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The Apologist

Marcia Segelstein

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An Interview with Dinesh D'Souza, Author of "What's So Great About Christianity"

The first thing you notice about Dinesh D'Souza is an intellectual swagger that borders on cockiness without crossing over. Such confidence could be attributed to his Dartmouth education, to his position as policy advisor in the Reagan administration, to his near ubiquitous presence on television news shows, or to the library of critically acclaimed books that he has published on everything from racism to economic prosperity. But you get the feeling that it actually stems from the knowledge that, at any given moment, he is probably the smartest person in the room. Don't get me wrong; he's not arrogant in the least. It's just that he knows, deep down, that he's smarter than you; he's smarter than me; and perhaps most importantly, he's smarter than the New Atheists whom he routinely debates at universities across the nation.

D'Souza's most recent book, What's So Great About Christianity, confirms this impression. It doesn't just counter New Atheist arguments; it annihilates them—and with cocksure prose that only a thinker at the top of his game could muster. So masterful is its defense of religion, and of Christianity in particular, that D'Souza has quickly become the world's foremost religious apologist — a C. S. Lewis for the postmodern set. Here we talk to him not about the merits of religion (Buy the book!), but about the assumptions and motivations behind the escalated assault on religious belief. Even on this topic, D'Souza's intrepid intellect will make you exceedingly thankful that the guy is on our side.

What do you think has caused atheists to move from a desire to be tolerated to a desire to make religion — especially Christianity — disappear?

For a number of decades, the atheists had embraced what might be called "the secularization thesis," which maintains that the world is automatically becoming more secular. In other words, they believed that as society becomes more modern, educated, technological, and scientific, it will naturally become less religious. The atheist expectation was that religion is a product of the ignorance of the childhood of man.

Interestingly, the world has not met this expectation. As the last century ended, the atheists looked around the world and said, "Wait a minute. The world isn't becoming more secular; it's becoming even more religious." After all, there are revivals occurring in a number of religions, including Hinduism and Islam. And many people don't realize this, but Christianity is actually the fastest growing religion in the world.

I thought Islam was the fastest growing.

That's actually not true. Islam is indeed growing, but primarily through reproduction. Muslims have big families, which translates into an increase in their numbers. But Christianity is growing both by reproduction and by conversions. The rate of Christian conversions in places such as Africa and Asia is really startling. Even the U.S., which is in some respects more modern, affluent, and technological than any other nation in the world, has also remained perhaps the most religious country in the West.

Now if there's one continent that would seem to confirm the secularization thesis, it is Europe. As Europe advanced, it did become more secular, and atheists have always assumed that the U.S. would go the same way, but it just hasn't happened. Consequently, atheists have realized that they must become more aggressive in promoting their agenda. So what we are seeing here in the 21st century is something new. You could almost call it "missionary atheism" or "evangelical atheism"—an atheism that seeks for the first time to win converts.

Read the entire article on the Salvo Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 20-Dec-2008

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