Conservative author Dinesh D’Sousa has written a new book to follow up on his best-seller, What’s so great about Christianity?–called, Life After Death: The Evidence [http://townhall.com/columnists/DrPaulKengor/2009/12/09/qa_dinesh_dsouza_on_life_after_death?page=1]. I have a copy of the former, as well as others of D’Sousa’s books, including The End of Racism. For those who don’t know about him, D’Sousa immigrated from India as a teen during the 1970’s, and became a senior domestic policy analyst for the Reagan Administration. His analysis is typical of people who immigrated from Asia and attended American schools; the quality is better than anything about 90% of native-born Americans can produce.
There is, however, one issue in his last two books, where D’Sousa’s analysis fails–utterly. One claim made by atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Hatrris, etc., is that Heaven is a wish fulfillment concept, and thus, so is religion. That is, earth life is so bad, we dream up a place that is wonderful beyond imagination to console us.
D’Sousa’s answer is that he can certainly understand why somebody whose life isn’t that nice might imagine a place waiting for us that is. He has problems, however, understanding hell as a wish-fulfillment. Hell, of course is WORSE than any place that exists temporally, and worse than what humans can imagine–even a Nazi concentration camp is paradise compared to hell.
While hell-as-wish-fulfillment is certainly incongruous with those for whom hell’s existence serves as incentive toward holiness, like, say, Mother Teresa, for most of us, hell’s existence serves as a wish fulfillment as a tool of cosmic justice, which doesn’t exist here on earth. That is, in our worst moments, we might wish hell upon our enemies–those we don’t like. Thus, liberal Democrats wish hell upon former President Bush–and his supporters, “birthers” wish hell upon that “African Muslim Socialist,” President Obama (He isn’t–at least the former two; I’ll explain in a later post.)–and his supporters, and anti-Mormons like Bill Keller (http://www.votingforsatan.com/) wish it for the Latter-day Saints–and those like the late Governor Lilburn Boggs [D-MO] actually attempt to send us there.
Thus, for most of us, hell is indeed a wish-fulfillment concept, and for the rest of us, it is evidence that we are nuts.
Personally, I think a better response–though less dramatic than D’Sousa’s–is Daniel Peterson’s rule of comparative religions: If a person who is undoubtedly sane and intelligent in other subjects adheres to a religion that an observer thinks crazy or stupid, the problem is more likely with the observer’s view than with the religionist’s beliefs [http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/040315respecting.html].
What do you all think?