Dinesh D'Souza Builds, Burns Straw Man

24 October 2007

Dinesh D'Souza is out promoting his new book What's So Great About Christianity. As a result, we get to enjoy some really bad editorials. Here is what D'Souza writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

This atheist attack is based on a fallacy – the Fallacy of the Enlightenment. It was pointed out by the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant erected a sturdy intellectual bulwark against atheism that hasn't been breached since. His defense doesn't draw on sacred texts or any other sources of authority to which people of faith might naturally and rightfully turn when confronted with atheist arguments. Instead, it relies on the only framework that today's atheist proselytizers say is valid: reason. The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know – reality itself. This view says we can find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. It holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.

D'Souza spends the rest of his article arguing against the proposition that we can "unmask the whole of reality." Never mind the fact that this is completely 100% not the atheist argument at all.

I also like this line of argument:
When atheists summarily dismiss such common ideas as the immortality of the soul or the afterlife on the grounds that they have never found any empirical proofs for either, they are asking for experiential evidence in a domain that is entirely beyond the reach of the senses. In this domain, Kant argues, the absence of such evidence cannot be used as the evidence for absence.
Translation: "Just because I don't have any proof at all doesn't mean I'm wrong!"

Here is the sweeping conclusion:
Atheism foolishly presumes that reason is in principle capable of figuring out all that there is, while theism at least knows that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and our minds can ever apprehend.
"So, I can't know if I'm, like, in the matrix "

Really, though, this is at best an argument for Agnosticism. Only if one defines Atheism as "the belief that we can in principle unmask the whole of reality through our human senses," rather than the more realistic "lack of belief in a personal Deity," does this line of argument make any sense whatsoever. I personally don't know any "Atheists" who fall into the first category, but I know plenty who say "maybe there is a God/Allah/Yahweh/Thor/Odin/Zeus, but in the absence of any real evidence, I don't see why I should positively believe in its existence."

Oh yeah, and this is the same Dinesh D'Souza who dated Ann Coulter, used the Virginia Tech shooting to denounce atheism, blamed liberals for provoking 9/11, and used stolen correspondence to out gay college students when he was editor of the Dartmouth Review.

(h/t Something Awful, falcon2424, corkskroo, spicychickenstyle)

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