Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dennis Prager's "Thorny Question" Regarding the Bible and Morality

In his book The Real Face of Atheism, Dr. Ravi Zacharias recounts when well-known social critic Dennis Prager was debating the Oxford atheistic philosopher Jonathan Glover.  When the discussion turned to the Bible and morality, Prager challenged Glover with the following "thorny" question:

"If you, Professor Glover, were stranded at the midnight hour in a desolate Los Angeles street and if, as you stepped out of your car with fear and trembling, you were suddenly to hear the weight of pounding footsteps behind you, and you saw ten burly young men who had just stepped out of a dwelling coming toward you, would it or would it not make a difference to you to know that they were coming from a Bible study?" [1]

Glover admitted that it would make a difference.

Courage and Godspeed,


1. The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias, p. 135.


Andrew Ryan said...

Prager himself noted that Hitchens' response to his question has become famous, though Prager views it as disengenuous as Hitchens missed out that Prager specified 'bible class' rather than 'prayer meeting'. Regardless, the 'Belfast' part of Hitchens reply still stands.

My own reply would be that Professor Glover might have felt safer, but others might not. A woman, a gay man, a Muslim or a black man might all feel quite unreassured knowing that it was a bible study group. Why should they? I'd say they should all feel safer knowing it was a group of men from a secular rights group, or an atheist think tank.

Andrew Ryan said...

My own reaction would be that virtually any kind of study would make a difference - a chess club, a biology class, a philosophy meeting, Buddhist chanting, Yogic breathing. Any of them would give a peaceful explanation for why the ten men are out on the street at midnight, and therefore reassure you. What's concerning is not knowing why ten men are 'pounding the street' in the middle of the night. Without further info, nefarious activity is a possible answer.

So I don't think the answer to Prager's question is that informative.

Andrew Ryan said...

And finally, my question for Prager would be, if HE was in the above situation, would he feel better if he knew the ten men had just come out of a Young Democrats convention?

John Moore said...

Yes, it would definitely make a difference. Actually, it would make a similar difference if those 10 men were studying any kind of serious book. Book study tends to be a civilizing and peace-making activity. Three cheers for literacy!