David 's Reviews > Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is There a God Who Cares? Yes. Here's Proof.

Godforsaken by Dinesh D'Souza
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Jul 01, 2012

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bookshelves: apologetics
Read on July 01, 2012

I have two Goodreads friends who have written excellent reviews of this book which I highly recommend:


I had never read D'Souza before so I was not entirely sure what to expect. He writes in an easy-to-read style that covers a lot of ground but also shows that he has the depth to go into the various topics more deeply if he so wished. This book could be read by any person interested in the subject. At the same time, this introductory-level type book does gloss over some of the difficulties. This is apparent in the subtitle: "here's proof". To claim to prove something that has been debated upon since forever comes across as a bit over-the-top. Is D'Souza saying that any person with a brain who reads his book will be convinced? The truth is that there is no knock-down proof that will end all debate.

At the same time I read this I was working through Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga's God, Freedom and Evil . Plantinga admits, at the end, that you cannot prove God. You can show that belief in God is rational though. D'Souza should take a page from Plantinga and say his book shows it is rational to believe in God, even if he cannot prove there is a God.

There was a lot I liked about this book. D'Souza shows that atheists have their own problem of evil to deal with. He puts forth a free will defense, arguing that free will to do good or evil is necessary for God to accomplish the greater good. I think his explanation of natural evil by arguing for the necessity of many of the natural forces that cause evil is also decent. Using the Anthropic Principle to support his case, as well as appearing to embrace evolution, are both good moves. I think his discussion of the apparent rage of God in the Old Testament is helpful.

There were some places where I think D'Souza is a bit off. One example is his discussion of Adam and Eve, where he makes the statement that God does not want Adam and Eve to know good and evil. Perhaps it is because I just read Peter Enns' Evolution of Adam , but this statement seems wrong (though it is probably the way Christians have traditionally viewed it). It makes more sense to say God did want Adam and Eve to know good and evil eventually, but to do so in God's way and by taking the shortcut they failed. Overall, I was unimpressed with his discussion of Adam and Eve.

At one point D'Souza says that if God made his presence obvious then humans would be forced to believe in him. If the goal is for humans to grow into virtuous creatures, and allowing free will is essential in this, then the hiddenness of God makes sense. But later D'Souza talks about hell and affirms the traditional eternal conscious torment view. If this is the future for humans, then I do not see how God being hidden is just. If God wants people to choose good and not spend eternity in hell then free will and becoming a better person through free choices are irrelevant. I may want to teach my child how to make good choices, but if our house is on fire I am not going to stay hidden to see if she chooses - a loving parent would reveal himself to save. I think to retain God's love and justice the Christian cannot hold God being hidden, human free will and eternal hell all at the same time.

Another way hell nearly ruins his argument is when you compare it with what he said earlier in the book. He notes, in discussing amputees, that it is better to exist as an amputee than to not exist at all. True, but is it better to be in hell then to not exist at all? If faced with eternal hell or nonexistence, who would not choose non-existence? As a side note I wonder if he read Love Wins , since he says Rob Bell "embraced" universalism in it which is just not true.

Overall, this is a pretty good book even though I have mentioned some flaws I see in it. At the end of the day it seems there are two ways to deal with evil, from a Christian perspective, the philosophical way or the Jesus way. D'Souza joins a long tradition in the philosophical way and this is a valuable way to look at things. But I resonate, personally, much more with telling what God has done about evil and suffering through the work of Jesus. Thus, a book like Evil and the Justice of God by NT Wright moves me much more than D'Souza's. The Bible never says why there is evil and suffering, at least not the full theodicy we may desire that explains all evil and suffering. But the Bible does give us a story of what God has done about it.

The story of God suffering for and with creation may not answer why, but it does answer what God has done. D'Souza's book would benefit from a bit more about this than just an add-on at the end.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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David I will say I loved his point in the first chapter about how it is somewhat arrogant that western atheists claim to have a better understanding of the suffering of third world people then third world people themselves. Especially when the same westerners decry Christianity for being implicit in the worst crimes of colonialism. Ironically, many third-world people who suffer find God in the suffering and do not reject God as westerners do.

Very interesting.

message 2: by Justin (new)

Justin I will also be interested in what you think of this one. I remember seeing a mostly negative review by Doug Groothius a while back. It will be interesting to hear another perspective.

message 3: by David S. T. (new)

David S. T. I think you'll see more people in hopeless situations turn to God than reject him.

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