Actually, I suppose this is my second Facebook nonsense post, since I could count this one as number one. But I’ll start with number two and call it number one. Why not? Who’s counting?
First up, then (consider the Reagan post a pre-game warm-up), is an excerpt from Dinesh D’Souza’s recent book, Godforsaken:
My goodness, where do I start with this one? I’ll begin by noting D’Souza’s claim that Richard Dawkins isn’t actually an atheist – just an ordinary (brilliant and famous, but otherwise ordinary) guy who doesn’t believe in gods. Instead, according to D’Souza, Dawkins is actually a wounded theist – someone who believes in god(s) but doesn’t like him/her/it/them very much at the moment. Apparently, either Dawkins doesn’t know he’s wounded, or he knows it and isn’t admitting it. D’Souza’s claim raises some questions for me.
1. The first one has to do with rhetorical strategy: what does D’Souza gain strategically/rhetorically by renaming Dawkins (and his unnamed cohorts, a group that may include, for all I know, you and me)?
2. Another question has to do with ethics: what gives D’Souza the right to label Dawkins (or anyone else) as something other than what he claims to be?
3. A third question is evidentiary: how does D’Souza know whether Dawkins (and others) should be classified as “an ordinary atheist” or a “wounded theist?”
I don’t know if any of you are interested in reading D’Souza’s book, but I’ll pause here to make a public service (or perhaps it’s a disservice) announcement and inform you that the book is currently available as a free Kindle download from Amazon.com. I’ve downloaded it and may actually read it. The only things stopping me at the moment are
a. I’m still reading The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (five books in one volume – convenient!), and
b. I’m not sure I’ll be able to stomach D’Souza’s arrogance. Anyone who thinks he has the right to classify nonbelievers into categories he prefers rather than accepting their claims at face value strikes me as someone with an enormous amount of hubris.
Unless it’s actually weakness hidden behind fake hubris. Maybe D’Souza can’t argue effectively against the actual atheistic claims of Dawkins and others, so he has to reconstruct their arguments into positions that he can argue against. Could this be the rhetorical advantage he seeks? If so, then I’ve answered question number one. And that leads to the answer to question number two: is D’Souza behaving underhandedly (i.e., unethically) by recasting his interlocutors and their claims? If I’m right about number one, then the answer to question number two is yes, he is. He has no right to redefine people or their positions; he appears simply to be staking a claim and hoping that no one catches him crossing the boundary. If I’m right about those two issues, then the answer to question number three is a no-brainer: D’Souza has no evidence for his claim that Dawkins (and who knows who else) is a wounded, angry, perhaps even hateful and vengeful theist rather than a straightforward atheist as he claims to be. It’s just easier for D’Souza to argue that Dawkins himself is flawed than it is to address flaws in Dawkins’ (or anyone else’s) actual atheistic claims, which brings us right back to where we started – question number one.
Damn. Now I’ll have to read the fucking book to find out whether I’ve sussed out D’Souza’s game. Wish me luck. And send me a few bottles of French wine; they’ll make the bullshit go down easier.
– the chaplain