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Rand and Religion

Posted by  $  KSilver3 4 years, 2 months ago to Philosophy
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Interested to hear how others have dealt with the anti-religion aspect of Objectivism. I agree with Rand that most religious institutions tend to be very heavy on self sacrifice. However, I feel that most of that comes from financial interest in the church itself (ie. Catholics selling indulgences). When reading the actual bible, I don't see as much about self sacrifice as I see lessons on how to treat others. I'm not a fanatic by any means, but I do find it hard to overcome 37 years of religious teaching that there is something greater than ourselves. Do other's believe that you can square any portion of your religion with your Objectivist ideals? I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive. Thoughts?


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    Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
    KS; The difficulty in this arises in your first sentence in which you frame your interest with the 'anti-religion aspect of Objectivism.' Objectivism is not anti-religion anymore than it's anti-anything, other than anti-reasoning and anti-rationality. Objectivism, at it's base is pro-life (not the PC mis-definition) and pro-human. Objectivism finds our ability to determine the reality within which we live, as that available from our five senses and our ability to reason in a rationally logical manner. And further, that emotional responses must be subjected to reasoned, rationally, and logical analysis compared against reality before acting on them. Objectivism also demands identity and definition, i.e. A=A. Religion has an identity and definition (the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods) which does not equal those of philosophy (the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.) The two are obviously separate.

    An Objectivist, sensing reality within which he lives and experiences, does not sense or experience the superhuman or super-stitional gods of religions, can find no evidence or proof of such beings, and therefor rationally and logically, reasons that no such thing exists. Objectivist also find a set of morals which finds that altruism, as expressed in so many religions, rather than being helpful to either side of altruism is actually harmful to life and the individual and does express an antipathy towards any altruistic act of justification for such. So any belief or reliance in a religion, an anti-human and anti-life act justified by that religion, or an argument that relies on a super-stional or superhuman existence or interaction with such is antithetical with philosophy, particularly that of Objectivism.

    I might suggest that rather than working backwards from Objectivist ideals and attempting to rationalize those with 37 years of religious programming, that you spend a little time looking at the basis of Objectivism, i.e. A=A, Existence=Existence.

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    • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
      Zenphamy- I appreciate your thorough answer to my question. Actually, it is more of a quest for me to find a way to reconcile two conflicting views that I hold dear.

      I do take issue with one part of your answer though. I definitely agree with the objectivist ideal that A=A, and if we can't experience it, it must not exist. My issue is that, in my heart, I do feel that I experience the existence of God. In addition, I feel that I have as much "proof" that God exists as those who disagree feel they do. With all the major breakthroughs in Science, we are still no closer to finding out how this little rock of ours came to support advanced life. I feel that an objective (not objectivist, but objective) view of this dilemma could reasonably come to the conclusion that, given the great search and lack of progress, there may be something more out there. There is as much proof that God created the earth as there is that it was a random cataclysmic event (no proof in either case, only theories). When I look at my daughter, I cannot reconcile her beauty to me with a random combination of atoms.

      That is the basic root of my struggle. I cannot find a way to make A=A when searching for answers without a God. Science has not provided me with an answer that I can reconcile. This struggle really began for me when my daughter was born. She is by no means perfect, however, she is perfect for me. I have a hard time believing that this perfect child for me ended up in my life purely by physical chance. In my mind, it is easier to reconcile some sort of divine intervention, than random chance. So, in that, I guess I could say that, as an objectivist, I do "sense or experience the superhuman or super-stitional gods of religion" as you said. In my life, I find it easier to credit divine intervention than random chance. I no longer attend an organized church for many of the same reasons Ayn spoke out against the church. In my experience, churches, much like governments, like to preach self sacrifice with the sole goal of separating me from my money. I am completely on board with Rand in that respect. I don't feel the need to go somewhere every Sunday to listen to someone try to make me experience guilt because of my success. I refuse to allow others to make me feel guilty for my success.

      The difficult part for me is, as a student of Rand, I want to find a way to make A=A in my existence. However, when it comes to the creation of life I have not been able to find the A that is supposed to equal A. I would think with all of our huge scientific advancements we would have found that A, and the fact that we haven't makes me sometimes think there isn't one.

      I know this is rambling, but it is an interesting subject to me.
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      • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
        Ayn Rand rejected all forms of the supernatural because it is contrary to reason, not because of financial corruption in the established church or differences between sects. Reason is based on what is observed, integrated into objective conceptual knowledge, not "rationalization" and not what you _feel_ "must" be regardless of lack of evidence or observation. Faith and feelings based on years of indoctrination are not rational evidence and not perception of reality.

        Objectivism does not hold that if something can't be directly experienced it must not exist. You can't directly perceive electrons and atoms because they are too small to see; that doesn't mean we can't infer their existence. That inference, however, is based on painstaking rational science based on objective conceptual knowledge and carefully designed experiments, with all knowledge ultimately based on what we experience from the 5 senses. To understand how scientific knowledge is obtained, from evolutionary biology to physics, requires understanding the history of how the sciences developed.

        All of the problems and tendencies you describe are easily answered, but not in one paragraph and not unsystematically.Your most immediate problem seems to be a lack of knowledge in specific fields of science and philosophy. There is a very straightforward way to address this, but only in the context of what you already know. You haven't said what you have read about Ayn Rand's Philosophy or evolutionary biology or any other relevant subject in your quest to understand. What have you read and how long have you been at it?

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      • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
        I mean this respectfully, Have you considered, you are experiencing yourself and you are labeling that experience "god " because it 's easy to do. I mean it 's part of our growing up, our traditions and culture. And can have a very positive influence. For myself, I looked back over my life and connected all the doubts -something in religion you are not only discouraged from doing but are also accused of taking a negative action against God. Growing up this way causes one to negate those feelings as incorrect. Yet in science, we are never encouraged to dismiss our doubts, we are encouraged to test and exploit them in searches for knowledge and truth. Pretty simplistic here, but wanted to be part of the discussion.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
        KS; There's not enough room on this site nor do I have the time to answer what you raise in your response. All I can say is investigate and learn. This site, we that are on it, the AS movies and book, all of AR's writings and everything else Objectivist can only stir an interest in a person. You must translate that into your own life and find your own desire to live rationally and logically with reason in order to experience the utmost of the limited little time of life that exists for you. No one can give that to you. Otherwise, you're only hitting the high-spots rather than the depths and fullness of an Objectivist life. It is after all totally your choice.
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
          I agree that it is a very in depth topic, and difficult to type into this little box. I really do appreciate your initial response. I think it is a reconciliation that everyone must come to on their own. Furthermore, I'm not sure it really matters. The Objectivist in me asks, does it really matter? In my normal day to day existence and pursuit of happiness, if there is no real way to prove it either way, and it doesn't have much of an impact anyway, it becomes less important.

          I definitely appreciate the Objectivist belief in the power of greed. Greed encourages something like selfish altruism. I don't help others because of some feeling of guilt or religious fervor, I help people in my pursuit of my own needs. If giving someone a job brings benefits to me, then my greed has helped others. If the person brings no benefit to me, than it is not altruism but consensual looting to give them a job.

          One of my favorite possessions is a copper dollar with the D'Anconia Copper logo on one side, and the phrase "Greed is the Root of all Good" on the other. I use it as a ball marker whenever I play golf, and love the conversations it starts.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
            Keep at it, you're getting close.
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            • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
              You need to get comfortable enough with the selfishness part to drop the altruism part. Altruism is always about removing the "self" from the equation.
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              • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
                I am definitely with you there. I agree that altruism in itself usually requires self-immolation to someone else's needs. While serving my own needs, sometimes that overlaps with another's needs, and, by serving myself, I am also helping others. I guess, by a strict definition, that could still be considered altruism, but I do like the way you, and Rand, separate the two.
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                • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
                  here is the origin of the word and why it came into being. Its roots are evil: "1853, "unselfishness, opposite of egoism," from French altruisme, coined or popularized 1830 by French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857)," Etymology Dictionary
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                  • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
                    Very interesting. By that definition, you are definitely correct that serving your own self interest can never be considered altuism, even if that service benefits others.
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                    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
                      value for value :)
                      I think it's instructive here to remember the scene where Dagny meets Jeff Allen, a tramp, on her train. The conductor is set to throw him off, but Dagny says no. You recognizes that this person has fallen on hard times and is not a "bum" per se. She offers him dinner and then finally, a job. She would not have offered a bum a job because what value would she have gotten? On the other hand, Jeff Allen did not pay to ride the train either, but he had made a choice given his circumstances, that had the chance of offering him an opportunity, which he pursued.
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                      • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
                        That is actually one of my favorite sections of the book. Not just for the reasons you stated, but for the fact that Dagny was intellectually confident enough to take the time to learn about the bum. Many of the so called heroes of the little man in today's society would have had their security kick Jeff off the moving train before they would ever lower themselves to speak to him.
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            • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
              I think the premise you are trying to get me to is that Objectivism isn't necessarily anti-religous. But rather anti-blindly following a religion without using reason and logic to confirm the beliefs of that religion in our own minds and confirming those beliefs with our own daily experiences. Am I getting warmer or colder?
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              • Posted by plusaf 4 years, 2 months ago
                Frigid, but that's just my opinion...
                Many decades ago, a friend posed this question:'
                "If, right here and now, I could completely convince you that God Exists... OR that God Does NOT Exist... and out of that understanding, you immediately decided to change the 'way you live your life,' the REAL question is not "Does God Exist?" but "Why would you need to change 'the way you're living your life' as the result of that answer?!"

