Ravi Zacharias is known as one of the greatest Christian apologists of our time. If I was to create my own list of the top five Christian apologists, he would be in it. I have listened to hundreds of lectures by Zacharais, but never read any of his books. Well I have now read my first ever book by him. There is no shortage of titles to choose from. But out of all the books he has written, I am reading one published over ten years ago. *The End of Reason*was released on May 11, 2008.
This book would never have existed had it not been for Sam Harris. The End of Reason was born out of a response to Harris book, Letter to a Christian Nation. Published on September 16, 2006, Letter to a Christian Nation gained massive attention. As the title suggests, Harris wrote in the style of an open letter to Christians of the United States. He wanted his book to destroy the intellectual and moral framework of Christianity. I have not read Harris book, so I am unable to speak on its validity. But Zacharias read it. He was so troubled by Harris logic and claims that he had to refute them in his own book. As he states, I am writing The End of Reason to tell young men and womenall who ask the hard questions about the meaning of lifethat atheism is bankrupt for answers. The emperor has no clothes, and through his verbal magic Harris is trying hard to cover him up. Zacharias was not alone in his opinion. Several other authors wrote their own books to refute Harris illogical inconsistencies.
In the early pages, Zacharias gives a brief description of his background. Born in India, he was an atheist. He was haunted by the opening words of philosopher Albert Camus essay The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus states, There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. At this point Zacharias followed atheism to its logical conclusion; There was no ultimate meaning to life. This conclusion became clear when two of his closest friends both committed suicide. At 17 years of age, Zacharias tried to do the same by swallowing poison, but was unsuccessful. As doctors worked hard to keep Zacharias alive, a man by the name of Fred David gave him a Bible. Zacharias mother read the gospel to him. But it was when she read John 14:19 that changed her sons life. In that verse Jesus says, Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. At that point, Zacharias wanted this life Jesus offered rather than death.
In a span of four decades, Zacharias has traveled all over the world. He has spoken at universities, churches, and government institutions. He immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. In 1984 he started the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Over 35 years later, RZIM has become a global leader in apologetic teaching across 43 countries.
I am surprised how small this book is both in physical size and amount of pages. Could a 144 page book actually refute Harris argument? Well yes, once I learned that Harris book has even less pages at 96. You can almost feel the frustration of Zacharias in these short amount of pages responding to Harris.
The End of Reason is a book where Zacharias explains how Atheism does not have a solid framework to explain the origin of the universe. Something does not come from nothing. There was a beginning, which means there had to have been a cause. But was this cause from a deity or an intelligent mind? If atheism does not believe that an intelligent mind created this universe, the framework then crumbles to the mere conclusion that we are not intelligently designed. We all came from a mathematical improbable chance. We are essentially accidents. We exist without a purpose. From that broken framework, Zacharias exposes all the other problems atheism has. Atheism does not have an objective standard of meaning, morality, love, hope, worth, or value. So basically, atheists want to be their own god, but need to steal from Christianitys framework to do so. An example of this comes from when Sam Harris asserts something as evil. Zacharias shares that:
When you assert that there is such a thing as evil, you must assume there is such a thing as good.
When you say there is such a thing as good, you must assume there is a moral law by which to distinguish between good and evil.There must be some standard by which to determine what is good and what is evil.
When you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiverthe source of the moral law.
The problem is that this moral law-giver is what atheists are trying to disprove.
Zacharias is brilliant at turning that same logic against his opponent. An example is how he finds it ironic that Harris claims to be speaking from logic and reason, but writes in a way that attacks and insults Christianity. He points out that Harris becomes the very thing he accuses Christians of being: which is intolerant, dogmatic, and arrogant. Attacking an opponent with insults and bigotry does not make an argument more valid. If Harris really does want Christians removed from the world, that would be exactly the hateful ideology Harris is arguing against. This is the kind of hypocrisy Zacharias is incredible at exposing.
Christianity teaches that every single life has ultimate value. In secularism, while there is no ultimate value to life, the atheist subjectively selects particular values to applaud. The game is played every day by the relativist camp, while it refuses to allow the other side the benefit of playing by the same rules. - page 58
The worldview of the Christian faith is simple enough. God has put enough into this world to make faith in him a most reasonable thing. But he has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone. - page 75
I am hesitant at times to read books that respond to other books. It can sometimes fall into the trap of riding on another author's popularity rather than writing new content. I do not believe this is Zacharias motive. I can see why a response is necessary if there are some dangerous and fallacious ideologies. But I sometimes wonder if it is worth giving a response when you can let your own content speak for itself. Regardless of how I feel, Zacharias felt it was necessary to respond.
If I read The End of Reason back in 2008, I would have been very impressed with its content. But because I am reading it over ten years later, I have heard these arguments before. While these arguments still hold true and are credible, I did not walk away more enlightened. This could be a great book for aspiring apologists. But with several other authors responding to Harris, I am not sure how much The End of Reason stands out. One thing is for certain, I will be reading more of Zacharias books in the future.
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