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What's So Great About Christianity

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What's So Great About Christianity is a book authored by conservative Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza, published in 2007.

The following side by side presents criticism and counters to the trite arguments.

Introduction[edit]

D'Souza describes the New Atheists as follows,

"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 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."

Nowhere in this introduction does D'Souza provide evidence for his assertion by quoting from the new atheist literature. Atheists certainly do not want to "expel Christians" from the public square or "control school curricula." They would not be unhappy with some of the other outcomes.

Often times in this book, D'Souzaa does quote atheist writers, but he does so misleadingly and often falsely.

Chapter 1: The Global Triumph of Christianity[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D’Souza starts off by claiming that Christianity is growing faster than any other religion (including Islam), thought he doesn’t really back that up. Actually, the statistics actually show the fastest growing positions are non-religious and atheism.

Chapter 2: Why Religion is Winning[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza begins by stating the leading atheists realize that religion is growing worldwide, which worries them. This confusion leads them to try to find a biological explanation (he uses Daniel Dennett as an example). D'Souza explores and criticizes the "atheist attempt" to answer the rise of religion with biology.

D'Souza dismisses Richard Dawkins explanation that perhaps there is a particular node in the brain that leads to belief in God. Likewise, D'Souza outright dismisses Steven Pinker's work that a "God module" exists in the brain that may not have any survival purpose and may be a by-product of other modules with evolutionary value. D'Souza interprets Pinker's reasons as claiming there is no Darwinian explanation for this "God Module."

Seemingly unknown to D'Souza, studies have shown that areas of the brain are indeed responsible for religious feelings and concepts. A number of investigations have shown that deep temporal lobe stimulation in the area around the amygdala and hippocampus of the limbic system produces feelings of intense meaningfulness, of depersonalization, of a connection with God, of cosmic connectedness, of out-of-body experiences, a feeling of not being in this world, déjà vu (a feeling that something has been experienced before), jamais vu (a feeling something is happening for the first time even though it has been experienced before), fear, and hallucinations. The temporal lobe emotional memory system is often unable to distinguish between real, external events and non-real, internally generated non-real experiences. Thus, when these internally generated spiritual experiences occur they may be perceived as totally real.

Moving on, D'Souza then contrasts the "scientific and secular" view and the Christan view. The former says you are biological byproduct brought forth through natural forces and death is the final end. The later says you are specially created by the creator of the universe and he loves you very much, he has a plan for you and granted you life so you can be with him for eternity. Based on this, D'Souza makes a hypothetical scenario of two different tribes, one holds the secular view and the other the religious view. D'Souza asks which one will survive? The religious tribe believes their life has a purpose, the other does not. The religious tribe believes their actions have consequences, the other does not. Based on this, D'Souza is not surprised that the religious tribe flourishes to this day. D'Souza then quotes sociologists Pippa Norris and Ron Inglehart that secular countries produce fewer children than religious countries, and concludes that the religious population will outgrow the secular. Finally, D'Souza says that atheist countries like Russia have high abortion rates that outnumber live births 3:1. Other secular countries like Japan are expected to see a population drop. D'Souza then says that poor Muslim countries are experiencing high levels of birth rates, so he dismisses the economic factor that may affect birth rates. D'Souza quotes "evolutionist" David Sloan Wilson that the reason why religious people flourish is because of transcendental purpose. Examining each point made by D'Souza, starting with the two tribes. First he is setting a false dichotomy. A godless society is not a hopeless or purposeless society, nor is it lawless or concerned about its actions. Take for instance the most secular societies today and compare it to America (the most religious industrial country in the world). Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious adherence; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and infant mortality. D'Souza is quick to point out the abortion levels of other countries, but does not consider observing countries that are mostly Christian. Red states in America, which are mostly conservative and Christian, have the highest rates of abortion, teen pregnancy and spread of STDs, see Dirty little secrets of the Bible Belt.

D'Souza point about birth rates may be valid, if it were constant and all Christian denominations promoted large families. Religious birth rate is challenged by many religious factors; such as religious wars and persecutions, refusal of medication over prayer and faith healing, acceptance of pseudo-medicine, and such. A sense of purpose does not improve life significantly, and D'Souza falsely accepts that a godless individual has no purpose. Whether or not life has purpose, any individual can find purpose in life.

Finally, D'Souza concludes that atheism requires a Darwinian explanation. It is lost in that area, just like homosexuality. While there are several possible explanations for homosexuality[1], whether atheism is a product of evolution is irrelevant. Humans are the only species of animals that have a religion, making non-religion/atheism as the most acceptable in the entire animal kingdom. This is why asking whether religion is an evolutionary trait is more important. Atheists would simply reply that there is no logical reason to believe in religion.

Chapter 3: The Atheist Assault on Religion[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza brings up the statistics in America that shows the growing number of non-religious groups (currently about 15% of the population). D'Souza takes no heed to this because there are a wide variety of non-religious people, and the number of atheists seems low compared to the whole group. In the previous chapter, D'Souza argued that religious population would outgrow the secular, but the statistics he just revealed proved him wrong. It does not matter whether the number of atheists rise, but the mere fact religion is dying - which goes against everything D'Souza argued for in the previous chapter.

D'Souza is only concerned with the rising voice of atheism. Mass publication of books and articles, TV series, the Brights Movement and more promoting atheism. D'Souza say this has never been seen before, and they are all militant and arrogant. Their source of confidence, D'Souza claims "is science. In making their case, the atheists often appeal to the revolutionary influence of Charles Darwin." D'Souza claims that evolutionary theory provided atheists an explanation for diversity and features of animals that appear designed to not be designed. D'Souza claims that evolution teaches that souls are fictional, afterlives are myths and purpose is an illusion. All of D'souza's above assertions are far from true. Atheism does not require evolution, nor is the theory of evolution require atheism, see Theistic evolution. Atheists mainly adhere to science because it is the best tool for obtaining knowledge, as well as a vehicle to improve society. Atheists do not praise Charles Darwin as D'Souza implies (and if atheists did how would that matter?), nor does evolution claim that purpose, afterlives, and souls are imaginary. Rather, neuroscience (study of the brain) has shown that souls are not necessary to explain consciousness as well as showing no evidence for a afterlife. Many scientists conclude that souls do not exist, as neuroscientist Dr. David E. Comings, M.D., said in his book Did Man Create God?,
"While the concept of a soul representing the essence of an individual and living on after death is central to many religions its existence is not supported by modern neuroscience which states that consciousness, the spirit and the soul are the product of neuronal activity and die when the person dies. This has major consequences for religion since without a soul there is no cosmic consciousness, no afterlife, no hell, no heaven and thus no reward in heaven for good behavior. In the same sense that some have said "evolution is real, accept it," we must also say that "the neuronal basis of the soul is real, accept it.""[2]
Incidentally secular countries like Denmark get their citizens to behave well without promises or threats about any afterlife.

D'Souza claims the atheistic science has roots in the Enlightenment, but at the time the criticisms of religion were moral not intellectual. D'Souza says this is the same reason for today, quoting Christopher Hitchens about the "moral superiority of atheism" and discussion about "Darwinist" Nietzsche hating Christianity and religion. D'Souza skips around the map a lot, he was supposed to be addressing the "New Atheists" of today and not historical philosophers view of religion. Not once did D'Souza provide a legitimate point by any of the "New Atheists" that their arguments are centered around moral arguments. What Hitchens was aiming for was the moral bankruptcy of religion, whereas atheism and humanism could provide a more satisfying alternative. Where in Richard Dawkins's books does he provide only moral arguments? As for "atheistic science" remark, science is naturalistic rather than atheistic. The naturalism that science adopts is methodological naturalism. It does not assume that nature is all there is; it merely notes that nature is the only objective standard we have. Supernaturalism is not ruled out a priori; it is left out because it has never been reliably observed. There are many scientists who use naturalism but who believe in more than nature. As for science's objections to religion during the Enlightenment and today, they are indeed intellectual rather than moral-based. D'Soouza is only brushing them under the rug, making it appear to the audience that the sciences overall have been dismissed.

D'Souza says historically atheism had no philosophy, but now the language of atheists seem to hint that science provides a wonderful awe that replaces religion. D'Souza quotes Carl Sagan, "Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable." D'Souza claims this statement is not of facts, but of ethics. How D'Souza came to this conclusion is puzzling. Atheism to this day has no philosophy, it has no worldview, all it is and will remain is the lack of belief in god(s). Science only plays a role in discovering the unknown. As for Sagan's statement, it is indeed based on facts. The facts state the following: evolution is a fact, neuroscience is a fact, the universe is billions of years old, and there is no evidence for an afterlife. To remain honest about the facts, we must accept them. To do otherwise, while replacing them with fantasies that contradict observable reality is to be delusional and lying to oneself. Individual atheists have worldviews, some feel awe about the natural world, some embrace Secular humanism and it is hard to see how that presents any problem. Other atheists embrace philosophies of the political left or right, develop a range of interests which may or may not be connected with atheism.

Finally, D'Souza names atheists' greatest hero: Satan. Although he does not explain how Satan influences atheists, but their natures are very similar. Of course D'Souza is simply speculating here. While Satan comes in many forms, the main thing is that he is not pro-Christianity. This is why Satan can be used on hundreds of non-Christian groups, not to mention that Christians can label other Christians satanic simply because they do not follow the exact set of beliefs.

