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Objectivist's View on Religion

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Kurt, you should probably go back a couple pages where I started this argument.

To clarify, this is actually a thread hijack by me. I should have known better. I'm arguing concepts of method, which has nothing to do with the thread up to that point.

But I think you're on the right track. I am arguing an imaginary God, by definition, is the basis for religion. But, I should clarify that we must differentiate between the imaginary Christian God, the imaginary Jewish God, the imaginary Muslim God. Even futher we might need to allow for the imaginary Catholic God versus the imaginary Lutheran God versus the imaginary Mormon God, etc. Just the word "God" can be fairly abstract, which might be tripping some people up. The proper understanding will certainly vary on context, but still functions as a hierarchy. There are some concepts about God which transcend all monotheistic religions, or at least the Judeo-Christian tradition.

This whole topic is fairly involved and isn't simple. But neither is complex analysis mathematics! haha

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Can you link me to some proof of this assertion? It's ok if you can't. I do recognize the difficulty of legitimate proof.'

You are basically making a blanket assertion which is opposite of my assertion. Funny how some ask me for proof but others may post assertions without proof.

You were claiming that we are in agreement, so I had to clear it up.

As for the proof that there's no God, sure: you are looking at a screen-it has an identity, including limits. If there existed something without identity, and with no limits in knowledge or scope, this computer screen could not exist beside it, and have its identity and limits-instead, it would have to be a part of the limitless thing. Clearly, it is not.

But beyound your own eyes, which are looking at the computer screen which contradicts the claims of God, there really is nothing I have to offer as proof. If you don't believe your senses, then there is no proof of anything. Have a nice..oh wait, there's no proof that you have a life-maybe life is an imaginary concept.

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There are some concepts about God which transcend all monotheistic religions, or at least the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Which concepts would those be?

Even futher we might need to allow for the imaginary Catholic God versus the imaginary Lutheran God versus the imaginary Mormon God, etc.

It's far worse than that. There are different conceptions of a Lutheran God, different conceptions of a Baptist God, etc. etc. That is essentially why ANY conceptions of God, even broad ones are meaningless. They have no referents to reality with which to even operate on the broad conceptions.

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Can you link me to some proof of this assertion? It's ok if you can't. I do recognize the difficulty of legitimate proof.

You are basically making a blanket assertion which is opposite of my assertion. Funny how some ask me for proof but others may post assertions without proof.

No link is necessary. The rules of logical cognition are sufficient.

Any abstraction, conclusion, or derivation based on something not grounded in reality cannot be considered to be grounded in reality, and cannot be trusted to have value in the perception of or insight into reality.

It's a simple logical matter - any argument, any calculation, any conclusion, when built upon faulty premises, is invalid, no matter if the conclusion it reaches is actually correct.

Simple example:

- If the streets are wet, it has rained recently. (Premise)

- The streets are wet. (Premise)

- It has rained recently. (Conclusion)

Premise 1 is invalid - the streets being wet is not proof of rain. The streets may also be wet because I drove over the fire hydrant.

Thus EVEN if it rained recently and I *didn't* drive over the fire hydrant, concluding that wet streets = recent rain is an invalid conclusion based on a false premise.

Likewise, as God has no basis in reality, any insight based on the premise of God is invalid.

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The Objectivist view on God is that he could not possibly exist because he is a logical contradiction.

It's not a matter of "don't know yet" or "cannot know" (either of which would be different matters entirely, but for very different reasons we'd still say "no there is not a god"), but rather that a God That Created The Universe *cannot possibly* exist.

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The Objectivist view on God is that he could not possibly exist because he is a logical contradiction.

I'm leaning toward even that much being too forthcoming toward the religionists. I'd rather go with promt dismissal of the entire argument.

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Also, to say “I don’t know I don’t know” is a stupid superficiality, when “I don’t know” is all you need to say. Nothing is nothing, and it can't be discussed. Your question doesn’t mean anything, so I don’t know what kind of answer you are after.

Not to speak for someone else, but I think he was talking about things the existence of which we don't yet (and may never) have the tools or knowledge to discover, but which nevertheless exist. For example, Newton didn't know that he didn't know about relativity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am new to Objectivism in general, and as a Christian who does believe in God, I am having some issues accepting this specific facet.

For me, God exists by necessity. He provides meaning and comfort when confronted with sorrow, though he doesn't influence my day-to-day decision making. Objectivism would deny his existence because he is imperceivable, and the burden of proof is towards the positive. But at the same time, Objectivism doesn't offer up any substitute for meaning. It simply says what is, is. Don't you guys struggle with this?

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For me, God exists by necessity. He provides meaning and comfort when confronted with sorrow

The first thing you will need to learn is to stop your magical thinking.

You're abusing the word necessity-- you simply want "god" to exist because it fills an emotional void for you. Whether or not you have that desire does not affect reality.

