Food for Thought: Prager on Ethical Monotheism

Longtime readers know I’m a huge Dennis Prager fan.  Years ago, he wrote a thought-provoking essay called “Ethical Monotheism.”  Here’s a snippet:

Ethical monotheism means two things:

1. There is one God from whom emanates one morality for all humanity.

2. God’s primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another.

If all people subscribed to this simple belief—which does not entail leaving, or joining, any specific religion, or giving up any national identity—the world would experience far less evil.

Let me explain the components of ethical monotheism.

God

Monotheism means belief in “one God.” Before discussing the importance of the “mono,” or God’s oneness, we need a basic understanding of the nature of God.

The God of ethical monotheism is the God first revealed to the world in the Hebrew Bible. Through it, we can establish God’s four primary characteristics:

  • 1. God is supranatural.
  • 2. God is personal.
  • 3. God is good.
  • 4. God is holy.

Dropping any one of the first three attributes invalidates ethical monotheism (it is possible, though difficult, to ignore holiness and still lead an ethical life).

God is supranatural, meaning “above nature” (I do not use the more common term “supernatural” because it is less precise and conjures up irrationality). This is why Genesis, the Bible’s first book, opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” in a world in which nearly all people worshipped nature, the Bible’s intention was to emphasize that nature is utterly subservient to God who made it. Obviously, therefore, God is not a part of nature, and nature is not God.

It is not possible for God to be part of nature for two reasons.

First, nature is finite and God is infinite. If God were within nature, He would be limited, and God, who is not physical, has no limits (I use the pronoun “He”” not because I believe God is a male, but because the neuter pronoun “It” depersonalizes God. You cannot talk to, relate to, love, or obey an “It.”).

Second, and more important, nature is amoral. Nature knows nothing of good and evil. In nature there is one rule—survival of the fittest. There is no right, only might. If a creature is weak, kill it. Only human beings could have moral rules such as, “If it is weak, protect it.” Only human beings can feel themselves ethically obligated to strangers.

Read the rest here when you have the chance.

Mom Takes on Planned Parenthood

My mother, Peg Freiburger, had an important editorial in Friday’s Fond du Lac Reporter:

A news article in The Reporter (Feb. 12, by Sharon Roznik) on 2009 Assembly Bill 458 requiring changes to our school’s sex education instruction leaves out the most important information.

Planned Parenthood (PPH) has been a strong supporter and has spent much time and money lobbying for this bill.

Why? This bill now allows Planned Parenthood as agents of the state under the Department of Health Services to come in to our schools and teach their version of “healthy sex” to our kids (SECTION 10. 146.89 (3r) (e)).

You know, the same organization that has been caught on video in Appleton, in Milwaukee, and other clinics across the country giving false information to young girls regarding whether her baby has a heartbeat, what the dangers of abortion are, and failing to contact authorities in cases of rape to girls as young as 13.

A recent report from International Planned Parenthood Federation advocates children age 10 and over “be given extensive sex education, including awareness of sex’s pleasures.”

Why does PPH do this? For the money! The more sexually active our children are, the more money PPH makes selling birth control, STD medications and abortions.

In 2007 in Wisconsin alone, more than $5.4 million was taken through our tax dollars and given to Planned Parenthood. Part of this was used so girls as young as 15 could receive free birth control, without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

It is pathetic that in Fond du Lac we have a county health officer and a county board of health member/pediatrician who apparently find this acceptable for our children.

Those who support such a thing should read the bill. Then they could explain to the community why it is OK to have a bill that will not allow school employees to tell Johnny that he shouldn’t have sex with multiple partners (Section 4, 118.019 (2) (a) (9) (b)), why they are supporting an organization that has stated that religious groups, such as Catholics, “deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex,” (Fox News link above), and why they support an organization that had Valentine’s Day cards this year with condoms on the front and “I like playing with you” written on the inside.

Even though this bill is now law, we in Fond du Lac can do something about it. Since the state has deemed it necessary to take away our local control as to what we want our children to learn about sex, we can opt to remove sex education completely from our schools.

