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Questionable Answers

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
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October 10, 2020 1:30 am

Questionable Answers

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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October 10, 2020 1:30 am

If someone asked you to define evil, what would you say? Where do you go to find an answer for a question like this? Join RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, this week on Let My People Think, as he looks at the answers skeptics provide to deny the existence of God.

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Thank you for downloading from Robbie Zacharias International Ministries. Support for this podcast comes from your generous gifts and donations.

You can find out more about Robbie Zacharias and the team at The assumptions that are made by the skeptical world can only remain intact if the answers that are to be found are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, those assumptions really cannot even be sustained. Skepticism in its own worldview cannot sustain those questions.

They are very meaningful. Now, if you talk to an atheist, he or she will tell you there are four gaps that they need to cross. The number one gap, how did consciousness come from non-consciousness? Number two, how did intelligent life come from non-intelligent life?

Number three, how did sexuality come from an asexual and non-sexual beginning? And number four, how did moral reasoning come from a non-moral framework? Skeptics like to control the debate over God by making a lot of assumptions that quite honestly don't add up under scrutiny. One of those assumptions deals with evil.

Hello and welcome to Let My People Think. Skeptics have an answer for everything, but that doesn't mean every answer is correct or even logical. You could say that they have a host of questionable answers. In fact, that's what we've titled this week's series. In part one of this message, RZIM's founder, the late Robbie Zacharias, will take a look at a handful of answers offered by skeptics to deny the existence of God as he begins this series with the question of evil.

Questions. We all have them. I don't know if you've ever heard me tell the story of me being in Newark, New Jersey, on the way from Bangkok back to Atlanta. And I landed in New York.

By that point, you resemble your passport picture. And I was heading to the gate to look for my plane. And there was a different sign on the marquee to Atlanta. So I leaned over and said to the lady at the corner, excuse me, is this going to Atlanta or is this going where the marquee says it is? She said, no, it's going to Atlanta. I said, good. So I went to get myself a cup of coffee and I heard the patter of feet behind me and a tap on my shoulder. She said, excuse me, are you Robbie Zacharias? I said, I'm afraid so. She said, that is amazing.

Absolutely amazing. I said, why? She said, I didn't know you had questions as well. This really happened.

It was too early in the morning to clear the cloud away. But I said, believe me, I have a lot of questions, especially when I'm traveling. There's one thing about questions that we often forget. We must be clear in what the questions assume. Every question comes with an assumption. And that's why C.S. Lewis said, nothing is so self-defeating as a question that has not been fully understood, even after it has been fully posed.

Questions bring a bag of assumptions. Jesus was brilliant at revealing this. So Mark 10, 17, this fellow comes in and says, good master, what should I do to attain eternal life? If he'd asked that of you and me, we would have said, have you got five minutes?

Please sit down. I've got exactly the answer for you. What must you do to attain eternal life? What did Jesus say? Why do you call me good?

There's none good but God. You know, he probably went to him and said, I don't understand it. I asked a point blank question.

What do you do to attain eternal life? And he's asking me, why do you call me good? Why is he muddying the waters? You know, it's like the lion going through the jungle, asking one animal after another, goes to the giraffe and says, who is the king of the jungle? And the giraffe bows down and says, oh lion, you are. And he goes to the monkey and says, who is the king of the jungle? The monkey says, oh lion, you are. Then he goes to the elephant and says, who is the king of the jungle? The elephant just stares at him, wraps its trunk around this, twirls him around, slams him onto the ground and the lion says, look, I just had a simple question.

Why are you getting so upset about it? Questions may not be as simple as they are. They assume things. Today I'm going to raise for you the tensions that are there in the world of skepticism, the inability for them to sustain their assumptions within their questions so that when they give their answers, they either try to sever those assumptions or come through with incoherent answers to what has been assumed in their questioning.

I'll try to make that clear this morning what I mean. So let's move to the questions that are there in skepticism. Let me repeat for you what I'm trying to demonstrate for you this morning as I move towards the scriptures at the end of it. It is this, the assumptions we make in our questions can only be retained if the answers that we give to this society are in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The assumptions that are made by the skeptical world can only remain intact if the answers that are to be found are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Otherwise those assumptions really cannot even be sustained. Skepticism in its own worldview cannot sustain those questions.

They are very meaningful. Now if you talk to an atheist, he or she will tell you there are four gaps that they need to cross. The number one gap, how did consciousness come from non-consciousness? Number two, how did intelligent life come from non-intelligent life? Number three, how did sexuality come from an asexual and non-sexual beginning? And number four, how did moral reasoning come from a non-moral framework? Consciousness from non-consciousness, intelligent life from non-intelligent life, moral reasoning from non-moral reasoning, and so go the gaps. They talk about the four gaps that there are.

I want to show you four more gaps, at least borrow from one of them, and show you how these tensions really lie. The first one is this on the reality and the mystery of evil. How do we define evil?

Where do we go to find an answer to this? You know, it is fascinating that the first time the word evil actually comes is right within the first three chapters of the book of Genesis, when God says you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That word emerges very quickly in the revelation of Holy Scripture. And if you see going through the New Testament where Jesus remarks to us that our heart is desperately evil and wicked above all things. And then you go back to the time of Cain, where he is warned that if he did that which was right, he would be accepted. But if he did not do that which was right, sin was crouching at the door and was waiting to have him, to devour him, to dominate him. So these terms of wickedness, evil, sin, all of these are found in synonymous terms within the pages of Holy Writ. Here's what the tragedy really is in secularism. Number one, they do not know where to turn to find a definition of evil.

And secondly, most precariously, even if they come about with large definitions of it, they are not able to shrink it down to personal responsibility and what the notion of sin actually means. In the 1980s, when President Reagan shocked the world by referring to the former Soviet Union as an evil empire, the news lines were buzzing all over the world, how dare anybody call anyone else evil. What did he have in mind in all that was going on? Because the wall symbolized something and not far from the wall, heinous things had taken place in the concentration cramps and the brutality that humanity inflicted upon humanity was unthinkable. I was recently reading sections of an autobiography of Rudolf Hess, who was the commandant at Auschwitz. Can I read for you just two or three paragraphs from his own journals when he was referring to the gassing of the Jews that was upcoming by the tens of thousands, indeed the millions? I was not properly conscious of the first gassing of human beings.

Perhaps the procedure as a whole made too much of an impression on me. I remember much better the gassing of 900 Russians soon afterwards in the old crematorium, since using block 11 would have caused too much trouble. While they were still being unloaded, several holes were simply being knocked through the earth and the cement ceiling of the morgue. The Russians had to undress in the outer room and they all went in calmly into the morgue since they had been told they were going to be only deloused there. The whole transport walked right into the morgue. The door was locked and the gas poured in through the openings.

How long the killing took I do not actually know. The hum could still be heard for quite a while, however. When the gas was thrown in, some people screamed, gas! And a great roaring began and a rush to both of the locked doors.

They withstood the pressure, however. After several hours the room was opened and aired out. Then I saw the gassed corpses en masse for the first time. But I must be frank, this gassing had a calming effect on me, since the mass extermination of the Jews was due to begin soon. And neither Eichmann nor myself knew exactly what method of killing we might use on the expected masses.

Now we had discovered the gas and the procedure went well." If you've been there, you know exactly what I mean. And how at Auschwitz alone they were able to eliminate them at 12,000 every day. Now I want you to look at two very important links here.

Please follow my reasoning. And that is this. My colleague, Oz Guinness, in his book Unspeakable, talking about the whole mystery and enormity of evil, tells a story of how during the Rwanda massacre, the Canadian general who was overseeing NATO forces was welcoming one of the world leaders to please come and take a look. He said, enough is enough. Do you know the tens of thousands that are being slaughtered here? Would one of you in political leadership please come and see what we are witnessing? So one of the world leaders, I will not name who it was, I don't want to make this political, he arrived and according to this Canadian general, Romeo Dallaire, said he just waited for about two hours, kept the engines running, and then went back to his plane and flew out and said, I really was not aware that all this was happening and had nothing more to say about it. Here's what the general says, you didn't know? I spent my life in NATO.

I know NATO planes were overhead and new. I'm haunted now by dreams of the eyes of thousands and thousands of Africans, disembodied, staring out of the African darkness. You just can't walk away from something like that saying, you did what you could. You can't just listen to this line. You cannot just Pontius Pilate 800,000 people. You cannot Pontius Pilate 800,000 people.

What did he mean by that? Wash your hands of it and say I am innocent of this man's blood. You see the trail that it follows, but now comes the real painful indictment. New York Times ran an article for the worst of us the diagnosis may be evil.

