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November 15, 2007
by Dinesh D'Souza

side bar side bar Now that my book What's So Great About Christianity is establishing me as a leading defender of theism and Christianity in the public arena, the atheists are stepping into the ring--all except one, as you will see.

The philosopher Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell, will debate me November 30 at Tufts University in Massachusetts. The topic: "Is God a Human Invention?"

Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine and the author of Why Darwin Matters, will debate me twice: on December 5 at George Washington University in Washington DC and on December 9 at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California. Our topic is whether Christianity has been good or bad for the world. (If you want tickets to the Cal Tech debate you can purchase them through Shermer's website www.skeptic.com).

Christopher Hitchens and I are planning a rematch in 2008. I am also approaching Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letters to a Christian Nation, about a debate in the Spring.

So far only one leading atheist has declined to debate, and I hope he'll reconsider. Richard Dawkins sent me a note saying that "upon reflection" he had decided not to debate. No reason given. And there is no reason. Dawkins and other atheists present their view as the only reasonable one, and the religious view as driven by dogmatism and "blind faith."

If they are right, it should be an easy task to step into the public arena and vindicate the position of reason against a manifestly unreasonable alternative. Dawkins knows that I am a serious guy who can match his intellectual credentials. My books have collectively sold as well as his (What's So Great About Christianity is my fifth national bestseller). And I have proven my capabilities in my previous debates with Shermer and Hitchens.

So is Dawkins running scared? I hate to think so, because in truth I am an admirer of Dawkins. I learned a lot from The Selfish Gene and while I don't agree with its conclusion I think The Blind Watchmaker is a beautifully written, brilliantly argued book. I've also praised Dawkins in my earlier work, citing him favorably in my book What's So Great About America.

I've reissued my open invitation to Dawkins to debate under the most favorable conditions possible. We can do it on a liberal, secular West Coast campus such as Berkeley. We can do it in the Spring, when Dawkins' paperback edition of The God Delusion comes out. Michael Shermer, who is a friend of Dawkins and on Dawkins' side of the argument, has agreed to moderate. A donor has agreed to pay both our honorariums.

So why doth Dawkins languish in his corner, attended by sycophants? Tremble not, Sir Richard. "Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant do taste of death but once." Arise and mount thy steed. The challenger is ready, and the time has come to joust.

Letters from the public encouraging Richard Dawkins to debate Dinesh D'Souza
Sir, your belief in science is admirable. Your refusal to debate Mr. D'Souza is telling. Yours sincerely, - M.A.

Dear Professor Dawkins, I was surprised while reading Dinesh D'Souza's column, to learn that you declined his offer to debate him on the evidence for/against the existence of God. Numerous times, in your work and interviews, I've read your quotes about macro-evolution being a "fact" beyond contention and how those who don't believe it are "ignorant, stupid, or wicked," although you don't want to consider that.  I realize you honestly believe you are speaking the truth here, so why not debate D'Souza and show the world how "ignorant and stupid" he is.  After all, you are a member of the "Brights," correct? Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens, Mr. Dennett and yourself have repeatedly ridiculed those who believe in a Creator in numerous books, publications, and periodicals.  Now you are given a public forum to "expose" the weaknesses of the theistic argument on a public platform when the topic of God is red hot and you are going to pass it up?  There are only a few conclusions that can be made here:
1) You are all talk and no action. 
2) You are "above" such a meeting, but again, why pass up the opportunity to further your cause?
3) You simply aren't as sure as you claim about God and His existence and don't want that to be exposed.
I suppose time will tell.  Didn't you also turn down theist, Dr. William Lane Craig? Mr. Dawkins, I encourage you to debate Mr. D'Souza and show us all how "bright" you and your fellow atheists are.
Respectfully, C.G.

Dear Mr. Dawkins, You think it is a good thing you are doing by pulling people out of the sea of faith they might drown in. why not only pull them back on the boat of reason but please help stop Mr. D’Souza from throwing them overboard into the icy waters to begin with.  It is good to put out the fire of faith that burns a man soul but better that the fire was never set. What can be gained by your unwillingness to debate Mr D’Souza?  What power is there in silence?  You passionately believe in Atheism and I respect your beliefs. Your book sales and media appearances help advance the atheists points, buy why not also help quite the opposition.  In a war, and in this case a war of ideas, you must not only achieve your objectives you must also rob the enemy of his.  If Mr. D’Souza is misleading people as you and like minded atheists claim, doesn’t your evolved moral code require you to do all you can to silence the lies? Please debate Mr. D’Souza, logic and reason are on your side.  If he has to rely on weak and convoluted reason to make his arguments why not help show Faith to be the fraud you say it is. Sincerely, - J.H.

