Veritas Forum at Dartmouth: Tolerance Under Fire

Veritas Forum at Dartmouth: Tolerance Under Fire

>>And I like to welcome you to the
Veritas Forum at Dartmouth College. The Veritas Forum is an opportunity for
the Dartmouth community to come together and explore life’s hardest questions. The students and the in campus ministers who
have planned this forum are inspired by the idea that Jesus Christ has something relevant
to offer our institution in its search for knowledge, truth and significance. With that inspiration, we welcome those
who bring other backgrounds, perspectives and commitments to the table, and we honor all
questions just as we bring questions of our own and our hope is that the Veritas Forum will not
just be an economic exchange of ideas but rather that it will come out of real community, earnestly exploring questions
of real importance. We hope tonight’s events will draw all of its
participants into real conversations, questions, discussions, stories and friendship. The Veritas Forum at Dartmouth College is
sponsored by Agape Christian Fellowship, Aquinas House, Atheist Humanist Agnostics
of Dartmouth, Christ Redeemer Church, Christian Union, Crew-Dartmouth, The C.S Lewis
Society, Day Foundation, Dartmouth Apologia, Dartmouth faculty and staff, Christian
Fellowship Eleazar Wheelock Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the
Navigators, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Office of Religious and
Spiritual Life of the Tucker Foundation, the Waterman Institute and
Wellspring Worship Center. We’re grateful for all the
students, professors, campus minsters and alumni who helped create this forum. Before we continue I’m going to ask
you to dim the lights on your phones. We’re not going to ask them to turn them off
because we will be using them through the Forum, and I’m also going to ask you to locate
your nearest exit in case of an emergency. Also, if you would like to take
pictures, please, no flash. You are welcome to try and take pictures, but there will be pictures
posted online at a later date. During the first few minutes of the
presentation, I’m going to encourage you to fill out the cards that are on your seats. How about let’s fill it out together. The first question is your role on campus. My role on campus is staff
member, recent graduate. Your childhood background. My childhood background, Molus Christian. My current orientation is Christian as well. Now, if you locate the next question, it says send me a one-time survey
and enter me to win an iPad. So what do you have to lose? So if you can give us your email address. And what’s your biggest question after
tonight’s Veritas-Forum, this you have the rest of the forum to fill out, and you
can leave your card on your seat and we’ll collect them at the end. We want everyone to fill out the Fullop
Survey, which will be e-mailed to you, whatever your background or beliefs, because the
survey helps us create forums that are relevant, thought-provoking and engaging
for our entire campus. We need your feedback to make next
year even better than this one, so please take a minute to
make sure you fill that out. We promise we won’t spam you. So before we begin, we’d
like to start with a poll. If you try to persuade me to change
my beliefs, you’re being intolerant. If you agree it’s arrogant to think you
found the truth, text arrogant to 22333. If you agree it’s tolerant to tell
me I’m wrong, text in intolerant. Disagree, it’s respectful to
acknowledge differences, respectful. Disagree, it’s loving if you’re
trying to help your friend, you can see the responses coming in. [ Background noise ] How insightful is this, don’t you think? [ Background noise ] Keep the responses coming. I know there’s more than 59 of you out there. [ background noise ] Universities today talk a great
deal about the need for tolerance. Tolerance demands only that you peacefully
co-exist with others, text co-existing, that you don’t judge others, don’t judge, that
you don’t tell others what they should believe, don’t tell, that you affirm all
worldviews as equally legitimate. [ Background noise ] Give you a few more seconds. [ Background noise ] Dartmouth is a diverse community. What’s required to create a respectful
community in the face of differences? We should affirm all worldviews and positions
are equally true, we should never try to persuade anyone to change their beliefs,
we should listen to others’ beliefs, but that doesn’t make them true, we should
actively discuss worldviews in pursuit of truth. [ Background noise ] How do you wish conversation
at Dartmouth can be described? Text conversation and the word that you
would use to describe or you wish described, conversation here at Dartmouth, and we’ll see
responses in a word cloud as they come in. [ Background noise ] Okay. Throughout the talk, we want you to
be thinking of questions that are relevant to today’s discussion, so if
you have a question text ASKRAVI and your question to the same number. We’re going to leave the number out
here, so you can have it for a reference, but a friendly reminder, if you can put your
phones on silence and also dim the lights as to not interfere with the lecture. With that said, it is now my privilege
to introduce our presenter for tonight. Ravi Zacharias is a noted Christian
thinker and apologist to speak about pluralism, tolerance and peace. For 35 years, Ravi Zacharias has spoken all over
the world and in numerous universities; notably, Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford University. He has addressed world leaders on the topics
of peace and pluralism on many occasions, and he’s the author of numerous books,
including: Can Man Live Without God?, Jesus Among Other Gods, and the Lotus
and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. He has been privileged to speak at the
National Day of Prayer, the Pentagon, the United Nations’ Annual Prayer Breakfast, and First Annual Prayer Breakfast
for African Leaders. He’s presently Senior Research
Fellow and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England. Please help me welcome Ravi Zacharias. [ Applause ]>>Ravi Zacharias: Thank you very much. Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you, thank you. I hope you feel the same when it’s
over, just nice to be welcomed into this beautiful auditorium on such an
enormous theme, and I’m just fascinated by how the technology puts
together everything so quickly so we immediately know what
everybody is thinking, and almost hearing people change their minds. Now, that’s as incredible as it gets. The evening will be as follows: I will
present my talk for about 45 minutes. Interestingly enough, let me give
you at least a one-line description, because it’ll add to the theme of today. My ancestors came from the highest caste
of the Hindu priesthood in the deep south. I myself became a follower of Jesus in my teens. I mention all of that to say because at the
end of my talk I’ll be joined for a Q&A session by Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, who hails — actually
his parents actually hail from Pakistan, and he is formerly a Muslim and
now a follower of Christ himself. And I find it incredible when I think of
this, because I was born and raised in India, and if there’s any point of tension
in India today, it is the whole issue of the Indo-Park conflict,
all that goes on and rages. I’ve just returned from India a few days ago,
and here we are, two of us, talking on the issue of tolerance in an American University campus,
two brown faces coming up onto the platform to speak to an audience like this. Only in America could we have such a
privilege accorded, and hopefully what follows from a discussion can also be of great meaning. It reminds me of the guy, of the gentleman
who walked into a room and he was from Japan, walked into this dining room and there
was a table at the front and he sat down. An Englishman looking at him thought
maybe he would help him a bit, so when the Japanese gentleman sat
down and was opening a book of his, the English gentleman looked at him and picked
up the spoon and said, “This be spoony.” And then he took the knife and
said, “And this be knifey,” and “this be forky,” “this be platey.” And the Japanese gentleman kept nodding. The end of the lunch, the
shock of the Englishman, the Japanese was the keynote speaker. And he delivered the talk in
flawless English, sat down and looked at the Englishman and said, “You likey speechy?” I feel a little bit like that today, although
I’m not sure you’ll likey the speechy. But it’s just wonderful to have a privilege
of being in such a distinguished institution. Thank you to all of the groups that have made it
possible for me to be here, for your kindness, your warm invitation, and when Nabeel joins
me, truly inspired to hear from a man like him, a medical doctor by training but
picked up other degrees along the way. He is part of my team now, and I
think you’ll on a team of tolerance, I thought it would be just exciting to
have some of his perspectives as well. I was raised an Indian minority, both
living in the North, coming from the South, and by virtue of my faith, India’s
of course 80% Hindu, 10% Muslim. The Christian population at that time
was less than 2%, more like 4% now, so growing up in those settings, you get
accustomed to believing in a counterperspective or learning to live in a pluralistic
society is a constant challenge. I returned from Indian last week, and amazingly
to find audiences packed in every case, whether it is a business community
or the acting world of Bollywood, or whether it was the medical
school in the South in Valor, every setting to have a packed audience,
asking questions about faith, about purpose, about meaning and what it
really means to be human. Once upon a time I’d be standing in
front of Indian audiences like that, terrified because I knew my worldview would
be quite dramatically different to that of the audience in front of me, and now
when you stand up and speak of those, notably I’ve a few times I’ve done it with the
Bollywood world, how they will lean forward, listen, interact, ask some of the brightest
questions, and it is a marvelous example of what it is to be able to discuss
issues of such incredibly importance, some of which could actually go deep into the
consciences laying claim to that conscience, but to do it in a civil way without
rancor, without hate and without that sense of bitterness that oftentimes
disagreements can spawn. So I hope whatever happens tonight, that
one thing that we can see accomplished is that at the end of it around your tables
or in your homes or in your classroom, that these issues can be
discussed without that hostility, because let’s ask ourselves
one fundamental question: What is the ultimate goal
in a civilized society? Is it really that we will
all agree with each other? I doubt it. That is really to pursue the impossible, but
what is possible is that even in the midst of our disagreement, we will learn to live in a
civil way as deep as those differences might be. I have learned to live that way. I’ve learned to be in audiences like that. Many times I’m in Islamic universities. I know how tense those audiences will be. I remember a few years ago being in the oldest
Islamic university of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, and in front of that audience with mullahs
and scholars sitting in the front row, having to speak for one hour in the defense
of my faith, and I tell you the truth, at the end of it when I walked in the professor of world religions there was Professor Baharudin
specializing in Islamics, and her actual words to me were: “If it were not improper, I
would lean over and give you an embrace and give you a hug for the way the
subject matter was handled today.” And I said “Professor Baharudin, that’s
the best complement you can give to me.” So whether it’s in a Buddhist framework or
a Hindu framework or an Islamic framework, or a secular framework, this is my calling, and
if there is any way in which I have offended you without warrant or without meaning to come
across in the way I did, please do not hesitate to let me know, because that is not my intent. My intent is to get us thinking
seriously and in a sober-minded way, because America’s at the crossroads. The America and the North America into
which I came in my 20s is very different to the North America of today, and one has to
be incredibly cautious as one word can create such turmoil and go viral within minutes
and create havoc for everybody — that does not really benefit
the subject matter at all. So please as we present it, we want to do
it with sensitivity and if there are points of deep tension, what I would want more
than anything else is for you to let us know so that we know at least that we are
standing on a clear ground of communication. In the 1980s there was an article
written in Atlantic Monthly in which America was being discussed as a
country on a dramatically different course to how far it had come in prior years. So 1980s was the year the sociologists were
