Thursday, July 02, 2009

The reasonableness of Christianity

What's So Great About Christianity What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had the opportunity to hear Dinesh D'Souza debate atheist Christopher Hitchens at CU Boulder this past winter (see my blog) and I heard this book mentioned.

D'Souza takes the opportunity to go into great depth into the topics that were touched upon at the debate. When I first began reading this book, I though it was just going to be a retelling of the debate I heard, but D'Souza goes into much greater detail here and without interruption and snide remarks from Hitchens.

This book should be on the required reading list of all Christians. D'Souza uses science, philosophy and atheism's own words to show the utter truth, beauty and logic of Christianity.

D'Souza denounces the atheism of Darwinism, while at the same time praising evolutionary theory as our "best guess" for the current type of life we have on earth. But don't sit back and think the argument is over. D'Souza goes on to point out all the questions that evolutionary theory can't answer, such as the complexity of the cell, or DNA strands or even the origin of life itself. Darwin's theory assumed life already existed, so current Darwinists' (such as Richard Dawkins) attempts to explain away evolution as a great way to avoid needing an Intelligent Designer, have basically shot themselves in the foot. They look very foolish trying to come up with increasingly complex ways of describing the origins of life, the origins of the universe and how it all began. D'Souza reveals Dawkins' bias against God and for atheistic evolution using Dawkins' own words: "The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available."[emphasis mine:].

One of my favorite chapters in the book is "The World Beyond our Senses: Kant and the Limits of Reason." I have never taken a class in philosophy and I know very little about the topic. But D'Souza does an excellent job at explaining the thinking behind the philosophical underpinnings of Kant and the limits of our senses. In brief, we can't use our senses to know God, "so", the atheists tell us, "He must not exist." Kant's reasoning was that reality is not what our senses tell us. In fact, there is much about reality and knowing and being that our senses can not inform us. For example, I can know what a dog is: what one looks like, smells like, feels like, sounds like. I can even cut him open and examine his insides and tell much about the biology of the dog. One thing I can not do, however, is know what it is like to actually "be" a dog. The reality of being a dog is something we, as humans can never know. It is beyond our reach. If we could put a camera inside a dogs head and follow it around and monitor brain waves and measure internal temperatures we still would only know what it is like to be a human observing a dog. We can never "be" a dog.

As D'Souza so aptly puts it, "Kant's accomplishment was to unmask the intellectual pretension of the Enlightenment: that reason and science are the only routes to reality and truth." Certainly modern education today, particularly at the university level, tells us that all we need to know we can know through reason and science. Religion is the crutch for the weak. The fairy tales for the unenlightened and uneducated.

But D'Souza continues steering us on the path he has laid. After our introduction to Kant, he takes us into the realm of miracles. Did you know that Christianity is the only major religion in the world today that depends upon miracles? Other religions may support or allow them, but only Christianity depends upon the miraculous. That would be the central tenet of Christianity--Christ's resurrection. At this the atheist scoffs. Virgin births and dead men come to life! How utterly absurd. Yet we have already read that Kant's secular reasoning has led us to the conclusion that we can't know everything through our senses alone. And the physicists have told us our physical laws are such that if altered even one iota (such as the gravitational force), we would not exist. Therefore, we have some indication that there is a great force beyond ourselves that we can't quite perceive. If that force is God, and God has created nature and the physical laws, then what sane person could deny He can alter them according to His plans? Thus we see the reasonableness of believing in miracles.

I can't recommend this book more strongly. I believe D'Souza's book ranks up there with Mere Christianity as being one of the foundational books every Christian should read.

View all my reviews.


Makarios said...

Definitely a good book. I can see why atheists hate it. I've seen a couple atheists bloggers begin a review of the book as they begin to read it but they just drop out of sight.

Kalynne Pudner said...