Life After Death: The (Secular) Evidence

Life After Death: The Evidence by Dinesh D'SouzaLet’s imagine that an atheist asks a Christian to prove the existence of God. Most Christians would typically respond by pointing to some kind of personal experience or encounter. If the atheist is especially lucky, the Christian may be able to talk about a few fulfilled prophecies or relatively unknown archeological artifacts.

However, if the atheist presses any further on the matter, most Christians would readily throw up their hands and concede with this refrain:

“I just know, ok? I know it doesn’t all add up, but I can just feel that it’s true deep down inside. That’s enough to convince me.”

Don’t get me wrong. Personal experience is important — as are fulfilled prophecies and archeological artifacts — but the problem with arguing on these premises is that such matters seem utterly silly and unconvincing to your average nonbeliever. Unfortunately, the Church is fond of gathering evidence only so far as their own needs and curiosities require.

It is this type of Christian apologetics that Dinesh D’Souza hopes to enrich in his new book, Life After Death: The Evidence.

Although most of D’Souza’s analysis is focused on proving the existence of an afterlife rather than simply the existence of God, many of his arguments could be used to support both propositions. What is clear, however, is that D’Souza’s apologetics are far from the Christian norm.

“We speak one kind of language in church,” D’Souza says, “and must learn to speak another while making our case in secular culture.”

But what kind of “language” is that?

D’Souza continues:

I want to engage atheism and reductive materialism on their own terms, and to beat them at their own game…I am not going to appeal to divine intervention or miracles, because I am making a secular argument in a secular culture…[Secularists] wonder if there is something more beyond death, and they are eager to hear an argument that meets them where they are, uses facts they can verify, and doesn’t already presume the conclusion it seeks to establish.

This is what separates D’Souza’s arguments from the rest. He approaches the likes of Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins not with Bible verses or creationist appeals to God, but with pure and basic reason.

This reasoning is applied in three independent fields, and thus his application leads to three independent arguments. The first (and largest) argument is scientific, in which D’Souza jumps from biology to neuroscience to physics to basic empirical investigation. The second argument is philosophical, in which D’Souza provides a compelling pro-afterlife analysis backed by thinkers like Plato, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Arthur Schopenhauer. The last argument is a moral one, and here D’Souza relies a mix of moral philosophy (a la Adam Smith), moral psychology, and cultural analysis.

Again, these three arguments are independent of each other. You could hang your hat on any one of them if you thought the others were unconvincing. However, all are equally compelling, and when considered together they provide an altogether convincing conclusion.

D’Souza is primarily concerned with proving the case for the existence of an afterlife (a somewhat universal concept), but much of Life After Death is also focused on examining which prediction is the most probable. On this matter, D’Souza’s final conclusions all point to Christianity, but he stops at some interesting places along the way. For example, his thorough examination of Eastern conceptions of the afterlife (e.g. reincarnation) are particularly fascinating, not to mention surprisingly convincing.

On the whole, Life After Death will still leave questions for both the atheist and the believer (whatever your religion). Indeed, there is significant credence to the argument that believing in an afterlife — or not believing in one — requires an element of faith.

But D’Souza answers questions that are imperative for both believers and nonbelievers. If you have not yet considered the full scientific, philosophical, and moral implications of your beliefs about the afterlife, D’Souza will challenge you.

For many Christians, D’Souza’s rare mention of God will be unappealing and his scientific and philosophical banter will be tedious, but this book should be accepted and promoted by believers not just as a useful tool for converting secularists, but as a fresh and challenging opportunity for the Church to stop being so intellectually stale.

To purchase Life After Death: The Evidence, click here.

For more of D’Souza’s thoughts on the afterlife, I recommend reading this series of related essays he published on National Review Online:

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