Dennis Prager: are evangelicals or secular leftists more irrational?

His column on National Review is the second most popular at the time I write this (Wednesday night).

Excerpt:

And as regards same-sex marriage, why is the normative Christian and Jewish belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman anti-science and anti-intellectual? What we have here is the usual left-wing tactic of smearing opponents. If you disagree with race-based affirmative action, you are a racist; disagree with the ever-expanding welfare state, you lack compassion; disagree with redefining marriage in the most radical way ever attempted in history, and you are a hater. No wonder the Left developed the foolish and destructive self-esteem movement — no one has anywhere near the self-esteem leftists have. They are certain that they are better human beings in every way than those who have the temerity to oppose them.

This Jew will take the evangelicals’ values and the evangelicals’ America over those of left-wing intellectuals any day of the year. If evangelicals come with some views I find irrational it is a tiny price to pay compared to the price humanity has paid for the Left’s consistently broken moral compass — about America; about Communism and Islamism; about the superiority of peace studies over waging war against evil; about America’s role in the world; about Israel; about the welfare state; about Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and all the other left-wing dictators the Left has celebrated; about the belief that men and women are basically the same; about the greater worth of any animal than of the unborn human; and about nearly every other major moral issue.

If these professors typify the views of Eastern Nazarene College, which is officially listed as a Christian university, it is reason for despair. Once left-wing values enter the evangelical bloodstream, there is almost no hope for America.

I’ve been noticing that a lot of the New Atheists who complain the loudest about the violent wars in the Old Testament are the same ones who line up to defend abortion – a practice that has killed over 50 million unborn children since 1973, in America alone. Not all atheists are pro-abortion, but I think they are more likely to be pro-abortion than evangelicals and conservative Jews.

It reminds me of this Wall Street Journal article from a while back, entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now”.

Excerpt:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama’s former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin’s former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener,” skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.

Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn’t. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students.

And naturally, studies show that religious people are both more generous and more likely to stay married than their secular counterparts. It’s not a cause and effect relationship, but the probabilities are suggestive. More probable than not, as Dr. Craig says.

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