                If you need a God figure to provide the "how to live your life" answers, I believe that it comes with the inherent danger that someone else can come along and move you to believe in some other set of "how to live your life" rules.

                It seems to me that millions, if not billions of people on earth today have made exactly those kinds of 'decisions of what to do' based on something their parents or religious 'leaders' taught them.

                And personally, I don't like the results. ISIS/ISIL has Their set of Beliefs which they 'got from Their Prophet' but along with those 'how-to' directions, they decided that their goal in life is to kill, enslave or tax anyone who doesn't "do it their way."

                I find that to be, in a less bloodthirsty but similarly dogmatic way, the same way I look at Liberals versus Conservatives or Democrats versus Republicans... The similar "Our Way is The Right Way and Your Way is The Devil Incarnate and You Will Burn In Hell as The Result."

                If you take ALL of the aspects of God OUT of the equation and consider that it might be possible to CHOOSE to 'lead a good life' or 'be nice to everyone' and at the same time 'defend and protect your own property and Self,' well, I believe you can 'get there' without any God-figure.

                I think a lot of people actually agree with that position or philosophy, so if it's possible for so many people to get to that 'way of living life' WITHOUT any God, it inclines me to also believe that all this God Stuff is an artificial construct created by some folks and for some reason OTHER than 'helping everyone get to heaven' (or wherever.)

                If you can live a loving, productive life Without Any God's Directions, it really makes the whole Religion Thing a ruse.

                But... that's just what I believe... :)
                Enjoy your search.

                Oh, and by the way, why or how aren't ALL descriptions of The Afterlife, as described by people who have had Near-Death Experiences THE SAME? Why isn't there just One Book describing Heaven or Hell and a lot of footnotes from people saying, "Yeah, same for me!" ?

                Just askin'... :)
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              • Posted by conscious1978 4 years, 2 months ago
                Brrrr.... :)

                Premises, principles, fundamentals, corollaries, and axioms—dig into these with ruthless honesty. Many years ago, I used to tell myself that if my 'God' was real, 'he' could handle this kind of intense scrutiny. Then, one evening...*poof*.... I realized the foundation of my belief was flawed when I understood the far reaching implications of "A is A". It was an "Oh...wowww!" moment.
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          • Posted by jconne 4 years, 2 months ago
            Re: Greed - consider the real issue and the limitations of conventional language. The essential here is the desire for the earned vs the unearned. The word greed is treated as a package deal the conflates those two contexts. By doing so, the essential ethical considerations get lost. Therefore, it's necessary to clarify what we mean when using that term. Otherwise the intentions get blurred and lost. Objective communication is impossible if the speaker and the listener are not understanding their terms to mean the same things.
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            • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
              Very true. I certainly use greed in the positive manner the Rand did. However, your point is is a good one.
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              • Posted by jconne 4 years, 2 months ago
                Thanks. The essential here is that language is an audio-visual set of symbols to represent/ understand and communicate about our world. What those symbols refer to is all in our heads - and dictionaries, etc. Since dictionaries have multiple definitions for most words, communication requires the participants agree on a choice of meanings.

                A separate issue is whether the definitions or terms are connected to reality. My previous comments of faith are such an example.
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                • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
                  Agreed. In fact, one of the most insidious happenings in our culture today is the high jacking of our language for political reasons. Example- "cut spending" does not mean actually cutting the amount of spending, it means slowing the rate of growth. Pro-choice actually means pro-abortion.
                  I think that is a true weakness in the conservative movement today- we allow the liberals to set the language of the debate.
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                  • Posted by jconne 4 years, 2 months ago
                    Clarifying:

                    - right on the misleading use of "cut spending"

                    - "Pro-choice" refers to the RIGHT TO CHOOSE how one's body is used - not just pro-abortion, but the freedom to not have abortion precluded out of ethical-religious dogma.

                    - "Pro-life" is misused to treat the life of a small group of cells or a larger group as having the same rights as an independently surviving person. One could extend that argument to the ridiculous to make a point - preserving every egg and sperm. The question is a human one of ethics and law. At what point rights are imbued on a human? The intrinsic approach is an abyss of the arbitrary. Pro-life used properly respects human life as the priority. A woman carrying a fetus is fully a human, the parasite in her that is a potential full human is not one yet. Potential and actuality are distinct. Does the fetus own her? That's the ethical question. The answer involves a what and a why. To address such questions we have philosophy.
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      • Posted by budman37388 4 years, 2 months ago
        KS, There is no way to prove that something does not exist. What I will say is that Science has come very far to explain the creation of the universe. Everything that is discovered, tested, and proven leads us further away from the traditional teachings of any religion. Just because we do not know all the answers does not mean that we will not at some point, and it does not mean that we should create our own answers to fill the void. Please take time to read "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss. This book explains in terms that are easy to understand what science has been able to discover about our existence. Do we have all the answers. No, but we know more now than ever.
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      • Posted by jimjamesjames 4 years, 2 months ago
        Zenphamy, you state "it is more of a quest for me to find a way to reconcile two conflicting views that I hold dear."

        I had the same conflict but accepted this: If there is a "god" of any kind, he gave me the power of rational thought and rational thought has led me to conclude that there is no "god."
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      • Posted by Danno 4 years, 2 months ago
        Christians are taught their god is kind, that he is all powerful and all knowing. If so, why didn't he stop Hitler from frying 6M Jews? Stalin from starving 20M?

        The telescope can only see so far. If you define the universe by how far your telescope can see is there a problem with that? What does the universe exist in?

        These basic questions led me away from religion not closer to it.
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
          "Christians are taught their god is kind, that he is all powerful and all knowing. If so, why didn't he stop Hitler from frying 6M Jews? Stalin from starving 20M?"
          A very typical oversimplification. The God of the Bible is not a benevolent puppeteer, he is a creator. Once people are created, they have free will to live their lives in any way they see fit, and suffer the ramifications.
          Whether you believe or not, let's think a little deeper than juvenile "where's your perfect God now?"
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      • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
        Hi KS,

        I happen to be deeply committed to parenting. So, you caused some reaction with talking about randomness of your daughter's birth. I would like to submit for your consideration two concepts: life and choice.

        There was recently on this site a discussion about thermodynamics driving the immergence and the evolution of DNA and life as a consequence. It certainly sounded plausible to me.

        If you for a moment accept that as a plausible theory of the beginning of life, the rest is simple. The living things pretty clearly and through evolution demonstrate a driving force to reproduce and multiply. That drive, it seems to me, explains the desire to have children and help them to be the best they can be, i.e. "perfect".

        Your daughter is farthest thing from "random". You chose her father, whether it was "one-night-stand", a life-long commitment, or something in between. Both of you brought together an accumulation of choices. We now know that we carry huge genetic "residues" from mating with Neanderthals some 50,000 years ago, So, you and your daughter's father brought together the choices of about 2000 generations of ancestors since the Neanderthal "uncle". That is about 4000 choices. Don't forget, even in a rape, one chooses. In giving birth, one chooses. 4000 choices is nothing compared to the trillions of possible combinations. Fortunately for us, huge numbers of "mistaken" combinations do not survive. Darwin demonstrated that.

        I would like to convince you that your daughter is a most precious fruit of yours and her father's being. Cherish her because she is unique and farthest thing possible from a dice throw.

        I hope that this is not too much. These are deep convictions on my part. Of course, in truth, just opinions, which I humbly submit for your consideration.