D'Souza ends this chapter foretelling that the next chapters will look at the supposed alternative lifestyle and if it can not only be satisfactory but better than a religious life. What D'Souza does here is present this entire book on a false dichotomy, but more importantly truth is not determined whether or not religion improves lives or society. In the introduction of this book, D'Souza states "either the religious view of reality is correct, or the secular view is correct (or both are wrong)." Not once throughout this book or onward does he ever address this third option. The whole book is built on the false dichotomy between the most extreme variant of materialistic atheism with an elastic religiosity that varies conveniently from orthodox Christianity to a vague credulity towards the supernatural.

Chapter 4: Saving Children From their Parents[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
The basic premise of this chapter is that atheists are using science education to eradicate religion in our schools. How so? “In recent years some parents and school boards have asked that public schools teach alternatives to Darwinian evolution. These efforts sparked a powerful outcry from the scientific and non-believing community.” They did not "ask"; rather, intelligent design proponents have been trying to hop through the Constitution and the Establishment Clause to teach kids religion rather than science. Also, there is no "alternative" to Darwin's theory of evolution just as there is no alternative to the theory of gravity. It is a fact that evolution is the only explanation of biodiversity with either evidential support or scientific validity and no would be alternative notion has ever met even one of the criteria of being a theory.

D’Souza goes on to argue that high school graduates are largely ignorant of science, “So why isn’t there a political movement to fight for the teaching of photosynthesis? Why isn’t the ACLU filing lawsuits on behalf of the Boyle’s Law?” Because no one is demanding that public schools teach that plants get food from fairies, that’s why. This argument isn’t about the quality of education from our public schools, because we can all agree that it needs to be better. That doesn’t justify making them worse by injecting religious dogma disguised as scientific fact.

D’Souza attacks atheists for “indoctrinating” children with science.

D'Souza then says, "A second strategy commonly used to promote atheism on campus utilizes the vehicle of adolescent sexuality. “Against the power of religion,” one champion of agnosticism told me, “we employ an equal if not greater power – the power of hormones.” Atheism is promoted as a means for young people to liberate themselves from moral constraint and indulge their appetites. Religion, in this framework, is portrayed as a form of sexual repression.

How is it worse to teach children facts about the world than it is to force the religion of their parents on them? To hear Dinesh tell it, the amoral atheists are busting into campus Christian groups and promising all the promiscuous sex they can handle if only they renounce their faith. This statement is lacking something: data and evidence. Professors to their best degree do not let their own beliefs affect the way they teach, but not to the extent that D’Souza would have us believe.

Chapter 5: The Spiritual Basis[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza begins with talking about out Americans’ ignorance of the Bible: "The problem is not that our children know too much about Christianity, but that they know too little. In America we do not have the problem of the Muslim madrassas, where only the Koran is studied. Rather, we live in a religiously illiterate society in which the Bible is rarely taught. Consequently many people in American and the West cannot name five of the Ten Commandments or recognize Genesis as the first book of the Bible. There’s no point in even asking about the meaning of the Trinity. One in ten Americans apparently believes that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Ignorance of this kind has made many Westerners aliens in their own civilization, as they no longer know the literature, history, and philosophy that made the West the civilization it is today." If Americans are ignorant to religious teachings, it is the problem of the churches – most have Sunday schools.

D'Souza says "Christianity introduced not only a new religion but a new conception of religion. So successful was this cultural revolution in the West that today the ancient paganism lives only in the names of planets and for those that follow astrology charts. Atheists do not bother to disbelieve in Baal or Zeus and invoke them only to make all religion sound silly. The atheists’ real target is the God of monotheism, usually the Christian God." Simply mentioning this argument and claiming that our “real” target is the god of the Christians does not adequately answer the question. Why is the Christian god any better than Zeus? Also, atheists DO bother to disbelieve in Baal and Zeus, because atheism by definition is the lack of belief in any gods. However, there aren’t many people around these days that DO believe in Zeus and Baal, so atheists rarely need to argue their non-existence.

Chapter 6: Christianity and Human Fallibility[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
Dinesh gets into the habit of comparing modern society to the ancient Greeks and Romans. This is done here and there throughout the book, but more significantly here.

Even better, according to D'Souza, Christianity is apparently responsible for capitalism.

If modern American society is a capitalist society, and Dinesh is comparing it to ancient Greek and Roman societies (which were not the same thing at all) and yet Christianity is responsible for capitalism... where does that leave the ancient Roman empire? Where does it leave the tens of individual ancient Greek Polis, some of which were capitalist, others of which were not? Never mind that the ideals constantly reinforced in the Bible indicate not a capitalist-enabled lifestyle, but that of primarily nomadic or otherwise pastoral herders.

Chapter 7: The Origin of Human Dignity[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza says that Christianity has always treated everyone as equals, which is a "Christian legacy" that virtually all secular people cherish. This Christian idea was the propelling force behind the campaign to end slavery, the movement for democracy and popular self-government, and also the successful attempt to articulate an international doctrine of human rights.

D'Souza mentions Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" he claimed that this was a self-evident truth, but D'Souza says it is not evident at all and most cultures throughout history (and even today) reject the proposition. People vary and differentiate in many degrees and inequality seems to be the self-evident reality of human nature. Jefferson knew this, so he asserted a "special kind" human equality: human beings are moral equals. D'Souza says, "The preciousness and equal worth of every human life is a Christian idea. Christians have always believed that God places infinite value on each human life He creates and that He loves each person equally. In Christianity you are not saved through your family or tribe or city. Salvation is an individual matter. Moreover, God has a "vocation" or calling for every one of us, a divine plan for each of our lives. During the Reformation, Martin Luther stressed the individualism of the Christian journey. Not only are we each judged as individuals at the end of our lives, but throughout our lives we also relate to God as individuals. Even religious truth is not just handed down to us but is worked out through individual study and prayer. These ideas have had momentous consequences."

Next, D'Souza examines the claim that modern notions of democracy and equal rights trace back to ancient Greece and Rome. D'Souza says the American founders were not so sure. Alexander Hamilton wrote that it would be "as ridiculous to seek for models in the simple ages of Greece and Rome as it would be to go in quest of them among the Hottentots and Laplanders." In The Federalist we read that the classical idea of liberty decreed "to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob." While the ancients had direct democracy, supported by large-scale slavery, we have something quite different: representative democracy, with full citizenship and the franchise extended in principle to all. Let us try to understand how this great change came about.

D'Souza says that in ancient Greece and Rome, human life had very little value. The Spartans left weak children to die on the hillside. Infanticide was common, as it is even today in many parts of the world. Fathers who wanted sons had few qualms about drowning their newborn daughters. Human beings were routinely bludgeoned to death or mauled by wild animals in the Roman gladiatorial arena. The greatest of the classical thinkers, from Seneca to Cicero, saw nothing wrong with these practices. Christianity banned them, and Christianity introduced the moral horror we now feel when we hear about them.

Next, D'Souza argues that women had a very low status in ancient Greece and Rome, as they do today in many cultures, notably in the Muslim world. Aristotle expressed the view of many when he wrote that in men reason finds its full expression. In children, according to Aristotle, reason is present but undeveloped. In women, he wrote, reason is present but unused. Such views are common in patriarchal cultures. And, of course, they were prevalent in the Jewish society in which Jesus lived. But Jesus broke the taboos. From society's point of view and even from some of his male disciples' point of view, Jesus scandalously permitted women (even of low social status) to travel with him and be part of his circle of friends and confidantes.

D'Souza says that Christianity did not contest patriarchy, but it elevated the status of women within it. "The Christian prohibition of adultery—a sin viewed as equally serious for men and women—placed a moral leash on the universal double standard that commanded women to behave themselves while men did as they pleased. Unlike Judaism and Islam, which treated men and women unequally in matters of divorce, Christian rules on the matter were identical for women and men. So dignified was the position of the woman in Christian marriage that women predominated in the early Christian church, as in some respects they do even today. As a result, the Romans scorned Christianity as a religion for women." "Unlike Judaism and Islam, which treated men and women unequally in matters of divorce, Christian rules on the matter were identical for women in men." Yeah: Christianity does not allow divorces.

D'Souza goes on to the Middle Ages, where a new idea developed: the idea of courtly love. "For the first time in history, the woman who was a knight's object of love was raised to a high status. In fact, her status was higher than that of the man pursuing her. Women were increasingly viewed as companions whose conversation was prized and whose company was avidly sought. Chaucer's independent-minded Wife of Bath is inconceivable in any other culture of the fourteenth century. Courtesy, the habit of treating women with deference, was invented by Christianity. Social life involving men and women began in the late Middle Ages. Moreover, as family life came to be seen as the central locus of human happiness, the role of the mother in preserving the household and ensuring the education of children became more highly valued."

D'Souza then addresses slavery. First referencing Sam Harris and Steven Weinberg, D'Souza says, "These atheist writers are certainly not the first to fault Christianity for its alleged approval of slavery. But slavery pre-dated Christianity by centuries and even millennia. It was widely practiced in the ancient world, from China and India to Greece and Rome, and most cultures regarded it as an indispensable institution, like the family." D'Souza contradicts himself here. Slavery was an indispensable institution, just like the family. On page 58, you’ll find that family life was dispensable, until the Christians made it so great: "First, Christianity made family life important in a way that it wasn’t before. No longer was family life subordinated to the life of the city, as both Plato and Aristotle thought it should be."

