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BurgessLau

Reason Vs. Faith

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This new topic contains the debate itself. (The ground rules for the debate have been negotiated in an earlier topic.) After Unconquered and I finish, a moderator will open this topic to anyone's comments. In the meantime, only Unconquered and I will post.

This debate will be completed when either side concedes defeat or whenever either of us exhausts his arguments and begins repeating his statements either about his own position or about his opponent's position. At that point, with mutual agreement, each of us will summarize his position. Then the topic will be open to everyone's comments.

The first posts will allow Unconquered and me to state our general position. Subsequent posts will allow us to challenge each other and to elaborate our own earlier points that have been challenged.

Yours in God,

Brother Brian O'Laughlin

P. S. -- Standard Disclaimer: I want to thank Burgess Laughlin for allowing me to use his email address and password to gain entry into this forum. Unfortunately, he does not share my views and is therefore not responsible for anything I say. As our mutual acquaintance, Sister Mary, told him -- after she read his book, The Aristotle Adventure -- "You need to read a Good Book about God!"

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DIVINE FAITH IS SUPERIOR TO, BUT COMPATIBLE WITH, HUMAN REASON

HUMAN REASON. An objective reality exists. Men are curious about it because we live in it. We need to know that reality, or at least how it appears to us as phenomena, so that we can live our lives here on earth. Human reason, operating within its limitations, enables us to understand our world, if not at the level of its ultimate constituents, then at least at a level we need to know in order to get on with our lives.

What is human reason? The term reason can name a wide variety of meanings, but its most specific meaning -- for this discussion -- is the God-given ability to make inferences.

Human reason has speculative (theoretical) uses: drawing inferences about truth, that is, aspects of reality as they are; this is scientific reason. Human reason also has practical uses: making inferences about how to relate human actions to ends; this is instrumental reason. One of human reason's noblest uses is philosophizing, that is, using reason to seek a set of fundamental principles, not for their own sake, but because, when they are widely disseminated, they shape the culture in which the philosopher lives, as our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, believed in his fight in Poland, first against the Nazis and then against the Communists. That is why he worked so hard to nurture Catholic intellectuals, first in Poland and then around the world: to help them achieve their proper guiding position in society.

Rationalism -- as shown by the "-ism" -- is a certain doctrine. It is erroneous. It is the doctrine that men should reject all revelation and give their assent to nothing but what they can attain by the natural power of their own human reason. Rationalism is the doctrine I am arguing against today. I am arguing for human reason, in part, but against rationalism.

DIVINE FAITH. If human reason is a part of the solution to the problem of knowing what is and what we ought to do, then what is the rest? This is where divine faith comes in.

The term "faith," like the term "reason," has many meanings. Here, as the Greek of the New Testament says, estin de pistis elpidzomenOn hupostasis, pragmatOn elegchos ou blepomenOn, that is, faith is "the assurance of [receiving] things hoped for, the certain belief in [the existence of] things not seen." Those are the words of the anonymous writer of "The Letter to the Hebrews," one of the books in the New Testament section of the Holy Bible. This definition, which appears in Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verse 1, has been seminal for the 1900 years since it was written. It neatly identifies the ontological elements ("things"), the epistemological elements ("assurance" and "certain belief"), and the ethical elements ("hoped for") -- all in a poetic formula.

Specifically, divine faith is faith in God and God's Word, which in its original Greek is logos, the same term used for reason by the Greeks.

Everyone, including every rationalist, uses faith every day -- that is, human faith, if not divine faith. Human faith is believing in something or someone according to the authority of human testimony. If a soldier tells me he was in Iraq, and if I trust his authority, then I too can believe that Iraq exists even though I have not seen it myself.

Human faith is essentially the same as divine faith. But the testimony whose authority gives credence to divine faith involves four elements in true Christianity. First is God's own testimony, as, second, recorded in the Holy Bible and as, third, passed down to us from individuals who were eye-witnesses to Jesus's brief life here on earth. Their eye-witness testimony has, fourth, passed down through the magisterium of the Church as a voice that helps us use right reason (orthos logos, recta ratio) to properly interpret the Holy Bible and God's revelations in it -- which is using human reason to more fully understand God's revelation first accepted on faith.

That, brothers and sisters, is -- as Augustine (354-430 AD) noted so long ago -- the pattern of faith and reason intertwining: credo ut intelligam; intellego ut credam -- "I believe in order that I might understand; I understand in order that I might believe." That means that I believe God's word first, in order to have an object for my understanding; then when I understand it, using human reason, I can fully believe it in all its glory.

What are the objects of divine faith? Not the things of this world, because reason, though limited, is sufficient for knowing this world. (For examples, look at the marvels of science, such as the development of medicines that help the suffering millions around the world.) Instead, the objects of divine faith are those things which are beyond the ability of human reason to understand, at least initially or fully. Reason can even tell us that God exists; the non-Christian Greek philosophers knew that. I am not an expert on Plato and Aristotle, but I understand that both, in their own ways, were believers in a supreme God. They determined God's existence through reason.

LIMITS TO REASON. What unaided reason cannot do -- at least, for most of us, not fully do -- is know what God is and what he wants us to do, that is, how we should behave, especially in preparation for the life to come, the eternal life. For that we need faith, first, and then our human reason.

Why is our reason so limited? Because sin has corrupted it, diminishing its capacity. In the beginning, in the Garden, Adam and Eve knew God directly. But after their corruption -- which was by their choice -- their reason was limited to the mundane activities of the world, such as making shoes or tilling fields. That corruption and its destructive effect on reason were passed to us in original sin.

Thereafter, God occasionally revealed his desires to men, and then divinely inspired writers wrote down those revelations for all to read in later years. To be more persuasive, God -- knowing that men rely on their senses for the start of much of their knowledge -- sent an incarnation (a physical embodiment) of divinity, his son, Jesus Christ, to earth so that all men might see and hear him, either directly by witnessing his words and deeds or indirectly by hearing of the good news about the arrival of the Savior, the news that the early evangelists brought first to the Jews and then to the whole Mediterranean world.

Think of that, brothers and sisters! Christianity is unique among religions in making God appear on earth at a particular historical time and place so that men could come to know God directly through sense-perception.

FAITH AND REASON VS. NIHILISM. When used properly, both faith and reason stand together as a bulwark against the modern scourges of skepticism, cognitive (and consequently moral) relativism, and nihilism, particularly its most recent, but perhaps now dying form, post-modernism. To combat these modernist enemies, the children of God need -- not reason alone (rationalism); not literal, unguided reading of the Holy Scripture alone (Biblicism); not blind faith (fideism) -- but faith guiding reason and reason understanding the revelations given to us by God to deal with the issues for which reason is too limited.

