Field of Science

D'Souza has a weird concept of evidence (for life after death)

Dinesh D'Souza has a book out on the evidence for life after death, Life After Death: The Evidence. Should you be in doubt, this would be the place to go for any evidence there is for life after death. Right?

Well, D'Souza's kind of evidence is not the regular kind that you and I like to see. An example from a short article in SFGate (actually, it's the only one he presents here):
Material things like bodies are perishable but immaterial things like ideas aren't. So we, like nature, might have a built-in progression from perishable matter to imperishable mind. The time will come when our bodies will irretrievably break down, but it is possible, indeed suggested within the script of nature, that a part of us might outlast these mortal coils.
"Bodies are made of matter, so they can die. Ideas are not made of matter, so they cannot die. Therefore it might be that out bodies can progress from matter to pure mind, and thus avoid death. The evidence from nature is that our minds will not die." Isn't that what he is saying?

What a load of shoddy, fifth-rate, dimwitted nonsense. Completely void of substance, and... nothing to do with evidence.

That evidence from nature is, ironically (given that D'Souza is a creationist), evolution. He argues that because evolution progresses from chemistry though cells onto mind, so must our minds survive our dying bodies.

That of course just does not follow. On top of that, he builds his argument on the claim that ideas aren't material, but they are too. Ideas are located in the brain and exist only as long as the brain works. Ideas emerge from the chemical and physical properties of the brain, and cease to exist along with the brain. Emergence does not imply anything immaterial.

Along the way he manages to show how fundamentally he does not understand evolution:
Most biologists emphatically deny that there is a plan. Evolution, they say, is based on chance and random accident.
They so do not - evolution is much more than chance.
De Duve's "The Tree of Life" has eubacteria and archaebacteria at the root, then simple eukaryotes, then more complex multicellular organisms, then fungi and plants, then fishes, then reptiles, then mammals, and finally humans.
Whatever de Duve meant, this quote satisfies D'Souza's fantasy that humans are the pinnacle of life (again, despite he is a conservative Christian who does not believe in evolution after all). However, it does not follow from evolutionary theory, or nature, or science, or PNAS* that humans are the apex of evolution.

But, I do agree with him about there being life after death: My life after your death. My children's life after mine.

* Got the pun?


  1. Ideas aren't perishable? Maybe I'm looking at this wrong, but it seems to me that, if this were true, there would be no Ancient Mysteries for the pseudohistorians to plump up into book deals. We would know exactly why the Egyptians built the pyramids, and how. The Antikythera Device would have presented no challenge, and Linear A would not be awaiting decipherment.


  2. Good point, Cicely. And all the great ideas I ever had while drinking would not have been forgotten by morning. That would be fabulous.

  3. Seems to be a half-baked form of neo-platonism.


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