D'Souza says "Christianity from its very beginning discouraged the enslavement of fellow Christians." We read in one of Paul's letters that Paul himself interceded with a master named Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave. "Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while," Paul says, "so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but as a brother." How can a slave also be a brother? Christians began to see the situation as untenable. Slavery, the foundation of Greek and Roman civilization, withered throughout medieval Christendom and was replaced by serfdom, which was not the same thing. While slaves were "human tools," serfs were human beings who had rights of marriage, contract, and property ownership that were legally enforceable. Medieval feudalism was based on a hierarchical system of reciprocal rights and duties between lords and serfs."

When did the first anti-slavery movement in the world begin? D'Souza says with the Christians! "The movement started in late eighteenth-century Britain, spread to other parts of Europe, and then gathered force in the United States, where the economy of the South was heavily dependent on slave labor. In England, William Wilberforce spearheaded a campaign that began with almost no support and was driven entirely by his Christian convictions—a story effectively told in the film Amazing Grace. Eventually Wilberforce triumphed, and in 1833 slavery was outlawed in Britain. Pressed by religious groups at home, England then took the lead in repressing the slave trade abroad. The debate over slavery in America was essentially a religious debate. All sides claimed the authority of the Bible and the Christian tradition. The slaveowners invoked Paul and pointed to the fact that slavery had existed in Christian countries since the time of Christ. Free blacks who agitated for the emancipation of their fellow blacks invoked the narrative of liberation in the Book of Exodus, in which Moses led the captive Israelites to freedom: "Go down, Moses, way down to Egypt land and tell old Pharaoh, let my people go.”"

Chapter 8: The Theological Roots of Science[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
In this chapter, D'Souza tries to conjure links between Christianity and the rise of science. D'Souza says that the atheists say that there is a war between religion and science, but D'Souza seeks to observe the origin of science. According to D'Souza, science arose only one time in human history: in Europe, in the civilization called Christendom. D'Souza claims that modern science is the invention of Christianity, and it was Christians who were the first to make scientific breakthroughs. First of all, the idea Christianity invented science is not only false in every conceivable detail but so egregiously false that anyone with even the slightest academic competence and responsibility should have known it was false. Which means its advocates must be either be embarrassingly incompetent, perversely dishonest, or wildly deluded. A big and obvious objection to this demonstrably false claim is that it violates one of the most basic principles of causality: when the cause is in place, its effect is seen. Christianity fully dominated the whole of the Western world from the fifth to the fifteenth century, and yet in all those thousand years there was no Scientific Revolution. A cause that fails to have its predicted effect despite being continually in action for a thousand years is usually considered refuted, not confirmed. No Scientific Revolution took place in the Eastern half of the Christian world either, which had none of the West's excuses. The East was not overrun by barbarians and remained prosperous and developed for five centuries. Why didn't any Scientific Revolution take place in the Byzantine Empire, despite it being just as Christian, and in every respect more successful? Those caught be this question usually solve it by denigrating the Byzantines as somehow the "wrong kind" of Christians.[3] But once you start down that road, the notion that Christianity is the solution for a Scientific Revolution goes right out the window. The fact remains whether East or West, once Christians dominated the culture, no Scientific Revolution ensued. It took over a thousand more years.

Secondly, any historian will tell you that science did not arise in Medieval Europe as D'Souza claims. Rather, it goes back very far. The ancient Greeks were the first to use science, in fact they invented reason (in the very sense he means, developing the formal sciences of logic, philosophy, mathematics, and rhetoric). As for the Christians making scientific discoveries, D'Souza is committing a fallacy here. Any motive in Europe at this time had to be agreeable with Christianity, otherwise dire consequences would be the ending result (often times being physical punishment). This was not the time when you could enjoy the liberty of being a heretic, atheist, pagan or infidel without facing repercussions that could put an end to your career, your freedom, or even your life. Such an atmosphere compelled everyone to find inventive ways to sell any new ideas as perfectly Christian, even biblical, regardless of their actual motives or inspiration. Hence finding in that period Christian or biblical arguments for embracing new ideas does not confirm Christianity or the Bible was the cause of those ideas, rather than just the marketing strategy required to sell them at the time.

Finally, another fallacy by D'Souza is the conflation of necessary, sufficient, and contributing causes. A good case can be made that scientific thinking was actually the byproduct of early pagan theology.[4] But even if so, no one would conclude from this that paganism was required. Many aspects of pagan religion could contribute to the rise of science, but it does not follow that only paganism can have these attributes. It is not even certain they are all required. It may have provided values that helped science develop, which science could still have developed without, or that other worldviews could have encouraged just as well.

D'Souza claims before science came into the picture, the dominantly held belief was animism: the idea that everything had a spirit. After that developed polytheistic beliefs, then eastern beliefs, until the first religion to be based on reason: Christianity. D'Souza says that Judaism and Islam were religions of law whereas Christianity is a religion of creed. Here, D'Souza claims that Christianity is the only religion built on reason and there are no theologians in the history of any other religion. But as just explained earlier, reason was invented by the ancient Greeks -who were pagans! So, D'souza is essentially arguing that Christianity is based on paganism. And any attentive reader of the Bible knows Christianity was from the beginning based on scripture, inspiration, and revelation, not "reason."[5] To see what a religion actually based on reason looks like, just look at the formal theologies of the Greco-Roman philosophers. Yes, the pagans invented theology too.[6]

D'Souza claims Augustine solved the infinite regress problem by claiming God created time along with the universe, as well as the causation argument (every effect has a cause). To solve the "Who created God problem", D'Souza argues that a series can be caused by an outside source. God, being the outside source to a limited reality, is not part of the limited reality and is therefore infinite and therefore does not require a cause. Unfortunately, Augustine did not solve anything as D'Souza would have hoped for. The most concise answer to this argument is: "Who created God?", which in turn raises the question "Who created God's creator?", and so on ad infinitum. This is also related to the phrase "It's turtles all the way down". The typical response to this is that God always existed. This attempt to terminate the infinite regress is flawed as an uncaused god is posited as the first cause, but the notion of the universe being uncaused or containing its own cause is rejected out of hand as is the notion that a god or gods and goddesses different from the God of the Bible might have caused the universe. If we are to posit that the universe had to have an uncaused god to set it into motion, why not save a step and say "the universe or the multiverse always existed?"

Next, D'Souza brings up Anselm's ontological argument (because D'Souza thinks it is evident and hard to refute). The argument is essentially "if X is God, then X has the property of existence." This is logically equivalent to "if X does not exist, then X is not God." It does not prove that there are any entities that actually match the definition.

Anselm's logic can be shown to be flawed using mystical beings like unicorns,

  1. Let us define a unicorn as a magical equine being that has one horn, and that exists.
  2. By the above definition, such a being must necessarily exist.
  3. Therefore unicorns exist.

Chapter 9: Christianity[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
Christianity invented science, and the greatest idea of modern science EVER is that science is based NOT on reason but on faith.

D'Souza quotes physicist Richard Feynman, "I do not believe that the scientist can have that same certainty of faith that very deeply religious people have" and astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson complains that "the claims of religions rely on faith" and boasts that "the claims of science rely on experimental verification." D'Souza says, "Feynman and Tyson seem quite unaware that at the heart of their cherished scientific enterprise is a faith-based proposition no less mysterious than any religious dogma. This is the presumption, quite impossible to prove, that the universe is rational." Later on in Chapter 14, D'Souza says "The theist ... is much more open-minded and reasonable.... he also admits the possibility of other types of knowledge."

Putting these two together, D'Souza shows his deep misunderstanding.

  1. The scientific method is not a matter of faith. In particular, the existence of rational theories that accurately describe nature is not a leap of faith, nor even an assumption. It is a hypothesis. This means that we accept such theories only as long as the evidence supports them.
  2. The scientific method is not an arbitrary limitation of our search for reliable knowledge. It is the application in a particular context of the universal and standard way of acquiring knowledge, namely assembling verifiable evidence. This is not limited to science. Even when we ask questions about nonscientific things, such as how people feel and why they do things, we still base our conclusions on the available evidence.
The essential point is the one mentioned at the beginning: remember how all truth-seeking enterprises, from courts of law to genealogical research, are conducted. They do not employ supernatural explanations or invoke acts of God. That is not because they are based on faith in an "atheistic methodology" nor because they are arbitrarily limited to a subset of possible explanations. They simply recognize that there is nowhere near enough evidence to justify the inclusion of God or the supernatural.

Chapter 10: Reopening the Galileo Case[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza says there is no "war" between science and religion. D'Souza says the following;
This thrilling drama suffers from only one limitation: it is not true. Historian David Lindberg writes, "There was no warfare between science and the church." Indeed, historians are virtually unanimous in holding that the whole science versus religion story is a nineteenth-century fabrication. The names of the fabricators are known. The first is John William Draper, who introduced the "warfare" model in his popular 1874 book History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. This book is full of whoppers and lies, and is today read mostly as a case study in fin de siecle anti-religious prejudice. The second source is Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, whose 1896 two-volume study History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom is a more sophisticated warfare account, but no less misleading than Draper's. The source documents have now been discredited, but their tune continues to be sounded by leading atheist writers.
Not a single reference, citation, or even a single counter-argument was provided. All D'Souza did was basically say "I say that all historians are with me on this, and these books are all wrong." he does not even cite David Lindberg's quote, or provide any of Lindberg's reasons or arguments.

