HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Is Everything Permitted?: Moral Values in a World Without God
Author: Mark D. Linville
Publisher: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 2001
Related website: http://www.rzim.org (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Linville, Mark D. Is Everything Permitted?: Moral Values in a World Without God (published in 2001 by RZIM, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 4725 Peachtree Corners Circle, Suite 250, Norcross, GA 30092). If there is no God, can anything really be right or wrong? For that matter, if there is no God, do we even have the grounds for saying that something is immoral or wicked? In this small book, part of the RZIM Critical Questions Series, Mark Linville, who received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently Professor of Philosophy at Atlanta Christian College, explores these questions. Some atheists, such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre would agree that without God, everything is permitted. But others, like Kai Nielsen, assert that we can have ethics without God.
Linville offers a crash course in the subject by looking at how some very influential ethicists have tried to posit a moral law apart from God’s existence. He examines Thomas Hobbes’s conventionalism and its offspring, Ayn Rand’s egoism, Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism, Immanuel Kant’s human dignity, and Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ethics. His conclusion is that no inherently sound theory of ethics seems compatible with naturalism, saying, “The moral point of view itself reflects the very nature of God and is therefore transcendent and objective rather than merely subjective and an instrument of survival.” Much of the argumentation may be a little over some folks’ heads, but people grappling with these issues will find this book beneficial.