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Dinesh D'Souza is skeptical of skepticism and enthusiastic about the faith. by Tony Snow » There are two types of Christian apologetics. One makes the positive case for faith; the other responds to critics. Dinesh D'Souza's delightful book, What's So Great About Christianity, falls into the second category. It sets out to rebut recent exuberant atheist tracts, such as Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion.

This is a more difficult task than one might expect: Atheist works tend to combine argument with large doses of bitter biography. Every chapter of Dawkins's book, for instance, describes unpleasant encounters with believing dolts—hate-mail writers, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the like. Hitchens recalls murderous fanatics in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the Levant, and his blood-chilling encounters with a childhood schoolmarm.

While the chief atheists write beautifully, their works share a telling defect. They seethe with disapproval of God. Dawkins captures this trend in describing the YHWH of the Old Testament as "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." Such invective clings like chewing gum to atheist polemics and raises the question of why these people are so worked up about a creator they don't believe exists. In any event, D'Souza admirably separates the stickum from the arguments.

Consider Hitchens's complaint that "religion poisons everything." This wild swing places bin Laden, the pope, and Martin ...

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In the Magazine

March 2008

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