D'Souza says that no Christian believed that the earth was flat. "In reality the ancient Greeks and the medieval Christians all knew that the earth was round. They observed that the hull of a ship sailing from shore disappears before the top of the mast. They also saw that during a lunar eclipse the earth casts a circular shadow on the moon. Dante's medieval cosmology was based on the idea of a spherical earth. So the idea that the church or educated Christians believed in the flat-earth theory is a concoction of the nineteenth-century "warfare" propagandists." Despite all this evidence, Christianity taught that the earth was flat, immobile, and center of the universe. Many apologists will deny that Christianity taught the earth was flat, but flat-earthism was heavily supported by the earliest Christian father figures;[7]
  • Theophilus of Antioch
  • Irenaeus
  • Tertullian
  • Methodius
  • Theodore of Mopsuestia
  • John Chrysostom
  • Cyril of Jerusalem
  • Ephraim Syrus
  • Athanasius of Alexandria
  • Diodorus of Tarsus
  • Epiphanius of Salamis
  • Hilary of Poitiers
  • and Severianus of Gabala.

D'Souza says that people, including Galelieo, accepted Ptolemy, who held that the earth was stationary and the sun revolved around it. "The geocentric universe was a classical, not a Christian, concept. The Christians accepted it, though not because of the Bible. The Bible never says that the sun revolves around the earth. It is silent on this scientific question. There are a few passages that refer to the sun rising and setting, but these can be understood as a spiritual text using ordinary understandable language." The Bible never says that the sun revolves around the earth? Try reading verses like 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalms 93:1, Psalms 96:10, Psalms 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5. Christians did believe that the earth was the center of the universe according to the Bible - and they took it serious.

D'Souza says that Galileo reported to the Jesuits, the leading astronomers of the day, who told him that the church was divided in support for Ptolemy or Copernicus. D'Souza says that the Pope admired Galileo, as well as the learned theologian Cardinal Robert Bellarmine - the Head of the Inquisition. D'Souza is basically fabricating history at this point. Did Cardinal Ballermino admire Galileo. At the trial of Galileo in 1615, Cardinal Bellarmino said, “To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.” As Head of the Inquisition, he would have major influence over the overall view of the Inquisition. However, the Judgment of the Holy Inquisition ruled, “The first proposition, that the sun is the centre and does not revolve around the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical, because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture. The second proposition, that the earth is not the centre but revolves around the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith.” - the Judgment of the Holy Inquisition

D'Souza says "atheist propagandists" have said Galileo was charged with heresy and was placed in a dungeon and tortured. Rather, he was put under the custody of archbishop of Siena, who put Galileo under house arrest for five months in his magnificent palace. Then Galileo was permitted to return to his villa in Florence and continue his work unrelated to heliocentrism. D'Souza does not name a single person - atheist or not - who claims to be "propagating" that Galileo was charged with heresy and tortured.

D'Souza ends with the following
The traditional picture of Galileo as a martyr to intellectual freedom and a victim of the church's opposition to science," writes historian Gary Ferngren, "has been demonstrated to be little more than a caricature." The case was an "anomaly," historian Thomas Lessl writes, "a momentary break in the otherwise harmonious relationship" that had existed between Christianity and science. Indeed there is no other example in history of the Catholic church condemning a scientific theory. Galileo was a great scientist who had very little sense. He was right about heliocentrism, but several of his arguments and proofs were wrong. The dispute his ideas brought about was not exclusively between religion and science, but also between the new science and the science of the previous generation. The leading figures of the church were more circumspect about approaching the scientific issues, which were truly unsettled at the time, than the impetuous Galileo. The church should not have tried him, but his trials were conducted with considerable restraint and exemplary treatment. Galileo himself acted badly, which no doubt contributed to his fate. Even so, his fate was not so terrible. Alfred North Whitehead, a noted historian of science, concludes from the case that "the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.

Chapter 11: God and the Astronomers[edit]

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Here, D'Souza carries on from Chapter 8, that God started the Big Bang, because it was the beginning of the universe as we know it and there was no "before" the Big bang because that was the moment when God willed everything into existence. He never addresses the idea that the Big Bang may in fact have been one in a series of bangs and compressions, and that the universe always has been, and always compresses or expands.

Chapter 12: Man's Special Case in Creation[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza claims that the Copernicus revolution - the intellectual revolution that showed that we had no special place in the cosmos - is dead. According to D'Souza, new scientific discoveries has shown that earth was specially crafted for us. D'Souza claim the principle of mediocrity (the principle that states humans inherited an insignificant rock in space) is dead. Unfortunately for D'Souza, the Copernican "revolution" is not dead. In fact, the Copernican Principle is alive and much accepted by scientists. There is no evidence for any aspect of earth that was "specifically crafted for us." Rather than the earth being made for us, we are adapted to earth. Similarly to what Douglas Adams once said: the claim that the earth was specially created for us is just as a puddle of water thinking the crack in the ground was specifically created for it. Unfortunately, once the sun rises and the water evaporates, or when erosion causes the puddle to break down, the truth is revealed: the earth is not specially created for humanity. To think otherwise is simply wishful thinking.

D'souza claims that the Bible does not claim that the earth is the center of the universe, nor did any of the first Christians believe the earth occupies the most important place in the cosmos (the most important was Heaven). This is simply not true. Geocentrism was commonly held among early Christian fathers, all quoting the Bible as the center of the universe. Ex.:Ps. 93:1; Ps. 19:1-6; Josh. 10:12-14'1 Chron. 16:30;I Sam. 2:8. Martin Luther and John Calvin agreed that the Bible states the earth does not move. Geocentrists like Dr. Bouw of the Society of Biblical Astronomy wonder how their fellow Bible believers can ignore such plain language depicting the earth's immobility and the daily (and seasonal) movement of the sun and stars, especially when the text declares that God is doing the moving (and able to halt the motion) of the sun and stars.[8]

D'Souza brings up the anthropic principle as evidence that the earth was specially created for man. Why does the universe have certain rules, and yet it does not have to follow the rules. D'Souza claims that the anthropic principle is widely accepted amongst physicists (but he does not refer to any source to back up this claim). The anthropic principle is not widely accepted. All the principle is about is statistical trickery. Many lay people are often fooled by this "fine-tuning argument" because it makes the odds make it look like a miracle. The recipe for this statistical trick is simple.
  • Simply state the odds that should be calculated before an event after the event has already taken place.
  • If you want the event to appear even more unlikely, begin adding complicated factors (which is very easy to do after the fact).
  • And viola! You've made an ordinary event appear to be extraordinary.

After examining the "odds" and "numbers" for certain factors, D'Souza asks who is responsible for all this? Right away, D'Souza turns to Psalm 19:1 and Romans. This argument is nonsensical. It is no more valid than pointing to several verses in the Qu'ran or Dianetics, or even any random science fiction book. Plus, the question is misleading. It is not "who" is responsible for this, which implies that some personified entity is involved. Rather, the question should be "what" is responsible.

Now D'Souza addresses certain criticisms of the anthropic principle. First dealing with the counter-argument "accident." Then comes the Multi-verse (which D'Souza says there is no empirical evidence to support the Multi-verse). In fact, D'Souza claims if an atheist accepts the Multi-verse, then the atheist should be able to accept Heaven and Hell (just envision them as alternate universes). D'Souza then claims that Occam's Razor refutes the Multi-verse. Here, D'Souza is wrong about the Multi-verse. If our universe appeared as a quantum fluctuation in a preexisting space-time void, this could have happened more than once—and probably did.

Now lets discuss the problems of the anthropic principle. The Anthropic Principle is a straw man, weakened by the fact that it is basically a tautology. It can be eliminated altogether by multiple universes, quantum mechanics and M-theory. The Anthropic Principle cannot be relied upon to prove that God exists.

The Anthropic Principle is just a tautology, or circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is a statement that is true by its own definition. In relation to the universe the tautology is that because we are here, we exist to ask the question. If we did not exist the question could not be asked. Or stated differently, if the features of the universe were incompatible with our existence, we would not be here to notice it.

The Copernican Principle is the opposite of the Anthropic Principle and states that humans do not occupy a privileged place in the universe. Successive astronomical discoveries seem to support this principle. In the middle Ages it was assumed that God created man in his image, and such, man and the earth were at the center of the universe. Copernicus and Galileo abolished the illusion that the earth was the center of the solar system and put the sun in its rightful heliocentric place. It was then found that the sun was not at the center of our galaxy, and Hubble showed that our own galaxy, the Milky Way, was not at the center of the universe. Finally, the multiverse concept suggests our universe may be just one of many constantly sprouting new universes, further diminishing the Anthropic Principle conclusion that the universe is here just for us. The Anthropic Principle emphasizes the rarity of life and consciousness while the Copernican Principle forces us to realize it was not all done just so we could exist.

