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Ravi Zacharias: Christian Missionary From India

The only reason I came here tonight was because that man (Ravi Zacharias) was an Indian”.  This statement was reportedly made by a new convert to Christianity after listening to a speech by Ravi Zacharias.  Ravi Zacharias is an Indian born evangelical Christian minister who has his own television and radio shows.  I try to catch his television shows whenever it appears because I get to listen to fundamentalist and evangelical Christian rhetoric with an Indian twist.

Growing up mostly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala I have met a few Christian converts who have become so radical to the point that they actually hate all things Indian.  They do not have a lot of positive things to say about India or its history or people although they are part of the Indian fabric.  Whenever I listen to Ravi Zacharias I am always reminded of these new converts.  He is very critical of Hinduism and Buddhism in his speeches and tries to paint Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi negatively.

He like the European colonizers before him consider India and its religions and beliefs to be inferior compared to Christianity and also believe it is their duty to spread the word of god.  He has a four step process to convert Hindus and others to Christianity.  Listening to him you will get the impression that Indians are naive people waiting to be fooled by these missionaries. However what does it say about the people who are befriending Indians for the sole purpose of converting them?

According the Ravi Zacharias about 1200 individuals came to listen to his speech that day in an auditorium in India (which was witnessed by one of his colleagues).  At the end of the speech “about 153 made their first time commitments to Christ.  Most of them where highly placed executives”.  Ravi Zacharias does not name who his colleague (witness) was or when and where this speech supposedly took place.  Also note the emphasis he places on the highly placed executives who converted that night.  Does Jesus Christ care about the job title of his followers?  But we know what he is trying to communicate.  It is an old missionary trick.

Ravi Zacharias has indicated that he was born in Chennai.  According to him his family descended from Nambudiri Brahmins.  He claims that he himself was an atheist until the age of 17 (this was in the early sixties).  He became a Christian after a failed suicide attempt in Delhi (According to his book “Cries of the Heart” someone in the hospital informed his mother to read the Gospel of John which convinced him to become a Christian).

Ravi Zacharias story about his forefathers converting from Brahmins is not unique.  Many high caste Christians in Malabar have made similar claims although there is very little historical evidence to support the claim.  Caste system plays a strong role among Christians in India.  Christians who claim they are from Brahmins have a higher role in society than Christians who converted from other castes.  They do not attend each others churches or intermarry.

Christianity is a great religion and is an integral part of India.  So is Atheism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism or hundreds of other beliefs and philosophies you will find in India.  An Indian Christian has the same claim to India’s history and heritage as Hindu or anybody else.  But the problem always comes when a certain group considers the other as inferior or when one group thinks that it has the inside track on the truth, morality, meaning of life and so on.

In Christianity individuals like Ravi Zacharias fall into the group known as apologetics.  Apologists defend a position using systematic reason (at least that is the theory).  The followers of apologists are mostly the educated middle and upper middle class.  People who fall into this category are very skeptical of the rituals and traditions that are part of all organized religions.  They know that there is no easy answer or solutions in life.

Followers of apologists instead prefer listening to intellectual debates on truth, morality, origin of life, meaning of evil rather than listening to a pastor about how the universe was created in seven days or how the pastor can make a persons drug addiction go away just by touching his forehead.  They are too smart and educated to fall for the sermons of the local neighborhood preacher.

In my opinion Ravi Zacharias is an atheist except when it comes to Christianity.  He is able to clearly understand and articulate the deficiencies and the short comings of all other beliefs, religious or otherwise.  But like all believers he has a blind spot when it comes to his own beliefs (maybe he does not but acts that way).  How can Christianity be the only path when almost all of its doctrines, beliefs and gods are borrowed from other more ancient religions?

Ravi Zacharias has an answer for this.  According to him the most important questions in life are about the origin of life, meaning of life, morality and our destiny.  According to Ravi “only Jesus Christ provides a coherent answer to these questions.  Jesus Christ’s life of purity, virgin birth, the offer that he made on the cross, bringing love and forgiveness, explaining evil and then ultimately rising back from the dead is what makes him a unique individual”. How do you take the leap from a unique individual to the only true god?

Ravi Zacharias like many other preachers is betting on the fact that his followers will not read the Bible themselves.  Because if you read the Bible you will notice that it is full of contradictions including different stories about the sequence in which the universe was created (in the book of Genesis) and different versions of the Ten Commandments.  There is nothing coherent about the Bible.  Ravi is also assuming that the story of Jesus Christ is true and unique.  This is a huge assumption considering the lack of evidence.

In fact outside of the Bible there is very little independent evidence to show that Jesus Christ existed.  Stories of gods born from virgins and gods who are sacrificed and reborn are common all over the ancient world including India.  Even if Jesus Christ was a real person there is nothing unique about his story.  What does Jesus Christ teach that you cannot find in the teachings of Krishna, Buddha or Prophet Mohammad?

What we know today about the life of Jesus Christ comes from the Bible.  But this very same Bible is wrong about how the earth and universe was created, how diseases are contracted, transmitted or cured or about basic astronomical principles.  So how can we believe some parts of the Bible but not the others?  All religions have similar issues.  The holy scriptures are full of contradictions.  Apologists like Ravi Zacharias know this very well.  Do you?

Related posts:

  1. Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ Myth
  2. Saint Thomas the Apostle of India
  3. Are Minorities in India Descendants of Hindus?
  4. Syrian Christians of Kerala
  5. Christian Hospitality More Important Than Multiculturalism

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Category: Culture & Religion

Comments (40)

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  1. Moulee says:

    Its really funny to see few people say that they converted because of caste/social discrimination. But they themself end up discriminating others based on religion.

    • Hari says:

      Very good point Moulee.

