Book Review: What’s so Great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza

Much like “More Christianity,” this book is also written in homage to “Mere Christianity.” (Reading this so close to the other two was a coincidence.) It’s primary focus to responding to the wave of aggressive atheism that seeks to belittle Christianity and drive it from the public square. (It shouldn’t escape notice that these “brave” atheists focus on Christianity, a religion of peace, rather than Islam, which leads some of its followers to behead those who attack Islam.)

Most of the attacks of the New Atheists focus on denying the goodness of Christianity through ad hominem or inaccurate statements, and D’Souza shows the error of these claims. He begins by exposing that it’s not Christianity that is dying out, but rather atheism. The societies that are growing and expanding are theistic societies, while it’s the atheistic West that is failing to reproduce. This claim exposes the narrow and limited viewpoint that is so typical self-appointed cultural elites: a failure to look at what the “little people” are actually doing, instead of what the elite takes them to be doing. He also exposes the attempts of the elite to foist their world view on the young by denying the rights of parents to educate their children.

The second part of the book deals with the history of the West, showing how separation of Church and state, plus the concept of limited government are essentially Christian ideas, how Christianity is the belief that understands and accounts for human frailty and fallibility, while also acknowledging the innate dignity of all humans. Despite the claims of atheists that their ideal society would be the most peaceful and tranquil, D’Souza shows that jettisoning Christianity would remove the necessary underpinning that atheists unknowingly rely upon. From there he moves to Christianity showing that Christianity, in fact, was responsible for much of the scientific development throughout history, and how much of recent scientific study affirms Christian teaching. (He also shows that those opposing scientific discoveries that supported Christianity, such as the Big Bang, were acting against science and denying evidence, acting more out of “faith” than those they accused of rejecting science.)

He then takes on the world of philosophy, with a special focus on Immanuel Kant as Kant has put forward the most successful and influential arguments against the existence of God. D’Souza, though, shows how, by Kant’s own standards and practices, Kant’s argument fails. he then shows that miracles are indeed possible and why Pascal’s Wager makes sense.

He also explores the question of suffering pointing out that Christianity uniquely among world religion religions and philosophies is able to provide a meaning to suffering and making anything other than something negative. While on the topic, he shows that the atheistic societies and governments have killed far more people than even the most wildly exaggerated accusations against Christians would claim. He further goes on to show that the mere existence of the questions of morality points to something greater than a merely human and natural universe. After all, if we’re merely a product of evolution seeking to pass on our own genetic materials, why would any of us be willing to give our lives for a stranger? Why would Catholic priests, nuns and brothers take vows of celibacy? The materialist mindset has no answer for these issues as they are so antithetical to the Evolutionism “theology.”

He concludes with a section on why, having shown the logic, rationality and public benefits of Christianity, each of us should accept it for ourselves.

One thing that jumped out at me during this book was the weakness of many of the atheist arguments. I know there are very intelligent people on the other side of this topic, but it shows how even smart people can accept extremely flawed and shallow arguments in support of a position. (I try to avoid that, although I’m sure I’m far from perfect on that count.)

I think the best quote about this book comes from the Advance Praise section:

As an unbeliever, I passionately disagree with Dinesh D’Souza on some of his positions. But he is a first-rate scholar whom I feel absolutely compelled to read. His thorough research and elegant prose have elevated him into the top ranks of those who champion liberty and individual responsibility. Now he adds Christianity to his formula for the good society, and although non-Christians and non-theists may disagree with some of his arguments, we ignore him at our own peril. D’Souza’s book takes the debate to a new level. Read It.

-Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine

I’ve had much the same experience with D’Souza’s work. Even when I go in The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11expecting to disagree with him, I find myself bowing to his logic and research. He belongs on anyone’s list of must-read authors, agree or disagree with him.