Why Did Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias Lie About His Academic Credentials?

For a long time, Christian pseudo-historian David Barton pretended like he earned a Ph.D. even though that was a lie. While he had honorary doctorates from Christian schools, he never did the work of writing and defending a thesis, and people who have received honorary degrees know better than to call themselves “doctors” of anything.

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias apparently didn’t get that message either. For several years, his biography — one he included on the backs of some of his books — suggested that he was far more credentialed than he really was.

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For example… He has called himself “Dr. Zacharias” (which he still does today) and said he holds “three doctorate degrees.”

He said that he “has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University.”

He said he’s a “senior research fellow” at Oxford University.

All of these claims are false, and attorney Steve Baughman has done a really nice job of getting to the bottom of all of this. He recently posted a video explaining how Zacharias has long embellished his accomplishments.

To be sure, Zacharias doesn’t need a Ph.D. to talk about Jesus. But that makes his fraud all the more notable. He lied even when he didn’t need to.

Zacharias has changed his biography many times over the years — and not just to update it with additional information. Baughman tells me it seems to happen every time he publishes more information about Zacharias’ résumé.

What I’d like to know is why he misrepresented himself for so many years. I’ve sent an email to his ministry to get my own answers, but I suspect it’ll be no difference than the standard rationalization that Baughman has received over the years.

Incidentally, Zacharias is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Patrick Henry College (a private Christian school) in May. If students committed the same sort of academic fraud that Zacharias had, surely they would be expelled. So why give him the honor of addressing the student body? Baughman says he’s tried to get an answer from the school’s “journalism department, student newspaper, and many of the professors”… but no one’s responded to him.

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.