Friday, April 20, 2007

D'Souza Attacks Atheists

Guest-blogging over at Sully's, Megan McCardle wonders how Dinesh D'Souza "acquire[d] this remarkable talent for opening his mouth wide enough to fit his entire foot in clear down to the small intestine?" (via Alex Massie and Andrew Stuttaford over at The Corner.)

Dinesh D'Souza uses the Virgnia Tech massacre as a way of attacking atheists:

Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing. Even secular people like the poet Nikki Giovanni use language that is heavily drenched with religious symbolism and meaning.

In a follow up post, D'Souza explains himself further, claiming that "that if evil and suffering are a problem for religion--and they are--they are an even bigger problem for atheism." Why, you ask? Apparently because religions makes people feel better:

When there is a tragedy like the one at Virginia Tech, the ones who are suffering cannot help asking questions, "Why did this have to happen?" "Why is there so much evil in the world?" "How can I possibly go on after losing my child?" And so on. . . .

My point was that atheism has nothing to offer in the face of tragedy except C'est la vie. Deal with it. Get over it. This is why the ceremonies were suffused with religious rhetoric. Only the language of religion seems appropriate to the magnitude of tragedy. Only God seems to have the power to heal hearts in such circumstances.

Huh? Sure, religion may be more comforting in the wake of a senseless attack like this. But that doesn't make it true. Yes, it is comforting to believe that dead loved ones are alive in the Magic Kingdom rather than actually dead. Other beliefs might be comforting as well: those who don't believe in the Magic Kingdom might substitute a belief in reincarnation. More vengeful bereaved might take comfort in the notion that Cho is alive in hell, where he is suffering horrible tortures (unless in the second before his own death he got right with The Man, in which case he is in the Magic Kingdom too).

One of the reason I think that massacre is so horrifying is that I really do think that the people whom Cho murdered really are dead. That is, the consciousness of each victim, which was a product of the physical brain, is gone from our universe forever. And of course I believe the same of people whom I cared about who are now dead. It might indeed make me feel better if I believed that those people were alive in the Magic Kingdom eating cotton candy and looking down on me. But I just can't abide the notion that one should embrace comforting delusions. I would rather know the truth and deal with that.

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