For example-- would you be happier if you believed that a pot of gold awaits you each day at your home when you come home from work?

You might gain some temporary, misguided comfort... laboring away for meager pay doesn't seem so bad when you believe that you'll be wealthy as soon as you get home.

But then you'll get home, and realize that there was no gold. Yet the idea that you were wrong is completely inconceivable. What you want to be true must be true, otherwise, you will be forced to deal with a reality that you hate. And so you evade, and you rationalize... "Oh, some leprechauns stole it! There will be a pot of gold tomorrow!"

This is deluded, insane, and childish behavior. You can't begin to call yourself an Objectivist, nor can you comprehend any logical thought whatsoever, until you cease the fundamental error of evasion of reality.

Acknowledging reality is the first step to changing it. Otherwise, you will be powerless for your entire life.

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I am new to Objectivism in general, and as a Christian who does believe in God, I am having some issues accepting this specific facet.

For me, God exists by necessity. He provides meaning and comfort when confronted with sorrow, though he doesn't influence my day-to-day decision making. Objectivism would deny his existence because he is imperceivable, and the burden of proof is towards the positive. But at the same time, Objectivism doesn't offer up any substitute for meaning. It simply says what is, is. Don't you guys struggle with this?

How is God's existence necessary to your survival? My reasoning mind has been of much greater aid than faith in a supernatural contradiction. Attempt to survive on faith alone without reason; attempt to cure your sorrow with faith in God alone. For me what cures any temporary sorrow is knowing that I, through my own mind, am fit to survive and be competent.

As for meaning God presupposes more questions than answers. If God is the meaning of your life then what is the meaning of God? The meaning of your life is precisely your life. The actions you take to perpetuate your life and support it give it meaning. My problem with God and religion is that they put too much emphasis on the beginnings and ends of life. It is the entire journey that matters, the accumulation of knowledge, the growth and development and they way you live your life that matter, not what exists outside of existence or your life.

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This is deluded, insane, and childish behavior. You can't begin to call yourself an Objectivist, nor can you comprehend any logical thought whatsoever, until you cease the fundamental error of evasion of reality.

The guy comes here and asks a question and you unload both barrels on him. He seems to sincerely be making an inquiry and he's facing what is probably a substantial shift in his entire mode of thinking and seeing the world and his life. Maybe a less abrasive response would help him more. Rand recognized errors in knowledge and evasion as two different things. I don't think we know enough about him to accuse him of evasion just yet.

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....or it's entirely possible that for the first time in his (?) life, dclynch is trying NOT to evade. He has spotted a contradiction; he sees good in Objectivism but Objectivism specifically denies something else he believes. Now he is trying to work it out. This is praiseworthy.

dclynch is taking the first of many steps to discovering that ultimately, reason and faith cannot be reconciled. Many people go their entire lives without discovering this, without even taking that first step. They are able to compartmentalize, to live one part of their lives by reason and the other part by faith. Many of my coworkers do pretty well at their jobs (which require clear logical thinking) but believe the silliest things when it comes to "bigger" questions like "why are we here? Who put us here? What can I get a sense of purpose?"

[The one extenuating circumstance to SuperMetroid's attitude is that of late, we *do* seem to be getting a fairly substantial number of trolls coming in here insisting that we listen to their "new" proof that rational people have to believe in God, and it's only some damned rehash of an argument that got debunked 500 years ago. Or more. I have to wonder if there isn't some Xian group out there siccing these people on us. For our own good of course, to save us from damnation.]

You can't begin to call yourself an Objectivist...

It is also noteworthy that dclynch did not call himself (or herself) an Objectivist. He said he was new to Objectivism, i.e., had just discovered its existence.

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I wouldn't classify myself as an Agnostic but instead a Deist; Personally I don't see a conflict between objectivism and deism given that this 'god' if you wish to call it that has no impact nor does it make claims to having some sort of knowledge over and above me as delivered in the form of scriptural revelation. Where as agnosticism is more or less the belief in the possibility of a personal god, deism on the other hand uses the term 'god' as a metaphysical representation of a some sort of 'force' that exists within nature.

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I wouldn't classify myself as an Agnostic but instead a Deist; Personally I don't see a conflict between objectivism and deism given that this 'god' if you wish to call it that has no impact nor does it make claims to having some sort of knowledge over and above me as delivered in the form of scriptural revelation. Where as agnosticism is more or less the belief in the possibility of a personal god, deism on the other hand uses the term 'god' as a metaphysical representation of a some sort of 'force' that exists within nature.

You may not see a conflict between deism and objectivism, but it is there.

The conflict is that you are choosing to believe in a mystical, undefined force. The very nature of this force - mystical and undefined - renders it contrary to any logical observation or deduction. You want it to be, and so you conclude it must be, even though it cannot be defined.