    • Carol Mears says:

      Your statement seems to imply that he didn’t like others discriminating against him, but then he went on to discriminate against others. In this case, he was of the highest class.
      Also, and more importantly, to say that you believe one thing to be true and disagree with another person’s thinking is not discrimination. Discrimination is “A distinction based on the personal characteristics of an individual resulting in some disadvantage to that individual.” (legal definition). He doesn not create any disadvantage to them. If he tries to befriend them and explain his point of view, how is that discriminating?

      • Hari says:

        Carol,

        The Hindu caste system and other social issues like untouchability are some of the reasons behind conversions in addition to money and other earthly benefits! But the fact is that conversion does not change caste loyalties or feelings. Christians and other minorities in India are as much caste oriented as Hindus are. This is not all that different from countries like the United States. Most African Americans are Christians like the vast majority of Caucasians but that does not mean that interracial relationships are common.

        There is a Christian community in Kerala called Syrian Christians and some Syrian Christian claim that they are Christians who converted from Brahmin priests (Ravi Zacharias has made such a claim). The Syrian Christians are well known for strong caste feelings and very few of them marry other Indian Christians leave alone other Indians.

        I do not think that believing in something and debating/discussing with others is discrimination. But imposing your religious views on others is discrimination. There is also a difference between believing something to be true and what is true. For centuries some Christians thought slavery, racial discrimination, colonialism, gender discrimination etc. were true. Nowadays some Christians believe that that their religion is the only true religion and therefore the beliefs of billions of others are false (I have not heard of a summit or a treaty to this effect). What is consistent in all this is a sense of superiority without supporting evidence and the necessity to meddle in the affairs of other nations and their people.

        To promote this myth billions of dollars are collected from the followers in the West and then pumped into countries like India to spread the message of “truth” (when it costs less than $1500 for a round trip ticket to India and even less to “befriend and explain their points of view”). Individuals like Ravi Zacharias even teach the faithful how to cheat on the Indian visa application form by not providing the real reasons for the visit (Ravi has claimed that his father was “in charge of the visa department” of the Indian government. Wow!). He says that if the real reasons are provided then the Indian government will black list them. There are many foreign missionaries in India and to my knowledge Indian government has no such policy. Watch video “How to witness for Christ to a Hindu (2:40) on YouTube before it is also removed from the site!

        Conversely any Indian (including Indians who are Christians) who has ever tried to get a visa to a Western nation knows how difficult it is to get. Only a fraction of the applicants are approved. I wonder what the reaction would be if Indians apply for visas to the US for promoting Hinduism or Islam in the country?

        The truth about the so-called truth tellers!

  2. Ralph says:

    The difference between Jesus and others, is that Jesus lead us to the heavenly father and has claimed that he is way the truth and the life. He did not preach religion but relationship.Jesus claims he has the power to forgive sins.The bible claims he is the living God and not a dead God which no other religion has made a claim of their leaders as such.

    • Hari says:

      Welcome Ralph.

      Did you notice how many times you used the word “claim” in your response? Claim does not equal evidence or proof. Who is the mysterious heaven father and why should people of other religions care about whether or not Jesus can lead us to the “heavenly father”. Jesus was supposed to come back and save us when the temple in Jerusalem was burnt. But he did not. He was predicted to come back many other times including the year 2000. But he has not. So until and unless he comes back, he along with all the other gods before him and after him are dead gods irrespective of what the Bible “claims”.

      Talking about forgiving, this is what is mentioned in Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”.

      • Chiron says:

        Hari,

        U clown.. please stick to what you know. It’s evident from reading your comments that you have absolutely no clue on what Christianity is all about. Like I would not comment about the Vedas because it takes years of learning before one is able to scrap just the surface, Christianity is the same. You only make a fool of yourself. Talking about “claims” of Christianity.. anyway, I claim you are a fool. Peace out.

        • Hari says:

          Chiron,

          Now I am a clown and a fool? It is individuals like you who give Christianity a bad name and then drive people away from your religion.

          I learnt what I know about Christianity by attending prestigious Christian institutions in India. Most of my teachers in these institutions were Christian priests and nuns who dedicated their entire lives to the Lord. After class I would read the Bible myself and clarify the questions that I have with my teachers. So if you think that I do not know anything about Christianity then that would be an indictment of the Christian educational institutions that I attended and graduated from with honors.

          However, I do think I know a little bit about Christianity than you give me credit for and I do believe that my teachers knew what they were talking about. Although they were deeply religious they knew that scripture is subject to interpretations and some scriptures were at odds with modern scientific discovery. They were very wise compared to some of their counterparts in the West!

          Please feel free to express your opinions on the Vedas. I do not want to set any “pre-qualifications” on who can or cannot comment on it.

          One of my favorite Rig Veda quotes about Creation:

          Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of the universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?

          Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it has formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.

          • Somita says:

            But the thing we should be talking about it the fact of this…

            John 3:16 and 3:17
            “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

            The fact that God loved us so much, God loved you sir so much, that He would send His own Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins (that Jesus was the sacrifice for sin once and for all) so that we could be reconciled to God. That Jesus who was inequality to God would humble himself for us, would die in physical body for us, and take upon the judgement for our sins so that we could be reconciled is amazing!That kind of love, sacrificial love is such an amazing thing. I truly hope if you have not understood how much God loves you yet, that you are shown and able to accept this free gift which makes us right with God not based on our own works or our own righteousness but on what the acceptance of what God did for us and God’s rghteousness.
            :-D

            There was something I once read in a book and it went like this:
            “Meanwhile, I was engaged in a conversation with a Bhuddhist leader and a Muslim leader in this particular community. They were discussing how all religions are fundimentally the same and only superficially different. ‘We may have different views about small issues’ one of them said, ‘but when it comes down to essential issues, each of our religions is the same.’ I listened for a while, and then they asked me what I thought. I said, ‘It sounds as though you both picture God(or whatever you call god) at the top of a mountain. It seems as if you believe that we are all at the bottom of the mountain, and I may take one route up the mountain, you may take another, and in the end we will all end up in the same place.’ They smiled as I spoke. Happily they replied, ‘Exactly! You understand!’ Then I leaned in and said, ‘Now let me ask you a question. What would you think if I told you that the God at the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are? What would you think if I told you that God doesn’t wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us?’ They thought for a moment and then responded, “That would be great.” I replied, “Let me introduce you to Jesus.’”
            God bless!

