The Real Face of Atheismby Ravi Zacharias Published 01 Sep 2004
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Atheism is a world without God. Its true nature—whether disguised in Eastern mysticism or American cynicism—is despair. In this thought-provoking and witty book, Ravi Zacharias provides Christians a clear apologetic for their faith.
Formerly published as A Shattered Visage, The Real Face of Atheism systematically examines atheistic positions on human nature, the meaning of life, morality, the "First Cause," death, and more. With a new introduction and revisions throughout, The Real Face of Atheism is the perfect text for pastors, students, and thinking laypeople who want to improve their apologetic skill and reach out to non-believers.
"The Real Face of Atheism" Reviews
What a terrible book. There are so many errors in this book and so many holes in his arguments that I don't even know where to begin. The whole book is basically an ad hominem attack on atheism as the points he attempts to address have no bearing on the validity of atheism as they are not ideas inherent in atheism.
Chapter one is dedicated solely to attacking Nietzsche and erroneously attempting to connect his writings (and of course by extension atheism) with various genocides of the 20th century. Even if atheism had caused these tragedies (and it did not) that would still have no bearing on it's validity as it does not effect whether or not any gods exist.
Chapter two is laughably devoted to debunking evolution. I don't think I really need to say much about this other than that Zacharias demonstrates a laughable understanding and ignorance of evolution going so far as to conflate it with abiogenesis but never even talks about the scientific research in that area. Of course here he uses the "God of the gaps" fallacy to say that because science doesn't yet have a theory (as if he would believe it if it did) concerning how life began that it then must have been God.
The rest of the arguments basically boil down to "I think you need God for X, therefore you need God for X and atheism can't give us X" which is not true and again even if it were it would not have any bearing on whether there is a god(s) or not. Arguments like "atheists have no basis for morality" and "death sucks and atheism can't give you comfort for it, therefore God". He constantly makes statements and gives no evidence or data to back them up (like atheists can't truly be happy, using atheist philosophers who suffered emotional problem as evidence). He often quotes Christian apologist philosophers as though that is evidence.
He also often sets up criteria by which ideas must be judged (to try and say atheism does not pass these) that his own beliefs cannot stand up against.
This guy does a good job of going through some of this book's bullshit: http://www.infidels.org/library/moder...
"A Shattered Visage" is an honest, hard look at the Atheist's view of life on Earth and some of the inherent problems and challenges of this mindset. Ravi Zacharias is well-studied in philosophy and brings to light many examples of great minds who have struggled with this very issue. The conclusions and analysis are most intriguing.
Most people might not want to go this deep into philosophy and the meaning of life, but I believe it is imperative to take the time to educate yourself and ask the most important questions:
1. Why are we here?
2. What is the meaning of life?
3. Is there a God?
4. How does this influence my existence?
It's not a surprise to those who know Ravi Zacharias that he points out the untenable position of the Atheist, but I think FAR more important is how he arrives at that conclusion. Not only does he show why the Atheist is wrong, but he gets to that conclusion through the very process the Atheist prides himself with: logic and analysis.
Two points in the book that were very hard hitting to me:
1. Naturalism & Atheism means survival of the fittest, natural selection, and we're all here by chance. People like Hitler and Stalin were taking this philosophy to its extreme - although consistent conclusion. However, it is agreed almost universally those men were "evil" - but by what moral standards can you judge good & evil if all is random chance and natural selection?
Yes, heinous acts have been done in the name of religion, but the difference is those acts were done in opposition to the clear methods and instructions of the Bible. It is not the proper understanding of the Bible, and evil is duly noted based upon God's morality.
2. The Atheist says "God does not exist"... but in order to KNOW this conclusively would require infinite knowledge. If you had infinite knowledge, then you would be the very god that you are saying does not exist. Unsupportable.
There is much more depth & insight in this book, and will take multiple readings to truly grasp all of its significance. If you are a Christian, read this book and it will strengthen your faith. If you are an Atheist, I challenge you to read this book for yourself... even if you intend to refute it.
I really enjoy most Ravi Zacharias books, and this was no different. I had to knock it down a star for technical reasons having to do with the ebook. I read this on my kindle, and there were several quotes that were replaced with a note saying that they couldn't be included due to rights restrictions. It seems fairly ridiculous to me that the owners of these various things were fine with including the text in a traditional book, but can't abide by having it in a digital format. One or two, I would have let pass, but it was more like one or two per chapter, and that just got annoying.
In an attempt to challenge my intellect I decided to read A Shattered Visage. Although I appreciate the effort, Zacharia shows that he does not grasp the true implications of the most important statements of atheism. He only touches the surface of the main issues he discusses very lightly. When I finished the book I was very dissapointed, for I had hoped that a Christian intellectual like Zacharia would be able to challenge me.
The main point Zacharia is trying to make with this book is that although atheism refutes God, it does not give any alternatives regarding the meaning of life, or why where are even here on earth in the first place and the fundamentals we should base our morality on.
When Zacharia states that according to atheists, life has no meaning, he is absolutely right. But he is completely erroneous when he demands an alternative. He fails to recognize that meaninglessness is an option, which is a major flaw in this book. What the implications of meaninglessness are, is an interesting area for debate, and I had hoped he would have addressed this, instead of stating that because there is lack of meaning, proves that atheism is wrong.
When Zacharia tries to discuss to origin of life and the universe he clearly shows his lack of knowlegde about science and evolution. He states that because atheism is not able to give answers to all the questions involving the origin of life and the universe, at the end there must be a God. Just because there are many unknowns, does not mean they will be unknowns forever. Science has proven that it improves itself each time. But even if questions remain unanswered, why would that imply that we have to fill up the gaps we have with a God? A lot of gaps we had, aren't gaps anymore and we did not fill them with a God either. It is once more astonishing how Zacharia fails to see such an easy point. I wonder how many research he has done in the field of science, or with how many atheists he has spoken.
When it comes to morality it is getting outright preposterous. Zacharia practically states that when there is no objective morality (or Moral Law), we mess everything up because we are not able to grasp what is right or wrong without a God telling us what is right or wrong. To support this argument he gives very selective examples of a few atheist philosophers who led dubious lifestyles, or went crazy. It is evident that morality is social, cultural and even evolutionary. The church used to condemn interracial marriage, but are there today any Christians who are against interracial marriage? Of course not (well, except for a few racists maybe), because religion adapts to cultural change, not the other way around. Morals change, and we as humans have to reason for ourselves what is good and what is wrong.
It is amusing to see how correct Zacharia is: -'The atheist is left with no reason for being, no morality to espouse, no meaning for life, and no hope beyond the grave'- but how hard he fails to recognize that this is actually a valid point of view. This is exemplary for the way Christians think, for they cannot even acknowledge the fact that there are people out there who consciously decide not to believe in a God. No reason for being, no Moral Law, no meaning for life and no afterlife is an alternative, bleak and terrifying as it sounds. Does this mean I am planning to commit suicide? No, I am thrilled to find out where life will bring me.
This was a thought-provoking book, challenging atheism from a Christian perspective. Zacharias is well-read and includes thoughts from a variety of philosophers, scientists, authors, and theologians. At his best he puts forth some excellent arguments against the atheistic world view and in favor of theism and Christianity. At his worst he can occasionally be unclear in his reasoning for the conclusions he is drawing. Overall, it was a good, quick read and helpful to my own thinking.
I have read and re-read this one many times. Zacharias is a great thinker.