Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Why the Left Mocks the Bible

Dennis Prager
At PragerU, we have released about 400 videos on virtually every subject outside of the natural sciences and math. Along with 2 billion views, the videos have garnered tens of thousands of comments. So we have a pretty good handle on what people most love and most hate. For example, any video defending America or Israel inevitably receives many negative responses. But no videos elicit the amount of contempt and mockery that videos defending religion, explaining the Bible or arguing for God do.

Why is that?

There is a good reason. The Bible and the left (not liberalism, leftism) are as opposed as any two worldviews can be. While there are people who claim to hold both a Bible-based worldview and left-wing views, these people are few in number. Moreover, what they do is take left-wing positions and wrap them in a few Bible verses. But on virtually every important value in life, the left and the Bible are diametrically opposed.

Here are a few examples:

The biblical view is that people are not basically good. Evil therefore comes from within human nature. For the left, human nature is not the source of evil. Capitalism, patriarchy, poverty, religion, nationalism or some other external cause is the source of evil.

The biblical view is that nature was created for man. The left-wing view is that man is just another part of nature.

The biblical view is that man is created in the image of God and, therefore, formed with a transcendent, immaterial soul. The left-wing view — indeed, the view of all secular ideologies — is that man is purely material, another assemblage of stellar dust.

The biblical view is that the human being has free will. The left-wing view — again, the view of all secular outlooks — is that human beings have no free will. Everything we do is determined by environment, genes and the matter of which we are composed. Firing neurons, not free will, explain both murders and kindness.

The biblical view is that while reason alone can lead a person to conclude murder is wrong, murder is ultimately and objectively wrong only because there is a transcendent source of right and wrong — God — who deems murder evil.

The biblical view is that God made order out of chaos. Order is defined by distinctions. One such example is male and female — the only inherent human distinction that matters to God. There are no racial or ethnic distinctions in God’s order; there is only the human sex distinction. The left loathes this concept of a divine order. That is the primary driver of its current attempt to obliterate the male-female distinction.

The biblical view is that the nuclear family is the basic unit of society — a married father and mother and their children. This is the biblical ideal. All good people of faith recognize that the reality of this world is such that many people do not or cannot live that ideal. And such people often merit our support. But that does not change the fact that the nuclear family is the one best-suited to create thriving individuals and a healthy society, and we who take the Bible seriously must continue to advocate the ideal family structure as the Bible defines it. And for that, perhaps more than anything, we are mocked.

The biblical view holds that wisdom begins with acknowledging God. The secular view is that is that God is unnecessary for wisdom, and the left-wing view is that God is destructive to wisdom. But if you want to know which view is more accurate, look at the most godless and Bible-less institution in our society: the universities. They are, without competition, the most foolish institutions in our society.

For nearly all of American history, the Bible was the most important book in America. It is no longer. This is a moral and intellectual catastrophe. If you want to understand why, consider reading “The Rational Bible,” my commentary on the first five books of the Bible. The second volume of “The Rational Bible,” “Genesis,” is published today.


Nikki Haley on The Ben Shapiro Show: UN Is ‘Wasteful,’ ‘Bureaucratic,’ a ‘Lot of Talk’

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration Nikki Haley on "The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special" Episode 49 with host Ben Shapiro. (Screenshot)
When asked about the efficacy of the United Nations during a segment of “The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special” on Sunday with host Ben Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the U.N. is “wasteful,” “bureaucratic,” a “lot of talk.”

“It’s wasteful; it’s bureaucratic; it’s a lot of talk and not as much action,” stated former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. “There’s resentment. We’re being taken advantage of, but we would not have gotten those three North Korean sanctions packages and had the international community all on the same page against North Korea without the U.N.”

