How Many Logical Fallacies Can You Spot in the Words of This Christian Apologist?

How do Christian apologists like Ravi Zacharias spin logic to suit their needs?

achilleshoplite compiled a series of his statements in the video below and dares you to spot the fallacies:

Without even trying, I heard Pascal’s Wager, the claim that atheists are hateful and can’t possibly have any meaning in life, the idea that atheists can never know what is good or evil, Reductio ad Hitlerum, a false understanding of what science is (apparently evolution isn’t on the list), faulty math, and fancy words (oooh, quantum!)…

I’m pretty convinced the only reason people hold Zacharias in high esteem is because he *sounds* authoritative. His accent, his cadence, his gestures — they all just make him appear to know what he’s talking about, when rebuttals to his statements could be found with the simplest of Google searches.

(Thanks to Hidai for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • L.Long

    Don’t have to listen or evaluate. He’s saying everything else is rubbish and gawd is real. And probably being dishonest about because he cannot do the one thing that counts….show evidence that is reproducible by others that his incompetent gawd is real. Till then he is mouthing BS.

  • decathelite

    My first encounter with RZ was in Lee Strobel’s “Case for Christ””, which I read to try an bolster my faith when I believed. As anyone who has read that book knows, it is very one sided (though its author claims to be a non biased journalist) and I was compelled to find out who the people he interviewed were. My first disillusionment into doubting my faith was induced by someone who thought they had all the answers, and were wrong. RZ gave me the impression that he was a know it all.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      I read that book several times, back when I thought I was a Christian. I read it with complete naivety, swallowing every idea it presented as a defense for Christianity. But even then, as gullible as I was, I was still immensely disappointed to discover that Lee Strobel didn’t actually interview any of those people. He read their books, then wrote about what he learned as if he had discussions with them. And though I realize that the quality of content he drew from their books wasn’t changed by his fake interview narrative, I felt cheated.

      • SpontOrder

        Wait, do you know this was his methodology for sure?

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

          The following are the first two paragraphs in the conclusion of the book. In my copy, it appears on page 349.

          The date was November 8, 1981. It was a Sunday. I locked myself in my home office and spent the afternoon replaying the spiritual journey I had been traveling for twenty-one months.

          My investigation into Jesus was similar to what you’ve just read, except that I primarily studied books and other historical research instead of personally interacting with scholars. I had asked questions and analyzed answers with as much of an open mind as I could muster. Now I had reached critical mass. The evidence was clear. The one remaining issue was what I would do with it.

          • SpontOrder

            I guess I don’t see this as a clear smoking gun. It’s possible the interviews still took place but he was not the neutral journalist he pretends to be in the narrative. A deception, but a much smaller deception.

            • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

              Whew! I’m glad I didn’t present it as a smoking gun.

              • Whatev

                Quit trying to cover your bullshit by forcing this person to conform to your prejudice of Christians misrepresenting things.

                //But even then, as gullible as I was, I was still immensely disappointed to discover that Lee Strobel didn’t actually interview any of those people. He read their books, then wrote about what he learned as if he had discussions with them.//

                That’s a smoking gun claim.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  By his own account that you apparently didn’t read through, he originally read the book in utter good faith as a believer and noticed the problems even then. So much for your knee-jerk demands that people who say things you don’t like be prejudiced so you can maintain your own.

                • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

                  lol

          • Rain

            The evidence was clear. The one remaining issue was what I would do with it.

            Make money off of the rubes of course!

            • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

              It is incredible how that book was sold! It was available in bulk, bundled with teaching courses and workbooks. There were versions for kids and student editions. And I’m sure there was more.

              A friend in seminary gave me the copy I have, but I later bought Case for Faith with my own money.

  • compl3x

    “they all just make him appear to know what he’s talking about,”

    Well, when you have no substance you have to go with style.

    • James Buchy

      So it IS possible to fry a slice of bologna so that it sizzles like a steak.

