What’s So Great About Christianity? Part 2

Last week I promised to use this space to work through Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity. The book is broken into eight parts with three or four chapters in each part. For now, I’m going to try to write one post for each of the parts, but I reserve the right to change that if it’s not working. In other words, this is an experiment so who knows how it will turn out. Let me say that this book is written on the level of the “common man.” In other words, you don’t have to have a PhD in science or philosophy to track with the author’s argument.

Chapter 1 The Twilight of Atheism.

Thesis: Across the world, religion is on the rise with Christianity growing the fastest. Here in the United States, it is the more theologically conservative churches that are experiencing the most growth, and the theologically liberal churches that are seeing a decline in attendance. This leaves the atheists shocked and disappointed since they thought that as people advanced scientifically and technologically, they would abandon religion.

Key Quote: Nietzsche’s proclamation “God is dead” is now proven false. Nietzsche is dead.

My Thoughts: Throughout history every people group located in every region of the world have possessed religious beliefs. The Bible explains the universal need for religion by saying that we are made in the image of God and were created to live in a perfect relationship with him. Sin has broken that relationship between human beings and God, but it has not destroyed the need and desire to be connected to and worship something greater than ourselves. Even scientific and technological advancement does not diminish the spiritual hunger because they do not address the deep need that all people have for meaning and purpose.

Chapter 2 Survival of the Sacred: Why Religion is Winning

Thesis: If God does not exists and blind Darwinian evolution is true, then religion should be decreasing. In the atheist world view, it simply doesn’t make sense that people would evolve in a way that they would believe in things that are false and untrue. According to natural selection, the fittest-not the most gullible-survive.

Key Quote: Biologist Richard Dawkins confesses that religion poses a “major puzzle to anyone who thinks in a Darwinian way.”

My Thoughts: The atheist is eventually forced to admit that if there is no God and no eternal life, then life is meaningless. We are nothing more than a collection of atomic particles and feelings like love and heroism nothing more than chemical reactions. But that doesn’t square with how anyone (including the atheist) lives their life. Therefore it isn’t surprising that the number of committed atheists is dwindling. The atheistic world view simply doesn’t fit with what people know to be true about themselves or the world they live in.

Chapter 3 God is not Great: The Atheist Assault on Religion

Thesis: Religious people are naive, gullible, and superstitious. The reason that atheists are confident in that assertion is science. Science, almost always in the form of Darwinism, has led the atheist to believe that all of life can be explained in natural or material terms. Therefore there is no need for God.

Key Quote: But what is it about science that supports atheism? For one, science seems to work better than religion. “We can pray over the cholera victim,” Carl Sagan writes, “or we can give her 500 milligrams of tetracycline every twelve hours.” In such cases, Sagan points out, even Christians are likely to supplement their prayers with medicine.

My Thoughts: I think that there will be much in this book that deals with the “It isn’t rational or reasonable to believe in the Christian God” argument, so I don’t feel the need to respond to the whole idea right now. But I do want to point out that Sagan’s quote above is the classic straw man argument. No thoughtful Christian, much less the Bible, teaches that belief in a sovereign God negates human responsibility. For example, consider Nehemiah who both prayed and posted a guard (Nehemiah 4). If the atheist wants to criticize Christianity, fine. But he or she is going to have to at least know what the Bible teaches before they offer a contrary point of view.

Chapter 4 Miseducating The Young: Saving Children From Their Parents

Thesis: The new atheists believe that it is incumbent on the educational system to disabuse students of the harmful notion of God. Schools (usually universities) must reverse the “damaging influence of their parents religious instruction.”

Key Quote: “Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought about?” Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

My Thoughts on Part 1: In the preface of the book, D’Souza makes great points concerning the need for Christians to intelligently engage on the issue of atheism. Too often Christians either retreat behind their castle walls or the resort to name calling and other reactionary responses. I Peter 3:15 calls believers to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reasons for the hope that is within you.” As D’Souza points out, this verse requires Christians to know what they believe and be able to articulate in a winsome way. One way that you could grow in both areas is to buy this book and read along with me.

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