We cannot let Dennis Prager’s column at Townhall today go unanswered.
Last week the New York Times published an opinion piece that offered atheism’s response to the evil/tragedy in which 20 children and six adults were murdered at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
What prompted Susan Jacoby to write her piece was a colleague telling her that atheism “has nothing to offer when people are suffering.”
She wrote the piece, “The Blessings of Atheism” (“It is Here and It is Now!” screams the subhead) to prove her colleague wrong by offering a consoling atheist alternative to religion’s consoling belief in an afterlife. Atheists cannot believe that there is any existence other than this life. But, Jacoby insists, atheists can still offer consolation to people who lose loved ones, such as the parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook.
It is meant as no disrespect to this well regarded writer that her piece provides one of the finest illustrations of the intellectual and emotional emptiness at the heart of atheism. Jacoby’s piece actually confirms her colleague’s assessment.
Jacoby offers a quote from Robert Green Ingersoll, who died in 1899. He “was one of the most famous orators of his generation, [and] personified this combination of passion and rationality. Called ‘The Great Agnostic ‘… he also frequently delivered secular eulogies at funerals and offered consolation that he clearly considered an important part of his mission. In 1882, at the graveside of a friend’s child, he declared: “They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest … The dead do not suffer.”
I read this quote at least a half dozen times, convinced that I had somehow missed its consoling message. But, alas, there was no consoling message.
“The dead do not suffer” is atheism’s consolation to the parents of murdered children? This sentiment can provide some consolation — though still nothing comparable to the affirmation of an afterlife — to those who lose a loved one who had been suffering from a debilitating disease. But it not only offers the parents of Sandy Hook no consolation, it actually (unintentionally) insults them: Were these children suffering before their lives were taken? Would they have suffered if they had lived on?
At this point we start our exegesis.
Yes, those children were suffering. Not greatly perhaps, not constantly, but yes they were suffering. Every living person from the start of life to its end, suffers – and inflicts suffering. To live is to suffer. The longer we live the more we suffer, and the more we inflict suffering. Robert Ingersoll’s declaration is the consolation, the only consolation of our mortality – that suffering ceases when we die. Everything ceases when we die. As Ayn Rand said, “when I die the world ends”. True, happiness ends too. That is why we need consolation. Most of us would say we would rather have a long life, with all the suffering it contains, than a short one. And certainly for our children we wish long life, for their sakes and for our own. There can be consolation for ourselves in the painlessness of oblivion, but that thought will not console us for the loss of those we love, especially children. For the parents of the murdered children there is no consolation.
Dennis Prager goes on:
Moreover, it is the parents who are suffering, so the fact that their child isn’t suffering while decomposing in the grave is of no relevance. And, most germane to our subject, this atheist message offers no consolation at all when compared to the religious message that we humans are not just matter but possess eternal souls.
Though I am intellectually convinced that only an Intelligence (i.e., God) could have created intelligence, I understand atheism. Anyone observing the terrible amount of unjust human suffering understands the atheist. But even atheists — indeed, especially atheists, since they claim that, unlike believers, they are guided solely by reason and intellect — have to be intellectually honest. They would have to acknowledge that, in terms of consolation, there is no comparison between “The dead do not suffer” and “Your child lives on, and you will be reunited with her.”
No comparison between the truth and a lie? The parents of dead children will never be “reunited” with their children. To say that the murdered child is “in heaven’ and “looking down at you” and “you will be together again ” in “an afterlife” is a tale you can tell a child, but what sane adult can really believe such utter nonsense?
What we have here is an intellectual unwillingness or a psychological inability on the part of Susan Jacoby and just about all atheist activists (including the New York Times, which featured, not just published, her column) to confront the consequences of their atheism.
If they did, they would have to say something like this to the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook:
“As atheists, we truly feel awful for you. And we promise to work for more gun control. …
We atheists promise no such thing. Government control of gun-ownership will do nothing to stop evil people killing other people.
… But the truth is we don’t have a single consoling thing to say to you because we atheists recognize that the human being is nothing more than matter, no different from all other matter in the universe except for having self-consciousness.
