Dinesh D’Souza is one of these new slick christian apologists. He’s an author and a guy who goes on the debate tour to do battle with atheists. As you may have seen before here, I do enjoy dissecting and displaying theist’s debate tricks. Believe me, every theist argument boils down to one of two things – insufficient logic or blatant chicanery. Why, take Dinesh’s own admission:

“In my debate with atheist Christopher Hitchens in New York last October he raised a point that I did not know how to answer. So I employed an old debating strategy: I ignored it and answered other issues. But Hitchens’ argument bothered me.”

Well after 9 months of working on this problem, and some help from one Erik Kreps of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, little Dinesh feels he’s figured out a response so he doesn’t have to run and hide from Hitchens’ point anymore. Before I was even done with reading his rebuttal, I saw the flaws, and when I went back to consider the flaws, they brought forth more flaws.

First, let me recap Hitchens’ point. He points out that although homo sapiens have been running around on the planet for say 100,000 years, this god character allegedly didn’t bother to take an interest in us and intervene until about 5,000 years ago. So what was he up to all that time? “After all, cave-man’s plight was a miserable one: infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death. Evidently God didn’t really care.” To make matters worse, when he did decide to intervene and get his message out, he passed over the civilized parts like China, Egypt and India and went to some desert nomads. Wtf?

Dinesh starts by giving us Mr. Kreps’ argument, that although his god ignored humans for 95% of their time on Earth, 98% of all the humans that have ever lived were born in the last 5,000 years. So the argument is “God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect.” He goes on to ask, “[i]f He’d come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be?” So this is his “gotcha”, one that he’s so confident in he smugly says, “Sorry Hitchens.” Well Sorry Dinesh, that strategy doesn’t work, and for several reasons.

• If the concern was for the reliability of “the records of his relationship with man” to survive, then wouldn’t he have given his message to civilized societies in China, Egypt or India instead of some nomads in a desert?

• If he had showed up 2,000-3,000 years sooner, he could have given his message to the Summerians, and had he done so, that civilization might not have been lost to the ages and its advances in mathematics wouldn’t have had to be relearned by later civilizations.

The chart below shows the population growth of humanity for the last 3,000 years:

• Now although I don’t have a total for all the people who lived and died before, judging by this chart I think it’s safe to say that had Dinesh’s god showed up say around 400 BC, he still would have showed up in time to save a sizable percentage of every human who ever lived, and had he given it to the Greeks, well, I think it’s safe to say those records would have survived and be considered very reliable, far more reliable than what we have from the desert nomads or the christians of the 1st century AD.

The most obvious flaw I’m going to hold off on mentioning until after I address his second argument (which is also predicated on Mr. Kreps’ data so Dinesh should be indebted to him for the whole kit and kaboodle and not just the first part, but you know, his grace and modesty can only go so far). That argument is that despite having the same brains essentially, before 5,000 years ago, there was “[n]o real art, no writing, no inventions, no culture, no civilization.” “Then, a few thousand years ago, everything changes.” What follows is so good (I can imagine him all worked up and frothy), I’ll quote the whole block of it:

“Suddenly the naked ape gets his act together. We see civilizations sprouting in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and elsewhere. Suddenly there are wheels and agriculture and art and culture. Soon we have dramatic plays and philosophy and an explosion of inventions and novel forms of government and social organization.”

Asking then how humans got so smart and got their act together, how this “historical miracle” took place, he has but one answer, “[i]t seems as if some transcendent being or force reached down and breathed some kind of a spirit or soul into man”. Yes, because whenever we don’t have a clear answer (or sometimes even when we do, but it conflicts with the christian bible) there’s no choice but to conclude god did it. Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to show all the things wrong with this second argument.

• Well Dinesh conveniently ignored the Sumerians, who existed before his god allegedly came onto the scene. That’s about 6,000 BC.

