In most of these essays making the case for Judeo-Christian values, I have contrasted Judeo-Christian values only with leftist values: secularism, liberalism, socialism, humanism, environmentalism.
I have done so for two reasons.
First, secular and leftist values are the dominant values of most of the world's elites. If the editors of the major newspapers of the world assembled, they would agree on almost every moral and social issue. The same holds true for the world's academics, whether from America, Latin America, Europe or Asia.
Second, secular/leftist values are the only viable alternative to Judeo-Christian values.
At this moment, there are three ideologies competing for humanity's acceptance: secular and leftist, Judeo-Christian and Islam.
But Islam is not currently in the battle for men's minds. Outside (and even inside) the Muslim world, it gains power largely through force. There are non-Muslims who convert to Islam out of sheer conviction, but in general, when Islam gains a foothold or actually attains power in a non-Muslim society, it is either through force or threats of force -- e.g., Sudan, Thailand, the Philippines, Nigeria; or through a large immigration of Muslims -- e.g., Western Europe. Its contemporary spread is not due to the power of its intellectual appeal, let alone the record of its contemporary social and moral achievements.
There was a time when Islam appealed to non-Muslims' intellects, and it may one day again. But today, it competes with Judeo-Christian values and leftist ones primarily because of the power of its numbers and of its violent elements.
In our time, only secular/leftist values compete with Judeo-Christian ones on the intellectual battlefield. There really are no other viable doctrines to guide mankind at the beginning of the 21st century. And this is unfortunate. For one thing, despite my belief in the superiority of Judeo-Christian values, competition is always healthy. For another, I am worried that a vast segment of mankind does not have any strong moral code.
One theoretical alternative is Eastern religion. Having studied Buddhism under a prominent Buddhist, I came to respect Buddhist and related Eastern thought. Some of its insights (such as having few or no expectations) have benefited me greatly, and I cite them in my book on happiness.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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