beginning to really delineate all the changes that were taking place, and the article written
by Daniel Yankelovich, began with a definition of culture, and this is how he worded it:
“Culture is an effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential situations that confront all human beings
in the passage of their lives.” So when you take that statement alone, you
see that it is setting before us the course of coherence as the goal to
answer the existential questions, meaning the felt questions, the heart and the
mind as they are bridged, to find a coherent set of answers to the existential questions that
confront all of us in the passage of our lives. That is the goal of what culture is
intended to be as Yankelovich and Bell and other social theorists were commenting. But then they went on to say this: “We are in
the midst of a cultural revolution in America,” and they were looking at the previous
two decades from the ’60s into the ’80s. And here’s what they said, “A
genuine cultural revolution then, is one that makes a decisive break with the
shared meanings of the past, particularly those which relate to the deepest questions of
the purpose and nature of human life.” A cultural revolution is under way when you
make a decisive break from the shared meaning of the past, particularly on the issues
of the purpose and meaning and life, and they said that decisive break had taken
place from the shared meanings of the past, a cultural revolution was in full sway. As they began to discuss the various issues that
were causing this dissonance and the discord in a fascinating end to the
article, here’s what he does. He goes and surveys individuals and
couples to come to the conclusion as to what it is they now really
felt on the heels of this revolution that had begun two decades earlier. And here’s one couple by
the name of Abbey and Mark, and this is the way Yankelovich summarized
it: “If you feel it is imperative to fill all of your needs, and if these needs are
contradictory or in conflict with those of others, or simply unfillable, then frustration inevitably follows,
to Abbey and to Mark as well. Self-fulfillment means having a career and
marriage and children and sexual freedom and autonomy and being liberal and having
money and choosing non-conformity and insisting on social justice and enjoying city life and
country living and simplicity and graciousness and reading and good friends and on and on. But the individual is not truly fulfilled
by becoming ever more autonomous, indeed, to move too far in this direction is to risk
psychosis, the ultimate form of autonomy.” And then he ends with these incredible words:
“The injunction that defined one’s self, one must lose one’s self contains a truth any
seeker of self-fulfillment needs to grasp. The injunction that defined one’s self one must
lose one’s self contains a truth any seeker of self-fulfillment needs to grasp.” Now, if the social theorists in studying
all the cultural shifts that were under way, come to this conclusion that in the end you
cannot really pursue contradictorily fulfilling passions, you will end up with a collapse
from within if you attempt to do that, and he says what really matters then at that
point is that the breakdown within reveals to you that if you want to find
yourself, you have to give up some things. You have to lose yourself, and it
is a truth that’s very hard for us in North America to come to terms with. Now, what’s true of Mark and
Abbey is true of a family. What’s true of a family is true of a community,
what’s true of a community is true of a culture. The statement is positively clear, that in order
to find one’s self one must lose one’s self, contains a truth any seeker of
self-fulfillment needs to grasp. Now, here it is, he’s laying down a
truth in the pursuit of self-fulfillment. And I think it is critical we understand that
if this great nation is to survive the nobility and the dignity of the intent with which it’s
started, then sacrifices will have to be made from anybody in all ways of thinking, and to
come to the terms that we simply cannot have it in every way in all of our
longings and all of our fulfillment. It will never be so, for they
are contradictory in pursuit. Now, I want to help you travel with me for
the last 30 to 40 years when this change came, and describe three moods that took over. The first two are very critical
entry points for culture. Nothing wrong with the entry point. It is it the exit point that has created
dangers which is where therefore we need to take a step back to redefine what
we actually mean by the entry point. There are three moods that began to take over. Writers were dealing with it, and the secular
city was being penned, and all the descriptions of a secularized worldview
were becoming front and center. And so the first mood that
took over very radically in articulation was the mood
called secularization. What do I mean by that? Secularization is the process by
which religious ideas, institutions and interpretations are losing
their social significance. It’s a process by which religious
ideas, institutions and interpretations are losing
their social significance. Very readily, if you take any volatile issue
of our time that’s socially really divisive and you put a panel in front of
you and you’ve got a psychologist or a highly educated philosopher or
a social theorist, a medical doctor, a university president, a lawyer, and
put a minister in the midst of that and the discussion is under way, to an
average person sitting in the audience, the skeptic will say the
minister is the most prejudiced of the whole group by virtue
of being in ministry. The assumption will be made that everyone
else is quite objective, has done his or her philosophical or theoretical homework
and there’s no degree of subjectivity there, only the religiously minded
person is being subjective. I have a colleague of mine
sitting in the audience right now. She went to a very prestigious
university here in the United States, and in one of her lectures the professor was
constantly on an assault of the Christian faith. Now, I find that very fascinating. I know that same professor would never do it
with Hinduism or with Buddhism or with Islam, certainly not with Islam because he probably
may not be making too many more speeches on the subject. It’s true, because they will not
take the offense of attempting to blaspheme that which they consider sacred. Richard Dawkins, if he really had the
courage about all his antitheistic thinking, ought to stand up in audiences where he
sees the kind of hostility that he vents with his worldview and find out that
all not worldviews are created equal. But this young student was sitting
in the class and raised her hand, and she says to the professor:
“I don’t appreciate it. You are constantly attacking that which is
sacred to me,” and what does she get in return? She is sent to the Dean’s office. So she goes over to the Dean’s office,
and she says, “I don’t know why I’m here.” He says, “Because you’re being
disruptive in the classroom.” She said, “I’m not being
disruptive in the classroom. I’m just taking issue with the fact that in
a totally unrelated discipline and subject, he constantly finds a reason to
attack that which is my faith. I just don’t see the connection.” And he says to her: “You
are here for an education.” She says, “I’m not getting an education
in this, I’m being indoctrinated.” He said, “No, ma’am, you’ve got this all wrong. For 18 years in your home and your
family, you have been indoctrinated. We are now going to educate you.” [ Background noise ] I dare the same professor to try the
track and stack in some other settings. You see, nothing is accomplished by that. But what has really happened
in the mix of secularization is that we’ve got this whole mindset where if you
have a religious worldview you’re automatically living by quote, “faith,” and if
you’ve got a naturalistic framework, you’re automatically living by reason. It is interesting that the framers of the
documents of this country signed the documents with this statement: “We put our
names with our sacred honor.” “With our sacred honor” – that’s not a
scientific statement, that’s a statement that your honor and your integrity are at stake
when you’re putting your name to a document and all the ideas with which
you wish to shape this country. I find it absolutely staggering. I’ve been invited repeatedly to China and back
again to lecture, and the education system in China is asking people like
myself to come and talk on ethics, and they will openly tell you that they know
the impact of the Judao-Christian worldview within American culture that has kept
that culture somehow cohesive and strong and ethically finding its norms, and
that’s all they really want from here, how to build that ethical
cohesiveness within a Marxist framework. Fascinating that they see the need of
an ethical cohesiveness for it all. But as I look and watch the changes
taking place, where does this get us off? What is the exit point, and writers
are incredibly insightful and incisive in the way they are actually
portraying what has happened. I’ve always believed that the Scottish
philosophical activist, Andrew Fletcher, in the 1800s, made the comment, “Thus,” he
said, “let me write the songs of a nation. I don’t care who writes its laws. It’s the poets and the lyricists
who will get to the heart of the issue much more quickly
than the theorists would.” And here’s what one writer
in England, Steven Turner, tongue in cheek, has to say about the West. He said, “What do we believe? What is our creed? We believe in Marx, Freud, and Darwin. We believe everything is okay as long as you
don’t hurt anyone to the best of your definition of hurt and to the best of
your definition of knowledge. We believe in sex before,
during and after marriage. We believe in the therapy of sin. We believe that adultery is fun. We believe that only taboos are taboo. We believe that everything is getting
better despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence must be investigated, and
you can prove anything with evidence. We believe there’s something in
horoscopes, UFOs, and bent spoons. Jesus was a good man, just like
Buddha, Muhammad and ourselves. He was a good moral teacher, although we think
some of his good morals were basically bad. We believe that all religions are really the
same, at least the ones that we read were. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God and salvation. We believe that after death comes the nothing because when you ask the dead
what happens they say, ‘Nothing.’ If death is not the end and if the dead have
lied, then it’s compulsory heaven for all, excepting perhaps Hitler,
Stalin and Genghis Khan. We believe in Masters and Johnson,
what’s selected as average, what’s average is normal, what’s normal is good. We believe in total disarmament, we believe
there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed, Americans should
beat their guns into tractors, and the Russian would be sure to follow. We believe that man is essentially good,
it’s only his behavior that lets him down. This is the fault of society,
society is the fault of conditions, conditions are the fault of society. We believe that each man must find
the truth that is right for him and reality will adapt accordingly, the
universe will readjust, history will alter. We believe that there is no absolute truth, excepting for the truth that
there is no absolute truth. We believe in the rejection of creeds
and the flowering of individual thought.” And then he adds this post-script:
“”If chance be the Father of all flesh, Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Whites go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man
worshiping his maker.” “If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky, And when you hear State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Whites go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man
worshiping his maker.” Where do we get off with this? Where do we exit when we make
secularization with an upper case S to evict all religious thought and all
religious belief in the public square, which is really often what happens. Where do we get off? I’ll tell you what happens. The definitions to which we cling will
become extremely elusive till we do not know where to draw the lines of difference anymore. I give the illustration in the 1980s of Larry
Flint being brought to trial in Atlanta, Georgia — Atlanta’s been
my home for 25 years now — and Larry Flint’s pornography was
considered so bad that even those who are discussing it would say it made Playboy
Magazine look very normal and very acceptable. The perversions and all that were going on in
his magazines, and so he was taken to court. But the lawyer defending
him had a very clever ploy. The clever ploy was basically something
like this: Asking a potential juror first if they had gone to church, and if they’d ever
gone to church then they didn’t qualify to be on the jury because they’d be prejudiced. But once they got selected, he would quiz them
