Well fuck. It looks like I'm going to have to do a real blog post.
It's been a long god damned time and the writing part of my brain has rusted almost completely solid. Damn.
But crap like this just pisses me off. No don't click on it, I'll get to it in a minute. *sigh*
dammit Dammit DAMMITTTTTT!!!! I can't sit here and just complacently let this one go. AARRGGGHHH!!!!!!!
Specifically responding to the review by Cisco at the above link which I was directed to on Sean's blog by some fundy jackhole named jaajoe. grrrrrrrrrrrrr
*groan* This is painful and reading this review is so much crap. And who am I to hold your hand and walk you through all it's crappiness?????
alright, Alright, ALRIGHT!!! I'll try again. Maybe like I did originally and respond to the text as it goes along.
Book Review: The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists, by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. Published by Zondervan, 2008.
Written by Cisco
Wednesday, 04 June 2008
Responded to by Fiery
Sunday, 13 July 2008
He spends a good chunk of this review talking about another book by Dionne.
E.J. Dionne, Jr. in his book, Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right, makes many ill-informed statements, but possibly one of the least-informed is a statement that he makes concerning the recent popularity of the books written by the neo-atheists.
First off, the use of the word "neo-atheist". That's a new one to me. Who were the original atheists? The Founding Fathers? The Athenian philosophers? From a very small Google search, it appears to be used as a smear on the 4 Horsemen. Maybe that phrase "4 horsemen" is their response to being called "neo-atheists"? Not a big deal, just a new one to me.
Dionne says the following: “The popularity of the neo-atheists' books suggests that those who have pushed religion to the right have done more to arouse enmity toward religion than to win adherents to faith.”
Who pushed religion to the right? If he is saying, atheists pushed it there, then a big ole frickin' DUH!!!! to the fact that we are arousing enmity. But that isn't the way the sentence makes sense, if one can look for sense from a fundy. According to Dione, the religious right is arousing enmity to faith. WOOHOO!!! Good. I hope they keep arousing people. Next point.
You may have noticed the books to which Dionne is referring. These are the books that have been churned out by the likes of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, and that have titles such as The God Delusion, The End of Faith, and God is not Great.
"Churned out"? Churned!!!! As if non-fiction books that were 464, 224, and 320 pages long respectively could EVER be churned out. Not one of those 3 books was churned anything. Nice little slur slid in there, just to undermine without making an actual criticism.
All of these books try to provide new arguments for a very old idea, namely, the non-existence of God, and they have taken up prominent and seemingly permanent residence at your local bookstore.
I take exception to the word "try" but will let it slide to get to the next point. What does every fundy book on the planet do but "try to provide new arguments for a very old idea, namely, the existence of God"? FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!!! Do you read the drivel you write or does it just vomit forth from your bowels uncensored.
At my favorite Borders store, they can be found in various hardcover and paperback forms at a strategic endcap that they have occupied for over a year. I say “strategic” because the endcap is in a location that is required to be seen by any person exiting the restrooms.
Maybe the manager figures that once you've offloaded the biological shit in your life you might as well dump the psychological shit as well. Next time do yourself a favor and grab a copy on your way to the loo or better yet on the way to the till.
In his statement about the popularity of the books written by the neo-atheists, Dionne is historically inaccurate. Rather than pushing religion to the right, those of us in the Religious Right are merely attempting to prevent liberals, such as Dionne, from pulling Christianity any further to the left. But putting aside Dionne's re-writing of history, are we to understand that a person searching for God, when confronted with the absolutes of Christianity as espoused by the Religious Right, will have the default reaction of embracing atheism?
*snerk* Please feel free to confront me with the "absolutes of Christianity". It's absolute rubbishness. It's absolute harmfulness to the human race. It's absolute openness to interpretation by whatever ruling political party wants it to be. As Blaise Pascal put it so well, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction".
Such may be the case. I really do not know for certain, but neither does Dionne. I would suggest that a person searching for God is just as likely to default to atheism when confronted with the vagaries of the liberal Christianity that Dionne espouses.
May it ever be so.