Why the Universe is NOT Finely-Tuned for Life[edit]

Is the world fine tuned for life? Let us ignore all the lions, bears, tigers, and sharks that would eat us. Let us ignore all the bacteria and viruses that want to infect us. Lets ignore all the poisonous snakes, fish, plants and mushrooms that would kill us. Lets ignore the forest fires, blizzards, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, avalanches, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes that can also kill us. Lets ignore the fact that a fall from a height greater than 10 meters would probably kill us, or submerged underwater for over 10 minutes we would surely die.

Yes, let’s ignore all that and assume that the earth is a perfect place to support life. Lets for a moment wrap ourselves in a blanket of ignorance and arrogance and assume that the earth, and the universe, were designed clearly just for us. Unfortunately, most of the earth is off-limits to allow human life. Take us above 8,000 meters above sea level and we will slowly die from a lack of oxygen. Going below 2,000 meters below sea level, and we will slowly cook from the heat of the earth’s interior. It turns out that less than one-half of 1 percent (0.46%) of the earth’s total volume is capable of sustaining human life. Meaning, even if we manage to imagine that the earth is the Eden, we know it is not. More than 99.54% of it would kill us rather quickly.

But this is just earth; perhaps the solar system around us would be more suitable for us. Actually, the answer is no. Go out outside of the earth’s atmosphere and you would quickly die in a vacuum of space. And if the 0 pressure did not get you, the scorching heat in the sun, the freezing cold in the shade, or the cosmic radiation would kill you quickly.

What about all those other planets. Well, you would burn on Mercury. You would freeze on Pluto. You would suffocate, and then freeze on Mars. There is no place to stand on Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune or Uranus. On Venus, you would be cooked and crushed to death in short order.

So no, nowhere else in the solar system is hospital for sustaining human life. And it gets worse. Let’s assume everything for a moment despite everything modern science has been able to tell us about extra solar planets, that every single star in every single galaxy has an earth-like planet orbiting it. Also, ignore the giant cosmic voids that found between clusters of galaxies, even with these gross assumptions, it turns out that less than 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000073% is habitable for human life. Or to put it in another way 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999927% of the universe is not habitable for life. Kind of takes the wind out of the sails for the fine-tuning argument.

If the universe was fine-tuned for us, surely a bit more of it would be habitable. The numbers are so absurd that it defies comprehension. It is equivalent to a person after exploring 1.6 BILLION rocks like our Moon and finding one single virus particle on only one of the moons and concluding that collectively they are all fine-tuned for life. Or having six MILLION Olympic-sized swimming pools that can collectively hold no more than a single molecule of water, yet claiming they are fine-tuned for water storage. Or claiming that a hard-drive the size of the earth that can only store one bit (1/0), or a hard-drive the size of Jupiter that cannot even hold a single tweet on twitter is fine tuned for storing data. Or claiming that 2 MILLION 50 ton cranes that cant collectively hold more than a single proton are fine tuned for lifting. Or claiming that a plane at full speed travels less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the diameter of a proton over 10 billion years is fine-tuned for speed.

If you think these examples are ridiculous, then you would agree that so too is the argument that the universe is fine-tuned for life. It does not take a genius to realize how absurd and flawed this argument truly is. If this is the best it could possibly be, if this is the best environment using the natural laws of the universe that could allow human life, then it seems that the creator is not as all-powerful after all.

Let us also ponder the enormous waste of matter. The hundred billion galaxies, each with on the order of a hundred billion stars, are composed of “atomic matter,” that is, chemical elements. The portion that is luminous, that is, visible to the eye and optical telescopes, constitutes just one-half of one percent of all the mass in the universe. Another 3.5 percent of the matter in galaxies is of the same atomic nature, only nonluminous. Just 2 percent of atomic matter is composed of elements heavier than helium. One-half of 1 percent of this is composed of carbon, the main element of life. That is, 0.0007 of the mass of the universe is carbon. Yet we are supposed to think that God specially designed then universe so it would have the ability to manufacture, in stars, the carbon needed for life?

Chapter 13: Paley Was Right: Evolution and the Argument from Design[edit]

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D'Souza begins introducing William Paley's argument known as the Watchmaker argument and how it provided the best argument for God. However, this argument was refuted by Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker, in which Dawkins shows that natural selection is capable of producing complex systems that give the appearance of design.

Next, D'Souza provides several statistics that the American public generally accepts creationism over evolution. The Arabic and Iranian populations overwhelmingly accept Islam over Christianity. What the general public accepts does not really matter, what does matter is what do the scientists say? The overwhelmingly (over 95%) accept evolution as a theory and fact.

Moving on, D'Souza asks the question: What are the effects of teaching evolution? Are we just animals? If so, why don't we act like animals? However, a few pages later, D'Souza admits that Christians agree with Aristotle that man is an animal, just a rational animal - but an animal nonetheless. So how can D'Souza be afraid of evolution but not Aristotle? Evolution does not teach that humans are animals; biology in general does. More specifically, humans are a species of primate, which is a category of mammal, which is a category of vertebrate, which is a category of animal. This was known more than 2,000 years ago. D'Souza does say the main difference between man and the other animals is that God created us with a soul. However, due to the fact of evolution, the concept of soul is a huge problem. For instance, at what point did God insert souls into the human species? Somewhere between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens? What D'souza is trying to make us accept is that sometime several millions of years ago when our ancestry split, God inserted a soul into our specific species without getting it mixed into our sibling species. There is also the question: Did the first life have a soul, and therefore all life that latter evolved also have a soul? D'Souza dismisses that last question due to his belief that only man has a soul, but perhaps the greatest problem to the belief that humans have souls is the simple fact that there is no evidence that has ever proven or detected a soul. D'Souza bases his arguments on a belief that says it is just a given that humans are special.

D'Souza claims that Social Darwinists have used natural selection and survival of the fitness to justify racism, eugenics, anti-immigration laws, and such. While many scientists say that they are not using science to justify such inhuman things, D'Souza says indeed they are. Evolution, according to D'Souza, is anti-religious since it shows that humans are the result of natural processes and not special creation. Evolution has a social agenda and is anti-religious. This is why Americans refuse to accept it: Because it is atheism masquerading as science; it undermines traditional religion and morality; and kids will come home non-believers and moral relativists. No matter how unscientific D'Souza tries to portray evolution as a method to explain life without God, this is completely wrong. Evolution is not an explanation for life without God, evolution is science, and as such it’s a way of explaining life without magic; there’s a difference. Even at the kindergarten level, science is defined as a way of learning about the natural world; “natural” meaning, “in accordance with the laws of nature”. “Nature” is further defined as the sum of all forces or phenomenon in the entirety of perceptible reality. Everything that really exists has properties, and anything that can be objectively indicated, measured or tested is therefore natural. The supernatural is contrasted with this, being defined as that which is beyond the material universe, outside our reality, a transcendent dream-like dimension indistinguishable from the illusions of imagination, independent of, and even defiant of physical laws, and thus neither detectable nor describable by science. The evocation of inexplicable paranormal forces or supernatural entities to influence natural events or phenomenon are usually described as “miracles” but are also clearly “magic” by definition.

D'Souza examines the book of Genesis. While Genesis does say that the universe was "created out of nothing, but it does not say that man was created out of nothing." D'Souza says the Bible is correct in saying we were created from the earth, which is why we share DNA with the other animals.

D'Souza says that the main objectors to Darwin's theory were not Christians (although several Christians defended Darwin), but Darwin's greatest opposition came from the non-religious scientists. D'Souza mentions Richard Owen and Louis Agassiz as among the scientists who opposed Darwin.

This is not surprising nor is it significant. In science, peer review is a method of falsification and scientists throughout history constantly try to falsify others hypothesis. However, if it does not turn out to be false and can be repeatably tested and proven, then it is true - and that is the deal with evolution. For over 150 years, scientists have proven time and time again that Darwin was right about evolution via natural selection.

As for Richard Owen and Louis Agassiz, D'Souza does not mention anything about these men. For instance, Sir Richard Owen was a celebrated biologist and the foremost authority on paleofauna in the world in his time. He was credited with the establishment of the British Museum of Natural History, and of inventing the word, “dinosaur”, but he did so by suppressing the work of other scientists and taking credit for their discoveries himself. Owen was not well-liked. He had a reputation of never admitting his own mistakes, and he was often described as dishonest, malicious, and hateful. He was devoutly religious, but he was also a leading anatomist and zoologist, respected and unrivaled in each of these fields, and he was both Darwin’s superior and fiercest adversary. Unlike Darwin, Owen believed religion should guide and even override scientific research. Darwin said that if his theory were true, then we should find a sort of proto-bird with unfused wing fingers, and two years later, we did. Confronted with this, Owen admitted that Archaeopteryx was a “peculiar” bird, but he dismissed it as ‘just’ a bird, and not exactly what Darwin had predicted. He couldn’t honestly accept or admit a transitional species. So Owen largely ignored Archaeopteryx’s saurian features and went on to argue how it couldn’t have evolved from reptiles by distinguishing its anatomy from pterosaurs rather than from dinosaurs. Thomas Huxley immediately exposed Owen’s deceptive analysis when he published his own counter examination.

