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bluearmy

Can Objectivists be religious?

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I looked through the forum and I didn't find any topics that asked this question (Apologies if I didn't look hard enough and there is a similiar topic).

We all know that Ayn Rand was dead set against religion, even going as far to say that it was evil, But my question can someone be part of a faith and still be an objectivist?

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I looked through the forum and I didn't find any topics that asked this question (Apologies if I didn't look hard enough and there is a similiar topic).

We all know that Ayn Rand was dead set against religion, even going as far to say that it was evil, But my question can someone be part of a faith and still be an objectivist?

Absolutely not. An Obj. is one who holds a very specific set of values. Rand was not arbitrarily anti-Religion: that starts with an objective view of Reality and ends with a morality of rational self-interest.

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Yup, as said above, the answer is "no." As to why Objectivism leaves absolutely no room for religion of any kind, try the search bar as there are many threads that exist detailing why (here are a few I found real quick Link 1 Link 2Link 3 Link 4) Here's some quotes from Rand on the subject too: Link And finally, here are some nice discussions of the flaws in some common religious arguments, they're under the podcast section near the bottom of the page: Link

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Yup, as said above, the answer is "no." As to why Objectivism leaves absolutely no room for religion of any kind, try the search bar as there are many threads that exist detailing why (here are a few I found real quick Link 1 Link 2Link 3 Link 4) Here's some quotes from Rand on the subject too: Link And finally, here are some nice discussions of the flaws in some common religious arguments, they're under the podcast section near the bottom of the page: Link

Cheers for the links, they've been very enlightening, but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

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I looked through the forum and I didn't find any topics that asked this question (Apologies if I didn't look hard enough and there is a similiar topic).

We all know that Ayn Rand was dead set against religion, even going as far to say that it was evil, But my question can someone be part of a faith and still be an objectivist?

Before any discussion about faith versus reason, or, primacy of consciousness (wishful thinking) versus reality - and so on - but there is another valid argument to do with value.

If you observe religious people closely, you will see that they value themselves largely on the premise that they have an immortal soul; and that they extend the valuation to you and other people, also.

Why strive to earn value in your own eyes, or anyone else's, when you 'know' that your soul is God's, and all will be forgiven anyway?

Equally, with every other soul that ever existed.

What has more value to you, being judged as equal to everyone else, by God and society, or working towards objective and merited virtue in your self, as your own judge?

I think one could be in agreement with Objectivism, and be religious, for a while, but sooner or later, if you are honest, the contradiction will force a choice.

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Cheers for the links, they've been very enlightening, but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

Be careful not to rationalize here.

If you have a specific reason to believe otherwise, state it.

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Cheers for the links, they've been very enlightening, but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

You would be incorrect in assuming that you can redefine Objectivism. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/atheism.html

You cannot be an Objectivist and have faith in that for which there exists no logical basis.

Religious beliefs are arbitrary - they have no cognitive value - they cannot be proven NOR disproved. That which cannot be proven or disproved cannot be true OR false. Reason cannot be applied to them. They must be discarded from any rational discourse.

And this is why Objectivists are, by definition, Atheists. Not because we BELIEVE God doesn't exist - but because there is no BASIS to believe that God exists. Not believing in God is like not believing in Unicorns and Leprechauns and that on the far side of Venus there is a city 20 miles underground that has never been nor can be detected.

It's not a matter of belief either way - it's a matter of dismissing that for which no proof can be provided - not even theoretical proof.

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Cheers for the links, they've been very enlightening, but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

So, you demand rationale from atheists, but when it comes to religion, you will accept it on faith? If you are open to faith as a means to knowledge, why not simply accept atheism on faith? Take my word for it! ;) If you won't, why not? Can you put into words why you're willing to accept one thing on faith, but not another?

Edited by brian0918

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Be careful not to rationalize here.

If you have a specific reason to believe otherwise, state it.

My reasoning comes from my Methodist Grandmother, who had lived the majority of her life in poverty and had little education. Throughout her life she experienced alot of hardship like her husband dieing, leaving her alone to feed two children when she wasn't even out of her twenties yet and various family members becoming alcholics.

