McGrath on awe and wonder

This is a topic that I’m beginning to explore, and I’ve just read a chunk of Alister McGrath‘s book, ‘The Re-Enchantment of Nature’ (Hodder & Stoughton, 2002). McGrath  critiques the idea that faith takes away any appreciation of nature. He explains that a Christian theology of nature  should include a recognition of the intuitive sense of awe that we have when we look at the natural world, and our increased awe when we find out about how things work scientifically (such as the fact that if you took all the DNA out of my cells, stretched it out and lined it up it end to end, apart from being a technically challenging and unfortunately fatal process, my DNA would stretch from Cambridge to the sun and back 4 times, and that’s a very conservative estimate!) Secondly, our relationship with the environment is an integral aspect of our relationship with God. Nature should be:

‘…respected as a means of sustaining human life in the present, and of reminding and reassuring believers of their future destiny in a renewed creation.’

One thought on “McGrath on awe and wonder

  1. Martin Davies July 16, 2010 / 6:22 pm

    Hi Ruth, great post. It got me thinking. I’d seen an article in The Guardian about an Anglican priest who had spent time with some pagans, and that it was his contention that Christians needed to re-engage with nature, and “the magic of life, the planet and everything around them”. And it seems for us, that science could underpin the Christian experience and enable us to do just that, without recourse to pagan superstition.

    I saw a programme about Dawkins recently, and his awe and love of the natural world was evident. He described his fervour in terms that were almost religious. Rowan Williams picks up on this in a recent youtube vid –


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