• The “civilizations sprouting in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and elsewhere” were most assuredly not monotheistic, and were ones where his god isn’t believed to have popped in to say hello. Even if you want to buy his belief that they came about because his god “reached down and breathed some kind of a spirit or soul” into them, that still then begs the question of why didn’t he interact with them, give them his laws, his infamous 10 commandments? In fact, not only did he ignore them, but he apparently stepped away again for another few thousand years and then popped back to clue in only some nomads in the desert, ones who certainly had nothing ever to do with “dramatic plays and philosophy and an explosion of inventions and novel forms of government and social organization”, by the way.

• If his god did breath this spirit or soul into humanity and this was the reason for the exponential growth in population and the great achievements of art, philosophy and what not, then he could have done that at any time, right? In his first argument, he shows how clever his god is for showing up just at the right time, then here says he was responsible for that right time. Hello self contradiction!

• And what about this nonsense of his god reaching down and breathing some kind of spirit or soul into humans 5,000 years ago? Doesn’t that fly in the face of the other accepted nonsense of his faith that Adam and Eve had souls from the beginning?

Well of course it would be convenient for him to say that before that point, humans were soulless. Why? Despite his nifty math (well Mr. Kreps’), he doesn’t deny that yes, 2% of all the humans who ever lived had their pitiful lives of “infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death”, all without his loving god intervening. Well that’s still not very nice but hey, it’s ok, they didn’t have souls! Well I have no idea if this is what he meant or not but either way he’s still left with this problem, the one I alluded to earlier as the most obvious, that his omnibenevolent god allowed all those people (roughly 2.1 million according to Mr. Kreps) to suffer miserable lives. Sorry Dinesh, this is what the kids call an “epic fail”. See ya again in say another 9 months?

Special nod to the Chaplain for sending me Dinesh’s article.

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20 Responses to “D’Souza Fails to Account for his Absentee God”

  1. I see no point in debating these types of issues. There are a hundred theist tricks that can be played for each and every rebuttal we give to their empty arguments.

    Evidence please?

    That’s all that need be said. I’m glad you and Hitchens have the stomach for the battle.

  2. The only way for even a semi-meaningful debate to take place would to be to get rid of the bs hypothetical arguments used by apologetics. They make the facts fit their story. Or they revise the facts. But never the story! Even when they do use evidence, it is flawed evidence. I just saw a comment earlier about how there is evidence to prove Mt. Sinai and the flood among other things. wtf. How can this clown claim, let alone prove that God decided out of the blue to grace mankind with his presence in ‘X’ year BC? Speculation at best!

  3. Well I know many atheists want to just cut to the chase and dismiss this stuff and ask point blank, “so where’s this god then?” I fully understand that and I acknowledge that yes, that really just ends things quick but there’s something entertaining about these sorts of arguments. Take the Problem of Evil argument. Some people find engaging in an argument where we’re granting the existence of their god as a premise distasteful. I find it hilarious, because it’s as if we step back and allow them to say and do whatever they want, assert all their beliefs, and once they’re done nonchalantly step in and point out how it’s all contradictory and couldn’t work.

    If you want a visual, imagine the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. We have 2 minutes of the Coyote working out some elaborate scheme with blueprints and countless tools, ropes, explosives and other goodies from Acme and then the Roadrunner pops in, says “beep beep”, pops out, and the Coyote’s scheme completely backfires and he blows himself up. Now would it have been as funny if the Roadrunner came in at the beginning? No. As Dinesh would say, his “timing couldn’t have been more perfect.” ;)

  4. So, let me see, the roadrunner is God? And the coyote is us humans? BUt since the coyote resurrects after his numerous certain deaths, doesn’t that make him God? Or a victim of benevolent torture? And who runs Acme? And do they have a catalog?

    Good post.

  5. It’s not so much having the stomach, it’s recognizing the nonsense that theists try to pull in order to cover the massive holes in their belief system.

    Take the recent debate I’ve been having with a liberal Jew (and apparently his sock puppet as well). They know they cannot actually defend their religious beliefs so every time I asked a direct question about their religion, they simply ignored it and started saying how wonderful the Jewish culture and tradition was. When I demanded they back up their claims, they simply muttered about all the “wise old Jewish scholars” they had. It’s just a bunch of hand-waving woo nonsense, they know they have no answers, just like D’Souza does, they simply don’t have the intellectual integrity to admit it.