          • Hari says:

            Somita,

            Thank for proselytizing! I am glad to know Jesus loves me although I am not sure how you know this to be true.

            Fortunately though hard work and a lot of luck I have been able to eke out a decent life for myself and my loved ones. Instead of loving people like me who neither asked for nor need his love, he should spend his time and effort helping the millions of us who are dying due to hunger, cancer, HIV, war etc. Will you let someone you love live on the streets during winter, eat from garbage cans because they cannot afford anything else, become casualties of war or beg on the streets? These people need his love badly but he seems to be ignoring them or unable to answer their prayers!

            I hope you understand that the “sacrificial god” story might bring comfort to Christians but does not mean anything for the rest of us. Religion is full of stories of sacrificial and resurrecting gods. There is nothing unique about this Christian myth. In Hinduism and Buddhism we call this concept as Avatars (Hindus believe that Vishnu has at least 10 major avatars. Vishnu not only has avatars as a human being but also as many other living creatures. He saved not just humans but all living things. I believe that Vishnu is much more of a “greener” god than Jesus!).

            The summary of a story that you read in a book and quoted sounds like the feel good stories that Christian missionaries are fond of telling. I have heard Ravi Zacharias tell many such “stories”. The theme is the same. An argument is put forth and always the Christian argument wins and the rest of us end up looking like fools. But I do not know whether you noticed but the Christian wins the argument only when the Christian is narrating the story. Have you listened to the same stories from a Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Judaic or atheistic view points? They are pretty hilarious!

            The “author” of this tall tale seems to be suggesting that a god who “comes to us” is superior to the god that “we have to find”. I do not understand this logic. I guess you like your pizza delivered rather than takeout! This story also shows a lack of understanding of both Islam and Buddhism. Buddha who is god, came to earth, lived as a human being and suffered the same things that all of us human beings suffer. As a human being he then found solutions and also found out the reasons for this suffering. So you see he did come down from the mountain!

            The same is true for Prophet Mohammed. Let us not forget that according to Islam Jesus is just a prophet!

  3. Ralph says:

    Thanks for the invite Hari – Appreciated

    The Bible is a history book isn’t that a good evidence. If this wasn’t, then it would have been rejected in the early 2000′s itself and we would have nothing talkin. I used the word claim, to my understanding one can only claim when he or she is compable to delivery the end result. for eg: I can not put a claim that I can fly by my self, which I am sure i cannot.
    Whether others want to believe or not about forgive of sins. Well that is left up to them to decide whether to accept or to reject. In every religion the crying for the attonement of sins is carried on, blood sacrifice are done for the forgive of sins. Well good new is Jesus is the lamb of God who was sacrified for the attonement of our sins. This is a free gift take it or leave it.

    Regards the return of Christ, that is the only hope we live in and is the promise of God that he will return. But it is not for us to decide the date and time of his return, as many have professed and wronged, just to deceive many.
    Jesus said it is not for us to know the time and hrs. He said even the angels in heaven donot know about it.
    You mentioned about Matt 10:34 this verse has no relevance to our discussion. The Lord spoke about this verse is to give us the understanding of these times. Many who have accept the Lord as their saviour are been rejected by many. Hence the Lord said he has not come to give peace only but everlasting life. This does not mean that he is a God of no peace. The bible calls him the prince of peace.

    Also the bible speak about a lawless man will arise in due time and will deceive many for claiming to give peace. But his agenda is to destroyed. Here in this version He warns his disciple run only after peace.

    Rom 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

    • Hari says:

      Ralph,

      If Bible is not good on evidence then we should be cautious before proclaiming that Jesus will lead us to the heavenly father, or that he is the way, the truth and life, that he has the power to forgive sins or that he is a living god. Simply put we do not know this to be true. I also agree that it is not up to us to decide when Jesus will return. But Jesus himself has said in Matthew, Mark and Luke that “This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” But the generation has passed, the events mentioned (including the burning of the temple in Jerusalem) have happened but he has not returned.

      The fact that many Biblical truths are not considered as truths anymore is a testament to the damage that science has done to all types of scriptures including the Bible. Bible was regarded as the word of god and an accurate portrayal of history by Christians for almost 1800 years before key scientific discoveries were made that contradicted these long held beliefs. If you had said “The Bible is a history book isn’t that a good evidence” over 200 years ago you might be executed by your fellow Christians for blasphemy or for being under the influence of the devil.

      I am not surprised that you think that the verse I quoted from Matt 10:34 is not relevant. You have put a nice spin on the verse and chose to dismiss gods anger and what he thinks about peace and forgiveness. I can quote you hundreds of such verses from the Bible. The believers will always have explanations for these verses (explanations that in many cases god himself did not provide in the Bible). The believers will also provide additional verses that support their claim. But this makes one of the points in my article that the Bible does not have a consistent uniform message. It is full of contradictions. God appears to be unsure and inconsistent.

  4. Leslie Jebaraj says:

    Hari:

    If you’re really serious to know the answers to your questions (especially in your last two paragraphs), please read REINVENTING JESUS by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel Wallace. Kindly use the link to order a copy:

    Thanks!

    • Hari says:

      Leslie … I am on my way to the bookstore right now …

      Actually I do not need any book or novels to tell me what the Bible teaches. I went to a Christian school for almost 10 years. In this school studying the Bible and memorizing the verses was mandatory and there were quarterly, semi-annual and annual exams on the chapters covered during the year. I know what is in the Bible better than most of the Christians out there.