SUMMARY. Faith and reason are the two wings of the human spirit in its ascent to God. That is my position as a true -- which is to say, Catholic -- Christian.

I have now presented my side of this debate in general terms. I look forward to reading Unconquered's position, which is the rationalist position. With that done, perhaps we can then go on to question each other's initial general statements and to elaborate our own in response to questions.

Yours in God,

Brother Brian O'Loughlin

P. S. -- Standard Disclaimer: I want to thank Burgess Laughlin for allowing me to use his email address and password to gain entry into this forum. Unfortunately, he does not share my views. He is therefore not responsible for anything I say. As our mutual acquaintance, Sister Mary, told him -- after she read his book, The Aristotle Adventure -- "You need to read a Good Book about God!"

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HUMAN REASON IS RADICALLY SUPERIOR TO FAITH

Reason is a unique human capacity to grasp reality, and its root is the use of logic. Logic, to use the concise definition of the great philosopher and writer Ayn Rand, is: The art of non-contradictory identification.

It is reason which provides a mechanism for taking the raw, observed facts of existence and integrating them into a coherent whole using logic as a guide. The product of a process of reason, is knowledge. Logic rests on the fact that reality cannot contradict itself, that a thing cannot be, and not be, something at the same time and in the same respect. The human mind can hold two contradictory ideas at once, however, and it is therefore the role of logic to tie the mind to actual reality.

Reason rests on the fact that our observations of existence provide all necessary and sufficient information in order to form conclusions about existence. It denies the existence of miracles or that there is some inherently unknowable other-world that must be revealed by means other than the senses.

What then, is Faith? It is the act of a human being willingly accepting a supposed claim of knowledge without supporting evidence - either no evidence at all, or insufficient evidence to support a claim. There are many variations to this lack: a lack of observed facts, or a lack of logical reasoning to integrate facts to tie them to an abstract conclusion. Generally, faith amounts to substituting a process of reason, with a process of emotion: a supposed statement of knowledge is made because the faithful person merely feels it to be true - or, as is typical with religions, they refuse to challenge a claim out of the emotion of fear - either an other-worldly fear of God's retribution for doubt, or a real worldly fear of torture and death at the hands of others who punish for doubt.

Since reality is what it will be regardless of the ideas of men, then men who hold and act on the wrong ideas are then at war with reality. This is a pointless and futile war that only reality can win. In the words of Francis Bacon: Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. This is only form of obedience a man of Reason can accept - obedience to the facts of reality and to logical integrations of those facts.

This, again, is in direct contrast to Faith. Unlike Reason, Faith is inherently social - it demands that a man deny his own senses and his own reasoning in order to accomodate the claims of others, who offer no, or insufficient, reasons for their claims, insteading supplying an insolent demand to obediently believe. A concise, humorous example of is: Who are you going to believe: me - or your lying eyes? Faith suggests that eyes could lie; Reason knows that they cannot.

Now the real question at hand is: Which is *better*, Reason or Faith? And better is measured here on an ethical scale, and thus is connected to a particular view of what is good, and bad, for human life.

Stated simply, if one's measure of the good is that which benefits human life, in reality - the benefits of increased life, of better life, of a non-sacrificial life - then it is clear that Reason is incalculably superior to Faith. Historically this has been shown countless times. The greatest reign of the Christian religion, the height of its power, is aptly called the Dark Ages, for its massive ignorance, brutality, and short lifespan. And the most religious countries on Earth today, are also the most ignorant, brutal, and anti-human-life. This is a fact.

So in summary: Since Reason permits men to act in accordance with reality, it permits men to live in that reality. Faith sets men at war with reality - and reality will take its bloody toll every time. If one values life - and even more, a good life, here on earth, here in reality - it is Reason that is unquestionably superior.

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THREE RESPONSES: EPISTEMOLOGY, HISTORY, FEELINGS

We have each now stated our general position. Perhaps the next step is to question or challenge particular points for the purpose of either clarification or to show that an opponent's foundation is shaky.

I will begin with several points.

1. Epistemological: I would like to start by pointing out that in this debate, as in others on different subjects, debaters sometimes appear to disagree but partly that is only because they have different definitions of the same terms. For example, you define faith as accepting a "claim of knowledge without supporting evidence -- either no evidence at all, or insufficient evidence" to support the claim. I would certainly agree that it is wrong to accept an idea without evidence. As a Christian I would never expect anyone to do that.

Your definition differs from mine, which is that faith is belief that is based, not on what we can see with our own eyes (that would be knowledge or understanding), but on testimony. In the case of human faith, the testimony comes from men, which you do appear to accept, even if you do not choose to use the word "faith" to name that acceptance of ideas based on testimony. In the case of divine faith, the testimony comes from God (in Holy Scripture) or from those who witnessed God as did the original apostles Jesus chose to spread the good news that our souls can be saved. As Thomas Aquinas noted, faith is a theological virtue, that is, a virtue oriented toward God. Anything based on God's testimony is certain because God's existence is certain -- as Thomas proved with his various sense-based arguments.

2. Historical: Your characterization of the West European Dark Age as a high-point of Christianity is sadly mistaken. Through that period, roughly AD 500 to 1000 (but particularly the trough years of AD 550-750), the Church was struggling against pagans and heathens who were still in control of large areas, mostly hostile to Christianity.

The turn away from the Dark Age came finally as the Church had established its sway by c. 800 when Christian scholars such as Alcuin of York -- living in a society protected, from pagan ravages, by Christian king Charles the Great -- began recovering bits of learning from the ancient world. As Christianity gradually settled into the culture and as Christian leaders pacified the marauders -- Magyars from the east, Vikings from the north and west, and the Muslims from the south -- the protected core of western Europe began its long gradual recovery, a recovery that accelerated into a fountainhead of progress in commerce, math, science, and technology, and now has spread Christian-rooted Western Civilization around the globe.

3. Feelings in Cognition: Do you hold -- as your opening statement seems to suggest -- that reason alone is enough to reach knowledge? Do feelings play no role at all? For example, when I am studying a particular text -- say, a bizarre book by a post-modernist such as Jacques Derrida -- I have many feelings. For example, besides disgust at the post-modernist assault on faith and reason, I also feel an inkling that he is driving at some important point -- probably skepticism, which is one of his megathemes -- that he has hidden under his coils of verbiage. An inkling is a feeling. It points the way. It says, "Here is a possibility. Follow it up." Do you not have such feelings when you are thinking about an issue?

