Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dennis Prager on on the importance of Judeo-Christian values

Dennis Prager returned with part two in his promised multi-part analysis about why Western culture needs to be grounded in Judeo-Christian values to survive:

For those who subscribe to Judeo-Christian values, right and wrong, good and evil, are derived from G-d, not from reason alone, nor from the human heart, the state or through majority rule. Though most college-educated Westerners never hear the case for the need for G-d-based morality because of the secular outlook that pervades modern education and the media, the case is both clear and compelling: If there is no transcendent source of morality (morality is the word I use for the standard of good and evil), 'good' and 'evil' are subjective opinions, not objective realities.
I don't have a well organized thesis the way Prager does, but his article on cultural relativism inexorably put me in mind of two separate factoids. The first factoid is that, during the Presidential race, a close friend wanted me to read Peter Singer's book, "The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush." My friend freely admitted that he hadn't read the book, but he was impressed by Singer's credentials (he's described on the book jacket as a world-famous ethicist, currently at Princeton), and utterly charmed by the book's promised conclusion: George Bush has no ethics and is evil. I had never heard of Singer and disagreed with the book's premise, but I gamely opened it and started leafing through its pages. Near the title page was a list of books Singer has already published, and, boy, did that send my antennae quivering: among many other things, Singer's written a book called "Animal Liberation," a book called "In Defense of Animals, and a book called "Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics)." Suddenly, I recalled a New Yorker article I'd read about a controversial bioethicist reviled by the handicapped community because he advocated euthanizing handicapped infants. Yup, that was Singer. I also did a little online research and discovered that, in addition to advocating euthanasia for the imperfect, Singer is a founding father of the animal rights movement -- a movement that's come to full flower in PETA insanity (which includes such ideas as analogizing the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler's gas chambers). Singer, for example, clearly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person. Singer has also made clear that he has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents. Amusingly, this last viewpoint has put Singer at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating. I think we can safely say that Singer is a cultural relativist, and I think we can also say that when someone has left beyond traditional morality and carved out his own niche ideas, the result is ugly. The second factoid is something I heard years ago on NPR. It was a story about an "ethics" class, or some similarly titled class, at an American public high school. The name clearly left the listener with the impression that the class was aimed at teaching some sort of value system. How naive one would be to think that, though. The way the class worked was that the teacher would formulate a hypothetical and then the class would discuss it. The day NPR came to visit, the hypothetical was that the students were to imagine finding a wallet in the cafeteria filled with money. What were they do to? Now, to those of us inculcated in archaic Judeo-Christian values, the logical and moral thing to do is to return the wallet to its owner. Interestingly, that was not one of the thoughts that occurred to the students in the class. The students talked about feelings of loss they had when they lost something of value; they talked about the inconvenience of locating the owner; and they talked about the fact that, if they didn't find the wallet, someone else might and that someone could easily keep it for himself. No one -- certainly not the teacher -- used words such as "right" or "wrong," "moral" or "immoral," "good" or "bad." It was all about feelings, risk factors and limiting inconvenience. The class then ended with no one -- certainly not the teacher -- having drawn a moral conclusion or announced an ethical approach to the problem. After listening to that story, I asked myself how can our public schools willingly foment the inevitable anarchy that flows from this type of moral relativism? There is no reliability to conduct. There can be no cultural expectations. Everything is defined by the God of "me." What a dark, depressing world we are creating. I look forward to Dennis Prager's further articles in this series.