Monday, September 7, 2015

The Atheist Who Didn't Exist by Andy Bannister, Foreword by Ravi Zacharias

This book on apologetics is different. Rather than give arguments for the existence of God, Bannister looks at the arguments for God not existing. Are they valid?

Atheists have become very vocal of late. In many Western countries atheism is seen as the default position. In fact, Bannister writes, “Many people assume that atheism is, indeed, the only position for somebody who wishes to be considered educated, sophisticated, urbane, and rational.” (6)

The arguments for atheism just do not stand up to scrutiny, Bannister says. I love how he has us think through the arguments and other statements atheists have made. He clearly points out how to spot which arguments are good and which are bad. One of the tests is if the argument stands up in a different setting. He sometimes turns an argument of atheists around,using it on the atheists themselves, thereby showing it just does not work.

Atheists demand evidence from Christians that God exists so Bannister turns the tables on atheists, demanding evidence God does not exist. Atheists claim their view is just non-belief in the statement, “God exists.” Bannister says that does not fly. An atheist must rather say, “It is true that there is no God.” Then evidence is required. He suggests atheists, “must recognize their belief for what it is and engage accordingly.” (35) He quotes extensively from atheist authors, calling them to intellectual integrity.

This is a serious subject but Bannister is not overly academic. The book is very readable. In fact, he has a quirky sense of humor and inserts it from time to time. One might think humor inappropriate in a book on such a serious issue. As Bannister says, “Humour is powerful because it can prick pomposity and puncture delusions of self-importance.” (234) I love it.

I really like how he engages the reader by starting of each chapter with a humorous story. As one continues through the chapter, it becomes clear the story clearly illustrates the absurdity of an atheist argument or statement.

Bannister's aim is not to disprove atheism. He just wants to weed out the bad arguments so a more sensible dialog can occur. Is this important? Yes. Whether God exists or not is arguably the most important question there is. (27) Is it important to read and think through arguments on both sides of the issue? Yes. “After all,” Bannister writes, “it's only when you're willing to go down to the basement with a flashlight and poke around your foundations that you can really know whether what you're building stands on rock, sand, or simply hot air.” (204)

I highly recommend this book to atheists and Christians alike. Atheists will be challenged to truly think through their arguments. Bannister hopes this will encourage them to abandon bad arguments and engage the question of God's existence anew. Christians who have been intimidated by the forcefulness of the new and very vocal atheists will realize how inadequate their arguments really are.

This is a foundational issue. As Ravi Zacharias says in the forward, “...without God as our ultimate frame of reference, we don't know who we are in essence or where we are in the great scheme of life.” (11)

You can find out more about the book and download the first chapter at http://theatheistwhodidntexist.com/. You can follow the author's blog at http://www.andybannister.net/. You can watch a short video from Bannister and RZIM Canada about one of the arguments in the book here. You can find more at http://www.rzim.ca/.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Andy Bannister is the Director of RZIM Canada. He holds a PhD in Islamic studies and speaks widely on the subject. He is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. He and his family live in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter: @andygbannister.

Monarch Books (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 240 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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