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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Misguided Argument from Dinesh D'Souza

In yesterday's post, I pointed out Dinesh's mistake in saying John Loftus was guilty of the genetic fallacy. Once again, the entire debate is not available yet on line and I have only heard a few clips. In one clip, Dinesh says that atheists, such as John, must have an ulterior motive in not believing in the Christian God.

He says that atheists are just in rebellion against the rules that the Christian God has established. In other words, they don't want to be under the authority of the Christian God, so they try to convince themselves and others that this God does not exist.

I really tire of this argument. I get it all the time from Christians. The implication is that anyone who does not believe in God must be immoral.

First, Christians certainly do not have a monopoly on ethical behavior. All one has to do is read history to see the terrible things that have been done in the name of the Christian God. This immoral behavior continues today (for example, priests molesting children, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals involved with homosexual prostitutes and illegal drugs while preaching against both, a megachurch Pastor having sex with his parishoners, etc.). In addition, having been on the inside of Christianity, I saw little difference in the morality of Christians and the morality of unbelievers. So, if one is looking for an excuse to "sin," he certainly doesn't have to become an atheist to do so.

Second, I have known many unbelievers in the Christian God who live very moral lives.

Third, the Christian God himself, seems to be less than moral. He has no problem killing toddlers and infants in the Old Testament. He has no problem sending people to an eternal hell for not believing in him, etc. He has no problem today allowing earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. to devastate whole populations.

Fourth, the implication is that there can be no real intellectual reasons for unbelief. That is condescending and patently absurd.

(Here is an excellent spoof on how Christians like Dinesh think.)

Dinesh goes on to say that if someone doesn't believe in something, he should just walk away from it. Why should atheists care if some people believe in God (For an excellent post about why we should care, see this blog)? Dinesh says: I don't believe in unicorns, but then I haven't written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion.

His analogy is is ridiculous. Belief in unicorns, assuming there really is anyone who believes in them, has not caused the damage to society that belief in God has. Have people been tortured and executed because they didn't believe in unicorns? Has the advancement of humanity through science been hindered because of a belief in unicorns? Have millions of dollars on elaborate temples, cathedrals, and churches been wasted because of a belief in unicorns? Do those who believe in unicorns have a political agenda? I could go on and on.

Once again, I have not heard the entire debate but what I have heard at this point makes me wonder how anyone could think that Dinesh won the debate. His arguments and analogies are unsound.

11 comments:

  1. How can you have morality when you have no moral standard? An atheist really can't tell the difference between the acts of Stalin, a tiger and Mother Teresa.

    You may need a little education about atheistic morality. They believe that love is a feeling so anything that creates a good feeling is justified including every form of sexual deviant behavior.

    Morality based on feelings (good and bad) are purely subjective. A person may get a good feeling stealing while another may think that results in a bad feeling. The consequentialists can only say don't get caught and your fine. If everyone likes to steal, then perhaps it is best to change the law which would allow this activity.

    Morality flows from the love of God. Without God, there is no morality....there are just feelings and feelings can be conditioned by environment leading to horrific acts. A standard of morality would exist outside the subjective feelings of an individual; however, atheists all deny transcendent meaning and causes.

    You should also rephrase your statement if you really are an atheist. You should state that mankind has a propensity towards evil and can use Christianity for immoral ends; however, the Bible itself condemns this type of activity.

    God Bless...

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  2. Zdenny,

    I am getting tired of your ranting about the love of God. Why don't you try telling the people of Haiti about your god's great love. Tell the parents of those children with childhood cancer. Tell those children who are starving to death (about 25,000 a day), how loving your God is?

    If morality is based on your god, then genocide is okay. Human sacrifice is okay, slavery is okay, polygamy is okay, treating women like property is okay. I'll take my morality any day over your loving god's.

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  4. Does D'Souza have any statistics about deconverts? Probably not.

    So why is there less violent crime in Japan than in America? Japan is largely nontheistic.

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  5. Buddhism existed c. 1000 before modern Christianity, and Buddhist philosophy is one of the most morally advanced and intricate moral systems ever devised. Confucius came a full 500 years before Christ, and so to say you can't be moral without Christianity or the Christian God is a stamp of genuine ignorance. People have been doing it for thousands of years (apparently).

