65 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Very well done presentation of the intellectual strengths and historical truths of Christianity,
This review is from: What's So Great About Christianity (Hardcover)
I found this book to be wonderfully refreshing. We live in a time when books promoting atheism and attacking religion (especially Christianity) are best sellers and promoted nearly everywhere. This book stands up for Christianity, but in an intellectual and systematic way. D'Souza has not provided a book of testimony or a scriptural defense of faith. He spends twenty-four chapters examining the arguments made against religion and answers them using history, philosophy, and careful reasoning. Chapters 25 & 26 are the closest the author comes to promoting Christianity and inviting you to examine its benefits. However, it is hardly an aggressive missionary approach.
D'Souza presents the basic material examining Christianity in seven parts (the eight being the last two chapters). The first is "The Future of Christianity". The author lays out the current bump in popularity in militant atheism, but why it is really a long term loser. Despite atheism's best efforts, outside narrow intellectual circles religion is growing in most places in the world. In particular, Christianity is growing the fastest of all and in its future is bright. The second part looks at the historical rise and contributions of Christianity to Western Civilization and again demonstrates that many popular notions are simply wrong or fabrications.
The third part looks at science as a wonderful tool and a very poor faith. I particularly loved the chapter correcting the popular notion that Galileo was imprisoned by the Church because the Church was trying to suppress scientific truth. In fact, he was put under house arrest because he published a book he had promised not to publish and insulted the pope in a very egregious way. However, Galileo's scientific truths were being examined by the leading intellects of the day, who were in the Church, and while much was accepted, it did turn out that Galileo was wrong about some details.
The fourth part examines the various arguments against the Church because of evolution and natural selection. D'Souza shows the evidence for creation, that evolution per se says nothing against religion or faith, and how what is understood in the natural record comfortably corresponds to religious teaching over the millennia. Yes, all human knowledge has expanded, but the core religious truths have not been overthrown.
Part five is an interesting examination of the limits of the reason that the atheists say overthrows faith. D'Souza makes an interesting use of Kant to demonstrate a problem in Hume's thought. We also get treated to an interesting discussion of why miracles are reasonable and the skeptic's wager. That is, if there really is nothing, one hasn't lost much by believing in God and yet if there is a God not believing in him presents a great cost.
Part six looks at the notion of suffering as an argument against God and Christianity. The author corrects the notion that religion is responsible for the great mass murders in history and exposes the lame attempts by atheists to try and keep their skirts clean by pushing Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao in the camp of believers.
Part seven spends several chapters examining the problem of morality for atheists, despite their great efforts to construct their own morality, the notion of spirit, why so many find unbelief (even a passive unbelief) so appealing, and the problem that evil in the world presents to those who believe in God. I think D'Souza does a good job with each topic.
I recommend this book to any Christian of any sect to get great information about the history, power, and strength of your history and faith. No, it is not a replacement for your communion with the Spirit or the nourishment of your faith in the scriptures. However, it will help you deal with the nagging frustrations you feel when you see Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and others on TV or read their words in articles and books. While they are very confident in their faith (and that is exactly what atheism is at its core), most of what they are presenting is testimony rather than fact and sound reasoning.
If you are in doubt about choosing between a search for faith or giving up and accepting materialism, I also urge you to read this book, but to also seek to join yourself with a community of believers who can help you on your journey. My faith is strengthened by worshiping and living in faith with others and you probably will, too.
If you are an atheist, I also think you should read this book. No, I don't expect that it will open a mind already committed to an opposite point of view, but it will give you a good look at the strength of argument on the other side. If you simply dismiss them out of hand or disdainfully push them away, you haven't won anything because you haven't actually participated in an exchange of ideas. Sure, you have every right to do so, but I don't find such pride and contempt of others to be very becoming.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 20, 2009 12:55:32 AM PDT
Richard Poole says:
You have incorrectly stated that atheism is a faith at its core, which is a misconception constantly repeated by Christians. Lack of belief in the existence of deities is not a "faith" by any stretch of the imagination. It is a plausible conclusion that many reach based on available evidence, or lack thereof. The burden of proof is on the theist, and said theist still has quite a bit of work to do.
In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2009 5:29:40 AM PDT
Craig Matteson says:
Richard, it is also plausible that there is a God. The only "reasonable" conclusion is agnostic; there might be a god and there might not, but I think not. That is reasonable. To believe with any level of certitude that there is no god, well that requires faith. Good luck in your beliefs.
Nice try in shifting the burden of proof onto the believer. No matter what YOU believe, even in the tooth fairy, you have a perfect right to believe it undisturbed by the doubt of others, unless you choose to be disturbed. Who makes you (or Dawkins) an authority whom others must come to for approval? Silly.
In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2009 4:20:28 PM PDT
Edward P. O'Brien says:
Richard Poole. Call atheism whatever you want. Have you read some of the things Physics is trying to pass off as theory? They have lost their way, coming up with all sorts of theories, which by definition do not qualify as theories or even theoretical constructs. Most of the new stuff is just pure science fiction. According to Websters "new world dictionary", faith can mean "anything believed" and the stretch of the imagination is modern science. Let me put it this way, "If anything now exists, then something is eternal, or something not eternal emerged from nothing". It is more reasonable to believe that something is eternal. That is in the end more reasonable than any scientific answer available, that can be considered scientific.
"Comments by a Guilty Bystander" Edward Patrick O'Brien
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2009 11:31:14 AM PDT
Jonathan A. Feucht says:
Atheism is holding the presupposition that there is no god. Presuppositions are something that cannot be proven by science or tested with logic, so they form the backbone of your faith. Everybody has some sort of faith, Richard.
Posted on Aug 5, 2009 7:00:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2009 7:02:07 AM PDT
Mark Blackburn says:
Good review -- deservedly in the "spotlight." Not least, for the intelligent responses it elicited. Good reviews tend to do that, don't they? Thanks for writing this one, Craig! Tried to leave a "helpful" but (to coin a song title) it seems to me you've heard THAT song before . . .
Mark B of the (usually) frozen North
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2013 3:39:33 PM PST
Obadiah Crowley says:
"I am thankful this week when I remember that America is big enough and great enough to survive Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House!" D'Souza (D'Douche) tweeted after Thanksgiving.
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