      Books like the ones you recommended are misleading. The authors cherry pick verses and stories that support they theory. The stories of the Bible and the interpretations of it are well documented by theologians over the past two thousand years. There is nothing new to be interpreted. What is going on now is reinvention and repackaging things so that it is acceptable to modern society.

      Having read the Bible cover to cover I am confident when I say that there is nothing unique about the stories or the message. Like all other scriptures there are some great stories and messages and there are some outdated messages. Like they say in the East “there is nothing new under the Sun”.

      One of my favorite Bible quotes is Proverbs 31 (6-7): “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more

      One of my least favorite is in Exodus 21 (7-11): “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

      • Chiron says:

        You ungrateful little twerp.. U got the best of what Christianity has to offer the country and you want to criticize it? Why didn’t you go to some acharia pata shalla so some other Christian could take your place at the Christian school. Why all the bitterness? I reckon you are also basking in the shadow of a western company.

        • Hari says:

          Chiron,

          Your rant is very similar to that of a Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist. When a person disagrees with you, throw everything at him and call him names and demean him. You are correct when you say that I “got the best of what Christianity has to offer”. I went to Christian schools that respected all culture and highlighted aspects of Christianity that are inclusive and non-judgmental. Looking back I am very glad that I did not go to Christian schools run by hateful individuals like you. There is no bitterness. There is a lot about Christianity that I learnt from these schools that I cherish even today.

          This is 2010. Christian colonization of India ended in 1947. So there is no need for an Indian today to be “grateful” for the education that is provided by Christian institutions. It is a business and the education is not free. I personally believe that this is the least Christianity can do for exploiting India, its people, its culture and its resources for almost 500 years.

      • Chiron says:

        “What is going on now is reinvention and repackaging things so that it is acceptable to modern society”
        First of all, man! Your English sucks!! You are an embarrassment to the good schooling you’ve received! But more importantly, is your point that, every wisdom taught by books about old wisdom is already common knowledge to everyone, or are you saying that writing them in ways that are acceptable to modern society is wrong? What the heck was your point?!! It’s frustrating reading your illogical and poorly worded statements.

        “Like they say in the East “there is nothing new under the Sun”.”

        Actually dimwit, that happens to be from the Bible.. not some eastern saying. Talk about putting your smelly diseased foot in your sore infested mouth.

        Ravi happens to be a Truthful and Godly man. He does what he does out of love and concern for his fellow countrymen; while low lives like you try to take cheap shots at him. I am thankful though that you are not very intelligent and can’t come up with anything that even remotely sounds valid.

        I am an educated Christian…yup, from India.. Converted, yes!! I’ve got my degrees in Applied Mathematics from one of the best Universities in the world. I have and continue to study religion and culture… and Christianity is the one and only relationship (yes, relationship, because it’s different is that essence from any other religions, it’s a relationship) that makes sense.

        Actually, you are not worth my time. I suggest, for your own sake, please make an effort to study!! not read!! the teachings of the bible before you take cheap shots at it. Not only do you end up sounding foolish, but you also end up sounding bitter and angry.

        • Hari says:

          Chiron,

          As you probably guessed English is not my mother tongue. It is the fourth language that I learnt and I still have a long way to go before I can become an expert. Language to me is more than spelling and grammar. It is an expression of culture, ones values and traditions. You have used words like “dimwit”, “clown”, “low life” and “fool” to describe me. You have used terms like “talk about putting your smelly diseased foot in your sore infested mouth” to describe what I said. Although you might be grammatically correct your choice of words and the tone tells me a lot about you and what you are about. It also reflects poorly on your worldview and Christian values!!

          You cherry picked one of the sentences to question my language abilities. Where I am from, if you do not understand what a person said all you have to do is ask for clarifications. There is no reason to demean the person and his education and then accuse him of taking “cheap shots” when you are the one doing it.

          The interpretation of Biblical scripture changes as new scientific discoveries are made. The six day creation story mentioned in the Book of Genesis was the correct interpretation for 1800 years. This started to change as scientists began talking about billions of years. This is what I meant to convey by the statement that you claimed that you did not understand (You would have understood it clearly if you read the whole answer. But I know that your real intention is not to question my language but to show me in poor light, minimize the impact of what I have to say and silence my voice. I know all the missionary tricks. I wasn’t born yesterday!!).

          I do not know whether Ravi is a truthful or godly man. I do know that his interpretation of Christianity and the Bible is one of the many different interpretations of Christianity and the Bible. I also believe that he like some other preachers is very selective regarding the verses he teaches and stays away from contradicting verses and controversial subjects that are part of the Bible including slavery, discrimination and violence.

          I am not sure whether many Indians would agree with your statement that Ravi does what he does because of his concern for his countrymen. He does what he does in order to spread his version of Christianity. Your definition of Christianity as a relationship is also interesting.

          Words like personal relationship with Jesus and so on are modern interpretations that does not have any Biblical foundation. Jesus wants you to treat him as God and to follow his orders. The Bible has a lot of information on what he will do to you if you do not obey. On judgment day he will review your performance and determine whether to send you to heaven or hell. He does not want to have any kind of relationship with you before or after.

          Such terms are often used by those believers who want to distance themselves from Christianity as a religion and all its trappings. The personal relationship with god version of Christianity is almost like Buddhism and certain aspects of Hinduism. You bypass religion, scripture and traditions and create your own reality and develop direct relationship with the god that you created.

          Doubt has set in and disbelief is right around the corner!

          • Somita says:

            Dear Sir,
            I implore you, though I understand you may not have any interest in this, to read the Scarlet Thread and possibly to read articles on Christianity at (deleted) if you would.

