Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another Bad Argument from D'Souza

Dinesh D'Souza say's he confused. Apparently, Richard Dawkins called himself a "cultural Christian", and D'Souza seems to think that this contradicts everything Dawkins has said about the negative impacts of religion. How, he asks, can you believe that there is no god and that religion is detrimental to our society, and yet still embrace a cultural tradition that is laced with the Christian religion?

Well, it's rather easy, actually. What D'Souza seems to miss is the fact that something can be mostly bad and yet still have positive elements to it. Culture is not all or nothing. A perfect example of this can be found in Nietzsche. He believed that self-abnegating Christian morality was absolutely deplorable. But he also recognized that we had gained something valuable from it - namely self-control. (See his Geneology of Morals) Similarly, we might think that the psychological theory of behaviorism, though patently false, left us with a better understanding of how we must go about doing research in psychology. So why can't Dawkins accept the fact that he was raised in a culture that is the result of the Christian tradition, embrace those aspects of the culture that are beautiful, useful or generally positive, and then rail against the rest of it? I can't see any reason, and until someone gives me a good one, rather than their own confusion, I plan on continuing to listen to music that was inspired by faith, read literature with religious undertones, and pointing out all of the terrible aspects of a religious culture.

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