A Response to 2 Secular Conservatives I Adore

In the latest edition of “The Rubin Report” podcast, two people I adore, Dave Rubin and Heather Mac Donald, dialogue about some of the great issues facing America. Interestingly, though both are secular, Dave opened the interview asking Heather about God and religion.

She began by saying that she is not conservative because of religion but because of her commitment to empirical truth. It is empirical truth that leads her to affirm, for example, “the necessity of the two-parent family” and “most traditional values.”

Heather is right that one cannot be committed to empirical truth and be a leftist (though one can be a conservative or a liberal). Left-wing assertions that men give birth; that America was founded in 1619 (when the first enslaved black was brought to the American colonies); that people can be lifted from poverty on a mass scale without capitalism; that there are no innate differences between men and women; that America is a racist nation; that women are paid less than men for the same type and amount of work because they are women; and innumerable other leftist assertions are all false.

But while a secular conservative may be committed to the two-parent family because of empirical truth, marriage and family are not “empirical truths” nearly as much as they are religious values. Few secular arguments to get married and/or have children are as compelling as religious ones. That’s why religious people are so much more likely to get married and have children.

Mac Donald said: “(P)eople who I respect enormously … whether it’s Dennis Prager or Michael Medved … are making the argument that you cannot have a moral society without a foundation of religious belief.”

That is precisely the argument nearly every founder of America made. Not all were Christ-centered Christians, but virtually every one believed that inalienable rights come from the Creator, and only from the Creator. And none (except perhaps Thomas Paine) believed that America could endure if it were to become a godless society.

Mac Donald: “Part of my resistance to this is simply I don’t find claims of petitionary prayer and the idea of a personal loving God consistent with what I see — what I call the daily massacre of the innocents. To me it’s a very hard claim to make that I should expect God to pay attention to my well-being when He’s willing to allow horrific things to happen to people far more deserving and innocent than I am. So, for me, it’s partly just a truth value. I cannot stomach what appears to me to be a patently false claim about a personal loving God.”

I agree with Heather’s premises but not with her conclusion. I have never believed that God has any reason to pay more attention to me than to any other innocent human being. And I, too, “cannot stomach” the “daily massacre of the innocents” — so much so that I have written how I find the commandment to love God the hardest commandment in the Bible.

But what I also cannot stomach is the thought of a universe in which the horrible suffering of innocents is never compensated by a good and just God: The good and the evil all die; the former receive no reward and the latter no punishment.

The problem of unjust suffering troubles every thinking believer. But the Jewish theologian Milton Steinberg offered a powerful response: “The believer in God has to account for unjust suffering; the atheist has to account for everything else.” Between the two, I would argue that the atheist’s burden is infinitely greater. And insurmountable.

Mac Donald: “(T)he idea of what started the universe — we can’t really answer that. I think to say, ‘God’ — that’s just a placeholder for ignorance. That doesn’t help.”

Maybe we really can’t answer what started the universe. But, as Charles Krauthammer, a great secular conservative, said, “The idea that this universe always existed, that it created itself ex nihilo — I mean, talk about the violation of human rationality. That, to me, is off the charts.” God, therefore, is not “just a placeholder for ignorance.” Since science can never and will never answer the question “Why is there anything?” attributing the origins of the universe to an intelligent force (which we call “God”) strikes me as the most rational explanation.

Rubin: “I might have to get you in here with Prager.”

Mac Donald: “I’d love to.”

I’d love to, too.

Mac Donald: “Where are we all headed? What is the meaning of life? To me, anybody who claims … he doesn’t find meaning in life when there is Mozart and Haydn — to invoke a Dennis Prager favorite — or Beethoven or John Milton or Aeschylus or Anthony Trollope —”

Rubin: “Or just waking up with purpose for whatever you do.”

Mac Donald: “Exactly … trying to do the best you can do. I don’t find life meaningless for one second.”