Regarding the popularity of the books of the neo-atheists, Dionne re-writes history and makes a statement that has absolutely no basis in fact. Thankfully, in The End of Reason, Ravi Zacharias avoids such ill-informed statements. Admittedly, Zacharias does not speak to the “why” of the popularity of the neo-atheists' books, other than to suggest that their popularity may have more to do with their controversial nature than any substantive arguments. But Ravi does provide us with a fact-based, eloquent, logical refutation of the positions of Harris and his colleagues in neo-atheism.
MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! A "fact-based" rebuttal. HA!!! HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! I bet. Goddamit, with that kind of statement, now I've got to see if the library has a copy of this fucking book. I've got to read this glorious "fact based, eloquent, logical refutation" of the atheist arguments for myelf. I wonder if there is anything different from that Cahill book I subjected myself to at the behest of my fundy neighbor. I wonder if he still has it and what he would say if I asked to borrow it to compare the two. Wouldn't THAT be a hoot. Might give the poor old codger hope that I was seeing the light.
No such luck at the library. DANG!!! Maybe Amazon...
We interrupt this review to bring you a quote from Amazon provided by the publisher for the End of Reason by Ravi and I quote, "The End of Reason is a clear and powerful response to the utter bankruptcy of Harris's New Atheism as it explains the true nature of God, the foundation for evil in the world, and the basis of true morality."
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasping for breath* What was that claim for originality again? The "true" nature of God (by whose interpretation), the foundation for evil (says you) and the basis for true morality (something one does NOT need god for).
And now back to our regularly scheduled blogpost.
We should note a few things about the author of The End of Reason, Dr. Ravi Zacharias. I first became acquainted with Dr. Zacharias about ten years ago. I was doing some late-night-long-distance driving through Tennessee, and was scanning through all of the radio stations that could be heard on my car radio with the hope of finding something that would keep me awake. I stumbled upon a speaker who first intrigued me because of the faint trace of an Indian accent (an accent that I had never before associated with Evangelical Christian radio stations in the Bible-Belt), and then further intrigued me because of the loving eloquence and logic of his presentation. I immediately became a fan of Ravi, and have subsequently made every effort to listen to him on both radio and television whenever possible. I have read several of his books, and I have developed the opinion that Ravi is the greatest Christian apologist of our time. Ravi does indeed hail from India, and his life experiences and education provide him with a unique perspective that he clearly communicates. He provides us with the example of a great Christian leader precisely because he refuses to be one. Ravi's quiet, servant-like attitude provides the example that John Hagee and Pat Robertson would do well to follow, and should those two eminent so-called “evangelical leaders” be unable to bring themselves to a point where they can mimic Ravi's humble demeanor, I would suggest that perhaps they might at least follow Ravi's example in the matter of actually thinking before speaking.
Interesting, a new form of evangelical preacher. Dare I say a "Neo-Evangelical"? *snerk* I wonder how humble he is with the contributions he receives. I wonder if he drives around in an old beater of a car wearing suits he gets at the used clothing stores. And what does it prove if he does? Not much, just curious.
The End of Reason is written specifically as a response to Sam Harris' book, Letter to a Christian Nation, but serves likewise as a response to Hitchens, Dawkins, and other neo-atheists in those areas where their positions overlap. The book is just a small, 5”X 8” hardcover with 128 pages, and it took me about two hours to read it.
If you are familiar with other books written by Ravi, you may be a bit surprised at the tone of the writing found in The End of Reason. Ravi's writing in this book is much more, for lack of a better term, aggressive. Even Ravi says, “this is the most strongly worded book I have ever written.” He does not make any personal attacks on any of the neo-atheists, and he is always the consummate gentleman in his analysis and arguments. But in his stern condemnation of the irresponsible and reprehensible writings of Harris and his cohorts, Ravi takes on something of the persona of a professor who is reprimanding students who have been lazy in their application of critical thinking. Indeed, the light of Ravi's well-written arguments illuminates the writings of the neo-atheists in general, and Sam Harris' writings in particular, and their writings are found to be not much more than the juvenile musings of a university sophomore who has just discovered Nietzsche.