Below is a transcript in pertinent part of former U.S. Ambassador  to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s comments on the efficacy of the U.N.:

Ben Shapiro: “So, what is your, after having served at the U.N., what’s your overall view of the U.N.? So, I’ve been vocally anti-U.N. for as long as I can possibly remember. I have recommended that the building be torn down and that President Trump build condos on top of it. You’ve served there. What is the— Do you think there’s a purpose to the U.N.? Do you think it’s a useful organization? What should the U.S.’s involvement in the U.N. be?”

Nikki Haley: “The president actually asked me a year in. He said, ‘What do you think of the U.N.? Should we stay in?’

“And I said, this is the thing: It’s wasteful; it’s bureaucratic; it’s a lot of talk and not as much action. There’s resentment. We’re being taken advantage of, but we would not have gotten those three North Korean sanctions packages and had the international community all on the same page against North Korea without the U.N.

“So, I think the American people are going to decide. I don’t know that I’ve decided yet.

“But the U.N. has to really— We pushed some really big reforms. In the first year we were able to cut $1.3 billion, immediately. That was just low hanging fruit. When people see the big U.N. building, they think ambassadors are in there. That’s just staff. You have thousands of people that work in that building, and it’s all because countries want their people in there. The staff has doubled in the last ten years. That’s how ridiculous it is. The reforms were happening. We did work with the secretary general. It was starting, but it’s got a long way to go.

“And the U.N., more importantly, has to change with the times. They can’t keep talking about old issues they’ve always wanted to talk about. They have to take on issues like Venezuela, which they didn’t want to do. They have to take on those issues with Iran and call it out the way it is. In any way for them to continue to be relevant, they have to do what’s uncomfortable to do, and I don’t know if they’re willing to do that.”


Let Kids Be Kids Again: Their Future Depends on It

The kids are most certainly not alright. And as many of America’s employers are now finding out, this means that many junior employees are not doing so well either. New research details how rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders are drastically rising among America’s youth. Identifying the causes of these troubling trends and acting quickly to reverse them should be a national priority, and fortunately, there are ways to work toward that goal.

The scale of the current mental health crisis among American teenagers and young adults alone should be reason enough to immediately take up this challenge. Analyzing results from a recent national survey administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, San Diego State University Professor of Psychology, Jean Twenge describes the findings:

From 2009 to 2017, major depression among 20- to 21-year-olds more than doubled, rising from 7 percent to 15 percent. Depression surged 69 percent among 16- to 17-year-olds. Serious psychological distress, which includes feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, jumped 71 percent among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2008 to 2017. Twice as many 22- to 23-year-olds attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 2008, and 55 percent more had suicidal thoughts.

Many of these struggling young adults are still in high school or college, but, if they haven’t already, they will soon join a labor market that has been deeply affected by technology and increasing globalization. Researchers exploring how today’s workers are coping with the ambiguity that is now the hallmark of large portions of modern employment, found that “Younger workers show less capacity to cope with ambiguity than older workers.” Furthermore, the researchers explain that, “Generations Y [Millennials] and Z express just as much desire for novel, challenging work as older workers. But they lack the skills and confidence required to manage uncertainty when it occurs, and are more likely to become anxious.”

Employers are struggling to adapt to that more anxious young workforce. The Society for Human Resources Management explains how this trend has turned many HR professionals into de facto counselors. Some are recommending that companies begin looking for ways to hire professional therapists to deal with the influx depressed or anxious young workers. Companies like DuPont and the Price Waterhouse Cooper’s United Kingdom office have even implemented changes aimed at boosting the mental health of their employees.

While the causes of these worrying trends can be difficult to pin down, many researchers point to the effect of social media in reshaping the way kids interact with one another. Some experts, like authors of The Coddling of the American Mind Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, have suggested that the rise in overprotective or “helicopter” parenting has played a significant role and has left a generation without the opportunity to build the skills they need to become resilient authors of their own lives. Whether it results from a misplaced hyper-emphasis on child safety or the desire to make sure kids have their schedules filled with all the right activities to ensure their entrance into a top university someday, kids have far fewer opportunities to engage in unsupervised or unstructured play time. The rise of so-called “snowplow parents,” parents who constantly clear obstacles for their children to spare them from frustration, disappointment, or even challenges, are depriving them of the opportunity to build important skills necessary to succeed later in life.

