Monday, April 28, 2008

Dinesh D'Souza's War Stories

Oh, Dinesh, Dinesh...please, do us all a favor and stop being you. The amount of fail that your blog is generating will single-handedly detoriate the ozone layer by the year 2011 at the rate you are going.

I am sure you all intrigued with how he continues to strategically miss so many different points, remain oblivious to that fact, and keep audiences enthralled with his rhythmic feet as he does so, then you surely do want to this exercise in the inane:

"It was Atheist Bashing Week for me as I did three debates over the past seven days with a new crop of leading atheists"

Forgive me if I snicker at the idea of Dinesh "bashing" least successfully. Even if he think that he has ever done so, he is probably mistaken in that belief.

"Sinnott-Armstrong offered a more dignified atheism that he said recognizes the accomplishments of Christianity. In one revealing moment he event said schools and colleges should teach students that the crimes of Christianity, like the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials, pale before the crimes of atheist regimes like those of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot. Overall this was an elevated debate, one of the more high-toned ones I've participated in."

Let me clarify a few things. The things that could said to be the "accomplishments of Christianity" could have been done with the same effectiveness (or, actually, increased effectiveness) under any number of religions, or no religion at all. In the Western world, where Christianity is predominant, Christianity itself cannot be said to be the sole cause of any Western accomplishment, in that much of its successes in government, technology, science, society, and philosophy have their roots in Ancient Greece and Rome, even if the roots that originally came from such cultures only came to fruition in societies that were largely Christian. The point of this is that we can't really credit Christianity with a whole lot, as they may have just happened to be the pet ideology of a few countries in a time where the seeds planted by previous generations and previous doctrines, happened to come into fruition.

Second, there is no problem with mentioning that the death tolls of Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao (you left out Hitler....good boy, here's a cookie) are incredibly high. But it is foolish to assume that the large number of deaths is the fault of atheism, just because these three dictators happened to be atheistic communists. It is also foolish to assume that Christianity somehow gets to get a free ride on its own atrocities, because the death tolls aren't high enough in comparison. The reason why this doesn't fly well is that you have to consider that these atrocities occured during times where methods of killing were less effective, and the number of people that you were able to kill was smaller (to say nothing of the fact that the Inquisition focused more on torture and conversion than outright murder). This is also neglecting the fact that we are ignoring traditional warfare, which is the form in which Christianity was must gleeful in its destruction of lives, and failing to acknowledge that atheism has no common ideology from which to determine behavior (unlike actual religons), meaning that you cannot as easily come to conclusions about atheism itself from these three dictators as you could about them if they had a common religious doctrine. You can, however, infer a good amount about totalitarian regimes, politically motivated executions, communism, and inflated egos from these, and other similarly oppressive, genocidal states . But, I'm not so sure that having three oppressive communist nations with a high execution rate implies as much about atheism as a several hundred year trend of religiously motivated wars and violence implies about the specific religious doctrines behind them. But, I assume you would say I am being unfair about that, right?

"Later the atheist students who organized the debate complimented me on my performance, and one said that I had made numerous arguments that he had never thought of, and that were compelling him to rethink (although not abandon) his atheism"

Either a miracle occured that magical evening in Cambridge, and D'Souza came up with something actually compelling and original (which, judging from what I've seen of his debates, is unlikely), or Harvard students just ain't what they used to be. Or the kid was just flattering him. Anyway you slice it, that student that told Dinesh this needs to slapped! The fool gratified Dinesh's ego, allowing the pompous ass to continue believing that he actually has credibility! He will never be stopped now!

"I went first and focused on Singer's extreme views, such as his proposal that parents be allowed to kill their children up to the age of 28 days. Singer also thinks America and the West can learn from non-Western societies, not to mention ancient Greece and Rome, where children were routinely killed at much higher ages. Oddly enough this champion of infanticide and euthanasia also favors animal rights!"
Can't help but feel that this is either a misrepresentation or that it is deliberately stripped away from the justifications for the position in order to preserve Dinesh's opinion of it. But, anyway, I am not so sure that I could support infanticide. Despite the fact that infants mental faculties aren't completely developed, the fact that they, upon birth, are no longer symbiotic lifeforms, and have been able to feel pain and sense their surrounding for several months, I feel that infanticide, in of itself, cannot be justified without extreme circumstances. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is acceptable, if the recipient of it consents without question or doubt, or if the recipient is simply beyond hope and incapable of communicating in any way, whatsoever. Much of the civilized world allows for euthanasia in circumstances where it is requested (and, in contrast, we do not allow it, but are among the few in the civilized world to still have the death penalty, along with prioritizing military expenditure more than any nation ....God bless, America...).

