Dinesh D'Souza's ridiculous op-ed in USA Today

kellym78's picture

Here's the link to the original article and below is my response. Enjoy. Bump my response on reddit. Digg me on Digg.

Anybody who has ever perused the "Religion" section of the local bookstore has undoubtedly seen that the sheer volume of available apologetics material is most certainly not in danger of being over taken by the comparatively miniscule, if even present, section of books on atheism. That notwithstanding, the response from believers to books like Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion or Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great has been so vociferous that one would think that it was in imminent peril. As much as I would relish that notion, it is apparent that instead of diminishing, it is in fact increasing--with new names, albeit old arguments.

The newest poster-boy for defenders of Christianity is Dinesh D'Souza. He has written books in response to or publicly debated many of the forerunners of the so-called "New Atheism". His recent op-ed in the USA Today section "On Religion" (Oct 22, 2007) is but a fragment of the kind of nonsense that passes for valid argumentation in the realm of apologetics. While reading it, one must wonder if he is either a blatant liar or simply downright deluded. (Maybe this could be the D'Souza Dilemma: Dishonest or Deluded?)

The fact that anybody with even a shred of logic or knowledge of history would make it past his opening salvo without lighting it on fire is a miracle of its own. Is he a champion of the provocation of hysteria, or does he realize that atheists don't want to remove Christianity from the history of the founding of the country--It was never there! Does he not know that we already live in a secular society--we just want to keep it that way? That all of the values and institutions that he claims are "inextricably tied" to his faith existed before Christianity and were instilled in this country which was explicitly created to not have ties to any particular religion? Somebody should point out to him that it is this type of rhetoric against which we rail.

It is not particularly difficult to portray religion as the thorn in the side of civilization. A cursory glance at world politics will reveal that the impetus for the majority of both current and historical instances of bloodshed, terrorism, and genocide is religion. The fact that the entire basis for belief in any god is faith, the definition of which is the antithesis of reason, manifests itself in the fanaticism of its adherents. Whether you call this invisible and undetectable being Yahweh or Allah is of little consequence--were it not for the unshakable faith of the believers, people would be much less willing to kill or die in order to reap the rewards of the promised afterlife.

This is the fundamental reason why faith is so dangerous. A belief system founded upon faith is untouchable. One cannot reason with that person; in fact, a believer is taught to purposely ignore valid arguments and trained to feel guilty if the uncomfortable sensation of doubt begins to plague them. Mr. D'Souza, in his attempt to exonerate faith, particularly his brand, then ascribes to faith all that we as Americans hold dear. It is a mere ploy to appeal to the emotions of people who value democratic ideals and scientific progress.

His blatantly fallacious anthropocentric argument for the supposed "perfection" of the universe has been exposed by others much more knowledgeable than I in that realm and betrays his presuppositions regarding the order that we observe. It is in fact an observation. As cognizant beings, we like to categorize and quantify that which is taken in by our sensory organs. The universe is just as adept, if not more so, at creating black holes as it is at creating planets that can sustain life. His inference that this necessarily must be from a divine creator is not evidence of that at all, unless his god also enjoys swallowing galaxies into a vacuum from which nothing can escape. (I won't even touch the list of "Christian" scientists, some of whom were forced under penalty of torture and death to swear fealty to their divine lord.)

Concerning democracy, I would like for him to explain how, if Christianity is responsible for democracy, the Ancient Greeks had democratic societies. Why is it that he credits god with the Jeffersonian dictum that "all men are created equal" when Jefferson himself was not a Christian and in fact owned slaves? To them, the "men" were those that the elite decided were "men", and that didn't include blacks, women, or Native Americans. Although this does sound very similar to the type of behavior that the god of Moses, Joshua, or David would endorse, it seems little like the one that D'Souza tries to conflate with democratic ideals.

Finally, the association that he claims between Christianity and human rights is the epitome of absurdity. It would behoove D'Souza to speak to some homosexuals about "the right to marry and form a family". His equality-espousing god speaks of homosexuality as an abomination and punishable by death. His followers, supposedly created in his image, have done more to thwart universal human rights than any other group short of the Third Reich.

D'Souza is right about one thing, though. I will not hesitate to privately and publicly acknowledge the role that Christianity has had in "the things that matter most to us": It has worked it's hardest to obfuscate the truth, subvert scientific advancement, and decimate those who do not allow themselves to be swayed by vapid argumentation and psychological terrorism. Those are the things that matter most to me.

