There are four primary reasons fewer and fewer people in America and the West take God, the Bible or religion seriously.
1. The belief that science disproves religion.
2. The belief that reason and feelings supplant God and the Bible as the only necessary vehicles to morality.
3. The “progressive” ideologies of at least 100 years that seek to replace religion.
4. The failure of religious people to convince the next generation to be religious.
As I have dealt with the first three reasons on many occasions, I will only note that it should be obvious to any rational person that the first three reasons are … irrational.
First, scientific discoveries increasingly argue for a God-Creator, not against one. The odds against life, let alone intellectual life, are so staggering that atheist scientists are now positing the nonsensical, let alone non-provable, idea of a “multiverse.”
Second, our post Judeo-Christian world has produced the most irrational era in modern Western history. A society nearly all of whose intellectual elite believes that men give birth; that sex is not binary; that children should decide whether they are a boy, a girl or “neither”; that fewer police means less crime; that to aspire to be colorblind is racist, which proves the thesis (attributed to G.K. Chesterton) that when men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.
Which brings us to the third reason for the demise of religion — secular progressive ideologies have replaced religious ideologies. Marxism, socialism, feminism, environmentalism — these are secular religions, and they have caused the moral and intellectual chaos of the modern age.
Let us now address the failure of the religious world to preserve itself.
One reason is that most religious people — Jews, Catholics and Protestants — didn’t think they had to make the case for their religion. They assumed that their children would carry on their religious traditions. They thought, “We go to church/synagogue every week, so will our children. We believe in God and the Bible, so will our children.”
They were obviously wrong. But even if they understood the need to make the case for their religion, most religious Jews and Christians didn’t know how to do so.
That brings us to the issue of making the case for God, the Bible and religion.
My preferred three ways of doing so are:
1. Make reason-based arguments.
2. Concentrate on explaining the necessity of God rather than talking about belief in God.
3. Provide an emotionally moving religious environment.
I know these methods work because that is what I have done all of my adult life. I believe that I have brought more people to belief in God, to taking the Bible seriously, to Jews embracing Judaism, and to others embracing Christianity than perhaps any other living Jew or Christian. I do not say this to brag. I say this to give my credentials for the arguments I am offering here.
For generations, the non-religious and anti-religious — the people who have come to dominate our schools and universities, the news media, the entertainment media and the social media — have argued that if one is rational, one cannot take religion seriously.
And most religious individuals and institutions have implicitly agreed. By not providing rational arguments for God, the Bible and religion (all three are necessary), they conceded the secular world’s argument that reason argues for secularism. That is why I have titled my Bible commentary “The Rational Bible.” I offer reason-based — not faith-based — arguments and explanations for the moral greatness and the incomparable wisdom of the Bible, specifically the subject of my commentaries, the first five books of the Bible (the Torah), the foundation of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. It is not coincidental that the Founders of the greatest country ever created — America — engraved a verse from Leviticus on the Liberty Bell and cited Deuteronomy more than any other book, secular or religious.
In addition, I have rarely made the argument for God’s existence. I have almost exclusively argued for the necessity of God (the God of the Bible, not just God). The reason is that even when people come to believe there is a God, this belief often has no moral or religious significance. Most people who say they believe in God do not believe in the Bible or even in the God of the Bible. They believe that there is Something Out There, but this Something is rarely the morality-teaching, morally demanding and morally judging God of the Bible.
I have also shown people why, on purely rational grounds, without the God of the Bible, there is no objective good and evil, since without the biblical God, “good” and “evil” are purely subjective personal or societal opinions. And I have shown that without the God of the Bible, our lives and all human life have no ultimate significance, that our lives have no more ultimate meaning than some rock on some planet.
I ask most religious and conservative people I meet if they have children. And if they do, how many of them share their religious and/or social values. In general, about a third of their children do. The pain in parents whose children have rejected their religion and/or social values is profound. The one consolation I can offer them is that if they have grandchildren, they can try to influence them. But they can only do so if they talk to them about God and the Bible in a rationally compelling way. Combined with the special love grandchildren often have for their grandparents, this can work.
If that doesn’t work, we have lost America and the West.
John Adams wrote that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” He could have easily written “for a moral and reasoning” people. Or “for a moral and forward-thinking” people. But he didn’t. He knew the whole experiment rested on God. It still does.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Deuteronomy, the third volume of “The Rational Bible,” his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, was published in October.