    ZDenny-

    As a kind and decent person your defamatory comments towards non-believers I find to be very un-Christian-like. Instead of demonizing people who think differently, it might behoove you to try and understand them instead.

    As such, you have, in your incredulous fashion, neglected to see that stoicism and skepticism, the precursors for atheistic thought, stem from the same Hellenistic traditions that modern Christian thought is predicated on and derivative of. And I don't see how you can just offhandedly claim one is "morally" superior to the other without backing up such a boisterous sounding claim. As far as I can tell the opposite seems to be true.

    And if morality flows from the love of God, then you have to account for the vast majority of godless Buddhists (estimated 1.2 billion) and secular free-thinking humanists and atheists (estimated 700 million) who live exemplary good lives without the concept of god.

    All this on top of having to make excuses for the millions of Christian believers who, in the name on God and often times with his permission or even at his behest, have either enacted or permitted all kinds of heinous acts and atrocities.

    It seems the opposite is true, with God anything is permitted. Without God, one simply doesn't have a supernatural entity to dictate the ground rules for the sorts of atrocities which can be permitted in his name.

    So I beg you to rethink things, because you come off sounding awfully sure of yourself, even conceited, on top of already being condescending. But this would just go to show what sort of Christian you are, I suppose.

    Peace out!

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  7. SteveJ-

    I live in Japan! So I can vouch for that. lol. There's never a worry of getting shot. I think in the past decade there have only been 3 gun related deaths.

    Japan is mainly Buddhist, Shinto, and free thinking, and is one of the best examples of a virtually crime free civil society on the planet! (Granted there is still small crime waves, as the Japanese are human after all).

    However, the suicide rate is regrettably high, but that's mainly because of population density and influential cultural stress factors, not related to personal philosophies per say.

    Even so, with such a high population packed into practically claustrophobic urban environments, it's a wonder the crime rate is so low!

    It should cause anyone to pause who believes Christianity is the single guiding force of morality... because this is just blatantly not true. By comparison, it would seem Buddhist cultures and societies tend to be more moral than their Christian counterparts (on average). Food for thought at any rate.

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  8. This is hilarious and goes along with D'Souza's argument:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWKDOikIgIs

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  9. Steve,

    That was excellent!! Thanks.

    Tristin--thanks for your insightful comments too. I appreciate it.

    Ken

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  10. Thanks for clearly responding to these arguments Ken and raising the standard of debate. It is unfortunate that the level of conversation is so low. The spoof you posted is a close parody of many response to your very post.

    Take zdenny's response for example. Much of what he posted is in the spoof on youtube. For someone who spends so much time reading, and trolling, atheist blogs you'd think he would have moved on from parroting the same tired old saws that it should take no more than a few seconds to realize are completely ridiculous.

    Unfortunately things aren't that much better on the atheist side. I read a blog today (http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2010/02/just-says-it-all-dont-it.html) which essentially said: Christians homeschooling kids due to too little religion in school is terrible indoctrination. Atheists homeschooling due to too much religion in school is good.

    Come on, surely we can do better.

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  11. zdenny wrote:

    > An atheist really can't tell the difference between the acts of Stalin, a tiger and Mother Teresa.

    Are you trolling or just a drooling idiot? Surely you don't really believe this. If this hypothesis were true the prisons and mental institutions would be crammed full of atheists. They aren't, in fact atheists are under-represented in prison.

    > You may need a little education about atheistic morality.

    Given the above it seems you may have a plank in your eye there. It would appear that you're so invested in protecting your belief system that you're unable to grasp the details of any other.

    > They believe that love is a feeling so anything that creates a good feeling is justified including every form of sexual deviant behavior.

    What complete and utter rubbish. That's nothing like atheist morality. It's not even a caricature.

    > You should state that mankind has a propensity towards evil

    Actually that's a Christian point of view not an atheist one. We (by and large) do not believe in original sin.

    I would argue not that people pervert christianity but rather that christianity perverts people. Attempting to adhere to iron age standards of behavior combined with belief in things which are untrue can, in some circumstances, lead to very unfortunate behaviors. These are what Ken mentioned and you view as a perversion of christianity. I view them as a natural outcome of christianity.

    > God Bless...

    If there was such a thing, and he did, we wouldn't be in this mess. Unfortunately he doesn't despite indoctrination and wishful thinking.

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