Conservative champion Dennis Prager made a powerful case for the compatibility of faith and reason Wednesday, insisting that God is the creator of reason and expects humans to use it.
Speaking on the radio with Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow, Mr. Prager said that his own “vehicle to God and the Bible is reason, and I believe that God wants us to use reason.”
“I had a tough time at religious school when something was not rational. I couldn’t handle it,” he said. “Why would God, the creator of reason, ask us to suspend reason? Even as a child, it never made sense to me.”
“My most heretical belief is that God has common sense,” he said. “Because too many religious people portray a God who doesn’t have common sense.”
Prager is currently engaged in a massive new five-volume book project called The Rational Bible, and discussed with Alex Marlow the recently published first installment in the series, titled Exodus: God, Slavery, Freedom.
Prager said that this project is the most important thing he has ever done, both because the Bible is the source of his own values and ideas as an orthodox Jew, but also because of the importance of the text for the future of the country.
“The biggest reason by far is that if we don’t reassert the centrality of the Bible as the wisdom text in American life, America is over,” Prager said, “not because God will punish us but that we will have punished ourselves by depriving ourselves of this wisdom.”
To remove the Bible and its wisdom from the heart of American culture is an exercise in self-annihilation, he suggested, as life on modern college campuses attests.
“We live in an anti-wisdom culture and the single stupidest place is the university,” he said. “I say that not as an insult but as a description.”
“Idiocy is common on our college campuses and there is a reason. The campus is the most God-free, Bible-free arena in American life and that produces stupidity,” he added.
The removal of the Bible from American culture is a recent phenomenon, Prager said, but one that is already wreaking havoc in U.S. society.
“It was understood until the mid-twentieth century that the Bible was your source of wisdom and now people’s sources of wisdom are the New York Times and the like, which are very, very foolish places,” he said.
“If we don’t reassert the greatness of this book, we’re doomed,” he concluded.
The first five books of the Bible—which constitute the Torah or the Books of Moses—are foundational for the entire biblical text, he said, which is why he chose them as the topic of his project.
“One can imagine the Bible without Jeremiah, without Judges, but not without Genesis or Exodus; it’s inconceivable,” he said. “Everything basic is there.”
Prager told Marlow that he started with the book of Exodus fundamentally because it contains the Ten Commandments, “and my argument is that if the world just lived by the Ten Commandments we would be living a heavenly, paradisiacal existence. It’s all people really need.”
According to Prager, the Bible is not only powerfully relevant to today’s issues, but completely consistent with rational thought. It is meant for everyone and contains a wisdom which is evident to a rational mind.
“There’s a line in Deuteronomy that says you shall keep these laws because they are wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations,” he said, referring to Deut. 4:6. “If what you are doing doesn’t make sense to the nations, then it’s a worthless project.”
“This is God speaking,” he said.
Prager said that he knows no other way to appeal to the modern mind other than by using reason. “So, for me selfishly and my readers, that’s my one vehicle,” he said.
“Above all, I want to change the reader’s life. If I don’t, I have failed in my project,” he said.
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