ARCHIVES:

Posts in this section were archived prior to February 2010. For more recent posts, go to the HOME PAGE.

Archived Articles

4/20/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Dinesh D'Souza, Atheism, Virginia Tech

by mapantsula

Reposted from: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/4/19/18451/0971

I am an atheist and a professor at Virginia Tech. Dinesh D’Souza says that I don’t exist, that I have nothing to say, that I am nowhere to be found.

But I am here.

Dinesh D'Souza 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.

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!

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.

It is hardly surprising that Dinesh D’Souza is once again not only profoundly mistaken but also deeply offensive. But I thought it worthwhile to say something in response, not because most people would put the point in the same morally reptilian manner as D’Souza, but because there is at least some vague sense amongst people that we atheists don’t quite grasp the enormity of Monday’s events, that we tend towards a cold-hearted manner of thinking, that we condescend to expressions of community, meaning, or bereavement.


So I will tell you, Mr D’Souza, what I grasp and where I am to be found.

I understand why my wife was frantic on Monday morning, trying to contact me through jammed phone lines. I can still feel the tenor of her voice resonating in my veins when she got through to me, how she shook with relief and tears. I remember how my mother looked the last time she thought she might have lost a son, so I have a vivid image of her and a thousand other mothers that hasn’t quite left my mind yet.

I am to be found in Lane Stadium, looking out over a sea of maroon and orange, trying not to break down when someone mentions the inviolability of the classroom and the bond between a teacher and his students. That is my classroom, Mr D’Souza, my students, my chosen responsibility in this godless life, my small office in the care of humanity and its youth.

I know that brutal death can come unannounced into any life, but that we should aspire to look at our approaching death with equanimity, with a sense that it completes a well-walked trail, that it is a privilege to have our stories run through to their proper end. I don’t need to live forever to live once and to live completely. It is precisely because I don’t believe there is an afterlife that I am so horrified by the stabbing and slashing and tattering of so many lives around me this week, the despoliation and ruination of the only thing each of us will ever have.

We atheists do not believe in gods, or angels, or demons, or souls that endure, or a meeting place after all is said and done where more can be said and done and the point of it all revealed. We don’t believe in the possibility of redemption after our lives, but the necessity of compassion in our lives. We believe in people, in their joys and pains, in their good ideas and their wit and wisdom. We believe in human rights and dignity, and we know what it is for those to be trampled on by brutes and vandals. We may believe that the universe is pitilessly indifferent but we know that friends and strangers alike most certainly are not. We despise atrocity, not because a god tells us that it is wrong, but because if not massacre then nothing could be wrong.

I am to be found on the drillfield with a candle in my hand. “Amazing Grace” is a beautiful song, and I can sing it for its beauty and its peacefulness. I don’t believe in any god, but I do believe in those people who have struggled through pain and found beauty and peace in their religion. I am not at odds with them any more than I am at odds with Americans when we sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” just because I am not American. I can sing “Lean on Me” and chant for the Hokies in just the same way and for just the same reason.

I know that the theory of natural selection is the best explanation for the emergence and development of human beings and other species. I know that our bodies are composed of flesh, bone, and blood, and cells, and molecules. I also know that this does not account for all aspects of our lives, but I know no-one who ever thought it did. That is why we have science, and novels, and friendships, and poetry, and practical jokes, and photography, and a sense of awe at the immensity of time and the planet’s natural history, and walks with loved ones along the Huckleberry Trail, and atheist friends who keep kosher because, well just because, and passionate reverence for both those heroes who believed and those who did not, and have all this without needing a god to stitch together the tapestry of life.

I believe this young man was both sick and vicious, that his actions were both heinous and the result of a phenomenon that we must try to understand precisely so that we can prevent it in future. I have no sympathy for him. Given what he has done, I am not particularly sorry he has spared the world his continued existence; there was no possibility of redemption for him. You think we atheists have difficulty with the concept of evil. Quite the contrary. We can accept a description of this man as evil. We just don’t think that is an explanation. That is why we are exasperated at your mindless demonology.