That is an example of how feeling can play a role in coming to know things. Likewise some individuals have a feeling of awe when they view the mass of stars they see in the middle of the night in a primitive area where artificial lights don't interfere. These individuals welcome that feeling of awe as a wake-up signal to look for the transcendent as well as the natural elements of reality. That is a path to knowing of God, who transcends all.

Finally, as an aside, I would like to ask a question. In your previous post you mentioned a philosopher, Ayn Rand. I am not familiar with her philosophy. Did she too support a reason-only approach to life? If so, did she, so to speak, write a Book of Reason? That is, what single volume did she write, if any, describing the nature of reason and defending its use. I would like to read it. (You will find that I am usually an amazingly fast reader once you have presented a title to me.)

Yours in God,

Brother Brian O'Loughlin

P. S. -- Standard Disclaimer: I want to thank Burgess Laughlin for allowing me to use his email address and password to gain entry into this forum. Unfortunately, he does not share my views. He is therefore not responsible for anything I say. As our mutual acquaintance, Sister Mary, told him -- after she read his book, The Aristotle Adventure -- "You need to read a Good Book about God!"

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My opponent brings up the issue of, in essence, what constitutes the foundation of knowledge. In the philosophy that I accept, Objectivism, the ultimate foundation is sensory evidence, which must then be integrated into a whole by a process of logical reasoning.

Testimony means, in essence, claims made by men. But it is common sense to know that men can lie and men can be mistaken. Our eyes and ears, and other senses, do not lie, nor does logic. That does not make a process of logical reasoning infallible, because men are indeed fallible - but errors made are not due to deficiencies in the method of logic, but in errors of application by men using it.

Testimony is also inherently second-handed, meaning that it encourages men to *not* look at the real world with their own eyes and mind, but through other men. It undercuts reason at the root by disconnecting reasoning from valid data and replacing it with the claims of other men.

My opponent keeps referring to "God", but I will admit that even as a boy, I could not make this word real to myself and therefore rejected it - because nobody could actually explain what this word is supposed to mean in reality. Perhaps my opponent could attempt to define and explain this word, in terms which relate to the real world.

On the subject of history, I will have to grant that, if my opponent is as knowledgeable on the subject as his brother, that his knowledge, in detail, exceeds mine. However, certain important historical facts seem quite clear: the period of the greatest domination of Christianity in Europe was just that period of great ignorance and suffering - and the introduction of logical reasoning in Europe, I have heard from Thomas Aquinas, marked the start of what was to become the Renaissance, the reflowering of reasoning in the world and the decline of Christianity's influence, especially politically. The fact that there is so little history of note from Christianity's period of greatest influence underscores its appropriate identification as a Dark Ages, in stark contrast to the rapid, well recorded explosion of human activity in the arts, sciences, commerce, and overall life after the decline of Christianity's influence.

Regarding feelings, my opponent does make a valid point regarding their importance in judging personal importance and in possible clues to higher level consciousness in which area to focus conscious attention. Emotions may also play a part in the retrieval mechanisms in the subconscious for existing knowledge to be integrated further with a question at hand. But this is not a central issue in epistemology; you could say that it belongs to a nascent, little developed field identified by Ayn Rand: psycho-epistemology.

In any case, the point remains that conclusions of truth and falsehood are arrived at, properly, by a process of logical reasoning, not by emotions. Emotions may help in recalling relevant material to fuel the logical process, and in helping to decide what subject to focus upon, but do not constitute the logical process itself. Simply feeling an emotion does not provide knowledge, beyond the introspective knowledge that one is feeling that emotion.

Regarding your question, Ayn Rand was an advocate of reason, but she would have considered it a false alternative or false dichotomy to put reason at war with any other aspect of a healthy human life, including emotions. To her emotions are an automatic part of consciousness, which reflect immediate responses based on subconsciously held value judgements. For example, one would feel anger in response to an event which one perceives to be injust, with the level of anger proportionate to the level of injustice.

Ayn Rand was a passionate valuer, and reason was not an end in itself to her, but the essential means to achieve life's values, including happiness. If I were to recommend only one book for her ideas, it would be Atlas Shrugged, which integrates her philosophy with a fictional story in breathtakingly brilliant writing.

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TESTIMONY, GOD, AND RAND'S WORK ON REASON

My opponent brings up the issue of, in essence, what constitutes the foundation of knowledge. In the philosophy that I accept, Objectivism, the ultimate foundation is sensory evidence, which must then be integrated into a whole by a process of logical reasoning.[...]

Testimony means, in essence, claims made by men. But it is common sense to know that men can lie and men can be mistaken. [...]

Testimony is also inherently second-handed, meaning that it encourages men to *not* look at the real world with their own eyes and mind, but through other men. It undercuts reason at the root by disconnecting reasoning from valid data and replacing it with the claims of other men.

[bold added for emphasis.]

Do your comments mean then that you reject testimony -- for example, in the journals of explorers of the American West, or by witnesses in murder trials, or in advertising by capitalist manufacturers, that is, advertisements that quote the testimony of satisfied users or scientific researchers?

Further, if you reject testimony because it can be flawed, can't the same standard be applied to reason -- reasoners can (and often have!) made errors in evidence, in integration, and in logic. Should reason be rejected because of that? I don't think so. God gave us reason, but, because he knows it is flawed, he gave us faith too -- to make sure, despite our frailties, that we have access to truth which can save our soul.

Also, I wonder what you mean by "second-handed." Usually, "second-hand" means something was used once by one person and then passed, in some form, to another person to use. For example, I -- impoverished friar that I am -- often wear second-hand clothes purchased at a local Goodwill Industries store. Likewise, when the prior of my friary asks me about my work as library-supervisor for the friary's extensive book collection, I often must rely on the testimony of others, such as the night-shift brothers. Would that be wrong in your epistemology of reason-alone and in your reason-based (rather than God-given) ethics?

My opponent keeps referring to "God" [...]Perhaps my opponent could attempt to define and explain this word, in terms which relate to the real world.

I was afraid you would never ask. Strictly speaking, one cannot define God -- in the sense of definition by genus and differentia -- because God is One unlike anything else. God is sui generis, so "God" is a proper name, not a word for a concept.

However, to answer your question with a description is both easy and impossible. When both occur at the same time, we know we are in the presence of Mystery.

On the one hand, it is easy because we know from the divinely inspired Bible and from Church Tradition that God is "The Supreme Spirit, who alone exists of himself, and is infinite in all perfections," as our Cathechism says. God is the first cause, that is, the cause of all other causes in the world. We can see from looking around us at this world that everything has a cause. So, it is a simple logical step to infer that there must be a cause for the whole world -- ergo, God. Further, for God to be all-causing means he must be all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent).