Having self-consciousness is the huge difference. We are matter plus intelligence. And intelligence evolved, occurring at this end of evolution, not before it all started.
Therefore, when we die, that’s it. Moreover, within a tiny speck of time in terms of the universe’s history, nearly every one of us, including your child, will be completely forgotten, as if we never even existed. Life is a random crapshoot. Our birth and existence are flukes. And you will never see your child again.”
That is what must be accepted by grieving parents – not said to them.
An atheist with the courage of her convictions would have written that. But the New York Times would not have published it.
We are seldom on the same side as the New York Times, but we approve its publication of Susan Jacoby’s piece.
All this column did for me was reconfirm this insight of the Bible: “Wisdom begins with reverence for God.”
No God, no wisdom … And certainly no consolation.
Wisdom begins with believing the unbelievable?
It is manifestly absurd to believe in a “life after death”. A thing is alive if it can die. Life and death define each other. Only the non-living cannot die. Which is why we call ourselves mortals.
It is strengthening to face the truth. How can mystic fantasies and vague notions of souls finding each other in some unknown and indescribable life-after-life console any sane, rational adult? If some find consolation in bluffing themselves that something of them will survive death, it can only be by abandonment of reason and sanity.
There is no consolation for the loss of those we love. There is no consolation for our mortality but the knowledge, as Ingersoll said, that death ends suffering. For each one of us it ends everything.
Why did Chief Justice Roberts betray the hope that a majority of Americans had placed in him to preserve such freedom as they still possessed?
Was it moral cowardice and personal vanity?
Some believe it was. This is from an IBD editorial:
According to a report by CBS News, Roberts switched his position at the same time the White House, the Democratic Senate and their henchmen in the media made a full frontal assault on him.
In an unseemly move that smacked of intimidation, President Obama warned the court it would be “an unprecedented extraordinary step” for the court to overturn his signature health law. The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee singled out Roberts himself. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., mau-maued him to uphold ObamaCare and maintain “the proper role of the judicial branch.”
The Washington media piled on by demonizing Roberts as partisan. The orchestrated campaign to save ObamaCare included reports warning of damage to the court and to Roberts’ reputation if they voided the law.
Unlike many justices, Roberts “pays attention to media coverage,” CBS says, and he’s highly “sensitive” to how he and the court are perceived by the public.
The last thing Roberts wanted was the Congressional Black Caucus branding him racist for denying the first black president his signature achievement.
Suddenly Roberts, sold by the Bush White House as a solid constitutional conservative, went “wobbly.” Anthony Scalia and other conservatives on the bench spent a full month trying to bring him back to his original position.
But Roberts held firm. And conservatives told him he was on his own. They wrote a highly unusual dissent that deliberately ignored his decision. …
He played politics, which is beyond outrageous. Roberts … expanded government power by giving Congress license to impose taxes to regulate behavior.
If Roberts wanted to make the court look politically neutral, he failed miserably. Nothing could be more political than the head of the bench rewriting bad law to avoid appearing political. If Roberts hoped to burnish the court’s reputation, he succeeding only in staining it.
Roberts could have stopped one of the most glaringly unconstitutional laws ever written, and did not.
This is his legacy.
If it is true that he upheld Obama’s socialist health care law for fear of being hated and accused by the Left, and as a result is now hated and accused by the Right, what has he gained?
His feelings should not have been a factor in his judgment. To be reviled by vile people is a compliment and an honor.
The fear of being hated and reviled is seen by Dennis Prager as so widespread as to account for the success of the Left. He portrays the Left as a cohort of bullies, and the Right as consisting all too largely of cowards.
Given how many more Americans define themselves as conservative rather than as liberal, let alone than as left, how does one explain the success of left-wing policies?