Haydn began every manuscript with the Latin words “in nomine Domini,” “in the name of the Lord,” and ended his manuscripts with the words “Lauds Deo,” “Praise be to God.” I would ask Heather and other secular conservatives: Do you or don’t you identify the steep deterioration of the arts with the death of God and religion? Is a secular society capable of achieving artistic achievement equal to that which was accomplished in tribute to God?

As for meaning, you — and I — may find meaning every day in trying to do the best we can do, or in great works of art. But, as I know you will agree, that does not mean life has any ultimate meaning. If there is no God, we are nothing more than self-conscious stellar dust. And stellar dust has no meaning.

We really need to continue this dialogue. In the meantime, for what it’s worth, I want to say to both of you, who do so much for our country, God bless you.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Last Updated: Monday, Feb 17, 2020 09:15:18 -0800




Why Private Speech Doesn’t Tell Us About a Person’s Character

Very few things I have said have elicited as much negative attention as this: What people say in private tells little, if anything, about their character. Left-wing critics have had a field day mocking me (mockery is the left’s substitute for argument), but even some religious conservatives have taken issue with me (without the mockery) — don’t I know that it is precisely how we act in private that most clearly reveals our character?

This issue, of course, originally arose as a result of what then-reality TV host Donald Trump said in private to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005. I thought then, as I do now, that people greatly overstated the importance of the remarks — because they were made in private.

In order to understand why private remarks usually mean nothing, we need to make two critical distinctions: between private and public, and between speech and actions.

Here are the four categories:

1. Private speech.

2. Private actions.

3. Public speech.

4. Public actions.

The last three are very important and, therefore, reveal a person’s character. But what we say in private is not important. Why? Because it doesn’t necessarily affect anyone (except potentially the person hearing us).

This is so obvious that it is depressing that it needs to be spelled out. It shows how small a role reason, especially moral reasoning, plays in many people’s lives. We live at a time when what people feel substitutes for thought and reason. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” case, most people feel repulsed by what Trump said, and for most of them, that suffices to determine Trump’s character.

So, then, allow me to spell this out.

Does what you say to your therapist, which is obviously in private, reveal your character? No one believes so. If a faithful married man were to tell his psychiatrist that he often fantasizes about having sex with women other than his wife — and for that matter, wishes he could grab women by their genitalia — would that reveal what type of person he is? If a woman, after years of taking care of her elderly mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, were to tell her therapist or a close friend that sometimes she wishes her mother would die, would that tell us anything about the woman’s character?

Ironically, the answer is yes — but in a completely different way than most people think. If people say something ignoble in private but don’t act on what they say, that shows good character, not bad.

To cite another example, then-President Richard Nixon was taped making private comments about his dislike of many Jews. When this was revealed, people who hated Nixon used those tapes to label Nixon an anti-Semite. But it was Richard Nixon as president who Israeli leaders credited with saving Israel during the Jewish state’s 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War) with Egypt. Two years ago, Haaretz, Israel’s leading left-wing newspaper, wrote: “Nixon stands out among presidents for taking the boldest risk for Israel: a much-needed arms airlift during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. … Preoccupied by Watergate and mired in Vietnam, and against the advice of his Jewish adviser, Nixon risked a new war with the Soviets to save Israel. Nixon ‘made it possible for Israel to win, at some risk to his own reputation and at great risk to the American economy,’ historian Stephen Ambrose said.”

A similar situation existed regarding former President Harry Truman. According to biographers David McCullough and Merle Miller, in private, Truman often used the word “kike” when talking about Jews (for example, he referred to New York City as “kike town” in a letter to his wife). That is the Jewish equivalent of the N-word, a word he also often used in private. Yet it was Truman in 1948 who, against the pleas of the entire State Department, was the first world leader to recognize the new state of Israel, and who, as president, racially integrated the U.S. armed services.

Actions (and public speech) matter, not private speech.

Maybe Truman and Nixon didn’t like Jews. As a Jew, I don’t give damn what you think about Jews. I only care about how you treat Jews. Most evangelicals believe I cannot go to heaven because I do not accept Christ. But evangelicals are not only among my closest friends; they are, by far, the Jews’ best friends today. That’s what matters to me. I don’t judge people by their theology any more than I judge people by their private statements. Fools judge people by their theology and their private statements.

