by Dinesh D’Souza
I’ve seen the impact of evil on this world. Most likely, so have you. Cancer. Babies abused. Natural disasters. Fatal car accidents destroying families in an instant. Child-sized coffins that shouldn’t even exist.
“Bad things happen.” That’s what Dinesh D’Souza tells us right from the beginning in his book, Godforsaken. This book, then, is an attempt to answer whether we can believe in a God who cares in light of this fallen world.
His forward and opening chapters are phenomenal. There are sections of this book, with their depth and unique insight, that are great. He discusses in detail the different ways the East and the West consider suffering. Originally from India, he writes as someone who knows that, “Christians are the only people who raise the anguished question, ‘Why does God allow this?’”
After debating and even befriending so many of the leading advocates of atheism, he also is uniquely positioned to tell us that most staunch atheists are really wounded theists. It’s the evil in the world that so often draws us to God or pushes us bitterly away from Him.
I had two issues to squabble over with the book, one minor, one not so minor. The first is stylistic. D’Souza perpetually tells us “my argument is going to be unique, I’ll talk about that later, I could argue this but I won’t, instead my argument will be something different.” In other words, he is constantly building up to his argument, postponing it as if to make this book a cliffhanger. Perhaps he’s been writing academic papers too long, where you need to tell us what you’re going to say before you actually say it. For a nonacademic work, this is frustrating and rather annoying. Just say it already. Don’t talk about saying it.
More importantly, it was abundantly clear, even more so as the book went on, that D’Souza espouses a more symbolic interpretation of Scripture than I would like. One of his arguments on cruelty in the animal kingdom, in fact, says that we can’t fully blame God for such evil because God perhaps used evolution to form the world. So, it’s really evolution’s fault. He also talks about mankind as if we’ve been around for 100,000 years, but God only really got involved with us about 5,000 years ago with the start of Genesis.
This is more than disappointing. It’s a make or break for me. If an author doesn’t accept the reliability of the Genesis account, if he’s determined to water it down by making it “symbolic,” then his arguments lose weight and merit. I can’t trust his authority. This book is worth reading for the Forward and some of the early chapters on wounded theism, and even the discussion on moral evil. Yet, the theological mis-steps place some of the philosophical arguments on shaky ground.
I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.