11] He states that he is not opposed to atheism itself, but rather the views of atheism held by people such as Dawkins.[12]


Among McGrath's more notable works are:


  1. ^ a b c Biography on official website
  2. ^ ISSR List of founding members
  3. ^ World-leading Theologian joins King’s
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nigel Bovey. "Alister McGrath talks of God, science and Richard Dawkins". Christian Evidence Society. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "All I can say is that, with complete integrity, there are many Christians who see evolution as illuminating the way in which we understand Genesis and as giving us an enhanced vision of how God brought the world and humankind into being. People can make evolution atheistic but it doesn't have to be." 
  6. ^ Roger Morris. Is ‘Theistic Evolution’ a Cop-Out?. Faith Interface. "Modern proponents of theistic evolution include: Dr Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2007). Prof Alister McGrath, former Oxford molecular biophysicist and current Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College, London. He is the author of numerous books and textbooks on Natural Theology and Scientific Theology. Rev. Dr John Polkinghorne, Physicist and Theologian from Cambridge University." 
  7. ^ Nigel Bovey. "Alister McGrath talks of God, science and Richard Dawkins". Christian Evidence Society. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "‘As a child I never had any interest in Christianity,' he says. ‘I went through the motions of going to church with my parents but neither my heart nor my head was in it. It was while I was at the Methodist College, probably aged around 15 or 16, that I became an atheist - somebody who deliberately and intentionally does not believe in God and thinks that anyone who does believe in God is mentally deficient or seriously screwed up.'" 
  8. ^ Interview on CBC: The Hour 18 May 2007
  9. ^ "Audio Visual Resources". Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Archived from the original on 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2007-04-07. , includes sound recording of the Dawkins-McGrath debate
  10. ^ NOBTS - Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett debate the future of atheism at Greer-Heard
  11. ^ Unedited footage of McGrath's interview
  12. ^ Science and Religion: A New Introduction - Google Books


  • Chung, S. W. (ed.). Alister E. McGrath and Evangelical Theology: A Dynamic Engagement. Carlisle: Paternoster, 2003. ISBN 978-0-8010-2639-3
  • Keating, James F. "The Natural Sciences as an Ancilla Theologiae Nova: Alister E. McGrath's A Scientific Theology." The Thomist 69 (2005): 127-52.
  • Myers, Benjamin. "Alister McGrath's Scientific Theology." Reformed Theological Review 64 (2005): 15-34.
  • Shipway, Brad. "The Theological Application of Bhaskar's Stratified Reality: The Scientific Theology of A. E. McGrath." Journal of Critical Realism 3 (2004): 191-203.

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