looking for the afterlife in all the wrong places

Dinesh D’Souza's exploration of evidence for the afterlife is a feat of intellectual laziness and incuriosity.

spirit world bonfires

There are a lot of things in life that are a complete mystery to me. What was the trigger for the Big Bang? What should our civilization do in the future if humans are to survive as a species? Will I ever find that movie theater punch card I lost a few months ago? And lastly, why do amateur philosophers with the intellectual depth of the shallow end of the kiddy pool keep getting book deal after book deal? They never seem to come up with new or compelling arguments for their positions. Instead, they borrow old canards and chew the rhetorical cud for hundreds of pages. Sure, if you have to do that on a college paper for a humanities class, that’s one thing. But when you’re a professional writer, the standards should, theoretically, be higher and require actual thought.

One of the best examples of this lackluster attitude to writing is Dinesh D’Souza who’s specialty is rehashing one side of whatever debate he hears in the media and pretending he’s come up with some sort of revelation that really seals the deal. This time, he tries to prove the existence of an afterlife. Oh this should be good…

The “evidence,” of necessity, is indirect: D’Souza doesn’t claim to have communicated with anyone who has died, and he doesn’t expect to. Instead, he looks to the human heart, and finds therein a universal moral code underlying acts of self-sacrifice and charity that appear to run counter to the Darwinian imperative to outcompete thy neighbor.

So this is the grand proof for the afterlife, huh? Instead of perusing truly bizarre and unique tales from medical professionals about the strange experiences their patients report during risky surgeries, D’Souza is going to trot out the finest arguments from the Ray Comfort school of theology? Ah, that’s right. Going about it the way I just offered would require actual hard work and research and Mr. D’Souza has a mortgage payment due and needs to pump out a book to keep himself relevant. Doesn’t matter that he doesn’t understand the basics of a scientific theory he criticizes in the most hackneyed way possible or that his thesis falls on its face if we would apply it to the real world. He just needs to sit in his den and wax poetic.

The idea that there’s “a Darwinian imperative to outcompete thy neighbor” is utter bunk for the simple reason that if this were the case, there would be no such thing as social mammals. Wolves, bats, chimps, dolphins, humans and other creatures living in communities have evolved to help each other so we can boost our rates of survival, increase in number and continue our species. Darwin even wrote about this very phenomenon in The Descent of Man so to link a phrase created by Herbert Spencer after the theory of natural selection buzzed over his head to Darwin is an act of an intellectually lazy dilettante who’s priorities are to hear himself talk first and make any sort of sense second.

D’Souza acknowledges that the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins has offered an evolutionary explanation for human goodness, but he doesn’t buy it.

But of course! How could an actual scientist with decades of education in the field possibly hold a candle to a demagogue with no interest in intellectual honesty or facts? Hear that academia? Dinesh D’Souza, who barely seems to understand what you’re talking about, doesn’t buy your argument. You can all pack up, go home and dismantle your institutions because clearly, the voices in his head are far more knowledgeable than you. Just in case you want to argue, keep in mind that according to Newsweek, he’s the second coming of Buckley…

In a Jesuitical display that does credit to his reputation as “an Indian William F. Buckley Jr.,” [he] turns to his advantage one of the atheists’ favorite arguments, God’s apparent tolerance for [our] suffering. Precisely because evil so often goes unpunished in this world, he asserts, the moral code must reflect another reality, in which souls are judged, punished, or rewarded after death.

You know what? I would absolutely agree with D’Souza being compared to Buckley. He’s also incredibly long- winded and obscures his self-serving agendas and lack of expertise on a subject in eloquent language. And as for his dabbling in theodicy, he seems to have failed a simple logical test. By declaring that because we’re suffering in the temporal world, we must be punished or rewarded in another, he sort of forgot to provide any actual proof of how this happens and wrote a giant non sequtur. Although let’s be realistic here. It’s not that he forgot. He simply has no proof and must build the same house of cards built by millennia of priests and their followers because he has literally nothing else at his disposal.

# evolution // books / evolution / philosophy / punditry / religion


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