A while ago we wrote about Dinesh D’Souza’s sorry attempt to defend his indefensible book–you know, the one in which he blames the terrorists attacks of 9/11, and terror generally, on our loose morals and overly restrictive divorce laws. Now he uses the shootings at Virginia Tech in order to score points for Jesus. He writes:
>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.
That’s not really interesting. At least not in the way D’Souza thinks it is. All the talk of Divine Mercy in the face of death and mayhem are precisely the kinds of self-interested motivations for religious observance that people like Dawkins seek to explain. And furthermore, they’re the kinds of things other atheists use in their arguments for the non-existence of God. “What loving creator, they argue, would allow such a warped young mind to destroy so many innocent lives?” they might ask.
And he continues:
>The atheist writer Richard Dawkins has observed that according to the findings of modern science, the universe has all the properties of a system that is utterly devoid of meaning. The main characteristic of the universe is pitiless indifference. Dawkins further argues that we human beings are simply agglomerations of molecules, assembled into functional units over millennia of natural selection, and as for the soul–well, that’s an illusion!
That’s a rather silly version even of Dawkins’ view. But no reason to bother with D’Souza’s lack of philosophical sophistication. Take a look rather at the conclusion:
>To no one’s surprise, Dawkins has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community. What this tells me is that if it’s difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult for atheism to deal with the problem of evil. The reason is that in a purely materialist universe, immaterial things like good and evil and souls simply do not exist. For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho’s shooting of all those people can be understood in this way–molecules acting upon molecules.
>If this is the best that modern science has to offer us, I think we need something more than modern science.
D’Souza has probably not been invited either. Neither has, to my knowledge, Pope Benedict XVI. That doesn’t demonstrate anything. And it certainly doesn’t provide evidence for the view that atheism suffers from the problem of evil–for, on D’Souza’s on shamelessly ignorant account, for atheists there’s no meaning, so no evil. Just as however the absence of a God does not eliminate evil (but rather explains it), the human need for comfort and the hope for something better does mean there really is something to hope for.