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ISBN/ASIN : 0801065119
Manufacturer : Baker Books|
Release data : 07 October, 2004
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Compelling arguments for hope and purpose
In the introduction, the author suggests that some readers might prefer to first read the two appendixes at the end. The first: The Finger Of Truth And The Fist Of Reality shows how philosophical ideas infiltrate popular culture and come into our lives. The second: The Establishment Of A Worldview, provides the conceptual foundation upon which the framework of truth will stand. They explain the process that the author used to examine various concepts in order to arrive at his conclusions.
Part One deals with mankind as the measure of all things. In the chapter Morticians Of the Absolute, the author shows how determinism, Freud's views on religion and Darwinian theory have placed theism under severe pressure. The assault of atheism has become manifest in the political arena with totalitarian movements like communism and fascism. The author considers Nietzsche with his profound hatred of religion as the bridge between the 19th and 20th centuries, since he exerted a strong influence on Freud, Yeats, Jung and George Bernard Shaw, amongst others. A passage from The Madman is quoted here. There are illuminating comments by GK Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge quoted, to the effect that they foresaw that atheism would lead to violence and hedonism.
The second chapter looks at the doctrine of atheism - the belief that there is no God, which is an affirmation of God's non-existence. The author refers to various thinkers like Mary Hesse, Jurgen Habermas, Stephen Jay Gould, John Polkinghorne and Sir Fred Hoyle and considers the 2nd law of thermodynamics by asking the question of how biological systems manage to swim against the entropic stream. It makes absolute sense that scientists ought to maintain a judicious agnosticism about the obvious limitations of human understanding.
In chapter three: Virtue In Distress, the matters of purpose and morality are discussed. Zacharias demonstrates that the idea of being good has in popular culture been replaced by the idea of feeling good, in a twisting vortex of relativising. The traditional underpinnings of society have been ridiculed, which explains some of the present moral confusion. Very importantly, the author shows how secular philosophy cannot logically answer the question of how to determine right from wrong. Without God there is no starting point for ethical theorists. He provides interesting quotes from Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) and from Paul Johnson (Intellectuals). In their own lives, many intellectuals separated their mental skills from their moral practices, for example Sartre, Hemingway and Bertrand Russell. Nietzsche's influence on Hitler is discussed and the author concludes that morality as goodness cannot be justified with atheistic presuppositions. In other words, atheism's morality is unlivable.
The chapter: Sisyphus On A Roll deals with the issue of meaning and the problems of pleasure and pain. Here the author quotes from the lament of Voltaire, Solomon's Ecclesiastes and from Blaise Pascal, to show that without God there is no meaning. Only God can fill the emptiness within. The next chapter deals with death and quotes extensively from the book of Job. No hope exists in the naturalist universe. The shattered visage of atheism offers only the stare of death and a barren desert of despair. On the other hand, the book of Job offers hope in the response of God after all the questions, discussions and lamentations.
Part Two is about God, the treasure of life's pursuits. Zacharias acknowledges that the Christian faith has suffered severely at the hands of both its defenders and detractors. He shows how its detractors have assaulted it and how many of its adherents have cheapened it or made it incomprehensible. The narrative then discusses the journey of CS Lewis from atheism to Christianity. The author shows how the love of God stimulates a desire for studying the creation and concludes that Christ adds balance and detail to truth. Chapter seven: With Larger Eyes Than Ours, takes up the argument from design and demonstrates how the shackle of determinism is broken. Love precedes biological life and there is a moral nature to the universe. Chesterton, Lewis and Dennis Prager are some of the many authors quoted where it is explained how God puts things in perspective. The value of the individual and the meaning of relationships are also discussed here.
Every chapter of the main text concludes with questions for study and discussion. The book concludes with copious notes arranged by chapter. The Real Face Of Atheism is rather more difficult and intellectual than the two other books of his that I have read: Light In The Shadow Of Jihad and Deliver Us From Evil. But it is still accessible because of the author's engaging writing style and the way that he integrates the thoughts and observations of so many other authors into the text. I highly recommend those aforementioned books plus Sinisterism by Bruce Walker, Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter and Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. Two compelling books that shine a light on the fruits of atheism are The Menace In Europe by Claire Berlinski and While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer.