Ecclesiastes and the subject of atheism

Ecclesiastes 8-10 | Still Searching After All These Years

Published on Oct 9, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | October 7, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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Ecclesiastes 11-12 | Solomon Finds His Way

Published on Oct 30, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | October 28, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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I have written on the Book of Ecclesiastes and the subject of the meaning of our lives on several occasions on this blog. In this series on Ecclesiastes I hope to show how secular humanist man can not hope to find a lasting meaning to his life in a closed system without bringing God back into the picture. This is the same exact case with Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Three thousand years ago, Solomon took a look at life “under the sun” in his book of Ecclesiastes. Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.”

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).

You can only find a lasting meaning to your life by looking above the sun and bring God back into the picture.

A Shattered Visaged by Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University. He is the founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries where he writes and speaks worldwide. The purpose of A Shattered Visage is to address the intellectual struggles a person has in relating to God.

PART I: Man – The Measure of All Things

Zacharias begins by introducing Frederich Nietzche, the man who exclaimed “God is dead”. The main point regarding Nietzche is that he was the first real atheist who was brutally honest about the absence of God leading to violence and hedonism in our pursuit of the ‘Superman’. Afterwards, Zacharias explores various challenges to Evolution and Darwinism (the survival of the fittest) . One example is of the inability to calculate the probability of evolution because we don’t even know the nature of the hypothetical self-replicating system or the nature of the “primeval soup” from which it supposedly sprung.

Building on the atheists claim that there is no morality (right or wrong), Zacharias highlights the impact Nietzsche had on Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, which lead to the death of untold millions. “Nietzsche considered the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to be a damning approach to life, for they emphasize the responsibility of man toward the poor and weak of society. According to Nietzsche, a society driven by such an ethic, in effect is controlled by the losers.”

After the death of morality, atheism next eliminates any meaning to life. Yes, states Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, without God everything is indeed meaningless. The desire to hold onto human life, but the hopeless inevitability of death is the Shattered Visage of Atheism. It is at this very moment where the full value of life over death hits all men. This, says Solomon (Ecc 3:10), is because God has set the desire for eternity in the hearts of men.

PART II: God – The Treasure of Life’s Pursuits

So how can an atheist come to faith in God? Zacharias says it takes examining what we can understand until it leads to what we can’t. “God has put enough in the world to make believing in him a most reasonable thing, and He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone.” His main arguments to back this up are: 1) Design is proof of a designer. 2) There is a universal sense of morality in every civilization. 3) Observable ‘meaning’ is found in human relationships that we all desire to be ‘good’ and when good not to end. 4) The desire for life not to end is also universal and displays God’s placement of eternity in our hearts.

Zacharias concludes by saying that the heart of atheism is really all about: 1) Not wanting to admit ones need of God. 2) The desire not to be accountable to anyone/thing else.

PERSONAL THOUGTHS

The book is filled with excellent insight and many convincing arguments. Organizationally, I personal found the insights and arguments to be a little scattered. Regarding each chapter he does one of the things that I personally don’t find helpful, and that is giving ambiguous titles that leave you a little unsure of the main point of the each chapter. Though it’s still a good read, if I were only going to recommend one book on the subject this wouldn’t be it.

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