"Singer argues that we human beings are Darwinian primates. We are on a continuum with the other animals. It is Christianity, Singer charges, that came into the world and elevated human beings on a pedestal. It is Christianity that proclaimed that man is in the image of God, and that creation is for man's benefit. These ideas gave rise to the special dignity of man and human rights and moral principles such as 'It is wrong to deliberately take human life.'"

We ARE Darwinian primates. You admit to accepting evolution, so why would that be news to you? Humans are part of the animal kingdom, yes. The reasons for believing otherwise are based upon egotism extended to one's entire species, not based upon actually physiological differences. But, Christianity was not the first to put humans on to a pedestal. They are the most famous for it, but whether it was explicit or implicit, humans have generally always felt that human beings are special. I mean, what do you think that gods are? Don't you think it odd that the idea of gods are almost universally anthropomorphized versions of aspects of nature? Gods were basically supermen, the greatest beings in existence who just happened to have a humanoid form. Of course, even without religion, humans would still put humanity on a pedestal, because humans tend to put themselves up on a pedestal. When it comes down to it, groups that people associate with are viewed as an extension of the self, and, as such, are held in the same esteem that hold themselves with. Species is just another kind of group we define ourselves by, and that we use to determine our enemies.

Oh, as for morality coming from Christianity: if you think that murder was never unacceptable in an established society before Jesus came around, you simply fail.

"In a sense Singer is taking up Nietzsche's challenge--to rid our civilization not only of the Christian God but also of Christian morality--and his homicidal conclusions, which many people find horrific, are only a working-out of his atheist logic."
Ugggh....Christian morality. If you are not misrepresenting Singer here, I think that Singer needs to be excommunicated from the International Church of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy. But, anyways, your Christian morality has nothing to it that it makes it remarkably better than Hindu morality, Jewish morality, Shinto morality, Buddhist morality, or, despite your misrepresentations, atheistic morality (or, in other words, morality common to almost all non-sociopathic human beings). In fact, much of the moral actions demanded of Christianity are either immoral (stoning people for working on the Sabbath), ignored as irrelevant(not eating shellfish, praying in the closet, all that), or common sense morality that is not limited to any one religion (the golden rule, no murder, no thievery, stressing non-violence, and a variety of other chestnuts...). So, to put it in fewer words: just because you equate Christianity with everything good in our society does not make it true.

"He is a lucid and gentlemanly debater, and he complimented me for eschewing Bible citations in favor of reason and logic and history and science in developing my arguments. I praised him for having the guts to come to a Christian campus and debate me, quite a contrast from the invertebrate Richard Dawkins who seems terrified to take me on even at his native Oxford."

That's nice that you complimented one another and all, but, do you really wonder why Richard Dawkins won't debate you? Because, I can give you a few reasons. You completely misrepresent every fact that you present in a debate, (along with your opponent's after the debate), you tend to fire off a massive amount of generally incorrect data that could take a full year to comprehensively expose as fallacious, and, the best part is, you absolutely insist that people engage you in a setting in which you can get away with doing it! But, I'd say why Richard does not want to debate you is simply because you are already known by the people who actually know about you to be nothing but a pompous windbag without anything but infantile, recycled arguments that even internet trolls have decided to abandon two years prior to when you dredge them up as legitimate. You are not even a blip on his radar, no matter how much you whine and try to smear him.

"Won't it be hilarious if the "party of faith" is unafraid of opposing arguments while the "party of reason" cannot withstand the arguments of its critics?"

No, I'd say that is pretty much the norm. People of faith being unafraid of opposing arguments because they are too stubborn and/or ignorant to change due to them, and people of reason being afraid of criticism because they are willing to concede the possibility that the opposition may actually be able to convince them by mustering up an actually sound argument.

Well that's that...I'm hoping that I won't be compelled to do this everytime that Dinesh decides to open his claptrap about religion, but...well...some things just can't be helped.

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