Friday, April 20, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza has responded to the Virginia Tech shootings by picking a fight with atheists. His point (expressed here and here) is 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 [at Virginia Tech] 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.

Is that his standard? Religion is preferable to atheism because religion is more comforting?

The ancient Greeks had a belief:

NEMESIS was the goddess of indignation against, and retribution for, evil deeds and undeserved good fortune. She was a personification of the resentment aroused in men by those who commited crimes with apparent impunity, or who had inordinate good fortune.

Nemesis directed human affairs in such a way as to maintain equilibrium.... As one who checked extravagant favours by Tykhe (Fortune), Nemesis was regarded as an avenging or punishing divinity....

Nemesis was the goddess of righteous indignation who punished boasts of hubris....

That's comforting. It's also wrong. Some people overreach, or have unearned good fortune, and never suffer for it. Happens all the time. Should we ignore that reality and continue to teach our children about hubris and Nemesis because it's comforting?

It's interesting that a right-winger would make an argument like this, because it's not very different from what we're being told about the Iraq War. Say that the war can't be won and you're denying the troops hope -- never mind whether it's the truth.

Now, I'm not one of those atheists who revel in saying, "Life is meaningless! Deal with it!" What I'm saying is that my belief system, alas, doesn't offer those who are grieving a great deal of hope -- a fact that says absolutely nothing about whether I'm right or wrong. (Although I think, if I lost a loved one in this massacre, I would take some comfort in my belief that I wasn't being punished for cause by a vengeful God.)


SHORTER LATEST UPDATE BY D'SOUZA: There are angry comments on my blog! That means everyone who disagrees with me is stupid and evil!

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