One answer is the appeal of entitlements and a desire to be taken care of. It takes a strong-willed citizen to vote against receiving free benefits. But an even greater explanation is the saturation of Western society by left-wing hate directed at the right. The left’s demonization, personal vilification, and mockery of its opponents have been the most powerful tools in the left-wing arsenal for a century. …
The Left has labeled its ideological opponents evil. And when you control nearly all of the news media and schools, that labeling works. …
What matters to most of those who speak for the left is not truth. It is destroying the good name of its opponents. That is the modus operandi of the left. …
To protect himself from vilification by the Left was “the overwhelmingly likely motivation of Chief Justice John Roberts to declare the ObamaCare individual mandate constitutional despite his ruling that, as passed, the mandate was in fact unconstitutional.”
[He] and his conservative colleagues on the Supreme Court have been the targets of media and academia vitriol and personal invective for years, and in some cases, decades. But while his conservative colleagues don’t care, Justice Roberts does.
As reported by CBS News:
“Some of the conservatives, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, deliberately avoid news articles on the Court when issues are pending . . . . They’ve explained that they don’t want to be influenced by outside opinion or feel pressure from outlets that are perceived as liberal.
“But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As Chief Justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the Court, and he also is sensitive to how the Court is perceived by the public. ["The public" means liberal media and academics.]
“There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the Court – and to Roberts’ reputation – if the Court were to strike down the mandate.
“Some even suggested that if Roberts struck down the mandate, it would prove he had been deceitful during his confirmation hearings, when he explained a philosophy of judicial restraint.”
[His] change reassure[s] progressives that ridicule, demonization, and character assassination work. With the stakes so high in the forthcoming election, expect it to only increase.
Thomas Sowell does not deny that motives of cowardice and vanity moved Roberts, but thinks the question of motive is “ultimately irrelevant”. What he accuses Roberts of is dereliction of duty.
Roberts was wrong in assessing where his duty lay.
Betrayal is hard to take, whether in our personal lives or in the political life of the nation. …
Chief Justice John Roberts need fear no such fate because he has lifetime tenure on the Supreme Court. But conscience can be a more implacable and inescapable punisher — and should be. …
The Chief Justice probably made as good a case as could be made for upholding the constitutionality of ObamaCare by defining one of its key features as a “tax.”
The legislation didn’t call it a tax and Chief Justice Roberts admitted that this might not be the most “natural” reading of the law. But he fell back on the long-standing principle of judicial interpretation that the courts should not declare a law unconstitutional if it can be reasonably read in a way that would make it constitutional, out of “deference” to the legislative branch of government.
But this question, like so many questions in life, is a matter of degree. How far do you bend over backwards to avoid the obvious, that ObamaCare was an unprecedented extension of federal power over the lives of 300 million Americans today and of generations yet unborn?
These are the people that Chief Justice Roberts betrayed when he declared constitutional something that is nowhere authorized in the Constitution of the United States.
John Roberts is no doubt a brainy man, and that seems to carry a lot of weight among the intelligentsia — despite glaring lessons from history, showing very brainy men creating everything from absurdities to catastrophes. Few of the great tragedies of history were created by the village idiot, and many by the village genius.
This Supreme Court ruling that the conservative Chief Justice Roberts shockingly swung to uphold the socialist health care law, consummates the tragic story of ”the decline of individual freedom in America, and the wrecking of the best medical care in the world”.
And instead of confirming the Constitution, controverts it.
There are many speculations as to why Chief Justice Roberts did what he did, some attributing noble and far-sighted reasons, and others attributing petty and short-sighted reasons, including personal vanity. But all of that is ultimately irrelevant.
What he did was betray his oath to be faithful to the Constitution of the United States.
Who he betrayed were the hundreds of millions of Americans — past, present and future — whole generations in the past who have fought and died for a freedom that he has put in jeopardy, in a moment of intellectual inspiration and moral forgetfulness, 300 million Americans today whose lives are to be regimented by Washington bureaucrats, and generations yet unborn who may never know the individual freedoms that their ancestors took for granted.
Some claim that Chief Justice Roberts did what he did to save the Supreme Court as an institution from the wrath – and retaliation – of those in Congress who have been railing against Justices who invalidate the laws they have passed. Many in the media and in academia have joined the shrill chorus of those who claim that the Supreme Court does not show proper “deference” to the legislative branch of government.
