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Book Review – The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist by Andy Bannister (Foreword by Ravi Zacharias)

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The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist

The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist is a new book by Andy Bannister, Canadian Director of RZIM. It is a book which is intended to expose the logical fallacies in the arguments used by New Atheism. For those unfamiliar with New Atheism, it is a movement which arose around 2004 as a sort of atheistic fundamentalism and by most accounts appears to be waning in popularity. It was characterized by aggressive ad hominems, religious zeal and an unprecedented proselytizing.

In this book, Bannister counters the arguments of New Atheism by exposing the logical errors in the arguments. As the book description says,

 . . . when one pokes at popular atheism, many of the arguments used to prop it up quickly unravel. The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist is designed to expose some of the lose threads on the cardigan of atheism, tug a little, and see what happens. Blending humour with serious thought, Andy Bannister helps the reader question everything, assume nothing and, above all, recognize lazy skepticism and bad arguments.

Overall the book delivered what it promised. Bannister certainly has an understanding of logical fallacies and is very adept at communicating the reason why an argument should be categorized as a fallacy. This is not only true of the individual arguments used by popular atheists but it’s also true of their greater body of works. What Bannister excels at is demonstrating that the entire house upon which New Atheism is built upon is very shaky ground. Their arguments generally avoid the rigorous research and in depth analysis of the classical atheists and rely mostly upon sound bytes which don’t penetrate the intellectual foundation of theism. Bannister systematically demonstrates this with each argument until the reader is left wondering what else is left in the atheistic arsenal.

The weakness of this book is its over-saturation of humor. I’m not against using humor in apologetics. In fact humor can be a very effective tool when addressing the weaknesses of a person’s arguments. As long as it isn’t an ad hominem attack it can help to deflate an escalating tension between two people. However, humor should be used sparingly and strategically. I came away from this book really believing that Banister is a wonderful communicator and a skilled logician; but a lot of this was lost due the the unfortunate timing of witty quips. I’m not saying that Bannister isn’t funny. He has a wonderful sense humor and uses it to demonstrate the irony. It was simply too saturated.

Excessive humor aside, I would recommend this book to anyone who has found themselves stumped by the arguments of the New Atheists. I would also recommend it for those who innately recognize the logical fallacies of popular atheism but aren’t quite sure how to best communicate it to others. Bannister is someone who we can all learn from when it comes to his ability to effectively illustrate why a poor argument is so poor. It is this attribute of Bannister’s writing which makes this book so valuable and so effective. We can all learn from his communication style. I certainly have and consider myself to be a better communicator because of it.

This book would make a perfect addition to a homeschool curriculum or as a book for adults who are tired of hearing the rantings of the New Atheists but don’t quite know how to communicate where their argument breaks down.

If you would like to purchase this book you can search for the best price on Amazon by following this link. or . . .

Purchase The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments at ChristianBook.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Author

Andy_bannister_web_bio

Dr. Andy Bannister is the Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He speaks and teaches regularly throughout Canada, the US, Europe, and the wider world. From churches to universities, business forums to TV and radio, Andy regularly addresses both Christian audiences and those of all faiths and none on issues relating to faith, culture, politics, and society.

With a background in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy (focusing especially on Islam), Andy was previously based in Oxford, where he worked with churches and organizations across the denominational spectrum.

Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies, a topic on which he has taught extensively. He has spoken and taught at universities across Canada, the US, the UK, and farther afield on both Islam and philosophy and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Andy is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an, a groundbreaking and innovative study that reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed. His latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments), is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism.

When not traveling, speaking, or writing, Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber, and photographer. He lives in Toronto and is married to Astrid; they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher.

15 thoughts on “Book Review – The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist by Andy Bannister (Foreword by Ravi Zacharias)

  1. Bill

    This sounds great! I hate getting in these discussions because I never know what to say.

    • ajcerda

      Bill you and I both! Bannister makes the objections easy to identify through his clever illustrations. I think you will enjoy this book.

  2. Melody

    I absolutely LOVE Ravi Zacharias! If he wrote the forward I am sure this is a good book!

    • ajcerda

      I agree Melody. They both have a great ministry!

  3. Dave H

    Can’t wait to read it but I would get annoyed at constant wisecracks too.

    • ajcerda

      Hello Dave, it wasn’t that the jokes were bad. They weren’t. It is probably more of a preference thing. I like good clear thought with occasional humor. It was a bit too heavy on humor for me but others will love it. As a side note, most of the humor is in the footnotes so if you don’t read footnotes you might not come away with the same feeling. I am a bit OCD when it comes to footnotes. All this aside please don’t miss the point that the book has a lot more value and is worth reading! I meant the humor comment to be somewhat of a side issue.

  4. Ryan

    It’s not that their objections are hard to overcome but that they are so annoying persistent. Like the neighborhood chihuahua that chases you down the street nipping at your heal when you just want to get the mail. They have a big bark but for all the fuss they make all they end up doing is nibbling at your feet.

    • ajcerda

      Ryan, good illustration and observation. The strength of this book is it helps to clear the smoke and expose how shallow the arguments are. Bannister has a way of using clever vignettes to demonstrate just how ridiculous the popular arguments can be. I think you might enjoy the book. It’s right down your alley.

  5. Barbara Rosenkranz

    So overall it sounds like you recommend the book right? Which is why you have the four stars? Sounds pretty obvious to me. My son has been reading Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and it saddens me that he has rejected belief in God like he was raised to believe. If I could do it all over again I would do so many things different. I would not have built a career. My husband doesn’t make a large salary but enough where we could have been okay on his. I would have put my kids in a private school or maybe even homeschool like so many of the young families today are doing. He just was influenced too easily by his friends and teachers. This atheism is being taught everywhere. That’s where he first heard of these books. From his teacher you know. Now he is believing everything they say because it justifies his addiction to video games and internet pornography. Some people will believe anything that will keep their addictions alive. This doesn’t have to make sense for them to believe. They want it to be true so they will believe it no matter what. Only God can make him alive.

    • Patti

      Barbara, I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. My son has also become an atheist. I homeschooled him until Jr. High. He then attended a private Christian school and a Classsical Curriculum Christian School for High School. He received the “godly character award both from students as well as staff.” Long story short I believe he too embraced atheism in order to justify his lifestyle. He now has been through a divorce and is battling alcoholism. We are trusting God to bring him back from the far country whole heartedly.
      Please pray for the return of my son as I will yours.

      As we say in our family…
      Sing to the Lord, pray to the Lord, and Wait on the Lord.

      We Remain…
      Stayed Upon Jehovah

      Patti

      • Barbara Rosenkranz

        Thank you Patti. I will be praying for your son. And waiting upon the Lord. Yes, that is such a good reminder! It’s scary how we can try to be faithful and yet our children must decide on their own what and who they will love.

  6. Stephen Nelson

    Isn’t it funny how atheists always resort to ad hominem and name calling rather really being honest with the issues?

  7. W.H. Voschwin

    I just stopped by from Kregel’s blog tour for this book and wanted to thank you for this review.It basically told me what I needed to know to decide to buy it or not. Which I did.Really all I care to know is if a real person agrees that what is written in the book description is what I will get by reading it.I will form my own opinion about if I agree with the author . But don’t want to waste my money buying a book that is completely different from the description. Incidentally I have come across your blog while searching for a few other reviews and always enjoy your approach. – W.H. Voschwin

    • You are welcome W.H. I’m glad it helped

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