            In regards to Genesis, when it comes to Eve being made from Adam’s rib think of it this way, way back when would we have ever thought it possible to use hemopoeitic cells to create other cells? Can we really limit God and say for God of all beings it’s not possible. :-)

          • Hari says:

            Somita,

            Anything is possible. One day human beings might create a new universe. That is not the point here. What does the Bible say?

            The Bible says that god took some clay from the ground and made it look like a man. He then breathed gently into the clay. The mans eye opened and began to live. That is the story of Adams creation. God then took a rib from Adam’s side when he was sleeping. When Adam woke up the next day he found Eve sleeping next to him.

            Based on scientific evidence this creation story is completely false and totally inaccurate. Human beings are not created from clay and a woman is not created in a single day or from a mans rib!

            Why do you think that I need to read more about Christianity? I know as much about the Bible and Christianity as the next person.

  5. aman says:

    “The authors cherry pick verses and stories that support they theory.”

    its ironic that it is done by you yar hari

    • Hari says:

      Aman,

      Welcome. Either the Bible is the word of God or it is not. It is okay for skeptics like me to cherry pick the Bible or ask questions about specific topics or verses to show that there is no uniform or underlying message. But unfortunately for believers they have to defend the whole book. Got it?

      I have read many religious books (not just Christian) where the authors use a few stories or verses from scripture and then paint a picture of that religion. But this storyline contradicts other parts of the scripture.

  6. nat brown says:

    Interesting perspective! I enjoyed the read. I just have one question, you make claims at the end, with no support.
    “But this very same Bible is wrong about how the earth and universe was created, how diseases are contracted, transmitted or cured or about basic astronomical principles.”

    You speak as though this was all set in stone. Please provide Historical, scientific documentation?

    • Hari says:

      Welcome Nat,

      I do not want to get into a debate with you on creation vs evolution or modern medicine vs. Biblical cures. Creation of the universe in six days as mentioned in the Bible, the age of the Earth (less than 7000 years), all human beings originating from Adam and Eve are not theories that are tenable anymore.

  7. John says:

    Hari, just taking your last paragraph, your concluding remarks:

    what we know about Jesus comes mostly from the Bible. True. Frankly, there is no other book in the world that has been subjected to the scrutiny to which the Bible has been subjected. The Bible has stood to all attackers, to all research, to historical finds, to archaeologists. It stands on its own.

    Then you write: the Bible is wrong about how the earth and universe was created, how diseases are contracted, transmitted or cured or about basic astronomical principles.

    Gotta disagree with you here. Keeping it simple: the universe (including “space”)and earth are here now. They weren’t always here. Therefore, they had an origin. That’s all accepted science.
    Big Bang THEORY suggests something came from nothing (ie, defined as a “singularity”) at an instant in time (of course, time did not exist either). Yet we all know from nothing, nothing comes. Robert Jasktrow, former head of NASA Goddard remarked how the big bang sures looks like Genesis. It does, but rather than a singularity, there is a Creator.

    With respect to age of the universe, it isn’t in the Bible. People are interpreting what isn’t explicitly written. Other terms like the “sun rose” are still used today. They are in government almanacs “sunrise; sunset”. It’s the common use of language. The Bible isn’t a science book. It’s a book about God and man.

    The Bible consists of four “acts”.
    Act 1 Creation
    Act 2 The Fall
    Act 3 Redemption
    Act 4 Restoration

    1 and 2 are wholly contained in Genesis. Act 3 begins in Genesis and continues to this day. Act 4, written in apocalyptic fashion in Revelation, is yet to come.

    As CS Lewis once famously wrote (paraphrasing)…you have to deal with Jesus. The fact that he existed is beyond doubt, beyond discussion. He claimed to be the way, the truth, the life. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

    The claims are Jesus’. If He is THE way, than there is no other. It’s as simple as that. It’s the law of non-contradiction. It’s an either/or proposition.

    Finally, with respect to purported Biblical contradictions, there simply aren’t any. Plenty of people misconstruing or misinterpreting what is written, or taking it out of context. But those are human errors, not Biblical errors. Every time someone has presented me with an “error”, it was very easy to point out, to their satisfaction, that there was no error.

    Finally, a Christian “hates” no one. Else he isn’t a Christian. Jesus commanded two things: “love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these two things all the law is written”.

    Jesus is the light. I hope He shines upon those who read this. God Bless!

    • Hari says:

      John,

      The Bible (like most other scriptures in the world) has contradictory information. To give you an example the Bible has multiple versions of the Ten Commandments. In addition the Bible is wrong when it says that the Earth was created before the Sun, it is wrong when it says that Eve was created from Adam, it is wrong when it says that the entire universe was created in 6 days and it is wrong when it says that the Earth is less than 7000 years old (as deduced from the Adam’s family history stated in the Bible). “It stands on its own” only for die hard believers and not for the rest of us.

      I agree that Big bang theory is not complete. That does not prove that there is a god and that god is Jesus. What can’t that “god of the gaps” be Allah? The interpretation of what is written in the Bible changes as more and more scientific discoveries are made that seem to contradict what is written in the Bible. The new interpretation that the six “day” creation story in the book of Genesis are not really “days” but millions and billions of years is one such attempt. The Bible like the rest of us is “evolving”. In a few hundred years some people will look at the Bible and say that Jesus was not God or son of God but a name for a tiny molecule and that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are street names for ancient visitors from another galaxy!!

      Your statement that “Christian “hates” no one. Else he isn’t a Christian” is interesting. So all those Christians who use verses from the Bible to hate on homosexuals and those who perform abortions are not Christians? The conservative Christians who slander President Obama and call him all kinds of names are not Christians? Christianity does not hold the patent on love and hate. They are human characteristics. There are haters in Christianity as in any other religion.

  8. John says:

    Hari,

    Socrates wrote “The unexamined life is not worth living”, so I commend your examination. However, in the course of examining, you need to do so from an intellectually-honest perspective.

