A broad argument against the ideological and historical validity of Christianity.
In his first work, Zuersher outlines his case against the Christian faith by breaking the religion into its key components and discounting each one in turn. Divided into two sections, “Beliefs” and “Evidence,” the book attempts to reveal the contradictions, inconsistencies, and impossibilities he identifies in the Bible and its history. To do so, Zuersher relies heavily on one analytical strategy: he lines up rhetorical straw men then promptly knocks them down. Consider this example from the chapter “Purpose”: “A popular minister wrote, ‘The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God.’ This makes no sense….To whom was it necessary to reveal or exhibit the god’s magnificence?” In this fashion, Zuersher moves with efficient, textbook precision through a comprehensive range of subjects, dedicating five to 10 pages to each. The “Beliefs” section explores everything from the specific actions of Satan to the philosophical problems in any faith-based belief system, while the “Evidence” section thoroughly picks apart the process by which the Gospels were written. The sections are easy to read because of Zuersher’s direct prose, but one occasionally wishes the author would linger on subjects a little longer. At the end of the chapter on faith, for example, Zuersher remarks, “a god who gives revelation to one person could, if he were omnipotent, give the same revelation to everyone.” While this is certainly a defensible claim, it would be stronger if weighed against more counterarguments and subjected to greater critical analysis than Zuersher includes in the chapter. The points are solid, but it’s difficult to entirely discredit the concept of faith in one short chapter. Still, Zuersher investigates enough theological doctrine and historical research to offer a serviceable argument. It may serve as a first step for those just beginning to feel out their doubts in Christianity. Some of Zuersher’s arguments, particularly in the latter “Evidence” half of the book, offer valuable historical context on Christianity’s early days.
A fine introductory text for readers with a budding interest in secular ideology.