Dinesh D’Souza on What’s So Great About Christianity?
- Monday, November 12, 2007
Given the rise of “militant atheism” in America, Albert Mohler recently interviewed author and columnist Dinesh D’Souza about his new book, What’s So Great About Christianity?
Albert Mohler: These are interesting days, the public airwaves and so much of the media context is now taken up with the discussion that has featured a great deal of what can be described as militant atheism. Whether it’s Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris or others, there is a new sense that a militant atheism is projecting itself into the public square.
Dinesh D’Souza … has written a new book entitled What’s So Great About Christianity. Dinesh, why did you write the book, What’s So Great About Christianity?
Dinesh D’Souza: Well, I’ve been, for 15 years, a secular writer. I’ve written seven books, but I felt that something new is happening today. That is, we’re seeing for the first time atheism become a serious option for people and particularly for young people.
A generation ago the poster child of atheism was someone like Madeline Murray O’Hare, or some ACLU lawyer—not a very attractive image for atheism worldwide. Now this atheism is coming out of the universities, they have scientific credentials, or like Christopher Hitchens, they’re stylish, they’re witty, and many young people are attracted to this kind of thing. I felt that it’s important to have, if you will, a twenty-first century apologetic that took the atheist argument seriously—that meets it on it’s own ground of reason and science and evidence. That’s the goal of What’s So Great About Christianity—to challenge atheism on its own terms and defeat it.
Mohler: I think one of the things you acknowledge in your book is that this new breed of militant atheists really looks at what they acknowledge to be the Christian foundations of civilization and argues that they are negative, evil, oppressive, intolerant, and as something we should simply repudiate and grow beyond.
D’Souza: Years ago Bertrand Russell, after he wrote his book, Why I Am Not a Christian, somebody asked him, “If you die and you find yourself before God what would you say?” And Russell, very pompously, said, “I would say, ‘Sir, you did not give me enough evidence.’”
So, this was the old banner of atheism—it claimed intellectual superiority, this sort of search for evidence. The new atheism, however, is also strangely clothed in the garb of morality. It accuses religion, and specifically Christianity, of being behind most violence and evil and war and suffering—and even terrorism in the world. This is atheism that is flying on the wings of 9/11. It demands a new kind of an answer.
Mohler: You talk about the global triumph of Christianity and the twilight of atheism. If atheism represents so few worldwide, why does it get so much attention?
D’Souza: It gets so much attention because it occupies very influential sectors of American and Western life. Atheism is strong in the universities, it is strong in the media, it is, perhaps, not as strong in politics, but because we have this notion of separation of church and government, the political square is dominated by … secularists.
They figured out a very clever con in which the religious people are driven out of the public square and the atheist idea of fairness is to have a monopoly of the public space. So, for all these reasons, we live in a culture that is publicly secular. If someone was to come from Mars and visit America, and walk around our public buildings, watch television, turn on the music, read books, you would have no idea that a majority of Americans are Christians. You would have no idea that you are in a society that is a Christian society.
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