(Photo: Ben Ian May, Courtesy of RZIM)
A world-renowned apologist, a nationally syndicated radio show host and a famous comedian teamed up to address "The Death of Truth and the Decline of Culture" at a Georgia church on Thursday.
The event, held at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Ga., was hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and featured talks by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias and Jewish radio host Dennis Prager. More than 2,300 people packed into the church's auditorium for the event and thousands more watched via the Internet, a Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) spokesperson told CP.
Zacharias illustrated the importance of truth by telling how he once witnessed part of a trial in which a man had been accused of rape by two young girls. When the defense attorney questioned the girls, however, he created doubt that the man actually committed the crime. Zacharias left the trial unsure of the truth.
The man may have been guilty or he may have been falsely accused, he said, but the truth was essential to making sure justice was done.
"In one court case it was critical we knew the truth – how about life itself in its origin, meaning, morality and destiny?" said Zacharias.
The general view of truth has changed several times since the 16th century. Rationalism, empiricism and existentialism eventually gave way to post-modernism, he said, "which concluded there was no such thing as truth, no such thing as meaning, no such thing as certainty."
The consequences of the post-modern understanding of truth, said Zacharias, include the removal of God from the public square and the erosion of morality.
"Now right and wrong is defined as being politically correct," he said.
Prager criticized the idea that society can be ethical without God by referring to such a view as "cut-flower ethics." A flower may look vibrant and alive for a while after it is cut from its soil, he explained, but eventually it will die. In the same way, he said, "Ethics cut from their religious soul wither and die."
He also said he learned as a boy that he sometimes must take a certain course of action regardless of his mood, though many people today do just the opposite.
"We live in the age of mood, the age of feelings," said Prager. "There are no directives. There is no commander. There are no commandments. How do you feel about it? That's all that determines how one acts."
When asked what he thought the greatest lie facing today's culture was, Zacharias said it is the belief that pleasure alone can bring a person happiness.
"So pleasure without God, without the sacred boundaries, will actually leave you emptier than before," he said. "And this is biblical truth, this is experiential truth. The loneliest people in the world are amongst the wealthiest and most famous who found no boundaries within which to live. That is a fact I've seen again and again."
In addition to the importance of knowing the truth, Zacharias says the way a person presents the truth to others is also vital. He recently spoke at Dartmouth College, he said, where he was approached after his talk by a young woman who said she was a skeptic. She told him she was seriously considering what he had said, however, due to the manner in which he answered the audience's questions.
"Truth that is not undergirded by love makes the truth obnoxious and the possessor of it repulsive," said Zacharias.
Foxworthy, who said he lives about a mile from Perimeter Church, opened the event with some jokes and moderated the question and answer portion of the discussion.