The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists

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Overview

When you pray, are you talking to a God who exists? Or is God nothing more than your “imaginary friend,” like a playmate contrived by a lonely and imaginative child?

When author Sam Harris attacked Christianity in Letter to a Christian Nation, reviewers called the book “marvelous” and a generation of readers—hundreds of thousands of them—were drawn to his message. Deeply troubled, Dr. Ravi Zacharias knew that he had to respond. In The End of Reason, Zacharias underscores the ...

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The End of Reason

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Overview

When you pray, are you talking to a God who exists? Or is God nothing more than your “imaginary friend,” like a playmate contrived by a lonely and imaginative child?

When author Sam Harris attacked Christianity in Letter to a Christian Nation, reviewers called the book “marvelous” and a generation of readers—hundreds of thousands of them—were drawn to his message. Deeply troubled, Dr. Ravi Zacharias knew that he had to respond. In The End of Reason, Zacharias underscores the dependability of the Bible along with his belief in the power and goodness of God. He confidently refutes Harris’s claims that God is nothing more than a figment of one’s imagination and that Christians regularly practice intolerance and hatred around the globe.

If you found Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation compelling, the book you are holding is exactly what you need. Dr. Zacharias exposes “the utter bankruptcy of this worldview.”

And if you haven’t read Harris’ book, Ravi’s response remains a powerful, passionate, irrefutably sound set of arguments for Christian thought. The clarity and hope in these pages reach out to readers who know and follow God as well as to those who reject God.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310290704
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ravi Zacharias is President and Founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Their global outreach grew from humble roots in 1984 and includes fielding a team of itinerant speakers who operate from offices located around the world including the U.S., the UK, Romania, the Middle East, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Canada. The Hallmark of Ravi’s heart is his strong evangelistic and apologetic that manifests itself from a position of compassion.

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Read an Excerpt


The End of Reason
A Response to the New Atheists

By Ravi Zacharias Zondervan
Copyright © 2008
Ravi Zacharias
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-28251-8


Chapter One Dear fellow American,

Two Australian sailors staggered out of a London pub into a dense fog and looked around for help. As they steadied themselves, they saw a man coming into the pub but evidently missed the military medals flashing on his dress uniform. One sailor blurted out, "Say, bloke, do you know where we are?" The officer, thoroughly offended, snarled in response, "Do you men know who I am?" The sailors looked at each other, and one said to the other, "We're really in a mess now. We don't know where we are, and he don't know who he is."

This story is appropriate to the discussion because, by the end of Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation, we don't know who we are in essence or where we are in the grand scheme of a world without God. Harris's mass of verbiage has all the hallmarks of outdated, overused arguments (of the "weak point, shout louder" type) that are further weakened by a tragic misuse of the Bible and misunderstanding of Christianity and of other religions as well. But even as he rails against God, denying us any transcendent point of reference, he fully embraces God's life-defining prerogatives. His criticisms are caustic, his alternatives bankrupt. One of my professors at graduate school used to say of a critic, "He's better at smelling rotten eggs than at laying good ones." The eggs that Harris claims are rotten are, in fact, good eggs, while the eggs he has laid, claiming they are good, are the rotten ones.

As I read Sam Harris's books, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, I felt as though I was being dragged through a vortex of emotion - from incredulity to outrage to a deep sadness. I wondered if anything was too sacred for him to mock. I bristled against the unvarnished disrespect, distortion, and illogicality of his thoughts that combined to reject any belief in God. It created a titanic struggle within me for an obvious reason: he has attacked that which lies at the very heart of my being and, need I say, of millions of others as well. His is a "take no prisoners" style - both fists flailing in an attempt to hit every conceivable expression of religion, Christianity in particular.

There is an English proverb that when you throw mud at others, you not only get your hands dirty but also lose a lot of ground. Harris may well have done that with his book. If he thinks his belief is noble, he has used ignoble and slanderous rhetoric to communicate it. Why his ridicule? Why such unbridled mockery? I fail to understand his extremist thinking, which has even caused other atheists embarrassment.