thus: Have you ever gone into an art gallery? Yes. Have you ever paid to
go into an art gallery? Yes. Have you ever paid to
go into an art gallery to see the paintings of the
great masters of art? Yes. Have you paid to do that and go in and see
those paintings sometimes of disrobed people? Yes. Would you explain now to this
— he would ask the witness — would you explain to this jury why you
paid to do that and you called it art and you call my client’s stuff pornography? So bring the witness up,
ask him all these questions. You paid to go into an art
gallery where you saw paintings of disrobed people, and you called it art. Explain to this jury why you call that art and
why you call my client’s stuff pornography? And of course, you don’t get into a
philosophical debate at that point. But I thought to myself, you
know, it’s a good question. It’s a loaded question, I can’t minimize it, but
if I sat across that lawyer in a conversation, a cup of coffee in hand and he asked
me the same question, I’d ask him, “Have you read the biography of Michelangelo?” Michelangelo was beginning to do that and
his law teacher wanted just to caution him for his motive and being circumspect, and
he looked at my young Michelangelo and said to him: “Why are you doing this?” Michelangelo said, “Because I
want to see man as God sees man.” And he says, “That’s right,
just remember, you’re not God.” Tuck that in the back of
your mind and move to this. C.S. Lewis and his book “A Pilgrim’s
Regress,” talking about his own conversion. He calls it a Pilgrim’s Regress rather
than progress, because he was confronted with pantheism, with naturalism, all of that
along the way, and kept rejecting them one by one, this great mind, this great
scholar, but he didn’t know why. He said, until he came to have
that relationship with Christ and he took a regressive journey
because he had the answers. In this book allegorically he talks of the time
he was in humanism by the Spirit of the Age in the mountain called the Spirit of the Age,
and he pictures himself bound in shackles in the Spirit of the Age,
fascinating picture that here he is in the humanistic framework
picturing himself enslaved, almost like what somebody today
would describe like a Boris Becker, the writer’s recently released
book, Life is Not a Game. You unshackle yourself by some of your habits. And so what sort was Lewis
referring to himself as John. And at one point the waiter brings
him a tray with his breakfast, unshackles him to give him his breakfast, and
he enjoys the milk and commons on the tastiness and the nourishing flavor of this milk. And the waiter smiles at him and he says “You
only call it nourishing, you only call it tasty? It’s a secretion of a cow, isn’t it? It secretes urine, it secretes milk. That’s all it is is a secretion
of a cow that you’re enjoying.” He nearly gags over that. And then he said “I made the
mistake of commenting on the eggs, till the waiter reminded me what they were. And he said, “I don’t know what to do. The tray is taken from me, I’m
in shackels again,” he said “all of a sudden reason comes riding on a horse and
rescues me,” and says to the man of the Spirit of the Age, “You lie because you don’t know
the difference between what nature has meant for nourishment and what
nature has meant for garbage. You don’t know the difference between
what nature has meant for nourishment and what nature has meant for refuse.” You see, for the man or the
woman in front of the lens of the camera whose body is being used
purely to titilate the fanciful imagination of somebody who’s buying into it, whose
mind will be so assaulted in a way that no human being in this world would
have the capacity of ever satisfying. Where it’s a feeling that is pursued, where
it’s an imagination that has been assaulted. A person sitting in front of the lens of that
camera ought to say, don’t do this to me, don’t do this to me, for the person won’t, because when secularization
has done its full work, it’ll produce a generation devoid of shame. That’s the question we need to ask
of the exit point of our culture: Are there issues in our lives that ought
to bring shame, that ought to bring guilt, that ought to bring some sense of remorse? My daughter, Naomi, works with rescuing
women from the sex traffic industry, and she just a wee little thing
and I’m terrified sometimes when I see her going on these trips. She’ll go into Amsterdam
into the Red Light District. They know her there now, she’ll go in and ask for just a few minutes,
they’ll turn that red light off. They’re just being carted back and forth
from countries by men who own them, using them till they’re in their 20s or late
20s and they’re done and finished and gone with. In Thailand, they’re brought in from the
time in their early teens, by 21 or 22, a high percentage of them
with AIDS just discarded. If a person doesn’t know the difference
between art and pornography or the peddling of the human body for the
sake of some momentary thrill, then secularization has done its deadly work
and it’s reminded you and me at that point that if no transcendent moral ethic
is brought to bear upon the nature of what we are essentially meant to be, then
there’s nothing to stop this slide down and and down and down, reminding me of
the words of Hitler in Auschwitz: “I want to raise a generation of
young people devoid of a conscience, imperious, relentless and cruel.” You know, I spoke at Angola
Prison some months ago. It is a prison where 85% of them are on
life without parole, 45 on death row. When you went into prison there years ago,
it was the bloodiest prison in the country. You would see blood marks they tell me on
the walls, on the carpets, on the ceiling and when you were checked in as a prisoner
you were given a knife to defend yourself. I’ll tell you what happened in change — that’s not germane to what I want to
say to you right now except this — when I walked into the room where
they are executed, I’ll tell you what, every bone within your body is reacting,
every fiber is reacting within you wondering, could you ever be the one
to turn that switch on? And the chaplain was telling me he
doesn’t go to those rooms anymore. He can’t stand the thought of it, because
he watches the prisoner lying there and the phone was it going to ring at the last
minute for a reprieve of some sort and a stay. He said “The last one I saw
a man was on death’s row for having raped and murdered his own daughter. And the wife was sitting behind glass
watching the execution about to take place.” He said, “I just about broke down completely
when he turned his head towards his wife, in that last second and just said, ‘I’m
sorry.'” You know, there’s a sliver of a ray of hope there, just a sliver of a ray of hope. The man just turned and said, okay,
like Eichmann did, not a problem, walks to the gallows saying, “It’s all okay. I don’t believe in any of
this after life stuff.” Think carefully, where do we want
to get off with secularization if there is no transcendent world there that
is going to be allowed in the public square, if nothing like that is going to be tolerated
by virtue of the fact that it believes in thought that is branded religious. Second is pluralization. Pluralization is where there’s a competing
number of worldviews available to its members, and no one worldview is dominant. A competing number of worldviews available to
its members and no one worldview is dominant. Now, I want you to know, I think
pluralization is the best way in which society ought to function. I am a privileged visitor to North America. When I was 20 years old, I never left home. I was a home guy, my older brother was 22, I was 20 and my father bought us both
tickets to go to Toronto, Canada. He said, “go and find a job there,
find a living there,” he told me to go and find a university education and somehow
earn on part-time, just left us on our own. We had $400 in our pocket, that’s it. The government of India wouldn’t allow
you any more foreign exchange than that. So the first few days we are
literally living on one hot dog and Coke a day till we found a job somewhere. And I come into this world all of
a sudden and I think to myself, “What a great privilege Canada has given me. I’m here as a guest. They don’t owe me this.” And at that time in Canada there were 500
Indians in the city of Toronto in mid 1960s. I was one of the 500. Today when you go to Toronto,
there’s 500,000, in Toronto alone. When I first came if you saw an Indian
across the street you’d cross and talk and go and have a kahana, chai —
let’s go and have a cup of tea. If I did that in Toronto today
I’d never get anywhere — completely change, completely changed. Pluralization, as somebody
described Los Angeles, where on the side of the road there’s a
cart where a Korean is selling kosher tacos. That’s pluralization of cuisine. I think pluralization of cuisine is absolutely
delightful, because when I arrived in Toronto, they had only one Indian restaurant, and
it was an apology for Indian cuisine. When I went there, I said I
would never like this stuff, too, and I told them you really should
change this to imaginary cuisine. It’s not Indian cuisine. Today some of the best Indian
restaurants in the world are in Toronto. People ask me, “Why do Indians die so young?” I said, “Because God’s getting
them up there quicker to prepare the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. When we get there the food
is going to be Indian. Indian cuisine, one American
Englishman described it to me as a hunk and a sip and a chunk and a blow. The hot pepper just gets to you but my, what a foretaste of all the
glories that could lie ahead. Burundi cuisine is fascinating. You know, when I was 26, I married Margi. She’s from Canada. There were two other Indian guys
who also married Canadian girls, and we used to meet once a month or whenever
we could and we called it the Zebra Fellowship. If you’re from India, your wives are from
Canada, it was so rare to see that happening. So much has changed, and
wonderfully for the better. Take a look at the faculties around
the world today and see the number of Indian doctors and Indian engineers. It’s a great thing to experience this. Pluralization is a marvelous thing in society,
and the world salutes America and Canada and parts of Europe for opening the doors to get
the privilege given to people from other parts of the world to come and enjoy the
goodness of the land, so I thank you. Here’s what I want to say: If pluralization is
ever extrapolated into meaning moral relativism, then the exit point is deadly again. If secularization leads you to no point of
reference for shame, nothing can be branded as shameful, then pluralization lives with the
danger that ultimately there is no absolute. There is no reason, there is no rationality,
there are no boundaries, there are no absolutes. Once again, the musicians point this out to us. King Crimson, Cat’s foot iron
claw Neuro-surgeons scream for more At paranoia’s poison door. Twenty first century schizoid man. Blood rack barbed wire Polititians’
funeral pyre Innocents raped with napalm fire Twenty first
century schizoid man. The wall on which the prophets wrote Is
cracking at the seams Upon the instruments of death The sunlight brightly gleams
Will no one lay the laurel wreath As silence drowns the screams Between the iron
gates of fate, The seeds of time are sown, And watered by the deeds of those Who know and
who are known; Knowledge is a deadly friend When no one sets the rules The fate
of all mankind I see Is in the hands of fools Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path If we make it we can all sit back and laugh,
But I’m afraid tomorrow I’ll be crying. G. K. Chesterton says the same thing in a
more poignant and a more powerful passage, and when I read that to you you’ll find few
have articulated it with such brilliance. Here’s what he says — listen carefully,
speaking to the rebel who wants to rebel against all more absolutes
— listen to what he says. “The new rebel is a skeptic and
will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty, therefore he can never
be a true revolutionist and the fact that he doubts anything gets in his
way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies
a moral doctrine of some kind, and the modern revolutionist doubts
not only the institution he denounces but the doctrine by which he denounces it.” So he writes one book complaining that imperial
oppression insults the purity of women, then he write another book, a novel
in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because
Christian girls lose their virginity, then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician he cries out that war is
a waste of life, then as a philosopher that life itself is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce
a policeman for killing a peasant, then prove by the highest
philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, then denounces aristocratic
profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bubble, then blames
the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bubble. The man of this school goes first to