Let’s devise other local programs to help our kids deal with the pressures and consequences of sex before they’re ready. Let’s develop a community program outside the schools that reflects the faith and values we hold dear in our community.

Right on cue, our old friend Cobweb1780 (AKA unintentional Daily Kos parody Pan Zareta) responded in the comments with this brilliant insight:

The implication of this comment is the writer would prefer kids be kept ignorant about sex. That ignorance is somehow preferable to knowledge about the reality of sex too young.

Of course, to come to this conclusion, Cobweb has to completely ignore the letter’s main point, all the sleaze surrounding Planned Parenthood – including criminal conduct – and the supporting evidence Mom provided.  “The implication of this comment is the writer would prefer kids be” subjected to the influence of an organization willing to ignore statutory rape and promote dangerous personal behavior to sustain their profits.

Further, Mom doesn’t say she’s against age-appropriate sex education in public schools.  She is arguing for the people of Fond du Lac’s right to decide these matters for themselves, not be dictated to by radical, out-of-touch politicians in Madison.  But if the state insists upon giving our money to Planned Parenthood, and subjecting our kids to their twisted “values,” then looking outside of the school system for their sexual education is the preferable alternative.  Cobweb is free to disagree if she likes, but that doesn’t entitle her to mischaracterize others as believing in “ignorance.”

How Not to Argue Abortion (Updated)

I initially figured Capper was a shoe-in for the “Most Embarrassingly Self-Defeating Blogger in Wisconsin” Award—misattributing comments to people based on nothing but a first name, then digging in your heels when called on it seems pretty hard to top.  But we have a new contender for the crown: our old pal Scott Feldstein.

Veterans of Wisconsin blog debates know Scott well as a foul-mouthed, hypocritical leftist who would rather conjure up dishonest, unconvincing reasons for ignoring & dismissing opponents’ views rather than actually debating them.  In December, this charade devolved into an even more pitiful form: not only rationalizing why he shouldn’t believe his opponents’ claims, but fabricating reasons to suspect that his opponents don’t even believe their own beliefs!

His “reasoning” was—you’re gonna love this—pro-lifers don’t really see abortion as a human rights issue, because if they did, they’d all oppose abortion in rape/incest/life-of-mother cases, too, and they’d also support the sex-ed and condom distribution policies Scott likes; but because they don’t, it’s really all about controlling people’s sex lives.

Of course, Scott was confronted (by me and others) with credible arguments against all of this (by the way, here’s the latest counter-example to his anti-abstinence studies), but remained “skeptical.”  Mind you, he couldn’t offer any good reasons for his skepticism, but proceeded to flaunt the nonsense anyway, as if he’d done…well, something to prove any of it or refute his opponents’ objections.  As Allahpundit once said of Dingy Harry Reid, “like a two-year-old who’s just crapped on the carpet, he’s curiously proud of it.”

(Oh, and he also demanded to know what Planned Parenthood lied about, then when I told him exactly what Planned Parenthood lied about in painstaking detail, he ignored it for a hundred-something comments.  ‘Cuz he’s such a stickler for the truth.)

But it gets better, my friends.  Oh, does it get better.

This week, abortion came up once more on Boots & Sabers.  Allow me to quote verbatim, so we can all revel in the majesty that is Scott’s madness:

If you believe—as you say you do—that a 3 month fetus is the legal and moral equivalent of a toddler, then you would either a) be storming the abortion clinic like Rambo to kill the murderous individuals who work there, or b) you’re a pathetic coward who wouldn’t risk his life to save roomfuls of innocent children from death. Of course there is a third explanation: You do know that 3 month old fetuses are not the moral and legal equivalent of you and me.

So, lemme get this straight: unless you also believe in abandoning the political process and the rule of law and killing abortion doctors, you don’t really believe in an unborn baby’s right to life.

