Whats So Great About Christianity
On March 20, 2009 At 6:30 am
Category : Books: Religious and Faith-Based Literature (All Religions, Faiths and New Age)
Tags : Bible, Christianity, Dinesh D Souza, Faith, Fastest Growing Religion, Public Sphere, Reason, Richard Dawkins
Responses : 2 Comments
Today, more than ever, Christianity is under attack. In his new book, bestselling author Dinesh D'Souza takes on the leading critics of Christianity, from E. O. Wilson to Richard Dawkins. D'Souza shows that, against all expectations, Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world and that secularism and atheism are on the decline. This, D'Souza contends, explains the panicky efforts by atheists to discredit Christianity, exclude it from the public sphere, and indoctrinate schoolchildren in atheist doctrine masquerading as science.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars A Forgotten Heritage
The onslaught of books by the "new atheists" in the last few years has given rise to their very aggressive push to exclude religion from the public square. Some have seen this as evidence of an increased appeal for secularism in general and atheism in particular and an indication of the end of religion. Of course, a few years back, many of the same pundits were lauding the "end of history".
The situation is much different now and Dinesh D'Souza has given his own take on these events in his latest effort, What's So Great About Christianity, detailing the place of the Christian faith in the development of Western culture. Far from Christianity being the negative influence on culture promoted by secularists, the author makes a convincing case that the freedoms we enjoy are rooted in the Christian faith of our forefathers.
D'Souza's take on the pop atheist phenomena is that the strident tone evident in many of the titles in the "new atheism" genre is indicative of its eclipse. Atheism did not need to be angry a few decades ago when the conventional wisdom assured everyone the complete triumph of secularism was imminent. But just as victory seemed assured, religion arose from its slumbers as a major factor – not only in the rise of militant Islam but in the growth of Christianity in much of the world and the role of Pope John Paul II on the world stage.
The triumph of secularization myth, D'Souza indicates, is an exercise of Western self-centeredness. Assuming the West's wealth and power assured the triumph of its secular views, there was little apprehension of the fact that secularism removed purpose – the oft misunderstood virtue that gives life to a culture and assures its survival. Secularists are "listless tribes that cannot even reproduce themselves".
Aware of their own nightmarish demographic status, atheists are desperate to stop religion – Christianity in particular – from ascending to a dominant position in society. Thus the influence of religion must be by any means possible including "saving" children from their parents. Oddly enough, in its rebellion against religion, it has produced its own religion based on outdated Enlightenment ideas with scientists as its priesthood and Carl Sagan's enshrining of a naturalist idea of the cosmos as "all that is or ever was or ever will be" for its creed.
The treatment of Christianity by Western intellectuals is especially odd considering that Western culture was forged in that union of Athens and Jerusalem found in Christian theology and could not have arisen under other circumstances. The historical indebtedness of the West to the Church, a fact that the intelligentsia loathes to admit, is D'Souza's next topic as he exposes the myths of the secular culture. Even the very term "secular" is itself rooted in the Church as the designation separating diocesan (secular) priests from those of communal (religious) orders.
Instead of causing the "Dark Ages" that followed a decaying pagan society and barbarian pillage (the far more Christian Byzantium did not experience this fate), it was the influence of the Church that preserved the remains of classical culture in its monasteries and laid the seeds in its schools for the revitalization that would follow. It was in the culture that emerged in Christendom and its struggles that our ideas of rights were formed. Without man being made in the "image of God", there is no reason to expect they were "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" and indeed this has never been the case except in most of the world.
In eight sections that cover various aspects of the debate over the place of Christianity in the West, D'Souza completely deconstructs the pervading secularist historical revisionism and demonstrates how the Christian faith has positively shaped every aspect of our culture. Without the influence of the Christian faith, the dominant position of the West would have been scarcely possible much less probable.
Along the way, the author also deals with the conundrums of the problem of evil, the crimes of the Inquisition, and other alleged scandals of Christian history. Instead of demonstrating some flaw in Christianity, these more reflect a flaw in humanity as the far more excessive evils of the secular 20th century attests. Indeed, this provides even more evidence of the necessity of turning to something that transcends us as a foundation for civilization.
Some minor quibbles on inessential matters aside, D'Souza's major thesis – the case for Christianity's shaping Western culture for the better – is certainly demonstrated. There is simply no getting around the power exerted by Christianity in its hybrid of classical and Jewish culture that shaped Byzantium and then the West.
Although there are a growing number of books answering the challenge of the "new atheism", few combine a command of the various elements and a presentation accessible to a wide audience as effectively as What's So Great About Christianity. In its clarity, charm, and forcefulness, it is an eye opener to the riches of our heritage.
5 Stars A refreshing read in an anti-Christian world.
"What's so great about Christianity" is a great book for those who want to equip themselves with rational arguments for the Christian God whom has become the target of increased bigotry throughout the world. Christianity is NOT, much to popular belief, a 'blind faith'. The bible commands us to 'test everything'. There is nothing science can reveal that disproves God's existence. Again, the atheists think they have carte blanche on science and rational thought. As Dinesh points out some of our greatest scientific minds came to believe based on their empirical observations. This book forces the cynic to face the harsh truth of atheism; in a word: DESPAIR.