a political meeting where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts,
then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting where he proves
that they’re practically are beasts; in short, the modern revolutionists being an
infinite skeptic is always engaged in undermining his own minds. In his book on politics he attacks men for
trampling on morality; in his book on ethics, he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore, the modern man in revolt has become
practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything. He’s lost his right to rebel against anything. Pretty powerful stuff, pretty powerful language. I’ll never forget — I’ll give
this my illustration here, then move to my final thought quickly here — I was in California once doing a series
of lectures and a professor came up to me, and he was quite strident and
quite loud and quite hostile. And he says to me, “I want
you to speak one night” — this is an American gentleman talking
to me — “on why you’re not a Hindu?” I said, “I won’t speak on that.” He said, “I dare you to do it.” He said, “I dare you to do it. Because I have become one myself
and I teach that in my class, I’ll bring my whole class in philosophy. If you speak on that subject,
I will bring all of them and they’ll rip you to shreds afterwards.” I thought that’s supposed to be an enticing
invitation for me to reign in on the subject. I said, “No, I won’t buy it.” I said, “I’ll tell you what
I’ll do, bring your whole class, I will speak on why I am a
Christian and if you want to tear me to shreds after that we can do it.” He said, “Well, I don’t like that, but
if that’s what you want to do, okay.” They came. You could just tell which was the philosophy
section in the auditorium that night. So at the end of my defense on talking
about the law of noncontradiction and why that mutually exclusive truths cannot
both be accepted without some qualification and why the claims of all of these worldviews,
not just Christianity, Hinduism is exclusive, Buddhism is exclusive, Islam is — they all
lay claim to that, I said, so don’t just put it in one direction, and it’s reasonable that
a claim would have to claim exclusivity; the question is whether it can be defended. So when I finished my talk on my
defense of the Christian faith, he came up to the front and
he began by saying this. “You have done the greatest damage to this
worldview that I’ve ever heard any man do in this, and that’s because you really
don’t understand Eastern philosophy.” I said, “All right, sir. Let me stop you right there. I’m not going to get into it with
you here, because you’re going to try to impress your students; I’m
going to try to impress them, we’re going to lose truth along the way. I want to get to the truth.” I said, “Let’s go out for a meal,
you pay, I’ll pray, and we’ll talk.” And so he agreed. He said, “Can I bring the
professor of psychology with me?” I was sure at that point because he
wanted us to be studied by somebody else. So the three of us went out. And we go out and this professor of
philosophy starts bit of stock — his opening line was flawed, but
you don’t stop anybody that soon. He looked at me and he said, “There
are only two kinds of logic” — he’s dead wrong but I didn’t stop him. And then he goes on to explain. “There is this either/or kind of logic, the
law of noncontradiction, either this or that. It is a Western way of thinking.” I said, “No, it’s not.” He said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “No, it’s not.” He said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “No, it’s not.” He said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “All right. Move on.” He said, “Then we move
to the both/and kind of logic. It is not either this or
that, both this and that. The thesis spawning its antithesis,
you come together for a synthesis. What Marx used in his dialectical materialism. He said Eastern philosophy uses it in its
pursuit of Nirvana and Moksha and all of that, so for them it is not either this
or that, it is both this and that. It’s an Eastern way of thinking.” I said, “No, it isn’t.” He said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “No, it’s not.” He said, “Yes, it is.” He said, “what do you mean, not it’s not?” I said, “Keep going.” So he finished. I said, “Are you finished?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “So you told me the either/or, the law of noncontradiction
is a Western way of thinking. The both/and, the dialectical way of
thinking is the Eastern way of thinking, and what you have told me is that the
reason I have debunked every other worldview that moves a dialectical way is
because I don’t understand it. You told me that if I understand the fact that you can accept contradictory
statements I would never do away with these kinds of thinking. I should understand their logic first and
for them both/and applies, not either/or. So you have to take contradiction
and accept it.” I said, “That’s what you’re saying?” He said, “Yes.” He had taken all the placemats
and drawn out his argument. In the Western we have thinking either/or,
Eastern we have thinking both/and, and I’m really doing injustice
to the Eastern way of thinking, because I should be content with contradiction. I said, “Sir, I just have one question for you. You’re telling me when I study this worldview, I either used the both/and system
or nothing else; is that right?” I either used the both/and logic
or nothing else; is that right? He had only just started doing it. And he put his knife and fork down, and
I quote — here’s what he says to me. “The either/or does seem to emerge, doesn’t it?” And the professor of psychology
said, “I think we can go now.” I said, “I want to tell you something, sir. Even in India, we look both
ways before we cross the street. It is either the bus or me, not both of us.” [ Background noise ] I said, “You don’t understand,
either Shankara or Gautama Buddha. If Gautama Buddha believed in the both/and,
explain to me why it was he was born a Hindu and walked away from Hinduism and
started his own pursuit of enlightenment. Why couldn’t you take both/and? Why did Shankara write his dissertation
and his theses on the exclusivity of the Vedic literature and so on. You see, ladies and gentlemen,
truth has a jagged edge. It ultimately will stab you
if you try to walk against it. Winston Churchill said the most
valuable thing in the world is the truth. It is so valuable that often it
is hidden by a bodyguard of lies. Andrei Sakharov, correction, Natan Sharansky,
former Justice Minister of the Soviet Union, went back to Israel to the former place where
he had been imprisoned in solitary confinement. He took his wife, and as he went back to the
prison, his wife was about to go with him, he said, “Could you stand
out for a moment, please? I want to go in alone.” He said, “Because I sat there
for day after day after day, dark in that dungeon, where
I really found myself.” And Sharansky went there and wept and wept,
thinking of how they nearly destroyed him. But as he came out, he asked if he
could go to the grave of Andre Sakharov, the physicist who gave Russia the atomic bomb. And the media followed him, and he went and laid
a wreath at Sakharov’s grave, and he came back and said, “The reason I have done this
is because of what Sakharov said to me.” He said, “I always thought the most
powerful weapon in the world was the bomb. I have changed my mind. The most powerful weapon
in the world is the truth.” Does America want the truth? With pluralization, which is a
good thing, are we going to exit with an absolutizing of relativism? Think about it. And finally, privatization, where
what you believe in the most sacred, you’re forced to keep to the private
and never bring it in to the public. That’s where America is headed, and
with great sadness I say to you, this is the deadliest of
all mistakes we are making. Because that which is sacred to you in
private is also sacred to you in public. It ought to be a serious thing. I have learned to live with disagreement, I have learned to give people all the floor
time they want and dialoguing and defending and debating, but I’ve walked
away embracing that person and saying, truth will win out in the end. we have the right to disagree, but we
don’t have the right to be disagreeable. I’ll tell you what I’ve noticed
in 41 years of travel, and I’ll close with an illustration of here. It is this: The cancer of our
time can be described in one word: meaninglessness, meaninglessness. You talk to an average young person today, how many sexual trysts do they
really want to find fulfillment? How much money in the bank do they
really want to find fulfillment? The loneliest people in the world I have found, have been the most indulgent
ones who come away totally empty. As Chesterton said, “Meaninglessness
does not come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness comes from being wary of pain; meaninglessness comes from
being weary of pleasure.” “Meaninglessness does not
come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness comes from
being weary of pleasure.” Skeptics often tell me that is the problem of
pain that keeps them from believing in God. May I suggest to you, it
is the problem of pleasure that keeps me from being totally secular. Been there, done that, tried this. It simply doesn’t work. I recall when I was doing a Bible
study with the Atlanta Braves when they were playing the St. Louis Cardinals,
sort of 10, 12 minutes, each of the chapel, and I walked in there and I closed with this. I said to them, “You know, fellas,
there’s nothing like walking into a room and being the only one who fails the physical.” I said, “I looked at you boys, muscles bulging
like watermelons, and I walk in here…” I’ll never forget the line of my wife
once when I gave her a nice, good hug. She smiled, hugged me back and said, “you know
what, you have the arms of a thinking man.” [ Background noise ] I burst out laughing. And she said, “I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I didn’t mean, that,” oh, what a complement. What a complement. I said, “I’ll do my best to make
these the arms of a nonthinking man.” So I said, “Guys, I can’t
talk to you about baseball. You guys hit a ball long
before I know it’s even come, so I’m not going to talk to you about that. Here’s what I’m going to talk to you
about: How to live your life on the road, because I’ve probably lived that longer
than any one of you sitting in front of me.” They leaned forward and started to listen. One of the most notable players from one of
the team’s multimillion dollar contract walks up towards me and he puts his hand on the back
of my neck like this and then puts his head on my shoulder and starts to
sob and my travel assistant, knowing it was a very precious moment,
just walked away into the distance. And he looked at me and he said, “Ravi, I
have more money than I ever thought I’d have, but I want to tell you I’ve lost
everything of real value in my life. I wished I’d applied the principles
you gave us today long before.” Are we on the highway to
abandonment with pleasure without principle, pleasure without boundaries? Think about it. Think about it. You can’t have everything, can’t. Meaninglessness, is the plague of an average
university student around the globe today. I could find better ways to make living
than what I’m doing, but this is a calling. This is a conviction, and I will tell you I’ve
seen lives transformed who have taken that path and turned away from complete hedonistic paths
to a life that builds its moral boundaries with the revelation of God himself. Secularization is a good entry point. No, we do not want a theocratic culture. We do not want a state religion. That would be even worse. But secularization that does not allow
religious discourse in the public square on the Academy is going to end up
with a generation devoid of shame. Pluralization, if it doesn’t understand
the laws of logic and moral boundaries, will end up ultimately living in
systemic and systematic contradiction. It’ll weigh down, it’ll implode under
the weight of its own loose living. And finally, privatization where you sever the
public from the private and you force a person to believe all the sacred things in private
and never begin into the public square, you end up with a totally desacrilized society. In the words of Albert Camus, “The loneliest
moment is when you have just experienced that what you thought will deliver the
ultimate, and it has let you down.” So I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, if
we are going to be civil in the square, if we’re going to be respectful of each others,
we have three choices as an application: We can have a theonomous culture, a
heteronomous culture or an autonomous culture. A theonomous culture where we may
believe that God’s law is so engrained in our hearts that we all think the same way. There is no culture around like that. India is the closest thing to it,
but most cultures will not accept that because it’ll come close
to making a state religion. We don’t want a theonomous culture. we haven’t had it in history to see