    This is far too common across the theistic world.

  6. I’m with Evo. If we feel compelled to answer every stupid assertion with reason, we’ll be spinning our wheels for millennia — because there are no end of idiots.

    Here’s the deal:
    Religionists believe in an invisible, magical, controlling character in the sky, who can’t be shown to have controlled anything — ever.

    That’s more than sufficient to cast doubts on the rest of their beliefs.

    By the way, in case you were wondering:
    The apostrophe in D’Souza takes the place of the letters u-m-b.

  7. More than sufficient for us, not for others. Most believers want excuses to believe and to keep believing. Arguments like D’Souza’s are those excuses. Think about all the excuses people use, maybe even some of us as well, to do things we know we shouldn’t. Maybe we make up or grasp at excuses to eat that pint of ice cream, to have another drink, to stay out late with the guys, blow that red light, buy that new toy, sleep with that woman, etc.

    Guys like D’Souza are “enablers”, the type any addiction program will tell an addict to purge from their life. Why? Because somehow through their words or deeds they enable an addict to indulge in whatever evil it is the addict is trying to escape. Purge or remove the power of an enabler and an addict has a much greater chance of escaping their addiction.

    So in that sense I see it as a duty to strip god enablers of their power, which is these ridiculous excuses they call “apologetics” or arguments for belief.

  8. Good post, Philly. I admire your patience at going through D’Souza’s nonsense point by point and articulating the flaws in his argument. When I read his admission that he had pulled “an old debater’s trick” and avoided the question, the only thing that surprised me was that he admitted it openly.

  9. Ah, well I updated my browser and I see it’s behaving oddly. I see the comments on D’Souza’s article if I use Firefox, but the page is really sluggish. I guess that’s because of the number of comments.

    Anyway, yeah, he’s a clown.

  10. I’m with you Philly. I enjoy, and find very entertaining, the whole concept of apologetics. I even love the word “apologetics”. It creates images of Christians constantly apologizing for their stupid arguments.

    They never see the big picture. They come up with an “apology” for one argument, without realizing it has implications to others made before, thereby creating another contradiction. Each argument is so obviously made up on the spot to counter something else. It doesn’t flow out of a cohesive worldview.

  11. Ex said: f we feel compelled to answer every stupid assertion with reason, we’ll be spinning our wheels for millennia — because there are no end of idiots.

    And never-ending ways to slightly alter an intellectually defeated argument to start the whole process running again. They use “figure 8″ arguments. Not all of them, of course, and I’m not arguing against arguing.

    By the way, I love the phrase “Christian apologist”. whenever I have used the word apologist, it’s a vaguely dismissive way to describe someone who is making excuses for someone or something. As in “William Crystal is a Bush Administration apologist”. Perfectly fitting in the case of those arguing for belief in Christianity.

  12. SI – Stop that!!

  13. Nice post. In response to the question, “why debate theists?” I think the roadrunner analogy is perfect – we do so because it’s fun! After all, everyone needs a hobby.

  14. I see no point in debating these types of issues.

    I do. It lets you vent frustration.

    It’s like whacking a piñata that just wont break. Sure, its not exactly productive, but wailing on something stupid can still be a lot of fun!

  15. Dinesh = epic fail in all things. I watched him debate Michael Shermer and it was like they had been given two totally different questions. Dinesh knew that he would sound like a nut if he took the honest Christian opinion.

  16. I’m so sick of bullshit. America is the nation of bullshit. We have politicians spouting bullshit, businesses spouting bullshit, the media spouts bullshit, everyone spouts bullshit. It’s this environment that allows for bullshit like D’Souza’s. I really don’t know if pointing out the bullshit all the time will ever make a damn difference, but I feel compelled to do it.

  17. Dear Godless Scumbag, Carnival of the Godless has arrived, and you’re in it. Burn in hell.
    http://www.kieranbennett.com/2008/08/03/carnival-of-the-godless-97/

  18. Ha! Nice! Great minds think alike! Goes to show how just some thinking pulls the rug out from under these people.

  19. It really doesn’t take much

  20. This is far too common across the theistic world.

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