Finding Common Ground between Ayn Rand and Christianity

Posted by Mark 9 years ago to Government
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Despite the undeniable differences, I think we can find common ground between Ayn Rand's philosophy and Christianity. The consequences for not finding it? More infighting among limited-government types and lack of cohesive plan that will propel us forward.
SOURCE URL: http://www.soulofatlas.com/blog/entry/great-conversation-with-conservative-talk-show-host-steve-deace


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  • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
    I have not yet read your book, but it is on my list. I do have some questions. Respectfully, at the most elemental foundations of logic and reason, one side will have to ignore their premises in order to come together. Practically, when you look at technological development, issues such as stem cell research there is no philosophical intersection. To take that further, for Objectivists, there is not a stigma regarding technology out-pacing morality. For many Christian denominations, there is a stigma about "responsibly managing" the march of technology. On issues where Christians and Objectivists agree, I do not think Objectivists are compromising their values or morality. So, which common ground do you believe is under contention?
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    • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
      Actually, I would argue that on the most elemental foundations of logic and reason, one side (Christianity) needs to rediscover its premises and the other (Objectivism) needs to re-check a few of its premises... after doing so, they will not only find similarities, but inevitable unity -- not just in political-social causes, but in the most fundamental aspects of their worldviews. Christians will re-discover objective reason as their epistemology and egoism as the ultimate ruling moral principle. Objectivists will find the errors in their epistemology which give rise to their Atheism - and to the host of other poisonous ideas which threaten to destroy their grip on objectivity.
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      • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
        There is nothing poisonous about atheism. What other "poisonous" ideas do you refer to? Perhaps, the virtue of selfishness?
        Ultimately, I do not see the history (with the small exception of Aquinas) to "re-discover" reason. Let's take two big ones: accepting original sin and altruism. I won't even bring up evolution vs. creationism or intelligent design-which is not scientific.
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        • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
          There is if it (atheism) is false. No, hopefully my name and the name of my blog (The Christian EGOIST) makes it evident that I certainly do not regard the virtue of selfishness to be poisonous. Some other major historical Christian thinkers to look up would be Augustine, Calvin, and Edwards. They all have their faults - but the intellectual and moral caliber of Christianity you get from a cumulative reading of them is vastly different than what you get in the swamps of modern day Evangelic-land. Ultimately, though, I'd refer you to my blog and writings in work for more thorough explanations on the foundational symmetry between Classical Christianity and Ayn Rand's functional philosophy. :)
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      • Posted by LetsShrug 9 years ago
        Which premises do Objectivists need to recheck?
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        • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
          Atheism, Implicit Empiricism and Implicit Nominalism, and some Incidental Pragmatism. With the exception of Atheism, these are not explicitly held tenants of Objectivism - but they are functionally held, and are therefore potentially more dangerous because of their insidious nature.
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          • Posted by LetsShrug 9 years ago
            Expand on "insidious nature".
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            • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
              Yes, I didn't word that very well. I did not mean that the ideas, themselves, are necessarily insidious, but that the functional rather than explicit nature of the ideas makes them insidious within Objectivism. The fact that they are held on a non-explicit level enables them to operate on individuals and ideology in hidden, "under-the-radar" ways -- such that they will only become evident after their consequences have become evident.. which is usually too late.
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              • Posted by LetsShrug 9 years ago
                Can you give a specific example because it sounds like you just described altruism. :)
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                • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
                  You're absolutely right. Altruism does act like that in the minds of most Americans. That's why it's so difficult to combat - its proponents often don't even know that they are advocating for it.
                  The same goes for Empiricism, Nominalism, and instances of Pragmatism within Objectivist thought.
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                  • Posted by LetsShrug 9 years ago
                    ....specific example....?
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                    • Posted by TheChristianEgoist 9 years ago
                      Empiricism: The Objectivist belief that an idea must be entirely "reducible to perception" in order to be valid.
                      Nominalism: The Objectivist belief that there is no metaphysical object to which a *concept* correlates; that concepts are merely organizational tools meant to help us manage our perception.
                      Pragmatism: The Objectivist belief that rights are based in our *need* for them, rather than being based in our nature (as espoused by Tara Smith and others).
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                      • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
                        Rights are not based in need, they are based on what Man is.