On the other hand, answering your question is nearly impossible because God is ineffable in many ways -- that is, in positive ways. In negative ways -- which is called apophatic theology -- the task of describing God is a little easier. For example, God is infinite, unknowable, and eternal.

Please note that the question of the essence (nature) of God is different from the question of the existence of God. God's nature is largely unknowable. God's existence is knowable with certainty. For example, Friar Tomas d'Aquino (1225-1274) offered arguments for the existence of God, based on premises set in this world. (For more information on these sense-based arguments, see W. T. Jones, The Medieval Mind, volume I of the History of Western Philosophy series, Ch. 6, pp. 216-223 ("Proofs of God's Existence"), which, despite Jones's severely secular -- indeed, Aristotelian -- bias, is an admirably clear account of a difficult subject.)

[...]Ayn Rand was an advocate of reason [...]

If I were to recommend only one book for her ideas, it would be Atlas Shrugged, which integrates her philosophy with a fictional story in breathtakingly brilliant writing.

So, you would recommend, as her "Book of Reason," so to speak, a novel? If you will permit a small gibe, doesn't it seem peculiar that an atheist who trumpets the sole use of reason based on what we can see in this world would denigrate the Bible -- a Christian's source of faith -- as a made-up story, rather than one based on actual events, and then recommend a work of fiction as his favorite philosopher's defense of reason?

Did Ayn Rand -- who, you say, was a philosopher advocating reason -- write no philosophical works standing alone? Did she have no "Book of Reason," that is, no single philosophical work which defines the nature of reason and defends its use? For her, was "reason alone is good" simply an assumption, unexplained and unproven?

Thank you, Unconquered, for your patience. I suspect this process won't go on much longer. (I think neither you nor I wish to go in circles and repeat ourselves.) Perhaps we can take this issue one or two more steps. Then we will open the topic to comments from all Objectivist members of this forum.)

I see from the poll being conducted that up to 40% of the members of this forum are not Objectivists, and therefore may not agree with your atheistic stance. So, I have hope -- eternal! -- of making at least one convert to Christ here. All flocks grow -- one sheep at a time.

Yours in God,

Brother Brian O'Loughlin

P. S. -- Standard Disclaimer: I want to thank Burgess Laughlin for allowing me to use his email address and password to gain entry into this forum. Unfortunately, he does not share my views. He is therefore not responsible for anything I say. As our mutual acquaintance, Sister Mary, told him -- after she read his book, The Aristotle Adventure -- "You need to read a Good Book about God!"

Edited by BurgessLau

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My opponent asks if I reject testimony "-- for example, in the journals of explorers of the American West, or by witnesses in murder trials, or in advertising by capitalist manufacturers, that is, advertisements that quote the testimony of satisfied users or scientific researchers?"

Testimony, in the sense of a statement sworn to be true by another person, can never take the place of the fundamental role of the senses and logical reasoning in determining the truth. Even with human history, one interested in truth cannot simply take the word of one men or even many men without attempting to integrate their statements with as many other facts as possible, and for consistency with each other, though internal consistency of testimonies does not necessarily make it true. Even in a court trial, eyewitness accounts are notoriously inaccurate and incomplete. One piece of solid physical evidence linking a criminal to a crime is better than any testimony. Of course, it is ultimately men who do the tests and men who present the evidence, but if they are rational, they do so according to logical standards that are open for all to see.

And, scientists ultimately create repeatable experiments, because their object of study, the real world, is out there for everyone to see and deal with for themselves. They present the results and "give testimony" about those results to other scientists, but their word alone would never be enough, in the long run, to convince other scientists, and scientists found to lie about results are considered the lowest of the low. But such cases are rare, since the truths that scientists write and think about are ultimately accessible to any man who is capable of doing the work, directly from existence.

A logical man can still make errors in thinking, but because logic demands integration with reality, using the evidence of the senses ultimately, his errors will soon be apparent and the clues provided to point him towards the truth. The "man of faith" has no such corrective mechanism, because his "ultimate truth" is that testimony, not the facts of reality, and concern with whether the testimony fits the facts is not his primary goal, or even a goal at all.

My opponent asks what I mean by "second-hander". By that I mean somebody who fundamentally lives through other people, rather than choosing their own personal values and using their own mind to decide truth and falsehood. It is clear that a man who bases his philosophy solely on the claims of others, without reasoning of his own to tie them to reality, is second-handed in the most fundamental way, given the importance of philosophy.

Of course, any man in a society must deal with other men, including, at times, taking into account the "testimony" of others, but no rational man mindlessly accepts another man's words. Because even a close friend that we know to be honest can be honestly mistaken, it is always an obligation of the rational man to integrate even his closest friend's statements with the rest of his knowledge.

Regarding my opponent's "description" of his word God, I would note that something without identity, does not exist. And certainly, existence does not require a creator, because there was no first cause. Existence, or the universe, is eternal, outside of time. Time is only within the universe, the universe is not in time. I would also note that any claim of a "God" creating the universe only begs the question - what made "God"? And what made the thing that made that? And so forth.

My opponent asks if Ayn Rand wrote philosophical works. As I recall, he asked for a single book, so I chose her single most powerful one, but if he wishes a more complete bibliography, I would refer him to this site: ARI bibliography of Ayn Rand . Her work on epistemology, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, is her most "purely" philosophical, where she explains the connection between the perceived real world, and our abstract concepts, thus providing a firm basis for our abstract, reasoning minds in reality. Her protege, Leonard Peikoff, also wrote a philosophic work, OPAR (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand), which presents her philosophy in a systematic fashion.

Ayn Rand was a philosopher but her primary focus was writing about heroes, so in that respect, Atlas Shrugged, the book I previously and still recommend, combines both elements, a unique feat in history. It is true that it's a novel, but it is a philosophic novel, and her ideas are abundantly expressed throughout it.

And I, as well, thank my opponent for his patience, given the lengthy time for my responses. He brings up unexpectedly complex, but interesting, issues. I would also be interested in others' comments on this thread, eventually - as long as they're reasoned ...

Regarding the poll results, I will take the opposite side, as is fitting, and note that it implies that 60% *are* Objectivists - and it is more likely for the remaining 40% to become an Objectivist, or at least a more rational person, than it is for them to become a convert to Christ. God help us if not ... :confused:

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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE TO MODERATOR

Please (1) change the subtitle of this topic to "Completed Debate" (or

whatever you think is appropriate); and (2) open the topic to participation

by everyone.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unconquered, I have a few more questions, challenges and rejoinders; and I am sure you do as well. However, I feel from the bottom of my heart that we have covered all the main points. There is no need to drag this out.

