Anybody who has ever perused the “Religion” section of the local bookstore has undoubtedly seen that the sheer volume of available apologetics material is most certainly not in danger of being overtaken by the comparatively minuscule, if even present, a section of books on atheism. That notwithstanding, the response from believers to books like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion or Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great has been so vociferous that one would think that it was in imminent peril. As much as I would relish that notion, it is apparent that instead of diminishing, it is in fact increasing-with new names, albeit old arguments.
The newest poster-boy for defenders of Christianity is Dinesh D’Souza. He has written books in response to or publicly debated many of the forerunners of the so-called “New Atheism”. His recent op-ed in the USA Today section “On Religion” (Oct 22, 2007) is but a fragment of the kind of nonsense that passes for valid argumentation in the realm of apologetics. While reading it, one must wonder if he is either a blatant liar or simply downright deluded. (Maybe this could be the D’Souza Dilemma: Dishonest or Deluded?)
The fact that anybody with even a shred of logic or knowledge of history would make it past his opening salvo without lighting it on fire is a miracle of its own. Is he a champion of the provocation of hysteria, or does he realize that atheists don’t want to remove Christianity from the history of the founding of the country-It was never there! Does he not know that we already live in a secular society-we just want to keep it that way? That all of the values and institutions that he claims are “inextricably tied” to his faith existed before Christianity and were instilled in this country which was explicitly created to not have ties to any particular religion? Somebody should point out to him that it is this type of rhetoric against which we rail.
Religion is the thorn of civilization
It is not particularly difficult to portray religion as the thorn in the side of civilization. A cursory glance at world politics will reveal that the impetus for the majority of both current and historical instances of bloodshed, terrorism, and genocide is religion. The fact that the entire basis for belief in any god is faith, the definition of which is the antithesis of reason, manifests itself in the fanaticism of its adherents. Whether you call this invisible and undetectable being Yahweh or Allah is of little consequence were it not for the unshakable faith of the believers, people would be much less willing to kill or die in order to reap the rewards of the promised afterlife.
This is the fundamental reason why faith is so dangerous. A belief system founded upon faith is untouchable. One cannot reason with that person; in fact, a believer is taught to purposely ignore valid arguments and trained to feel guilty if the uncomfortable sensation of doubt begins to plague them. Mr. D’Souza, in his attempt to exonerate faith, particularly his brand, then ascribes to faith all that we as Americans hold dear. It is a mere ploy to appeal to the emotions of people who value democratic ideals and scientific progress.
His blatantly fallacious anthropocentric argument for the supposed “perfection” of the universe has been exposed by others much more knowledgeable than I in that realm and betrays his presuppositions regarding the order that we observe. It is, in fact, an observation. As cognizant beings, we like to categorize and quantify that which is taken in by our sensory organs. The universe is just as adept, if not more so, at creating black holes as it is at creating planets that can sustain life. His inference that this necessarily must be from a divine creator is not evidence of that at all unless his god also enjoys swallowing galaxies into a vacuum from which nothing can escape. (I won’t even touch the list of “Christian” scientists, some of whom were forced under penalty of torture and death to swear fealty to their divine lord.)
Are Men All created equal?
Concerning democracy, I would like for him to explain how, if Christianity is responsible for democracy, the Ancient Greeks had democratic societies. Why is it that he credits God with the Jeffersonian dictum that “all men are created equal” when Jefferson himself was not a Christian and in fact owned slaves? To them, the “men” were those that the elite decided were “men”, and that didn’t include blacks, women, or Native Americans. Although this does sound very similar to the type of behavior that the god of Moses, Joshua, or David would endorse, it seems little like the one that D’Souza tries to conflate with democratic ideals.
Finally, the association that he claims between Christianity and human rights is the epitome of absurdity. It would behoove D’Souza to speak to some homosexuals about “the right to marry and form a family”. His equality-espousing god speaks of homosexuality as an abomination and punishable by death. His followers, supposedly created in his image, have done more to thwart universal human rights than any other group short of the Third Reich.
D’Souza is right about one thing, though. I will not hesitate to privately and publicly acknowledge the role that Christianity has had in “the things that matter most to us”: It has worked it’s hardest to obfuscate the truth, subvert scientific advancement, and decimate those who do not allow themselves to be swayed by vapid argumentation and psychological terrorism. Those are the things that matter most to me.