[VIDEOS] Without religious institutions, what guides people in a democracy?

Michaelangelo hands of God and AdamCaped Crusader sent me this really amazing video about the fact that organized religion (of the Judeo-Christian variety) is an essential element of a functioning democracy:

Somehow Dennis Prager’s video about the true meaning of the Third Commandment (and it’s not just that we shouldn’t say “Oh, my God!”) seems like a very appropriate companion piece:

Sleepy Saturday round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI’m wondering how the gun-grabbing crowd is coping with the horrible news out of China: terrorists with knives killed 28 and injured 113. One can’t help wondering whether, if some of those hundreds of people trapped in the train station had possessed a legal gun, if the terror wouldn’t have stopped soon after it started.

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Years ago, Dennis Prager said on his radio show that, when a couple both marry as Democrats, and then one becomes a Republican, it’s reasonable for the remaining Democrat to feel betrayed.  I agree with that, but would add an addendum:  What if, as Reagan said, the “converting” party did so, not because he left the Democrats, but because the Democrats left him?

This question isn’t far-fetched.  In a WaPo piece, Andrew Kohut, who founded the Pew Research Center, says that the Democrats have shifted way left.  If you’ve become a Republican, and your partner still gives his or her entire allegiance to the Democrats, your partner has shifted way left too.  The only reason no one has remarked upon this seismic political and ideological shift is that the people leading the shift are also the people controlling information, in politics, the media, and education.

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The Three Monkeys Press (aka The New York Times, which, like all media outlets, has adopted a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” policy during the Obama administration) has a video preparing Americans for possible outbreaks of Leftist politics at the Oscars by saying that the Oscars have a “long history” of political outbreaks.  What the Three Monkeys Press fails to acknowledge is that the politicization of the Oscars started when the Left became ascendant in Hollywood.  Before that, it was just an entertainment awards show.  Since then, every two-bit Leftist in Hollywood starts palpitating with excitement at the thought that, if he or she can get near the microphone, he (or she) can have a bully pulpit into American homes.

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Since we’re talking about American debasement, let me round out this short round-up by pointing to the fact that, with Russia poised to invade Ukraine, Obama had more important things to do than attend a national security meeting.  While we’re watching the worst of the 1930s and the 1970s unfold before our eyes, Obama is happily re-living his behavior on the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Will Americans ever wake up or have we slid so far down the infamous slippery slope that the Left can indeed fool all of the people all of the time?

Happiness is a moral obligation, says Dennis Prager

Smiley-FaceI couldn’t agree more with the principle that happiness is a moral obligation (an argument Dennis Prager makes at length in the excellent Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual). I often tell the children, when the describe mean kids at their school that those children are more to be pitied than censured. Happy people, I point out, aren’t mean. Someone mean must be very unhappy. Give them a wide berth, but don’t add to their misery.

As for me, I’m trying to be happy, despite having misread a contract I signed, and having inadvertently signed on to a more expensive project than I intended. I’m reminding myself that, on the information available, this service provider is still the best in the market (a market sadly marked by a lot of shoddy work), but I’m feeling dumb. It was, after all, a stupid mistake. We’ll still get what we want, but not on the terms I thought. Sigh.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

I’m with Dennis Prager on this one: the “God particle” does not negate the possibility that there is a God

A lot of people have been crowing that the “God particle” proves that there is no God, because it explains the “something from nothing” aspect of the Big Bang.  These people forget one thing:  Where did the so-called God particle originate?

Dennis Prager is more erudite than I am, so he makes a more sophisticated fallacy-spotting argument:

But scientific discovery and meaning are not necessarily related. As one of the leading physicists of our time, Steven Weinberg, has written, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”

And pointlessness is the point. The discovery of the Higgs boson brings us no closer to understanding why there is a universe, not to mention whether life has meaning. In fact, no scientific discovery ever made will ever explain why there is existence. Nor will it render good and evil anything more than subjective opinion, or explain why human beings have consciousness or anything else that truly matters.

