D’Souza to Debate ‘Affable Atheist’ Shermer
By Doug Carroll
Dinesh D’Souza is becoming an old pro at taking God’s side.
The prominent Christian author estimates he has debated about a dozen atheists over the past three years, and he’ll go another round with one, Michael Shermer, at 7 tomorrow night in Antelope Gym. A capacity crowd is expected.
Shermer, 56, described by D’Souza as “an affable atheist,” is the editor of Skeptic magazine and actually comes from a Christian background. Those in attendance can expect a mannerly discussion, not a verbal brawl, from the two men on the topic of “Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil?”“His argument will be ‘How do you know what’s true?’” said D’Souza, 49, who last visited the GCU campus in February. “He converted to science as a world view. I’m more a defender of theism and traditional Christianity, why it makes good sense and how it makes life better.”
D’Souza’s most frequent opponent in the debate format has been Christopher Hitchens, although D’Souza and Shermer have debated previously — most recently in Florida earlier this year.
Typically, the two of them take about 15 minutes apiece for opening statements, followed by five minutes apiece of rebuttal. Then there is 10 minutes of interchange in a cross-examination style, followed by 30 minutes of audience Q-and-A.
D’Souza promised “a lively debate on an important topic.” He said popular interest in such events has increased since 9/11.
“The atheists capitalized on (9/11) and said, ‘This is what religion gets you,’” he said in a brief interview Tuesday afternoon before leaving for Arizona. “That may have stirred up a broader interest. In a sense, Americans have been returning to their first principles. The ‘God debate’ is like that.
“These debates are appealing to both Christians and skeptics. They draw a lot of people. It’s very healthy, and it speaks well of people that they would come out for something that is philosophical at its core.”
D’Souza, a native of India who spent his final year of high school in Patagonia, Ariz., said he loves returning to the Southwest and is impressed by GCU’s direction. He has a keener interest in the University now that he is president of The King’s College, a position he assumed this past summer. The Christian school, which has more than 400 students, is based in New York City’s Empire State Building.
“I’m interested in new techniques in higher education,” D’Souza said, “and I see Grand Canyon University as being on the cutting edge. It’s traditional and new at the same time.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].