it once we did away with natural law. Heteronomous culture is that which a handful
from above dictate to the masses below. Islamic states are heteronomous cultures. Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
are heteronomous cultures. They enforce the belief from
the few over the masses. In Marxism in China, Russia, the
heteronomous cultures dictating to the masses what they must believe. Theonomous, we don’t see it visible,
heteronomous is not where America needs to go, so you’ve got an autonomous culture,
autos meaning self, nomous meaning law, where we pride in our individuality. If that is true, then we must be
respectful of each person’s belief, and I must be respected for my belief, too. In the word of God, in my commitment to
Christ, and let the truth ultimately win out. If we are truly going to be
autonomous, let’s follow it through. Let’s not tell people we have an autonomous
culture, and as soon as they say they believe in God, switch to a heteronomous technique
and enforce them not to believe in the liberty of their own conscience but compel
them to believe in something else. Theonomous, heteronomous, autonomous, and
I believe the last is our option here, and in the marketplace, in the
debating square, truth will win out and if that happens, America
has hope for the future. That is my talk for you tonight. God bless you, thank you. [ Applause ]>>Thank you very much. I now encourage you to text your questions. This is the way that we’re
going to be conducting the Q&A. And to start, we have the question:
What are some practical ways to engage peers without being dogmatic?>>Ravi Zacharias: Since that’s
an easy one, I’ll take it. This is Nabeel Qureshi, by the way. I think you’ll really enjoy listening to him
for those of you who heard the talk last night, because I told you he’s a medical doctor
by training but then did his Master’s work in biblical studies at Duke and took another
Master’s degree at Biola and he’s about to enter into his doctoral program of studies,
his medical doctor now but going into doctoral work in his
philosophical pursuits. He will also be sharing the Q&A. I think it is very important to engage in
dialogue, dogmatic claims can be stated as something that is truly
believed in your conviction but it must be justified, not just asserted. Why do I lay claim to what I
do with such deep conviction? For example, if somebody asked me, why
do I support the Christian worldview, my answer is very simple to them, because there
are four questions of life, question of origin, meaning, morality and destiny, and when I test
out each one of those and their truth component, I can find answers, Biblical answers on origin,
meaning, morality and destiny that conform to reality as I can test it out, and
when the four answers are given together, they provide a coherent worldview. So is that a dogmatic belief? Yes, it is believed in the sense
of a conviction, but it is defended with grace undergirded by kindness and
not in a bullish or mean-spirited way. If truth is not undergirded by love, it
makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the dogma he possesses becomes repulsive. So you must hold onto it with
compassion and kindness and courtesy, but it must also be defended at the
same time so carry on a dialogue, don’t be afraid of laying claim to truth,
so long as you have ably defended it and the counterperspective has a
challenge to question what you believe and at that point you have to
unpack it and give a response. That’s how dialogue actually goes. It’s interaction of logic. It’s two different views coming together,
and the dialogical method is the best way. Let me give you — can I take a minute on
this and give you a classic example of this, because I think this is fascinating
to understand. When I spoke at the Islamic
University in Malaysia, prior to my coming there the great
Islamic apologist Ahmed Deedat had come and really attacked the Christian
worldview wholesale — any one of you has ever read anything by Deedat
or ever heard of him — he’s passed away now. He lived in Durbin, South Africa,
vitriolic, hostile in the way he debated. And he truly offended the Christians in
the audience, albeit they were a minority. A professor a geology there, the
Professor Lee put his hand up, and he said, “I have a question for you. Why do you attack what I believe in and
call it inconsistent and unlivable?” So Deedat says, “Come up here to the front. Come up here right now.” So Professor Lee, who’s a professor
of geology at the Islamic University in Malaysia, walks up to the front. Professor Lee himself told me this story. He said, “I walk up to the front
and Deedat looked at me and he said, Come up closer and stare me in the eye.” And Lee did. He took his right hand and gave him
one heavy-handed slap on the face. And this is a gently built man, Professor Lee. He said, “My face was burning
and my whole body was quivering.” And he said, “As I gathered my composure,
he said ‘turn the other cheek now. Turn the other cheek. That’s your faith.'” Lee said,
“I didn’t know I could handle it. I said, ‘God, give me strength.’ and I turned the other side of the face and
there was some hisses coming from the audience, so he said, ‘All right, I’ll
solve this in a hurry. Give me your shirt.'” So
Lee unbuttons his shirt. He says, “You’re supposed to
give me your trousers, too.” So he turned to the audience, he said, “My
students, please forgive me for doing this, but my faith in Christ is real and
I want to show this man it is real. It’s not fake.” He unbelted his trousers, standing there
with his face in pain in his underwear, turns around and walks back into his office. Professor Lee told me there was a lineup
outside my door, knocking, knocking, knocking, my own Islamic students wanting to have
just one minute with me, some of them coming on bended knee asking me for forgiveness
for what had just been done to him. You can present dogmatic truth with love
and gentleness without being obnoxious. Sometimes it’ll be in kind,
sometimes it’ll be in word. It must always be with a gracious spirit, because the truth unbeautified becomes
unattractive and it can be defended well. Okay, thank you. [ Applause ]>>The next question is:
How can we in the university of today effectively impact our
culture of subjective tolerance?>>Do you want to take that?>>Nabeel Qureshi: Yes. Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here. I really resonate with this question. I feel like I’m a perpetual student,
at least that’s what my wife tells me. I’ve finished studying at — as was just said,
at Duke and Biola, and I had my medical degree as well, so a long time in the university. And one thing that I found out is
that as you study in the university, when people hear what you have to say,
they often don’t really listen to it, don’t really care what you have to
say because everyone has an opinion. Opinions are cheap nowadays. Opinions come — as many as there
are people, you’ll hear opinions. What they really want to
hear is how much you care, and they don’t really want to just hear that. They want to see that. And once you embody what you actually
believe, then your beliefs start to come out more openly, more visibly. When I was in medical school, one of the things
that I absolutely believed at the time — and I still believe today
— is that life is valuable. Life is valuable at all phases. And one way that I expressed it was in
an exam room, in a surgery exam room. A woman had come in and she had come
in for a completely unrelated case, and they were about to do an examination on her. They were about to do something which
required her to not be pregnant. Now, she did not know she was pregnant. She had no idea she was pregnant. I asked her if she took any kind of
precautions on a regular basis, and she said no, she didn’t because her boyfriend
told her that he was sterile. So this was the understanding with
which she came into this situation. Now, when I asked her to just double-check. When the surgeon comes in to ask you if you want
to do this procedure, make sure you double-check with him, you actually do this
test to see if you’re pregnant. And she asked me, why, what would happen? And it was at that moment that
I was able to explain to her that there could very well be a life inside her, and that life inside her would
be affected forever based on the decision she made at this moment. And it is in that kind of a
situation when I’m reaching out to her and telling her how valuable life is that I’m
then able to tell her what my beliefs are. And in that circumstance, when there’s real
life in the balance, when there’s real emotion and real power in that moment, then when you
share with someone their beliefs, they matter; whereas if you stand on the street corner
and pontificate without people knowing that you care, it’s not going to work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand street
preachers, I understand the impetus of standing on a street corner and yelling to people who
are walking towards death and destruction, what you want to say to them, the message you
have to them, you just want to get it out there, but unless they know that you
care, it’s not going to matter. It’s not going to work. So whenever I engage in any kind
of conversation with someone, I want to know what their
struggle are personally. I want to know what they’re
going through personally. I ask them what’s going on in their life
and I connect with them on a personal level. And once you do that, in the
university setting, then they will see that what your beliefs are actually do matter. Thanks. [ Applause ]>>Okay, our next question. How do we profitably discuss
hyperpoliticized topics such as abortion, marriage and sexual norms?>>Ravi Zacharias: Abortion,
marriage and sexual norms. how do we profitably discuss it?>>Mm-hm.>>Ravi Zacharias: You know, it’s
interesting how much culture plays into this. In some parts of the world, these are things
that’ll never even be discussed publicly because it will be offensive in certain
audiences to even pontificate on those issues. We’re fortunately, in the sense
that we have an open culture in which we can talk about these things. My own view is this to the questioner. Thank you for asking this, because I think these
are the issues that are bringing so much hurt within our culture, so much pain to
people, so much rancor, so much offense, and so here’s what I say oftentimes
when I’m speaking in audiences. I say, look, we will differ in applicational
matters, we will differ in matters of inference, we will differ in matters of choices
all along the way but it’ll always boil down to one question to each of
us: what is your starting point? That’s what I am interested in. That’s the key, because some years ago I
was asked to do a lecture at John’s Hopkins on the subject, what does it mean to be human? Francis Collins and I were representing
the Judeo-Christian side of it, and all other scholars from
different vantage points. And when I began to prepare for my talk, it dawned on me how critical
that question really is. On the basis of how you answered the
question, what does it mean to be human, all of your other extensions
and applications are made. Your application in sexuality, your application
in pleasure, your application in truth-telling, in relationships — all of these
emerge from the bottom line definition of what you believe it means to be human. For example, if you were to take an automobile
and use it to run over another human being, you can’t blame the maker of the automobile
for killing that other human being. The automobile maker will say, “That’s
not the purpose of why I made this car.” If you cannot take an instrument and use
it for a purpose for which it was not made and therefore and try to think you can
blame the maker of that instrument, how can we really define sexuality, marriage, values if we don’t know the
purpose of our lives? That to me is where we need to be
discussing these very carefully. Is life sacred? Is life at its core of intrinsic worth
and not extrinsic worth conveyed by state? Let me give you a vivid example of this. When I finished a series of talks at Oxford,
we were talking on the nature of absolutes, and one young Oxonian came up to the front
and he was pretty articulate in what he said. He said to me, “of all the
things you’ve said today, the one thing I really take
issue with is the absolute. He said, I don’t agree with you
that there needs to be an absolute.” I said, “If you don’t talk about an absolute,
you’re talking about a one-ended stick. I don’t even understand, everything is
relative,” and we went on this story. He said, “I don’t believe there are absolutes.” I said, “All right, let me
ask you this question.” And there were students standing
around and his classmates. I said, “I take a one-year-old baby in your
presence and I put that baby on this platform where I’m standing and take
a jagged edge butcher knife and chop this baby up for my pleasure. Would you believe I have done something bad? Something evil? Could you not?” He paused, he went like this with his shoe, toe,