Ensuring that kids have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to handle uncertainty starts early. Allowing kids enough independence to tackle new challenges, confront increasingly difficult obstacles, and even allowing them to fail and learn from those failures are crucial components in shaping kids into resilient teenagers and adults. Perhaps even more important is the essential role of unsupervised play, an increasingly rare phenomenon, in childhood development. Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Fellow at LetGrow, Peter Gray puts it this way:

When children play independently of adults they learn how to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, create and enforce rules, negotiate differences, and maintain the peace and order necessary for the play to proceed. These are extraordinarily important skills, which cannot be taught but can only be learned through experience, and the best experience for learning these skills comes from play with other children, away from adults.

In addition to likely helping kids stay mentally healthy as they get older, the same skills they learn from unsupervised free play are also increasingly valued in the modern labor market. Psychologist Angela Duckworth famously documented the importance of “grit” in a child’s future academic and career success in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. For years, researchers such as Nobel Laureate and University of Chicago Economist James Heckman, have emphasized the role of “soft skills” in academic, career, and life success. Broadly categorized as a broad set of skills, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and personal qualities, soft skills enable people to effectively navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals. Soft skills also include characteristics like motivation and socio-emotional regulation, the exact kinds of skills that kids learn when engaging in unsupervised free play.

As automation and globalization continue to change the labor market, the premium for soft skills is only likely to get more significant. David Deming, a Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has documented how over the past several decades, the jobs requiring high levels of social interaction have grown significantly as a share of the U.S. labor force. Deming notes, “Between 1980 and 2012, jobs requiring high levels of social interaction grew by nearly 12 percentage points as a share of the U.S. labor force. … Employment and wage growth were particularly strong for jobs requiring high levels of both math skill and social skills.”

Building these skills starts early and, although shifting the culture to help support the development of these skills is a daunting task, it is made nearly impossible by the existence of laws that prohibit parents from granting even mature kids the opportunities to spend some time unsupervised. Parents across the country are (rightfully) concerned about bumping up against laws that treat an unsupervised child as one who is being neglected. Laws vary by state, but there are countless disheartening stories of parents being arrested or otherwise confronted by law enforcement for allowing their kids a bit of unsupervised time.

Fortunately, some states are taking the lead on creating an environment in which parents can give their kids the independence they need to grow. In 2018, Utah adopted the first “free-range parenting” law, which is meant to help foster self-sufficiency among kids by allowing parents to give kids the ability to participate in independent activities. With such a law on the books, parents don’t need to be worried about being arrested for neglect just for granting their kids some independence, such as allowing them to walk to and from the park by themselves. Although Utah is the only state (so far) with such a law on the books, South Carolina and Connecticut are also considering protecting parents with similar laws.

Although passing legislation to protect parents who are interested in giving their kids the chance to build soft skills and become more resilient by granting them some independence is urgently needed, it will not be enough to ensure kids are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in life. Reversing the shocking trends in mental health among teenagers and young adults will require a cultural shift beyond what public policy can reasonably achieve. An ongoing and concerted effort will be required, and resources like those offered by LetGrow and from experts like Haidt and Lukianoff can help communities guide their efforts. Ultimately it will be up to parents though, and every parent has the opportunity to play a role in changing the culture to better prepare kids for a successful future.


Democratic society under attack from the Left

The dismal decade of Australian politics was defined by revolving-door prime ministers, loss of public faith in the political system and the rise of minor parties riding an anti-establishment wave.

Optimists believed the time of troubles was transient. It would give way to a new era on condition that political-media elites recovered respect for the inviolable principles of liberal democracy including freedom of speech, public reason, majority rule and loyal opposition. But the election campaign has exposed the fragile state of Australian democracy. The dismal decade may have ended, but the foundations of our democratic culture are under assault.