To Mr. Richard Dawkins, If you want to act in what you believe in (notice I didn't say stop being a hypocrite), then rise up from the primodial ooze, grow a backbone, and debate the honorable Dinesh D'souza. Sincerely, - S.N.

Dear Mr. Hawkins- I am a strong believer in my faith.  As such (according to the Dawkins theory), I have bandaged up my dragging knuckles, wiped the drool from my chin, and asked someone (thru a very polite series of grunts) to read to me an article by Dinesh D’Souza.  In this article he discussed how you have rejected an opportunity to help people like me understand better your premise.  This letter comes to you as a plea:  Mr. Dawkins, it is not fair of you to keep your “Bright” theories to yourself when half-evolved nitwits like me are in dire need of such enlightenment. Please reconsider your decision.  After all, isn’t a failure to challenge the same as a defeat?  I believe forfeit is the term.  Please schedule this debate immediately and redeem us, the wicked.  It seems like the bright thing to do. Thank you in advance. - O.H.

I would welcome a debate about atheism between you and Dawkins.  I have read several books on atheism trying to find something of substance, other than religious conviction is irrational.  I have not read Dawkins' book, because, after thumbing through it very briefly, I suspect it will not satisfy my curiosity on the subject. I believe what people are searching for is a set of beliefs much more rational than traditional religion.  The thinkers out there want to get closer to reality, in the scientific sense.  Is it possible to be completely real and be human?  I do not know.  To become 100% rational is to become a computer.  That is not human.  I do not think Dawkins wants to deny that we are human. My guess is God's existence can be neither be proved or disproved.  What do we do?  Maybe a good debate can shed light. Good luck, - S.I.

Dear Mr. Dawkins, Your task is to overcome men of faith by showing there is no God to believe in, and your evidence is material, which is in abundance. Any mind that rejects its own immaterial life should therefore embrace your arguments on the force of such evidence, which evidence is - adding to your advantage - fashionable. What an easy task you're set. Why do you shirk from it, then? Do you fear those minds who embrace their own immaterial life? Is there a subject of human thought that does not reduce itself to the material once uttered or acted upon, such as fear? Then isn't it also objectively true that fear, if not uttered or acted upon, is not real, but only a chemical reaction of a material organism that an immaterial mind may overcome? QED, your fear of Mr. D'Souza is not really fear unless it causes you to avoid debating him, just as your arguments are not real unless you express them. Accordingly, your task requires you to speak courageously to all who will hear you. Are you not up to it? - R.B. Corseaux, Switzerland

oooo... That would be terrific if Dawkins would demonstrate confidence in his own beliefs by accepting your invitation to debate his ideas on atheism. R.H.

I want to see a debate with Dawkins; what is he afraid of??? - S.S.

I would like to see/hear/read a debate between Dinesh and Richard Dawkins. - M.V.

Dear Mr. D'Souza, I agree with your offering to debate with Mr. Dawkins, but I feel that in all fairness Mr. Dawkins as an intelligent man realizes the ludicrous position of atheism and is attempting to hide his position behind a guise of a great pundit of truth. In the end he know, that in any debate against any reasonably well educated individual his arguments will sound hollow and so in defense of his position has decided to avoid a debate to avoid public embarrassment. Please continue your good work. Sincerely, - A.J.

Mr Dawkins, You have hid long enough behind your negative polemic and straw man statements regarding God. Since you are a man of reason and science, then you should destroy Mr D'Souza. But the truth is, you are afraid of debating him. In fact, your credibility continues to shrink and shrink. Of the atheist I know, many are trying to separate themselves from you. You are stuck in the 19th and 20th century with your arguments. They are old hat. The only people listening to you are disenfranchised youth who go on shooting sprees. We are now in the 21st century. Evolve a little. - J.S.M.
Other letters from tothesource readers:

Dinesh, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and clear presentation concerning the debt Western Civilization owes to Christianity. I must admit that I have been a minister in a Christian denomination, complete with M.Div, and it wasn't until this last year that I come to value apologetics such as you Geisler, Sproul, and others provide. My relationship with Christ has been greatly enhanced by your heavy lifting in these cerebral endeavors. May the Spirit of God continue to enable you to reveal the truth and rational basis for faith in general and Christianity specifically. In Christ, - Kevin Wells

