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Tuesday, January 4, 2005
Better answers: The case for Judeo-Christian values
By Dennis Prager
Posted: January 4, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
With this first column of 2005, I inaugurate a periodic series of columns devoted to explaining and making the case for what are called Judeo-Christian values.
There is an epic battle taking place in the world over what value system humanity will embrace. There are essentially three competitors: European secularism, American Judeo-Christianity and Islam. I have described this battle in previous columns.
Now, it is time to make the case for Judeo-Christian, specifically biblical, values. I believe they are the finest set of values to guide the lives of both individuals and societies. Unfortunately, they are rarely rationally explained – even among Jewish and Christian believers, let alone to nonbelievers and members of other faiths.
So this is the beginning of an admittedly ambitious project. Vast numbers of people are profoundly disoriented as to what is good and what is bad. Just to give one example: Take the moral confusion over the comparative worth of human and animal life.
The majority of American students I have asked since 1970 whether they would save their dog or a stranger have voted against the stranger.
A Tucson, Ariz., woman in late 2004 sent firefighters into her burning home telling them that her three babies were inside. The babies for whom the firemen risked their lives were the woman’s three cats.
The best known animal-rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, funded by the best educated in our society, has launched an international campaign titled “Holocaust on your plate,” which equates the barbecuing of millions of chickens with the cremating of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. To PETA and its supporters, there is no difference between chicken life and human life.
Only a very morally confused age could produce so many people who do not recognize the immeasurable distance between human and animal worth. We live in that age.
We do in large measure because values based on God and the Bible have been replaced by secular values. The result was predicted by the British thinker G.K. Chesterton at the turn of the 20th century: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything.”
Yes, the moral record of Christian Europe is a mixed one – especially vis a vis its one, continuous religious minority – Jews. And one has to be quite naive to believe that belief in God and the Bible guarantees moral clarity, let alone moral behavior.
But Chesterton was right. The collapse of Christianity in Europe led to the horrors of Nazism and communism. And to the moral confusions of the present – such as the moral equation of the free United States with the totalitarian Soviet Union, or of life-loving Israel with its death-loving enemies.
The oft-cited charge that religion has led to more wars and evil than anything else is a widely believed lie. Secular successors to Christianity have slaughtered and enslaved more people than all religions in history (though significant elements within a non-Judeo-Christian religion – Islam – slaughter and enslave today, and if not stopped in Sudan and elsewhere could match Nazism or communism).