Democracy is both a form of government and a type of society. A liberal democratic culture is one in which citizens are taught to respect the mutual obligations that give rise to free society. They include recognition of the inherent worth of each person, equality before the law, freedom of thought and speech, freedom of religion and respect for private property. Civil society is sustained by accountable government, apolitical public institutions, the separation of church and state, and the principle of no (physical) harm. The cornerstone of democratic culture is public reason.

During the course of the election campaign, Australian democracy has come under siege from illiberal enemies within. Militant incivility is the order of the day. To date, most violence has issued from the green-left. Activists are using a range of tactics to silence dissent. Liberal MP Andrew Hastie’s bus was set alight. Greens supporter Amber Holt was charged with assault after allegedly attacking the Prime Minister. Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi reported a Greens representative had physically assaulted a female volunteer in ­Adelaide.

The man allegedly grabbed the conservative woman after she walked away from him following “a forthright discussion” at a pre-polling booth.

Conservative women have suffered intimidation, harassment and assault during the election campaign. Paul Bunney, a volunteer for the Centre Alliance, was charged with stalking Liberal candidate Georgina Downer. Bunney was a campaign volunteer for rival candidate Rebekha Sharkie and had links to hard Left group GetUp. He denies the charge.

Liberal member for Boothby Nicolle Flint reportedly filed a complaint of stalking. Police have cautioned David Walsh, leader of Adelaide’s City of Mitcham Residents Group. He denies wrong­doing. Former Mitcham mayor Glenn Spear supports Flint. Flint was targeted by GetUp earlier in the year. The group called her South Australia’s “most backwards politician”. It planned an event for the purpose of “removing her from parliament”.

Jewish politicians have been subjected to anti-Semitic attacks during the campaign. Posters of Liberal MP Julian Leeser were defaced with dollar signs. Leeser recognised the graffiti as a reference to “old anti-Semitic lies of an international Jewish banking conspiracy; that Jews control the world’s money supply. These sentiments were used by Nazis and others who have sought to spread hatred of Jews for centuries”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released a statement after a billboard for his campaign in the seat of Kooyong was vandalised with Nazi symbols. He used the anti-Semitic incident to encourage civility in public debate and remind people that “mutual respect is at the heart of a good society”.

However, there was little respect for Liberal candidate Jacinta Price after a Greens candidate used racist abuse against her. Greens leader Richard Di Natale supported George Hanna after he shared a Facebook meme that smeared Price with the racist term “coconut”.

Price is a Warlpiri-Celtic woman who rejects the politics of victimhood and cultural relativism. She embraces rational deliberation, women’s empowerment and the secular state. As such, she is anathema to the hard Left.

Price is not in the habit of taking abuse lying down. She rebuked the Greens: “To say that I’m black on the outside and white on the inside is to say that being white is something lesser. It’s a put-down based on race … just like any other slur based on race.”

The Labor leadership is also demonstrating a disturbing degree of contempt for democratic culture. In a previous column, I described Bill Shorten’s vicious smearing of climate economist Brian Fisher. After green activist Simon Holmes a Court posted Fisher’s residential address online, his home was attacked.

Last week, Labor senator Penny Wong violated the principle of loyal opposition when she refused to shake hands with Liberal senator Simon Birmingham after a discussion on Sky News. Yet a CNN article lavished praise on her and former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said: “She’s a role model for many people in Australian society who want to see a different face to our public life and our public institutions.” For other Australians, substance matters more than skin colour.

Labor and the Greens support the state censorship of politically incorrect thought. Shorten has become deeply hostile to critical questions from journalists. He has indicated his intention to target media critical of him while pledging more money for the comrades in the Left press. He is no friend of public reason.

The Shorten Labor Party is poised to attack the foundations of free society.

Do not reward a politician who fails to defend freedom of speech, universal equality and accountable government. To hand illiberal men the reins of democracy is to cast pearls before swine.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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