Can You Love God and Religion?

Posted by khalling 5 years, 6 months ago to Philosophy
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this is not a religious post. If you make religious comments, I will hide them. what I want to see here is a discussion about altruism. go.
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 5 years, 6 months ago
    It's all feel good nonsense for the immature, lazy minded followers that's been allowed to bleed the doers of the species. Taking care of those that won't take care of themselves leaves little time to take care of one's own needs, and is in actuality a justification for slavery.
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  • Posted by $ Snezzy 5 years, 6 months ago
    Rand ended one of her last Ford Hall Forum talks with the phrase, "God bless America!" She indicated that she felt her audience would understand why she, an atheist, used that particular phrase.

    Our Western culture contains many perfunctory religious phrases, from saying, "Bless you!" when someone sneezes to using religious curses in a secular manner.

    I think it was Lincoln who said, "I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it." (Observe that in one or two particular religions dogs are decidedly //not// the better for it.)

    While not agreeing with his religion, Rand had good words for Thomas Aquinas. And as for Aquinas's favorite philosopher, he was Rand's as well. Here is what she wrote (in Galt's speech) about Aristotle: "To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."

    There is no contradiction in identifying and admiring truth in a partially flawed work. Certain parts of the Bible contain wisdom or beauty. Other parts identify significant problems that man must address. My current favorite parts include Job (why ME, O Lord?) and Esther (Jews do not bow down). Also, the Book of Esther contains little reference to God, and it has a horse! I like books that have horses in them.
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    • Posted by 5 years, 6 months ago
      interesting comments. I enjoyed them. My particular favorite (I hated Job's story) was the book of Ruth. and yes, I liked Esther's story as well. my mother in law was named for her and just recently passed. :(
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  • Posted by Herb7734 5 years, 6 months ago
    When I was 13 I went through the initiation ritual of Judaism called a Bar Mitzvah. I wanted to emulate my father. But I found myself lost and frustrated by the contradictions. Nothing seemed to make sense. I was counseled to read the bible as poetry, not to take it literally. I soon realized that what bugged me was that poets admitted that what they wrote was poetry, the bible was to be taken literally. Then, at age 14, I read the Fountainhead. I was thrilled and elevated in a way that all the religious teachings I had to that point could never accomplish for me. From this point forward, I could fill severa more pages, but others, I'm sure, have much to say.
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  • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 6 months ago
    now we have mysticism on the forum?
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    • Posted by 5 years, 6 months ago
      I apologize and yes
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      • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 6 months ago
        then why keep the discussion going?
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        • Posted by 5 years, 6 months ago
          um, well admin would need to address this directly, but my personal take is that we support the efforts of the Atlas Society and many contributors here are part of TAS. Grossman is the CEO of TAS. I think it does not hurt to express your thoughts when someone this influential is writing about Objectivism and it is carried by a major publisher like WSJ. that's why I posted this article.
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          • Posted by Herb7734 5 years, 6 months ago
            Hi, K:
            This discussion is more profound than some in the Gulch perceive. It goes to the heart of the philosophy, and while it is not the entire basis for the philosophy it is certainly one of the pillars upon which it rests. Thanks.
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          • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 6 months ago
            unfortunately I am not a subscriber to the nwsj so I could not read the article. scan it and post it. thanks in advance.
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            • Posted by 5 years, 6 months ago
              wiggy's, here is the article: "Ayn Rand’s most adamant axiom forms the foundation of her Objectivist philosophy: “Contradictions do not exist.” But what about the contradiction between her philosophy and religion—one grounded in reason, the other in faith? Put another way: Can you love “Atlas Shrugged” and the Bible? Rand and Objectivist scholars say no, yet many of her followers disagree, and they should still be welcomed with open arms.

              During the 2012 campaign, then-vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan told Fox News that he “really enjoyed” Rand’s novels” and admired the writer’s ability to highlight the pitfalls of socialism. But the current House speaker, a practicing Roman Catholic, described Objectivism as “something that I completely disagree with. It’s an atheistic philosophy.” It’s a shame that Rand’s secularism prompts some to reject the rest of Objectivism, which she described as a philosophy based on “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

              As a teenager in Soviet Russia, Rand decided “that the concept of God is degrading to man.” She added, “Since they say that God is perfect and man can never be that perfect then man is low and imperfect and there is something above him, which is wrong.” In a 1934 journal entry, she referred to faith as “the worst curse of mankind” and “the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.”

              Though her atheism never wavered, Rand’s feelings toward religion weren’t simplistic. She admired the brilliance and impact of historical religious thinkers like Aquinas and respected religious freedom, even drafting a speech for Barry Goldwater that included ample references to God. And one account, if true, suggests that Rand understood the powerful appeal of spirituality during times of grief.

