En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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An Arguement Against Atheism-Diesh D’Souza!

Posted by Scott on November 6, 2007

by Dr. Mohler

An Argument Against the Atheists — Dinesh D’Souza on Christianity

“Today’s Christians know that they do not, as their ancestors did, live in a society where God’s presence was unavoidable. No longer does Christianity form the moral basis of society. Many of us now reside in secular communities, where arguments drawn from the Bible or Christian revelation carry no weight, and where we hear a different language from that spoken in church.”  That is the opening salvo from author Dinesh D’Souza in his new book, What’s So Great About Christianity.

 

D’Souza’s book is written, at least in part, as a response to the frontal attacks on Christianity launched by figures such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris.  He writes with a clear and uncluttered style and his arguments should attract considerable attention.

 

D’Souza chides believers for taking “the easy way out,” sheltering themselves in Christian intellectual enclaves rather than engaging the issues.  They live separate secular and sacred lives without recognizing that this is incompatible with the Gospel.

 

Here is how he sees the challenge:

 

 

This is not a time for Christians to turn the other cheek. Rather, it is a time to drive the moneychangers out of the temple. The atheists no longer want to be tolerated. They want to monopolize the public square and to expel Christians from it. They want political questions like abortion to be divorced from religious and moral claims. They want to control school curricula so they can promote a secular ideology and undermine Christianity. They want to discredit the factual claims of religion, and they want to convince the rest of society that Christianity is not only mistaken but also evil. They blame religion for the crimes of history and for the ongoing conflicts in the world today. In short, they want to make religion – and especially the Christian religion – disappear from the face of the earth.

 

In fact, the new atheists are frustrated that belief in God has not passed away.  They had great confidence that the theory of secularization would promise a new secular age, with belief in God relegated to humanity’s past.  Nevertheless, this isn’t happening.  Europe may be overwhelmingly secular, but Americans are still a deeply religious people — even if this does not represent an embrace of authentic Christianity.

 

Meanwhile, traditional religion is growing all over the world.  The world is not becoming more secular, but more religious in a myriad of forms.

 

D’Souza sees this in his own personal story:

 

 

 

I have found this to be true in my own life. I am a native of India, and my ancestors were converted to Christianity by Portuguese missionaries. As this was the era of the Portuguese Inquisition, some force and bludgeoning may also have been involved. When I came to America as a student in 1978, my Christianity was largely a matter of birth and habit. But even as I plunged myself into modern life in the United States, my faith slowly deepened. G.K Chesterton calls this the “revolt into orthodoxy.” Like Chesterton, I find myself rebelling against extreme secularism and finding in Christianity some remarkable answers to both intellectual and practical concerns. So I am grateful to those stern inquisitors for bringing me into the orbit of Christianity, even though I am sure my ancestors would not have shared my enthusiasm. Mine is a Christianity that is countercultural in the sense that it opposes powerful trends in modern Western culture. Yet it is thoroughly modern in that it addresses questions and needs raised by life in that culture. I don’t know how I could live well without it.

 

The continent of Europe is now the great exception — the secular continent.  D’Souza explains:

 

Then there is Europe. The most secular continent on the globe is decadent in the quite literal sense that its population is rapidly shrinking. Birth rates are abysmally low in France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Sweden. The nations of Western Europe today show some of the lowest birth rates ever recorded, and Eastern European birth rates are comparably low. Historians have noted that Europe is suffering the most sustained reduction in its population since the Black Death in the fourteenth century, when one in three Europeans succumbed to the plague. Lacking the strong religious identity that once characterized Christendom, atheist Europe seems to be a civilization on its way out. Nietzsche predicted that European decadence would produce a miserable “last man” devoid of any purpose beyond making life comfortable and making provision for regular fornication. Well, Nietzsche’s “last man” is finally here, and his name is Sven.