Owen also promised his religious fellows that he would succeed where Linnaeus had failed, in finding some physical trait to distinguish humans from apes, whether it was really the case or not. First he presented similarities as differences, and when he couldn’t find any legitimate differences, he made up entirely fictitious ones. As if his authority would always remain unquestioned, he proclaimed amid other scientists in peer-review, that the hippocampus minor was a uniquely human lobe of the brain and absent among apes. Such an expert as he couldn’t have made such an obvious mistake, and his curious inability to concede any error except by way of evasive maneuver finally allowed Huxley to indict him for perjury. Although Owen gave many lectures, wrote hundreds of scientific papers, and received honors, lands, and titles from the crown, he was also accused throughout his career of deliberate deceit, of “lying for God and for malice”, and even of writing anonymous letters to the press praising himself -in third person- while raving disdain against his colleagues. Finally, Sir Richard Owen was dismissed from the Royal Society's Zoological Council amid myriad charges of plagiarism spanning the entirety of his career.

D'Souza quote mines Ernest Mayer, making it appear that Darwin had no evidence at all of natural selection. This is not true at all. Darwin's finches and observations were all evidences of natural selection and more was found during the Voyage of the Beagle.

D'Souza mentions the intelligent design movement, led by leading figures like William A. Dembski, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson (who are trained in mathematics, biochemistry, and law). D'Souza says these people ask important questions, such as How to account for the complexity of the eye? Why was there an "explosion" of new forms of life, entirely unanticipated in the fossil record, during the Cambrian era? Despite a long history of experimentation, breeders have never been able to breed across species lines and produce new species, so how can random mutations achieve what carefully orchestrated cross-breeding has failed to do? While the fossil record shows evidence of microevolution (one type of finch evolves into another type of finch), where is the evidence for macroevolution (one species evolves into a different species)?

D'Souza says he accepts the theory of evolution, as does the majority of scientists. To D'Souza, the best evidence for him is the geological record, and he doubts it will ever be refuted. However, he claims that evolution has "limits." "When Dennett invokes evolution as an all-purpose explanation in cosmology psychology culture, ethics, politics, and religion, he too goes way beyond the evidence. Here we must distinguish between the empirical and metaphysical aspects of evolution."

D'Souza touches on the origin of life, and explains to the reader that the theory of evolution was never meant to explain the origin of life. D'Souza goes on to share that the scientific community has not demonstrated how life could have formed naturally. To D'Souza the cell is a clear example of design. D'Souza says, "Is it even reasonable to speculate that random combinations of chemicals could have produced so marvelously complex and functional a thing as a living cell? That's like positing that chance combinations of atoms could have assembled themselves to produce an airplane. "However improbable the origin of life might be," Dawkins writes, it must have happened this way "because we are here." It takes a lot of faith to believe things like this." He goes on to say that evolution cannot explain consciousness, rationality and morality.

Afterward, D'Souza says, "True, one day science may provide us with better answers. I am not making a "God of the Gaps" argument that says because science cannot explain this, therefore God did it. But neither do I want to succumb to the "atheism of the gaps" that holds that even where there is no explanation, we should be confident that a natural explanation is forthcoming."


Next, D'Souza says that Paley's watchmaker argument has "never been refuted. I am not talking of the specific details that Paley cited, but about his general case for design. That case is actually much stronger today than when Paley made it two centuries ago."
Dawkins is too blinded by anti-religious prejudice to see it, but his argument in The Blind Watchmaker actually supports the design argument. To see why, consider the example of a computer. A computer is like Paley's watch: it shows clear evidence of design. No one could seriously contend that the computer somehow "evolved" through the forces of natural selection. Someone made it and someone programmed it. Now let's assume that this is not the case with a certain type of software. Let's assume that this software operates in a kind of "open source" mode. It accepts random changes and somehow the most useful and adaptive programs survive. Let's posit that the process here is evolutionary; it is guided by no one. My question is the following: would the fact of evolution in the case of the software in any way undermine the fact of design in the case of the computer? Obviously not. The software may evolve but someone still had to make the computer and install in it the original programming.

Now apply this analogy to the universe. I have in previous chapters offered strong evidence that the universe is the product of design. The universe could not have evolved through natural selection, as the universe makes up the whole of nature. Someone made the universe and prescribed the laws that govern its operations. Now within the universe there are innumerable life forms that correspond in our analogy to the software programs. These life forms are the product of evolution, and Darwin and his successors have elegantly elucidated the modes of transition. But evolution has no explanation for the origin of the universe or its laws. So how can evolution undercut the argument from design as it applies to the universe itself and the laws that govern it? Clearly it cannot. In this case, as with the computer, the evolution of the part in no way refutes the deliberate design of the whole. The overwhelming evidence is that someone planned the whole thing.

If the laws of physics did not have their finely tuned features in line with the anthropic principle, stars like the sun would not burn in the slow and steady way that they do, giving life in general—and human life in particular—time to evolve. Evolution itself requires a finely tuned designer universe.

D'Souza later on says, "It's one thing to say that the finch's beak and the moth's hue and the human eye all evolved by chance. But the universe that lawfully produces finches, moths, and humans is quite clearly the product of intention and creative design. So Dawkins's "refutation" of Paley fails gloriously and completely. Paley was right all along."


Next, D'Souza says there is no problem is with evolution, but with "Darwinism." He says, "Evolution is a scientific theory, Darwinism is a metaphysical stance and a political ideology. In fact, Darwinism is the atheist spin imposed on the theory of evolution. As a theory, evolution is not hostile to religion." D'Souza later on says, "Evolution should be taught, but it should be taught without the metaphysics of Darwinism. Instead of suing to get theories of creationism and intelligent design into the classroom, Christians should be suing to get atheist interpretations of Darwin out. Regarding the second comment, this is completely correct. If any science teacher were found to be telling students that because of Darwin's theory they shouldn't believe in God then of course such conduct would be unacceptable and should be stopped. D'Souza offers no evidence that this is actually happening anywhere. He makes no comment on the rampant efforts by biblical literalists to muffle the teaching of the evolutionary ideas whose scientific merit he has just defended.

Chapter 14: The Genesis Problem: The Methodological Atheism of Science[edit]

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D'Souza quotes Victor J. Stenger in a cosmological discussion. "Physicist Victor Stenger says the universe may be 'uncaused' and may have 'emerged from nothing.'" D'Souza then scoffs "Even David Hume, one of the most skeptical of all philosophers, regarded this position as ridiculous...Hume wrote in 1754, 'I have never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might rise without cause." Hume can be excused for not knowing quantum mechanics in 1754, but D'Souza cannot be excused in 2007, over a century since its discovery. According to conventional interpretations of quantum mechanics, nothing "causes" the atomic transitions that produce light or the nuclear decay that produce nuclear radiation. This happens spontaneously and only their probabilities can be calculated. Many Christian theologians believe that God exists without a cause and it is unclear why the one is reasonable and the other unreasonable.

Chapter 15: The World Beyond Our Senses: Kant and the Limits of Reason[edit]

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Chapter 16: In the Belly of the Whale: Why Miracles Are Possible[edit]

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Chapter 17: A Skeptic’s Wager: Pascal and the Reasonableness of Faith[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D’Souza spends some time here discussing agnostics, and describes their attitude as bizarre because they are incurious about the most important questions in life (why are we here?), and because they show no hint of an awareness of the limits of reason. How is the agnostic position "I don't know" any more bizarre than the Christian one? The difference is that the agnostic position is more humble and honest, whereas Christians assert that they know without anything to prove their beliefs.

Here, D'Souza tries to make a reasonable argument for faith (the only way to discover truth beyond reason and experience). D'Souza says "Given what we know and don't know about what is to come after death, there is no alternative but to weigh the odds. When we do this, we discover that from the perspective of reason itself, faith is the smart bet. It makes sense to have faith." It makes sense to have faith in what? Faith in Christianity? Faith in Islam? Faith in Hinduism.

D'Souza tries to argue that everyone (including atheists) use faith in their daily lives. There is a fine line between faith (especially religious faith) and trust. Do we have faith or trust in our doctors. They have spent years training in all the fields of medicine, they have experience helping the sick, and so on. Based on this, we can make the safe and reasonable conclusion that they are trustworthy. Religious faith, on the other hand, demands that you must not question anything and you must believe what you are told. If Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada tells you that cow dung is sacred, because "Vedic knowledge is infallible", and you believe it out of hand without a second thought —— THAT is the faith that atheists and rationalists avoid entirely and dismiss. They demand actual proof; a doctor can prove that he has the skills and is trustworthy, but simply accepting that cow dung is "sacred" just because a book says so is completely baseless.

This response—"I don't know"—is an expression of a kind of agnosticism. It involves a suspension of judgment in the face of ignorance that is clearly superior to atheism. Yet curiously this form of agnosticism is shared by the religious believer. The religious believer also does not know. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen:' If the believer knew, there would be no question of faith. Consider this: I don't have faith that my daughter is in the seventh grade. I know my daughter is in the seventh grade. I -haven't been to heaven, and so I cannot say that I know there is such a place. But I believe that there is. Faith is a statement of trust in what we do not know for sure. Faith says that even though I don't know something with certainty, I believe it to be true. Lets look at some other verses;
  • 2 Corinthians 4:18 - So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:7 - We live by faith, not by sight
  • John 20:29 - Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
  • Romans 4:17 - As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Things hoped for, but not seen. Looking at things that are not seen. Not seeing what is seen. Now that we are expected to see what is not there. Not only that, we are blessed if we make ourselves see what cannot be seen. This is not a reasonable request. These are not reasonable responses. We are encouraged to believe without reason, in fact we are blessed if we believe the most outrageous illogical inconsistent contradictory claims without any evidence at all. Because only accurate information has practical application, and it should be that positive claims require positive evidence and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Our beliefs should be tentative and subject to obligated change if the evidence demands. We should have some way to correct the flaws in our current perception and thus improve our understanding – THAT would be reasonable. Because if we love truth at all, then what should matter most is that we not allow ourselves to be deceived. But faith is the very opposite, it requires that we literally “make belief” that we ignore what we really do see and pretend something is there when it apparently isn't. It means that we fool ourselves. This is not reasonable.