Well I checked the Fargo Public Library for this masterful work, no go. I wonder if the Moorhead Public Library has it. *sign* Nup.
Because The End of Reason is so well-written, and because it is short, to-the-point, and logical in it's arguments, any attempts at an in-depth review of the book would find the reviewer simply parroting all that Ravi has already written. It would be difficult to improve upon Ravi's arguments or insight, and so I will not make the attempt. So then, what is left to me is the task of convincing the reader to purchase The End of Reason. With that stated task in mind, I make the following three arguments.
It is possible that the reader of this review is a fan of Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens, or Richard Dawkins. Maybe you have read the books of one or all of these writers and you have found an affinity to them and you have found their arguments to be compelling. May I suggest that intellectual integrity dictates that you make an effort to look at the other side of the argument? If indeed, as E.J. Dionne suggests, the bombastic idiocy of self-serving preachers such as John Hagee has driven you into the arms of the neo-atheists, please take one look at the writing of Dr. Ravi Zacharias, who is neither bombastic nor self-serving. I purchased and read Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation because I wanted to always be ready “to give an answer to every man that asketh” a reason for the hope that is in me. If you are an atheist, it is quite possible that you have already heard every argument in existence concerning God's existence, but it is also possible that you have not. The End of Reason is probably the best modern argument for the existence of God that has been written, and I would suggest that an atheist should read it, if only to strengthen his or her beliefs in much the same way that it strengthened mine.
It is also possible that the reader of this review is a Christian and is a fan of Rick Warren or Joel Osteen. I must admit that, other than Osteen's perpetual obsession with material things, I do not find the writings of these two individuals to be particularly offensive. Generally speaking, these two authors make efforts to make their readers feel better about themselves, and I can not criticize a noble endeavor such as that. But when I need to feel better about myself, I have always found that Paul the apostle is an author that is up to the task, because he writes things like, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Osteen and Warren can never match the feel-good majesty of “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor live, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Osteen and Warren can never match the wise simplicity of “Love never faileth.”
My point is that many present day Christian authors, such as Osteen and Warren, provide books that have little substance, and the substance that these authors do provide is actually much better provided by the Bible itself. But I suspect that a copy of The Holy Bible may not have all of the cachet of a copy of The Purpose Driven Life. I would submit that The End of Reason, with it's mere 128 pages, provides more substance and is more important to Christianity than all of Warren's and Osteen's books combined, because The End of Reason forces the mind to do the critical thinking that is so lacking in Christianity today. It is required reading for the atheist who has never really looked at a logical argument for the existence of God, and it is required reading for the Christian who has never really critically analyzed his own faith.
Ya know what? Bullshit is still bullshit no matter how rationally it is presented. You can wrap it in ribbons and sprinkle it with perfume but it's still manure. Enough said, I'm letting this lie, because this next section is what got my knickers in a twist and made me break my blogging silence. Curse you jaajoe!!!!!
Finally, I would submit that The End of Reason is required reading for all Americans, regardless of faith. Ravi suggests in his book that the choice that Americans currently face is not really between Christianity and secular atheism, but is rather between Christianity and Islam.
wrong Wrong WRONG!!!! Look at that false alternative setting up Christianity as the default win because of COURSE we don't follow Islam. No, fool. The choice is between a "faith" based view of life and a "rational" based view of life. You can't flip a coin and say "heads it's jebus, tails it's mohammed". Nup. You could say "left facing head Christianity, right facing head Islamism and tails it's atheism" but not the other way.
Ravi uses present-day Europe as proof for his suggestion when he says, “Even now, Europe is demonstrating that it's secular worldview – one that Harris applauds – cannot stand against the onslaught of Islam and is already in demise.” Ravi goes on to say, “In the end, America's choice will be between Islam and Jesus Christ. History will prove before long the truth of this contention.” I implore the reader of this review to read The End of Reason, and then make his own judgment as to whether America's real choice is between secular atheism and Christianity, or between Islam and Christianity, as Ravi posits.
Faith is the end of reason. It will be reason that saves the world from the hell that faith has cast it into.