and then he looked at me and he said, “You know, Mr. Zacharias, I wouldn’t like what you did, but I cannot honestly tell you
you had done something evil.” And all of his classmates
standing around him went “Whoa.” You see, when you start from the premise that
everything is of pragmatic value and nothing of essential value, you veer off into the
distance with nothing remaining sacred anymore. What is it in the 10 Commandments that
really are summarized in one word? Your body is sacred, your life is sacred, your
possessions are sacred, your marriage is sacred, your word is sacred, your time is
sacred, and so is your neighbors. You don’t violate that. So if you ask me how we talk on these things,
I think it is the wrong starting point. We have to start with the foundation and a
best illustration is in the University of Ohio when I was being driven there by your lecture,
you go past the Wexner Center of the Arts. And the man driving me said, “That’s
America’s first post-modern building.” I said, “What’s a post-modern building?” He said, “It has no purpose. There are really no designs. There are stairways that go nowhere, there
are rooms that are of odd shape, it has no” — he said, “and the architect said
if life itself has no purpose, why should our buildings have any purpose?” He said “What do you think?” I said, “I have one question for that architect. Did he do that for the foundation as well?” City Hall would never give you the permission
to build a foundation for no purpose, the foundation has to have a purpose,
so in all of these discussions, you have to start from the foundation, what does it mean to be human,
is life sacred or desacrilized. On those two edifices you build
the rest of the infrastructure; otherwise you have got your feet firmly
planted in mid-air and you can’t stand on that. Okay. [ Background noise ]>>Okay, these are two related
questions from different students. How do you explain the tragedies caused
by the proliferation of Christian beliefs, like the Crusades, and was Manifest
Destiny and the subsequent extermination of Native Americans done graciously?>>Nabeel Qureshi: I’ll take part of that. The first part of the question was how do we
explain the tragedies caused by Christians?>>Yeah, by the proliferation
of Christian beliefs. Well, part of what my story is
is that I was raised Muslim. I was raised very, very devout
Muslim growing up. My family taught me to believe
in everything that Islam taught. My mother was actually the
daughter of a Muslim missionary. She was born in Indonesia,
though she was from Pakistan, because her father spent his whole
life preaching Islam in Indonesia. That’s how devout our Islamic
heritage and upbringing was. And so part of growing up for me was
to really embody and embrace Islam. And so when I met Christianity, I had been
taught not just to embody and embrace Islam but to respond against Christianity. That was part of my identity. Being from a foreign upbringing in the West, we wanted to galvanize ourselves
against foreign influence. My parents had seen what America was like. They had heard things before coming here, and
these presuppositions when they came here, that America is a promiscuous nation. They see things on television, they see adultery
on television, they see people carousing, and then they think, America is a Christian
nation; this is what’s on American TV; therefore this must be Christianity. And so when they’re raising up me and my sister, they want to make sure we were
defended against Christianity. ANd so that was part of what I was. Coming up was just naturally
antagonistic towards the doctrines and beliefs of Christianity. Now, one thing that I noticed when I was being
introduced to the theology of Christianity that struck me tremendously as a Muslim
was just how powerful this idea is that God himself was willing to lower himself
to become a human, to suffer at the hands of men and then die for their sake. Now, I just stopped and I
thought about this for a second. This is the Gospel message. This is the center, this is the crux
of the Christian claims, that God, who deserves everything, who deserves
to be worshipped by all creation, that God doesn’t lord it over people. He’s not a tyrant that demands that we jump
through hoops so that He can be happy with us when we die and hopefully
He’ll let us into heaven. You know, in Islam, the soteriology, we
had an order that we call Gunah in Sulam. There’s an idea of blessings and of
sin, and you have to outweigh your sin with your blessings in order to get into heaven. At the end of the day, you have to have more
good deeds than bad in order to get into heaven. And so for me growing up, the idea was simple. If I sinned, I needed to do more
good in order to outdo that. I should have sinned, but if I run
stop signs, stop at the next one twice, just kind of counteract your sin and
you’ll be okay at the end of the day. That’s how I was raised. But constantly what I was thinking
was, did I pray my prayers? Did I do the fast right? Did I accidentally swallow some
water when I was in the shower? When you’re fasting you’re not
allowed to drink any water at all. Did I accidentally swallow some water when I was
in the shower, because if I did, that’s a sin. I broke my fast, and I’m
worried constantly all the time. Have I committed some tragic mistake. When I was introduced to this idea
of Christianity, it was mind-blowing, because here’s what it is: God knows
that you’re going to sin against him. God knows that you have sinned against him. I don’t need to convince
anyone that they’ve sinned. All I have to do is ask someone, do you believe
that you have lived up to your standards, to your own standards —
forget anyone else’s standards? Have you lived up to your own standards? And everyone I’ve asked that
question to has said, “No.” And here’s the beauty of the Christian
message: that God loves you anyway. And He doesn’t just love you in
a sense of, Oh, I’ll let you be and I accept you for who you are. God loves you so much that
He’s willing to die for you. That is the message of Christianity. What did Christ do? He gives this message of the Good
Samaritan — this is in the Book of Luke. He talks about a Jew and a Samaritan. These were two polar opposites in their
culture insofar as one did not have meals with the other; one did not care for
the other, and yet Jesus, a Jew himself, upheld in the story the ideals
of a Samaritan who’s willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his enemy. And not just did Jesus share that story, he then lived it out for his Christian
theology tells us He was willing to die for our sakes, even when we were His enemies. Understand this for just one moment. The Christian theology is teaching us that
God, who created the Heavens and the Earth, who is due all glory and all fame and all
honor, was willing to be born as a child to two children themselves,
and then to be buried, the ignominy of being illegitimate child. Why? Why? And as He grows up as an
illegitimate child, what is He doing? He’s working with His hands as a
carpenter, the lowest of low, a tekton. Why? Why does He choose this? What was his lineage? His lineage was one that had prostitutes in it. His lineage was one that had idolators in it. Why? As he goes and as he suffers at
the hands of those who are flogging him, the people that he had poured his
life into for three years, all fled. They all betrayed him. What is Jesus teaching? He didn’t have to do any of this, by the way. According to Christian theology,
He didn’t have to do any of this. He could have come as a Prince,
He could have come as a king. He could have come and lorded
Himself over people, but He did not. Why? Jesus is showing that he empathizes with
our lowness, with our meekness, with our traits, that people would look at us and spit
upon us for, Jesus empathizes with that. And he willingly takes it upon himself and
then he suffers for the sake of his enemies. That is the Christian message. Jesus tells us as he’s dying on the
Cross, killed by those he’s dying for — he says to us, through what
He’s already taught us. He says: “As I do for you, as I have
loved you, go and love one another.” That is the true Christian message, and
I don’t care what anyone comes with, other than that message, it’s
not the message of Jesus. There is no suffering that can be
justified by that message of Jesus. There’s no tragedy, no crime, no genocide
that can be justified with a message that says, “Die for your enemies. Be willing to die for them.” This is the most peaceful message there is. This is the most self-sacrificial
message there is. That’s the message of the gospel. So when people hijack, when people hijack
the name Christianity and commit atrocities in that name, don’t confuse the
name with the Gospel message itself. And what we’re standing here for
today is that, is the Gospel message. We’re not here to excuse the actions
of those who committed tragedies. Yes, there are Christians throughout
history who have done horrible things, and if I’m the first one to apologize
for that, please sincerely, I apologize, that this was done in the name of my God. But that is not the message of my God. We are to lay down ourselves for the
sake of anyone who disagrees with us, and when it comes to tolerance,
when it comes to tolerance, that is I think the most ultimate
embodiment of tolerance — not only do you hear what your enemy has to
say or what someone who disagrees with you has to say, not only do you hear
that and nod and smile. You actually come alongside them and after
your disagreement you sacrifice yourself for their sake. That is the most tolerant message that there could possibly be,
and that is true Christianity. [ Applause ]>>Ravi Zacharias: Is there
another part to the question?>>Nabeel Qureshi: I don’t know. I don’t remember what it was.>>Ravi Zacharias: Was there a significant
other part, or do we move on to the next one?>>Would you like me to repeat the question?>>Ravi Zacharias: Sure.>>How do you explain the tragedies caused
by the proliferation of Christian beliefs, like the Crusades, and was Manifest
Destiny and the subsequent extermination of Native Americans, done graciously?>>Ravi Zacharias: Okay. I think when you move to the
particular from the general, the question is implicitly answered there. Let me — because it’s been so beautifully
presented in what the Gospel is, let me just present two counterpoints
here from the philosophical side of it. The first point is this: Whenever
a question like this is raised, notice what is implicit in the question. Two things are implicit in the question,
number one, that human life has value. Human life has worth. How does naturalism give you that worth? Where does it come from? You cannot give intrinsic
worth naturalistically. There has to be that transcendent
value implicit in the human life, so the question actually posits an assumption
that naturalism cannot really give to itself. Let me give you a little illustration of this. I’m writing a book right now with my colleague
from Oxford on why suffering, why pain, and I was watching a BBC production. It’s a beautiful, beautiful
production on polar bears. And I was just watching it so beautifully
unfold and the polar bear comes out of hibernation and has to feed its cubs. It gets onto the ice, but
the ice is not as thick. It’s taking longer to get to its prey. It comes to a pack of walruses. It sets its eyes on the weakest of them,
the baby one, and is about to pounce on it, but the other walruses come up to defend. A fight ensues, the polar bear doesn’t win it
out, and the walruses protect their little one. The polar bear turns around and walks away. And the last scene is the polar
bear digging a grave for itself. It’s not going to make it. And the BBC commentator, who had done a
brilliant job so far, now goes into this, why did it take so long for the
polar bear to get to its prey? Because of global warming. And so we go on this big talk. Let’s assume everything he said is right. What is he implying? He didn’t for a moment question why this
polar bear was being mean and looking at a tiny little walrus who when if its own little cubs were
attacked, boy, it would draw blood. But that’s not a moral question. It’s truly in that predatorial animalistic
setting that’s the misery of each is supposed to make up the good of all
and you see it happened. why did he lay moral responsibility
to only one entity. It was a human being. We cannot seem to escape the fact
that we are not mere animals, we have something that transcends
animal instinct. We have a moral consciousness, so the
assumptions of a question like this, A, give implicit worth to humanity, secondly,
that we have moral responsibility, neither of which can come
from a naturalistic framework. So it has to come from a transcendent framework. Number two, never, ever judge
a philosophy by its abuse. Never, ever judge a philosophy by its abuse. Take the integral claims of the philosophy,
measure it against the claims, then critique it. If you abuse that philosophy and that
