It is surely indicative of our secular era that the error-filled bloviations of media figure and self-styled moralist Dennis Prager have such wide acceptance. I think I’ve finally figured out why, but more on that later. At this point, let’s take a look at his recent column entitled “Noah: One of the Most Moral Stories Ever Told,” sparked by the upcoming release of Darren Aronofsky’s film.
Prager begins by reminding us that he has taught the Torah for more than 40 years, and that most of his teachings are available for download—for a small fee. He doesn’t go into much detail as to why the Noah story is one of the most moral, beyond saying that God hates evil. Dennis does, however, offer this observation:
God values goodness more than any other human trait. Thus, the only reason Noah was saved was that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9).
Odd how Torah expert and proud Jew Prager has forgotten the most important passage for Jews in the OId Testament, known in English as “The Great Commandment” and in Hebrew as “The Shema” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5):
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And, just so there is no misunderstanding here, Moses adds (Dt 6:6-9):
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
It seems quite clear that what God desires most from humans is for them to love Him. Besides, what exactly is “goodness,” other than some vague touchy-feely concept that can score points for a phony like Prager? How much “goodness” does a man need, and how much makes up for his inherent evil? Dennis doesn’t say, but gives us this gem:
When God saw how cruelly human beings treated one another, He decided that He would start over. Once people reach a certain level of widespread evil, life is pointless.
But, Dennis neglects to explain to us how this view squares with another passage from the Noah story (Gn 8:21):
When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, He said to himself: Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start; nor will I ever again strike down all living beings, as I have done.
Have we never again achieved a “Noah” level of evil?
Prager’s most absurd mistake in the piece occurs when he attempts to answer the question “Isn’t the Biblical flood story just a fairy tale?” His gives two answers, and his first one is a double whopper:
First, this is so only if you believe that the Biblical flood story states that the entire earth from the North Pole to the South Pole was flooded and that every living creature from penguins to polar bears, except for the animals and the people on Noah’s ark, was killed. But that is not what the story says. The narrative speaks of the world where Noah lived: It is expressly stated in Genesis 9:10 that there were other animals in the world that were not killed by the flood.
OK, Dennis. What part of Gn 7:21-23 do you not understand?
All creatures that stirred on earth perished: birds, cattle, wild animals, and all that swarmed on the earth, as well as all mankind. Everything on dry land with the faintest breath of life in its nostrils died out. The LORD wiped out every living thing on earth: man and cattle, the creeping things and the birds of the air; all were wiped out from the earth. Only Noah and those with him in the ark were left.
And, please explain how Gn 9:10 proves your contention. Here is Gn 9:8-10:
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark.
Torah expert Prager wrongly claims that the entire world is not destroyed and cites an irrelevant passage to prove his point.
As to Prager being widely accepted, here’s why:
Even a “Cliff’s Notes” synopsis of the Bible would not dare make such erroneous assertions, but if your audience were those who won’t read the Bible on their own, why not slice and dice Scripture to suit their taste? This is truly cynical. Prager has no problem citing chapter and verse, because he knows his fans will never check it out for themselves. And, the icing on the cake is all that “goodness” nonsense.
Very few people in all human history have ever thought of themselves as evil. I assure you that Hitler and Stalin and their crew, as well as present-day terrorists had good intentions. If bad things had to happen, it was for the greater good, right?
So, let Dennis make you feel good about yourself, and never venture beyond his inaccurate and watered down views of Scripture and morality. You’re basically good people, you have high self-esteem, and that’s all that counts.