I feel humbled by the sense of composure of a family who lost someone on Monday. I will not insult that dignity by pretending there is sense to be made of this senselessness, or that there is some greater consolation to be found in the loss of a husband and son.

I know my students are now more than students.

You can find us next week in the bloodied classrooms of a violated campus, trying to piece our thoughts and lives and studies back together.

With or without a belief in a god, with or without your asinine bigotry, we will make progress, we will breathe life back into our university, I will succeed in explaining this or that point, slowly, eventually, in a ham-handed way, at risk of tears half-way through, my students will come to feel comfortable again in a classroom with no windows or escape route, and hell yes we will prevail.

You see Mr D’Souza, I am an atheist professor at Virginia Tech and a man of great faith. Not faith in your god. Faith in my people.

----
Update

Mr D'Souza has more to say:
And boy the atheists are up in arms! They're mad as hell about my post "Where is Atheism When Bad Things Happen." Many responders informed me that tragedies are normally considered a problem for religion, not atheism. Where is God when bad things happen? Yes, people, I know this. My point was that if evil and suffering are a problem for religion--and they are--they are an even bigger problem for atheism.
The reason is suggested from the quotation given above. When there is a tragedy like the one at Virginia Tech, the ones who are suffering cannot help asking questions, "Why did this have to happen?" "Why is there so much evil in the world?" "How can I possibly go on after losing my child?" And so on.

In my post I noted that Richard Dawkins had not been invited to address the mourners at Virginia Tech. Several atheists--who haven't yet lost their fundamentalist habit of reading--took this sarcastic statement literally. "So what? The Pope hasn't been invited either!" My point was that atheism has nothing to offer in the face of tragedy except C'est la vie. Deal with it. Get over it. This is why the ceremonies were suffused with religious rhetoric. Only the language of religion seems appropriate to the magnitude of tragedy. Only God seems to have the power to heal hearts in such circumstances. If someone started to read from Dawkins on why there is no good and no evil in the universe, people would start vomiting or leaving.

One clever writer informs me that atheists don't deny meaning, they simply insist that meaning is not inherent in the universe, it is created by us. Okay, pal, here's the Virginia Tech situation. Go create some meaning and share it with the rest of us Give us that atheist sermon with you in the pulpit of the campus chapel. I'm not being facetious here. I really want to hear what the atheist would tell the grieving mothers.


We think the pain is complete and absolute. We know it is.

We think that nothing can heal these hearts, that time can only take the sharpness off the agony, that only in time can beauty be wholeheartedly seen again or laughter felt deep inside.

We insist there is no sense or meaning to be made of this massacre. There was only sense and meaning to be created within the lives of each person gunned down. That is why we are horrified by it. That is precisely why it is so horrific.

We don't believe these people have died for anything: God's plan, as a beacon to the rest of us, to be a vivid memento mori for all. We just believe they have died, brutally and without mercy. We refuse to lie to grieving mothers out of some patronising sense that a pleasant myth is more respectful than a terrible truth.

Those of us with the slightest shred of deceny do not tell widows to deal with it, to get over it. That the world can be callous is no reason to be so myself. I know that no family could ever get over this loss, that no family should ever be expected to get over this loss -- either by themselves, by religious rhetoricians bearing false platitudes, or by inane political pundits -- but that not getting over the loss does not preclude some other kind of happiness, some other source of joy, at some other time. Not now, not in this moment, not when they have moved on, but only when it comes to them one day, like light dawning slowly.

We know the world is cold, and that only people can make it warmer. We believe we can live in this imperfection, like a child can live without fulfilling her desperate wish for wings. We rail against injustice and tragedy, not the absence of deeper guarantees.

Some of us are those grieving mothers and wives and friends and colleagues. Some of us are inconsolable, but dignified for all that.

There is no language appropriate to the magnitude of the tragedy. Not stories about a poor man nailed to a cross, not fine words about a time for healing and a time for dying, not even the lines of the poet who, in the midst of his own horror, struggles to ask:
How can I embellish this carnival of slaughter,
How decorate the massacre?

