Monday, November 05, 2007

How Christianity Built The West


I picked this book up after reading one of D’souza’s articles on the new atheists, and how backwards they seem to have reality. While there are some points where I feel he overreaches the singular value of this book, I think it is an important kind of argument to make for Christianity in light of the spate of atheists writing about how evil religion in general and Christianity in particular is.

It is not a book about traditional arguments for the existence of God or the historical reliability of the Bible, but in the vein of Rodney Stark, it is a demonstration of how foundational the theology and worldview of Christianity is for the world of scientific advancement, human rights, and political pluralism. Contrary to the “new atheist” line, Christianity is not only not evil, it is culturally necessary for the values we hold dear today.

D’Souza argues, among other things, that the notion of the value and inherent rights of every individual is a Christian innovation. In addition, the value of scientific reasoning is due to Christian theologians and dedicated believers who searched nature for God’s laws and glory. In one provocative citation, D’Souza notes that medevial scientists were theologians who turned their attention from God and Scripture to nature.

If for no other reason, the book is worth its effort when it debunks the notion that science is an advancement beyond Christianity, and that the fabled “war” between science and religion is finally being won by atheists who “do” science apart from the coercive attention of the Catholic Church. I especially enjoyed his chapter debunking the standard mythology of Galileo. I have read about the real story a couple of times, but he goes into the greatest depth, describing the geo-political realities and Galileo’s stubbornness in a convincing manner.

As someone who keeps in touch with Christian apologetics, I enjoy watching this kind of argument for the truth of Christianity rise to the surface. If you believe a true worldview will enhance the lives and cultures of those who follow it, this book will be a great insight into how Christianity (necessarily) shaped our most treasured traditions.

1 comment:

The Gyrovague said...

Another Dsouza book, I have to read it. I first read What is so Great about America and I am hooked.

He usually comes to New Life once or twice a year to speak, keep an ear out for it. You might want to come and hear him, it is a great time when he does.