        Good luck in your search!
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
          I really enjoyed reading this response. Only correction I could make is that I am the father :). And it was my wife's perfect genes that created her the way she is if I accept the premise that it is genetic. She definitely didn't get her charming looks, intelligence, or wit from me.
          You have just sent me down another rabbit hole. I have never heard of "thermodynamics driving the immergence and the evolution of DNA", but look forward to learning.
          I've reached that age where I am far enough removed from college that I don't really get the chance to learn new things often. That's one of the things I am enjoying most here in the gulch- learning about new and interesting topics from like minded people. I'm sure one of these days I'll contribute something someone else may not have thought of, and provide value back to the community.
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          • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
            Hello, KS,

            I sincerely apologize for assuming, without any reason that I can identify, the wrong gender for you. The mistake does not affect any of the rest.

            You can learn more about the attempts to explain through thermodynamic reasoning the beginnings and propagation of life. It is in the thread entitled, if I am not mistaken: "A New Physics Theory of Life" in the category Science. It refers to a popularizing article in Scientific American, but there is a link to the original scientific report, with all the references. I would be interested to know what you think about it.

            Good luck, Mr. KS!
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 2 months ago
        "My issue is that, in my heart, I do feel that I experience the existence of God. "
        This does not anti-objectivist IMHO, as long as the feelings don't lead to assertions about the universe. Feeling god in one's heart is not scientifically falsifiable. If you say that god answers prayers, the evidence disproves that.

        "There is as much proof that God created the earth as there is that it was a random cataclysmic event (no proof in either case, only theories). "
        We should not to let our ignorance about the origin of the universe (or about anything) act as evidence for one particular explanation.

        "I have a hard time believing that this perfect child for me ended up in my life purely by physical chance. "
        I feel the exact same way, but this is argument from personal incredulity. Some things seem incredible and are still true.

        Regarding altruism, IMHO the "god" in your heart means you're good, and if you pursue what *you* want, you're pursuing good. It's the Biblical pharisees who go around with pained looks on their faces suffering for others.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
          Any mystical beliefs are contrary to reason, regardless of immediate "assertions about the universe". The method of thinking is wrong and has consequences as far as it spreads.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 4 years, 2 months ago
    K, I was raised in a religious family, and met Rand
    when I was 15 through the advice of a friend.

    I have always been a scientific sort of guy, and
    became an engineer by profession. . the social and
    self-sacrifice aspects of religious people turned me
    off, when I was a kid. . I found a home in atheism
    with Rand for more than 20 years, and it felt quite
    comfortable. . except for the good people whom
    I left behind.

    in my mid-30s, I decided to learn how to express
    myself differently, in order to "integrate" myself
    into my family and my society.

    I studied the purposes of religion -- the good ones.
    like the process of passing on wisdom from generation
    to generation about how best to live -- morals and
    the like. . optimism. . the absolute truths of human
    nature and the nature of reality.

    I decided to adopt a stance of believer, with a twist.

    I contend that many, many good people are religious
    for reasons which make sense -- comfort in times
    of grievous trouble, meditation when the ultimate
    in conscience and insight are needed, and confidence
    in the face of doubt that right is right.

    I contend that organized religion is usually dangerous
    and "may be hazardous to your health." . but the
    awestruck sense of admiration of reality, like a
    youngster looking up at the night sky, is needed
    to keep our perspective in life. . and a sense of
    right-and-wrong can come from a heartfelt personal
    estimation of "what would Jesus do?"

    people here in the gulch sidestep me for this, but
    the little boy looking up at the stars is still in there,
    though I'm 66 now. . the goal is wisdom,,, and the
    process includes study, humility and insight.

    may your life be filled with the love of life of a Dagny
    or a John, and the wisdom of the ages. . and,
    welcome to the gulch! -- j

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  • Posted by Mamaemma 4 years, 2 months ago
    K, I have only been in the Gulch about a month and a half, and I have already seen several heated discussions about this topic. Some people point out that strict adherence to Objectivism does not allow for any religious beliefs. Some religious Gulchers get quite incensed and try to convince others that they are right in their beliefs.

    For the life of me, I just don't feel it is that important. I am an avid fan of Ayn Rand. I am not anywhere near as advanced in philosophy as a lot of people on this site, but I choose to not engage in the religious debate and instead to learn as much as possible here.

    Communicating with Gulchers makes my heart sing! And I have a lot of fun, too.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
      Ayn Rand didn't think it was important to spend a lot of time or effort arguing about it either. Rejection of religion is a simple, unalterable consequence of a philosophy of reason, which has much more important topics to pursue. The emphasis on religion on gg has been due to those stubbornly trying to promote it without understanding Ayn Rand's philosophy or to oppose her philosophy or both, They do this obsessively, in complete disregard for the purpose of the forum. It doesn't belong here. But that is in contrast to occasional intellectually honest questions such as by KSilver in this thread -- and in that context it is important to address them.
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      • Posted by Mamaemma 4 years, 2 months ago
        well said. Thank you
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        • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
          "I am an intransigent atheist, though not a militant one. This means that I am not fighting _against_ religion—I am fighting _for_ reason. When faith and reason clash, it is up to the religious people to decide how they choose to reconcile the conflict. As far as I am concerned, I have no terms of communication and no means to deal with people, except through _reason_." Ayn Rand, 1963, in Letters of Ayn Rand, ed by Michael Berliner

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      • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
        I just re-read this comment, and discovered the brilliance of it the second time around. I think the point you are trying to make is that religion was not very important to Rand, but her detractors use her anti-religious remarks to scare away others who might otherwise agree with her philosophy. If that is the point you are trying to make, it is a brilliant one that I hadn't thought of. By discussing her beliefs on religion, I am, inadvertently, contributing to her detractors. I hadn't thought of that, but on second thought, it is very true. Whenever I try to discuss Rand with anyone who doesn't agree with her, they inevitably try to steer the conversation to her atheist beliefs, and question how I could ever support someone like that.
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        • Posted by ewv 3 years, 11 months ago
          You are right about her detractors using her rejection of religion as a means to scare people away -- especially through moral intimidation and embarrassing politicians or others (like yourself) who dare to express admiration for her. And that's all it is, a quick trick of a demagog to manipulate people into running away. They do not want and do not dare allow serious discussion of what she stood for and why. They cannot tolerate discussion of fundamentals and try to exploit her intellectual radicalism as an emotional short-cut rhetorical device to avoid it.

          But it isn't just religion: They have always used the same diversionary method exploiting any real, imagined, or context dropping misrepresentation of her ideas to deflect consideration of her philosophy. The religion gambit has been more prominent lately because of religious conservative politicians or tea party people who have found so much of fundamental value in her writing.

          Religion was important to Ayn Rand only in recognizing the damage it has done and to unequivocally reject it as a negative, including emphatically rejecting politicians trying to base their campaigns on it and seeking to impose it in any way by government -- such as the anti-birth control and abortion prohibitionists. But religion is not an important intellectual position that requires endless refutations and crusading the way some almost "professional atheists" do today.

          Ayn Rand had much more important ways to spend her time and energy, including developing and spreading her own ideas for what they are, not regarded as a substitute for anything else, and explaining what was wrong with current trends in the culture and in politics, which was and is much broader than religion. She defined herself as what she was for, not as a negative of what she was against.

          She was more than clear about what is wrong with religion and contemptuously dismissed it as not worthy of further intellectual efforts other than when it posed a very specific threat (such as some prominent politician promoting it) and in a few key articles like the one's revealing the meaning and consequences of the papal encyclicals. Those articles were not devoted to arguing theology, or its fallacies, but the destructive meaning for human life that she regarded as the good.
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          • Posted by  $  Maritimus 3 years, 11 months ago
            Hello, ewv,

            Thank you for a concise and consistent illustration of how well focused and properly prioritized Objectivist thinking ought to be and has been conducted.

            I envy you the skill in expressing your thoughts. On second thought, this means that I admire your clarity of thinking

            With admiration and gratitude,
            Sincerely,
            Maritimus
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  • Posted by coaldigger 4 years, 2 months ago
    As a young boy I was told that "you have to go to church." I resented the "have to" part and as all young boys do, I asked "why?"

    My grandfather was a Baptist minister in North Carolina. He was a farmer and a builder which I admired very much. I thought his religious pronouncements were somehow embarrassing.

    Independently, I came to a conclusion that there is a rational explanation for everything if you have the knowledge. Obtaining knowledge is man's key to his understanding of existence and filling in the blanks by faith is intellectual laziness and a surrender to ignorance. That which we do not yet know is the challenge that fuels our progress as a species and anything that skips over the "why" with a substitute for knowledge is evil.