There’s really only one way to respond to that:

Make no mistake: These aren’t sincere questions that Scott would stop asking if only someone would give him a good answer.  He’s simply displaying a common tactic of left-wing hyper-partisanship: the need to attribute the beliefs of one’s opponents, no matter how sincere or well-argued, to any sort of ulterior motive other than the stated motivation, no matter how specious the evidence.

If Scott truly believes what he’s saying, then his ideology has so fully warped his mind that his capacity for rational, objective thought is completely gone.  But I suspect he does know better.  I think it’s all propaganda: he’s supporting a heinous practice, recognizes somewhat the odiousness of his position, and will throw out whatever he can to deflect moral judgment and make the other side the villains.  Indeed, he deployed this gem of a point as a way of not answering The Family Guy, who noticed he described abortion as “sad and distasteful,” and asked the obvious follow-up: “If it’s nothing more than a lump of tissue, then why is it sad? Are you sad when you have a wart removed? It too was alive.”

Either way…pitiful.

UPDATE: As if we needed another indicator of how messed up the left-wing, pro-abortion mind is, consider the following: Scott says that because humans develop incrementally, meaning that in the period between just-conceived zygote and just-delivered newborn, increasing moral consideration should go along with increasing complexity (he also voted for a guy who had a a problem with those just-delivered newborns, but I digress).  He also says that “a 12 week pregnancy can be terminated for any reason at all.”

Okay, so at 12 weeks, it must not be very developed or person-like, huh?  I mean, it’s not like it would have any of the biggies, like a heartbeat, a fully-formed brain, or the capacity to feel pain.

Oh, wait.  It has all of those things.

Something seems to have failed rather significantly in Scott’s efforts at drawing “reasonable” distinctions.  How do you think he’d respond to that?  If you guessed “dodge & deflect,” give yourself a cookie.

Pitiful.  And monstrous.

Attention Righty Bloggers: Time to Edit Your Blogrolls

It’ll come as little surprise that John Doe of Smash Mouth Politics ain’t exactly the sharpest knife in the rack.  But, it turns out, he’s also a lying demagogue.  Nobody who would equate same-sex marriage support with PEDOPHILIA deserves the respect of anybody who claims to be a conservative or a Christian.  The crap he spews is neither.

UPDATE: A new standard in discourse: “do you wear a skirt when you whine like that?” Truly, my friends, we are witnessing a master of his craft at work.  Never before has such compelling logic and piercing insight been so succinctly packaged in such clarity!

Stay classy.

How Not to Raise Your Kids

Last week, I wrote a post for NewsReal blasting Conor Friedersdorf for his contention that teen sexting is no big deal.  In his vapid response to his critics, somebody left a comment that perfectly illustrates just how demented the liberal mind is:

Would Calvin Freiburger prefer that a 14 year old girl take off her top IN PERSON to explore her burgeoning sexuality and hormones? If I were a sane parent I’d be grateful that the only sex my kid* were having was virtual.

10 years ago the problem was “hook-ups” where your teen was expected to engage in oral sex on a first date to keep up with her peers. Obviously, that still happens, but if we get lucky, maybe sexting will replace it.

This guy comes from the starting point that his kids are inevitably going to have sex, and there’s nothing he as a parent can do about it.  Far be it from me to put any effort into raising children!  Discipline?  Discussion?  Values?  What are these words of which you speak?

Whether it’s laziness, incompetence, or a simple lack of morals, if this is your starting point, then you’re abdicating your basic responsibilities as a parent, and you are a failure.

Conservatism Must Not Abandon the Cultural Front (Updated)

My NewsReal colleague David Swindle has been debating Pajamas Media’s Mary Grabar on the subject of drug legalization.  I side with the arguments made by Grabar, Ann Coulter, and others against legalizing drugs, but I’ve honestly never cared enough about the issue to explore it in depth.

I know there’s an argument that true conservatives should recognize that arresting people for voluntary drug use goes beyond the proper role of limited government.  But y’know what?  We’ve got plenty of cases of government overreach and violated rights in this country that don’t involve destructive behavior—stolen property due to eminent domain abuses, innocent babies destroyed in the womb, politicians constantly looking for new excuses to paw through their constituents’ wallets—that frankly, the tribulations of potheads fighting for the right to light up register pretty low on my sympathy meter and priority list.

