[ Author Bio ]
Review of Irreligion (2008)
John Allen Paulos is a mathematician who writes popular books about the role that mathematics plays in everyday life. In Irreligion he tackles arguments for the existence of God, from design arguments to arguments from miracles to Pascal's wager. His refutations are intended to plant the seeds of doubt more than to offer scholarly analysis. In some cases mathematics is relevant to the argument, but overall the book is a rather light-hearted and personal account of why the author remains unconvinced.
Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity (with no question mark in the title) aims to rebut the "new atheists" on their own ground. Its most evident goals include convincing the reader that there is justification for a theistic world view and demonstrating the cultural superiority of Christianity. In service of the first goal he covers many of the standard arguments, but with little originality, except perhaps for his use of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. His general procedure, illustrated in this case and in a number of others, is to present background material and then make an unjustified transition that purports to establish his case. This triumphant style of reasoning is not likely to convince atheists, or even doubters. Beyond this, almost nothing he says in favor of the truth of Christianity would be persuasive to someone with a different religious view. The book's principal defect is that it presents too many different reasons for its theistic conclusion, rather than treating a few decisive arguments in depth. This suggests that the book is ultimately political, with its implicit goal to reassure those already leaning toward Christianity that they are on the right side.
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