One more question for those who believe private speech tells us all we need to know about a person’s character: Do thoughts tell us all we need to know? And if not, why not?

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Last Updated: Monday, Feb 10, 2020 17:40:45 -0800




The Question That Explains Almost Everything

If you want to understand a human being or the human condition, what is the single most important question you should ask?

Most religious people would probably ask, “Do you believe in God?”

The most important question most secular people, especially progressives, could imagine asking is probably a policy question. Today it would be “Do you support Donald Trump?” Otherwise it might be “Do you support abortion rights?” or “Do you support gay marriage?”

As important as all of these questions are, in attempting to understand human beings, especially large groups of human beings — i.e., their society — the most important question to ask is “What in life gives you the most meaning?”

The answer does not explain everything, of course, but it explains the human condition better than any other question.

The reason is this: After food, the greatest human need and human desire is meaning. Even more so than the ability to reason or even to speak, this is the great divide between human and animal. We share all other needs with the higher animal species and share many needs with some of the lower animal species. Like them, we need food, shelter and companionship. But, while human beings seek and need meaning more than anything except food (and companionship — but for human beings, companionship usually provides some meaning, and sometimes enough), no animal needs or seeks meaning. As an aside, this is one of the reasons I believe in God, the Creator. There is no evolutionary explanation for the need for meaning. Meaning is not a biological need.

Given its unique importance, that is why what gives us meaning must be deemed the most important question.

The problem, however, is that just as the need for food has no inherent moral quality, the need for meaning has no inherent moral quality. Meaning can be found in evil just as it can be found in good. Nazism provided millions of Germans with as much meaning as helping the dying in Calcutta provided Mother Teresa. Slaughtering infidels gives radical Islamic terrorists as much meaning as feeding the poor gives those who work for the Salvation Army. Killing the “Christ-killer” Jews gave some medieval Christians as much meaning as saving Jews gave some European Christians during the Holocaust.

For most Americans until the last generation, the need for meaning was filled by family, religion, community and patriotism (i.e., love of America and belief in America as Abraham Lincoln put it: as “the last best hope of earth.”

All, or nearly all, of those sources of meaning are being lost. In fact, the present generation of Americans has few or none of those meaning providers.

As regards family, Americans are marrying at a later age than ever before. Fewer Americans are marrying than ever before. And fewer are having children than ever before.

With regard to religion, more than a third of millennials — by far the largest percentage of any generation in American history — do not identify with any religion.

As for community, a vast number of Americans — of every age — have lost ties to any community. This is a major reason for the epidemic of loneliness that afflicts so many Americans (and so many others) at the present time. For example, The New York Times reported in 2018 that in Britain, “more than nine million people in the country often or always feel lonely, according to a 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.” Then-Prime Minister Theresa May actually appointed a minister of loneliness.

And regarding America, what is there to believe in? For more than a generation, young Americans have been taught contempt for this country: Its past is essentially racist, genocidal and imperialist. So much for patriotism.

So, then, what is to give meaning to Americans who have lost all or most of the above? Something has to, because the need for meaning is as built in and as universal as the need for food.

The answer is self-evident: Whatever it is, it must provide meaning without being dependent on family, community, religion or patriotism.

And what is that? Leftism.

All of leftism (not liberalism, which affirms all the traditional meaning providers) consists of meaning providers that replace community, religion, America and even family (single women are a major, even dominant, demographic of the left).

For leftists, feminism, environmentalism, socialism and trans rights provide meaning. The life-filling meaning of leftism is most evident in the constant leftist use of the term “existential threat.” President Donald Trump “is posing an existential threat to America,” wrote leftist Frank Rich in the latest issue of New York Magazine. “Bloomberg, in Campaign Event, Calls Trump an ‘Existential Threat,'” ABC News headlined two months ago. A Mother Jones headline two weeks ago read, “Trump Is an ‘Existential’ Threat: Ilana Glazer, Eric Holder, and 2020.” A ThinkProgress headline last July read, “The Existential Threat Trump Poses to the World Political Order Is a 2020 Campaign Issue.” The Sioux City Journal headlined last week, “Biden: Trump Represents ‘an Existential Threat to the Future of Our Country.'”

