This is the one hundred and fiftieth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip by Dennis Prager. Prager is a Jew and proponent of Judaeo-Christian objective morality. At least in theory, that is. By being thrice married, twice divorced, Prager shows that he is a hypocrite when it comes to God’s objective moral standard concerning marriage and divorce. Shocker, I know.
Not a very bright fellow. If you choose to murder, then you choose to be a person who subjects the self to the very real possibility of being murdered. It is merely a natural choice to respect the self and others. When we are damaged, we abdicate personal responsibility and depend on imaginary friends, Gods who decide things for us…. these imaginary inventions carry on our delusions for us and we do not have to face the reality of our personal issues. Even killing in self-defense has life-long effects…. ask a soldier… ask a survivor of prison life. The idea that moral issues only exist if I have an imaginary friend, is so far from simple, honest human reality it becomes offensive and abusive in its expression.
I know im about to get slammed for this but while his beliefs may be wrong, that doesn’t mean he is not bright. Heck, Ted Cruz is incredibly smart and could probably recite the constitution from memory, but his beliefs and political philosophy are horrible.
Perhaps a misuse of the word, bright, by me. What I mean is that knowledge and or reasoning has two results when it comes my way. One result is that I am invited out of my rooms into another room, a kind of new place. The other is that one by one, the shuitters on my windows are closed and I am not even allowed the light I have managed to garner to this point. Prager shuts my doors, keeps the light from my windows.
Also, having a good memory is often mistaken for brightness. My Mac has a good memory, better than mine forever and it is not bright at all. The idea that the moral and ethical basis of murder is about the existence of God does not strike me as very bright. I get this feeling from much that is stated out of ‘belief’. That is not to say that there are not brilliant people who believe because there are and I am well aware that the overall brain/heart power of others far outdoes my own abilities. But Prager bores me, shuts me down.
I actually met Mr.Prager once back in high school. It was in general a positive experience and he is overall a nice guy even if his beliefs can be wrong or misguided.
Now time to jump into the story, basically at the small private christian school my parents owned and operated my dad and one of teachers got invited to meet Dennis in his studio(I don’t know how it was all arranged, but it was). They decided to grab a few students veiwing it as a great opportunity to get out and see how a radio station was run. When we got up to the studio during a commercial break we met Dennis and he asked us a morality question involving whether we would save our pet or a stranger from drowning. Everyone of us said the stranger. He got back on the air and then illustrated the story out to his listeners and mentioned of course how secular kids always say they would save their pets. Unfortunately looking back on this later, i know athiests and other boogeymen for conservatives can be just as altruistic and compassionate as christians and conservatives think themselves to be if not more so. My how has the world changed
Prager seems indeed to be quite an intelligent guy normally, but on this issue he is blinkered. He’s left his reason at the church door whilst he goes inside to drink the blood warming ignorance.
Trenton’s comment about choosing who to save, pet or stranger, is one that is used over and over by psychologists, testing morality and how humans deal with it. The most famous test is the ‘trolley’; a trolley cab speeds down the line. Left unchecked it’s going to kill five people, but you are standing next to points that you can change to direct it down another track, where it would kill just one person. Do you change the points? I love these mind games, because you can play with them to your hearts content. All five about to die are suffering from terminal cancer; does that make a difference?
The thing that these tests demonstrate, pretty conclusively, is that morality is much more to do with psychology than with religious belief, in that there is no significant differing result between believers and non-believers. The only time that results begin to appear dubious is when people try and overlay their belief induced feelings of ‘right and wrong’. This is especially true when it comes to morality and abortion, where pro-lifers struggle with the question of whether to save a hundred embryos, or the caretaker of the burning building. In short religious, prescriptive, attempts to mandate morality actually make things worse, in that they interfere with the naturally evolved abilities of human cultures to arrive at their own standards of morality.
Thank-you, Geoff. Well and clearly said. I have always reacted to these psych questions with huge caveats and do not do well when given black and white decisions to make…. The reality might be that we arrive at our own standards whether or not we use the imaginary friend. When we pass off our personal responsibility as humans to the ether, we make a clear decision with reference to morals and ethical life.