    I am not religious because I have arrived at that conclusion rationally. I am an objectivist because I arrived at that conclusion rationally. While the two conclusions have reason as the common denominator, one is not because of the other.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
      This is an excellent point coal. Separating the two out. Studying Objectivism does not mean you give other beliefs up first. The inquiry is the thing. I have read some comments on the site from both Os and people new to Rand who talk about the philosophy like it' s going on a diet. You can 't eat this or this. You can only do this exercise. For me it 's reading philosophy. I don 't pledge anything before I crack into Aristotle's Politics or Locke's Treatise. It 's not so much about being AN objectivist as it is just learning about the most revolutionary work in philosophy in the 20 th century and seeing its importance historically and scientifically.
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    • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
      coal; I can relate very closely with your story, although without the grandfather as a baptist, but he might as well been so. We were raised in the foothills of the Ozarks and church every Sunday was mandatory. Then I began to learn things, mainly in science, that were frowned on by the church's teachers and minister. When I looked at the reasonableness of what I was learning compared to the unreasonableness of the church teachings, it was an awakening and the beginning of a new adventure that I've been on ever since.

      I found objectivity a little later and found that it fit me like a glove. It felt so good to finally through off the cloak of guilt put on me by a large part of my family and friends for my denial of church and the religion being taught.
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      • Posted by coaldigger 4 years, 2 months ago
        Thanks. I have read your posts and find we have a lot in common. I was asking myself the other day how I arrived at some of the things I have without a lot of classical education. I took a couple of philosophy courses as mandatory non-technical electives but engineers did not have a lot of time to study the classics. My graduate degree was in business and I didn't learn a lot of history or philosophy there either. What I realized is that both disciplines are based on reason. It was an aha moment. Learn to think instead of only learning about the thoughts of others and you come to rational conclusions. I believe this is the major reason our "better educated" Ivy League brothers have been taught to accept altruism to their own detriment.
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        • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
          My belief in education has always been that the true purpose is to learn 'How to Learn' and not what facts and things are taught. Learning is a process that should never cease throughout a life. The ability to do that is what separates us from all other life forms.

          I'm afraid that our 'Ivy League brothers' have forgotten that.

          One of my favorite quotes: "Most people can’t think, most of the remainder won’t think, the small fraction who do think mostly can’t do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self -delusion— in the long run, these are the only people who count." —Robert A. Heinlein
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        • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 4 years, 2 months ago
          Bravo, coaldigger. Dig deep enough and you come up with diamonds. "Learn to think instead of only learning about the thoughts of others." yes! Of course, no one exists in a vacuum. Each mind has to put the pieces together under its own power.from the real world we live in.

          Even Rand had antecedents, but her full philosophy she built out of her own original insights. And she didn't want disciples who would just parrot her words; the truth belongs to all who find it through their own effort.

          I sometimes wonder how many people who quote her as though she were the Bible actually understand the full depth of her wisdom.
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    • Posted by cjferraris 4 years, 2 months ago
      I grew up RC in Tennessee in the '60s, left that "religion" in the '70s and pretty much became a spiritualist. Since I was not around in any of the "religious" times (i.e. when Jesus, Mohammed, etc. where alive) I don't know of who or what, if any, are any more true than I know what I'm going to want to eat for lunch in a week. I do, however, believe that there has to be some sort of intelligence design to the universe, because in nature, there tends to be chaos. Perhaps I am using spirituality for my limited intellect trying to comprehend an unlimited universe. For all I know, there could have been a few older cavemen sitting around a fire saying to themselves, "all kids want to do is eat and f*ck, and nothing is getting done. Perhaps we should give them something to keep them busy." Perhaps it's because we are the only animals on the planet that learn from a fairly young age that we are going to die. Perhaps it was teachings from long ago that were passed on from generation to generation that we must build on our accomplishments. I don't consider my spiritualistic side to hold me back, but more to help me focus and prioritize the things I want to accomplish.
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  • Posted by PURB 4 years, 2 months ago
    Dear K Silver

    There are a number of religious people who have read Rand, love her novels, agree with many of her ideas, but will not abandon their faith. I used to receive visits from a devout Jesuit priest who would drool over Ayn Rand manuscripts and signed first editions I buy and sell. (Having taken a vow of poverty, he couldn't afford to buy, but he was delightful for discussion and thoroughly aquainted with Rand's writings.)
    Indeed, in the Objectivist Newsletter (March, 62), Barbara Branden, under Rand's editorship, writes that "a rational advocate of capitalism can cooperate with religious people who share his political principles, but only in a strictly secular movement, that is: only in a movement that does not claim religion as the base and justification of its political principles".
    As I say, BB wrote this in 1962, so clearly, religious admirers of Rand are not new.
    Best, Michael
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    • Posted by  $  allosaur 4 years, 2 months ago
      I am one of that number of people.
      I do not call myself religious but a believer.
      I also believe in the evidence of evolution.
      I'm quite comfortable with both beliefs.
      If some wish to consider me a nonconformist here, I'm quite comfortable with that.
      Ayn Rand was a nonconformist.
      Not my way. Her way, bless her brain and the heart that pumped blood into it..
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  • Posted by salta 4 years, 2 months ago
    I am not religious, so I cannot expect to address the whole of the mental conflict.
    My opinion arises from what I see as blurring of the distinction between the church, belief in a God, and interpretations of the Bible. Those three things are separate in my mind, but most religious people (I think) would see them as just parts of a single concept.
    I think the Bible can teach any individual many worthwhile lessons. Indeed, at one time it was to most knowledgeable history of our world. The most effective learning (even today) is by role models, and Bible stories are a good substitute, when an appropriate role model is not available.
    Of these three parts, I think the actual church is the least compatible with Rand's ideas. The reason is the church preaches to its flock to be altruistic, instead of being altruistic itself. My distinction here will not be clear to everyone, due to the fact that many of the flock then behave altruisticly IN THE NAME OF the church. But the "church" is an entity separate from its members, just as a corporation is separate from all its stakeholders.
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  • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 2 months ago
    KS -
    You indicate that in spite of the advances in science, we are no closer to finding out how complex life came into being - and therefore divine intervention is required.

    There are 4 questions that are generally proposed to validate religion in the light of scientific inadequecy:
    1. The existence of the universe per se
    2. The existence of life
    3. The presence of complex life
    4. The nature of consciousness

    Cosmology, Abiogenesis, Evolution, and Neurophysiology have made - and are making - great advances in these areas. There is nothing 'proven' yet. (To my mind, there is nothing in science that is ever proven, just a hypothesis with a large weight of evidence!) Science does have information that allows a scientific approach to the answers to these questions. The important thing is that these questions are 'addressable' by science, and do not of themselves require the intervention of a deity to explain them.

    This does not however exclude a deity. One cannot logically establish that a deity does not exist. If someone wants to begin with that as a postulate and use the Bible (or other document) as the 'cliffsnotes' for how that premise works out, then as long as their 'bottom line' is rational and supports personal freedom, I do not have trouble interacting with them on any topic other than religion. On religion, we must agree to differ.

    Jan
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    • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 2 months ago
      Thanks for your post.

      It is my view that science helps us to better understand god. Everything in scripture is interpreted by the mind that wrote it down. How would someone with Moses education look at a vision of the creation? Very differently than if a neurologist saw the same vision, and also true of a civil engineer seeing the same vision.

      I look for things that help me understand the world around me better, and by so doing I gain a better glimpse into what the creator is like.

      I think we are on the same page on this based on your post, if I am misunderstanding you please clear things up.
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      • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 2 months ago
        No, not misunderstanding. This is the side of religion I get along with quite well. As a matter of fact, it is one of the pluses of the Islamic religion that they are the only religion that formally stated, "Since Allah created the universe, the study of the universe is a way of worshiping Allah." (They have notably fallen away from this philosophy!)

        If a creator-god were to exist, and if he were a 'hands on' kinda guy who was always personally messing with evolving species on billions of worlds all over the universe, then the story he tells illiterate goat-herders would be one of light and dark, land and sea - not singularities and microwave backgrounds.

        So for you to continue your study of the universe as a way of enlightening your religion is great. I slice Occam's Razor through the process and eliminate the 'religion' part of it.

        Jan
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    • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
      Jan-
      You, and many others here, misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that since we "are no closer to finding out how- therefore divine intervention is required." What I am saying is that until we have definitive proof of any theory, we shouldn't rule out other theories. This is where the militant preachers of atheism get me. I am more than willing to explore the theory that there is no God, but I don't want to rule out the theory that there is one either. I will look at all theories until they can be disproven. The militant preachers of science and atheism say, "have faith, we will prove it one day". How is that any different from saying "have faith, you will meet god one day." Both sides require faith to follow their theories. However, the atheists scoff at the faith necessary to believe in God, while the religious fanatics scoff at science. I am no where near either of those extremes. I will explore the realities of my existence in the hopes of finding proof. Until I find proof, my exploration will continue in all directions necessary to gather the information I need.
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      • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 2 months ago
        Gottcha. I am agnostic: The reason is that I cannot disprove the existence of god or gods. (Ayn Rand dislikes agnosticism as 'trying to please both sides'. This is one of the things I disagree with her about.)

        Additionally, I get along 'least well' with the deists who put their God in a tiny box: You cannot [drink alcohol] because God doesn't want you to.

        This also works for the atheists who put reality in a tiny box: There can be no [such thing as an afterlife] because that is religious stuff and therefore does not exist.

        Whatever exists, exists as part of reality. And the concept of 'proven' is much bigger than my brain. I will stick with a contextual definition - eg Newton's Laws apply to macroscopic but sub-stellar motion that occurs at moderate speeds.

        Jan
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        • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
          I was raised an Episcopalian, or, as we call ourselves, a Whiskeypalian. I have no trouble with alcohol. We were basically Catholics without the rules. I just had problems with the fact that my fellow Whiskeypalians helped communists at every turn.
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          • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 2 months ago
            I was just using that as an example of religions/religious people who put their god in a tiny box. Really? Your god cares what sort of underwear you wear? This is the god who you say created the universe...?

            I think that the communist disease cuts across religions and atheists alike.

            Jan, likes the Whiskeypalian term
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            • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
              That reminds me of a term I learned in a small, Oklahoma town as a child--'40 mile Baptist', Good baptist within 40 miles of the church--outside of that radius, watch out.
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  • Posted by Matcha 4 years, 2 months ago
    Man is meant to learn throughout his life. Not just in one area but all areas. If you apply the structure necessary to run a successful company to your home life I fear you would fail at marriage and parenting. You are one thing one place and something else in another. Anyone posting who has run a successful business and created a lasting home life? When I worked I felt mentally different. I talked and acted different. There is a place aside from work for a totally different mindset. I guess the women reading this will be disgusted but I want my husband to know how much I value him and I try to do everything I can to show him. I think in Rand's book he would be Hank Reardon. Don't think I'm crazy, the only romance I ever enjoyed in any book was in Rand's writings. I guess my point is that life is not just one thing. Thinking about religion, thinking about how it could be something you believe in because you were taught to believe in it is a good thing. Your conclusion is yours. You don't have to accept someone else's. To me that is the real gift Rand gave us. She taught us to evaluate our beliefs. Every hero she gave us someone we could possibly become. Her books have a message we all need to consider. In regards to the Bible I feel the same way. Organized religion that is limiting of freedom of thought and action would not work for me.
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  • Posted by Dennis55 4 years, 2 months ago
    I did not read every post-so if this idea was mentioned-I apologize. But, check out Deism, especially the World Union of Deists (I'm a member). For the committed Objectivist that needs to square AR and AS with a core belief that there is a first cause, a watchmaker, a singularity that was at the Big Bang or even a universal consciousness-I think it's a perfect fit. My personal experience-in my late 50's- is at the same time I discovered AR and AS I also came to grips with the organized religions I grew up with-and rejected them. It's a stunning coincidence (?) that the word and standard is REASON throughout both philosophy's. There is no damnation or judging. No take up YOUR cross, no guilt, church mortgages, sacrifice. It is not necessarily a religion of love or altruism-It is a personal creed based on reason. God isn't an older Jesus, I don't need to give away my paycheck to the looters and moochers. Deism allows me to look up and acknowledge through science and reason there might be a first cause without priestcraft. I consider it NO accident that my" awakening" regarding AR and rejection of what I think of as crazy religion developed contemporaneously. As usual I'm not really conveying this the way I want-but take a look at the World Union of Deist. I would say that Deism allows for a personal , unique look upwards and be anti-religion at the same time. Anti religion in the context of superstition , anti moocher, anti "not living my life for another man" It has allowed me to be a hard working, best I can be, make some money..... and keep it.
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  • Posted by ameyer1970 4 years, 2 months ago
    Objectivism and religion are mutually exclusive. The metaphysics are polar opposites
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    • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 4 years, 2 months ago
      Almost, not quite. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Where Objectivism and religion intersect is with regard to how to treat others. "Love thy brother as thyself" translates into "Not live for the sake of another nor ask another to live for mine." That includes respecting others' lives, property and freedom. In fact, if the Ten Commandments get whittled down to George Carlin's two, they'd be another item that meets Objectivist (and atheist) ethics.
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  • Posted by H6163741 3 years, 11 months ago
    I am a theist, because even primordial ooze has to be created by someone/something. However, I cannot accept the idea of a spiritual being who (that?) is involved in everyone's lives all the time, hears what we say to the air (and knows our thoughts too!) and controls everyday events. My husband is Christian, so this makes for some interesting conversations!
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    • Posted by MinorLiberator 3 years, 11 months ago
      I was interested to see a new comment on this thread. And it really does get to the heart of the matter (no pun intended). What I am about to say has probably been addressed elsewhere in this post, but I am simply responding to this one.

      I speak only for myself,but through my understanding and study of Objectivism for 40+ years.

      Your first sentence contains a premise that is incorrect. Why assume, with no proof, that the "primordial ooze" as you call it, had to be created by "someone/something"? It is more valid, based on evidence, that the primordial ooze,or Universe, it that which has always existed, without beginnig or end, and without the help of some consciousness.

      And that was has evolved through billions of years, out of this ooze, and not by design, is, as far as we know now, but will eventually discover in other galaxies, Man's consciousness and conceptual intelligence.

      Having been raised very religious, IMO the tragic reversal, bordering on hubris, is the teaching that "Man was created in God's image and likeness". It's actually the reverse: Man created God in Man's image and likeness, only a more perfect, e.g., "omniscient" version. We see, in our limited vision, that men create things, and wonderful things, to our glory. But I see no evidence whatsoever that the Universe had to be created by anyone, and that it did not exist always, and, predates what we call consciousness.
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    • Posted by ewv 3 years, 11 months ago
      The first premise is false. Why does whatever you mean by "primordial ooze" require that someone or something with conscious intent created it? Created out of what? Nothing? Created how? Consciousness perceives reality, it doesn't create it, let alone by standing in the nothing of nowhere. The notion of primacy of consciousness required to create existence as such is a fallacious floating abstraction and mystic fantasy that explains nothing and is not a rational basis for any belief.
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  • Posted by jconne 4 years, 2 months ago
    A general point - the AS movies are at best a tease to entice people to look closer at the fiction and non-fiction of Rand et al. Civilizations have been lost before and we are striving to not have that happen to ours.

    For those so enticed, please note two points:

    1. A significant sub-movement has been critical of ARI for protecting the integrity of Rand's work. They are accused of being "orthodox" or "closed" for not admitting a bunch of varying opinions. This can be a big distraction from getting the value there. The key to sorting this out is a simple, clear principle: An author has a right to name their intellectual property. People with alternative opinions that they may call "improvements" should call their system or variant of another's system by their coined name such as Kelly-ism and not hijack the name of the original innovator over objections. This especially applies after the originator is no longer alive and able to argue against the differences.

    2. ARI is making tons of content, including lectures and courses available for free. All that is required for access is signing up. Check it out.