Fighting President Trump means fighting for the very existence of the world’s order and for democracy in America. What could possibly give those devoid of meaning more meaning than that?

Well, there is one other thing: fighting for the very existence of the world itself. That is the animating impulse of the left’s obsession with global warming. “(T)he world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a recent CNN town hall that the “climate crisis” is an “existential threat to the planet.” There are as many assertions of fossil fuels posing an existential threat to Earth’s survival as there are leftists (and the many liberals who fear the left).

The proof that this alleged saving of democracy and the world from extinction are nothing more than left-wing meaning givers is this: The only communities who don’t believe this continue to possess all the traditional meaning givers. We don’t need the left’s substitutes.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Last Updated: Monday, Feb 03, 2020 18:23:02 -0800




Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy? Part 2

I began part one of “Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?” with data showing the apparently unprecedentedly high rate of unhappiness among young people in America (and elsewhere, but I am focusing on America). The rates of suicide, self-injury, depression, mass shootings and loneliness (at all ages) are higher than ever recorded. It seems that Americans may have been happier, and certainly less lonely, during the Great Depression and World War II than today, even with today’s unprecedentedly high levels of health, longevity, education and material well-being.

There is, of course, no single explanation, and I listed a number of possible explanations: “Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse, and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism and income inequality. And then there are young people’s fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future.”

But I do believe that a loss of values and meaning are the two greatest sources of unhappiness.

Among the values lost are those of communal associations. As the great foreign observer of early American life Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1831, Americans’ unique strength derived largely from their participation in innumerable nongovernmental associations — professional, social, civil, political, artistic, philanthropic and, of course, religious.

But these have all dwindled as government has become ever larger. Whereas Americans got together and formed bonds of friendship through nongovernmental associations, through what organizations will Americans form friendships today? In a video presentation at its 2012 national convention, the Democratic Party offered its answer: “Government’s the only thing that we all belong to,” the narrator said.

Then there are traditional middle-class values, like getting married first and then having children. Today, a greater percentage of Americans are born to unwed mothers than ever before, and fewer people are marrying than ever before. There are, for the first time in our history, more single Americans than married Americans. While it is certainly possible to feel lonely in a marriage, people are far more likely to feel lonely without a spouse, and increasingly without children, than with a spouse and children.

And now we come to the biggest problem of all: the lack of meaning.

Aside from food, the greatest human need is meaning. I owe this insight to Viktor Frankl and his classic work “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which I first read in high school and which influenced me more than any book other than the Bible. Karl Marx saw man as primarily motivated by economics; Sigmund Freud saw man as primarily driven by the sexual drive; Charles Darwin, or at least his followers, sees us as primarily driven by biology.

But Frankl was right.

As regards economics, poor people who have meaning can be happy, but wealthy people who lack meaning cannot be.

As regards sex, people who do not have a sexual life (such as priests, who keep their vow of chastity; many widowed and divorced older people; and others) but have meaning can be happy. Sexually active people who do not have meaning cannot be.

As regards biology, there is no evolutionary explanation for the need for meaning. Every creature except the human being does fine without meaning.

And nothing has given Americans — or any other people, for that matter — as much meaning as religion. But since World War II, God and religion have been relegated to the dustbin of history.

The result?

More than a third of Americans born after 1980 affiliate with no religion. This is unprecedented in American history; until this generation, the vast majority of Americans have been religious.

Maybe, just maybe, the death of religion — the greatest provider of meaning, while certainly not the only — is the single biggest factor in the increasing sadness and loneliness among Americans (and so many others). A 2016 study published in the American Medical Association JAMA Psychiatry journal found that American women who attended a religious service at least once a week were five times less likely to commit suicide. Common sense suggests the same is true of men.