2 Stars Grasping for straws as he tries to convince himself
Grasping for straws as he tries to convince himself
I can't help but like D'Souza. In addition to being a fantastic writer, he seems to be very friendly and intelligent, but firm in his stance. He reminds me of myself when my faith was waning and I was grasping for straws, trying to fit my religious beliefs with the modern world and modern science.
In my case, I continued such thought processes, taking D'Souza's arguments to the next logical step, as I realized that you can only go so far trying to reconcile modern science with the Bible before one side has to give. With science we can measure facts. And so in my case, it was religion and the Bible where I let go. D'Souza has not yet made that leap, but I almost get the feeling he wrote this book to try to convince himself that the Bible is true. Perhaps one day he'll do as I did and write a book about why he is no longer a Christian.
If you approach D'Souza's book with that in mind, of a man trying to convince himself that the Bible fits with modern science, you find a rather fascinating, introspective story of a man who clearly is struggling deep inside – at least, that's my impression. What reinforced my suspicion is when D'Souza makes a rather lame attempt to show that with science we're limited only to our five senses, and that there could be an entire universe out there that we're unable to imagine, unable to experience. While it's fun to entertain such an idea, D'Souza offers no explanations why such an unreachable universe consisting of "something else out there" should point unequivocally to Christian spirituality. If there's more out there, then there's no reason to believe it's aligned with Christianity, or any of the other thousands of religions on this planet. Further, there's not even any real reason to suggest that such an unreachable universe even exists. My take: D'Souza latched onto this argument to make unreasonable Biblical theologies somehow "fit" with his own realization of modern science. (And, I might add, arguments such as his have only become necessary with the advent of modern science.) In other words, D'Souza is grasping for wild straws and bending and twisting reality to accommodate a Bible filled with outrageous stories that he himself knows are hard to swallow unless you construct an alternate, unreachable universe where anything goes. That's the universe D'Souza has constructed to allow for Christianity, and not one that we have any reason to believe exists.
D'Souza also makes many arguments for why he thinks a Christian nation is somehow better than an Atheist nation. But that argument is also fundamentally flawed as it is totally disconnected from the idea of a _belief_ in a Christian God. It is almost as if D'Souza feels a nation built on Christianity would be perfect, regardless of whether the Christian God even exists or not. And does this Christian God exist?
D'Souza makes no decent arguments at all for such an existence. Instead he only makes arguments for why he thinks belief in the Christian God is a good thing; it's almost as if he envisions a nation filled with people mindlessly following a God that D'Souza knows doesn't exist, and that such a nation would be good and prosperous. Is this really the kind of nation we'd like to live in?
For me, I did not consciously choose atheism. Rather, after spending 30 years as a Christian I found that I simply could not believe in the Christian claims. During my later years as a Christian, I constructed many arguments similar to D'Souza's to somehow make the Bible "work" with modern times. But it simply doesn't. I can hope that one day D'Souza will take the next step, as I did, and let go of these claims that I, for one, am not convinced he himself even believes in.
(Two stars for excellent writing. No more because the arguments fail to convince me that I should return to Christianity.)
Author, Christian No More
Christian No More: On Leaving Christianity, Debunking Christianity, and Embracing Atheism and Freethinking
5 Stars The Silver Lining
They say every cloud has it's silver lining. Atheism that defines belief in God as a virus of the brain that needs to be eradicated, is a dark cloud. The silver lining of course is the response from those 'in the know' who have written books against this nonsense. This book is probably the best.
Here are the titles of 7 more related books that I have bought in the last 12 months; The Devil Delusion, God and the New Atheism, There is a God, I don't Believe in Atheists, Dawkin's God, Dawkin's Delusion, The End of Reason. These books have made me feel wealthy. Indeed the Bible states that wisdom is better than gold, so I owe a thank-you to 'clanging symbols' that tried to raise misunderstandings and misinterpretations above the knowledge of God.
Dinesh D'souza handles this subject from all 360 degrees and comes out so far ahead of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens that I felt silence should be all we'll hear for awhile. If they aspire to be noble. They are in way over their heads on a subject to sophisticated for them, this book exposed that fact. Read it and see for yourself if D'souza has a thought on any doubts you may have. Brilliant!
4 Stars Another in a Long Line of Important, Must-Read Books!
I have read almost all of D'Souza's books, beginning with his "What's So Great About America." After reading his latest book, as well as watching his televised debate with well-known atheist, Christopher Hitchens, I strongly recommend this excellent, well-researched, and intellectually challenging book, to both Christians and atheists/agnostics alike. A MUST READ!
In most cases, I found D'Souza's arguments both logically solid and compelling. However, there were times, such as in chapter 11, and elsewhere, where the wheels seem to fall off. He has trouble with the Genesis record of creation and quickly gives in to serious compromise, which then leads to what appears to be a position of evolutionary-creationism.
Instead of tackling Genesis head on, D'Souza settled for a theory that God created the essential elements, which through billions of years bounced around and eventually evolved into the universe, which eventually spawned life some millions of years after that (Yikes!). It almost seems as though D'Souza desires save face as an intellectual with the scientific community, even though doing so puts him at odds with the literal account of creation in Genesis. This has to be a risky and tenuous position, at best.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, this straight-forward, no-nonsense book will plow through, or in some cases, plow over a lot of the theory and falsehood we often hear about Christianity, especially historical Christianity.