  • Carpinions

    Of the really popular Christian apologists, I am least familiar with RZ. That said, I recall viewing a video clip or 2 of his on YouTube from one of his appearances at ASU. It was from a Q&A session and his answer amounted to “La! La! La! God!” His response was nonchalant, not even germane to the point of the question, and full of assertions. He was remarkably unrefined in his response for being so popular. At least William Lane Craig can make you think he said something as he hides behind his own presuppositions. With RZ he just responds and moves quickly to the next person to build an air of authority that plainly isn’t there. Like Chopra, he just says things expecting you to go “Huh, OK”, shrug your shoulders, and walk off fulfilled by his response.

    • Hidai

      Well put. That’s my point. He says something incredibly meaningful and complex and smart, and he says it with such authority, but its all smoke and mirrors.

  • the moother

    No need to even watch the video eh?

  • LesterBallard

    I once read one of his books, A Shattered Visage, so I don’t feel the need to watch this.

  • SpontOrder

    There used to be, and it may still be out there, a video where RZ described his successful confrontation of an/the arrogant atheist. It all sounded very made up to me when I heard the story the first time. This video maker found the goods, seems RZ changed the location of the college his thumping of the atheist occurred at based on increasing the audience’s reception of the story. Whoops-a-daisy.

    • Hidai

      I know the one you talking about. There is 2. One where he tells the student about there being no meaning in his question, and the other about a that only a moral law giver can produce a moral law.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    How Many Logical Fallacies Can You Spot in the Words of This Christian Apologist?

    Human math teacher, I am not a simplistic artificial intelligence. I did not burn out at your “I always tell the truth. I just lied” paradox. I did not succumb to your request that I produce the exact value of Pi. I will not be tricked into this similar count-to-Infinity exercise.

    • Len

      Hey, Chuck Norris counted to infinity. Twice!

      • Artor

        Once he gets past his fingers & toes, I’m sure he figures that counts as infinity. It took him 70 years to get to 40.

  • David Mock

    At least he doesn’t try to mathematically prove god. I’m looking at you William Lane Craig.

  • Matthew Baker

    I am going to go with more than one but less than infinity.

  • JMM

    There is evil it’s called religion

  • UWIR

    “He is really complimenting the society of Christians by saying things like that, because he can say it with impunity.” 5:32

    So he considers it a compliment that people trust that he won’t kill them? We should be grateful that he doesn’t kill atheists?

    Also, at 7:00, he goes after Richard Dawkins after showing a video of a bald guy that I’m pretty sure is Christopher Hitchens. But hey, I don’t believe in God, so what do I know?

    Regarding Dawkins allegedly trying to ban people who believe in an intelligent designer:
    http://meinwords.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/ravi-zacharias-lies-for-jesus-on-tv-about-oxford-university-richard-dawkins/

  • Rain

    In case anybody didn’t want to watch it, yeah Mr. intellectual “thinking Christian” dude thinks evolution is anti-scientifical and anti-biblical.

  • islandbrewer

    I do like the fact that, after making Pascal’s Wager, he actually calls it Pascal’s Wager.

    • regtufy

      Doesn’t the Bible say not to gamble?

  • EchoDodgerBravo

    He says women exist purely to satisfy the emotional needs of men. Has he ever met a woman? What a sad and narrow view of the world.

    • Intelligent Donkey

      It’s right there in the bible. Eve’s one and only reason for existence is to be a helpful companion to Adam.

      http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Genesis%202:20

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Yeap. Which is yet another reason to reject the book as being outdated and immoral :)

  • mikespeir

    He used to be one of my heroes. I taught a whole series based on one of his books. Not that I’m admitting any of that. ;-)

  • SeekerLancer

    I couldn’t get past all of the “militant atheists” rhetoric he started up with.

    That kind of stuff works great in the echo chamber I’m sure, as his goal is to profit off of people who want to hear the sound of their own worldview reflected back at them, but it’s not going to win them any converts. It’s not going to slow the decline.