 

D-cubed's picture

Was his argument to state

Was his argument to state that the more one is ignorant the more religious they are?  Perhaps he never heard of the pre-Christian Greeks like Aristotle and Ptolemy.  Or perhaps he never heard of the anti-slavery movements in Ancient Rome.  Perhaps he never watched Spartacus.  Perhaps he failed to note that the Quakers weren't considered Christian by the majority of Christian churches and were often persecuted for their heretical beliefs.

 The fact is all the Christian scientists did what they did because they weren't content with the "god did it" argument.  Opposition to slavery or other social ills were because people thought humanism was more important than fundamentalism.

geirj's picture

I ripped his op-ed apart in

I ripped his op-ed apart in my blog as well:

http://whybelieve.blogspot.com

Brian37's picture

He's been pulling this ad

He's been pulling this ad homin crap for a couple years now. He is so afraid of non-religious people that insted of making a case for the deity he believes in he has to demonize non-believers.

When you cant defend your fiction you play victim and cry "evil".

Atheists, "That is not true".

Dumbsoso, "YOU HATE ME, YOU LOVE HITLER, BLAH BLAH BLAH"

Atheists, "No, we dont hate you, we just think you got it wrong."

Dumbsoso, "YES YOU DO HATE ME, AND YOU BARBAQUE KITTENS TOO" 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Sapient's picture

If the papers will start

If the papers will start publishing her, Kelly has agreed to take these so called big names of theism on.  If anyone would like to see this happen, you might want to consider sending Kelly's piece to theforum@usatoday.com

 Margaret Downey has asked Kelly to respond to another piece of Dinesh trash just recently published.  Look for her response soon.

 We hope to have Kelly posting here, no clue as to how much luck we will have there though: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/

 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.

Zombie's picture

Yo

You want multiple people to send in kellys essay to the same address?

 

Sapient's picture

Zombie wrote: You want

Zombie wrote:

You want multiple people to send in kellys essay to the same address?

 

 

I think that might help, yes.  If anyone has any experience here, and they think that 5-10 people will help or know that it will hurt, please speak up. 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.

I agree with most of what

I agree with most of what you said except for this:

"Finally, the association that he assumes between Christianity and human rights is the epitome of absurdity. It would behoove D'Souza to speak to some homosexuals about "the right to marry and form a family". His equality-espousing god speaks of homosexuality as an abomination and punishable by death. His followers, supposedly created in his image, have done more to thwart human rights, universally, than any other group with the exception perhaps of the Third Reich."

 

While I agree that xtianity hasn't exactly been great with human rights, you totally left out communism.  it has killed millions of people, yet you almost never mention it. you go on and on about nazism but not communism.  why?

blueocean wrote:I agree

 

 

 

 

 

blueocean wrote:

I agree with most of what you said except for this:

"Finally, the association that he assumes between Christianity and human rights is the epitome of absurdity. It would behoove D'Souza to speak to some homosexuals about "the right to marry and form a family". His equality-espousing god speaks of homosexuality as an abomination and punishable by death. His followers, supposedly created in his image, have done more to thwart human rights, universally, than any other group with the exception perhaps of the Third Reich."

While I agree that xtianity hasn't exactly been great with human rights, you totally left out communism.  it has killed millions of people, yet you almost never mention it. you go on and on about nazism but not communism.  why?

 Stalin's, Mao's, or Kim Il Song's regimes are based on irrational ideology, and they share traits with religions (deification, or damn near it, of figureheads), but there isn't a strong communist presence in, say, the US, so I don't know what situation would call for a rehash of its obvious shortcomings. Bringing up the moral failure of self-identified Christians is generally a response to the claim that a more reliable, or objective, morality is provided by some interpretation of doctrine.

more...

I came across this gem of an article from google alerts.....

http://www.louisianaweekly.com/weekly/news/articlegate.pl?20071015e

I wrote a letter to the writer explaining a few of the fallacies. I think a public response is in order.... Go get em kelly!

Dinesh D'Souza is a contemptible tool.

D'Souza brings with him to debate a cornicopia of strawman that exceed numbers I thought humanly possible. At times I think he is building a strawman almanac or something, its ridiculous. The fact is he actually believe in an ancient cosmic zombie jew with magic powers and super soft beard hair.

His history is revisionist, his science is bogus, and his arguments laughable.

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. "
- Carl Sagan

"Tantum eruditi sunt liberi"

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the

The502's picture

Dinesh D'Souza relies on

Dinesh D'Souza relies on the ignorance of his audience to make his points sound valid.  He wrote an article a couple weeks ago entitled, "What Atheists Kant Refute", where he made up facts to fit his opinion.