But what does the Bill of Rights seek to protect the ordinary citizen from? The government! To defer to those who expand government power beyond its constitutional limits is to betray those whose freedom depends on the Bill of Rights.
John Roberts has betrayed the people who looked to him to preserve the freedom the Bill of Rights granted them. He has validated a law that changes everything the United States of America was founded on and for.
On this Independence Day, that is the tragic fact Americans have to face, assimilate, and adjust to. They have been changed into a different kind of nation.
If Dennis Prager is right in the article we quote here, Islam is defeating itself. And not only is it curing some Muslims of their own religion, it’s helping to turn people off all religion.
Religion has been withering since the Enlightenment, and it took an all-but-mortal blow from Darwin. Now, over the last few decades, Islam is revealing so hideous a face that it is perhaps administering the coup de grâce.
Dennis Prager deplores the possible development. We applaud it.
Nothing produces atheists like despicable religious people. They do far more harm to religious faith than all the atheist writers and activists in the world put together.
Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ayatollahs, Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, the Taliban and all the other Islamist organizations actually decrease the number of believers in the world.
Over the course of time, people do not judge religions by their theology. Yes, some people convert to a religion thanks to its convincing theology. And many remain in a religion because of family ties, cultural norms and sheer inertia. But over time, religion – and faith in God itself – is judged by its fruit. Which is how it should be.
And the best known fruit of Islam today – countries calling themselves Muslim, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Taliban Afghanistan, not to mention Islamist groups – is so ugly that many millions of people are increasingly repelled by religion and by God. …
When the best-known actions of some of the most religious people in the world are kidnappings, slaughter, torture, mass murder of innocents, suicide bombings, beheadings and treatment of women unknown in recorded history, religion and faith in God suffer everywhere.
So there is an upside to the extra-nasty religion of Islam pursuing its atrocious jihad after all – a widespread disillusionment at last with religion in general?
Seems too good to be true. But we hope Prager is right.
The soundly conservative but dogmatically religious Dennis Prager writes here about atheism and morality.
If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?’”
Richard Rorty must be a dumb sort of atheist, and that’s almost a paradox. Most atheists are atheists because they can think and do think. But then this one is also a liberal, which means he is on the side of the emotions, not of reason.
Why can’t these god-botherers get it through their superstition-stuffed heads that all moral rules, codes, precepts - ALL are the product of human beings. No god ever said a word to anyone.
Human beings don’t want to live in a world where there is more suffering than there has to be, so they repudiate cruelty. On the whole. There are those who don’t. They are cruel whether or not they believe in divine instruction. The Catholic Church has a history of extreme cruelty stretching over hundreds of years, and the Protestant Christians were no better. Christianity is a cult of suffering. And Islam is a system of relentless sadism.
All gods are cruel. Believers use the phrase “act of God” for events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, tsunamis, which inflict anguish on every kind of living body that is threaded with nerves. If, as they believe, their God made everything, he made bacteria and viruses, all the diseases, all deformities, all the torments of the flesh.
The Left – which is to say the liberals in America – have been preaching for half a century at least that no one should be “judgmental”. Generations have been raised to believe that they should not make moral judgments. As if it is possible to live without doing so. Even to decide to be “non-judgmental” is to make a judgment. Not to judge between right and wrong is to permit wrong.
Prager ends by asking rhetorically:
Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?
Everything, Mr Prager, everything.
And if religions were utterly abandoned, a major cause of human suffering would be gone. Moral values would stay exactly the same.
We often agree with Dennis Prager. We disagree with him when he talks about religion. (As we do with most conservative columnists and commentators, candidates and Congressmen.)
We wonder continually at the strangeness of the fact that millions of highly intelligent, educated, sane adults living in this age of science believe in the supernatural.
How poor their arguments are when they talk about it. How blindly they insist that religion is the sole source and guarantee of moral behavior.