From this we draw a conclusion that will surprise many atheists and even a few Christians: doubt is the proper habit of mind for the religious believer. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark 9:17-24 about a man who came to Christ to cure his son of possession by an evil spirit. Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible." And the man replied, "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." This is every true believer's prayer. The Christian has faith even though he is not sure, while the unbeliever refuses to believe because he is not sure. But they agree in being unsure. The skeptical habit of mind is as natural to Christianity as it is to unbelief. Again, there is no message of doubt in Mark 9. All it says is believe, not "here is the proof you ask for." All it demands is belief, not caring if it is true or not, simply just believing somehow makes the person right.

Religious faith is not in opposition to reason. The purpose of faith is to discover truths that are of the highest importance to us yet are unavailable to us through purely natural means. Wittgenstein famously said in his Tractatus that "even if all possible scientific questions are answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all." The point is that the game of science is conducted on a field, and the most important questions of life—Why am I here? What should I love? What should I live for?—lie outside that field. Faith is an attempt to reach beyond the empirical realm and illuminate those questions. Religious faith is not in opposition to reason. Uh, yes it is! Read any of the following;

By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.” --Answersingenesis.org

“verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological.” --Institute for Creation Research

“[this school]…stresses the Word of God as the ONLY source of truth in our world.” --Canyon Creek Christian Academy, Richardson TX.

Revealed Truth: That which is revealed in Scripture, whether or not man has scientifically proved it. If it is in the Bible, it is already true without requiring additional proof. …Fallacy: that which contradicts God’s revealed truth, no matter how scientific, how commonly believed, or how apparently workable or logical it may seem.” --Bob Jones University, Biology Student Text (3rd ed. – 2 vol.)

any so called 'truth' is conflict with God's truth is not truth at all; its a lie, a manifestation of the one great Lie that tells us the God of the Bible is not the one God and King over all. The war between the Truth and “truths” is really the war between Truth and the Lie” --Campus Crusade for Christ

Every creationist group and organization post declarations of this kind: admissions of bias. Proudly posted as if this is something to be proud of. Notice that they all admit that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject without consideration, any and all evidence that which may presented should it appear to disagree with their a priory preconceived conclusion. (The last one was posted on the groups blogpost than rather on their website).

Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant movement, said the following;

  • "Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but -- more frequently than not -- struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God."
  • "There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason...Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed."
  • “Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and wish to know nothing but the word of God.”
  • "Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”
  • "Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason."
This is why Benjamin Franklin said, "To see by faith is to close the eye of reason.”

D'Souza then uses Pascal's wager: "If we have faith in God and it turns out that God does not exist, we face a downside risk: metaphysical error. But if we reject God during our lives, and it turns out God does exist, there is much more serious risk: eternal separation from God. Based on these two possible outcomes, Pascal declares that it is much less risky to have faith in God. In the face of an uncertain outcome, no rational person would refuse to give up something that is finite if there is the possibility of gaining an infinite prize. In fact, under these conditions it is unreasonable not to believe. Pascal writes, "Let us weigh up the gain and loss involved in calling heads that God exists. If you win, you win everything. If you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate, then: wager that He does exist."

Chapter 18: Rethinking the Inquisition: The Exaggerated Crimes of Religion[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
The Inquisition didn’t kill as many people as you have been led to believe, and neither did the Salem witch trials, and the Crusades weren’t all that bad. The point is that these events were all motivated by religious zealotry, and none of those people would have been killed if it hadn’t been for religious motivation.

Chapter 19: A License to Kill: Atheism and the Mass Murders of History[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
In this chapter, D'Souza wishes to "focus on the really big crimes that have been committed by atheist groups and governments. In the past one hundred years or so, the most powerful atheist regimes ——Communist Russia, Communist China, and Nazi Germany—— have wiped out people in astronomical numbers." D'Souza numbers the deaths as follows: Stalin ~20 million; Mao ~70 million; and Hitler ~10 million. What makes these different from things like the Crusades, according to D'Souza, was that these men committed these atrocities during times of peace on their fellow country men. Most of deaths and violence caused by Stalin resulted from forced collectivization. Recent published documents show the complicity of church authorities in the Stalinist agenda.[9] D'Souza does not pa single documentation or statement by Stalin that shows that he was collectivizing or killing for atheist reasons. As much as D'Souza tries to portray atheism as more wicked than Christianity due to dead-body count, the main cause for all the deaths in Soviet Russian and Communist China was due to communism, not atheism. Communism, in the sense of a system of collectivized property, is a biblical notion already found in Acts 4:27-32. That Christan communist system also resulted in the killing of a married couple (Acts 5:1-11) that reneged on their promise to surrender their property. Thus, the principle of killing those who did not conform to collectivization of property is already a biblical one, an ideal that predates Karl Marx and is within the pages of God's perfect Word. The defense that it was simply lying about turning over their property that was the motive for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira overlooks the brute fact that the value of life was put below handing over all their property. For instead of just being expelled, they were killed. Stalin or Mao probably would have done the same thing. Since communism is advocated by some biblical authors, then Maoist and Stalinist deaths cannot simply be attributed to atheism, as enforcing collectivization can be deadly in both atheist or Christian forms.

D'Souza does not accept the evidence that Hitler was a Roman Catholic, rather he believes that Hitler lied to the German masses to only get their support. To justify his arguments that Hitler was an atheist and anti-religious is Hitler's Table Talk. However, the contents on this has been thoroughly refuted and shown to be very untrustworthy.[10] The main intermediate in all known versions of Table talk is Hitler's personal secretary, Martin Bormann, who was known for his anti-Christian views. Therefore, we may be reading Bormann's views and thoughts rather than Hitlers.

As for Nazi Germany, D'Souza says they divorced themselves from traditional Christianity when they constructed an Aryan Jesus to serve as a sword to cleanse the world of Jews (an act the Pope Pius XI condemned). Here is what D'Souza does not explain or share. The idea that the Aryan Christ is a "radical departure" from tradicitonal Christianity comes as news to anyone who has not studied Christian art and history. Christ, for many centuries, has been depicted as a white European, for example Epiphanius Monachus (a Greek monk from Constantinople from the eight or ninth century) described Jesus as "stood six feet tall, his hair was long, goulden-colored, and not very thick..."[11] In summary, a Nazi Aryan Christ is in no way a radical departure from traditional Christianity.[12] As for what Pope Pius condemned or not condemn, Pius compromised with Nazi Germany,

When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years' standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church's beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ's interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it.

If Hitler believed God wanted him to kill Jews, there is no way to verify that that mission was any less from God than when pope Innocent III wanted to exterminate Jews or other heretics in the Middle Ages.

Hitler's hate of the Jews, according to D'Souza, was secular because he would not release them from the death camps if they converted or became atheists. This is incorrect, as Catholic historian José M. Sánchez made clear, "There is little question that the Holocaust had its origin in the centuries-long hostility by Christians against Jews."[13] In D'Souza attempt to portray Hitler as a Darwinist does not hold up to scrutiny. For instance, D'Souza does not once provide a single direct quotation to show that Hitler was an admirer of Darwin. In fact, whenever Hitler brought up origins he always favored creationism. D'Souza also specifically ignores the Nazi's campaign against Darwin. In 1935, the Nazi Government banned all books in Germany "Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel)" (emphasis added). See Hitler's Christianity.

Chapter 20: The Objective Foundation of Morality[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D’Souza’s stance is that morality is possible without religion, but its source is ultimately divine. Atheist authors and philosophers have addressed secular morality, quite extensively in most cases, but Dinesh maintains that it must come from god.

D'Souza says “It is not Christian morality that is the obstacle to our freedom; it is conscience itself, the judge within.” This seems to imply that our morality is derived from our conscience (though he later claims, on page 237, that his “inner voice” is in fact god’s voice). More importantly, this statement conflicts with his argument that atheists cast religion aside so as not to be burdened by its restrictive morals.

Chapter 21: Why man is More Than Matter[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D’Souza addresses consciousness and the mind-body separation. His point is that we have consciousness because god breathed life into us and turned what would otherwise be a meat computer into a conscious, self-aware being.

D'Souza says, "In an earlier chapter on evolution we saw that there is no good scientific or Darwinian account of consciousness. The best that cognitive scientists like Steven Pinker can offer is promissory materialism: we believe consciousness is an epiphenomenon of material reality, but we’ll explain later how atoms and molecules can produce something as radical and original as subjective consciousness. But an explanation yet to come is no explanation at all. Until it arrives it makes far more sense to take consciousness for the irreducible reality we experience it as. Why let conjecture and unpaid intellectual IOUs make us abandon something as fundamental as our self-awareness? Why accept the mental as a projection of the physical when, as far as we are concerned, it is our indispensable window to all the physical reality we can ever experience?" This is basically invoking the God of the gaps fallacy - we don't know it, therefore God did it.

