The latest effort from radio show host and best-selling author Dennis Prager’s virtual “Prager University” is a course titled “God or Atheism -- Which is more rational?” If you’re not familiar with Prager U, the concept is simple: five-minute “lectures” from leading minds around the country on topics relating to their area of expertise. The faculty thus far includes such formidable names as historian Paul Johnson, economist Walter E. Williams, and former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar.
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is the instructor for the new “God or Atheism” course and in it presents a case for why belief in a Higher Power is not as irrational as many in the academic world and entertainment industry would have us believe. Professor Kreeft opens his argument by citing the first “way” in Thomas Aquinas’ “Five Ways” to prove God’s existence -- The Argument from Motion. He goes on to talk about the “first cause” of things and how, before the Big Bang Theory was verified by scientists, many in the secular camp claimed that such a theory was nothing more than “Creationism in disguise.” But if there was a Big Bang, and nothing happens without an adequate cause, and Einstein’s theory that all time is relative to matter is correct, Kreeft respectfully posits that it cannot be construed as unreasonable or illogical for one to acknowledge a Higher Power or Intelligent Designer at the beginning of things.
As he points out, it is often the secular/atheistic side of the discussion that leaves no room for the Believer. Scientists throughout the ages have believed in God and cared deeply for the study and inquiry of time, space, and matter. It is a relatively new development that has attempted to pit Faith vs. Reason (or Science).
Kreeft closes the lecture out by stating that to believe “nothing X no one = everything” is a leap of faith unto itself.
While I’m not seeking to spark an intricate debate over the finer points of Theism vs. Atheism, what I do think is very important is this: the history of Western civilization is rooted -- for better or worse -- in the Judeo-Christian values system that Mr. Prager speaks about often on his radio show (and is the premise of his latest book Still The Best Hope). It is an intractable, untenable position to take when someone says that to believe in God is incompatible with reason and science. Yet many of our most influential voices in academia and the media take this stance.
This condescension, and, as I believe Dr. Kreeft deftly articulates, an over-reaching condescension at that, gets us nowhere as a culture and society. It muddies the intellectual and emotional waters. It creates Straw Men and fosters unnecessary hostilities. It causes young people to feel like they have to decide between “strict, reason-based secularism” and “pie-in-the-sky religious fundamentalism” (when there are, in fact, numerous points on the spectrum between those two).
The truth is, both sides have some reaching out to do. But the whole “God-fearing folks are a gaggle of silly rubes” shtick has got to go.