I also think there is a lot of common ground, given that we have some of the same enemies -- such as the post-modernists, the skeptics, the fideists, the determinists, the materialists, the Biblicists, and, most of all, the nihilists.

There is so much common ground between Christianity and Objectivism, as you have described your philosophy within the confines of this debate, that I will ask the prior of my friary to propose to the Holy See that the new Holy Father -- Pope Benedict XVI, affectionately known as "God's Rottweiler" -- appoint a commission to investigate the possibility of integrating your philosophy, Objectivism, with Christianity, just as the Church did with the philosophy of Aristotle during the Middle Ages, the Age of Faith. Syncretism is a wonderful thing. Everyone benefits from joining forces.

Yours in God,

Brother Brian O'Loughlin

P. S. -- Standard Disclaimer: I want to thank Burgess Laughlin for allowing me to use his email address and password to gain entry into this forum. Unfortunately, he does not share my views. He is therefore not responsible for anything I say. As our mutual acquaintance, Sister Mary, told him -- after she read his book, The Aristotle Adventure -- "You need to read a Good Book about God!"

Edited by BurgessLau

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SUGGESTIONS FOR OPEN DISCUSSION

Speaking again -- at last! -- as Burgess Laughlin, I would like to remind readers that one purpose of all topics in the Debate Forum is to help train Objectivists (which means those who agree with every element of Ayn Rand's philosophy, as far as they have studied it) for discussing or debating philosophical ideas in the real world, a world dominated by a variety of corrupt philosophies.

So, with that purpose in mind, I would like to invite comments from Objectivists about this very brief, polite debate between Unconquered and Brother O'Loughlin. The following questions might help stimulate discussion, but all relevant comments about the debate are welcome.

1. Brother O'Loughlin presented one set of arguments about faith. What other arguments might other religious debaters present?

2. How would you have responded differently from Unconquered's approach -- in style or content?

3. In any private or public debate with an advocate of a faith-based "philosophy," what might an Objectivist hope to gain?

4. In what ways can -- or must -- a debate over reason vs. faith reach back to metaphysics, as a hierarchical foundation, and in what ways can it reach ahead to ethics (which is the "payoff" of epistemology)?

5. Is it possible to have a serious debate about an issue such as creationism vs. theory of evolution without resorting to a deeper debate about reason vs. faith?

6. What role can a debater's style play in determining his effectiveness?

7. How might an Objectivist debater deal with the problem of different terminology -- that is, the other debater meaning something different by "reason" and "faith," for example, than is meant in Objectivism?

Edited by BurgessLau

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Hi, this is my first post here; I have browsed the forums for a while, but this thread piqued my interest enough that I decided to register. I was a Catholic before discovering the works of Ayn Rand, and I am fairly familiar with Christian apologetics. Burgess (or should I say Brian?) presents the Catholic position quite well, and I would just like to address a single point which is in my experience very commonly made by apologists for faith.

Burgess states:

Your definition differs from mine, which is that faith is belief that is based, not on what we can see with our own eyes (that would be knowledge or understanding), but on testimony. In the case of human faith, the testimony comes from men, which you do appear to accept, even if you do not choose to use the word "faith" to name that acceptance of ideas based on testimony. In the case of divine faith, the testimony comes from God (in Holy Scripture) or from those who witnessed God as did the original apostles Jesus chose to spread the good news that our souls can be saved. As Thomas Aquinas noted, faith is a theological virtue, that is, a virtue oriented toward God. Anything based on God's testimony is certain because God's existence is certain -- as Thomas proved with his various sense-based arguments.

In this position, which is the official one taken by Catholic apologists, faith is belief in something based on the authority of the individual(s) relating relating the information to you. By this (incorrect) definition, "faith" would indeed be a proper and correct means of knowledge; in fact, we use "faith" every day when we read the newspaper, watch television, or listen to a story from a friend or co-worker. When we watch the nightly news, for example, we do not experience the news stories first-hand, but we have no doubt that they actually occurred. We do not (in most cases) have any grounds to think that the newsmen are trying to deceive us or that their story might be fabricated. We accept their reports based on "faith". The problem with this conception of faith lies in the fact of its basis in authority. Before one can accept a piece of information on "faith", one must first establish the authority of the information's source. The only way to establish this authority is through the use of reason. We accept the reports of news anchors because (among other reasons) we know of countless instances in the past where they have been correct, we know of others who have verified their accounts, and we know that if they presented false information they would find themselves out of a job. In order to accept the information found in the Bible, then, we would have to verify using reason that God exists, that he cannot lie, and that the Bible is in fact his word. None of these things can be verified logically; every one of Thomas Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God has been thoroughly refuted. Even if these assertions could be verified, however, "faith" in this definition would retain a limited use as a handmaiden of reason, rather than the other way around.

The circular thought process I have seen in the minds of many Christians goes something like this: We know that God exists because the Bible tells us so. We know that the Bible is true because it was written by God. Perhaps seeing this contradiction, Aquinas and other theologians attempt in vain to logically validate the existence of God. Ultimately, however, in order to retain their positions, they have to resort to faith in the proper sense of the term: belief without evidence or proof; belief based on whim, emotion, or fear.

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Entripon, thank you for a thoughtful commentary. That is exactly what I was hoping participants in this topic would contribute. Following is my summary of the main points that you made and that I had hoped would arise either in debate or in the subsequent discussion:

- In any debate, key terms must be defined, and the debaters must be prepared to deal with the differences.

- The argument for faith (in the Objectivist sense), even in its most sophisticated form, is ultimately circular.

- Raging fideists ("faith and faith alone") can never be debate-opponents, because they have no arguments to offer; however, the advocates of "faith and reason" are more threatening in that they offer both tools to an uncertain audience that doesn't want to immediately abandon either.

- Today, so far as I know, the most sophisticated argument in favor of faith (as one, special means of gaining certain kinds of knowledge) is the faith-and-reason position, particularly in the form (often Protestant, I gather) of what they call "justified true belief," that is, having "faith" in X based on some rationale such as the credible testimony of eye-witnesses to miracles (and of course they apply this to Holy Scripture too).

The ploy of the "justified true belief" crowd (advocates of faith who point to "human faith" in everyday life) is an attempt, I believe, to leech off of the high status of reason in the modern world and transfer that high status to a camoflauged faith.