But it is that same poet who also writes of death:
I have certainly
no faith in miracles, yet I long
that when death come to take me
from this great song
of a world, it permits me to return
to your door and knock
and knock
and call out: "If you need someone
to share your anguish, your simplest pain,
then let me be the one.
If not, let me again
embark, this time never
to return, in that final direction,
forever.


Spring has come to Virginia. Monday morning was the last snow we will have this season. All those who have come to Blacksburg this week have told us how beautiful our countryside is. They're right, of course, there is all this terrible, unforgiving beauty here.

----
Second Update

I would leave this alone, but Mr D'Souza is once again demonstrating his truly remarkable vapidity:
Actually my point was a simple one, and it seems to be unrefuted. Atheism seems to have nothing to say to people when there is serious bereavement or tragedy. Of course atheists have feelings and there were undoubtedly atheists among the mourners at Virginia Tech. But the Richard Dawkins philosophy--that we live in a meaningless world where there is no good and no evil--whatever its intellectual merit, seems arid and unconsoling when human beings are really hurting.

Atheists are hurting here themselves, and we don't see much to console ourselves or our colleagues and students and their families. But there is nothing arid in what we believe. Our lives are replete with colour, and friendships, and loving relationships, and curious books to read, and papers to write, and difficult points to figure out. There may be no deity, but there is a world of wonder to take its place.

And this week, our lives have also been trashed by this brutal man, So part of that world is heartache and horror, and in the middle of that heartache and horror we will spurn your trite consolations, your happily-ever-after fairy tales, as a denial of our grief, as a repudiation of the reality of this pain.
Atheists like to portray themselves as devotees of reason, but read the responses and see how much reason you discover there. Rather, it looks like these fellows hate God, and this hate spills over to anyone who brings up God's name. Call it the atheism of revenge. They blame God for screwing them over in some way, and unbelief is their form of payback.

How can I hate an entity that I don't believe exists? If I did actually blame a god for something, then I could hardly be an atheist. Atheism is not high school silent treatment, Mr D'Souza. It is not the rejection, forsaking, or loathing of a god, but the belief that there is no god there to reject, forsake, or loathe.

We atheists are liberated from the belief that these events must make sense, that there must be something else to it other than the eruption of a psychopathic impulse. We are horrified, not puzzled, by its absurdity.

I don't blame a god for screwing over my campus, for murdering my colleagues, for terrorising my students, Mr D'Souza, I blame the man who thought he was your new christ.

Related posting: What caused the shooting?

To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .

21 comments:

Harlequin said...

The man is an idiot of the first water, making religio-political capital out of human tragedy. If his view of God is correct, he stood by while someone with a messiah complex and legal handgun shot the place up with the authorities sat on their thumbs for several hours...

eel_shepherd said...

Cho didn't take out innocents capriciously on anywhere near the scale of what the biblegod is reported having done. Where are the Xtian voices to be heard on that one? Must have slipped their minds.

SpaceMonk said...

Yay, proof of the existence of evil...wtf?
and proof of the non-existence of an interventionist God.

Either that or He was an accomplice, by allowing what he had all-powerfulness to stop.

swapna said...

Great writing!
Inspiring and focused. Emotional and intellectual.

stronger now said...

I am an agnostic leaning atheist. Does that make me less qualified to offer condolences? I don't think so. Am I less empathetic? It doesn't feel like it to me. I think having an actual shoulder to lean on is much better than an offer of a false hope.

I cannot be angry with something that isn't real. I can be angry with D'Souza for suggesting that I don't have anything to offer the greiveing. How can anyone say that the christian can offer more than I? Is it better to say to a mother who lost her child,"Don't worry, your child is with god, unless they are of the wrong faith or an unbeliever, in wich case they are burning in hell, where they deserve to be for being such a wretched sinner. And if you believe correctly then after you die you can look on your child in hell and be happy you didn't make the same mistake."?

Faith in god can add extra grief and worry to a parent Because no parent can know what their childs beliefs really are. For this reason I have decided not to tell my mother that I am no longer a xtian.

