I agree with Dinesh D’Souza’s central thesis today: the biological theory of evolution does not, by itself, imply atheism or disprove supernaturalism. I hope that D’Souza’s more evangelical brethren note at least the first part of D’Souza’s claim: “[W]e can embrace Darwin’s account of evolution without embracing his metaphysical naturalism and unbelief.” If you’re going to be a Christian, at least be a sophisticated one, not a snake charmer.
Beyond that, true to form, D’Souza impugns the motives of his opponents. D’Souza suggests that various atheists latch on to evolution as a way to display their hostility to religion and to God. He writes of Darwin:
When his young daughter Annie died at the age of 10, Darwin came to hate the God whom he blamed for this. This was in 1851, eight years before Darwin released his Origin of Species.
Around the time of Annie’s death, Darwin also wrote that if Christianity were true then it would follow that his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and many of his closest family friends would be in hell. Darwin found this utterly unacceptable, given that these men were wise and kind and generous. Darwin’s rejection of God was less an act of unbelief as it was a rebellion against the kind of God posited by Christianity. A God who would allow a young girl to die and good people to go to hell was not anyone that Darwin wanted to worship.
Whether or not Darwin’s initial motivation was hatred of God, it’s neither fair nor accurate to turn concerns over tragedies and hell into basically psychological issues. There is a big difference between rebelling against God — which presumes the existence of God — and concluding that God does not exist (and therefore there is no God to blame or rebel against).
D’Souza himself has acknowledged the theoretical difficulties of a God who permits ” all the suffering” in the world. And the stricter notions of hell do tend toward a reductio ad absurdum of the faith. Now, many Christians have decent answers to the problem of suffering, and some Christians reject hell altogether. So neither of these issues definitively disproves Christianity.
Issues like evolution, suffering, and hell can prompt one to reconsider the more fundamental foundations of one’s religion. While none of those issues, by itself, disproves religion, enough such concerns can — and should — promote a deeper examination of one’s religious faith. Whether one ultimately retains or rejects that faith depends on one’s deeper philosophical conclusions.