Any serious student of this "faith and reason, justified true belief" approach might start with works such as:

1. Dewey J. Hoitinga, Faith and Reason from Plato to Plantinga: An Introduction to Reformed Epistemology.

2. Anthony Kenny, Faith and Reason.

3. Various writings by Alvin Plantinga.

4. Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, an encyclical available online.

I have studied the first and fourth, and started the second, but not yet read the third. The first writers subscribe to what they call "reformed epistemology," apparently. The "reformed" refers to the Reformation, that is, the Protestant rebellion against Catholicism, a rebellion that led to "reforming" Christianity. Apparently, but I am not sure, these reformed epistemologists take their approach -- justified true belief -- from some inspiration in Calvin's writings.

Edited by BurgessLau

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FAITH AND REASON VS. NIHILISM. When used properly, both faith and reason stand together as a bulwark against the modern scourges of skepticism, cognitive (and consequently moral) relativism, and nihilism, particularly its most recent, but perhaps now dying form, post-modernism. To combat these modernist enemies, the children of God need -- not reason alone (rationalism); not literal, unguided reading of the Holy Scripture alone (Biblicism); not blind faith (fideism) -- but faith guiding reason and reason understanding the revelations given to us by God to deal with the issues for which reason is too limited.

Burgess, I found Brother Brian's statement above to be thought-provoking. In your opinion (Burgess, not Brian :lol: ), which is currently a greater and more immediate threat to rational men, Faith or Nihilism/Postmodernism? Perhaps the two can't really be seperated, but I'd appreciate your thoughts.

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In your opinion [...] which is currently a greater and more immediate threat to rational men, Faith or Nihilism/Postmodernism? Perhaps the two can't really be seperated [...]

Faith today is a greater threat to rational men than nihilism. This takes some explanation though. "Faith," here, means "faith-based worldviews" which usually include a domain for "reason" (however defined). Faith-based worldviews thus have values of some sort, and the believers, to some extent, have made an effort to somewhat accomodate their faith-based beliefs to the real-world. Most Catholics (the largest Christian group), for example, don't deny the theory of evolution or that car engines require fuel or that a responsible adult should work for a living and save for the future.

Nihilists, by definition, want to destroy all values. Nihilism as a cultural phenomenon is imploding. It is a fading stain on cultural history. Post-modernism, to the extent that it has values (multiculturalism, diversity, equality, democracy, and so forth) is receding but leaving a thick residue where its principles agree with traditional religious principles (for example, egalitarianism).

Because nihilism and post-modernism are on their way out, they have created a partial vacuum. Religions are filling that vacuum: Christianity and Islam especially, but also Environmentalism (still a nascent religion).

One of the points I wanted to make with this debate is that an Objectivist almost never will encounter a pure fideist or Biblicist in any intellectual setting (such as academia). What we almost always encounter is the package deal of faith-and-reason. That is what we must learn to deal with -- e.g., by clearly separating and defining each and not allowing the religionists to set the terms of the debate.

In summary, I would say that faith (that is, religion) is now (and once again) the greater long-term threat. That doesn't mean the pomos and nihilists aren't a threat, only that they are less of a threat as time goes by.

(Burgess, not Brian :lol: )

The initial posts from Brother Brian were some of the most difficult pieces of writing I have ever done. My subconscious wouldn't cooperate: "You can't say that. It just isn't true!" But, as usual, Ayn Rand was right when she said (Ayn Rand Answers, pp. 178-179) that playing Devil's Advocate is very helpful to thinkers (especially to thinkers engaged in debate, either through writing or speaking).

Edited by BurgessLau

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There is so much common ground between Christianity and Objectivism, as you have described your philosophy within the confines of this debate, that I will ask the prior of my friary to propose to the Holy See that the new Holy Father -- Pope Benedict XVI, affectionately known as "God's Rottweiler" -- appoint a commission to investigate the possibility of integrating your philosophy, Objectivism, with Christianity, just as the Church did with the philosophy of Aristotle during the Middle Ages, the Age of Faith. Syncretism is a wonderful thing. Everyone benefits from joining forces.
I am very surprised that no one has taken offense at this ridiculus statement. Objectivism and Christianity differ at almost every bend. Objectivism hold the primacy of existance; Chrisitanity hold the primacy of conciousness. Objectivism holds selfishness is the moral; Chrisitanity holds altruism as the moral code to live by. Objectivism holds man's self as the judge and reason as the guide for life, Christianity holds God as both the judge and guide. Objectivism revers the individual, Christianity hates the man who won't surrender his mind to anyone or anything.

Any attempt to bring Objectivism and Christianity together would benefit Christianity, but destroy Objectivism. In any compromise, it is the moral, the good, the right, that looses and the immoral that wins. In any compromise between reason and faith, it is faith that wins and reason that looses.

I'm sure others will be able to expand on this brief post as it merits a much better response, but I am out of time.

Zak

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Because nihilism and post-modernism are on their way out, they have created a partial vacuum. Religions are filling that vacuum: Christianity and Islam especially, but also Environmentalism (still a nascent religion)...

In summary, I would say that faith (that is, religion) is now (and once again) the greater long-term threat. That doesn't mean the pomos and nihilists aren't a threat, only that they are less of a threat as time goes by.

I appreciate your response and I agree with it. The reason I even asked the question is because it appears to me that the political atmosphere of at least two major European countries (France and Germany, to be specific) is dominated by pomo/nihilist thinking. Islam, today's most virulent strain of "faith", has located this weak underbelly and is beginning to attack it. Unless the Europeans abandon their self-destructive philosophy, I don't see how they can withstand the long-term assault from Islam. It's as if postmodernism has paved the way for Islam/faith (and all of the dangers associated with it) in much the same way that Kant and his followers paved the way for the Nazis.

In America, postmodernism is well established at our universities but has a much more limited base in the general public. That gives me hope for us, but I'm still concerned about the implications of an Islamic France or Germany.

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I appreciate your response and I agree with it. The reason I even asked the question is because it appears to me that the political atmosphere of at least two major European countries (France and Germany, to be specific) is dominated by pomo/nihilist thinking. Islam, today's most virulent strain of "faith", has located this weak underbelly and is beginning to attack it. Unless the Europeans abandon their self-destructive philosophy, I don't see how they can withstand the long-term assault from Islam. It's as if postmodernism has paved the way for Islam/faith (and all of the dangers associated with it) in much the same way that Kant and his followers paved the way for the Nazis.

In America, postmodernism is well established at our universities but has a much more limited base in the general public. That gives me hope for us, but I'm still concerned about the implications of an Islamic France or Germany.