Jim Arvo said...

Accolades to mapantsula for a rational, well-written and compassionate response. As for D'Souza, his rantings are yet another sad illustration of the rampant bigotry (and downright idiocy) shown toward atheists in the US. His piece is reminiscent of similarly pious drivel that appeared shortly after the 9-11 atrocity. It seems there's nothing like a tragedy to stoke the anti-atheist rhetoric.

Here are a couple of little gems from D'Souza's tirade:

"...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...."

One can only speculate as to how this obvious contradiction slipped past the astute god-inspired Mr. D'Souza. To make it more plain, allow me to apply Mr. D'Souza's incisive logic in an ever-so-slightly different context: It is most difficult for atheism to explain fairies, leprechauns, and poltergeists, for to a rational thinker, such things do not even exist.

Mr. D'Souza needs a good proof reader.

I suppose I could be more generous to Mr. D'Souza and assume that what he meant to imply is that the materialist/reductionist view does not help us to make sense of "evil" acts such as the slayings at VT. If that was his intent, then I will agree. But I hasten to point out that the special theory of relativity is also rather useless in this regard, as is the theory of plate tectonics. Yet, there is definitely something to be said for all such reality-based ideas: they do not make claims that need to be explained away when such tragedies occur. We atheists needn't scramble to explain why an all-knowing all-loving all-powerful being regularly allows such events to take place. But theists do need to scramble. And perhaps that's why they lash out at us.

We can gain another glimpse into Mr. D'Souza's thinking in the very next sentence:

"...For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho's shooting of all those people can be understood in this way--molecules acting upon molecules."

To speak of such events as "molecules acting upon molecules" is about as useful as describing a computer as a pile of nand gates. I'm always astonished when a religionist trots out this pseudo-reduction-to-absurdity, as if it reveals anything more than personal incredulity coupled with an astonishing blindness to the complexity that can arise from mere molecules or nand gates. Perhaps someone should point out to Mr. D'Souza that the whole of English literature can be thought of as vowels and consonants. Now there's a useful observation.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Mr. D'Souza would feel if he were to spout-off his agenda-filled drek to a grieving parent who happened to be an Atheist?
The one thing that sticks in my mind from all of this is the idea that the Churched would tell a parent that their child is "With God now", while at the same time hoping that the parent doesn't ask how a god that is supposedly Omnipotent and All-Seeing could stand by and allow this tragedy to happen?
I would love to hear a Theist try to double-talk and squirm their way out of that one.
I also take great exception to D'Souza's thesis that because I'm godless, that I am totally devoid of compassion for my fellow beings.
What a load of crap. I cry, I grieve, I offer support to others who grieve, and it's the "*I* am here for *YOU*" kind of support, not the mealy-mouthed "He's with Gawd" empty platitudes.
I think about the events at V-T and wonder where and why the supposedly "Greatest Country in The World" failed these people.
Just a 1/2 an hour ago, I listened to The Shrub go on about how his god is with those at Tech at this time, and how he is going to "look into" how to prevent something like this from happening again. Well, Georgie, for starters you could restore and then increase funding for research, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness that was cut in the Reagan era, and continues to get short-sheeted every year in your Budget...

John of Indiana

madbuni said...

This post was touching and so professionaly done. I am so sorry for what has happened, and for what this professor and everyone else on that campus must be going through. In fact, if they had chosen him to speak, or Dawkins, it would have been no different than asking one of faith, for what is so misunderstood and ignored by christians is that atheists have the same feelings they do, they just do not look to an invisible friend for comfort.

Mr. D'Souza is a disgusting man and an opportunistic jackass. I am outraged that he is playing on the hurt and sorrow of those who lost loved ones for his own fundamentalist platform against atheists. It is not surprising, just so irritating. He is doing what he does best, twisting the truth. To me he appears much more heartless and cold by using this tradgedy in this way.

There is no sense to be made of what happened there in VA, you cannot make sense out of an act that was senseless.