She explained to me that it was her religion that made her not just accept 'fate' (for lack of a better term) and pick up a bottle and live off the state like many around her did. However her interpretation of the bible is not as alturistic as more traditional interpretations, specifically she taught me that a life is the most precious thing in the world and that the greatest sin is to waste it by being lazy and interfering with other peoples personal lives.

It is through what she taught me that I rejected philosophies like socialism, why I strive to work hard at any task I am given and why I live for my self and those I care for.

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...she taught me that a life is the most precious thing in the world and that the greatest sin is to waste it by being lazy and interfering with other peoples personal lives.

It is through what she taught me that I rejected philosophies like socialism, why I strive to work hard at any task I am given and why I live for my self and those I care for.

That is not Objectivism. That is a life philosophy with some similarities to Objectivism. Objectivism is a well-defined philosophical system, and part of that system is the denial of any role for faith or the supernatural. Certainly religious people can have an admirable approach to life, from an Objectivist perspective, but that is not the same as adhering to the complete philosophy.

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My reasoning comes from my Methodist Grandmother, who had lived the majority of her life in poverty and had little education. Throughout her life she experienced alot of hardship like her husband dieing, leaving her alone to feed two children when she wasn't even out of her twenties yet and various family members becoming alcholics.

She explained to me that it was her religion that made her not just accept 'fate' (for lack of a better term) and pick up a bottle and live off the state like many around her did. However her interpretation of the bible is not as alturistic as more traditional interpretations, specifically she taught me that a life is the most precious thing in the world and that the greatest sin is to waste it by being lazy and interfering with other peoples personal lives.

It is through what she taught me that I rejected philosophies like socialism, why I strive to work hard at any task I am given and why I live for my self and those I care for.

No disrespect to your Grandmother but "just because someone told me a compelling story" is not a basis for rational thinking.

Christianity does teach a number of very good principles - and a few atrocious ones. However, to be rational you must examine the foundation of that belief. Belief in the Bible cannot be justified because "My best role model in the whole world told me it's true" - you must determine the credibility of the Bible ON ITS OWN MERITS.

We believe in mathematics because we can demonstrate why it's true. We believe in science because we can demonstrate why it's true.

What about the Bible can you demonstrate it's truth with? Oh certain concepts WITHIN the bible are true - though the conclusions were reached incorrectly - but the Bible itself as a basis for belief - what do you have to go on beyond "they told me to believe it"?

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My reasoning comes from my Methodist Grandmother, who had lived the majority of her life in poverty and had little education. Throughout her life she experienced alot of hardship like her husband dieing, leaving her alone to feed two children when she wasn't even out of her twenties yet and various family members becoming alcholics.

She explained to me that it was her religion that made her not just accept 'fate' (for lack of a better term) and pick up a bottle and live off the state like many around her did. However her interpretation of the bible is not as alturistic as more traditional interpretations, specifically she taught me that a life is the most precious thing in the world and that the greatest sin is to waste it by being lazy and interfering with other peoples personal lives.

It is through what she taught me that I rejected philosophies like socialism, why I strive to work hard at any task I am given and why I live for my self and those I care for.

I have known others to to believe as your Grandmother.

And I understand how you concluded as you did. That is simply not going far enough to be considered an Obj.ist.

There is a big gap between using religion to feel good and to minimize (never eliminate) altruism vs. philosophically rejecting all that religion represents.

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My reasoning comes from my Methodist Grandmother, who had lived the majority of her life in poverty and had little education. Throughout her life she experienced alot of hardship like her husband dieing, leaving her alone to feed two children when she wasn't even out of her twenties yet and various family members becoming alcholics.

She explained to me that it was her religion that made her not just accept 'fate' (for lack of a better term) and pick up a bottle and live off the state like many around her did. However her interpretation of the bible is not as alturistic as more traditional interpretations, specifically she taught me that a life is the most precious thing in the world and that the greatest sin is to waste it by being lazy and interfering with other peoples personal lives.