The bottom line: The reason so many young people are depressed, unhappy and angry is the left has told them that God and Judeo-Christian religions are nonsense; their country is largely evil; their past is deplorable; and their future is hopeless.

That seems to be a major reason, if not the reason, for so much unhappiness: not capitalism, not inequality, not patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia or xenophobia but rather having no religion, no God, no spouse, no community, no country to believe in and, ultimately, no meaning. That explains much of the unprecedented unhappiness.

And it explains the widespread adoption of that secular substitute for traditional religion: leftism. But unlike Judaism and Christianity, leftism does not bring its adherents happiness.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Last Updated: Monday, Jan 27, 2020 17:45:28 -0800




Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?

Here are some unhappy statistics:

— In America between 1946 and 2006, the suicide rate quadrupled for males ages 15 to 24 and doubled for females the same age.

— In 1950, the suicide rate per 100,000 Americans was 11.4. In 2017, it was 14.

— According to Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, in the 1980s, there were 32 mass public shootings (which he defines as incidents in which four or more people are killed publicly with guns within 24 hours). In the 1990s, there were 42. In the first decade of this century, there were 28. In all the 1950s, when there were fewer controls on guns, there was one. Fifty years before that, in the 1900s, there were none.

— Reuters Health reported in 2019, “Suicidal thinking, severe depression and rates of self-injury among U.S. college students more than doubled over less than a decade, a nationwide study suggests.” The study co-author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said, “It suggests that something is seriously wrong in the lives of young people.”

This data is not only applicable to Americans. As social commentator Kay Hymowitz wrote in City Journal in 2019: “Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. … Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians — the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report — are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness.’ … consider Japan, a country now in the throes of an epidemic of kodokushi, roughly translated as ‘lonely deaths.’ Local Japanese papers regularly publish stories about kinless elderly whose deaths go unnoticed until the telltale smell of maggot-eaten flesh alerts neighbors.”

Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they — especially young people — are unhappier than at any time since data collection began.

Why has this happened?

There are any number of reasons. Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse, and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism and income inequality. And then there are young people’s fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future.

But the biggest reason may be the almost-complete loss of values and meaning over the last half-century.

Let’s begin with values.

America — and much of the rest of the West, but I will confine my discussion to America — was founded on two sets of values: Judeo-Christian and American. This combination created the freest, most opportunity-giving, most affluent country in world history. This is not chauvinism. It is fact. And it was regarded as such throughout the world. That is why France gave America — and only America — the Statue of Liberty. That’s why people from every country on Earth so wanted to immigrate to America — and still do.

Chief among American values was keeping government as small as possible. This enabled nongovernmental institutions — Kiwanis International, Rotary International and Lions Clubs International; book clubs; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; bowling leagues; music societies; and, of course, churches — to provide Americans with friends and to provide the neediest Americans with help. But as government has gotten ever larger, many of these nongovernmental groups have dwindled in number or simply disappeared.

Another set of values is what is referred to as “middle-class” or “bourgeois” values. These include getting married before one has a child; making a family; getting a job so as to be self-sustaining and sustain one’s family; self-discipline; delayed gratification; and patriotism.

All of these have been under attack by America’s elites, with the following results:

One in 5 young Americans has no contact with his or her father (not including fathers who have died).

In 2011, 72% of black children were born to unmarried mothers. In 1965, it was 24%. In 2012, 29% of white children were born to unmarried women. In 1965, it was 3.1%.

The majority of births to millennials are to unmarried women. Yet, according to a 2018 Cigna study, single parents are generally the loneliest Americans.

Marriage and family are the single greatest sources of happiness for most people. Yet, the percentage of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. More Americans than ever will not get married, or they will marry so late they will not have children. In 1960, 9% of blacks ages 25 and older had never been married. In 2012, it was nearly 40%.

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest problem: the loss of meaning in young people’s lives. I will discuss that in part two.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Last Updated: Monday, Jan 20, 2020 07:21:38 -0800