Instead of blaming an unseen evil, why not blame the obvious? Cho was sick with a mental condition that was unfortunately left to fester into the horrible end it has become. Innocent people have died because of him, and all that can be done now as has been pointed out, is to try and prevent this from happening in the future, knowing full well that we have very little control over these things.

Peace to all, mb

orlando said...

According to biblical teaching anyone that dies not being a christian will be condemed to an eternity of suffering in hell. This is what the christian god has to offer. These poor people at VT were burtitaly murdered and now some have hell to look forward to. Does this sound reasonable or sane to anyone? Not to me. orlando

Dave8 said...

The religious came out swinging, after the perpetrator was determined to be religiously affiliated. What did Mr. D'Souza do? He provided an outlet to those who had their faith challenged by strategically redirecting focus to atheists.

If would have been rational to point that out, but... I didn't read that anywhere.

It's irrational for Mr. D’Souza to make blanket statements about an entire group that has no group doctrine. Yet, I didn't see where that was directed to our poor misguided and irrational Mr. D'Souza.

Mr. D'Souza, challenged atheists, and Mr. Mapantsula responded. However, I believe he should have responded to the direct statements made by Mr. D'Souza, and his personal agenda, while using the grief and suffering of victims as his pulpit for notoriety. This would have as well, been rational.

The first cardinal rule in religio-political debate is to not allow the opposition the ability to define oneself/group. Mr. D'Souza, when "defining" the atheist(s), should have been challenged on his irrational behavior. When Mr. D'Souza suggested that atheists were just as irrational and had nothing to offer in the area of comfort, then it would have been rational, to suggest that atheism is not a systematic health care provider or HMO.

It would have been rational, if one had to "move" into a position of some sort, to suggest a list of values pertinent to the situation... Like, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and how sacred those values are too many American atheists in general...

It would have been rational, to look at Mr. D'Souza in the face, and in front of his peers, and suggest that the perpetrator and he were no different, in the manner of value of rights... Just as the perpetrator irrationally attacked the victim's rights to life, Mr. D'Souza attacked "all" atheists, with unjustified accusation(s) and their right to live freely without prejudice. If Mr. D'Souza has an issue with the perpetrator being religious, then let Mr. D'Souza clean up the mess, and provide damage control, force "him" to answer the call, that would have been rational.

However, I didn't read that anywhere, I read how Mr. Mapantsula stood up, and allowed himself to become the pigeon for Mr. D'Souza. I read how he was duped into a discussion about a “god” that he didn’t even believe in, and that is “irrational”

This irrational discussion, thus, validated Mr. D'Souza's accusations regarding atheists in general, and how irrational they are in regard to other people's beliefs... how, even though they don't believe in "god", they have a lot to say about "god", irrationally...

It would have been rational, for Mr. D'Souza, to be stripped of any dignity that he held, but he slithered away using an atheist for his cover. Like a little child, saying... see, and pointing his finger, they are just like me.

It probably took a lot of courage for Mr. Mapantsula to respond to Mr. D'Souza, no doubt. And, I give him accolades to at least take the time to respond. I suppose it makes my blood boil, when people like Mr. D'Souza play politics when human suffering and tragedy occurs.

It would have been rational, to speak to human suffering, values, and tenets of one's "personal" beliefs. To suggest that not "all" atheists hold the same tenets of belief, but that each one is a unique and individual person who is capable of just as much love and compassion as anyone else, no matter how another person/group attempts to dehumanize them. Atheists have the right to love, and care, just as anyone else.

It would have been nice, to hear, a rational linkage, between the speaker and his students, without a hint of the very word "god" that Mr. D'Souza states is so necessary to provide comfort to people. That in itself would have made a case for his personal belief(s).

I suppose I am being cynical, but why is it that every time a religious bigot needs cover, they look for the nearest person to throw under the bus. And, when looking for an atheist, they look around to find out which one is just as irrational as they are.

If a person doesn't know what, and why they believe, they should not engage high level political discourse in the national spotlight - personal opinion. If a person knows exactly what and why they believe something, they should stick to their beliefs only. They should do as much as possible, to prevent themselves from being lulled into a conversation or topic, they are ill-equipped to handle. An atheist, talking about the finer glory of "god", is not something a logical person is going to find "credible".

