Dinesh D'Souza on Life After Death: The Atheist Delusion
In this provocative essay, Dinesh D'Souza argues that the atheist critique of life after death is actually irrational. He takes on Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and more to say their arguments lack evidence.
Recently I saw atheist Richard Dawkins being interviewed on Bill Maher's television show, and Dawkins declared that he wanted to have his own death videotaped. Asked why he might contemplate such a strange thing, Dawkins replied that he was sure religious believers would spread rumors that he had converted on his deathbed, and he wanted to make sure there was a record to show he did not.
Equally insistent about maintaining his unbelief in the face of death is philosopher Daniel Dennett. A few years ago, Daniel Dennett went in for a serious nine-hour heart operation that could well have been fatal. It was, Dennett admits, a "harrowing experience" which tested his atheism. In an essay published after his recovery, Dennett wrote his atheism emerged quite intact and in some ways strengthened.
Reviewing these episodes, I am intrigued that these two leading atheists seem willing to go to their deaths without taking seriously the possibility of life after death. In other words, they act as if they know that there is no such life. And this is the "knowledge" that Dawkins and Dennett are disseminating in their books and articles. So what do they know that we don't, and how did they come to know it?
The atheist confidence that there is no afterlife is, of course, matched by the religious believer's confidence that there is. Ask a Christian if there is survival beyond the grave and he or she will answer, "Of course there is." Pretty soon you are getting the full details about what such a life will be like in the good place and the bad place. When you demand sources for such a thorough account, you find that they are the familiar ones: The Old Testament, the gospels, the Book of Revelation. When I raised this issue with a member of my church, he pointed to a sticker in the parking lot, "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it."
Evidence of this sort makes atheists apoplectic. In The End of Faith, Sam Harris writes, "Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever."
Life After Death: The Evidence