    The entire first paragraph you wrote in response to me is so pedantic that even a 12 year old Christian would easily answer those points. That paragraph makes me wonder if you’re serious as it’s filled with mischaracterizations, and things that simply aren’t even in the Book. Come on, find in the Scriptures anything about the earth being 7000 years old. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but really, what you wrote in that first paragraph is nonsensical.

    With respect to your point about how long the creation miracle took, yes there is debate among Biblical scholars. Like any piece of writing, different writing styles are used. Part of Biblical exegesis involves understanding the particular writing style. There are plenty of instances in the Bible when “days” clearly refers to “ages”, and others when it refers to a literal 24 hour period. And so the debate about whether it was a literal 6 days, or 6 “eons”. But regardless, does the answer to that matter with respect to the essential questions at stake? No, it matters not. With respect to the Creation sequence I would commend an entertaining little video to you available on You Tube from Rob Bell “Everything is Spiritual”.

    Back in the 1700′s the French philosopher Voltaire commented how the Bible was done, finished, kaput. No one would read or buy it anymore. Today, the French Bible Society occupies the house in which Voltaire lived and the Bible remains, far and away, the best-selling book on the planet. Many have forecast the impending doom of the Bible, and it far outlives its critics! :)

    Again, assuming you’re choosing to undergo a serious examination of the questions you pose, I would commend two books to you: “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel, and “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. Strobel was a writer for the Chicago Tribune when his wife became a Christian. Strobel was not. He, after a careful evaluation, became one. He’s written several books, and some have become videos. You may want to view Case for a Creator on youtube as well (I just checked and his other works case for Jesus, etc are there too).

    The book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” does a very fine job of digging into the Teleological and Cosmological arguments for creation.

    Finally, your last paragraph: again, you tend to take something and throw a Saul Alinsky into it: “those Christians who use verses from the Bible to hate on homosexuals…” Look, you are the one who injected the word “hate” into that sentence. There is a tendency among the liberals today to characterize anyone who disagrees with their position to be hateful. Thus, the world is filled with those who agree with the liberal agenda and those who are sexists, racists, homophobes, misogynists, islamaphobes.

    Let’s recharacterize the argument thusly: the Christian believes in ethics. Aristotle wrote how ethics is “oughtness”, what people ought to do. Morals is “is-ness”, what people do do. Oughtness is written on our hearts by God. We know that we don’t torture babies. We don’t murder. We don’t steal. We don’t lie. However, society (culture) has taken ethics and rationalized them. The Christian is saying “NO”, these things are wrong: homosexual behavior is wrong; killing unborn children is wrong (try watching Silent Scream); killing children after they are born because of birth defects (as Peter Singer of Princeton advocates) is wrong.

    We have as our reference point the law of God. It is immutable. We have every right, indeed the obligation, to protest, to point out the truth of what’s taking place. The liberal agenda has recast abortion as “reproductive rights”. Nonsense. They are killing an unborn. Everyone is horrified at the Nazi gas chambers. But in America alone more than 40 million unborn babies have been murdered.

    Your other statements, slander Obama, call him names, etc….come on, again, be intellectually honest. Frankly, I think it’s pretty clear that those who are consumed with hate are those on the liberal left. It is those who need the state to impose their agenda on society. What the country is seeing with the tea party is a populist uprising saying “no” we won’t allow statism, we will take back our country to what our Constitution says. And the liberal hates that.

    Hari, when I started this, I thought you were interested in intellectual conversation. Your comments about Ravi Zacharias led me to believe you were serious. However, your most recent missive causes me to sincerely doubt your motivation and intellectual honesty (or intellectual naivete).

    The answers are out there, my friend. I offered you a few sources, and I will commend one last one, an easy read, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whomsoever shall believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

    • Hari says:

      John,

      I went to a Christian school for years in India. None of my teachers (most of whom were priests) could explain the gap between what we know about the creation of the universe and what is mentioned in the Bible. So you say a 12 year old Christian can explain it? I think you are not being honest with yourself. You cannot dismiss the questions people have about the Book of Genesis as nonsensical (and you question my motivation and call me a liberal). If there is no controversy over the Book of Genesis then there would be no creation vs evolution debate in America.

      I did not say that the scriptures say that the Earth is 7000 years (and you question my intellectual honesty?). Biblical scholars have come to the conclusion that the Earth is very young based on calculating Adams lineage. Creation Ministries International (a Christian Ministry) has programs on American television every week that constantly talk about this young Earth theory. I am not sure why you act surprised!!

      Your act is a tired old act John. You call people liberals, question their motivations, their intellectual capacity and then at the same time want the rest of the world (including many in the Christian world) to follow your intolerant brand of Christianity. There is no justification for the racially motivated verbal attacks and innuendos on President Obama by members of the Christian community including many in the Tea Party movement. I do not see this as a Left vs Right issue.

      “Christian believes in ethics”: Human beings of all kinds including Christians believe in ethics. Calling abortion murder when American law does not and 50% of the country does not believe so and calling homosexuality wrong (when many of these homosexuals are themselves Christians) is not ethics. It is the ethics of a certain hateful brand of Christianity.

      You can quote all the verses you want and refer all kinds of books that others wrote. But people like me pay attention to your words and actions to see if there is a difference between what you preach and what you practice. From your own words what I see is intolerance towards those who differ and not a message of peace and equality. What I feel is allegiance to conservative political agenda and not towards an agenda that promotes unity.

      • nat brown says:

        I continue to hear the differing perspectives!
        Hari,
        You said “Christian believes in ethics”: Human beings of all kinds including Christians believe in ethics. Calling abortion murder when American law does not and 50% of the country does not believe so and calling homosexuality wrong (when many of these homosexuals are themselves Christians) is not ethics. It is the ethics of a certain hateful brand of Christianity.”