And here's what it says. Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes for vivisection, sexual humiliation burning.

Many performed their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as much for any reason. Among themselves a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but actually evil, evil in that their deliberate habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or attempt. Many psychiatrists assiduously avoid this word evil, contending that it's used would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment and that would put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of true violent criminals. Still many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil. And he goes on and on and then the debate begins and many of them say we think it's dangerous to actually call this evil. But numerous psychiatrists are saying for what we see actually happening some of the description that fits is only the word evil. And so I raise this question for you.

How do we deal with this? The fascinating thing to me is I've made a note of some of the secular philosophers who dealt with this and here's what some of them actually say. Virgil in his Aeneid says this, what region of the earth is not full of our calamities? Thomas Hobbes in De homini, man is the most cunning, the strongest and the most dangerous animal. Voltaire after the Lisbon earthquake.

I pity the Portuguese like you, but men still do more harm to each other on their little molehill than nature does to them. Our wars, our massacres more men than are swallowed up by earthquakes. David Hume in dialogues concerning natural religion. Man is the greatest enemy of man.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Emil. Seek the author of evil no longer it is yourself. These are the humanists who are saying it is deep within our heart.

Here's my question for the skeptic. Can you talk of evil without assuming a moral framework or can you talk of education without first looking inside the human heart? Can you talk of evil without assuming a moral framework?

Can you really talk of education without first looking into the human heart when the heart is desperately wicked and above all things? The Bible is very clear that there's a wickedness and an evil bent in your heart and mine. Now, here's what the Bible says about it. If you go to the Old Testament, the word is ra'ah. If you go into the New Testament in Greek, it is ponera. These two words have different nuances of meaning. Both bring in suffering, but in the New Testament, the idea of impoverishment is there. In the Old Testament, it is predatory. It is something that consumes you.

Impoverishment. You are overwhelmed and when you get to the word called sin in the Greek hamartia, it brings both of these together. We fall short of the glory of God, but we also transgress the law of God. That's exactly what the Bible means by evil.

Even in your purity, you cannot attain to the righteousness that is God's, but it is more than that. You and I willfully deliberately violate the law of God. These two concepts, they end up consuming us. They end up impoverishing us and we become a people lost in search of a light and in search of direction. Can you talk about evil without raising the question of the moral law or can you talk of education without first looking into the human heart?

This is very important in our time in North American history where so much of education is being controlled by world views and we have no understanding of what it really means to be human. Evil. Second is the quest for justice.

How we long for justice today. Flying to Oxford last week, I just finished some meetings in Dallas and I was really quite tired and my colleagues who are here were with me and they were sitting elsewhere and I know one of them looked across the aisle in my direction pitifully wondering poor Ravi is not going to get a break. I started at 6 30 that morning, flew into Dallas, met with about 25 pastors and spoke to them on some common issues, taped three programs with James Robinson, went straight to the airport in Dallas for about a 10 30 p.m. flight to have that 8 and a half hour flight. So I was exhausted and a European woman sat next to me and I don't know whatever brought on the conversation, but she started talking about America's sense of something superior.

I don't know what brought that on. And I finally said to her, why do you say this? She said, you know, when they talk about the Constitution and all this stuff, why do they think they were the first ones to frame all of this? I said, are you aware of the difference between the enlightenment in Europe and the enlightenment in America?

Are you aware of that difference? The enlightenment in Europe reason was supreme. The enlightenment in America and the United Kingdom moral reasoning was supreme. Reason itself came second in structure. Moral reasoning was supreme.

That's why even Alexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher, comes to America and leaves here and says, what makes this nation unique is its faith in God. I said, that is different. She backed off. I said, what drives you if you don't believe in moral reasoning? She said, justice.

Imagine that. Justice as if it is distinct to moral reasoning. Justice is based on law. Law is the root. Justice may be part of the political process in the trunk, but the roots have to be held together by moral soil. And so before I get too far afield on this, the fact of the matter is even for the Greeks, justice was a virtue and justice is an indispensable element in our foundation. Socrates said, justice is the firmest pillar of good government.

Time is racing on. And so I just want to ask you this simple question as I raise it. And that is this. Can you cry for justice unless you know the justifiable source for all law?

