Top positive review
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A response and a review
on June 24, 2006
So many of the reviewers here on amazon have missed the point of this book! None more then James Arvo. If it is ok with everyone here I would like to call into question Mr. Avro's points against this book by Ravi Zacharias and then give my own review.
In Mr. Avro's review he calls into question Ravi's scholarship and then gives two reasons for doing so. The first is because of Ravi's definition of atheism, which according to Ravi is: "the doctrine of belief that there is no God. It is an affirmation of God's nonexistence."
Ravi gets this definition from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Paul Edwards). This, in my opinion, is the HISTORICAL definition of atheism, not the neo-atheism wordplay/grammatically retarded, definition we see today (made popular by George Smith and others). Now if you want to dispute Ravi's definition that is fine, but two things need to be said really quickly before you do
First, if you've never met an adherent of this definition then I you haven't read anything (see Bertrand Russel) and I would question if you have ever been outside of your own house. Second, to put this as one of your major concerns is absurd! Right after he gives this definition for atheism Ravi says "Let's not, however, get bogged down in the morass of such pedantic verbal deep ends. Other counter arguments are more important." Immediately Ravi goes away from this and never looks back. He does not ask the atheist for proof of God's nonexistence (which would be where that definition would lead you if you actually wanted to use it as an argument), nor does Ravi ever bring up this definition or the consequences of it ever again. So to base so much of your problem with this book on ONE PARAGRAPH shows how intellectually honest you're trying to be when reviewing it. Also, if you truly believe this is a straw man definition of atheism then I suggest you go write a review for the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and complain about the same thing. But before you do, I would plead that you actually read the article on atheism in there and see why they come to one such definition.
My next concern with Mr. Avro's review is whether or not he actually read the entire book! Another main "problem" Mr. Avro brings up with Ravi's book, he states here in his review: "Atheists are not immoral, evil, selfish, ignorant, lazy, or possessed; they are simply people, as are theists."
I merely need to point to page 61 of this very book to show that Mr. Avro is way off if he thinks Ravi is making such a claim: "It is important that I be clearly understood. Not all atheists are immoral, but morality as goodness cannot be justified with atheistic presuppositions." Ravi then goes on to pound this point home for a few more paragraphs, STRESSING, that he is not calling atheists immoral! He is merely making a common argument that atheism cannot JUSTIFY morality. Mr. Arvo has taken Ravi's argument, twisted it to say; "atheists are all evil!!!" So he refutes this argument by saying that an atheist is not necessarily immoral (Obviously that is true! Ravi himself agrees with you!), and then Mr. Avro has the nerve to use the word "straw man" in his review of "The Real Face of Atheism"?!? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Mr. Avro calls Ravi's scholarship into question, however, not only would I call Mr. Avro's scholarship into question but his reading ability as well! Mr. Avro cries out for honesty on this topic and then in the next sentence turns around and does the same thing he is accusing Ravi Zacharias of doing. I would suggest to people interested in reading this book that they ignore James Avro's review as he seems to be unable to fairly discuss a book that disagrees with his philosophical position.
Also, if I may say, reading that "Laon" here thinks Nietzsche is NOT an atheist just makes me sad.
Now onto my review, it which will be short but honest.
Ravi Zacharias is a VERY insightful writer, philosopher, and theologian. Having heard the lecture he gave at Harvard on this very topic I am familiar with a lot of what he of says in this book. In fact, I would suggest getting some of Ravi's lectures over this book based on the fact that Ravi is an amazing speaker. I have a friend who likes Ravi's speaking just based on aesthetics! In this book Ravi makes solid arguments showing how atheism is not a philosophical position someone should jump into lightly. He rarely tries to "prove" atheism is wrong rather he tries to show the consequences of what one must believe upon calling themselves an atheist.
Ravi leans on the writings of two of the most popular and influential atheistic philosophers, Marx and Nietzsche, to make his points. Like I said these two are the most influential and often quoted philosophers from the atheist camp, which is why I find it so amusing that some of the reviewers on here try and back away from their ideas and arguments once they are really brought to light. Using these ideas and arguments given by the likes of Marx and Nietzsche (as well as most of the great atheist philosophers of the past and present) Ravi begins to show the logical outworking of these views, and how a proponent of atheism cannot reject these very dire consequences. You can read the book yourself if you're interested in seeing what Ravi says are some of the logical consequences of atheism becoming a dominate philosophical view.
In the second half of the book Ravi partially presents the Christian worldview and compares it with atheism. He does an ok job of this, but I did find it a bit lacking, most likely because of my familiarity with this topic.
Overall I thought this book was solid. I think it is a must read for anyone who is looking into atheism and wants to hear the theist side of things (so anyone doing an honest search). Do NOT mistake this book for a book that argues for God's existence or one that tries to defend the Christian position. Ravi has written a few books on those subjects so if you're looking for something in that area I suggest doing a quick search on amazon. The only issue I have with this book is that it is a little scattered. This probably stems from the fact that this is Ravi's first book. Another quick positive of this book is that it contains some GREAT quotes AND is a great place to get book ideas as Ravi is always discussing other books, and writers.
I give this book 4 stars out of 5, and I BEG anyone thinking about writing a review for this book to please try and grasp the goal Ravi was striving for by writing this!