critique, then you ultimately end up really judging something
that it is not purporting to be. That’s why Winston Churchill said democracy
is the worst form of government except for all other forms of government, and what he
was trying to tell us is freedom is a privilege, but if freedom is abused, then you end
up destroying the structure completely. So A, it assumes essential worth,
B, it assumes moral responsibility, neither of which come from naturalism. C, you do not judge a philosophy by its abuse. That’s why state religions have committed so
much of heinous acts because politics got wetted through theology and the same
depraved condition moved into a palace and used its power to dictate
its will upon others. The true belief of the Christian comes from the
freedom of the will and the freedom of choice. Jesus never forced his belief on anyone. We live in a day where we can learn from
those atrocious and terrible mistakes and you know what, those of us who see
the abuse of groups of people like that, we should do everything in our power to take
the message of Jesus and the love of Jesus to bring healing and restoration, because it is
the Lord that has created them and created all of us, and we see each other
with intrinsic worth. What we could probably do is take one more
question and then I’ll make a closing statement. Yeah?>>And for our last question,
how do you explain the difference between the need for shame and intolerance? Isn’t a system of shame inherently intolerant?>>Nabeel Qureshi: How do
you explain the need for…>>The need for shame and intolerance? Isn’t it a system of shame
inherently intolerant? [ Background noise ]>>Ravi: Is the idea of shame intolerant? Is that what…>>Isn’t it a system of shame
inherently intolerant?>>Ravi: That’s a great question,
by the way, really a good question. And the reason I say it is because I was
born in a culture where shame is really used as a constant motivator to perform more. When I was not doing well in my school and
was interested more in becoming a cricketer than getting any intellectual prowess of
that sort, my dad would just lambast me — I’d get the worst kinds of thrashings. And the line he used on me one day which
ultimately broke my spirit, when he said, “You are going to bring shame to this family.” And I think what we often do is
use shame in order to hurt people, and that’s really not what
I’m talking about when I talk about this sense of shame as a warning. C.S. Lewis in his book “The
Great Divorce,” talks about it. He said shame is like a hot drink. You can steadily drink it
right down to the dregs but you do anything else
with it and it’ll scald you. Shame is a personal corrector within your heart
and mind, where something wrong has been done, not for society to hurl its insults on you. They are two completely different things. But look at it this way. Psychiatrists are talking about
a morning after drug for people with post-traumatic stress disorder. I know we’ve got veterans here and
those who’ve been on the front lines. When I was in my mid 20s, I went to Vietnam. I was not prepared to see what I saw. I was a youngster, I was a student of
theology, I was working with the chaplains. Many, many times after that for
weeks, I would be thinking back of the sights I saw on the side of the road. It traumatized me. The first night I came to Singapore, the
free country after speaking in Vietnam for four months going all the
way to the demilitarized zone, and seeing all that was going on. I was a single young man. I’ll never forget walking for one or two hours
that night, just wishing almost I could slip that head and just let the memories of it out
because I didn’t want to go back with that. And those of you who have fought
in the front lines and so on — I just met a young man here who
was in Afghanistan and so on — we need to pray for them, because the
memories of these things take their toll. Here is the point. So doctors are dealing with this,
how to deal with this medicationally. One of the fears of finding a medication to help
those with legitimate stress and the disorder that comes, what if a rapist or a murderer
does the same thing, rapes and murders and goes and buys a pill and pops it the morning
after with no remorse or no sense of feeling of wrong or shame whatsoever? What then happens to our society? So the same thing that benefits in a
legitimate stressful situation can be used in an illegitimate situation
by people perpetrating wrong and doing violence for violence’s sake. What I therefore boil it down to is
this: In my heart, and in your heart, where lines have been crossed that are wrong,
I believe it’s God’s way of reminding you and me that what happened there was not right,
and the more you work that away and make that which was illegitimate
legitimized, you move more and more to what’s becoming a monster
without remorse of any kind. So I’m really not talking about a
cultural imposition upon a person, I’m talking about the personal
realization that wrong has been done. When culture imposes it wrongly,
it is also a shameful thing to do. We don’t work that methodology
if we want the long-term results of good, which is for goodness’ sake. One more comment, and my closing statement here. Oscar Wilde- I wrote a series of
books on imaginary conversations, and one of them is the one that
I really struggled with most and yet at the same time delved into quite a bit,
where I did one on Jesus talks to Hitler, the Lamb and the Fuhrer, Jesus Talks to the
Lotus and the Cross, Jesus Talks to Krishna: New Birth or Rebirth, and the one
on Oscar Wilde is called Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde. It is interesting, this quintessential hedonist, who may have autobiographically
written the picture of Dorian Gray, which is a brilliantly written book —
he’s lying on his death bed in Paris. I visited the place and visited the
church where his funeral was held. And ironically it’s the same place
where Pasquale’s funeral was held. That’s why in my book I have Pasquale,
Wilde and Jesus in conversation. But here it is. He’s lying on his bed, and he
looks at his lover, Robbie Ross, and he asks him this question: Did you ever
love any one of those boys for their own sake? When I was reading that, I said, “Wow,
why does a hedonist all of a sudden look for an expression of a definition of love? Where you’re loving somebody
for their own sake?” He says, “Robbie, did you love any
one of these boys for their own sake?” Robbie says, “No.” He said, “Neither did I. Neither did I. Bring me a priest,” he said, and
if you have never read his poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” it’s one of the
most powerful pieces of poetry where he talks about the woman with the Alibaster ointment who
brought it and poured it at the feet her Lord, and he said, “So am I like that,
desperately in need of cleansing, for only blood can cleanse
my blood,” is what he said. And he went on to talk about only the sacrifice. The price was not big enough to
cleanse him and help him get rid of that tormented soul with which he was living. And so I say to you, as you see the nature
of shame and guilt, it is interesting how at the closing moments of life you want to
find the right definition is for what you did. Did I love that boy for his own sake? No. Bring me a priest. Only Christ is big enough now. I want to tell you and I’m
really not being funny — if I’d come here in my teens and 20s I would
never have gotten into an institution like this. Those of you who are students here, and all
the more, those of you who are faculty here, you are privileged to be in one of the
greatest institutions in the world, which basically tells me you
are a very bright person. You’re the brightest of the bright,
and there are scores of people who will never reach your level
of attainment or even possibility. What a privilege you have to be in a country
like this, to be in an institution like this. University means to find unity and diversity. You will never find unity and
diversity if you don’t start from the sacred definition
of what life is all about. We will have our differences. I just challenge you, be
patient, be kind, be tolerant. Those of you who disagree with us, you
will never hear and ill will word from me. I don’t desire to do that. I want to live and let live, but all I
ask, if an Academy is going to be honest, please give it the platform to
proclaim dissenting views peaceable and let the truth win out in the end. If you stifle a worldview just because you
don’t like it, that’s not a fair education. Truth will ultimately triumph. And I close with this illustration. Some of you have heard me give it. When I was in the Middle East trying to
bring reconciliation between the Jewish and the Palestinian forces,
I was one of five others who was invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury. And we weathered the worst of them
in their vitriole, Yasir Arafat and all were part of the meeting. I blocked out of the Yasir Arafat meeting because I really felt he’d have all the
cameras flashing, that he was going to use it for publicity, and my guess was right. That was the only one which I told the
archbishops I don’t feel comfortable. I think this is going to be used rather than legitimately given a platform,
but I went with everybody else. On the last day we were in Ramallah
with Sheikh Talal, solidly built guy, who was one of the four founders of Hamas. His wife put on a great lunch, invited
many of Arafat’s right-hand men and men who had been in prison
for all kinds of acts. He himself I think had served 18 years. Great mood, the room is now full of cigarette
smoke, and I’m struggling with my voice because I’m really allergic to
that [inaudible] vocal ulcers. But we’re going through the whole thing, and at
the end the Archbishop says, “I’d like each one of your men to ask him one question.” Just one. I won’t tell you what I
asked because the meeting was private, but I didn’t like his answer, and when I
finished listening to his answer I said, “Sheikh, you and I will probably
never see each other again” — I was sitting pretty close to him — I said, “I want to just say one thing
to you and leave that with you.” I said, “Five thousand years ago a man you and
I respect by the name of Abraham took his son up a mountain to offer his son in sacrifice. Remember that story?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Please, let’s not debate which son
it was; let’s just agree it was His son.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “He takes His son up and as a test
of His faith is going to offer his son to somehow gain God’s approval there,
and as the ax is about to come down, God stops his arm, keeps him from going through. Remember that story?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “What did God say?” I said, “God said, Stop, I myself will provide.” He said, “That’s right.” I said, “Here in Ramallah
we’re very close to a hill. Two thousand years ago God kept that
promise and took His own son up that hill. Sheikh, at that time the ax did not stop. Son of God, spade, for you and for me. And what I want to leave with you is this,
Sheikh, until you and I receive the Son that God has provided for us, we’ll be offering
our own sons and daughters on the battlefields of this world for power, for land,
for position, and for prestige. Until you and I receive that son, that’s
what we’ll be doing, offering our own sons.” And He’d offered some of his sons. The pin drop silence of the room. And the Archbishop says, “I
guess it’s time for us to go.” I figured I’d blown it. So walking away, the Archbishop puts his
arm around me and he said, “Thank you, Ravi. That was of God.” And I said, “Boy, I sure hope so.” And we’re going down the steps and
the Archbishop is a guest of honor, the Sheikh is ushering him, little did
I know he was hastening the procedure to come running over to me. He comes running over just as
I’m about to get into the car. He twirls me around — big guy. I’ve got two metal rods in my back. I figured, Ramallah, a grave waits for me now. He twirled me around, he looked at me and
he patted me on both sides of the face, and he kissed me, and he said,
“Mr. Zacharias, you’re a good man. I hope you and I see each other again someday.” And he gave me a big bear hug
and we big each other goodbye. Two different worldviews, two different
political agendas, same unsufferable, the Christ in the heart that
would give you peace and take away the sword, take away the hate. It spoke to him and his eyes
were moist with tears and I could just see how
deeply he was reflecting on it. Tolerance, we will hopefully live
to see day after day after day, where in our disagreement we can still embrace
one another and say as a fellow human being, I respect your right to life peaceably within
yourself, but there is a God in the end who will judge each of us, and I live my life
with that sacred trust that my life is a gift from Him, and for that, I want to
honor Him in body, mind and soul. That’s my prayer. Dartmouth, all the best to you. May your greatest days be ahead. Thank you for hosting us. Thank you.

