Here are my notes on, Can Man Live Without God, By: Ravi Zacharias.
It has been my privilege to address such philosophical issues in many parts of our world, and I hold the view that all philosophizing on life’s purpose is ultimately founded upon two fundamental assumptions, or conclusions. The first is, Does God exist? and the second, If God exists, what is His character or nature? The questions are impossible to ignore, and even if they are not dealt with formally, their implications filter down into everyday life. It is out of one’s belief or disbelief in God that all other convictions are formed.
I believe it was C. S. Lewis who once remarked marked that unless a complicated argument could be simplified to appeal to the average person, the chances were that the one doing the explaining ing did not understand it either. That demand is a difficult one to meet but is a needed reminder.
Reality can be lost when reason and language have been violated.
Atheism is not merely a passive unbelief belief in God but an assertive denial of the major claims of all varieties of theism; atheism contradicts belief in God with a positive affirmation of matter as ultimate reality.
An utterly fascinating illustration of this duping of ourselves is the latest est arts building opened at Ohio State University, the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts, another one of our chimerical exploits in the name of intellectual advance. Newsweek branded this building “America’s first deconstructionist building.”‘ Its white scaffolding, red brick turrets, and Colorado grass pods evoke a double take. But puzzlement only intensifies when you enter the building, for inside you encounter stairways that go nowhere, pillars that hang from the ceiling without purpose, and angled surfaces configured to create a sense of vertigo. The architect, we are duly informed, designed this building to reflect life itself-senseless and incoherent-and ent-and the “capriciousness of the rules that organize the built world. When the rationale was explained to me, I had just one question: Did he do the same with the foundation?
I say again that one may angrily argue that I am misrepresenting antitheism and that not all antitheists are immoral or despondent. The anger I can understand, but the argument is illogical. It is true that not all antitheists are immoral, but the larger point has been completely missed. Antitheism provides every reason to be immoral and is bereft of any objective point of reference with which to condemn any choice. Any antitheist who lives a moral life merely lives better than his or her philosophy phy warrants. All denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind, and the antitheist is forever engaged in undermining his own mines.
If life itself is purposeless, ethics falls into disarray. As Dostoevski said, if God is dead everything is justifiable.
Malcolm Muggeridge, that peripatetic journalist who traveled the globe for more than six decades of his life, said that if God is dead somebody body else is going to have to take His place. It will either be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Hefner.
Apart from God the question of pain and death not only remains unanswered; it even defies justification.
I said to the man at the Gate of the Year, “Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown.” He said to me, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand in the hand of God, and it shall be to you better than the light, and safer than the known.”
From individual need to international struggles, the only hope that makes sense and is legitimate is the hope that comes from God, the hope for life and beyond death. Where there is no answer for death, hopelessness ness inevitably invades life. Pascal knew whereof he spoke when he said that he had learned to define life backwards and live it forwards. By that he meant that he first defined death and then his life accordingly. That makes complete sense. All journeys are planned with the destination in view.
One of the most common refrains we hear from those who have reached the pinnacle of success is that of the emptiness that still stalks their lives, all their successes notwithstanding. That sort of confession is at least one reason the question of meaning is so central in life’s pursuit. Although none like to admit it, what brings purpose in life for many, particularly in countries rich in enterprising opportunities, is a higher standard of living, ing, even if it means being willing to die for it. Yet, judging by the remarks of some who have attained those higher standards, there is frequently an admission of disappointment. After his second Wimbledon victory, Boris Becker surprised the world by admitting his great struggle with suicide.’ Jack Higgins, the renowned author of The Eagle Has Landed, has said that the one thing he knows now at this high point of his career that he wished he had known as a small boy is this: “When you get to the top, there’s nothing there.”4 This, I dare suggest, is one of the more difficult of life’s realities to accept. Those who have not yet experienced the success they covet find it impossible to believe that those who have attained it find it wanting in terms of giving meaning to life.
Can man live without God? Of course he can, in a physical sense. Can he live without God in a reasonable way? The answer to that is No! because such a person is compelled to deny a moral law, to abandon hope, to forfeit meaning, and to risk no recovery if he is wrong. Life just offers too much evidence to the contrary.
The older you get, the more it takes to fill your heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to do that. Not only is He big enough, but in Christian terms He is also near enough.
Truthfulness in the heart, said Jesus, precedes truth in the objective realm. Intent is prior to content.
Christopher Morley said, “If we all discovered that we had only five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that we love them.”
In the East, devotion, commitment, and role relations find a cultural emphasis. In the West, romance becomes the sum and substance of it all. Somewhere the two must be incorporated for without romance, marriage is a drudgery, but without the will and commitment, marriage is a mockery.
In one of his books, Dostoevsky depicts a conversation between two of his characters discussing hell. “Hell,” says one of them, “must be the inability to love.” I would concur.
Our relationship to God dictates our relationship one to another.
Jesus went to the core of the problem when He said, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). How desperately evil the heart of man is (see Mark 7:2 1)! Our problem is not an inadequate education. It is a rebellious heart.
Greatness in the eyes of God is always preceded by humility before Him. There is no way for you or me or anyone else to attain greatness until we have come to Him. Self-exoneration and self-exaltation come easily when we compare ourselves against the lesser standard of another, but the result is inevitably alienation both from ourselves and from each other. Conviction of sin comes when we measure ourselves before God. A consciousness of one’s own need is the beginning of purpose and the beginning of character.
G. K. Chesterton correctly remarked that the problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting but that it has been found difficult and left untried.
By contrast, at one point in the film Eric Liddell is reprimanded by his sister for trying too hard in his effort to win the gold medal, thus neglecting ing things of greater importance. His answer to her reveals the profound connection of all of life’s pursuits for him. He says, “Jenny, God has made me for a purpose-for China. But He has also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Victor Hugo said, “The world was made for the body, the body for the soul, and the soul made for God.” The Trappist monk Thomas Merton put it differently: “Man is not at peace with his fellow man because he is not at peace with himself. self. He is not at peace with himself because he is not at peace with God.”
He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done. “Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher? I’ve spoiled this one.” I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted and gave him a new one all unspotted. And into his tired heart I cried, “Do better now, my child.” I went to the throne with a trembling heart, the day was done. “Have you a new day for me, dear Master? I’ve spoiled this one.” He took my day, all soiled and blotted and gave me a new one all unspotted. And into my tired heart he cried, “Do better now, my child.”
Without the cross there is no glory in man.
Is it not terrifying that we, as a society, have already gone on record that we do not trust the arena of politics because it lends itself to such abuse, and yet we turn around and look to that institution to anchor our values?