But hey, maybe the Founding Fathers really would side with the libertarians on this one.  I’ll read with open-minded interest David & Mary’s continued exchanges, but I have to strongly disagree with one of David’s assertions:

John McCain lost to Barack Obama because of politics, not culture. Obama was a more exciting candidate who ran a much more effective campaign. It’s that simple.

A conservatism that can win is one which understands itself and defines itself as a political movement, not a cultural one. To do otherwise is to begin to destroy a functioning coalition that has been vital to defending America since Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley Jr., and Ronald Reagan brought it together in the 20th century. Conservatism must take the same approach to culture as the Constitution does — neutrality. Such an attitude worked for the document which has guided and protected our country for centuries and it will work for the Movement who has the same objective.

Far be it from me to read too much into the defeat of John McCain, the poster boy for almost everything a Republican shouldn’t be.  2008 was the culmination of years of GOP incompetence and lack of principle, and for reasons completely unrelated to ideology, Barack Obama was perfectly positioned to seize upon it.

But it’s another thing entirely to assume that culture played no part in Obama’s ascendance.  A culture that worships gratification (particularly sexual) without responsibility or constraints, that believes truth is personal and relativistic rather than grounded in permanent wisdom, that has been conditioned to expect everyone else to provide for their every need and clean up after their every mistake, that sneers at traditional morality and religious belief…these trends and attitudes cannot help but play into the Left’s hands.

Simply put, a narcissistic, relativistic, secular, ignorant culture will always be receptive to a political movement that promises to give them things paid for with other people’s money, affirms their “if it feels good, do it” mentality, and assures them that supporting statism and “environmental consciousness” are the only forms of morality or compassion they’ll ever really need.

A conservatism that disregards our culture will not win; indeed, its political prospects will only diminish further still.  I grew up in a public school system completely dominated by the Left.  I have seen time after time how easily the average apolitical teen, bereft of solid core values and spoon-feed the consensus of popular culture, assumes the Left’s claims on government’s role and conservatives’ evil to be true, to say nothing of every liberal myth from man-made global warming to the military-industrial complex.

More importantly, I have seen the Right’s feeble response.  This is a battle in which the conservative movement is largely—and the Republican Party is completely—AWOL.  How many conservatives are formulating strategies to break the Left’s stranglehold on education, both K-12 and college?  How many are drawing attention to the corruption of Church teachings on compassion?  How many on Capitol Hill are challenging the Left’s poisonous sexual dogma, or publicly illustrating the connection between the Democrat Party and the cultural forces it cultivates and feeds upon?

Republican electoral failures cannot be attributed to a nonexistent emphasis on culture; indeed, it’s far more likely that our woes are intimately tied to our dereliction of duty on this front.  The same old tactics—conservatives talking to the same radio audiences, writing in the same magazines, and posting on the same blogs, all mostly to each other—will win converts to the Right from time to time, but not in numbers that can even begin to compare to how many people are unwittingly fed liberal presuppositions about the world by stealth in their schools, TV shows, music, and churches, all of which form an echo chamber, reaffirming the messages for one another.

Republican strategists tend to think short-term: what will get us back into power in the next couple election cycles? Say what you want about Democrats (Lord knows I’ve said plenty), but they see the big picture, and play for keeps.  Conservatives need to open their eyes to it, as well, and settle in for the long haul. Any real, lasting return to the conservative values of the American Founding will require comprehensive strategies and solid commitments to oppose liberal encroachments on every front.

David invoked President Reagan in his post; let me conclude by doing the same.  In his Farewell Address to the American people, Reagan said:

I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.

UPDATE: David has responded here. It seems the differences between our positions are less than they initially appeared, and I certainly agree with his central point, that the force of law is not an instrument of value enforcement.  I’ll have more thoughts later, but thanks to David for his thoughtful reply.