10 thoughts on “Veritas Forum at Dartmouth: Tolerance Under Fire

  1. Dear Ravi, these programs are really helpful. would you  please make subtitles available so that people who have hearing disabilities can go through these videos and unlighted.   

  2. Christians are COMMANDED to ram their idiotic religion down EVERYONES throats….and then complain when rational thought gets in the way.

  3. On the surface he preaches pluralism, tolerance and liberalism. But his religious / philosophical view is one of mono-theism, obedience, submission to either the Creed (the Bible) or submission to interpreters  of the Will of God (the Priests … like him). Isn't he just another snake oil salesman ? Selling you something that you already have ? Saying that God take away your sin ? Men worship the true God it is called Money (or Fame or applause) and men prostitute themselves to it everyday. And this guy earns his living by selling God and making money.

  4. Insightful and thought provoking. This is what post-modern materialist do not want young students to hear. Thank you Veritas Forum and Ravi ji.

  5. Pluralism not relativism

    Respect not "to tolerate"

    Freedom not liberalism

    Knowing Truth not submission (For the Truth will set you free; the lie chains you to its falsehood)

    Coherence not contradiction

    Please be honest with what you post about this presentation. Thank you gentlemen and gentlewomen.

    By the way, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) does not charge for these presentations. All they ask they
    is that the hotel and traveling expenses are taken care of, that's it.

  6. Christianity is the most tame religion thats why people make fun of jesus and speak his name in vain. Have ever heard an actor say 'mohammed'.

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