That'd be like a man psychologist, explaining in a therapy session to a woman... "Yeah, I know just how you feel..."...

Mr. D'Souza didn't rate tolerance or respect from Mr. Mapantsula. Mr. Mapantsula should have addressed only those people that mattered, the survivors. Mr. D'Souza should have been placed in front of those survivors without an excuse for his irrational belief system.

Sorry, if this appears to be a rant. I think Mr. Mapantsula be given a seal of approval for not allowing Mr. D'Souza a free-ride, and open ballot to paint "all" atheists with his brush, because of his lack of moral fortitude, cowardice, and general ability to provide answers to survivors.

It's extremely political in many universities, and The religious came out swinging, after the perpetrator was determined to be religiously affiliated. What did Mr. D'Souza do? He provided an outlet to those who had their faith challenged by strategically redirecting focus to atheists.

If would have been rational to point that out, but... I didn't read that anywhere.

It's irrational for Mr. D’Souza to make blanket statements about an entire group that has no group doctrine. Yet, I didn't see where that was directed to our poor misguided and irrational Mr. D'Souza.

Mr. D'Souza, challenged atheists, and Mr. Mapantsula responded. However, I believe he should have responded to the direct statements made by Mr. D'Souza, and his personal agenda, while using the grief and suffering of victims as his pulpit for notoriety. This would have as well, been rational.

The first cardinal rule in religio-political debate is to not allow the opposition the ability to define oneself/group. Mr. D'Souza, when "defining" the atheist(s), should have been challenged on his irrational behavior. When Mr. D'Souza suggested that atheists were just as irrational and had nothing to offer in the area of comfort, then it would have been rational, to suggest that atheism is not a systematic health care provider or HMO.

It would have been rational, if one had to "move" into a position of some sort, to suggest a list of values pertinent to the situation... Like, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and how sacred those values are too many American atheists in general...

It would have been rational, to look at Mr. D'Souza in the face, and in front of his peers, and suggest that the perpetrator and he were no different, in the manner of value of rights... Just as the perpetrator irrationally attacked the victim's rights to life, Mr. D'Souza attacked "all" atheists, with unjustified accusation(s) and their right to live freely without prejudice. If Mr. D'Souza has an issue with the perpetrator being religious, then let Mr. D'Souza clean up the mess, and provide damage control, force "him" to answer the call, that would have been rational.

However, I didn't read that anywhere, I read how Mr. Mapantsula stood up, and allowed himself to become the pigeon for Mr. D'Souza. I read how he was duped into a discussion about a “god” that he didn’t even believe in, and that is “irrational”

This irrational discussion, thus, validated Mr. D'Souza's accusations regarding atheists in general, and how irrational they are in regard to other people's beliefs... how, even though they don't believe in "god", they have a lot to say about "god", irrationally...

It would have been rational, for Mr. D'Souza, to be stripped of any dignity that he held, but he slithered away using an atheist for his cover. Like a little child, saying... see, and pointing his finger, they are just like me.

It probably took a lot of courage for Mr. Mapantsula to respond to Mr. D'Souza, no doubt. And, I give him accolades to at least take the time to respond. I suppose it makes my blood boil, when people like Mr. D'Souza play politics when human suffering and tragedy occurs.

It would have been rational, to speak to human suffering, values, and tenets of one's "personal" beliefs. To suggest that not "all" atheists hold the same tenets of belief, but that each one is a unique and individual person who is capable of just as much love and compassion as anyone else, no matter how another person/group attempts to dehumanize them. Atheists have the right to love, and care, just as anyone else.

It would have been nice, to hear, a rational linkage, between the speaker and his students, without a hint of the very word "god" that Mr. D'Souza states is so necessary to provide comfort to people. That in itself would have made a case for his personal belief(s).

I suppose I am being cynical, but why is it that every time a religious bigot needs cover, they look for the nearest person to throw under the bus. And, when looking for an atheist, they look around to find out which one is just as irrational as they are.

