'What's So Great About Christianity?' Ask D'Souza

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

I’ve never known Dinesh D’Souza to back down from controversial topics. In "What’s So Great About America," he took on the rise anti-Americanism in the wake of 9-11.  In "The Enemy at Home," he boldly asserted that secularism’s imposition of morally depraved values helped precipitate 9-11.  In his new book, "What’s So Great About Christianity," D’Souza pens a rebuttal to the spate of atheist tracts that would have us believe that religion, and Christianity in particular, is the bane of reason and science and is on its way out in America. 

Thoroughly researched,What’s So Great About Christianity "What’s So Great About Christianity" is a direct challenge to believers and nonbelievers alike.  While it has a message or atheists (step up and seriously debate Christians in an open-minded and intellectual way) the book’s primary message is for Christians.  In the preface, D’Souza reminds Christians that they are called to be
"contenders" for their faith, that they should-indeed, must-engage the secular world.  D’Souza insists: "Atheists want to monopolize the public square and expel Christians from it."  Therefore, Christians must equip themselves with the knowledge necessary to defend their faith and values.  

D’Souza begins by busting the myth, pushed by so many atheist writers, that Christianity is on the wane in America.  Armed with compelling statistics, D’Souza shreds the secularization narrative by explaining that while liberal church affiliation has plummeted in recent years, there has been significant growth in traditional Christian churches. And though we most often hear of Western Europe’s abandonment of Christianity, overall, there is "a global revival of religion," and, contrary to popular opinion, Christianity, not Islam, is the fastest-growing religion in world today.

D’Souza then gets to the business of explaining just what is so great about Christianity.  In a powerful passage, D’Souza highlights how Christianity has changed the world:

"The sublimity of Christ and his disciples completely reversed the whole classical ideal.  Suddenly aristocratic pride came to be seen as something preening and ridiculous.  Christ produced the transformation of values in which the last became the first, and values once scorned came to represent the loftiest of human ideals."

Through Christianity, a new set of values (humility, compassion, charity, etc.) arose that served as the underpinning of the West’s most crucial institutions (monogamous marriage, family, basic human rights, etc.) and of American democracy.  It is no accident that history’s great movements of conscience-abolition, desegregation, pro-life-have had firm
roots in the faithful, who believe that all are equal in the eyes of God.  

Many atheists like to claim that man, once freed from the shackles of religion, can actively practice true charity and virtue.  But it seems the atheists would like us to believe this as a matter of faith, because, in reality, atheists are the least charitable.  Study after study highlights the tight empirical link between religiosity and generosity.  Arthur C. Brooks and others have shown that religious people, especially Christians, give more in money and time, and that atheists give least. 

D’Souza spends the bulk of his time upending the popular atheist refrain that religious faith is incompatible with science and reason, a clash that atheist authors like Sam Harris have referred to as "zero sum" conflict.  But D’Souza, echoing Pope Benedict’s recent remarks,
demonstrates the reasonableness of faith guided by reason.  In fact, "Even atheist scientists work with Christian assumptions that, due to their ignorance of theology and history, are invisible to them." Indeed, as D’Souza illustrates, it is Christianity that created the impulse to sustain scientific inquiry in the first place, which again underscores why Christians should embrace arguments for a faith rooted in reason and science.

After stopping to debunk the lie that religion, and in particular Christianity, has been the source of most of the bloodshed throughout history (for example, only about 2,000 people were executed for heresy in the 350 year Inquisition, while the atheist regimes of Hitler, Mao and Stalin alone killed more than 100 million people), the author moves on to address what is for many the foremost obstacle to belief:  The problem of evil.  

"Where was God?" is the oft-cited refrain of atheists who, in the aftermath of tragedy, wish to disprove the existence of a benevolent higher power.  But though he doesn’t delve deeply into the Christian explanation for the existence of evil, D’Souza turns the question back on the atheists by asking:  Where is atheism when bad things happen?

Using the recent Virginia Tech massacre and the 9-11 attack as examples, D’Souza notes that it is precisely when inexplicable evil occurs that people turn to God most readily.  For Christians, who recall the Biblical story of Job’s blameless suffering, evil isn’t always easily
explained; But Christians can take comfort in being in solidarity with Christ’s agony on the Cross. 

When picking up "What’s So Great About Christianity," one is immediately struck by its title, which doesn’t include a question mark.  The title is not a question but a confident declaration of the indispensability of a faith that’s the foundation of the must successful and humane civilization in history.  Dinesh D’Souza’s book is essential reading for Christians who want to defend that faith in an increasingly hostile culture.