What's So Great About Christianity?

Dinesh D'Souza

Ch 20: Natural Law and Divine Law: The Objective Foundations of Morality

D’Souza suggests that many people reject Christianity because they reject Christianity’s morals. He believes in objective or universal morality that is discoverable without reference to religion, but atheists either (1) claim that all morals are determined by the personal or social environment or (2) claim that they don’t need God to be moral. There is diversity, but there is much less diversity than people think. Absolute morality is a powerful argument for God since it provides a transcendend grounding.

p226 Atheist claims that morality doesn't need God

p228 Sagan quote on nature's laws, but moral laws can be broken

p230 argues for common morality among major religions

p233 challenge that absolute morality poses to atheists

p235 story of Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life in Nazi concentration camp in place of a younger man with a family.

p235 C S Lewis example of drowning man

p237 about inner voice of conscience "Even the atheist hears this internal clarion call because even the atheist has morality at the core of his being, and while the atheist may have rejected God, God has not rejected him."

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What's So Great About Christianity?

Dinesh D'Souza

Ch 21: The Ghost in the Machine: Why Man is More Than Matter

For many atheists morality, consciousness, free-will, and mind are all just an extension of the material, and the sould is merely a religious convention. D’Souza points to many problems with materialistic reductionism such as how we can get consciousness, purpose, free-will, personal identity, etc. from a materialistic perspective. “Secular morality in contrast to traditional morality is ‘in here’ and not ‘out there’. Secular morality is a quest for our best and truest self, which is believed to reside within.” The virtues of the secular ethic are (1)individuality, (2)authenticity, (3) independence. This view (Rousseau’s view) is in sharp contrast to Christian teaching (original sin, grace, new birth).

p239 Dennett quote

p240 Stenger and Dennett talk about the soul, Jerome Elbert

p240 Wilson and Crick on absence of free will Crick "It seems free to you, but it's the result of things you are not aware of." Wilson "the hidden preparation of mental activity gives the illusion of free will."

p241 Interestingly, Dawkins holds onto some version of free will. Pinker also has some of this

p244 the mystery of consciousness "no good scientific or Darwinian account of consciousness

p245 Bryan Magee deals with consciousness. Even Pinker admits "human behavior makes the most sense when it is explained in terms of beliefs and desires, not in terms of volts and grams."

p246 Paul Davies and the analogy of the electical billboard. Davies may have gotten it from Mackay, but the point is the same - the explanatory details about mechanism do not give you the message.

p246 "The longer you ponder materialism, the graver the difficulties that present themselves. How can materialism account for the fact that we consider our accounts of the world to be not merely chemically generated reactions but true beliefs?" Biologist J. B. S. Haldane "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose my beliefs are true .. and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

p246 Hawking's dilemma.

p247 "Perhaps the strongest argument against materialism is the argument from free will."

p248 Kant : "Ought" implies "Can"

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What's So Great About Christianity?

Dinesh D'Souza

Ch 22 The Imperial "I": When the Self Becomes the Arbiter of Morality

p251"To thine own self be true." Shakespeare

p251 the "higher self" secular morality

p253 the inner self from Augustine, developed into the idea of the "priesthood of the individual believer"

p254 Taylor and Rousseau noble savage, "society made us do it"

p255 Oprah phenomenon of self disclosure

p259 "take conscience as your guide"

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What's So Great About Christianity?

Dinesh D'Souza

Ch 23: Opiate of the Morally Corrupt: Why Unbelief Is So Appealing

Atheists give a number of reasons for their unbelief including psychological, philosophical, moral , and evidential arguments, but D’Souza says the deepest reason is the desire to escape moral responsibility and experience freedom (the pleasures of life).Nietzsche and others saw that the death of God would naturally work itself out into a new morality.

261 Armstrong quote "It is wonderful not to have to cower before a vengeful deity, who threatens us with eternal damnation if we do not abide by his rules."

261 Bertrand Russell asked what he would say upon discovery that there is an afterlife "Sir, you did not give me enough evidence."

p262 Hegel, Marx religion is the "opium of the people" Freud

p263 Atheists preference that there is no God Nietzsche, Mencken, Stenger, Nagel "I want atheism to be true .. It isn't just that I don't believe in God .. I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."

p263 Atheism as a dismal ideology

p263 Harris and Dawkins, Williamsm

p264 Gould "We may yearn for a higher answer - but none exists." "This explanation, though superficially troubling if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilirating."

p264 Darwin's loss of faith

p265 Ben Wiker's "Moral Darwinism" "Epicurus confesses that his goal is to get rid of the gods."

p266 Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley "I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning ... The liberation we desired was .. liberation from a certain system of morality."

p267 Czwslaw Milosz "A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death - the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged." D'Souza "So the Marxist doctrine needs to be revised. It is not religion that is the opiate of the people, but atheism that is the opiate of the morally corrupt."

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What's So Great About Christianity?

Dinesh D'Souza

Ch 24: The Problem of Evil: Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen

The Christian view of things leaves us the problem of how we reconcile an all powerful, good God with the presence of evil, but atheism has a problem with how we come up with the categories of good and evil. The presence of evil can be used to argue for God (moral distinctions). D’Souza says that Christianity provides the best explanation of the world as we experience it because (1) the existence of God best explains the existence of the categories of good and evil., (2) it suggests that evil is the result of misuse of free-will and (3) it promises that God will eventually overcome evil.

p273 Dawkins and Weinberg. Weinberg "The God of birds and trees would also have to be the God of birth defects and cancer." And for himself as a Jew "Remembrance of the Holocaust leaves me unsympathetic to attempts to justify the ways of God to man."

p274 Pinker "If the world unfolds according to a wise and merciful plan, why does it contain so much suffering?"

p274 "The problem of evil and suffering is considered by many people to be the strongest argument against the existence of God. The reasoning goes like this: If God exists, He is all-powerful. If He is all powerful, He is in a position to stop evil and suffering. But we know from experience that evil and suffering go on, scandalously, mercilessly, without even a hint of proportion or justice. Thus there cannot be an omnipotent being capable of preventing all this from happening, because if there were, He surely would. Therefore God does not exist."

p275 Richard Dawkins in "River Out of Eden" "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."

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