    You will find courses on the history of philosophy, economics, and much more. All of Ayn Rand's Ford Hall Forum lectures and the Q&A are there. Also the TV interviews. And now the history of OCON content is becoming available.
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  • Posted by Matcha 4 years, 2 months ago
    I don't have a problem with thinking Ayn Rand and her philosophy are brilliant and the teachings of Christ are wonderful. Before any of you think I haven't thought about all the issues with religion that you could possibly throw at me I want to say any thinking person would have asked these questions themselves. I may have issue with organized religion but not with the concept with the teachings of Christ. Please don't abandon us because we don't agree with your concept of Objectivism. Do you think some people are fundamentalist Objectivists? Any deviation from their interpretation must be wrong. I was actually taught all the principals of I rediscovered in Objectivism in my childhood community when I was a child. These include the responsibility of work, going beyond what is expected at work, being honest, and respect for your employer. Welfare was a no no. The churches reinforced these values. While I no longer think these values exist in the same way now I can say they did and it was a loss when things changed. What is going to provide these lessons now? Do you really speak to many young people? They are lost. Most do not desire material wealth. I promise you Ayn Rand, the Constitution and the dangers of organized religion were dinner time conversation at my table. Add to that several Ayn Rand loving PHD's to the mix and this 20 something generation just doesn't get it. Now my son on the other hand, PHD from MIT, now in final month of law school, raised his children in a private school with a slight religious bent and these kids think more like we do. I'm a little slow but I can see what made a difference. I'm just saying maybe you are being too extreme.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 2 months ago
    I think that there is (or can be) significant agreement. Objectivism is at its core a search for what IS, i.e. reality. The key - and this is the REALLY tough part - is the rejection of preconceived notions and the willingness to re-examine absolutely everything. That can sometimes be too much for some people, as they have already made up their minds about certain things and are unwilling to postulate the possibilities of difference. The first thing that must be acknowledged in the search for truth is that you didn't start with it in the first place. ;)

    I am in complete agreement with the scientific method and hold to the assertion that even matters of so-called religion can be tested for truth. I do not hold that there are certain truths that are "unknowable", but I will concede that my own personal limitations may indeed preclude me from a complete understanding of some things and that such I may have to accept "on faith" at first.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
      1. There is "agreement" in that religion is a primitive form of philosophy seeking an integrated view of life and the world around us. And that is far better than the nihilists and pragmatists who don't want even that. But the answers provided are very different.

      Ayn Rand once wrote (1965) in response to a letter from a priest:

      "Perhaps I should add that I am an intransigent atheist, but not a militant one. This means that I am an uncompromising advocate of reason and that I am fighting for reason, not against religion. I must also mention that I do respect religion in its philosophical aspects, in the sense that it represents an early form of philosophy."

      "I have the impression that you are a follower of Thomas Aquinas, whose position, in essence, is that since reason is a gift of God, man must use it. I regard this as the best of all the attempts to reconcile reason and religion—but it is only an attempt, which cannot succeed. It may work in a limited way in a given individual's life, but it cannot be validated philosophically. However, I regard Aquinas as the greatest philosopher next to Aristotle, in the purely philosophical, not theological, aspects of his work. If you are a Thomist, we may have a great deal in common, but we would still have an irreconcilable basic conflict which is, primarily, an epistemo-logical conflict." -- Ayn Rand, in Letters of Ayn Rand, ed by Michael Berliner.

      2. You were right to put "faith" in quotes in the context there in which you used it near the end of your post. Sometimes we accept ideas provisionally when we don't know the full validation but have reason to respect the source (such as in a physics text book). But properly, we never lose sight of that _status_ even if we are never able to go back and learn more about it.

      That is a much different use of the term "faith" as having reasonable confidence than the religious acceptance on faith in contrast to reason.



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      • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 2 months ago
        And yet again you continue to define faith using an anti-definition (a logical fallacy) - the opposite of reason. Again you choose to entirely frame the debate within the constricting confines of what Rand chose to _believe_ ie have faith in - ironically about faith itself. She is welcome to her opinion and you are welcome to yours, but I reject Rand as an authority on faith. She has neither the standing nor the experience to define the debate on the matter and I reject all such. I will also say that other philosophers such as Kant, Aquinas, and others similarly lack the standing with which to do anything more than present their opinion. I am not beholden to any of them and do not accept any of them as my representative on the matter. I speak for myself on behalf of myself and my personal experience.

        If Objectivism is the search for truth, it should not count out ANYTHING unless there is specific proof that it can not be. The possibilities should remain open to exploration. To the intellectually honest, the argument against God at its most substantiated is that of "I don't know". For those who choose to test the hypothesis of faith to learn that God does in fact exist, the answer comes only after study and unprejudiced searching. I know that from personal fact. And I can not refute the evidence of my experiences any more than I can refute the sun rising in the morning.

        It takes just as much faith to believe in God as it does not to. Either way you are initially accepting someone else's opinion on the matter. What you do from that point on is up to you. Ultimately, it is a personal decision with profound consequences. No one can make the decision for you. If you choose to allow someone else to dictate to you what you will think, that is a choice with its own consequences, and it applies to everyone regardless of which philosophy/religion they choose to follow.

        But the argument that faith in and of itself is antithetical to reason stems from ignorance about the nature of faith itself. It is like Reardon's wife holding the bracelet of Rearden steel. She had no comprehension of what it represented and so willingly discarded it without a thought. To those of us who have done the research and actually worked in the mills to forge the steel, it is valuable to us. Until one has taken their turn in the mills and forged similar steel of their own, they will remain ignorant of the true value of both the process and the results.
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        • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
          Hello, B,

          "If Objectivism is the search for truth, it should not count out ANYTHING unless there is specific proof that it can not be."

          Objectivism is a philosophy, not just "the search for truth". The way you phrase this, to me, implies that Objectivism is, in your opinion, in search of the truth about existence of God. It is enormously more than that.

          Also, you are asking for proof that God does not exist. In my opinion, that is an impossible task. It is your task to prove that He does.

          Just my opinions.
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          • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
            I don't think he was saying that Objectivism is the search for truth about God. I don't even think he was saying it is solely a search for truth of any kind. I think he was saying that Objectivism calls for the constant questioning of everything using our gift of reason. As an objectivist, we should never accept anyone else's "truth" without seeking our own.
            I also disagree that proving God doesn't exist is impossible. If we can scientifically prove any of the competing theories, it would then disprove the alternatives.
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  • Posted by DeanStriker 4 years, 2 months ago
    After my rather long lifetime of questioning religion, I've settled into the agnostic mode -- don't know, can't know, why bother? The problem I have is with "blind faith" rather than simple Reason.

    Because of a world being run by the proponents of blind faith, it's it deep doo-doo. While in the beginning I latched onto Rand's atheism, looking back it was a very bad PR move which serves only to cause rejection of Objectivism by the unthinking who simply slammed the door on it. With some seven billion people on this planet who cannot agree on much of anything, it's not looking good, is it?
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    • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 4 years, 2 months ago
      All 7 billion were born as atheists and natural Objectivists--they knew nothing about gods and they wanted to be happy (Objectivism is the philosophy for living on this earth). They could all agree on that. All 7 billion were then indoctrinated into the varying belief systems of their cultures while too young to question or verify; and disobedience/resistance is punished. The young thus accept the teachings of their elders "on faith" and don't differentiate between received myths and first-hand sense data evidence. And that trusting faith "meme" takes root and becomes the tool of unreason for life if not identified and weeded out by the rational adult.

      Of course, there are exceptions. When my mother tried to make me believe, at the age of three, that my guardian angel stood behind me, I didn't believe her any more than I was willing to believe in the Easter Bunny or other invisible entities.
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      • Posted by DeanStriker 4 years, 2 months ago
        You were quicker than I was --I figure my questioning didn't begin until maybe age 7 when I remember challenging the sunday school teacher about so many fables, but it's been so very long ago the old memory is fuzzy. At age 18 I was in Korea and the evangelist preacher back home wrote me that I should be making "donations" (from my mere $78 monthly?). That got me thinking about that entire game, and I wrote him back that I'd become an atheiist. Within a couple of weeks two Red Cross women came to try and convince me otherwise LOL.

        Thinking about all that later, I finally decided that I "don't know, can't know, so why bother?" which makes me agnostic. My main thought is that blind faith is both useless and damaging.
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        • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 4 years, 2 months ago
          Verily so. Blind faith is the voluntary disabling of the mind's rational faculty and self-enslavement to the ideas of others. This is the power of memes, how they colonize and enslave.

          And just in case a person might still have a twinge of doubt, a lingering question. the Catholic Church (and others) made it a mortal sin to doubt or even to question. Apostasy! And since there is no cure, and doubt might infect others, too, some religions pass a death sentence over the body, not just the soul.

          If there is a God who engineered us this way, it is a pathetic failure of a designer. Some bugs were left in the system; the prototype was released too soon. (There--now you know what is meant by original sin.)
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          • Posted by MinorLiberator 4 years, 2 months ago
            And there goes the argument from design. To which the stock answer is: "But we, as mere mortals, cannot grasp His whole plan, His complete design." Sorry, not buyin' it. And BTW, Not Guilty.