Dennis Prager, writing in Townhall on the fairly trivial subject of an airline allowing a man dressed only in women’s underwear to fly, mixes sense and nonsense in a manner typical of religious conservatives:
On June 9, a man boarded a US Airways flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix, dressed in women’s panties, a bra and thigh-high stockings.
No US Airways employee at the Fort Lauderdale airport asked him to cover himself. Nor did any flight attendant ask him to do so. And obviously, no one demanded that he get off the plane.
US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder was asked how the airline allowed a nearly naked cross-dresser to board a plane … She said employees had been correct not to ask the man to cover himself. ‘We don’t have a dress code policy. Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate. … So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.’
The decline of American civilization since the 1960s has been so fast and so dramatic that it takes one’s breath away.
That a woman speaking on behalf of a major airline can say with a straight face that her airline allows anyone dressed or undressed to fly on its airplanes so long as they do not expose their genitals perfectly encapsulates this decline.
The only question is: How did we get here?
For one thing, the concept of decency is dying. I suspect that if an adult were to say to a group of randomly chosen American college students that this man indecently exposed himself and should not have been allowed to fly, that adult would be a) not understood — what does “indecent” mean? — and/or b) roundly condemned for intolerance and bigotry.
To judge this man as acting indecently, not to mention to bar him from flying, is to engage in violating the only values a generation of Americans has been taught: not to judge, not to discriminate, to welcome diversity and to fully accept those who are different, especially in the sexual arena.
That is why I think it is very difficult to have a dialogue on this matter. For those who believe in public “decency,” the matter is as clear as a bell — this was profoundly indecent — and for those who do not believe in such a concept, the matter is equally clear — “decency” is an anachronism.
So far, good enough. We agree that the man was not decently covered. It’s possible that some people on the flight found the exposure of most of his body shocking. What he did was not polite. Politeness, which respects the dignity of other people, is necessary to human relations: far more necessary than a saccharine pretense of generalized indiscriminate love.
But then Prager goes on to argue that a “reason for the death of the concept of ‘public decency’” is “the age of secularism in which we live”.
In a more religious America, the human being was regarded as created in God’s image, a being that ideally aspires to a level of holiness. As secularism proceeds with the increasing force of an avalanche, however, man is increasingly regarded as just another animal. One way in which higher civilizations have demonstrated the human-animal difference has been the wearing of clothing. Animals are naked in public; humans are clothed. But secularism eats away at such religious ideals. Thus religion-based concepts such as holiness and decency die out.
God’s image with clothes on?
The argument in Judaism is that man was made in God’s “moral image”, but Christians say God was incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth. In Christian art, both “God the Father” and Jesus are usually depicted with clothes on – often a sort of woman’s nightgown or a toga-like garment – but not always. Michelangelo’s God on the Sistine Chapel roof is nude. Where but half-awakened Adam / Can disturb globe-trotting madam/ Till her bowels are in a heat, wrote W.B.Yeats.
Of course, though many a madam will trot or fly over half the globe to view that naked God and Adam, she might not enjoy having an almost naked man sitting next to her on her journey. We think Dennis Prager is right that she shouldn’t have to.
But no, Mr Prager, secularism does not destroy decency or politeness. Most secularists wear clothes and are polite. What they don’t do in the name of secularism is sniff out heretical views, punish apostasy, blow up infidels, hang homosexuals, stone adulterers, incarcerate critics, or torture and burn the nerve-threaded bodies of the living.
Such acts are done, have been done millions of times, in the name of religion. We think they are rather worse than indecent.
Dennis Prager recently visited Vietnam and was understandably stirred to anger.
He writes a bitter reminder that communism is the worst of all the terrible ideologies ever inflicted on long-suffering humanity.
His essay is also a stinging condemnation of the “moral idiots” in America who made a hero of Ho Chi Minh and handed over the Vietnamese people to the communists.
