Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dennis Prager: Jackass

Exhibit A

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

Exhibit B
In an exchange with Sam Harris titled "Why Are Atheists So Angry" Prager asserts:

You write: “Useful delusions are not the same thing as true beliefs.”

That is certainly true. However, if what may be a “useful delusion” is responsible for Judeo-Christian civilization’s abolishing slavery, discovering science and the scientific method, affirming rationality, believing in progress (the Torah was unique in repudiating the cyclic view of life), elevating women’s rights, affirming universal human rights, establishing the sanctity of human life, and so much more, then I would be loathe to dismiss it as merely a “useful delusion.”

I leave it to the commenters to point out the absolute absurdity of these statements. I must say though that it takes balls the size of church bells to assert that Judeo-Christian civilization discovered science and the scientific method and affirmed rationality. Galileo may have thought otherwise.

The muddled thinking of Prager is demonstrated in this exchange:

[Prager]: Unlike most atheists, you do acknowledge that the moral courage to fight today’s greatest evil is primarily to be found among religious Jews and Christians. I credit that courage to the moral clarity inherent to Jewish and Christian beliefs and to these Jews’ and Christians’ belief in God. I have yet to figure out to what you ascribe the courage among the religious and the lack of moral backbone in secular Europe and America.

You are right that this moral clarity and courage among the predominantly religious does not prove the existence of the biblical God. Nothing can prove God’s existence. But it sure is a powerful argument. If society cannot survive without x, there is a good chance x exists.

[Harris]: I should also point out that you sealed your last missive with a fallacy. You wrote:

“You are right that this moral clarity and courage among the predominantly religious does not prove the existence of the biblical God. Nothing can prove God’s existence. But it sure is a powerful argument. If society cannot survive without x, there is a good chance x exists.”

No, Dennis, this moral clarity is not a “powerful argument,” or even an argument at all; please keep your x’s straight. If humanity can’t survive without a belief in God, this would only mean that a belief in God exists. It wouldn’t, even remotely, suggest that God exists.

[Prager]: You write: “If humanity can’t survive without a belief in God, this would only mean that a belief in God exists. It wouldn’t, even remotely, suggest that God exists.” This statement is as novel as the one suggesting that Stalin was produced by Judeo-Christian values. It is hard for me to imagine that any fair-minded reader would reach the same conclusion. If we both acknowledge that without belief in God humanity would self-destruct, it is quite a stretch to say that this fact does not “even remotely suggest that God exists.” Can you name one thing that does not exist but is essential to human survival?


Talk about begging the question.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Figures a stupid ass liberal from Mass would side with a muslim.

Get over it and get on board..its time to ethnically cleanse the world of muslims.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Zevatron said...

Yeah...good points you make.
I'd like to point out however that I'm not liberal. Also, people from Mass. are not necessarily liberal; Western Mass. is mostly conservative.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Mr. Prager was incorrect in his interpretation for Rep. Ellison because Congresspeople do not swear an oath on the Bible. Yet, Rep. Ellison brought the issue up with his commentary in the first place.

The problem with your Exhibit B argument is that Mr. Prager did not say Judeo-Christian tradition discovered scientific method, he merely said it was responsible for the discovery. Western society throughout the Middle Ages is responsible, because of its Christianity and therefore Judaism, for the creation of almost all of the progress we see today. When most religions in the stone ages were explaining things via their gods' hands, Judaism and Christianity were unique in their views on life's sanctity and free will. From these ideas came the change in thinking that produced everything from banking (most think was begun by the Knights Templar) and capitalism to the scientific method.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Zevatron said...

First off, I hope my "good points" comment conveyed the appropriate amount of sarcasm.

Ben: I was repeating what Prager said. However, I think it's equally inappropriate to assert that Judeo-Christian civiliation is responsible for the scientific method. Sure, the scientific method did come out of such a civilization, maybe more in spite of its Judeo-Christian nature, not because of it. Chemistry came out of alchemy and astronomy out of astrology, but both sciences rightly shed off the non-scientific ideas and thinking of their progenitors in time.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I disagree, obviously, that it is "inappropriate" to assert that Judeo-Christian civilization is responsible for the scientific method. The ideas came from a civilization built with those ideas, and none others. You can claim it was in spite, but all evidence points to the contrary (as uncomfortable as it may seem). Unlike so many other religions, the Bible is not specifically written infallibly (other holy tomes claim they are infallible). That allows Christians and Jews to debate the meanings in their book, as opposed to other religions. Also, many other concepts involving freedom and equal rights stemmed from the society, including banking and opposition to slavery (The Papacy actually issued Bulls against slavery in North and South America when Spain was first colonizing in the 1500s but was ignored for example). A book you should read, though not the only source, is The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Zevatron said...

I disagree, obviously, that it is "inappropriate" to assert that Judeo-Christian civilization is responsible for the scientific method. The ideas came from a civilization built with those ideas, and none others.

Significant scientific progress was made in the Islamic and Chinese world. For different reasons, it was largely abandoned.


You can claim it was in spite, but all evidence points to the contrary (as uncomfortable as it may seem). Unlike so many other religions, the Bible is not specifically written infallibly (other holy tomes claim they are infallible). That allows Christians and Jews to debate the meanings in their book, as opposed to other religions.


Some do take the Bible to be the infallible word of God. I'm also aware of a huge literature of commentary in both Islam and Buddhism.


Also, many other concepts involving freedom and equal rights stemmed from the society, including banking and opposition to slavery (The Papacy actually issued Bulls against slavery in North and South America when Spain was first colonizing in the 1500s but was ignored for example). A book you should read, though not the only source, is The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark.


If I can I'll check it out. What really is my point is that whatever Judeo-Christian thought contributed to the zeitgeist from which scientific thinking emerged:
- it made significant negative contributions as well (i.e. hindered it)
- religious thought (i.e. belief in something beyond natural explanations) has no place in science as practiced today

3:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home