Greg Perkins is writing a series of essays for NoodleFood criticizing Dinesh D’Souza’s Christian apologetics. In his first essay, Perkins refutes D’Souza’s claim that atheism is responsible for the horrors of socialism.
[A]theism is not itself an ideology; there is no such thing as an “atheist mindset” or an “atheist movement.” Atheism per se hasn’t inspired and doesn’t lead to anything in particular because it is an effect — not a cause — and there are countless reasons for a person to not believe in God, ranging from vicious to innocent to noble. … [W]hat would a committed Communist and an Objectivist have in common — regarding what they do believe, why they believe it, how that leads them to live personally, the sort of social system they would strive for in government? Nothing. They are polar opposites in principle and practice, across the philosophical board. …
The important contrast is not atheism vs. religion, but rather rationality vs. irrationality.
Perkins goes on to argue that totalitarian regimes fundamentally reject and drive out rationality.
Perkins relies on the same distinction to undercut D’Souza’s claims about the benefits of Christianity:
Besides trying to tar his opponents with the worst atrocities in history, D’Souza regularly tries to give Christianity credit for mankind’s positive strides. For instance, he argues in an op-ed that “Christianity has illuminated the greatest achievements of the culture” such as the rise of science, human rights, equality for women and minorities, ending slavery, and so forth. That “when you examine history you find that all of these values came into the world because of Christianity.” He contrasts Christianity and atheism, saying that these advances arrived in Christendom and by the hands of Christians — not atheists. And he uses this to score extra points in debate by asking his opponents what atheism has to offer humanity, other than the chance to undermine all that progress.
Once again, such a comparison is fundamentally confused. Recall that atheism is not itself an ideology and therefore doesn’t lead people to do anything in particular — good or bad. So again we need to approach the issue in terms that will actually shed some light. The illuminating question to consider is: What does reason offer humanity over faith?
Obviously Perkins’s essay is not the final word on the matter, but it is an excellent short essay on the subject that merits broad readership. D’Souza has been an effective debater against the “New Atheists,” but his positions are fundamentally flawed, and Perkins is going far in pointing this out.