Dinesh D'Sousa is the man to beat *reconstruction*
Paul RobinsonPaul Robinson's picture
I have seen some of the televised debates captured on Youtube, including the one with Hutchens vs. D'Sousa, and while some of you may disagree, Dinesh D'Sousa is a worthy competitor and an outstanding mind as far as debating the issues of belief. And I do believe that he is probably one of, if not the best, of, what I guess is the term "Christian Apologetics" although I know that's not the right term.
And frankly, he's the one your side has to be able to out-argue. He's damned good at what he does.
Now, maybe the debates are simply being done as intellectual exercises and no one is really trying to offer convincing arguments against the other side. But if the intent is to try and make a point and perhaps show where his side has errors, then I think more work needs to be done.
I have watched at least two debates I've seen on YouTube, one involving Hutchens and the other with I think was some professor at Yale. And I do believe that D'Sousa is one of the few people who does have the capability to seriously argue against atheism in a way that is going to be more likely to make the argument against it. He's very good, but what surprises me is the number of times the people debating him do not clearly call him on some of his misstatements, or why they're afraid to follow the arguments in such a way as to deny him a standing to argue against some of the points on the side which opposes the idea of God.
I mean, I saw some places where there were points that the people arguing could have made, that they either didn't make the point or failed to make the attempt to do so. Now, granted that in some cases the people making at least one of these debates could not see the other because it occurred after theirs, people debating this man should be reading what he's written, as well as watching any of the debates he has made to know what his general style is and what his usual M.O. is with respect to how he answers questions or frames the debate.
If anyone here has connections with any of the seriously important people in the Atheist community, or who might be debating him in the future, I'd like you to pass my suggestions on to them. Because I think that honest dialog is important and ensuring that the issues be raised properly is the only way to make sure that these types of debates come down fairly and without allowing him to get away with leaving questions unanswered. Which I note that sometimes he's been asked questions in which he doesn't completely answer them or gives an answer that isn't the same as the question that was asked.
One of D'Sousa's favorite debating tricks is to use a mixed metaphor, in which he asks someone to consider something that does exist, and then ask if we can understand the attributes of it at a future time, e.g. if you've been dating a woman for several years, can you know what it's going to be like if you marry her?
Obviously you can't. However - this is what should have been pointed out - you're not being asked to marry someone you have never seen, have never heard and don't know anything about (and won't have sex with, either!) Which is the general characteristics which are applicable to God.
Another thing that comes up is the misconduct, including killing and such that occured with such leaders as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and some of the others (Pol Pot?), and allowing it to be claimed that they were atheist in nature. Well, the point is, I don't know whether I'm just smarter than these people who were debating were, (or maybe I'm completely wrong and I don't get it), but I don't understand why they allowed these people to be classed as atheist or at best claimed they were only quasi-religious in nature. They weren't. They either claimed that they themselves were God, or claimed the state was, in some way claiming it or themselves as being of a supernatural state which was of a higher power than the ordinary person. Whether that was the leader himself, or the State, or that they worshipped a "Super Man" an Ideal Man. In short, a form of worship and thus they were not quasi-religions, they were actual religions.
In the book I am writing, I have the following item: When Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met with Joseph Stalin - one of those so-called ‘people' whom we can put on our ‘double-plus ungood list' - at the Yalta Conference, where they decided how to divide up the world after the war, someone asked Stalin how he knew that he was destined to become ruler of the Soviet Union. He said that God came to him in a vision and told him that it was to be so. FDR turned to him and said, "Now wait a minute, Joe, I never said any such thing." I think that it's pretty hard to expect someone who believes he was divinely inspired to be ruler, and ended up having over 20 million people murdered in mass collective farming schemes<sup></sup>, to believe that he was a bad man who deserves to be punished.
The crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and all of them were based on an allegiance to and a demand of worship to a supernatural power above ordinary persons, and that makes their actions religious action, not atheistic action. These are all actions based on allegiance to a higher power and therefore to a religion, not to actions based on the absence of a religion.
Let's not forget North Korea, the official head of state is a ghost, the late father of the current head of the Communist Party (and de-facto head of the country) . If swearing loyalty to a dead person isn't a religion I do not know what else qualifies.
Which brings me to what I believe is another error that both D'Sousa on the theist side and the people on the atheist side both are making. This is one that, because both sides are making it, is a subtle and innocent error. They are both claiming that religions (and Dinesh speaks of atheism) need to accept responsibility for the crimes committed in their name. Which would be true if we were holding religions and atheism to the standard of Original Sin, a Christian concept. I am not responsible for the crimes committed by those who colonized the west and murdered the American Indians, or slaughtered them in the Trail of Tears. Germans born after World War II are not personally responsible for the Holocaust. Japanese born after World War II are not responsible for the Rape of Nanking.
I am not responsible for the bombing of Iraq (I have no control over the government) or the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (I did not exist at the time). It may be arguable that I may have to accept responsibility in the sense of being a citizen of the country that did this and where I personally have not repudiated the actions of the government that has done these things. But I am not personally responsible for the actions of my country.
The general Muslim community are not individually responsible for the actions of September 11, 2001. Nor is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nor was the Government of Iraq. The only way you can assign responsibility is either that they acted under the authority or with the support of these organizations, or you use some form of the Christian concept of Original Sin in which one person's crimes can be assigned to their relatives, descendants, or neighbors.
The Government of Libya as an organization, as well as the men who planted the bombs and Mr. Gaddafi are personally responsible for the bombing causing the airplane crash in Lockerbie, Scotland; the general population of Libya is not.
It may be reasonable to argue the Catholic Church as an organization is responsible for the actions committed on behalf of its management (the Inquisition, Torquemada, Galileo's house arrest, etc.); it is definitely unreasonable to claim Catholics in general are responsible for actions that occurred before they were born. It may be arguable that people who remain as part of an organization that acts in ways they disagree with are equally culpable for those acts if they fail to repudiate them, but I think that's still a stretch.
By claiming to assign blame to a group for actions of individuals is, in effect, allowing to use the Christian concept of Original Sin to corrupt one's thinking. Especially if we are assigning to people who were not alive at that time, or had no connection to or control over the events, guilt or blame for these actions. And I believe that it is not a good idea.
Another one is he points to the religious communities championing the causes of equality of people and specifically to the abolition of slavery as Christian values. It should be pointed out that to the extent these values came from Christian communities, they came in direct contravention to the word of God which condoned and supported slavery. Thus if these were values from Christian communities, they were in spite of Christianity, not in compliance to it. (And I'm sure people here are better at scripture than I am and will know the specific sections where the bible explicitly condones, supports and champions the operation of slavery.)
There are possibly other issues I may think of later on, but I do believe that these are a good place to start.
Because D'Sousa is such a great debater, he is the one that your side has to beat because, it's like living in New York; if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. If you can take him down and defeat his arguments, he's the best there is on arguing their side and anyone else will be child's play by comparison.
Paul Robinson - http://paul-robinson.us (My Blog)
General Manager, Viridian Development Corporation
 From the preface: An editorial "An Overdue Memorial" in the June 23, 2007 Wall Street Journal says that "The middle estimate of Stalin's victims is 40 million."
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Submitted by Paul Robinson on December 19, 2007 - 4:13pm. login or register to post comments
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