Chapter 22: When the Self Becomes the Arbiter of Morality[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses

Chapter 23: Why Unbelief Is So Appealing[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
In summary, D'Souza argues the old "Atheists reject religion so that they can be immoral." He already brought this up earlier in the book, but now he has dedicated an entire chapter to it. He still portrays atheism as some ideology.

Dinesh quotes Julian and Aldous Huxley on the rejection of god and acceptance of meaninglessness. And of course, he finds the quote from Aldous that says he rejected god for the moral liberation – particularly sexual freedom. You can cherry-pick quotes like that, the same way anyone can quote pedophilic priests if they want to make a point, but that doesn’t mean the priests speaks for the rest of them.

D'Souza, on page 269, says “It is chiefly because of sex that most contemporary atheists have chosen to beak with Christianity.” Does D'Souza really know that? Ever considered that maybe atheists who were Christians become atheists because they find Christianity's teachings dubious at best, because it’s based on a self-contradicting book of uncertain origin, because of rampant hypocrisy among its leaders and followers both, and because they can’t bring themselves to believe in an invisible person in the sky who is so intimately interested in our lives.

Chapter 24: Where is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza begins with the following;
I noticed this in April 2007 when a deranged student at Virginia Tech went on a homicidal rampage, perpetrating on of the worst mass killings in American history. In the aftermath of the carnage, even on the secular campus, atheism was nowhere to be found. Every time there was a memorial ceremony or a public gathering, there was talk of God, divine mercy, and spiritual healing. Even people who were not personally religious began to use language that was drenched with Christian symbolism and meaning. The problem is not with atheists, but with atheism. Of course, atheists were present among the victims and mourners. I am not implying that they suffered less than anyone else. What I am saying is that atheism has little to offer at a time like this.
While atheists may have struggled with the best way how to console friends who have lost loved ones. A religious person might assure the bereaved that their loved one is with god, or that they’ll see them again someday, but atheists don’t believe these things. However, atheists are not the only one that was infuriated in April when Dinesh published an article basically claiming that they didn’t care about the victims. Just because atheists don’t have promises of the afterlife doesn’t mean they can’t console the bereaved or that we aren’t similarly hurt by events like this.

Chapter 25: The Uniqueness of Christianity[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses

Chapter 26: How Christianity Can Change Your Life[edit]

What's So great About Christianity RationalWiki Responses
D'Souza tackles the growing position that Jesus Christ may be a complete invention. Here is his arguments that Jesus had to be real;
  • They divide history into the time before and after his birth, BC and AD. Sunday is a worldwide holiday, not, as many believe, because it is the day of the Sabbath (which is Saturday) but because it was traditionally held to be the day of Christ's resurrection. The history of the West, indeed of the world, is incomprehensible without Christ, and would be unimaginably different had he not lived.
  • Neither Christ and Socrates wrote anything, we base what we know about them on the reports of others. The Bible gives a single instance where Christ wrote with his finger on the ground, but we don't know what he wrote. But when we hear Christ's voice in the four Gospels, it is unmistakable.

D'Souza concludes "[Jesus] is a historical figure, and the great events that defined his life really happened. Historians debate whether some other figures of ancient times, like Homer, existed at all, but there is general unanimity among historians that Christ was a real person. Do you believe in the existence of Socrates? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? If historicity is established by written records in multiple copies that date originally from near contemporaneous sources, there is far more proof for Christ's existence than for any of theirs. The historicity of Christ is attested not only by Christian but also by Greek, Roman, and Jewish sources. Apart from the Gospels, we find references to him in Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus. Tacitus in his Annals deplores "the detestable superstition" of "Christus," the founder of a new sect called Christianity. These sources testify not only that Christ lived but also that he had a big following, that he alienated the Jewish and Roman authorities, and that he died by crucifixion."

D'Souza goes on to say: "While the Gospel accounts individually provide different angles and emphases, together they offer a remarkably coherent account of Christ's life. The earliest Gospels were composed only thirty or so years after Christ's death, and the last was written before 100 AD. Moreover, historians have innumerable early manuscripts of scripture, a vastly greater body of material than they possess of many ancient and classical texts, and so they are in a good position to confirm that the biblical writings are authentic. Finally, in recent decades archaeologists have been compelled to reconsider people and events long regarded as legendary. They have located the tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest who interrogated Jesus, and have unearthed an ancient plaque honoring Pilate, the Roman prefect who decreed Christ's crucifixion. Skeletal remains exist showing that Roman crucifixions were performed in precisely the manner outlined in the Bible. Summarizing the evidence, writer Jeff Sheler notes that "the picture that has emerged overall closely matches the historical backdrop of the Gospels."

Finally, D'Souza examines the historical evidence for the Resurrection;
  • Christ's followers, by their own admission, did not expect his resurrection. Arriving three days after his death, some of them brought spices to the tomb to anoint his body. Only then did they observe that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. The fact of the empty tomb was admitted by the Roman guards and also by the Jewish magistrates, who told the Roman authorities that Christ's followers must have stolen the body.
  • The apostles were deeply skeptical about reports of a resurrection, and the Bible tells us that Christ had to appear before them several times before these doubts were dispelled.
  • Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Christ "appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep." Paul here appeals to direct historical evidence: the testimony of multiple witnesses who actually saw Jesus alive after his execution. Of this group, Paul says that some are dead but most are alive; in other words, many were in a position to confirm or refute him. In the history of hallucinations, is there a single instance in which five hundred people all saw the same person and were all equally mistaken?
  • The disciples became so convinced of what they had seen that their dirges of lamentation were replaced with cries of joy. Proclaiming Christ crucified and Christ risen, they launched the greatest wave of religious conversion in history.
  • The number of Christians increased from around one hundred at the time of Christ's death to around thirty million by the early fourth century, when the Roman emperor Constantine himself converted to Christianity.
  • These conversions occurred in the teeth of fierce opposition and the persecution of the greatest empire in the ancient world, the empire of Rome. The early Christians did not hesitate to identify themselves with a man who had been branded a traitor and a criminal. They endured imprisonment, torture, exile, and death rather than renounce their commitment to a resurrected Christ. Even from a secular point of view, the evidence for the resurrection is surprisingly strong. Indeed, coming from so many witnesses with so much to lose, it might even be sufficient to convince an impartial jury in a court of law.
The logic for this section is as follows: "Because the world was changed by the presence of Christ, Christ must have existed." This logic is flawed in several ways. First of all, it was Christianity, not Christ himself, who impacted history so; for the beginning of its history, Christianity was not much more than a cult, and did not strongly gain power until the Diocletianic Persecution ended, and Constantine the Great converted... hundreds of years after Christ was dead.

Furthermore, the text implies that historians do have a consensus that figures such as Plato were historical. Just as different writings in different gospels portray Jesus in different ways, different students and texts depicting Plato portray him in different lights as well. Many of the details of said texts conflict and vary, including the death of Plato: several different stories are available, and it is totally unknown which of them is correct. Because all Plato's stories are posthumous, it is unknown how many of them could have been made up after the fact; just like Jesus, he was a popular character and portrayed in plays and literature alike. If Jesus Christ was a historical character, he would also not be immune to the hand of revision or even outright fabrication.

Supporting the idea of a heavily revised biblical record is the oldest existing bible: the Codex Sinaiticus. Penned in Greek 1600 years ago, it contains two books that are absent from modern texts, as well as many of the stories in a different order. Even at its great age, it is peppered with corrections: people going in and revising it over time. Important passages from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John depicting the reincarnation of Jesus are curiously absent. And not just destroyed or torn out or erased by time: actually absent.

External Links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB403.html
  2. Comings, David E. M.D. Did Man Create God? 2008, pg. 295.
  3. Lynn White Jr. "What Accelerated Technological Progress in the Western Middle Ages?" in Scientific Change, ed. A. C. Crombie (New York: Basic Books, 1963( pg.272-91
  4. Persuasively argued in David Sedley, Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)
  5. On the original epistemology of Christianity: Richard Carrier, Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn't Need a Miracle to Succeed (Raleigh, NC: Lulu, 2009): pg. 329-68, 385-406
  6. Theology as a rational science in antiquity: Aristotle, Metaphysics 6.1 1026a); Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 9.12-194 (= Against the Physicists 1.12-194 = Against the Dogmatists 3.12-194); and John Dillon, Alcinous: The Handbook of Platonism (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993): pg. 57-60, 86-89.
  7. Schadewald, Robert. 1999 (Oct. 24, 16:15). "Re: Wells speech at Burlington Edison High School", USENET post to talk.origins, Message-Id <3.0.1.32.19991024161523.01174958@gold.tc.umn.edu>.
  8. To see a review and critique of Bouw's work, see here
  9. Tatiana A. Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russian: Russian Orthodoxy from World War II to the Krushchev Years, trans. Edward E. Roslof (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002).
  10. http://www.nobeliefs.com/HitlerSources.htm
  11. Frederic W. Farrar, The Life of Christ as Represented in Art(London: Adam and Charles Black, 1901), p. 84.
  12. see further, Susannah Heschel, An Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton: Princeton university Press, 2008).
  13. José M. Sánchez, Pius XII and the Holocaust; Understanding the Controversy (Washington, D.C: Catholic University of American Press, 2002), p. 70.