It is through what she taught me that I rejected philosophies like socialism, why I strive to work hard at any task I am given and why I live for my self and those I care for.

You have reached some proper conclusions (e.g. "rejecting socialism"), however those conclusions were reached through improper methods, so the fact that you have reached the correct conclusion is only incidental - a stopped watch is correct twice a day. So long as you allow those improper methods to guide your decisions, there is no guarantee that you will reach proper conclusions. Philosophy is supposed to be a guide for living your life - it is supposed to tell you the proper methods for guiding your decisions.

Reason - adherence to reality - is the only means to knowledge. All other alleged sources of knowledge - e.g. faith, intuition, revelation, tradition - are rooted in emotionalism ("feelings") in one way or another. Emotions do serve a proper purpose, but not as a replacement for reason.

Edited by brian0918

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Cheers for the links, they've been very enlightening, but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

It has been argued that there are two ways of viewing the term "atheist". One way (the typical dictionary definition) is the denial of the existence of a god. Another way is simply being "anti-theist", not being a theist, or atheist. So look at it this way, an Objectivist cannot be a theist.

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Rand was not arbitrarily anti-Religion: that starts with an objective view of Reality and ends with a morality of rational self-interest.

Actually, Rand wrote in her diary, when she was thirteen years old, that she wanted to be known as the greatest enemy of religion. So it's reasonable to think of Objectivism as her attempt to validate a philosophical system that has the ethical objectivity of religious belief without a god. Her atheism preceded her philosophical system.

So no, you can't be a religious Objectivist because atheism is the founding premise.

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Actually, Rand wrote in her diary, when she was thirteen years old, that she wanted to be known as the greatest enemy of religion. So it's reasonable to think of Objectivism as her attempt to validate a philosophical system that has the ethical objectivity of religious belief without a god. Her atheism preceded her philosophical system.

So no, you can't be a religious Objectivist because atheism is the founding premise.

I don't agree. She knew religion did not fit with her philosophical thinking, but religion is not the founding premise. And no, there is no religious belief nor any objectivity associated with such.

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Actually, Rand wrote in her diary, when she was thirteen years old, that she wanted to be known as the greatest enemy of religion. So it's reasonable to think of Objectivism as her attempt to validate a philosophical system that has the ethical objectivity of religious belief without a god.

It is not reasonable to view the mature philosophy of Objectivism as merely an elaborate attempt of Rand's to fulfill a goal that her thirteen-year-old self wrote in her diary. Objectivism on its own terms gives reasons for rejecting belief in a deity, and also for believing in an objective ethics. Both of these views should be evaluated on their own merits.

Her atheism preceded her philosophical system.

So no, you can't be a religious Objectivist because atheism is the founding premise.

Her atheism preceded her full philosophy chronologically, in terms of the evolution of her thought, but not structurally within that full philosophy. Atheism is not the founding premise structurally; it is a conclusion that arises out of more fundamental statements about existence.

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Atheism is not a premise of Objectivism.

The fundamental premises of Objectivism are the three axioms:

1) Existence exists

2) A is A

3) Consciousness exists

Once one understands the full meaning of A is A, one CANNOT accept as evidence that which has no actual basis in reality - either via direct evidence or derived from the same.

In other words, for that which exists no conclusive proof, no proof may be considered to have been given.

One need never consider Atheism at all as an Objectivist - except that we keep getting asked about it by all the Theists out there who believe in that for which no evidence exists...

Consider, though - what is the first requirement of Religion? Believe. What if you doubt? HAVE FAITH. Ignore the evidence - BELIEVE. Don't question - TRUST.

But what is the first requirement of Objectivism? Simple - it's "Prove it".

Religion begins with the denial of reality. Objectivism begins with the denial of everything but.

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bluearmy wrote:

but I'm still not convinced that to be an objectivist you have to also be an athiest.

From "Ayn Rand Answers", pg. 149

Is there room in your philosophy for God?