Communists still rule the country. Yet, Vietnam today has embraced the only way that exists to escape poverty, let alone to produce prosperity: capitalism and the free market. So what exactly did the 2 million Vietnamese who died in the Vietnam War die for? I would like to ask one of the communist bosses who run Vietnam that question. “Comrade, you have disowned everything your Communist party stood for: communal property, collectivized agriculture, central planning and militarism, among other things. Looking back, then, for what precisely did your beloved Ho Chi Minh and your party sacrifice millions of your fellow Vietnamese?”
There is no good answer. There are only a lie and a truth, and the truth is not good.
The lie is the response offered by the Vietnamese communists and which was repeated, like virtually all communist lies, by the world’s non-communist left. It was (and continues to be) taught in virtually every Western university and was and continues to be spread by virtually every news medium on the planet: The Vietnam communists, i.e., the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, were merely fighting for national independence against foreign control of their country. First, they fought the French, then the Japanese and then the Americans. American baby boomers will remember being told over and over that Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam’s George Washington, that he loved the American Constitution, after which he modeled his own, and wanted nothing more than Vietnamese independence.
Here is the truth: Every communist dictator in the world has been a megalomaniacal, cult of personality, power hungry, bloodthirsty thug. Ho Chi Minh was no different. He murdered his opponents, tortured only God knows how many innocent Vietnamese, threatened millions into fighting for him — yes, for him and his blood soaked Vietnamese Communist Party, backed by the greatest murderer of all time, Mao Zedong. But the moral idiots in America chanted “Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh” at antiwar rallies, and they depicted America as the real murderers of Vietnamese — “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
The Vietnamese communists were not fighting America for Vietnamese independence. America was never interested in controlling the Vietnamese people, and there is a perfect parallel to prove this: the Korean War. Did America fight the Korean communists in order to control Korea? Or did 37,000 Americans die in Korea so that Koreans could be free? Who was (and remains) a freer human being — a Korean living under Korean communist rule in North Korea or a Korean living in that part of Korea where America defeated the Korean communists?
And who was a freer human being in Vietnam — those who lived in non-communist South Vietnam (with all its flaws) or those who lived under Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh’s communists in North Vietnam?
America fights to liberate countries, not to rule over them.
True, and though sometimes – as in Kosovo and Bosnia – well-meaning America has made the wrong judgment as to just who is on the side of freedom, in Vietnam the issue was clear enough:
It was the Vietnamese Communist Party, not America, that was interested in controlling the Vietnamese people. But the lie was spread so widely and so effectively that most of the world — except American supporters of the war and the Vietnamese boat people and other Vietnamese who yearned for liberty — believed that America was fighting for tin, tungsten and the wholly fictitious “American empire” while the Vietnamese communists were fighting for Vietnamese freedom.
I went to the “Vietnam War Remnants Museum” — not a word about those who risked their lives to escape by boat, preferring to risk dying by drowning, being eaten by sharks or being tortured or gang-raped by pirates, rather than to live under the communists who “liberated” South Vietnam. …
I hope I live to see the day when the people of Vietnam, freed from the communist lies that still permeate their daily lives, understand that every Vietnamese death in the war against America was a wasted life, one more of the 140 million human sacrifices on the altar of the most bloodthirsty false god in history: communism.
The Vietnamese war is now an old story. Those who remember it with bitterness hardly speak of it, the memories being too painful and the young being uninterested. But it should not be forgotten. The truth about it should be taught to new generations so that the right lessons may be learnt from it.
The most important lesson is that collectivist ideologies are inescapably cruel and destructive, and it is a lesson that should be applied to the collectivist ideology most threatening to the free world right now: Islam.
Yet again the moral idiots are are on the wrong side; the side of misery, oppression, and death. The communists, the socialists, the “progressives” are in alliance with the jihadists.
The right lessons about the histories of Russia, China, Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam, have not been learnt, most probably because they have not been taught. As Dennis Prager mourns:
There is little difference between the history of the Vietnam War as told by the Communist Party of Vietnam and what just about any college student will be told in just about any college by just about any professor in America, Europe, Asia or Latin America.