Thus the conflict. You are denying that A is A - that Existence is Identity - by choosing to believe in the existence of something that cannot be defined and thus has no identity.

If existence is not identity, and the existence of something with no identity would invalidate the concept of "A is A", then there is no foundation for logic and reason, and thus existence would be subject to manipulation by wishing. Rocks would be space and water would be time if we believe they are, just as God - some kind of God, would be if we believe they are.

But they are not - rocks are rocks, water is water. There is no room for God in reason. A is A.

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Personally I don't see a conflict between objectivism and deism

Personally, you're wrong:

They claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence on this earth. The mystics of spirit call it “another dimension,” which consists of denying dimensions. The mystics of muscle call it “the future,” which consists of denying the present. To exist is to possess identity. What identity are they able to give to their superior realm? They keep telling you what it is not, but never tell you what it is. All their identifications consist of negating: God is that which no human mind can know, they say—and proceed to demand that you consider it knowledge—God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out. (Ayn Rand,AS)

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics. (Leonard Peikoff,1976)

I specified the year for the Peikoff quote just to underscore the fact that Ayn Rand was aware and in perfect agreement with Dr. Peikoff's view of Objectivism. I submit to you that the only possible reason why you would think there isn't a conflict between Objectivism and Deism is because you have no understanding of Objectivism. In which case, you should stop answering questions about it.

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I am new to Objectivism in general, and as a Christian who does believe in God, I am having some issues accepting this specific facet.

For me, God exists by necessity. He provides meaning and comfort when confronted with sorrow, though he doesn't influence my day-to-day decision making. Objectivism would deny his existence because he is imperceivable, and the burden of proof is towards the positive. But at the same time, Objectivism doesn't offer up any substitute for meaning. It simply says what is, is. Don't you guys struggle with this?

That is correct. Objectivism denies the existence of God precisely because there's no such thing as "something imperceivable".

According to the axioms (described by Rand), everything which exists has an identity, and consciousness is the only means of perceiving that identity of every existing thing.

I do not struggle with this notion, because it is the only way reality is real. If the axioms were not true, that would deny everything I know, it would mean nothing is certain, and I do not even exist, because all my knowledge, including the knowledge that I exist, is based on my consciousness perceiving reality through the means of my senses. Do you not struggle with the notion that "revelation" is the only connection you have with God, and that you don't actually have any understanding of what "revelation" is, you only know what it is not: it is not your consciousness observing reality, the way it observes everything that we know exists - that your mind and senses are not the ultimate arbiter of what is?

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For me, God exists by necessity. He provides meaning and comfort when confronted with sorrow, though he doesn't influence my day-to-day decision making.

See, for me, this was the most liberating part of being an atheist and an Objectivist. I recently had a young friend pass away unexpectedly. Although I will miss him terribly, I haven't had to wonder, "Why would this God that everyone keeps telling me is so awesome take such a great person in such an awful and painful way?" "Why does God want him now?" "Why does God want or need to take anyone now?" "Why does God cure some, but not all?" "Why does God let evil people live, yet take this good person?" etc, etc, etc

The simple fact is, my friend got very sick and his body and the doctors couldn't cure him. He's gone. And I don't have to wonder where or why or if he's being punished for his "sin" of being homosexual. He is gone and we are left with the legacy he left behind...being a great, wonderful, happy person. The fact that he lived his life happily and on good terms, and the wonderful memories I have of him, gives me all the comfort I need.

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I appreciate the responses. Particuarly K-Mac, who (I believe) was the one of the few to provide the answer to what I think is a difficult question. Namely, how does an atheist cope with loss? I agree that reason is powerful, but in this specific instance I find it to be unsatisfactory.

SuperMetroid, you should understand that I am not a troll and not here to prove the existance of God. Rather, I was simply curious as to the response I would get from the Objectivist community. While faith might be the antithesis of logic, calling it childish and insane disregards the power of human emotions. It is human nature to form some type of religion, look through history at the myriad of religions. Does that make it correct? No, but it offers evidence that it is human nature to move outside the purely logical.

Plasmatic, I appreciate the link. Reading through however, I've stumbled upon what I feel is a direct contradiction. I'm wondering if you putting this into more layman's terms will help me understand the argument the author is providing.

In one speech, we have the following:

There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards.

However, directly above it, we have this:

An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality...

I don't understand, if an emotion is a response to reality, how can it tell you nothing about reality? The mere fact that it is a response seems to indicate that emotions tell the mind something about the reality he inhabits.

Steve D'Ippolito, I appreciate the defense. It is true, it would be silly for me to call myself an Objectivist, after all, I've really just become introduced to the subject. As much as faith and reason appear to inherently contradict (one being reason and the other being complete absense from it), to choose one over the other is to choose my mind or my God. This is a difficult decision, as anyone who was religious and now is not will admit. This is, of course, exactly what SuperMetroid predicted when he accused me of evasion. If I know this dichotemy exists, I have to choose one over the other don't I?