As a British person, I can't say that I am able to speak of the French without some bias, however it is my observation that the French are a highly arrogant, irrational, and proud people who will never realise their errors until it is too late (and even then they will not admit them). Just look at the recent farm's subsidies fiasco... arguing with the French is like dealing with an irrational child. I think France is over a quarter muslim already.

As for Britain, I believe the ship is sinking and there is no way back now. I plan to leave for America as soon as possible - Socialism is too deeply embedded here.

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I am very surprised that no one has taken offense at this ridiculus statement. Objectivism and Christianity differ at almost every bend. Objectivism hold the primacy of existance; Chrisitanity hold the primacy of conciousness. Objectivism holds selfishness is the moral; Chrisitanity holds altruism as the moral code to live by. Objectivism holds man's self as the judge and reason as the guide for life, Christianity holds God as both the judge and guide. Objectivism revers the individual, Christianity hates the man who won't surrender his mind to anyone or anything.

Any attempt to bring Objectivism and Christianity together would benefit Christianity, but destroy Objectivism. In any compromise, it is the moral, the good, the right, that looses and the immoral that wins. In any compromise between reason and faith, it is faith that wins and reason that looses.

I'm sure others will be able to expand on this brief post as it merits a much better response, but I am out of time.

Zak

This is an extremely inaccurate view of Catholicism, though it holds a great deal of accuracy in terms of protestant denominations such as Lutheranism and Calvinism. I will concede that Augustine's view of humanity is opposed to man as a virtuous creature by nature, but Augustine is not held in the same light now that he was in the 9th century. Although Aquinas' penned his works several centuries ago, his Aristotlilean influence has only recently become prominent amongst Catholic Theologians. Indeed, though the Platonists are still heavily present in certain areas, there is a real debate going on what the actual ramifications of such things as "Original Sin" and "Divine Predestination".

Now, as far as Altruism goes, I think it would be profitable for you to read the Catholic Polemic against both Auguste Comte and Immanuel Kant (both philosophical charlatans, the latter worse than the former) and it's attack on the philosophical theory of Altruism. They can be found at the following URLs.

Catholic Encyclopedia "Altruism" - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01369a.htm

Catholic Encyclopedia "Kantism" - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08603a.htm

Furthermore, in my recent RCIA meetings with our Church's father, he gave an energetic rebuttal of subjective morality in favor of "objective" morality. Now granted, alot of Catholics are incredibly skeptical of Rand and the Objectivist movement because of their Atheism, however, both of them have some common interests that could warrant some collaboration. Such issues as opposition to Public Education (a bromide, Government Education is a more appropriate title, being one who has been a slave to their curiculums for 3 years now), freedom of religious expression (and yes, the freedom from it as well), and a system that does not punish people economically for having differing views.

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Here are a couple of quotes from the links you provided:

"Catholic ethics does not deny that happiness of some kind is the necessary consequence of good conduct, or that the desire to attain or confer it is lawful; but it does deny that the pursuit of it for its own sake is the ultimate aim of conduct."
This states clearly that the pursuit of happiness for its own sake cannot be the goal of one's actions.

"The conflict between self-love and benevolence, which is inevitable in all systems that determine the morality of an act by its relations to an agreeable psychological state, need not arise in systems that make the ethical norm of action objective; the ethically desirable and the psychologically desirable are not identified."
This means that Catholic ethics avoids the alleged conflicts between self-love and benevolence (love of others) by making the goal of ethics something other than the achievement of happiness ("an agreeable psychological state"). What guidance then does the Catholic ethic provide?

The general rules for determining the prevailing duty given by Catholic moralists are these:

1) Absolutely speaking there is no obligation to love others more than self.

2) There is an obligation which admits of no exceptions, to love self more than others, whenever beneficence to others entails moral guilt.

3) In certain circumstances it may be obligatory, or at least a counsel of perfection, to love others more than self. Apart from cases in which one's profession or state of life, or justice imposes duties, these circumstances are determined by comparing the relative needs of self and others. (Emphasis added)

4) These needs may be spiritual or temporal; the need of the community or of the individual; the need of one in extreme, serious or ordinary want; the need of those who are near to us by natural or social ties, and of those whose claims are only union in a common humanity. The first class in each group has precedence over the second.

This means the standard for determining who is to be the beneficiary of one's actions is the "relative need" of yourself versus others. You may not pursue your own self-interest if there is anyone else in "greater need" anywhere in "common humanity".

If you are seeking to reconcile the politics of Objectivism with Catholicism, you are making the same mistake the conservatives have been making for the last 50 years: You cannot achieve any sort of political freedom based on these ethics. You must choose between faith and force or reason and freedom; no compromise is possible.

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"Catholic ethics does not deny that happiness of some kind is the necessary consequence of good conduct, or that the desire to attain or confer it is lawful; but it does deny that the pursuit of it for its own sake is the ultimate aim of conduct."
The primary problem that arises when one pursues happiness as an end within itself, particularly when it is done irrationally (Nietzsche comes to mind here), is that itruns the risk of subjectivist ethics. This is not a problem for the Objectivist obviously because no such tendencies towards irrationality or subjectivity exists. But bear in mind that when these ethics were formed, there was no such thing as Objectivism, the product of Ayn Rand's studies.

Basically the thing to look for here is what is missing from this quote, the principle of rational thought, which Catholicism views as an attribute of a person whose faith is in the correct order. Aquinas' famous quote "Well-Ordered Self-Love is right and natural" speaks specifically to avoiding excesses that may harm the body or the soul (though it provides short-term happiness or the illusion of it) some examples being alcoholism, over-eating, irrational gambling, et cetera.

"The conflict between self-love and benevolence, which is inevitable in all systems that determine the morality of an act by its relations to an agreeable psychological state, need not arise in systems that make the ethical norm of action objective; the ethically desirable and the psychologically desirable are not identified."

This is a standard that seems to deal with the formation of a constitutional Republic where these issues would be dealt with on a specific basis. This is essentially the statement that the goal of Catholic ethics is the advancement of humanity (as God's prized creation). Unlike Comte and Kant, the Vatican is not married to collectivism as a matter of faith, they are more than willing to give another format a try, provided that it succeeds at what it promises. Applied to a secular government, Objectivism would be in the best position to create the wealth and prosperity, in addition to minimizing poverty. Hense, in the rare cases where benevolence is needed to care for those victim to circumstances not of their own making (birth defects, accidents), it would be done by convincing by way of private means the acts of benevolence by the prosperous.

Objectivists hold private charity as the only ethical means of distributing wealth to those rare people who require it by charitable means, and in their system the Catholic Church would be in a position as a non-government entity to provide a medium for it. The same applies to any other charitable organization, be it religious or secular.