            Great post, PL.
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  • Posted by mdant 4 years, 2 months ago
    KS, thanks for bringing up the question. There are very strong opinions on this. I believe it helps to learn as much as possible and base our opinions on facts when possible. However, if we are honest we have to admit that humans really are not anywhere remotely close to understanding how everything came about. Science learns more and more but with each wrapper unfolded it simply leads to another one. Maybe one day we will truly understand, but I suspect that will be thousands or millions of years off. I remember viewing one show where the scientist talked about how the answers could be staring us in the face but we simply are not smart enough to figure it out. They compared it to trying to teach a gorilla algebra or something like that. Gorillas are smart animals but you could spend his entire life teaching him but he will never be able to grasp it.

    I do not claim to have any idea what the real story is behind existence. My ideas are probably different than yours but I can not credibly argue there is no God. There simply is no hard proof one way or the other (though personally I feel I have enough evidence to be somewhat confident that the current religions have filled in gaps to "create" false answers).

    Who knows what we will find if some day we actually do learn to understand. This probably will not be comforting to you but my current train of thought is that there is something that explains our existence and you might call it God or Creator, but that can be taken many ways since we might be considered Gods if we went back to the Stone age. In comparison to all of existence, I figure we are like bacteria living in a human body. We have countless millions of bacteria living in our body but we have no conscience knowledge of them other than science telling us they are there. To the universe (and/or creative force) we are probably bacteria. But like I said, I do not know anything for sure. And I hope I am wrong!!!!
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
      There is no "story behind existence". It is what it is. 'Existence exists' is the primary. Our task is to understand its nature, not find a story outside existence to explain it. There is no outside of existence. That whole approach is wrong and meaningless from the beginning.

      You don't have to prove there is no god. If someone claims there is such a thing it is up to him to explain what it means and prove it. When he doesn't, then in logic you reject it out of hand as the arbitrary as if nothing had been said. That is what atheism means: a-theism, the rejection of theism. You don't have to "understand everything" to know how to think rationally, which does not require "proving" every claim "one way or the other".
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      • Posted by mdant 4 years, 2 months ago
        As to "Existence exists", sure it does...I am not sure we have any disagreement on that. I am not suggesting there is a story outside of existence. I am saying we are still unable to understand The Story Of Existence itself (not something outside of it). As you said, our task is to understand the nature of existence. I think part of the conflict here may be simply in the term God...what is God anyway? It is quite possible that if we did have all the answers, the original poster would point towards the origin of existence and say "see, there is God". Where you may look at the same thing and not be willing to give it that title.

        I have to disagree on your second point. There are lots of things that science can not explain and can only desperately grasp at possible scenarios. However, that does not mean those things do not exist simply because the scientist can not explain it yet. Suggesting that someone must prove God exists in order for God to exists is much the same as me telling you that God does exist unless you can prove me otherwise (yes I understand it is not exactly the same but still holds true).
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  • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 2 months ago
    To answer this I will first give a bit of background. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. I share this with Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney and Harry Reid.

    Glenn Beck is a small government guy and would largely fit into a Objectivist concept as well.

    Mitt Romney is a moderate that would drive a mixed economy between small and large government.

    Harry Reid is an embarrassment that he shares my religion and I really cannot understand how he does and has the views he has.

    About the only thing I share with Harry Reid is a belief that their is a god. We are alike about at much as two atheist with the furthermost apart political views you could have.

    Atheism is a religion. Like myself and Harry Reid there are atheists with only the belief their is no god in common.

    Religion is not a factor as a person who uses reason and rational thought to govern their belief/confidence/faith is doing what objectivity suggests.

    The fact is I have far more in common with an atheist here than I would ever have with Harry Reid.

    For an example, many religious people would make the assumption that Christ taught Altruism when he said we should take care of the poor. You will note that by his example he healed those who exercised faith they would be healed. Gave sight to those who followed instructions to receive their site... all of his help required action on the part of the receiver. Even in the old testament the followers had to look up at the serpent in order to be healed of the venomous bites they had received. He helps those who help themselves. He is not saying he will swoop in a save the day, but that god has put a system in place that if you take action to help yourself and will find a way to do it.

    Others like Harry Reid interpret those events differently. Outside of the reality of life that says "by the sweat of your own brow shall thy eat all the days of thy life."

    Fact is both viewpoints can be argued from the bible. There are reasons for that, but that's another topic. At the end of the day it only the mind and its ability to reason that can be used to determine faith/belief/confidence in the unknown and work towards making it known. This viewpoint works very well with the religion I practice. It would not work with the religion Harry Reid practices even thought we both belong to the same Christan religion.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
      Atheism is the rejection of religion, not a religion. Objectivism is a philosophy, not "small government". Glenn Beck does not "fit into a Objectivist concept". Religious rationalizations and Biblical parables are irrelevant.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
        ewv; I think atheism being defined as a rejection of religion or not a religion kind of misses the point. Atheism is a conclusion reached through reason, and is the rejection of not-reason and not-rationality. What I wonder is who assigned it a title and identity. If the term disappeared and was replaced by 'thinking with reason' or reasoning, or rationality--I wonder how the arguments would evolve.

        But good points.
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        • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
          Hello, Z,

          I have known some people who were fanatically and irrationally atheists. With them, whenever you scratch the surface and try to ask why are they atheists, you find a big nothing. I am reasonably confident that they have not reached their stance through reason. It seemed to me that they accepted their atheism "on faith".

          Remember, the entire spectrum in that Heinlein quote is populated. Unfortunately!
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        • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 2 months ago
          How is the nonexistence of god any more rational than the existence of god. Both have to be taken on faith. I would argue that Atheism is completely irrational. No road build itself, no building builds itself, but yet all of space and the earth did? Irrational based on everything we know from my perspective.

          I can accept that perhaps the mind behind creating a system with the fault tolerances and long term life our planet provides has left is no where around, but in my view to say that it "just happened" is completely irrational.

          Here is the crux of the matter their is no way to prove or disprove the existence of god. Practicing the religion of atheism, Christianity, Buddhism or Hindu all require faith. Those that do any of them rationally are looking to constantly remove as much of the required "Faith/Confidence" and turn it into knowledge as they can, but until all things can be proven faith is required for those that cannot.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
            Your arguments applies not only to your belief in a god but as well to dragons, fairies, leprechauns, goblins, trolls, vampires, werewolves, boogiemen, the sandman, Santa Claus, elves, gremlins, Freddie on Elm St., yetis, big foot, ghosts, demons, telekinesis, mind reading,--shall we go on.

            Believe in the irrational if you wish, but if my virgin daughter shows up pregnant, I'm going to run some DNA tests and check every young stud in the neighborhood.
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            • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 2 months ago
              Perhaps, if you take this post out of the context of the many others I have made on this subject. In context the only thing on the list that shows its existence by its creation (the earth) and the fact that a mind is required to create anything of any use is god. The rest have no such evidence.

              You too may believe in the irrational if you wish, such as roads building themselves.

              Isn't it great to be in a world where for the most part we can both believe in something the other thinks to be irrational? I for one am glad to be in such a place.

              Even more important is the ability for us to exist with one and other without initiating force on and and other even though we both look at the other person and think they are irrational in some way?
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          • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
            Very well said. That is my problem with the militant preachers of atheism. I also have the same problem with fanatical religious zealots. To question their beliefs in either case is blasphemy, and you are sure to encounter the vitriol of the uninformed. You see it clearly stated in this thread. There are some who will call you names and demean you simply for asking the question about atheism. And there are others, not necessarily on here but probably more numerous in the real world, who will curse you, damn you, or even murder you for the crime of questioning their beliefs.
            I will spend my time in the middle of that spectrum and continue my pursuit of knowledge.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 2 months ago
            XenokRoy, Objectivists use Ayn Rand's definition of atheism rather than the definition that is generally accepted in dictionaries. Ms. Rand was quite clever in defining her term such that she didn't have to have faith to believe that there is no god. I have had this argument with numerous people in this forum. By her definition, Ms. Rand has successfully positioned herself into a default position where she has to prove nothing, whereas atheists who state unequivocally that there is no god have a burden of proof. Very clever on her part.
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            • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
              j, why not give both definitions, because I'm not sure I'll agree with your Objectivist definition.
              The overwhelming evidence scientifically is that there is no super-natural being running things. Scientific burden of proof falls on those who make extraordinary claims. There must be extraordinary evidence for those claims. In science, we would not say something existed without evidence for it.
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            • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 2 months ago
              j; Faith is something that is based on demonstrations of actions prior to now from a person or event. I have faith that when I wet two of my fingers and stick them into an electrical socket, I'm going to get the pee shocked out of me. I have faith that the sun will rise in the morning and can even predict with near perfect precision exactly when that'll happen.