                        "[The Pragmatists] declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards—that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth—that truth is that which works, and its validity can be judged only by its consequences—that no facts can be known with certainty in advance, and anything may be tried by rule-of-thumb—that reality is not firm, but fluid and “indeterminate,” that there is no such thing as a distinction between an external world and a consciousness (between the perceived and the perceiver), there is only an undifferentiated package-deal labeled “experience,” and whatever one wishes to be true, is true, whatever one wishes to exist, does exist, provided it works or makes one feel better." AR, For the New Intellectual.
                        Nominalism: A concept is a way of categorizing many specific facts, it does not correlate to a specific.
                        Empiricism:
                        "[Philosophers came to be divided] into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and are not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists)—and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the [mystics] by abandoning reality—and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind." For the New Intellectual
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    • Posted by 9 years ago
      @khalling Thanks for your post. Clearly, there is no common ground between Objectivists and Christians on the deity of Jesus Christ. But on the topic of limited government and capitalism, both Christians and Objectivists can agree. This may be obvious to you. Yet I have heard Christians criticize Objectivists as if there can be no agreement on anything (witness Paul Ryan being skewered by the media, secular and Christian). I have also heard Objectivists refuse to recognize a reasonable (by Objectivist standards) position. Common ground is only useful is both parties can stand on it. My contention is that neither parties have engaged, and it is important that we do.
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      • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
        "Objectivists refuse to recognize a reasonable (by Objectivist standards) position." I have as well, but I wonder what examples you may provide.
        I was VERY critical of Paul Ryan-religion wasn't even on my radar
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        • Posted by 9 years ago
          WRT Paul Ryan: Many have criticized Paul Ryan's appreciation for Ayn Rand's philosophy WHILE being a Christian. I think the critics do not recognize that there is common ground. (Of course, he denied it all later.) What do you think?
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          • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
            The focus should have been on how this VP candidate was not a limited government Representative. He voted for Sarbanes Oxley (which his mentor Jack Kemp eloquently predicted would destroy venture capital in this country-and it did), America Invents Act(which violates the Constitution and changes rights from an inventor to a first to file, all major Conservative/religious groups were against this Act btw), all of the bail-outs under Bush.
            My point is, while Christians are focused the God-fearing candidate and Objectivists appreciate he read Atlas Shrugged, he was voting on primary issues against the very issues you say the two groups come together on. Not ONE peep from Conservatives on this. They were sheep for religion.
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            • Posted by 9 years ago
              I agree with your criticism of Paul Ryan on his voting record, and that clearly deserves some focus. While on center-stage during the campaign, it would have been better had he taken a positive Randian stand on capitalism, instead of disavowing her entirely.
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              • Posted by khalling 9 years ago
                "some" focus? Whether he disavowed her or not, I rarely listen to what politicians say who are to represent us in the top positions of government-I look at their record. If they haven't spent time in government, I look at their accomplishments. If the far right of the republican party had vetted Santorum before swooning over his family values and tradition speeches- perhaps Romney would not have been the candidate. In the end, ALL focus should have been on the economy, ruinous regulations, and repealing laws restricting US citizens freedoms. I have the same beef with 2nd Amendment voters and young libertarians on legalizing drugs. I agree with both camps, but the EMERGENCY is 17% real unemployment, no companies going public, small business owners closing their doors, Obamacare the law of the land, a national education disaster, welfare out of control.
                Many in this site have felt strongly about these issues their whole adult life and never read AS until they saw the first movie. I could care less if they are Objectivists, Christians, atheists. I just want their values and virtues to align with the principles this once great country was founded on. Sorry, little worked up over some recent court decisions in our industry.
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  • Posted by iroseland 9 years ago
    The thing is I have a hard time calling most religious folks, small government. When push comes to shove they love to legislate morality. I can not act as the rubber tube on this one. So, if there is a side that would want to change there ways.....
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    • Posted by 9 years ago
      Granted, there is a lot that there is not universal overlap, but let's face it: we need to find enlist the cooperation of those who agree with us to whatever extent. Christians and Objectivists could talk for a long time before they start disagreeing. While it also lists disagreements, The Soul of Atlas is chalk full of examples of common ground, as portrayed through the two men who shaped my life: John, my stepfather, is a businessman, entrepreneur, and a follower of Ayn Rand. Dad is doctor, farmer, and a passionate Christian. Because I was raised by both of them, the conversation between their world views played out in my life.
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