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Posted July 8, 2009
If This his Opinion Reason, No Wonder He Wants it to End
There is nothing insightful in this book. Ravi has not presented a single aregument which has not already been dragged through the mud and back several times over. This book is so riddled with poor arguments that I'd need more pages than he used himself to expose the foolishness of it all. For the purpose of this review, I'll use only one example.
Here, from page 56, is an example of some of the worst circular arguments I've ever encountered by a published author: "Objective moral values exist only if God exists. Objective moral values do exist. Therefore, God exists. An examination of these premises and their validity presents a very strong argument for God". (pg 56)
The entire argument depends on the validity of the first statement, but he provides no basis to establish the validity of that premise. He is basically saying "you can't argue against the fact that morals depend on god, so since there are morals, there is god". Well, actually, we can argue against the need for god for morals. The most common argument against morality without god is that altruism doesn't make sense if there's no utlimate accountability. That's ridiculous, because there is accoutability in the here and now. For example, let's start with four plausible Darwinian explanations for altruism in nature (then we'll follow with empirical evidence). First, altruism toward kin helps propogate genetic code (parent child for example). Second, reciprocal altruism makes sense, as in the case of humans and farm animals. Farm animals produce food goods, humans give them steady meals, and both benefit. Third, altruism in higher cogniscent species builds reputations that can benefit the individuals. For example, a ramora (cleaner fish) that fails to clean its host fish is less likely to be selected by other hosts who observed it while it failed to perform it's task of cleaning. Therefore, by cleaning well, ramoras ensure a great number of host fish whom will welcome them, increasing their chance at a steady food source. A fourth argument for altruism in nature is bragging rights. Individuals who act altruisticly can "afford" to do so, therefore are regarded by other individuals as strong, and therefore increase thier chances of mating.
If Darwinian explanations aren't enough, then we can turn to the empirical evidence collected by a number of moral psychologists over the years strongly suggesting that morality is innate in almost all humans (certain rare exceptions of course as in all things psychological). I'll just link to wiki for that - http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Moral_Psychology -, since it's a topic far too large to go into for a book review.
Unfortunately, most people don't have enough (if any) education in morality or ethics to even consider the facts, so they argue from ignorance, just like previous generations did. While their ignorance could be excused by the lack of evidence available to them, Ravi Zacharius can't get away with the same excuse.
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