D'Souza - Nothing to Refute Here

kellym78's picture


Kelly responds to Dinesh D'Souza and his "What atheists Kant refute" drivel.

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The question of the nature of reality is one that likely will never go away. There will always be those who support the belief that this mysterious “something” exists, and there will be those on the opposing side. We must work with the tools available to us, and those just happen to be limited to our five innate senses and the knowledge that we have gained through science and reason.

In Dinesh D’Souza’s recent piece for Christian Science Monitor, “What Atheists Kan’t Refute”, he asks why we should believe that “reality” is all there is, but the question should be, “Why should we believe otherwise?” Empirical evidence is the basis and foundation for all human advancements. All technological, scientific, and medical discoveries have been made using these faculties. Nobody would dare to base a monumental decision on anything other than evidence in their daily lives, yet they are expected to do so with regards to this one matter—one that, according to D’Souza’s religion, would be the most important decision anybody could ever make.

One of the most frequently held misconceptions that continues to be used in defense of Christianity is that atheism is a new concept. They argue that the lax moral ethos of society has created a brand-new generation of god-bashers. While it may seem that atheism is having a resurgence of sorts, it is in no way a new phenomenon. Ironically, he not only uses this argument, but then gives demonstrable proof of its falsity.

Convincing the general public that atheism is a new wave of immorality spawned by a materialistic culture is a powerful piece of propaganda. The use of Enlightenment era Kantian argumentation as the backbone of his piece shows that the battle between believers and rationalists has been raging for centuries at least and makes his previous statement seem strangely out of place. (Obviously, he wouldn’t want to mention that this has been happening since the inception of Christianity.)

His self-contradictory statements here are but the beginning of a disturbingly convoluted argument. He states, “The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know: reality itself.” What definition of “reality” is he using here? How exactly does one go about attaining knowledge of something that isn’t real? The debate between the “Rationalists” and the “Idealists” was much more complex than D’Souza’s practically dishonest representation of it.
He presents conclusions from Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” as if they were definitive. Any amateur student of philosophy surely understands that one person’s ideas, even if that one person is Immanuel Kant, are not necessarily axiomatic. Kant argued in support of his belief that the five senses were insufficient tools with which to ascertain truth in regards to metaphysical claims. While this is a philosophically valid concept, it is not scientifically valid.

Kant’s philosophical ideology separates the world into the phenomenal and the noumenal. The noumenal world is essentially an agnostic one, but D’Souza would lead the reader to believe otherwise. He can’t even contemplate the notion that just as we atheists cannot perceive the noumenal realm, neither can he. We don’t have knowledge of every possibility in the universe; nevertheless, all major religions claim to have the corner on special knowledge of this supposedly unknowable world. It gets even more oxymoronic when D’Souza claims that one cannot equate experience and reality, but belongs to a religion that is based on having a “personal relationship” with Jesus. He even goes as far as admitting that it will be easier for religious people to understand this because they know that “[t]he spiritual reality constitutes the only permanent reality there is.” I wonder how he knows this since he cannot trust his senses to accurately reflect the nature of reality and has no access to this “spiritual reality”.

D’Souza’s entire piece is a collection of conundrums designed to confuse the reader and shift the burden of proof onto the non-believers. Kant says there is no reason to not believe in that which you cannot know; D’Souza wants you to believe that lack of knowledge provides sufficient reason to believe. He accuses atheists of “foolishly [presuming]” that reason is the proper method for ascertaining knowledge, and then claims to have knowledge of a “reality” about which it is impossible to know anything. I have two words for this kind of absurdity: utter drivel. “Reality isn’t all that there is, but the spiritual reality is the real reality.” “Experience and sensory input isn’t valid as a method to acquire knowledge of reality, but Jesus is real because I feel him in my heart and you can’t prove he’s not there.” The title should have been “What I Can’t Prove but You Should Believe.”

by: Kelly O'Connor

Original Piece was posted in Christian Science MonitorBaltimore SunYahoo, and Catholic Online.



Zombie's picture

Another excellent post

Another excellent post kelly.

The502's picture

Well said, Kelly. D'Souza

Well said, Kelly. D'Souza continuously puts forth these illogical arguments, and often goes so far as to make up facts. The more I read from him, I can only conclude that everything he says is 'utter drivel'.

I've been in discussions involving the fallacy of faith for 20+ years, and it still amazes me that people blind themselves so much. I hear the same arguments over and over again. D'Souza is not saying anything new.

I wrote my own refutation to his article, too. If interested, you can check it out at www.myspace.com/the502. There is also a link to the original article there, in case anyone wants it.

I hope D'Souza surprises me again, but in a different way. If he comes forth and says that he has been mistaken, I'll be happy to read about it. Until then, he is no longer worth my time.

MargaretDowney's picture

I am glad that I turned to

I am glad that I turned to Kelly when I did not have time to write a response to Dinesh's article published in the Baltimore Sun. Her response was fantastic and I could not have conveyed the message better myself.

Thanks for taking much needed action for me and for the entire atheist community. I hope Kelly will continue to write responses when they are needed and I hope you will not mind if I ask you to do so often.

Kelly proves that a woman can not only be beautiful, but can also articulate concepts that convey the value of critical thinking--she does this with reason and class. I have every confidence in her abilities.


                     - Margaret

Fung Tzu's picture


Beautifully written. It's good to see someone take apart the convoluted and dishonest rhetoric spouted by D'Souza.

Orangustang's picture


Excellent response, Kelly. I read through the article and refuted it point by point as I went, but you took a slightly different angle on why D'Souza is dead wrong. Yet another well-formed rational response.

The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
- Thomas H. Huxley

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
- Abraham Lincoln

It's time to turn up the heat on these cretins

Everytime one of these cretins claims that reality is not everything, or that empirical ways are flawed, challenge them to a car race on the interstate during rush hour:

The Christian shall be blinded folded, with ear plugs in his/her ears, equipped with a bible, and can use God as a co-pilot

The atheist will simply use his empirical knowledge.

First to get on the interstate and get off on the second exit wins.

 The important part is to insist that either they put up or shut up. Every single time!

I see this often;  a Christian cretin makes a claim saying "empiricism is not perfect", and the rational responder gets sidetracked defending it.  Enough!  Simply demand that they produce evidence of this non-empiricism.  Nope, they can use the bible, because that was written by men and constitutes empirical evidence.





Atheism is far older

The idea that atheism is a new phenomna flies in the face of history.  In the land of ancient Greece there was a 5 century BCE poet and sophist called Diagoras of Melos.  He was known to challenge the existence of the gods.  One of these examples was when he broke apart a statue of the god Hercules and used it for fuel for a fire to cook his dinner saying, satirically, that this was the god's thiteenth labor by cooking his turnips.  Another time he divulged the secret rites of the mystery cult of Eleusis to the public.  For these acts he had done, a death sentence put on his head for "impeity".