 

A link to the article, and my response can be seen on my blog at www.myspace.com/the502.  I emailed it D'Souza, but, of course, got no response.

 

 

Lynx's picture

Quote:The fact that

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
The fact that anybody with even a shred of logic or knowledge of history would make it past his opening salvo without lighting it on fire is a miracle of its own

 

Guess I don't make it to the miraculous category. I didn't manage to read the whole thing.  I'm quite proud of the fact that I managed to read the whole "Science is based on Christianity" since my first impulse was to scream. I made it half way through "Science is the base of democracy and human rights" before the risk to my computer screen  got so critical I had to stop.

 

By the treatment and references he had in other circles, I actually thought D'Souza was a relatively sophisticated theist. Not right, obviously, but at least the kind that are harder to handle, more philosophical and full of metaphor. This little piece cleared that up for me, he's just like many of the youtube Christians, albiet with a college education. If that's the best he can do and he's the best they have, we have nothing to worry about.

Sapient's picture

The502 wrote:Dinesh

 

 

 

 

 

The502 wrote:

Dinesh D'Souza relies on the ignorance of his audience to make his points sound valid. He wrote an article a couple weeks ago entitled, "What Atheists Kant Refute", where he made up facts to fit his opinion.

 

A link to the article, and my response can be seen on my blog at www.myspace.com/the502. I emailed it D'Souza, but, of course, got no response.

Kelly has been working on a response to that piece at the request of Margaret Downey for a day or two.  When she posts her piece (and submits to paper) please try to remember to comment again and alert the audience to your refutation as well.

 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.

shelley's picture

Kelly's a great writer but

Kelly's a great writer but getting 5 or 10 people to send it on (hell, even getting 500) won't help.  

Not to be offensive but I suggest cutting this down a lot.  Two words: content and brevity.  Also try writing to smaller papers in response to articles buried beyond the first page.  It may seem pointless but I promise once you have a few published pieces the big names will print you faster an easier.  

My ex was a magazine publisher and I've been trained by Washington Post writers/editors in not just how to write this stuff but how to get paid for doing it.  (Granted this was 5 years ago but I don't think much has changed.)  Again, sorry if this came off as being a little too critical... ironically, I'm in a rush at the moment to get to a meeting of our soon to be affiliate. 

The502's picture

Sapient wrote:   Kelly

Sapient wrote:

 

Kelly has been working on a response to that piece at the request of Margaret Downey for a day or two. When she posts her piece (and submits to paper) please try to remember to comment again and alert the audience to your refutation as well.

 

 

I'd be happy to. Thanks Brian.

Sapient's picture

We posted Kelly's response

We posted Kelly's response directly to the Dinesh D'Souza piece at USA Today, and it is on display. It's comment 162, you can do the math, it was posted on November 10, 2007 4 pm est to find the comment.

The piece was submitted to several places within USA Today including the commitment to accuracy department to alert them to the untruths they are printing every single time they give Dinesh D'Souza a forum.

Quote:
Commitment to accuracy

To report corrections and clarifications, contact Reader Editor Brent Jones at 1 800 872 7073 or e-mail accuracy@ usatoday.com. Please indicate whether you're responding to content online or in the newspaper.

You can submit Kelly's piece here:

letters@usatoday.com

(link to this blog post) 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.

Skeptical Dems resign themselves to Obama war plan

WASHINGTON – A deeply skeptical Congress on Wednesday resigned itself to President Barack Obama's escalation of the Afghanistan war, even as the president's chief military and diplomatic advisers sought to cool any expectations that the war would end in two years.

www.lookedhardy.com

Leading Democrats said they had serious misgivings about the deployment of 30,000 more troops but would not try to block it — or the $30 billion it will cost. Republicans said they support the force increase even as they doubted Obama's July 2011 deadline to start bringing troops home.

www.lookedhardy.com

The response was the best Obama could have hoped for from a Congress sharply divided on the war.www.lookedhardy.com

"It's not likely that there would be any circumstances where the president would lose this battle this year" with lawmakers, said Rep. John Murtha, a vocal war critic who oversees military spending.www.lookedhardy.com

In House and Senate hearings on Wednesday, Obama's advisers insisted the stakes were great. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said losing the war "would have severe consequences for the United States and the world," and warned of a deadly "symbiotic" relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists.

www.lookedhardy.com

www.lookedhardy.com

www.lookedhardy.com