The Real Face of Atheism
Publisher (Date): Baker Books (September 1, 2004)
Length: 192 pages
I decided to read The Real Face of Atheism for two main reasons. First, it went on sale for my Kindle (surprise!), and the second, yet more important, reason was that I’m going to be seeing Ravi Zacharias speak at Dartmouth College as part of the Veritas Forum in a few weeks, so I wanted to get into the spirit.
Although this is surprisingly the first book I have by Zacharias, I did know most of his major arguments from his presentations on the Internet. That being said, I think that this is a very solid introduction to his main arguments regarding the inadequacy of the atheist ideology as a worldview.
This book is divided into two main sections. First, the book examines the human condition and then moves on to how God is truly the answer for each of these dilemmas.
It begins on a very strong note which is very similar to what I have heard from CS Lewis. Either God is without a doubt the most important thing in the world or He is not. All of that hinges on whether or not Christianity is true and He really does exist like we believe He does. I think that this is the theme of the entire book. After all, atheism and theism cannot both be true. Most of the first chapter is kind of an overview of this kind of historical debate.
Following that, we move in the most obvious direction and explore the question of origins. His arguments regarding the inadequacy of science are theologically solid in my opinion, but there’s nothing particularly revolutionary at this point. Many of these arguments have been explained before, and they essentially come back to the dilemma that the atheist faces when trying to explain how the universe began.
Without a solid beginning, Zacharias argues that the atheist is then left in a difficult spot when trying to explain objective morality. Why does it seem like there are certain things that are always wrong are always right no matter what culture you enter? With God in the picture, it is rather easy to explain. However, for the atheist, there is nothing solid to base morality on because everything is by nature subjective.
After chapters describing the necessity of meaning and the question of facing death, we move into the logical conclusion of all of these arguments. On page 106, he emphasizes the problem facing the atheist.
“Atheists must make sense out of a random first cause, denounce as immoral all moral denunciation, express meaningfully all meaninglessness, and find security in hopelessness.”
I thought that this rather succinctly summed up the final portion of the book. The point of the lecture that was eventually turned into this book was to demonstrate a few of the inherent flaws in an atheistic worldview.
On this account, I thought that the book succeeded. I enjoyed reading it, and I found it very accessible. I assume it would be understandable to someone who had never even picked up an apologetics book before. I believe that was the audience he was going for particularly because the original lecture was given to a crowd of scientists at Bell Laboratories. They would not have been trained as apologists most likely, so he understood the audience he was speaking to.
While some people are looking for a more in-depth look into some of these topics, I am sure that there are books that could fill that need for you. This one is a very nice introduction that provides solid arguments in a very well-written book.