              Steve Mariotti—an education entrepreneur whose grandfather, Lowell B. Mason, had been Rand’s friend—spoke with Rand as she was grieving the loss of her husband, Frank O’Connor. Hoping to comfort her, Mr. Mariotti suggested that she would see Frank again in a spiritual sense. He told me in a recent interview that Rand replied, “I hope you are right. Maybe you are. . . . I will find out soon enough.” Mr. Mariotti jokingly responded to let him know, prompting a laugh that lifted her mood.

              More important, militant atheism doesn’t spring from the pages of Rand’s fiction. If she truly believed that religion was such a threat, where are the religious villains in her novels? Corrupt priests or hypocritical churchgoers are nowhere to be found. It’s possible to read “Atlas Shrugged,” “We the Living,” “The Fountainhead” and “Anthem,” cover-to-cover and have little idea what Rand thought about religion.

              Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE restaurants and a practicing Roman Catholic, finds nothing worrisome in that fact: “I encouraged my six children to read both ‘Fountainhead’ and ‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis,” he told me. Each child later read “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Puzder argued that “there’s no contradiction between raising my children in the church, and urging them to lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels.”

              Randall Wallace, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of 1995’s “Braveheart,” and the director of 2014’s “Heaven Is for Real,” is such an admirer of Rand’s work that he wrote a screen adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Wallace, a Southern Baptist, said, “My faith isn’t contradicted by her beliefs. We live in a world of labels, but God surely cares less about the labels we give ourselves than about how we live because of them.” Rand, Mr. Wallace feels, wrote fiercely and fearlessly about bold and brave characters. “I think it would contradictory to my own beliefs not to admire her.”

              To Messrs. Puzder and Wallace, Ayn Rand’s rejection of her ancestors’ Judaism in favor of secularism has little bearing on her contributions to the canon of liberty. Part of why Rand loved America was because it allowed for diversity of conscience—including religion. I believe that her atheism closed her to many religious people who would benefit from her aspirational views. Her secular view has likely been overstated and used by those who want to marginalize her larger message of individualism and freedom.

              The transformative power of Rand’s ideas is undeniable. Her fiction was for many an activator to learn more about economic and political liberty. Rep. Ryan said as much in the same interview in which he disavowed her atheism. For this reason, the vested interests Rand threatened—those dependent on a larger, more powerful regulatory state—knew they had to take that mother ship down. The best tactic to undermine her in God-fearing America would be to concentrate on her lack of belief.

              And it has worked, to an extent, making some Rand fans tuck tail and forswear admiration. Yet as Americans become more secular, the athiesm-smear tactic has become less effective. The world changes, but the genius and power of her words remain. As John Galt says in the closing lines of “Atlas Shrugged”: “The road is cleared.” It is up to us, believers and nonbelievers, to take up her message and spread the news.

              Ms. Grossman is CEO of the Atlas Society."
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              • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 6 months ago
                Very well said. +1. Rand edited out the priest character from her earlier manuscripts of Atlas Shrugged. She might not have had as many readers had she kept the priest in. That was undoubtedly a difficult decision.
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                • Posted by 5 years, 6 months ago
                  yes. um. again, I come back to the altruism.
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                  • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 6 months ago
                    I heard rand say to one interviewer after her husband died that if god existed and was looking at Frank's entering heave what would she do. she said she would tell god what a good man he was, defend him to the hilt. however, as an atheist you really never think about god unless it is brought up to you and I expect that was the case with Rand. as for religion it appears to me that its purpose is to separate people to the point that they kill each other and I suspect she also viewed religion in this manner. as for her quoting people like Aquinas and a few others I believe it had to do with their intelligence other than their religious beliefs.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 5 years, 6 months ago
    Interesting. In my adult life I have come to realize that organized religion is a complete sham, put in place tax-free in order to control the masses. Pews are full of child molesters and I know personally of at least one case of a pastor shagging a wife in his flock while the husband was out on a business trip.

    No thanks.But, good luck with all that.
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  • Posted by $ kddr22 5 years, 6 months ago
    Spent a while thinking about what A Rand had said about that experiences defines how we believe. Trust what is real and what you have seen. What constitutes proof for one person cannot or should not for another but for that person to deny experience represents a contradiction. A belief should be based on rational experience and what has happened to an individual. I thought the Wall Street journal article was interesting. She brought up CS Lewis who started life as an atheist and changed but yet still a a more "rational" approach than most. Never be afraid to challenge belief based on experiences,but what constitutes proof or repudiation can only work for the individual not the collective. Much of Jefferson's belief's were based on this... just a thought
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  • Posted by $ Stormi 5 years, 6 months ago
    You can love God, but not necessarily any one or any religion. Religion calls for altruism, but that is not usually the mitigating factor for it. It might be to fit in, it might be to feel good about ones humanity, but really most times it is not about God. Then there is the analysis of altruism, is it helping the recipient? Or, is it rather making them weak and dependent, even a slave to you or a system? Not at all Randian, maby not even in with the idea of God, dedpening on how it is defined. I don't see altruism as being purely a religious thing, we have service organizations who make it their mission, we have non-profits with high paid supervisors who claim to make ti their mission, but I think they often cause harm and weakness.
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  • Posted by $ puzzlelady 5 years, 6 months ago
    No, I don't love God and religion, nor can I, since I believe in neither. They are remnants of an erroneous thought process that entrenched itself in the human mind and human psyche and clung even after human cognition reached the scientific and rational stages of development. Jennifer's essay cites "God-fearing America" needing to discredit Ayn Rand's philosophy and to do so through her atheism.