Atheists Divided on This New Atheism

Commenting on Richard Dawkins's book The God Delusion, which strikes many of the same notes as Harris's books, fellow atheist Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy at Florida State University, says, "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist." And in response to Sam Harris's presentation at the Salk Institute, atheist and professor of psychology Scott Atran used almost identical words: "I find it fascinating that among the brilliant scientists and philosophers at the conference, there was no convincing evidence presented that they know how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. It makes me embarrassed to be a scientist and atheist."

Ruse and Atran restore my confidence in the sciences - unlike Harris and Dawkins, who make me leery of trusting in their findings when their prejudice is so venomous and obvious. Even with all the restraint I can muster, this is the most strongly worded book I have ever written, because I am alarmed at the cultural devastation wreaked by this kind of thinking.

Who Am I to Write This Response?

For those who do not know me, it may be helpful to introduce myself before I go any further. It may seem ironic that I, who hail from the East, now find myself pleading with a Westerner to remember where he has come from.

I was born to Indian parents and raised in India. My ancestors were priests from the highest caste of Hinduism in India's deep south. Religion is embedded in that culture, and India has probably spawned more religions than any other nation on earth. Hinduism alone boasts 330 million gods in its pantheon. Consequently, a lifetime of watching ceremony, ritual, superstition, and all that goes along with that worldview made me totally reject all belief in the supernatural. Many, many times I wondered how people could actually believe what they said they did, and I marveled at the masses' apparent commitment to gullibility. On this I agree with Sam Harris.

But never once did I consider the vitriol that Harris, Dawkins, and the new breed of atheists have spouted in their books and arguments. Frankly, rather than being so cavalier about their attitude, they would do better to seriously rethink whether they can accomplish what they are setting out to do by defacing the better part of humanity, among whom are Nobel laureates, brilliant philosophers and scientists, and others - peaceable men and women who have labored hard to make this a better world.

Now I readily admit that the accomplishments of these people did not justify their beliefs for me, but they did merit common courtesy and respect. Is it possible, however, that Harris's disrespect is justified because in an atheistic world, love for one's fellow human beings is a foreign concept? I certainly hope not. I know he tries to protect himself by tossing a bone now and then, saying, "I did qualify my position," but that's an old philosophical trick that is readily seen through. His impassioned hostility comes through loud and clear. There is nothing fragrant about atheism when its attitude smells like this.

My Exposure to the World's Religions

People often say that India is the most religious country in the world. It may be true, yet many in India live as practical atheists.

(Continues...)




Excerpted from The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias Copyright © 2008 by Ravi Zacharias. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Contents Foreword....................7
Prologue....................13
The End of Reason....................21
Notes....................129
Subject Index....................137
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    I received Ravi Zacharias¿ newest book, The End of Reason: A Response To The New Atheists in the mail yesterday. I must say, pitting Zacharias against the new atheists is an unfair fight. Zacharias is going to dismantle the arguments placed before him with ease. It¿s like punching an infant in the face. They¿re defenseless. I was able to read it in just under two hours. That is how little it takes Zacharias to show atheism for what it truly is¿a bankrupt philosophy. Weighing in at a mere 144 pages, anyone with a Venti coffee from Starbucks and a cookie can easily read through the book in very little time and grasp the weighty arguments posited in the book. Much like C.S. Lewis¿ radio addresses served as a rebuttal to Bertand Russell¿s Why I Am Not a Christian during World War II, The End of Reason serves as a direct rebuttal to Sam Harris¿s book, Letter to a Christian Nation. As atheism has been wildly popular as of late, Zacharias has been called upon by universities, churches, and now a publisher to present a reasoned rebuttal to the vitriol that Harris and his ilk have been spewing vehemently for the better part of three years now. As I read Sam Harris¿s books, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, I felt as though I was being dragged through a vortex of emotion¿from incredulity to outrage to a deep sadness. I wondered if anything was too sacred for him to mock. I bristled against the unvarnished disrespect, distortion, and illogicality of his thoughts that combined to reject any belief in God¿His is a ¿take no prisoners¿ style¿both fists flailing in an attempt to hi every conceivable expression of religion, Christianity in particular. It is to this which Zacahrias felt compelled to respond. Taking apart atheistic claims for origins of life, meaning, morality, and hope, Zacharias presents the weakness of their position and shows why Christianity is not merely a answer among many to the questions of life, but the answer to the questions of life. He exposes Harris¿s dialectic as a smoke and mirror act that appeals more to the emotions than it does to the rational, thinking person. He also reveals atheists to be guilty of the close-mindedness they accuse religious people of having. Harris spends the later portion of the book positing several reasons why it is more reasonable to believe in God, specifically the God of the Bible. Beginning with the argument for belief in God, he traces his way to Christ as God in the flesh. The End of Reason is an important book. It is not the only book that takes the new atheism to task, but it is extremely accessible and informative. This book provides the Christian with valuable talking points to engage the well-spoken atheists who call into question everything about belief in a transcendent power. You owe it to yourself to check this book out.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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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.