        Firtst, is truth determined by popularity? Just because 50% of people think something is correct, is it correct? Let’s not forget history, when thousands were slaughtered bacause the majarity thought it was ethical. We as humans are very prone to acting on what we feel is ethical (Christians included). Yet, it’s obvious that there has always been certain ethics that are shared by populations (such as murder and stealing are wrong). Is there a transcenen moral code?

        Secondly, Why is it hateful to say that abortion and homesexuaity are wrong? Will it one day be hateful to say that murder is wrong?

        • Hari says:

          Nat,

          Equating abortion (which is legal in the United States and many other democratic countries) to “murder” and “killing” shows hatred. There are many terms that can be used to express ones disagreement with abortion.

          Believing that abortion or homosexuality is wrong in itself is not hateful. Holding a view and acting on it are different. A few Christians not only hold the view that homosexuality is wrong but also prevent homosexuals from getting the same rights and privileges as the rest of us. This is hateful. Fortunately all Christians do not hold the view that homosexuality is wrong. Many of these homosexuals in the US are Christians themselves and many others in society who support homosexuals are Christians also. This peaceful, non-judgmental version of Christianity is what many people like.

          There will hopefully never be a day when it would considered hateful to say that murder is wrong whether it is murder committed by an individual, state or a group.

  9. Jason Kora says:

    Hari,

    You have voiced some legitimate concerns here, and I believe you have some valid points, but allow me to outline a few issues that came to mind.

    In my mind, the problem arises because the word “tolerance” itself has been perverted to mean something completely different from what it actually means. The word itself implies that there IS a difference or disagreement between two or more individuals. I cannot be “tolerant” of someone with whom I have no difference in worldview. The very concept of pluralism or tolerance is relevant only when it is properly defined and contextualized; that is to say, it is relevant ONLY in a framework in which there co-exist differing worldviews. This is the very purpose of tolerance; to ensure the peaceful co-existence of those who adhere to differing perspectives. This does NOT imply that one should be inclined to agree completely with other worldviews, nor embrace “everything as equally true.” Bygone generations knew this, and advocated tolerance as respectful disagreement, with the added notion of love for all human beings.

    If Ravi Zacharias defames Mahatma Gandhi, or slanders other religions (I don’t think I’ve heard him doing this), I surely don’t condone it, and I believe you may have a valid point if he does. But if by “criticism” you mean that he points out the logical contradictions that he sees in those worldviews, then I believe you’re missing the point. No worldview, including Christianity, should be granted immunity from careful examination.

    I do not believe that as a Christian, I have a guaranteed one-way ticket to heaven. Neither do I believe that all others are instantly condemned. But I have nothing but pity for those who claim that all religions are “equally true.” This stems from a lack of critical thinking. Whatever became of the law of non-contradiction? Why are we killing logic in the streets? Truth by it’s very nature is exclusive – it excludes the opposite. My question to the culture of postmodernism is ultimately this: Why can’t I firmly believe in the truth of my worldview, and point out why I don’t subscribe to other worldviews, as long as I do it respectfully and while expressing a love for all human beings?

    • Hari says:

      Jason,

      Whatever the meaning of the word tolerance is (an engineer would define tolerance as a deviation from the standard) an individual has the right to believe in anything he/she wants including not embracing “everything as equally true”. I am all for critically examining all religions and pointing out the contradictions. But if an individual is critically examining and pointing out the contradictions of certain religions but unable to do so when it comes to his/her own religion then it stops being an examination in the eyes of those whose religion is under the microscope.

      This “examination” then takes on other meanings particularly in places like India where there is a long history of such “examinations” undertaken by Christian empires and their missionaries (I acknowledge that violent acts and discrimination based on religion have been committed on the people of India by all religions).

      Your question regarding the “culture of postmodernism” is valid. But I would not question the critical thinking of those who hold the worldview based on their own research on the different religions and come up with the conclusion that all religions are “equally true”. They may or may not believe that the religions are equally true chapter by chapter but in terms of a belief in the supernatural or a creator God. Some individuals who use the term “equally true” might be using it in a similar fashion to the way tolerance was supposedly used by the bygone generation.

  10. Bob says:

    As a christian he is necessarily critical of Hinduism and Buddhism because in order to claim that Christianity is true he necessarily claims that Hinduism and Buddhism is false.

    Evangelism is a tenant of the christian faith, it is not a trick or a con. The true evangelist believes that conversion is morally right and existentially necessary. If you ask us to accept the principle that a good faith effort to bring people to truth is wrong you ask us to accept that there is a superior truth contrary to the tenant of evangelism, in short you ask us to call ourselves christian but not follow his commandments.

    you say that Christianity is a great religion “But the problem always comes when a certain group considers the other as inferior or when one group thinks that it has the inside track on the truth, morality, meaning of life and so on.” Every monotheistic faith, at least, make a fundamental claim to truth that rejects all others. Are you suggesting that Christianity and other religions can both be true? Or people possessing truth should not make it known or make an argument for it? Are you suggesting that if there is a truth, that the ignorant are better left ignorant?

    You ask “How can Christianity be the only path when almost all of its doctrines, beliefs and gods are borrowed from other more ancient religions?” It is very common for people to think that all religions are fundamentally the same differing only in unimportant details. Christianity is unique in the world most religions are unique, each offering different opinions on the nature of good and evil, sin and redemption, among other issues. Even between different christian sects these fundamental questions are answered differently.

    Finally you say that “Even if Jesus Christ was a real person there is nothing unique about his story. What does Jesus Christ teach that you cannot find in the teachings of Krishna, Buddha or Prophet Mohammad?” I am fully aware that the story of Christ has major thematic elements that are similar to older stories, but there is really nothing surprising about several theological formulas being similar. If I asked several architects to construct a building meant for a particular purpose, should i be surprised if most of the designs have similar structural elements. However, Krishna, Buddha, Mohammad and Jesus offer fundamentally different formulas, regarding Hinduism I am not sufficiently educated in all of the various subsets of nor do i know which view of Hinduism you are referring too, but i do know that Buddhism is born out of a rejection of the Vedas and the caste system. With regard to Islam and Christianity, in Islam on the final day of judgment each individual will be forgiven or condemned to some afterlife based upon their deeds, in Christianity all are sinners but are saved through faith in Christ and repentance rather than good works.