If a person doesn't know what, and why they believe, they should not engage high level political discourse in the national spotlight - personal opinion. If a person knows exactly what and why they believe something, they should stick to their beliefs only. They should do as much as possible, to prevent themselves from being lulled into a conversation or topic, they are ill-equipped to handle. An atheist, talking about the finer glory of "god", is not something a logical person is going to find "credible".

That'd be like a man psychologist, explaining in a therapy session to a woman... "Yeah, I know just how you feel..."...

Mr. D'Souza didn't rate tolerance or respect from Mr. Mapantsula. Mr. Mapantsula should have addressed only those people that mattered, the survivors. Mr. D'Souza should have been placed in front of those survivors without an excuse for his irrational belief system.

Sorry, if this appears to be a rant. I think Mr. Mapantsula be given a seal of approval for not allowing Mr. D'Souza a free-ride, and open ballot to paint "all" atheists with his brush, because of his lack of moral fortitude, cowardice, and general ability to provide answers to survivors.

Dave8 said...

Oops, it appears that a double paste was done in the previous post, if one stops at the paragraph, in the middle...

"Sorry, if this appears to be a rant..."

Then, that is the end.

Bill said...

Last December a dear coworker lost her husband very suddenly. He died three weeks after a cancer diagnosis. She was a simple woman who was so much in love with her husband.

As an atheist I had absolutely nothing to offer as I sat with her at the funeral home and just listened. I didn't say her husband was in a better place, nor did I say his death was part of God's plan. I just listened to her pour out her heart and try to clense herself of the poisonious grief within. I suggested to my dear friend that she seek a berevement group to meet others who have gone through a similar loss and learn how they managed to live again. While so many people are at a loss for words at a funeral home visit, I know it's best just to be there and just listen, but other than that as an atheist I had absolutely nothing to offer.

xrayman

For some reason instead of my alter ego xrayman, my posts have come up as my name.

Dave8 said...

I know I would be ill-equipped to chase the imagination of a Mr. D'Souza, while appearing authoritative. It's irrational to explicitly define "his" belief(s), and then suggest I don't believe them. Two irrational people arguing don't make a rational debate.

However, that isn't necessary... a person could offer their assistance, based on the values and tenets of belief, they hold. The most rational thing a person can do, when someone is grieving, is to just be there for them. It's a direct connection of care and compassion. A person in need really doesn't care many times, if the giver is irrational or rational.

However, the advantage of being "rational", is that a person doesn't have to be dragged into an imaginative spit-ball contest with the likes of Mr. D'Souza.

I have been to a few funerals in my day, and I didn't find it necessary to bring up anything, except my compassion and willingness to help out if they needed anything. A person, who loses someone, loses that human contact, that's what they miss more than anything.

"Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods." Aristotle 384 BC

People have to work out their loss, cognitively, and that is best done by just sitting and listening.

The religious many times, suggest they have a "process" and "system" to handle the grieving process, but the best people on a social level to provide support are family and friends, who are physically in their area.

If a person is mentally distressed, it’s best to go to a counselor, who is unbiased and honest. Providing "false" hope, in the form of imaginative rhetoric, is "not" how I would help someone find inner peace.

The point I suppose, is that the religious have "nothing" more to give a person, during loss, than an "atheist"... Except the doctrinal opportunity, to understand their loved one, is potentially burning in hell forever.

If "honesty", is important to someone who is grieving... then, they need to stay away from those who are mentally erratic and irrational.

A rational atheist does not need to lower their standards of humanity, or justify their morality to anyone who is irrational/mentally erratic. Especially, if the irrational person, is not the one grieving.

I suppose, I have a bias towards honesty, humanity, and values, that I refuse to have challenged by someone like Mr. D'Souza.

.:webmaster:. said...

Xrayman, you can change your display name by logging into http://blogger.com, click on the link regarding changing your profile, and then adjust your profile display name.

Dave8 said...

Regarding Mr. D'Souza's comments on the "outpouring" of atheists, not being missed by everyone.

