Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why God Isn't Doing Well These Days

Why God Isn't Doing Well These Days
By Dennis Prager

God is not doing very well these days.

Here are four reasons:

The first is that increasingly large numbers of men and women attend university, and Western universities have become essentially secular (and leftist) seminaries. Just as the agenda of traditional Christian and Jewish seminaries is to produce religious Christians and religious Jews, the agenda of Western universities is to produce (left-wing) secularists. The difference is that Christian and Jewish seminaries are honest about their agenda, while the universities still claim they have neither secularist nor political agenda.

That is why the more university education a person receives, the more he is likely to hold secular and left-wing views. The secular left argues that this correlation is due to the fact that a college graduate knows more and thinks more clearly and therefore gravitates leftward and toward secularism. But if you believe that the average college graduate is a clear and knowledgeable thinker as a result of his or her time at university, I have more than one bridge to sell you.

A radio talk show host for 29 years, I long ago began asking callers who made foolish comments what graduate school they attended. It takes higher education to learn to believe that America and Israel are villains, that men and women have essentially the same natures, that human nature is good, that ever-larger governments create wealth, etc.

A second reason God is not doing well among Westerners these days is that many members of the Jewish and Christian clergy decided that their primary role was not to advocate their religion's moral and religious standards, but rather (1) to make congregants comfortable ("Don't call me 'Pastor,' Rabbi' or Father'; call me Jerry") and (2) to promulgate the values they learned at their secular left-wing universities.

A third reason God is not doing well is that most of the men and women who are products of this secular left-wing education (meaning a large majority of Western men and women) are theologically, intellectually and emotionally ill prepared to deal with all the unjust suffering in the world. I will never forget a Swedish pastor's reaction to the 1994 capsizing of the Estonia, a ferry that sank in the Baltic between Estonia and Sweden, leaving 852 passengers and crew dead. He said he could not believe in a God who allowed such injustice to take place.

This pastor spoke for vast numbers of modern Western men and women. The existence of so much unjust suffering in the world has strongly contributed to their rejecting belief in God. And undoubtedly, the devastation caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami has further reinforced many individuals' rejection of God.

Of course, none of us has a fully coherent solution to the problem of theodicy. But the problem is not exactly new -- every great religion has dealt with it, and most of the brilliant minds in history retained their faith in God despite all the unjust suffering they saw.

The difference today is that life has been so good for most Westerners that suffering is no longer regarded as part of life, but as an aberration that can be done away with. Meanwhile, the liberal wings of Christianity and Judaism are too influenced by secularism to make an effective religious case for God, whom the religious left has largely rendered a celestial buddy.

The fourth reason is Islamic violence and the tepid response to it by the liberal churches and synagogues. It would seem pretty clear that a major, albeit almost never acknowledged, reason for the huge audiences for recent books advocating atheism has been the massive amount of evil in God's name committed by radical Muslims. Nothing creates atheism as much as evil done in God's name.

That is why the pathetically weak responses from within mainstream, i.e., liberal, Christianity and Judaism have only added to the contempt for God and religion sown by beheadings and suicide bombings in Allah's name. The liberal Christian and Jewish responses have been to attack fellow Christians and Jews who have focused on Islamist terror. Instead of drawing attention to the damage radical Islam does to the name of God, liberal Christians and Jews focus their anger on co-religionists who do speak out on this issue and label them "Islamophobes."

That God is not doing well in the Western world may trouble God. But it is we humans who should be most troubled. The moral, intellectual, artistic and demographic decline in Western Europe (secular countries don't even have the will to reproduce themselves) is only gaining momentum. And the consequences of that decline will be far more devastating than all the tsunamis and all the earthquakes that may come our way.
The Other Tsunami
By Dennis Prager

It is very difficult to hate babies.

It takes a special person.

As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a degree of evil that few humans -- even among murderers -- can relate to.

That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it received.

Normally, Palestinian atrocities get little attention -- certainly far less attention than Israeli apartment-building on the West Bank receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit Japan.

On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish settlement, entered a home and stabbed the father, the mother and three of their children to death: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a three-month-old baby.

In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo a few weeks ago. It was reported that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the men kept shouting, "Jew, Jew!"

The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim and some of the non-Arab Muslim world today (such as Iran), "Jew" is not a person. "Jew" is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no parallel on Earth to what "Jew" means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Think of any conflict in the world -- Pakistan-India, China-Tibet, North Korea-South Korea, Tamil-Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is there something equivalent to what "Jew" means to millions of Muslims.

There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved the word "Jew." The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the word "Jew." Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to murder Jewish babies and children -- often through as cruel a means as possible (being burned alive, buried alive or thrown up in the air and impaled on bayonets) -- as it was to murder Jewish adults.

The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.

But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.

That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word "Jew." To them, the Jew is not just sub-human; the Jew -- and his or her children -- is sub-animal.

Palestinian and other Muslim spokesmen and their supporters on the left argue that this unique hatred is the fruit of Israeli policies, not decades of Nazi-like Jew-hatred saturating Islamic education, television, radio and the mosque. But for this to be true, unique hatred would have to be matched by unique evil on the Israelis' part.

Yet, among the injustices of the world, what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians would not even register on a moral Richter scale. The creation of Israel engendered about 750,000 Palestinian refugees (and an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and the death of perhaps 10 thousand Palestinian Arabs. And all of that came about solely because Arab armies invaded Israel in order to destroy it at birth. Yet, when Pakistan was yanked from India and established as a Muslim state at the very same time Israel was established, that act engendered 12.5 million Muslim refugees and about a million dead Muslims (and similar numbers of Hindu refugees and deaths). Why then doesn't "Hindu" equal "Jew" in the Muslim lexicon of hate?

Here are some answers in brief:

First, many groups have been hated, but none have been hated as deeply as the Jews.

Second, Jew-hatred is often exterminationist, which is why Jew-hatred has little in common with ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance or even racism. Rarely, if ever, do any of them seek the extermination of the disliked or hated group.

Third, exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people. Non-Jews who do not recognize Jew-hatred as the moral cancer it is are fools. Nazism was born in Jew-hatred and led to the death of more than 40 million non-Jews. Islamic terror started against Israeli Jews but has spread around the world. More fellow Muslims have now been murdered by Islamic terror than Jews have.

That is why the tsunami the world ignored this weekend -- the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim flood of Jew-hatred -- is the one that will prove far more dangerous to it than the Japanese one it understandably focused on.

To read another article by Dennis Prager, click here.

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