The brilliant article was weak on one point, seemingly mentioning only in passing that we are not saying that atheists behave more immorally than believers. You leaned so heavily on "freedom from morality" as the attraction to atheism/darwinism that (except for that one statement "disclaimer") most readers would conclude that you are calling all of them immoral people. More emphasis should be given to the fact that they may be very "upstanding" citizens who live quite moral lives. Of course, we could also make the point that, like so many more of us, we "behave" because our society raised us as children of Judeo-Christian morality; sadly, much of our own unwillingness to sink into clearly immoral lifestyles has the same basis as that of the atheists. - Larry Repass, Newnan, GA, USA

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the debate between D'Souza and Hitchens. I did not catch the debate live but through the To The Source. There are several things that were said that really hit home and Hitchens had no answer. I admire the courage of men like D'Souza. To me he was a Divid with the guiding hand of God. After reading some of the comments about the debate, my mind is stirred by the fact that so many Christians are with out the means of dealing with these ateists. Why? They do not have any ground for their faith. Their foundations have been cut down and their god is poor and miserable. He can not even protect his own word!!! My own position is such that I just returned to the US from the mission field after spending 35 years as a missionary. I have seen this lack of faith. Thanks to some and there are still some out and around, we are not all shut up like the people in school systems who can not even defent their own beliefs. Thanks - Dr. Robert Elam

Thank-you for this" salt that has not lost its' savour" . But have you convinced someone who prefers to attempt the great escape from the ultimate judgement of God by a feeble label of atheism?. No ! probably the debate will continue ad infinitum or until these call for the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and to hide them from the wrath of Almighty God. - Tim Stevens

Dinesh seems to think that the lack of belief in a certain God naturally leads to a life of immorality and depravity. But he does not see the full implication of such a position. He says letís go deeper by looking at history. Instead he shouldíve said letís go deeper by looking at morality in our animal relatives. If you read Matt Ridleyís the origin of virtue you will find that animals, to some extent, have the basis of our higher morality. Dinesh should include in his studies the science of evolutionary psychology. He may be forced to rethink his views. What I find puzzling is that Dinesh thinks that because an atheist has one life to lead that he would feel compelled to waste it on immorality, sin, crime and depravity. A human has gone through a process of upbringing and socialization and learns that sin and crime can lead to a life wasted and it could be wasted in the penal system. Atheists arenít bound by dogma to follow a moral code in a book written thousands of years ago. They are free to pick and choose from the best moral codes from today. Personally I subscribe to the philosophy of Secular Humanism and I like to pick and choose from the morality of Jainism. Yours - Andrew Hawkins, an ex-christian atheist.

Thanks for continuing to wrestle with these issues of atheism. I've been listening to debates with Christopher Hitchens and have read a number of excerpts from his book. I've jousted with my brother about many of these issues as he is a Christopher Hitchens fan. It seems to me, however, that no one is winning any of these debates. Instead, each side keeps taking sidewise glances at the other's positions and sets up platforms for them to make the points they want to make and not to directly refute the statements being made. Why doesn't anyone point out to Hitchens that he simply does not understand Christianity, that his idea of God is based on a puerile concept learned early on in church in order to keep children moral? Paul thought as a child when he believed that he had to obey the law, and he put away childish things when he found grace. Hitchens sees this as a carrot and stick mechanism (or, worse, a good-cop/bad-cop situation you might find in a torturous interrogation room) and he does not see the freedom found in Christ. He just doesn't get it. I have a strong conviction, however, that the hand of God is on that man and he is resisting it mightily. Let's continue to pray that God's message gets through to him in order to heal the many hurts he suffered due to a distant relationship with his father and an upbringing in a boarding school where materialist philosophy and intellectual achievement warped his psyche. Let's keep praying for him...and for Dawkins...and for whoever else shows us by their belligerence that God is talking to them. It's not so important that we get in our words, but that God speak clearly. And on that score, God wins the debate every time. - John White
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We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

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Dinesh D'Souza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, served as senior domestic policy analyst in the White House in 1987-1988. He is the best-selling author of Illiberal Education, The End of Racism, Ronald Reagan, The Virtue of Prosperity, What's So Great About America, and The Enemy at Home. His new book What's So Great About Christianity was released in October of 2007.
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