    8 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    I'm not sure if Ravi Zacharias has actually read Sam Harris

    This book was intended as a response to Sam Harris' "The End of Faith", as well as to several other prominent atheist writers. However, Zacharias seems to have a particular bone to pick with Harris, attempting to portray him as some wild, angry man who hates God. As anyone who has read "End of Faith" could tell you, Sam Harris writes calmly and rationally (even if one doesn't agree with his point). And Harris' statements are misquoted frequently, at length, throughout this book. One of the most often-referenced complaint is that Harris hates "all religion, specifically Christianity" - I certainly don't remember that passage. The strongest Harris gets is pointing out the potential damage that could arise if Islam (note: not "Christianity" as Zacharias is referencing) as a whole does not continue to grow more moderate; the growth of militant factions, fanaticism, etc. Zacharias' book reads like a knee-jerk reaction to an imagined offense; the two authors clearly disagree, but it truly feels like Zacharias is interpreting a differing opinion as a personal attack. How very "Christian" of him.

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This one is a keeper - Will read it again

    This is the most conversational book of Ravi's that I have read. It's a little like sitting in his living room and listening to him get a little bit worked up about a subject about which he is passionate.

    If you have no desire to examine the claims of Jesus Christ, you will hate this book - save your money. If, however, you are wanting an impassioned comparison of Christianity with atheism from a Christian perspective, then this book will be appreciated.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2008

    Typical Ravi - it's a good thing!

    Ravi¿s response to Sam Harris¿ bestselling ¿Letter to a Christian Nation¿ offers the in-depth explanation anyone familiar with Ravi¿s teaching would expect. It is a challenge to be able to read Ravi¿s work one time through and soak it all in ... almost an impossible challenge. Sometimes the circular responsive rationale seems to echo the original misinformation. However, woven between the philosophy lessons are nuggets of distinct truth which are invaluable to understanding one¿s faith. Ravi makes the statement in his prologue that Harris has enjoyed success, like so many other books in America, ¿more because of its controversial nature than because of any real substance.¿ How unfortunately true and perhaps a good basis for the title of this letter/book ... ¿The End of Reason.¿ Ravi goes on to counter Harris¿ claims piece by piece pulling resources from his education, personal experience and in the power of the Word. I¿m glad Christianity has Ravi on this side of the divisive argument. Ravi systematically lays out the reciprocal and logical side of the atheist argument but, ultimately, it is up to every individual to make his/her own decision on what to believe. Ravi is highly educated and at times, the tone of his argument may be interpreted as defensive rather than stating the facts and letting the reader make a choice. Jesus had a radical approach to delivering His message ... we should learn likewise. Here is the Truth - which can set you free - which can give you abundant life. Choose wisely.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    great defense of the reserection

    'end of reason' is a most remarkable book that I find gives facts for the christian faith and exellent sound fool proof arguments agaist secular humanism.the arthur ravi zacharias wrote this best seller in response to the atheist sam harris latest writings this book not only proves mr harris's writings wrong but it gives the beleiver some intresting proofs of the reserection and I feel this will great book will end some of false claims agaist christianity and the reserection. great gift idea for a friend or family member or soldier serving over seas.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Ravi at His Finest!

    A great challenge written by one of the foremost thinkers in Evangelical Christianity! Anyone who has been challenged by either Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins needs to read this for a well thought-out and interestingly presented defense of the Christian faith. In a society largely uninformed of the actual beliefs, basis, and systems of Christian thought, this book is a beacon to the philosophically and morally blinded. Evangelical Christianity needs more thinkers like Ravi. 5-stars!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    More fundamentalist nonsense.

    More fundamentalist nonsense.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2010

    Great Quick Read

    This book is small, but it has some interesting things to ponder.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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