    • allein

      I didn’t get past “00:00 / 26:46″ in the bottom of the video player. The comments here are enough for me to know I’m not watching a half hour of this crap.

  • Priscilla Troop

    You know you’re the first person I’ve seen say anything about him. I actually walked away from the church when I read his book ‘The End if Reason’ which was a response to Sam Harris’ ‘The End of Faith’ because his counterpoints were so poor. I came up with an acronym, FAITH: Forget Acting Intelligent Try Hearsay, in response to Ravi.

    • Hidai

      I know no one had done anything on Ravi yet, which is why I was eager to make this video. In compiling this video he kept pushing his book response to Sam Harris “The end of reason”, I guess it meant his.

    • UWIR

      So, Ravi agrees that the opposite of faith is reason, and if all reason were eliminated, what would be left is his belief system?

      • Priscilla Troop

        Mmm, not from my perspective. I was homeschooled in HS and Ravi played a big role in the theology curriculum. He’s by no means ignorant of what he’s saying and I still tend to agree with his view on the four horsemen (he’s most critical of Harris because Harris has the most sound and logical arguments against faith as opposed to Dawkins and Hitchens) but I think the disconnect is one side is arguing from a scientific perspective whereas Ravi is arguing from a philosophical view. If you don’t start with the same premise, you’re never going to get anywhere and philosophy aims at explaining the origin of morality among other things which is not material. I don’t think the debate should be framed as faith vs. reason and I’ve never encountered a lecture by Ravi that suggests it’s either/or. He may be bias in his stance but he does make you think and I think that’s a good thing.

        • UWIR

          The scientific perspective is a philosophical position. And his countering a book entitled “The End of Faith” with a book entitled “The End of Reason” does imply they’re opposite.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Ravi seems to be a one-trick pony. He is basically just saying the following:

    1. Good exists
    2. Good must have a cause.
    3. This cause ultimately has to be God
    4. Therefore God exists (and, after a little mumbling, Christianity is true).

    There are a number of problems with this “proof”.

    1. Good could just be a social construct for what works for humans to have a nice society.
    2. Even if Good exists, it might exist uncaused just like people say God exists uncaused.
    3. If Good has a cause, it might be caused by something other than God.
    4. If Good exists and is caused by God, that says nothing about Christianity being true.

  • Kerry

    Like so many others on these comments, I too read and taught Strobel’s book as well as McDowell’s…uuuggghhh. I even met RZ a number of times as I had friends that were very close to him. It is truly amazing how tired and trite these fallacies are once you can view them critically. I find it so difficult to understand how I could have been so bloody blind and dogmatic for so many years. RZ has honed his skills and presentation style to create the evangelistic moment to move his audience to accept his narrative. It has been done for thousand’s of years, it works, and people fall for it, and the money soon follows.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcdowdy Derek Anthony McDow

    Honestly, this takes me way back. I used to be a HUGE Ravi fan in my theistic days. :)

  • 1415dr

    RZ says a lot of stupid things. There are some Q&A videos on youtube with the most ridiculous assertions. I wrote down some of the worst answers. When asked if suicide is a sin, he said yes; because hurting a human being is like hurting an effigy of God:
    “In Genesis 9:6, murder is called the ultimate attack upon the image of God. That’s what murder is. You have violated the image of God. So if I violate the image of God in someone else, or I violate it in myself, it is the ultimate act of lack of faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God.”
    But later, when someone asked him if killing babies in the Old Testament was good, he said that murder is no big deal:
    “The ultimate tragedy is not death. The ultimate tragedy is the rejection of the authority of God’s power… As horrible as it may seem to see that tragedy it is a grim reminder of what sin actually is.”
    So, he’s saying that murder is the “ultimate act of lack of faith,” but failing to kill God’s enemies is a tragic “rejection of the authority of God’s power.” His argument is so circular he could get a job as a spare tire.


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