Isn't that interesting? Even those who deny God's existence still want the benefits that his law ensures. Stay tuned to hear more from Ravi and from RZIM's president Michael Ramsden as he talks about the importance of reaching younger generations. You've been listening to RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias and part one of his message, Questionable Answers. Tune in next week to hear Ravi as he continues his look at justice along with the other concepts skeptics struggle with, like evil, love and forgiveness.

Very often in the church, it feels like we make a speciality of fighting last year's battles rather than this year's. And apologetics needs, therefore, to be listening to the younger generation. What are their questions? What are their issues?

What are their struggles? And those are the ones that normally make us feel the most uncomfortable. And those questions shift from generation to generation. And therefore, if we don't address ourselves to the gospel with each successive generation, eventually we lose the gospel in the process.

And sadly, there are some parts of the world where that has happened. You don't make the generational leap and the church begins to go into decay and the society around it decays as a result as well. But listening, therefore, to the heart of young questions and engaging with young people through all the different initiatives that we have currently going on, whether it's with young students, high schoolers, people at university, young adults, we need to listen to the questions that they have and then apply ourselves to think, well, what do we have to say to them? You're asking questions about artificial intelligence and what does it mean to be human. Well, how do we answer that question?

You're asking questions about gender fluidity. Well, what does the gospel have to say about that? And with some of these questions, of course, we're dealing with things that we haven't dealt with before. So we're trying then to draw on the wisdom and the insight of the ancients and all those who went before us to make sure that we don't lose the gospel in the process while at the same time doing some very hard work both with language in terms of translation and concept in terms of thought to say, look, we want to communicate this ancient message to you with a fresh impetus, a fresh understanding. We don't want to change it.

We don't want to alter it anyway. But we need to help you see how it connects to your life and where you are. And I think in that sense, not only is it important for us to reach them in terms of future succession of the future life and leadership of the church, but also important for us. It keeps us fresh. It makes us come back to the scripture again, apply ourselves on our knees again before the Lord and say, Lord, what would you have us say? What would you have us do? How do we respond faithfully to this in a way that first and foremost pleases you? And then ultimately, helpfully also reaches the heart of the person asking the question to. You can order today's message in its entirety by calling us at 1-800-448-6766.

When you call, ask for the message, Questionable Answers. You can also order online at or for those in Canada. And while you're online, check out the numerous resources to aid you in your search for truth, including past broadcasts, articles, and a wide selection of books from the RZIM team.

It's also a great way to keep up to date on upcoming live streams and see the latest ministry initiatives. My father-in-law and I often speak wistfully about fine used bookstores that we have visited. He tells one story, however, that has all the others soundly beaten. He was in a sophisticated bookstore in Toronto, which caters to the academic community, rich in classical tradition. Suddenly, in came a roughshod man in greasy overalls who bellowed to the owner, how much does it cost to buy 128 feet of books? Obviously bewildered by this request, whenever before had he sold scholarly works by the foot, the owner replied, what exactly did you have in mind? It turns out that the buyer had been sent by a group of trade union leaders who were hosting their educated counterparts in management in an effort to break a deadlock in some highly volatile negotiations. So the union leaders decided to decorate their offices with the length of books.

Why? To convey the intimidating air of being ideological heavyweights and to terrify the opposition. Funny, I think, don't you? Solomon reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun, and so I suspect that this was not the first such scenario in history. After all, jockeying for literary superiority is as old as the printed page. No doubt, many of us has had occasion to purchase, as classics, books that have served ulterior purposes, giving the appearance that we are wise. Groucho Marx once responded to an author, from the moment I picked your book up till I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intended to read it. I suspect there are books like that in your own experience which, while not provoking laughter, have never entered the mind. One critic said of Stephen Hawking's famed book, A Brief History of Time, which shattered all records on the bestseller list in the United Kingdom, that it would be the most bought and least read book in recent memory. And yet, who of you has not entered another world or gained a life-changing insight just from reading a book? Friends, don't take the power of reading for granted. I am absolutely convinced that the books you and I read possibly help mould our lives more purposefully and eternally I might add, than we ever realise. As King Solomon once said of making many books there is no end, but finding of wisdom preserves the life of its possessor. For that I would like to say, only the book of all books, the Bible has the answer. Let My People Think is a listener-supported radio ministry and is furnished by RZIM at Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-05 21:35:52 / 2024-02-05 21:45:28 / 10

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