I’ve listened to Dennis Prager in Los Angeles for more than twenty years, ever since his weekend evening Religion on the Line shows on KABC. I’d always respected his seeming willingness to give serious consideration to opposing viewpoints, since that trait is rare among all people, but especially rare among the religious. Prager, who has adopted the motto “clarity before agreement,” was not afraid to engage in a public debate with Sam Harris, and not only featured the author of Breaking Up With God on his Ultimate Issues Hour, but reprised that broadcast a few months later as a “Best Of” show, even though (in my opinion) he was bested by both atheists. Surely, I thought, he was more committed to truth than to polemics.

While that may well be the case, I now have reasons to believe that he doesn’t always honor that commitment.

My doubts began when I started actually calling his show to discuss various topics of interest. On numerous¬† occasions I made my point, heard his counterpoint, and was twenty seconds into reciting my rebuttal when I realized that I was talking to empty air. He usually gives himself the last word this way, and thus lends strength to even his weakest arguments. The tactic leaves the impression that the caller was gobsmacked into stunned silence by the brilliance of Mr. Prager’s rhetoric, when in fact the silence is entirely due to Mr. Prager’s real-time editing.

Still, it’s his show, and as he says, radio time is as scarce as parking space in New York City. If he wants to ramble on for fifteen minutes about cigars and fountain pens rather than spending the time discussing whether Noah’s flood was moral or whether atheists or theists have the most compelling myths about the origin of the universe, it’s all entertainment and it’s his audience.

Yesterday his show featured an extended soliloquy about the wisdom of following the heart versus the wisdom of following God. As an atheist, I believe we all follow our hearts when deciding what’s right and what’s wrong, even when theists like Dennis Prager claim the contrary. When Dennis followed up the show with a “Pragerisms” quote on Twitter that said

No God, no wisdom – because the substitute for God is the heart which has no wisdom

I replied (also on Twitter)

The heart wisely ignores “the Lord your God” when reading Leviticus 20:13, and substitutes its innate wisdom

Shortly after that, my Twitter account was suspended. The reason it was suspended is that Dennis Prager complained that he didn’t want me addressing such replies to him. My reason for doing so had been to highlight that “the heart” knows it’s evil to kill people for engaging in consensual sex with the wrong sort of freely consenting adult (as Leviticus 20:13 demands), and that in this matter at least the wisdom of the heart is superior to the wisdom of God as it’s presented in Dennis Prager’s authoritative reference book. Rather than engage, or offer a rebuttal, Mr. Prager simply tried to shut me up and shut me down.

It’s difficult to express how disappointing it is when someone for whom I’ve had so much respect for so long reveals that he too has feet of clay (see Daniel 2:31-43).

It was a simple matter to get my Twitter account restored, just as it’s trivial to continue to follow @DennisPrager even though I’ve officially been “blocked”. But I have decided that, rather than engage in a battle of slogans and bumper stickers on Twitter, or on Mr. Prager’s radio show where he can call the shots, I would prefer to make clear and complete arguments which accept commentary from anyone. Unlike (apparently) Mr. Prager, I really do believe that clarity is more important than winning an argument.¬† I would rather leave my opponents (and neutral bystanders) unconvinced than win their approval by bogus arguments which permit no reply.

So here I am, and here we go.

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