Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Does Dinesh D'Souza Know what "Delusion" Means?

I am really starting to believe that Dinesh D'Souza doesn't understand what a "delusion" is, or what it means for something not to exist. His incredibly idiotic arguments against atheism have been pushing me in that direction for quite a while, as he constantly dodges the issue of whether or not gods exist to make unsupported assertions about the pleasant social effects he imagines result from religion. Take his latest article as a prime example. In it, he is criticizing Richard Dawkins for doing what some consider a sloppy job of attacking belief in God. I am decidedly in the camp that sees those criticisms as the courtiers reply, arguments that collapse into irrelevancy if the core claims of the existence of gods are without merit, but portray religious views as so much more grandiose and intellectually justifiable than what Dawkins presents. I still await, with little expectation of success, the first concrete example of such an argument (and please, the only thing the ontological argument deserves in response is laughter).

Still, Dawkins is arguing outside his field (sort of), so I'm prepared to concede that perhaps some arguments could have been handled better. But that doesn't make him wrong, and neither does the fact that religion can bring some good to the world. So does the concept of Santa Claus. That doesn't make Santa Claus real. This should go without saying, and yet we get this bit of intellectually insulting nonsense from D'Souza on David Sloan Wilson:

Wilson examines Dawkins' central claim that religion is an obvious "delusion." On the contrary, Wilson writes, religion is in general more adaptive for human communities than atheism.

On the contrary? Contrary to what? Is god real? No! Can belief in gods bring benefits to believers? Sure! Why not? That doesn't make it not a delusion! I am amazed that people debating D'Souza allow him to get away with this crap. Please, whoever gets the next debate with D'Souza, call him on this early and often! Chicanery needs to be exposed.

It is also telling that, like a true zealot, D'Souza is far more about perceived authorities than he is about evidence and logic:

"Richard Dawkins was given a chance to respond to Wilson's article. How does he counter one of the most trenchant challenges to his book, one that is all the more crushing as it comes from a fellow atheist in an atheist publication?"

It doesn't matter where it came from, its a crap argument. I'm surprised Dawkins responded at all beyond "consequences don't imply existence" and left it at that. Speaking of leaving it at that, as if his ridiculous argument wasn't bad enough, D'Souza begins his closing paragraph with a few lines guaranteed to blow the most powerful irony meter away. Don't say I didn't warn you:

Essentially this evolutionary biologist is confessing that in his recent work he has ventured to write about subjects in which he has no expert knowledge. When Dawkins tackles history, philosophy and theology, he usually makes a fool of himself.

Gee, do we know anyone who often writes or debates about subjects like evolution and theology in which he has no expert knowledge, and who is recognized as a fool by all but his sycophantic following?

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