The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias is a short and powerful critique of the recent books by Sam Harris: Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith. This book is both a refutation of Harris and a response to the so-called “new atheists.”
The book is not laid out in chapters, but follows a topical style that addresses various ideas that are presented in The End of Faith. Each category is addressed in turn, with a very readable tone and a style that is easy to read. As one would expect from Zacharias, the points are driven home with profound personal narratives, examples, and simple summary statements. Zacharias is clearly appalled by Harris’s books, and flatly lays out his criticisms, pointing out inconsistencies and poor logic.
In addition to presenting his critique, the author offers his own apologetic for the Christian worldview. He asserts that there are four main worldview questions that must be addressed: questions of origin, meaning, morality, and future destiny. In this order, Zacharias presents the shortcomings of the atheist worldview contrasted with a robust portrait of the Christian worldview. When it comes to the question of origins, he summarizes the atheist conclusion: “The inescapable fact for the atheist is that life is the random product of time plus matter plus chance.”1
One point that Ravi brings up is that one must be careful not to judge a philosophy by its abuse. Harris’s view falls short on this count repeatedly. Zacharias is puzzled by the contradictions and inconsistencies he finds in Harris’s philosophy. For instance, judging God as immoral while having no moral footing to stand on to make such judgments. It seems to Ravi that Harris really isn’t looking for evidence for God: “It appears that no matter what evidence was offered, God could never prove himself to Sam Harris because it’s not proof he is looking for. He is looking for a God that is cast in his own image.”2
The End of Reason concludes with a brief argument for the existence of God based on three basic branches: cosmology, teleology, and Christology. These are borrowed from philosopher Dallas Willard’s arguments for the existence of God and are summarized concisely. However, at this point in the book, Ravi has already presented a strong case for the superiority of the Christian worldview, which, Ravi says, stands the test: “Routinely, three tests for truth are applied: (1) logical consistency, (2) empirical adequacy, and (3) experiential relevance. When submitted to these tests, the Christian message meets the demand for truth.”3
In conclusion, this book is a helpful tool for addressing today’s popular atheism. For those who are not familiar with Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason is also a fine introduction to one of today’s most persuasive apologists.
1. Ravi Zacharias, The End of Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), p. 38.
2. Ibid., p. 88.
3. Ibid., p. 117.