Virginia is a hard-core Baptist state, with a 40% representation, based on 2001 stats.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

In the entire U.S., there exists a 15% representation for those in the category of "No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic".

If one were conservative, and spread each of the three categories evenly, each one would be 5%... that's "5" people, in a "100" that would be available to make a showing.

If everyone had statistical representation, then obviously, it would be "kind of hard" to see "5" people in a crowd of a hundred... especially, since atheists aren’t part of a herd mentality for the most part, and wearing bells.

It surprises me that Dinesh D'Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Do they teach math & statistics there I wonder. Surely, we aren't looking at another shining example of premium sagacity in the American institutions of higher learning.

And, for my part of this discussion, I know, it's much easier to quarterback on a blog, than to be in the middle of the volatility. So, thanks Mr. Mapantsula for standing up that took courage.

Telmi said...

Dinesh, you appear to be a mentally impoverished God-sucker. Savvy? You need to make an appointment for yourself with the psychiatrist, pronto! Savvy? Otherwise, there is no discounting the probability of your spreading your disease to other people. Got it!

Telmi said...

Corrigendum:

"Got it!" should read "God it?"

dano said...

Dave8 wrote:
"It surprises me that Dinesh D'Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Do they teach math & statistics there I wonder. Surely, we aren't looking at another shining example of premium sagacity in the American institutions of higher learning."

Hey Dave8!
That's kinda like what I was thinking. He was some kind of adviser to the white house, is this Fellow thing, and has published several books.

Just goes to show that anyone with average thinking and writing skills can be successful in America, where mediocrity is in love with itself.

It's too late for me now, as I am retired old, fat, and lazy, but if I had realized that I could have been a literary success, like Mr. D'Souza, possessing approximately the same, junior high school level of thinking, and writing skills, it may have inspired me, to bravely head out into the literary world.
Dan

Anonymous said...

People like D'Souza will never be satisfied. First, "atheists are nowhere to be found," then "boy the atheists are up in arms!"

Evidently, we're damned if we don't and damned if we do.

Let me add also my congratulations on a very well written response to D'Souza, and also my condolences for the pain inflicted on your university family.

Dave8 said...

DanO: "It's too late for me now, as I am retired old, fat, and lazy, but if I had realized that I could have been a literary success, like Mr. D'Souza, possessing approximately the same, junior high school level of thinking, and writing skills, it may have inspired me, to bravely head out into the literary world."

A writer is not an island... they require inspiration, opportunity, etc. I see you as part of the inspiration pool Dan, just like everyone who has a voice :-)

We do give direction, to that next generation writer. I see D’Souza as nothing more than a political monkey being drawn towards the loudest noise, because that is where the money and celebrity exposure exists.

In philosophical terms, academic institutions remain very open to intellectual freedom, and don't want to openly tie the hands of its professors, etc.

I understand, the need for open discourse, but... if the height of D'Souza's intellectual capacity is to take a real-world event, and write a fictional play as a response... then it says much about his character, values, and the quality of scholarship.

I agree Dan, it's amazing how well mediocrity sells and attracts. If anyone ever held reservations about their capacity to be affiliated with the tier one universities; D'Souza is a perfect example of what it takes.

His exemplar writing is about as crass as the article on "New Atheism"... Obviously, they don't impress the importance of math, statistics, and ethics at Stanford... And, the history and philosophy departments seem to be intellectually separate from Harvard's theology department... likely next year; there will be an atheist speaker promoting a seminar of the "New, Newer, Atheism" sub-culture, and its negative impact at VT…

Well, as always, great to hear from you… We can only hope that mediocrity goes unrewarded long enough to allow a few more rays of genius to shine onto humanity… Take Care

Spirula said...

Once again, the conservative religious right prove how ethically challenged they really are. They exploit tragedies like this to advance their agenda and knock down straw men in a public forum.

Do you read any empathy, sympathy or compassion in their rants? No. Their morality is one based on self-centered and ass-saving fear. They care not one iota for these victims and their families. They are sick opportunists exploiting the pain of others to preach their hateful message.

Absolutely disgusting.