If I didn't mention you personally, that's not a knock on your posts. I just picked out a few which were different from the others and had things I wanted to address. I appreciate all the responses, I certainly have some thinking to do. (Although, since I use the word 'think', it appears like I've already made my decision.)

Edited by dclynch
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how does an atheist cope with loss?

How does a theist cope with being a permanent paraplegic? The same way an atheist does. The same is true in regards to the loss of someone most cherished and loved. He will either 1). Accept the reality, and move on; or, 2). Commit suicide (quickly or slowly). Theists "confuse" themselves by choosing to believe that they will one day get to see the person again, but this is merely a rationalization that helps them take option 1.

I agree that reason is powerful, but in this specific instance I find it to be unsatisfactory.

Then, perhaps you will pick option 2.

While faith might be the antithesis of logic, calling it childish and insane disregards the power of human emotions. It is human nature to form some type of religion, look through history at the myriad of religions. Does that make it correct? No, but it offers evidence that it is human nature to move outside the purely logical.

I would like to hear your reasons for concluding that it was emotion that led man to create religion. I disagree. Man's mind is programmed to try and make order out of things. A conclusively non-emotional example of this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_spot_(vision) .

Not quite human--hominids (Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon) invented religion--out of their need to have order--and passed it on to us, who are almost done with it all together... at least those of us furthest away from our lowly ancestors.

In one speech, we have the following:

There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards.

However, directly above it, we have this:

An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality...

I don't understand, if an emotion is a response to reality, how can it tell you nothing about reality? The mere fact that it is a response seems to indicate that emotions tell the mind something about the reality he inhabits.

Good question. Think of it this way. If someone were to blow 190 proof alcohol at you while holding a match in front of their mouth, you would instantly feel fear, and recoil as the ball of fire hurls towards your face. The emotional response--fear--tells you nothing. It is a response to what you have already learned: Fire burns, and burns hurt really bad. The emotion told you nothing; your eyes and sense of touch did. In fact, emotional response is dependent on value judgements. Pick any emotion, and the same will apply.

The realm of ideas provides a murky zone, where people's value judgements can be detrimental to themselves. Such a person may value a big butt, and taught huge breasts as most valuable to him, and have little to no value on character, honesty, integrity, etc., when assessing a woman; and, might fall in love with someone who is not a rational choice. But the fact remains, that the emotion tells the man nothing about what is good or bad for him, it is a response to his value judgements.

What is key is to put reason first, then our emotions are not problems for us, but then (as with fire, drowning, falling, etc.) are always our allies.

to choose one over the other is to choose my mind or my God. This is a difficult decision, as anyone who was religious and now is not will admit. This is, of course, exactly what SuperMetroid predicted when he accused me of evasion. If I know this dichotemy exists, I have to choose one over the other don't I?

You do so already. When you break your leg, do you try and heal yourself with faith? Just add consistency, and decide to stop "faking the faith" is all you have left to do. What you are really asking is: is it ok for me to fake like I believe in "god" sometimes still?

As I said already: Put reason first, and you emotions will follow.

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In one speech, we have the following:

There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards.

However, directly above it, we have this:

An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality...

I don't understand, if an emotion is a response to reality, how can it tell you nothing about reality? The mere fact that it is a response seems to indicate that emotions tell the mind something about the reality he inhabits.

An emotion is a reaction to stimulus, but it must be coupled with reason to determine what exactly it means, and if it is valid.

If a man happens to push me on the street I might get angry. Without thinking I might act on that anger and push him back. The emotion didn't give me the knowledge to realize that he pushed me to get me out of the way of a speeding car.

Or... A man's wife asks him "Do I look fat in these pants." To which he responds... "It's not the pants."

She gets angry and storms off. If she thinks about the whole exchange and reasons her way through she might very well see that her Husband was telling the truth. Now she could still very well be angry for how it was said but she ought not to be angry about the truth of the matter.

Her anger wouldn't lead her to that conclusion, only her reason will.

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An emotion is a reaction to stimulus, but it must be coupled with reason to determine what exactly it means, and if it is valid.

If a man happens to push me on the street I might get angry. Without thinking I might act on that anger and push him back. The emotion didn't give me the knowledge to realize that he pushed me to get me out of the way of a speeding car.

Or... A man's wife asks him "Do I look fat in these pants." To which he responds... "It's not the pants."

She gets angry and storms off. If she thinks about the whole exchange and reasons her way through she might very well see that her Husband was telling the truth. Now she could still very well be angry for how it was said but she ought not to be angry about the truth of the matter.

Her anger wouldn't lead her to that conclusion, only her reason will.

That conclusion being, "My husband is an ass!" :lol:

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