No. My philosophy includes only what man can perceive, identify, and demonstrate by means of reason. It doesn't permit the invention of "facts," or the acceptance of anything on faith - that is, without rational demonstration. But there is no evidence for any kind of God, afterlife, or mystical dimension.

Bottom line, if you are a theist, you are not an Objectivist. You may agree with much of Objectivism and even live Objectivist "like" but, to quote Ayn Rand, "the contradictions are yours".

Edited by Alfred Centauri

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Actually, Rand wrote in her diary, when she was thirteen years old, that she wanted to be known as the greatest enemy of religion. So it's reasonable to think of Objectivism as her attempt to validate a philosophical system that has the ethical objectivity of religious belief without a god. Her atheism preceded her philosophical system.

So no, you can't be a religious Objectivist because atheism is the founding premise.

You need to stop breaking forum rules if you want to continue to participate in it.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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Actually, Rand wrote in her diary, when she was thirteen years old, that she wanted to be known as the greatest enemy of religion. So it's reasonable to think of Objectivism as her attempt to validate a philosophical system that has the ethical objectivity of religious belief without a god. Her atheism preceded her philosophical system.

So no, you can't be a religious Objectivist because atheism is the founding premise.

A philosophic system cannot be primarily against something, it has to be primarily for something. Or, put another way, Objectivistst are not on a crusade against religion, they promote reason in every aspect of life. Objectivism is not rationalism, you cant be serious with your claim about Rand "validating" a philosophy around her atheism.

And I dont know what you mean by "the ethical objectivity of religious belief". Religion prescribes intrinsic ethical norms, not objective. This confusion is not helping you in the other thread either.

When I was thirteen I wanted to be an astronaut who played professional baseball. I now own a nice telescope and play wiffle ball in the summer.

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I looked through the forum and I didn't find any topics that asked this question (Apologies if I didn't look hard enough and there is a similiar topic).

We all know that Ayn Rand was dead set against religion, even going as far to say that it was evil, But my question can someone be part of a faith and still be an objectivist?

No.

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"If you want to be a full Objectivist, you cannot reconcile that with religion..." -AYN RAND

From her Q&A:

Religious conservatives

Question: We are told that religion is our best protection against communism. Why do you say we should keep religion out of politics?

Ayn Rand: For the same reason the Founding Fathers gave. Religion is a private matter. There are many different religions. The difference between religion and philosophy is that religion is a matter of faith. You either have faith or you don't. You cannot argue about it. But when you deal with philosophy, you deal with reason and logic. That is an objective element of language common to all men. You can try to persuade others that you are right, or you are free to disagree with them. In a free country, you need not deal with them. But religion is an issue of faith. By definition, if one doesn't accept faith, or if different people believe different faiths, no common action, agreement, or persuasion is possible among them if religion is made a condition of political agreement. ......Persuasion, reason, argument are not the province of religion. Religion rests on faith - on an acceptance of certrain beliefs apart from reason. This is why it must be private. When it's a private matter, it's fine, it can even be a kind of inspiration to people. Faith is what each man may choose for himself, if he wishes. I don't. [my emphasis added]

Question: If religion is instrumental in spreading altruism, can we fight altruism in America without fighting religion?

Ayn Rand: In America, religion is relatively nonmystical. Religious teachers here are predominantly good, healthy materialists. They follow common sense. They would not stand in our way. The majority of religious people in this country do not accept on faith the idea of jumping into a cannibal’s pot and giving away their last shirt to the backward people of the world. Many religious leaders preach this today, because of their own leftist politics; it’s not inherent in being religious. There are many historical and philosophical connections between altruism and religion, but the function of religion in this country is not altruism. You would not find too much opposition to Objectivism among religious Americans. There are rational religious people. In fact I was pleased and astonished to discover that some religious people support Objectivism. If you want to be a full Objectivist, you cannot reconcile that with religion; but that doesn’t mean religious people cannot be individualists and fight for freedom. They can, and this country is the best proof of it.[my emphasis added]

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