    I have to wonder is the author of this article an atheist or just a skeptic? One of the key features to Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is that he offers and argument for why he is a Christian, and says by what standards he judges the various faiths of the world.

    I say this because anyone can make a cogent argument offering proof against a fundamental truth. But what then do you offer in its place? Don’t tell me why you are not a christian, tell me why you are a (Fill in the Blank)? What is your burden of proof?

    • Hari says:

      Bob,

      I am not sure why a “Christian” should be critical of other religions or go about claiming that other religions are false. A Christian is a follower of Jesus and his teachings. In the Bible God commands his followers (Ten Commandments) not to worship other gods or to bow before other gods (this is an acknowledgment that there were other gods). But God admonishes those who question him or his teachings, which is what a Christian does when he/she tries to prove that Christianity is true. The Bible also does not state that Christians should go about disproving other religions and their gods. Passing judgment according to the Bible is what god does and not human beings (including Ravi Zacharias)!

      Irrespective of what certain Christians might feel about evangelism, it is a “trick and a con” in the eyes of those who are skeptics and those who do not believe in Christianity. Christians like most other religious groups cherry pick versus from the Bible that they want to follow and ignore those that does not fit with their current beliefs. In 1 Peter 2:18 and Leviticus 25: 44-45 it says that Christians can buy slaves from nations around them and the slaves in turn are told to submit themselves to their masters whether their masters were good to them or not. Most Christians today do not approve of slavery and most Christians do not think that they are any less of a Christian because of their opposition to slavery (I am not equating slavery with evangelism but some of His commandments are best when left alone). So I am not asking you to follow Christianity and not follow his commandments. You are already doing it! Evangelism will end when people who are doing it and those who are morally and financially supporting it realize the damage it is doing to indigenous people and their cultures.

      I am glad that you agree that the Jesus Christ story has “major thematic elements that are similar to older stories”. I however do not think that there are major differences between the teachings of Jesus, Buddha or Krishna about what would happen to us in the end. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam have varying degrees of belief in the concept of heaven and hell and what people should do to get there. Christianity itself has different versions of salvation. You indicate that a Christian is saved by having faith in Christ. In Revelation 20: 12-13 the Bible states that “the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done”. According to you God judging a person by deeds is a belief of Islam and not Christianity!

      The concept of human beings as sinners who have to repent for salvation is also not unique to Christianity. Christianity borrowed this concept from Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 28b states “The Holy One, blessed be His name, said to Elijah, ‘Behold, the precious gift which I have bestowed on my world: though a man sins again and again, but returns in penitence, I will receive him”.

      I am least interested in the concept of truth when it comes to religion (as in a religion is true and others are not). It is normally a word used by those religious people who only have a superficial or limited knowledge of the scriptures or are dependent on others to tell them what their religion is about. Who am I? Am I an atheist or a skeptic? I am just an observer. Sometimes I like to play the role of an umpire.

      The following are two verses from the Bible. I am still wondering which statement is the “truth”.

      Jesus speaking in John:

      John 5:31 – If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.
      John 8:14 – Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid.

      • Bob says:

        “I am least interested in the concept of truth when it comes to religion (as in a religion is true and others are not). It is normally a word used by those religious people who only have a superficial or limited knowledge of the scriptures or are dependent on others to tell them what their religion is about. Who am I? Am I an atheist or a skeptic? I am just an observer. Sometimes I like to play the role of an umpire.”

        It also appears you are least interested in the concept of truth when you are asked to make a positive statement about it. So I’m going to assume that you are a skeptic and a sophist, positions that are both intellectually safe and intellectually meaningless.

        • Hari says:

          We are talking about an organized religion called Christianity that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ contained in a book called Bible. We are not having a philosophical debate on truth.

          The Bible is full of contradictions including on such important issues such as whether Jesus is the son of god, who is responsible for evil, way to salvation, death on the cross, resurrection and ascension. All these contradictions in addition to all the violence, hatred and intolerance that are part of scripture do not add up to the truth. It adds up to confusion.

          I did make a positive statement of truth. I will repeat it. “I am not interested in the debate about which religion is true”. This is not an intellectually safe or meaningless position. It is the truth!

          Ezekiel 20:25-26 – I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.

  11. defender says:

    Actually, your post shows your ignorance about the Christian faith. It is a historic faith. The existence of Jesus christ is undeniable. There are excellent resources available on the historicity of Christ. Please do read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Looks like you are not interested in knowing the truth. Truth is something that is real

    • Hari says:

      “Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions.” – Oscar Wilde

  12. Somita says:

    Hari,
    From what I understand you’ve went to a Christian school, read the Bible, talked to people…but have you ever really seeked? What do you have to lose? Why not ask God to show you Himself what the truth is and see yourself.

    Matthew 7:7 through 7:9
    “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
    “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

    • Hari says:

      Somita,

      Going to Christian schools, reading the Bible and talking to other Christians about their religion is part of seeking. On one hand I heard about Christianity from individuals like you who only talk about the good verses that portrays God as this peace loving and caring person.

      But then I read the Bible and came across verses like Deuteronomy 15: 1-3 where the Bible makes some racist comments “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your [Israelite] brother owes you“. What is different about a non-Israelite like you or me?

      I kept reading further and I came to this wonderful book called Leviticus. In chapter 25 versus 44-46 it states the following: “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life“. I am yet to visit Israel!

      I love the peaceful and caring religion that you preach. But unfortunately I cannot find that religion in the Bible.

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