              But faith in a god is 'wanting' something to happen or be true because it makes one feel more secure, that one doesn't have to rely on his senses and reasoning ability, that one doesn't have to fear his own death or that of his loved ones, etc.

              As to AR's default position--I find no evidence that big foot exists and any that believe that and try to convince me of it are going to have to provide proof of such in order to make me believe it. It's not my responsibility to prove to them that he doesn't exist.
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    • Posted by jconne 4 years, 2 months ago
      Roy, I think that the reason that almost any point can be argued from the bible is the range of positions represented is almost unbounded.

      My way of dealing with this is to identify that all successful liars tell a lot of truth before slipping in the gotcha. The bible is a collection of stories written for an author's purpose over many centuries. To claim it represents the word of some omniscient, benevolent source is just arbitrary. It is up to us to recognize and judge any contradictions presented. Our standard should be reality and reason, not arbitrary and often destructive assertions.
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      • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 2 months ago
        Would not disagree.

        In my religions second book of scripture it ends with a challenge to adopt the principles and test them in your life to see if they bring forth good fruit.

        Also in the Book of Mormon is Alma 32 which outlines what looks like scientific process for testing your faith against the results of it.

        Reguardless of where something comes from, if you believe the bible to be inspired by god or not, or some other text. It always will go through some man for interpretation. That interpretation can only be done based on the view and understand of the man (or woman) who receives. Mistakes will be made in that, and its up to us to identify them.

        There is within religion many good things that will bring good things to you if you live them. I would say the same about Objectivism. The key is to have an open mind, test and validate ideas against what you know, and what they do for you in your life. Then adjust accordingly. This is what any reasonable religion would require of us, be it Atheism, Buddhist or Christian. We all must use our minds to test the words of others and determine if they are truth or false.

        Thanks for sharing you view of how to separate the falsehoods from the truth. As Jefferson put it to his son "Question everything even the very existence of God" its what we all must do.
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  • Posted by peterchunt 4 years, 2 months ago
    I recall a recent discussion I had with a gentleman on whether there is a God or not. His argument was we are so complex that there must be a God. That was the basis of his argument. It was not based on anything rational, but that there just must be a higher power, because how else could a human have been “created”. Of course science has identified that the earth is millions of years old (not the thousands the creationists believe), and over those years humans developed into the form they are today. Science has proved that we evolved from very simple living things. Religion relies on “faith” to justify their beliefs and I expect it does so because science cannot support their views (don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up).
    I am not anti-religion, any more than I want to push my atheism. As had been said earlier, Objectivism is not anti anything, but it clearly identifies what it is. It is fact driven and science based, and A is not equal to B but to A.
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  • Posted by sdesapio 4 years, 2 months ago
    The book Mamaemma mentioned, Mark Henderson's "The Soul of Atlas": http://store.atlasshruggedmovie.com/the-...
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
      Why would that help? The full title is "The Soul of Atlas: Ayn Rand, Christianity, a Quest for Common Ground" and the product description says "the author builds a case for common ground between Faith and Reason". There is no common ground; they are opposites.
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      • Posted by sdesapio 4 years, 2 months ago
        I get it ewv. And, I agree with every comment you've posted on this thread. You are always concise, articulate, well versed, and just plain fun to read.

        And, you're a sledgehammer.

        An awesome f**king sledgehammer who is unstoppable. A pitbull.

        I am your biggest fan.

        But, you're scary ewv.

        Especially to someone who has just peaked their head in the door, and is asking (very politely I might add) if he can come in and hang out with us for a minute because, while he really likes what he's read of Rand so far, he's having trouble reconciling a few things.

        I agree with you on the matter or religion. And, KSilver3 is on his way. With a whole life of worship behind him, he's going to be a hard nut to crack, but he's primed and ready.

        Let's say we don't tell him to f**k off just yet, ok?

        You want to read more on the topic KSilver3? You go ahead and read Mark's book. We'll be here when you're ready for the deeper dive.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 years, 2 months ago
          The question was how the book would help when its title and description imply it advocates a "common ground" between reason and faith and between Ayn Rand and Christianity in particular? Is that really what it does?

          I haven't discouraged KSilver from asking questions, let alone wielding a sledge to hammer them. On the contrary:
          http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/25...
          http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/25...
          (Permalinks were a very good addition to gg.)

          There are many people brought up and influenced for decades by religious ideas and all kinds of ideas around them, but this is secular America, not the Middle Ages, and they thrive in spite of damaging influences, find strong appeals to Atlas Shrugged, and naturally have a lot of questions.
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          • Posted by  $  4 years, 2 months ago
            We'll call it a rubber mallet, not a sledgehammer (just kidding obviously). In fact, your responses have been some of the more intriguing ones.
            I have been misunderstood a bit. I am certainly not a religious fanatic. My mom was southern Baptist, and my dad was Jewish. You just can't reconcile those two, so I wasn't raised very religious (though mom did try). I came to the Episcopalian church upon meeting my wife, and was baptized as an adult. Within a few years, I became very disenchanted with the church, and haven't been back since. Most of the reason for that disenchantment came from the same place as Rand's. The church's constant struggle to force me to feel guilty for what I have in order to separate me from my wallet. I also did my own research and found the horrible history my church had throughout the cold war in aiding and abetting the communist party in America.
            This is more of an intellectual exercise for me. I just feel that many of the proponents of science think they have much more evidence than they actually do. To call a matter settled is a dangerous thing to do unless it truly is.
            If scientist stating that they are "Confident" in a theory was enough to make it true, we would be coming out of the ice age that was supposed to besiege us as we were warned of in the 70's, or learning about the extinct polar bear due to the global warming we were assured was coming in the 90's. In my opinion, the science isn't settled, and until it is, we shouldn't rule anything out in the quest for truth.
            I do agree very much with your first post, that Rand didn't think it was a very important discussion to have. We should instead focus on our actual existence instead of trying to figure out the unknowable.
            I have read every word Ayn Rand has written. Admittedly, I haven't read the myriad of books that have been written about her or Objectivism. I can honestly say that reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time in high school was my first pivot point in my life. I never felt right with the self-immolation and guilt that most modern day life seems focused on. I never felt that I should judge my success against those who had not accomplished their own. While I was lucky enough to miss the heart of the "me generation", its effects were starting to show in my youth. I never got a participation trophy, but I was always warned not to look so happy after winning something because it might hurt other's feelings.
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            • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
              Hi, K...3,

              I cannot resist pointing out that the people who produced the warnings of an ice age, as well as those who now predict the demise of the arctic etc., are not behaving according to the principles that are the foundations of all true scientific progress.

              Years ago Langmuir made a presentation at the GE Research Center about "pathological science". Stories about cases which he witnessed of "scientists" who, consciously or not, tweaked their experimental procedures to consistently obtain the results that they wished. In our times it seems to be more what their paymasters wish.
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              • Posted by khalling 4 years, 2 months ago
                wait a minute...I'm K. and I agree martimus. ;)
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                • Posted by  $  Maritimus 4 years, 2 months ago
                  Dear K,

                  I could never, ever confuse you with anyone else. K=K, just as A=A and existence exists.

                  I may have subconsciously used the first and the last characters of his name in the fashion of Byzantine religious art. I have been thinking about that lately in a totally different context.

                  Without carefully thinking, I came close to the disaster of offending you. Clumsy! ;-)

                  All the best, dear K.
                  Sincerely,
                  Maritimus
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  • Posted by H6163741 3 years, 11 months ago
    Thanks, guys. Way to turn someone completely off; basically calling them stupid. I think I'll just read my Rand books alone for now. Call me when you have objective proof of any of your OPINIONS.
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  • Posted by  $  TomB666 4 years, 2 months ago
    Religion - wow! Please look up www.fellowshipofreason.org.

    Religions may or may not demand a belief in something supernatural. What all religions (that I can find out about) have in common is that they bring like minded people together - its a social thing. When you belong to a religion you know that there are others who generally think as you do, and while an objectivist may not need the reassurances of others, it is nice to be part of a community that thinks as you do. Why else are we all here in Galt's Gulch?

    Zenphamy wrote an excellent response in my opinion.
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  • Posted by Ranter 4 years, 2 months ago
    I consider the Objectivist ideals and philosophy as a rationale for rational political structure and rational economics. I simply set aside the atheism. However, I do not apply the Objectivist ideals in a theistic manner, either. In my personal life, I apply my religious ideals, in my personal dealings with others.
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