Sunday, May 29, 2005

How liberals and conservatives make decisions — at least according to Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager, the conservative Jewish (and I mention that he is Jewish because it's a major part of his public persona) talk radio host has a column in today's LA Times, which to my amazement confirms what I see as a major difference between liberals and conservaitves. Liberals take responsibility for their own decisions; conservatives look to what they see as an authority for decisions they make. This is how Prager puts it.
[T]he great divide in values is not between those who believe in God and those who do not but between those who believe in a divine text and those who do not. …

Jews and Christians who believe that God revealed the Torah, for example, are far more likely to believe that marriage must remain defined as only between a man and woman, and cannot be redefined to include members of the same sex. They believe that people are not basically good, that human life, not animal life, is sacred (because humans, not animals, are created in God's image), and that murderers should be liable to the death penalty (the only law that is in all five books of the Torah is to put murderers to death).

On the other hand, Jews and Christians who believe that people wrote the Torah are far more likely to support a redefinition of marriage, to view human nature as basically good (and therefore more likely to ascribe human evil to outside influences), to be more receptive to seeing human beings as essentially another animal, and to oppose capital punishment for murderers.

After all, what people, not God, wrote thousands of years ago should hardly serve as a guide to life today — especially when one's heart argues against it. The heart feels compassion for gays, for animals and even for murderers facing execution. And the heart wants to believe that human beings are basically good.

But Jews and Christians who believe in a divinely revealed Bible do not trust the heart as a guide to doing the right thing (indeed, that Bible repeatedly warns us not to). That difference — do I listen to my heart or to what I believe is God's word? — explains most of the differences between right and left. Much more than whether one believes in God.
Amazing. I couldn't have said it better myself. Actually, if I had said it myself, I wouldn't have gone so far in making believers look as bad as I believe this makes them look.

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