1) Absolutely speaking there is no obligation to love others more than self.

2) There is an obligation which admits of no exceptions, to love self more than others, whenever beneficence to others entails moral guilt.

3) In certain circumstances it may be obligatory, or at least a counsel of perfection, to love others more than self. Apart from cases in which one's profession or state of life, or justice imposes duties, these circumstances are determined by comparing the relative needs of self and others. (Emphasis added)

4) These needs may be spiritual or temporal; the need of the community or of the individual; the need of one in extreme, serious or ordinary want; the need of those who are near to us by natural or social ties, and of those whose claims are only union in a common humanity. The first class in each group has precedence over the second.

This is where Catholicism and Objectivism do seem to come into a rather unfortunate intersection. Ayn Rand viewed the benevolence of prosperous people as automatic by virtue of reason, hense all of this is seen as stating an obvious bromide for the sake of tearing down the great for the sake of despotism. However, this is not neccesarily the case.

Objective criticism warrants a vetting system of what is defined as "relative need", ergo each individual carries his own needs, and his best way of satisfying them is on his own initiative. It is indeed rare when such a thing is not possible to an individual by reasons not of his own making, but such acts of benevolence also need not be compulsory. Indeed, morality ceases to exist when compusion is present, so government forced benevolence is a contradiction in terms.

Augustinian Catholicism may indeed be in contradiction with man's quest for the end of the self-love/benevolence dicotomy that has haunted humanity since it's beginning, but Augustine does not speak for all of Christianity, and he particularly does not speak for me.

Edited by dark_unicorn

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Hi, I'm new here, and thought I'd add my two cents on this rather old debate.

I maintain that debating this particular issue is absurd since christianity is not founded on argument. Anyone who has read the christians' "holy text"--a book titled The Bible, is well aware that this book is not only shot through with absurdities, but repetitively discounts and even condemns the use of reason. For example, the "apostles" were instructed to assert their claims in Greece (that place where men were known for their adherence to reason), and then wipe their feet if they were not automatically believed without question. Indeed, the greeks (and their reason) were loathed by the early christian apostles--read the book for proof of this. All through that book, those who believe (without proof or signs) the utterly arbitrary claims of Jesus and the apostles are held up as role models who find favor in the eyes of some "god" by virtue of their gullibility.

"Today is the day of salvation," we are told. "There is no time to read this book before believing it because, afterall, where will you go if you die tonight?" "He who doubts is damned," we are warned.

In the bible, anyone who believed the claim that Jesus was the messiah, was called a "believer," and a believer was supposed to be a person who was entitled to go to "heaven." Anyone who failed to believe the claim that Jesus was the messiah was called an "unbeliever," an apostate, a filthy sinner, a reprobate, a fool, etc. and was told that he would be punished in another world on account of his failure to automatically believe or form the prescribed and necessary sets of opinions required to escape that punishment. In the bible, "Believers" were urged to stand fast, resist reason, and hold on to their religious notions until their deaths, lest reason and evidence should sway their opinions, thus rendering them damnable, deserving to be punished in some fiery underworld called "hell."

These people who attempt to pass off their religiosity as the product of a calm, cool, carefully reasoned and logical deliberation or conclusion based on evidence and facts are the farthest thing from the characters in their own "holy book" wherein everyone who was "saved" merely heard the arbitrary claim spoken, and immediately believed, without recourse to any of these ridiculous debates as can be seen in this thread.

Streamline

Edited by Streamline

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I'm sorry to see that Mr. Laughin has left, I wanted to ask him whether he wanted people to accept Chirstianity because _____ says it to be true.

If that blank spot is filled by "the Bible", does he care about the acts of the roman emperor Constantine, fusing pagan religions with the early christianity (including heavy edits to the Bible), changing what was there in order to bring his kingdom together?

I just now remembered that he is a Catholic, thus condeming children who love their muslim/buddhist parents and have faith in them, to an eternity in hell? That is one thing of a large list of abominations to god. Does anybody deserve that?

His utmost source of knowledge is a book that was (lets say god wrote it by taking over the minds of the writers) edited heavily after whoever wrote it?

------------------------------------

There are theorems that disprove an all-powerful god, but they only work when contradictions cannot exist; meaning if god can defy reason, he could exist. If reason could be broken, god could exist; and Mr. Laughin wants faith (in god and the bible) and reason (contradiction can't exist).

The biggest problem I have is what the bible advocates. I wouldn't want to worship such a violent and immature god.

So when the big angry man-god sends me to hell, I'll remember this little tidbit:

Apostle(I think it was Peter): "Jesus, (after he has visions of hell) why would a good god do such horrible things and especially for eternity!?

Jesus: Don't worry, they all get out eventually.

**of course I'm paraphrasing, and I will try to find the source of where I heard this**

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I'm sorry to see that Mr. Laughin has left, I wanted to ask him whether he wanted people to accept Chirstianity because _____ says it to be true.
All the much harder since he was never really here. Another divine miracle. BTW I assume you know that Burgess was engaging in devil's advocacy.

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I have no time to waste reading a polarity of opinion without either side defining their terms. This happens when life is reasoned into a dycotomy and not harmony. Let me run to the point. Faith is action, more definitively, faith is the active exercise of what you know is true. If you do not exercise what you know is true, you simply have no faith. This then begs that question, how do you know something is true? Go to www.thirdreality.net. Remember the philosopher in Atlas Shrugged, or was it the Fountain Head, who escaped to the mountains to work as a cook? Well, he is a alive and setting the record straight. His name is Samuel Lewis. John Galt now stands in need of correction.

george

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I have no time to waste reading a polarity of opinion without either side defining their terms. This happens when life is reasoned into a dycotomy and not harmony. Let me run to the point. Faith is action, more definitively, faith is the active exercise of what you know is true. If you do not exercise what you know is true, you simply have no faith. This then begs that question, how do you know something is true? Go to www.thirdreality.net. Remember the philosopher in Atlas Shrugged, or was it the Fountain Head, who escaped to the mountains to work as a cook? Well, he is a alive and setting the record straight. His name is Samuel Lewis. John Galt now stands in need of correction.

george

–noun

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.

2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.

5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.

7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

—Idiom

9. in faith, in truth; indeed: In faith, he is a fine lad.

Still looking for something which identifies faith as an action. Since 8 of the definitions refer to it as a noun akin to belief and one as an idiom, I expect difficulty. Am I using the wrong bible...err...I mean dictionary for a definition of faith?

edit: And if you would, please elucidate on in which ways the mystical altruist you link to is correcting john galt.

Edited by aequalsa

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