A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 8.26.2005

    Can Man Live Without God?

    Book Review: Can Man Live without God?

    (Blogger won't upload images for me; otherwise, I'd show you the book!)


    Summary

    Ravi Zacharias addresses atheism, or antitheism, by putting some of his lectures into book form entitled Can Man Live Without God? (Dallas, Word Publishing, 1994).
    He says:


    “In this book I have included the material from two lectures that were delivered at Harvard University at the invitation of several groups, and along with them, one lecture delivered at Ohio State University....

    ...I hope I have shown the many logical and social breaking points of antitheistic thinking, which is just too incoherent to be true and as a system of thought is incapable of dealing with the intellectual and existential rigor that life places before us.” (p. xvii.)

    The book divides into three parts:

    Part 1: Antitheism is Alive--and Deadly.
    Part 2: What Gives Life Meaning?
    Part 3: Who is Jesus (and Why Does it Matter?)

    In Part 1, Zacharias shows the weaknesses of atheism especially as it applies to real life. He concludes this section stating:


    “When one attempts to live without God, the answers to morality, hope, and meaning send one back to his or her own world to fashion an individualized answer. Living without God means lifting oneself up by his or her own metaphysical bootstraps, whichever way is chosen....

    Bertrand Russell and others, in their own maverick ways, bragged about what they would say to God should they happen to be surprised and meet Him after death. But those grandstanding words impress us more than I believe they will God, and they sound better before the final crossover than they willmafter.” (pp. 60-61)


    Part 2 asks the question, “What Gives Life Meaning?”

    The author borrows a line from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It to address the various stages of life and how meaning is to be found in them: Infancy, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Middle Age, Decline, and Old Age. He simplifies these seven stages into four in order to tackle the question. The four simplified stages are: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and maturity.

    The final section of the book, Part 3, asks, “Who Is Jesus (and Why Does it Matter?) Now Ravi Zacharias focuses on the exclusive and unique claims of Christ and Christianity. He shows the reader that Christianity is unique and true by answering five critical questions of life:

    1. The Nature of Truth
    2, The Dilemma of Human Nature
    3. The Quest for Unity in Diversity
    4. The Nature of History
    5. The Issue of Suffering


    The two appendices at the end of the book excellent.

    Appendix A gives the text of the question and answer session from the Veritas lectures at Harvard University.

    Appendix B gives short biographical and philosophical sketches of Rene Descartes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzshe, Bertrand Russell, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

    Weaknesses:

    This book is not a technical book of point and counterpoint issues in the philosophy of theism and atheism. It is a personal book filled with stories and conversations of individuals. It does not have diagrams and charts. It fits “the middle shelf” concept we have discussed elsewhere. Some may see this as a weakness. Taken as a unit, this book does not comprehensively deal with questions of atheism. However, it is one book that will round out a section one’s library that does.

    Strengths:

    It not a technical discussion. As stated above, it has stories and conversations of individuals--thus making it personal and easy to read. Do not mistake these comments as describing a lightweight book.

    The section on the Law of Non-contradiction is excellent. The author describes his conversation with an animated opponent. At the end of the dialogue, he shows why “[t]he more you try to hammer the law of noncontradiction, the more it hammers you.” (p.129)

    Ravi Zacharias does not give stereotypical views of Eastern philosophy a pass. As a native of India, he shows the fallacies of the Eastern thought that many today consider to be so enlightened.

    Appendix B is a helpful historical sketch of important philosophers. It serves as a great introduction to beginners.

    Recommendation:

    This is a quality book that pastors and others of influence need to read. Ravi Zacharias also has a radio program called “Let My People Think.” It is time that those in ministry do just that. This book will help.

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