Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias writes an eloquent yet firm response to author Sam Harris's LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION, in which Harris debunks Christianity by telling readers that "science has the answers to our questions about life and that religion is the bane of existence." In rebuttal, Zacharias states that he has "Always found it fascinating how relativists who say they love the idea of tolerance ultimately reveal themselves to be among the most bigoted."
Zacharias writes not only in response to Harris's work but also to refute other well-known atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, whose work runs along the same lines as those of Harris's. He opens his text by sharing his personal story of growing up in India, which some say is the most religious country in the world. Zacharias, though, says that many live there as practical atheists. He recalls listening to priests who were Hindu, Buddhist and Christian, and finding them (and their message) completely boring and inconsequential.
After following "only one serious philosophical question" as purported by Albert Camus, Zacharias watched two close friends commit suicide and then tried himself, but ended up in a hospital in New Delhi. It was then that he was handed a bible and was read the gospel story. Four decades later, he has traveled the globe lecturing and teaching in universities, finding Jesus "more beautiful and attractive than ever before."
Zacharias tells of his extensive study of atheism researching the world's best scholars and begins dismantling Harris's premises one by one, starting with "origin." Nothing cannot produce something, writes the author, and at this very starting point the laws of science begin to break down. Even the staunchest atheistic contenders cannot explain why there is "something" from "nothing."
Next, Zacharias tackles the "odds of random life," where Nobel laureate and atheist Francis Crick believes a spaceship delivered spores to "seed the earth." He shares more examples of well-regarded atheists' postulations on beginnings, each more far-fetched than the previous one. From there, he discusses the meaning of life and morality, posing important questions such as these: Does the reality of evil mean there is no God? Can morality exist apart from a moral lawgiver? Can reason alone provide a moral framework? Are atheists more "moral" than others? How do we define love?
Zacharias presents a study of the Christ of scripture, prophecy and the inherent morality of the Ten Commandments. He then tackles Jesus' method for changing hearts, along with current hot topics such as genetic engineering, abortion and cloning, before presenting his argument for the existence of God. Readers, whether Christian or not, will find Zacharias's work to be most necessary and enlightening reading in response to the "new atheists" teaching, which is gaining more credibility with society as a whole.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on April 29, 2008