 

D’Souza’s strongest analysis comes when he considers the true character of the new atheism.  It is, he suggests, a “pelvic revolt against God.”   In other words, it is a revolt against Christian morality — especially sexual morality.  This is not a new observation or argument, but D’Souza makes it exceptionally well:

 

My conclusion is that contrary to popular belief, atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt, it is a moral revolt. Atheists don’t find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren’t adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires. This is something we can all identify with. It is a temptation even for believers. We want to be saved as long as we are not saved from our sins. We are quite willing to be saved from a whole host of social evils, from poverty to disease to war. But we want to leave untouched the personal evils, such as selfishness and lechery and pride. We need spiritual healing, but we do not want it. Like a supervisory parent, God gets in our way. This is the perennial appeal of atheism: it gets rid of the stern fellow with the long beard and liberates us for the pleasures of sin and depravity. The atheist seeks to get rid of moral judgment by getting rid of the judge.

 

D’Souza’s argument here is very insightful.  These atheists are not so much struggling with intellectual doubts but feel limited by moral constraints.  They are repulsed by the very idea of divine judgment, so they get rid of the Judge.

 

Christians will find Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book to be both interesting and helpful.  His apologetic model is G. K. Chesterton, and he writes with a similar style and verve.  I found his argument that Christians should embrace evolution while rejecting Darwinism to be unconvincing and unhelpful.  The dominant model of evolutionary theory is just as atheistic and incompatible with Christianity as classical Darwinism.

 

Nevertheless, the book is filled with interesting and helpful arguments offered by a Christian intellectual who is heavily engaged in the great battle of ideas.  What’s So Great About Christianity is a helpful addition to our public debate.

 

-Scott Bailey 2007

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15 Responses to “An Arguement Against Atheism-Diesh D’Souza!”

  1. Mark said

    I am a skeptic and yet I still live a moral life to the best of my ability.

    – Mark

  2. qbaileys said

    Mark,

    Thank you for the opportunity to quickly expound on the topic of “morals”. As you have stated “I still live a moral life to best of my abillity”…that is all of our problem…we are trying to live to the best of OUR abilities. Each us fail to realize that our own abilities will not be enough in the end and actually fall short in our times. Also, how did “morals” come about? Who instituted morals thousands of years ago? I think you will find that those with faith in God brought about the “morals” we all now strive to live by.

    I don’t want to trust in my own ability to live the “moral life” I should. For all of us this world would be in an even more saddened state of crisis than it is. It is the Christian nations or moral nations that are trying to come to the aid of those poor, in trouble, and under attack…you never will see a communist country, pagan country, unfaithful country attempt to come to the aid of anyone unless it is for political selfish reasons. America has always done this primarily for moral reasons…now that is an entirely different subject.

    I appreciate you bring to light the topic of “moral ability”.

    Pressing on in Christ,
    Scott

  3. Mark said

    Thanks for expounding on the topic of morals. I agree that religion is one source of morals, albeit no more arbitrary than any other source.

  4. qbaileys said

    Mark,

    It really has nothing to do with religion. The Christianity I know and understand is a true relationship with God not a religion. God instituted morals from the beginning, without it we would not be talking about morals period. The world would be an impossible place to live beyond what we know now.

    Now, religions around the world have taken on the moral code ordained by God and teach it within their religions or cults…this runs out into the people, cities, societies built around these religions. I know what you are saying when you say “religion”, but that is where I separate myself on this subject. Religions can be mind numbing, empty shells and what I believe and know is not mind numbing or an empty shell.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Pressing on in Christ,
    Scott

  5. Mark said

    If not attached to a religion, then I do not know which god you are referring to. Christian, Muslim, Morman? And what of morals before the god of isreal – were there any?

  6. qbaileys said

    When I say God and Christianity in the same sentence you know the God I am speaking of…the only living God.

    Morals before the God of Israel? God always has been and always will be, so the morals He instituted have always existed with Him even before the foundations of the world. For further clarification ask Him!

    Pressing on in Him,
    Scott

  7. Mark said

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. sheikhjahbooty said

    There seems to be a logic problem here.