The only thing that can explain existence and answer these other questions is God or some other similar metaphysical belief. This angers those scientists and others who are emotionally as well as intellectually committed to atheism. But many honest atheists recognize that a godless world means a meaningless one, and they admit that science can explain only what, not why.

[snip]

Not only is science incapable of discovering why there is existence; scientists also confront the equally frustrating fact that the more they discover about the universe, the more they realize they do not know.

I continue to be agnostic on the subject of God:  Believers haven’t proven to me that God exists but the non-believers certainly haven’t proven to me that God doesn’t exist.  Moreover, the one argument that believers make, and that Prager reiterates here, is that a belief in God gives meaning to life.  That means that whether proven or unproven, God is a very important concept in elevating us above the cow that chews cud in the field or the ant that scurries back and forth.

A wandering post in which I recommend the TV show “Bones” and bring up the death penalty *UPDATED*

I’ve mentioned before that I pretty much sat out the first decade of the 21st century when it came to pop culture, which is how I entirely missed Ricky Martin.  Having young children simply left me uninterested in things other than diapers, soccer carpools, etc.  Now those same children are bringing me back into pop culture.  Not only am I doing a better job of tracking current trends, I’m also learning about past pop culture trends I might have missed.

One of these trends, which is both current and past, is the show Bones.  My daughter discovered it on streaming video last summer while she was trapped in a Greek hospital following an appendix operation.  The show follows the exploits of shiny, pretty forensic anthropologists and FBI people as they solve gruesome crimes.  With rare exceptions, each show begins with the discovery of a gruesome, maggot-infested corpse, and then shows the scientists/anthropologists use incredibly high-tech equipment, plus their encyclopedic minds, to discern the truth about the corpse’s life and death.  It’s a surprisingly enjoyable show, made more so, for me, by the fact that it’s very nice to look at David Boreanz, the lead male actor.  (In my dotage, I seem to have turned into the “cougar” equivalent of a chicken hawk.  “Chicken hawk” as you may recall, is the derogatory term given to armchair warriors who advocate a hawk-like military stance, secure that they’ll never actually have to be in the line of fire.  But I digress, quite wildly . . . .)

Aside from being fairly entertaining on its own terms, I find the show fascinating because of the messages:  The lead FBI agent is a former special forces sniper, and the show doesn’t think less of him for that fact.  He’s also religious, and the show doesn’t think less of him for that fact either.  In “The Man In The Wall,” a dead man’s father convinces the FBI agent (correctly, as it turns out) that the dead man was not involved in drugs and crime because “I taught him to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”  It’s peculiar to see a show that, instead of sneering at this viewpoint, apparently approves of it.

The lead forensic anthropologist, the eponymous “Bones,” is a genius who is totally invested in scientific truth, but is often at a loss to understand ordinary human interactions.  Because of her almost child-like intellectual honest, she speaks the truth in a way many of us would find admirable (and irritating).  Bones doesn’t believe in God, because there is, in her mind, no proof that God exists, but she believes in morality.  In “A Man On Death Row,” she firmly advocates the death penalty, provided one is sure that the killer did indeed kill.  Under those circumstances, Bones says, there are definitely people who deserve to die because (although she doesn’t articulate this as clearly) through their callous disdain for human life, they have forfeited the right to that life themselves.  This episode, incidentally, is worth watching in its entirety, because I’m pretty sure that the episode’s writers and producers also believe in the death penalty.

And speaking of the death penalty, Dennis Prager believes in it too.  I find his proposal a bit silly (sorry, Dennis), but I do think that both he and Bones are on to the core point about why the death penalty, provided that it is hedged about with due process, and rigorous moral and intellectual honesty, is the right thing for a functioning society that, counter-intuitively as far as death penalty opponents are concerned, values human life.

UPDATE:  This post, about the silliness of applying the Occupy movement to prisons, seems apropos.