When Soviet Russia perished and Mao Zedong died; when Russia, China, and Vietnam relented to “the natural order of liberty” (as Adam Smith called capitalism) because they’d learnt the hard way that Marxist economics do not work; the “bloodthirsty god”, communism, found asylum in the academies. In almost every university the monster reigns unchallenged, and has recently taken on a consort: Islam.
For the moral idiots of the left – many of whom have Ph.Ds – there are now two gods, communism and Allah, and Obama is their prophet.
Dennis Prager give a very good, short, simple, accurate account of why there is an Arab-Israeli conflict.
A few generations ago,when children asked “Where do babies come from?”, they were likely to be told storks brought them. Some wag of a statistician once defended the story by demonstrating with a chart that an increase in the number of births in Germany over a certain period was accompanied by a matching rise in the number of storks.
We were reminded of this by an argument put out by Dennis Prager today at Townhall, where the conservative writer (with whom we often agree when he is not talking about religion) tries to make a causal connection between two unrelated conditions: being religious and being free.
In a recent column, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow … [made the point that] all rich countries except for the United States are secular and that all poor countries are religious … [but not] in order to celebrate America’s “anomalous” religiosity.
He should have. America’s anomalous religiosity is very much worth celebrating — not because it leads to affluence, but because it is indispensible to liberty. Had Blow made a liberty chart rather than an affluence chart, he might have noted that the freest country in the world — for 234 years — the United States of America, has also been the most God-centered.
Let’s accept his two propositions as facts: that Americans are more religious than the people of any other prosperous Western country, and that they are freer than other nations. Prager does not prove that the first condition is the cause of the second. He tries to, but fails. The same two facts could be cited to demonstrate that there is no connection between the two; that liberty can flourish even where there is widespread superstition and adherence to irrational ideas.
But let’s see how he tries. He says:
Because the Creator of the world is the source of our freedom, no state, no human being, no government may take it away. If the state were the source of liberty, then obviously the state could take it away.
Then a few paragraphs later he points out that the state, human beings, the government are taking our liberty away:
The left seeks an ever-expanding state with, by definition, ever-expanding powers. And a fundamental aspect of that program is the removal of God and religion from as much of American life as possible. This is pursued under the noble-sounding goal of ensuring “separation of church and state.” But whatever the avowed aim, the result is the same: secularize as much of society as possible, its institutions and, most importantly, its values. … Since then, the leftwing attack on religion in America has proceeded at a rapid clip …Examples [he gives some to show that Christian symbols, customs, Bible-readings are being removed and/or discouraged] are too numerous to list. And now, commensurate with the removal of God from American society, the most leftwing government in American history is expanding state powers to an unprecedented degree.
And, he says, as the country “becomes more secular, it becomes less free.”
So although “the Creator of the world” is the source of our freedom, the state is nevertheless taking it away?
He shifts his ground. Americans have freedom not because “the Creator of the world” bestowed it, but because people believe that he did. He is driven to this because he suddenly remembers that Islam is “God-based” yet not free. It’s something he needs to account for. He hastens to say:
Yes, I know that the Islamic world has also been God-based and that it has not been free. But that is because Allah is not regarded as the source of liberty, as the America’s Judeo-Christian God has been, but as the object of submission (“Islam” means “submission”).
Islam’s God is a different God? There’s more than one God? No, no! He seems to be saying it but surely cannot mean it. Well then, if the difference does not lie between two different Gods, where does it lie?
It lies, he asserts, in the minds of the believers. For those who “regard” God as the source of liberty, he is. For those who do not, he is not.
Finally Prager attempts to illustrate the truth of his claim that religion is necessary to freedom by declaring that “every totalitarian state except Muslim ones … seeks to abolish religion”. But that’s simply not true. Hitler did not try to abolish religion. (See our post Hitler and Catholicism, September 17, 2010.) The Catholic Church itself was totalitarian in the Middle Ages. Religion and unfreedom are not opposites.
Furthermore, we contend that religion, especially if it makes unnatural demands on the conscience, and threatens eternal punishment, is itself an enslavement of the mind, a form of slavery quite as odious as any other.