    Do you agree with D’Souza that, “arguments drawn from the Bible or Christian revelation carry no weight”?

    Do you believe that God’s morals have always existed?

    I think you really have to choose one or the other.

    If arguments based on revelation are important, then that would mean that revelation defined moral standards, and that morals did not exist before revelation.

    If morals have always existed than revelation only came about to help us understand them, so any decision can be made without revelation, based on universal moral principles.

    Personally, I believe the second one. I believe that the loss of a religious basis for society is acceptable because God guides all virtuous people to the right path, no matter what their faith may be.

  9. qbaileys said

    Shake Ur Booty,

    I really have no clue what you have just said. Sorry.

    Pressing on in Him,
    Scott

  10. Mark said

    Morals existed before revelation, so a non-believer is able to practice good morals as well as the believer. The morals are universal. My original point: I don’t need to believe in a god to have an exemplary moral life.

  11. qbaileys said

    Mark,

    It was never said you could not live “morally” (in loose terms) without believing in God. The point is that without God you would not have morality, thus, no, you would not be able to live a moral life. However, the most important point of all is that what are morals worth without an eternity to look forward to? If good morals will not get you anywhere except a good life….what is a good life worth without an eternity to look forward to? I just pose the question, because in my life I look eternally not just for right now.

    What do you think good morals are and how or who did you learn them from?

    Pressing on in Him,
    Scott

  12. sheikhjahbooty said

    I have to assume I don’t understand you.

    I thought everyone could tell good from evil on their own, without God, and without the Bible. That’s what the Bible taught me. Genesis 2:17 to 3:19.

    Yes, that’s right, the Bible tells us that we can draft our laws as a secular society, without ever referring to the Bible, and we can still be right with God. The Bible tells us that we were not told good from evil, but that we discovered it on our own.

    Every son of Adam and daughter of Eve can tell good from evil, without God. And if they don’t do it for the promise of Heaven, then they can do it for their children or for the future, or whatever.

  13. Mark said

    Every great religion promises immortality. And every religion believes itself (at least in some way) superior to all others. And you are defending your particular philosophy.

    But I have a different philosophy of immortality that doesn’t involve the God/Jesus of Christianity. In other words, a person doesn’t need to believe in God/Jesus to be immortal (in their minds). It’s the same thing as you knowing that you don’t need to worship the Islamic Allah in order to be immortal.

    Now talking about morals: The Islamic Allah set down some pretty uncomfortable restrictions on his people. And man, look at how those fundamentalists live. That’s totally not for you. So you’re not following Allah’s moral prescriptions, I’m following your God/Jesus moral code because that’s what I was taught growing up and I’m used to it and can live with it.

    Are you beginning to understand where morals come from? They come from the builders of the institution. And in the case of Islam and Christianity, the way of living set out in the holy book it the ever-lasting word of the true God. I was taught the same morals from the same Bible as you.

    But they both can’t be right. And when you step back and look at the issue objectively you see that morals are prophesied and eventually recorded by divinely inspired humans. Humans living in a particular time period and a particular culture and with a very particular agenda.

    WHAT?

  14. Mark said

    I didn’t mean to say that “I’m following your God/Jesus code…” It should read “You’re following your God/Jesus code….”

    Thanks!

  15. Maz said

    Hi. I hope I can come in here and say that according to the Bible, the knowledge of good and evil (thus morality and immorality) came to Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit. Then, they KNEW they had sinned when they disobeyed God, and they felt they had done wrong, therefore they felt shame. So right from the beginning, man had a conscience telling them what was right and wrong, moral and immoral. Everyone since then has been born with a conscience knowing good and evil and has a choice to be moral or immoral.
    The Bible also tells us we are born with a sinful or immoral nature inherited from Adam, so we cannot live a perfectly sinless and moral life. That is why Jesus had to come. HE lived the perfect sinless life, died on the cross and bore our sin and broke the power of the sinful nature within us. By His resurrection we can receive a new life if we accept Him as our Savior. And He can replace the sinful nature with His righteousness. What an exchange.

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