Name of the book: What’s So Great About Christianity
Author: Dinesh D’Souza
Place of Publication: Mumbai
Name of Publisher: JAICO Publishing House
Year of Publishing: 2009
Reviewed by: J.N. Manokaran
Dinesh D’Souza has the courage, intellectual capacity to present his convictions about his Christian faith in the market place of ideas in the postmodern society. The author has lamented that Christians have become postmodernists even without realizing this. They follow a religious truth on Sundays and secular truth on other days.
Many intellectuals thought that the religion will become obsolete in the era of globalization. However, the world has become more religious, not less. Christian faith has triumphed and has reached all parts of the earth unlike other religions like Islam or Buddhism. Religions are attracting more and more numbers and members while atheist societies are not able to attract many into their fold.
Religions provide purpose for life. The countries where atheism is dominant the birth rate has fallen as they do not have purpose of life and people who have religion. Atheist continue to campaign against religions.
Schools miseducate children. Secularists scorn children with religious affiliation in school that they are marginalized from any meaningful debate. Second, use of power of hormones, children are taught that they could be free of all restrictions and liberated from all moral values that are taught in religion. With these unethical strategies, children are secularized.
First Christianity made family life important in a way that it wasn’t before. Second, Christendom developed a new notion of romantic love which is today one of the most powerful forces in our civilization. Third, Christianity introduced consent on the part of both the man and the woman as the prerequisite for marriage.
Many philosophers argue that evil is because of lack of knowledge. However, bible teaches that the problem of evil is not a problem of lack of knowledge, but a problem of will. Political and social accountability was made possible by Christian influence and model of servant leadership. Ancient ideas from Greece and Rome, not one imagined or dreamed of considering political leaders as somebody’s servants.
The author contends that Christians favoured capitalism as an institution that could channelize the human selfish desire for a positive purpose of betterment of society. Intellectuals who criticize fail to understand that selfishness is not the problem of capitalism system but the problem of human nature. It is important to remember that with capitalism came the idea of progress towards better future. In most cultures, history moves in cycles and people have a nostalgia that a distant past was golden era and progress is going back to that era.
The contribution of Christians to the West is enormous. Christians were the first the build hospitals. Initially it was mainly for Christians, later it was for every one. The beneficiaries were the Muslims who came to Christian lands to conquer them. Christianity produced leaders like who served the poor and sick, which is unheard in other religions. Christians have contributed to improve human life and reduce human suffering.
The value of a person and equal worth of all human beings is a Christian idea. God created each human life and loves them immensely. In many cultures the weak, old, infirm were left to die. The author correctly says: “My celebration of Christianity’s role in shaping these great social changes comes with a sober corollary: if the West gives up Christianity it will also endanger the egalitarian values that Christianity brought into the world. The end of Christianity also means the systematic erosion of values like equal dignity and equal rights that both religious and secular people cherish.”
Christianity elevated the status of women within patriarchy. Adultery was a serious sin – both men and women are accountable. There were not double standards in which men go scot-free and women are blamed. If Christianity declines then there would be extinction of values such as human dignity, minority rights, right against torture, right to equal treatment etc.
The author says; “An unbiased look at the history of science shows that modern science is an invention of medieval Christianity and that of the greatest breakthroughs in scientific reason have largely been the work of Christians” Aquinas and Anselm proved the existence of God not by appealing to supernatural revelation. Theirs are arguments based on reason alone.
Modern science is based on the ‘irrational’ belief that we live in an ordered universe. Christians started schools and colleges. Universities were established as Church institutions. Medical research institutions and first observatories were built and supported by the Church. The author interprets the history of scientific development: “In reality, science was founded between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries through a dispute between two kinds of religious dogma. The first kind held that the scholastic debate, operating according to the strict principles of deductive reason, was the best way to discover God’s hand in the universe. The other held that inductive experience, including the use of experiments to ‘interrogate nature,’ was the preferred approach.”
The author reopens the Galileo issue and proves that atheist attack on Church that Galileo was persecuted is unfounded. Modern science is discovering that the space and time originated with the origin of universe. The cause could be non-material or even spiritual. The laws of nature are precisely what they are. For example, why cannot the gravity force be stronger or weaker that the present? The world will not be able to survive??
Christians need not shun away from evolution debate. Evolution provides on explanation - how god did it. According to author; Christians can affirm that the book of nature and the book of Scripture are in no way contradictory. In fact, both affirm the notion of a universe and its cfreatures that are the product of supernatural design and divine creation.”
Modern science was designed to exclude a designer. Modern science is committed to naturalism – there is no supernatural and materialism – that only things seen as real. “But there is one subject on which the atheist requires no evidence, the issue of whether human reason is the best – indeed the only – way to comprehend reality.” Common sense, however, is not always a reliable guide to the truth. Common sense tells us that the earth is stationary and that the sun goes around it.” A religious believer acknowledges the limitation of human knowledge. There is no truth in saying religious faith is opposite of reason. For the purpose of faith is to discover truths that are of the highest importance to us yet are unavailable to us. A believer uses faith to gain access to a new domain, that of revelation. There is no other option here because reason has quite frankly run out of steam. The believer hopes that revelation will expose truths otherwise not discovered by reason.
The propaganda against Christians regarding Crusades has to be seen from historical perspective. In fact, Christians were defending the Christian lands so that it does not fall in the hands of Muslims.
The author states: “Whatever the cause for why atheist regimes do what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.”
Secular morality assumes that human beings are good. So it fails. The author bluntly explains: “The orgasm has become today’s secular sacrament. This is not because we are living in an age of sensuality but because in a world of material things that perish, it gives people a momentary taste of eternity.” “If sex is unhooked from the old moral restraints, there are going to be unwanted pregnancies. Here wet to atheist’s second sacrament, which is abortion.”
Atheism is not an intellectual revolt but it is moral revolt. Atheists don’t find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren’t adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires.
“Atheism offers only extinction.” The author states: “In no way God responsible for evil: He is responsible only for using evil to bring forth good.”
The author presents Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and how Christianity could change a person’s life in the last two chapters.
It is a wonderful book that should be read by all Christian thinkers and use this book for evangelizing the intellectuals. All Christian leaders, pastors, missionaries and professionals should read this book.