    The other hook on which they try to hang her is her thesis of selfishness as a virtue. The God-fearers are so into brotherly keeping and altruism that her form of rational self-interest through exchange of values is incomprehensible and anathema to them. Can no one explain to them that their self-sacrifices are just another bargain they strike for the most selfish reason of all--to get into heaven and gain post-mortal rewards?

    The only likable thing about religion (a formal aggregation of beliefs its followers adhere to) is the few values humanists also share: respect for others' persons, lives, property. But those values are secular, encoded in laws as well as in commandments: don't steal, don't kill, don't lie, don't harm others. Those are the rules that make cooperative human societies and civilizations possible. Too bad religions distort them and rationalize killing, expropriation and enslavement when dealing with "others" whose tenets don't agree with their own in every particular. Fanaticism. Death to the infidel, death for apostasy. God is silent on this subject, has been for millennia, with only misanthropic ancient human-created texts to attribute genocide to God's will rather than to human venality. Yet they profess to love Jesus, who said to love your enemies.

    Old Testament versus New, did God have a change of heart and become a nicer guy? Even the so-called Enlightenment did not overturn the flawed belief system that to this day threatens to destroy the human race.

    At what point does religious belief become evil, deadly, rather than merely unintentional error? Can mutual tolerance be negotiated? Can religious dogma be reasoned with or ignored until it disappears from human psycho-epistemology? As Rand stated, "In any compromise with evil, only evil will win." Does “not compromising” have to entail mutual physical destruction to wipe out the people who carry the ideas that are regarded as inimical?

    The unremitting suspicion and hatred of differentness may at some stage of our evolution have had survival value. Symbolized as God and Satan, good and evil, all or nothing, black and white, this mindset leads to paranoia, condemning the slightest transgression as fatal, and to totalitarian rigidity. Not much survival value there.

    Even Ayn Rand had her judgments and condemnations of individuals who perhaps liked the wrong kind of music or art. Her criteria of people’s sense of life were harsh and inflexible. Many of her followers exhibit similar intolerance and contempt towards those they deem not fully orthodox Objectivists.

    David Kelley’s “Tolerance” is a step in the right direction to create a better atmosphere of peaceful coexistence. We don’t have to “love” them to live and let live. And if, by example, we show the values of freedom, individualism, achievement and reason, we may yet get these beneficial principles into more general practice. Without bloodshed.

    Of course, that's OUR values trying to reach world domination! And because they are ours, they must be the right and best ones. (Just kidding.) They can be rationally shown to be the golden mean, the straight and true, the happy medium, the point of equality, the universally moral and ethical. No God, no religion needed. And they would be true even if an Ayn Rand had never lived and propounded them.

    The good and the true are objectively definable and lovable. Only by the utmost stretch of rationalization can a notion of God be set up symbolically to stand for the highest good and garner the greatest love as though it were an actual person. Religion seeks to ensnare and subvert the love people naturally feel for what they accept as highest values.

    This fraudulent ploy has fooled too many people into misdirecting their love to the wrong target, an invisible superpower for whom they are willing and eager to sacrifice themselves. If life is one’s highest value, giving it up can only be for something believed to be of even greater value, whether God or society or one’s imagined immortality. What a con! I can only marvel that it has worked for so long and continues to hold people in thrall against their own rational faculties.

    What I CAN love is the human potential for ever greater achievement, knowledge, nobility, self-control, rational judgment, and resistance to the seductions of religious illusions. And rational judgment includes knowing the difference between self-destructive altruism and self-preserving benevolence.

    I hope this answers your question, kh.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 5 years, 6 months ago
    Define what constitutes your "god" and you have your religion. I would also point out that love is a word with several meanings, so I'm going to pick the one which I think best applies in this context: that of emulation. So, the way I take this is: whatever you choose to emulate is your "god" and therefore your religion, so the answer is an unequivocal and rather inherent yes. So to answer that question is to personally consider what it is one chooses to emulate.

    If I missed the point, please let me know.
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  • Posted by tdechaine 5 years, 6 months ago
    I assume the key word here is "love". Yes, one can have feelings of love for a god - if you view god as a person; however, that would not be a rational emotion. But since love is a response to the virtue of another person, that does not apply to a concept - as with religion.
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