Book Review- Can Man Live Without God?

by Luke Nix

Can Man Live Without God (Kindle Edition) is a treatment by Ravi Zacharias of the philosophical issue of meaning and the psychological issue of despair. The book is separated into three parts and spans 179 pages. This review is intended to give a chapter-by-chapter summary of the contents of the book, but the review only scratches the surface of Zacharias’ intent of the book.

Part 1: Antitheism Is Alive And Deadly

Chapter 1: Anguish in Affluence
Zacharias begins the book by setting a foundation for the reason behind the book and his philosophical method. He shows how a person’s view of God influences that person’s entire life- from what they believe about everything else to how they act. If they get their understanding of God incorrect, then their beliefs and actions will be antithetical to reality. He also shows that he believes philosophy takes place on three levels: through logic- and reason- based arm-chair theory, through the emotional artistic productions, and through everyday, practical, “dinner table” application. He appeals to each by using the first for raw argumentation, the second for illustration and examples, and the third for relevance to our lives. His goal is to appeal to all three levels throughout the book, so that the reader may be able to understand his argument at all the levels and be able to communicate it likewise to others at all three levels.

Chapter 2: Straying through an Infinite Nothing
Chapter 2 focuses on the moral vacuum that is left by the atheistic view. Zacharias first establishes what he means when he uses the term “atheist”. Summarily, it is any person who affirms that they believe that there is no God. He then quotes Nietzsche’s entire parable of “The Madman” to show the existence (and recognition) of such a moral vacuum in atheism.  Zacharias then addresses how atheists have “smuggled” in Christian morality to raise arguments against the existence of the Christian God. He discusses how the moral vacuum in atheism has led to the atrocity of the Holocaust, yet atheists can only shun it because of the previously mention “smuggled” foundation. 

Chapter 3: The Madman Arrives
In Chapter 3 Zacharias focuses on the message of Nietzsche’s madman: that God is no longer a viable intellectual belief. Thus we are no longer tied down to the limits of pursuing communion with Him.  Heaven and Hell do not exist, and the person is free to act as they wish with no fear of consequences, and the person on their death bed may die in peace knowing that they will not be held accountable for their many “misdeeds”. Zacharias shows how, on the surface, this is quite liberating, but it comes back to bite the person in the end…


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