Conservative radio host Dennis Prager is hitting back at evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' recent claim that deriving one's moral compass from the Bible is "horrible."
In a column published Tuesday, Prager also accused the famed atheist of not being "intellectually honest" and of ignoring the notion that concepts of "good" and "bad" are predicated on God.
The debate started when Dawkins, a scientist and activist who has inspired secularists around the world to rail against religion, was interviewed by CNN on Friday night, where he made negative remarks about the Bible.
"Not only should we not get our moral compass from religion, as a matter of fact we don’t," Dawkins said. "We shouldn’t, because if you actually look at the bible or the Koran, and get your moral compass from there, it’s horrible -- stoning people to death, stoning people for breaking the Sabbath."
Richard Dawkins, founder of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, speaks during the National Atheist Organization's "Reason Rally" March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)
He went on to argue that humanity rejects Bible verses that are purportedly unpalatable and chooses others based on non-religious criteria. When times change, he believes that questionable verses become less pertinent and are, thus, rejected.
"So we live in the early 21st century, and our moral compass in the early 21st century is quite different from 100 years ago, or 200 years ago," Dawkins said. "We are now much less racist than they were, much less sexist than they were. We are much kinder than non-human animals than they were -- all sorts of respects in which we are labeled with a moral compass."
The change, he argued "has nothing to do with religion."
Prager, though, couldn't disagree more. He hit back at the notion that religion offers no viable moral benefits and said that embracing such a belief is inherently wrong "both rationally and empirically."
"If there is no God, the labels 'good' and 'evil' are merely opinions. They are substitutes for 'I like it' and 'I don't like it,'" he wrote. "They are not objective realities."
Prager said the atheist philosophers he has debated have always admitted that this aforementioned point is valid. For example, he said, Richard Rorty, a philosopher at Princeton, once said that there is no answer to the question, "Why not be cruel?" for secularists who reject a God.
Radio host Dennis Prager (Image source: @DennisPrager on Twitter)
People like Dawkins, Prager argued, are "not being intellectually honest" that an absence of God means that there are fewer options for where good and evil are derived.
Reason, he said, (a word regularly touted by atheist activists like Dawkins) is not enough to explain why acts like murder are widely regarded as immoral. Prager continued:
To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, "Do not murder," murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.
So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?
Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?
My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins's reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.
Prager also argues that history shows Dawkins to be wrong on the morality front. Referring to the 20th century as "godless," he dubbed it "the cruelest, bloodiest and most murderous century on record." Genocides have almost all been perpetuated by secularists who stood against Christians and Jews, he said, arguing that ignoring this reality seems haphazard and irresponsible.
"Dawkins and his supporters have a right to their atheism," Prager wrote. "They do not have a right to intellectual dishonesty about atheism."
Despite Prager's past debates with well-known atheists, the radio host said that Dawkins refuses to appear on his radio program. After this tough response, it's likely that the biologist will continue to avoid Prager.
(H/T: Christian Post)