Vox Day and Dinesh D'Souza

02 November 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 and interviews. This is what Dinesh D'Souza had to say in a recent interview with Vox Day:

The first is a case that I try to make that Christianity is responsible for the core institutions and values that secular people, and even atheists, cherish. If you look at books by leading atheists and you make a list of the values that they care about, things like the right to individual defense, the notion of personal dignity, equality and respect for women, opposition to social hierarchy and slavery, compassion as a social value, the idea of self-government and representative government, and so forth, you'll see that many of these things came into the world because of Christianity.

Let's just examine really quickly what the Bible has to say about each of those "values that secular people, and even atheists, cherish."

(1) "the right to individual defense"

First off, this seems like a weird thing to include. I don't think that Christianity, or any philosophy, can claim to be the source of "respecting individual defense." It's really just something that's reflexive, and it's common in every society ever.

Nonetheless, the Bible has some counter-intuitive things to say on the subject:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."
[Matthew 5: 38-42]

(2) "the notion of personal dignity"

Again, is Dinesh claiming that Christianity is the source of "the notion of personal dignity"? This seems like another blatant case of over-reaching.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the Old Testament God all-too-frequently ordered his people to rape and kill innocent women and children. Here is one example:
Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.

See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold.

Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children.

[Isaiah 13:15-18]

(3) "
equality and respect for women"

Is Dinesh really going to make the argument that Christianity is the source of equality and respect for women? Here are just two samples of what the Bible says about equality for women:
women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
[1 Corinthians 14:34-35]

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

[Ephesians 5:23-25]

(4) "
opposition to social hierarchy and slavery"

Whoa, there. Really?
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

[Exodus 20:17]

"If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property."
[Exodus 21:20]
"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."
[1 Peter 2:18]

(5) "
compassion as a social value"

Another case of some really amazing over-reaching. As if nobody thought of compassion as a social value before Christianity.

(6) "
the idea of self-government and representative government"

You're kidding me, right? The idea undeniably pre-dates Christianity. This argument is simply a bad one.

It's one thing to say that some of these things were incorporated into Christianity somehow. It's quite another to claim (as Dinesh the exaggerator does), that Christianity is the source of all these wonderful things (and, as a consequence, that Atheists should be thanking Christians).

I'm glad that modern Christians and atheists (and lots of other people who don't fall into either of those categories) value these things today (sometimes in spite of what the Bible said 2000 years ago). But it really frustrates me when people like Dinesh D'Souza try to claim that their philosophy is the originator of all these values. It's a claim that's easily disproven, yet all-too-frequently made.

No comments: