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A question for the Rand experts. Rand’s atheism

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Mike82ARP
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Actually, I'm not sure "proof" is even the right term to use when assessing philosophies. One can't "prove" that a particular philosophy is true, in the sense that one tests a scientific hypothesis through experimentation.

Validation certainly preceeds proof. Both validation and proof require a grasp of the elements and relationships involved.

Edited by dream_weaver
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One can't "prove" that a particular philosophy is true, in the sense that one tests a scientific hypothesis through experimentation.

If one can't be sure, why bother trying to understand at all?
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Jaskn,

Given the quality of your comments here and elsewhere, I've concluded that you're not worth responding to. So you're just wasting your time.

Don't worry, no response is necessary! But if you continue spouting nonsense, you can expect continued rebuttals.
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One can't "prove" that a particular philosophy is true

"True" according to what philosophical standard?

in the sense that one tests a scientific hypothesis through experimentation.

So you have implicitly accepted a philosophy as true in order to assert that no philosophy is definitely true.

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On the contrary, I do not believe in God on faith alone. And yes it will sound like I make a huge claim that there is empirical proof of God's existence (note: I do not engender God). My stance is merely that there is either Nothing, or there is Something. If there was Nothing to start out with there wouldn't be Anything (i.e. the universe and the material contained within it). Therefore, there HAD to be Something at what we perceive as the beginning of Time and I find that Something (Existence itself) to be the concept of God. Consequentially, all that we observe around us and above us, from the macro to the micro, from the physical to the mental, derives from that state of Existence. Therefore, I can observe empirically Existence (God).

I'm not claiming that you don't fully understand Catholicism (or Christianity in general), but we DO believe in FREE WILL which, last time I checked, was extremely PRO-individualistic. Yes, the Church has its THING with punishment and encouragement to follow and be collective, but leave that choice up to YOU, the individual. And in my mind I don't believe the Pope or the Vatican is Infallible, rather the opposite (as I GREATLY oppose the Vatican II Council). And therefore, I find you are wrong to compare God with Politics. Politics has nothing to do with it, as unfortunate as it is that some have tried to make it so. I don't care if it was ever a State Religion, in America it isn't and I am thankful for that.

And I certainly don't need to defend myself on this at all. I wasn't doing so now. It is called CLARIFICATION .

True, you can empirically experience existence, but your association of existence with God is a faith based belief. Why not associate existence with something else besides God, or simply as self-sufficient? What made you jump to that conclusion?

Also, I agree, something always existed -- matter/energy or any other form it takes. It cannot be created or destroyed -- it always was, is, and will be.

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My friend and I have been discussing this topic last night. I found it interesting to note that christians are justified by their god through their faith in him. If there is a rational argument or evidence for god’s existence no faith is needed in effect invalidates the entire bible.

Edited by Superman123
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My friend and I have been discussing this topic last night. I found it interesting to note that christians are justified by their god through their faith in him. If there is a rational argument or evidence for god’s existence no faith is needed in effect invalidates the entire bible.

Good point, whch shows that theologians are increasingly desperate to 'find evidence'

for a Creator - despite the dichotomy it contains.

They MUST have realised that, since the bedrock of religion is Faith, all Faith will be

negated and nullified with such 'discovery' - that God exists, in reality.

Nah, thinking about it, they'll wriggle out by claiming that Faith is still necessary - up until

the very moment of proof of God. Only then, may Believers become rational.

These guys are expert at stacking the deck.

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"A dispute is not a proof."

True enough. But I'll be specific -- I mentioned I had difficulties, shall we say, with some of Rand's basic assumptions. Let me take one: she states (through Galt) that living things (outside of humans, that is) cannot act for their own destruction. The assumption she is making, then, is that survival -- biological survival -- is the pattern or blueprint (sorry, neither word is quite right) that animals and plants follow. But that's simply not the case -- the natural world seems to be geared towards reproduction, with survival simply a means to that end. Plants and animals expend themselves to reproduce, which is at odds with the idea that survival is the primary driving force. Some, such as spiders, lose their lives because of reproduction, and only live long enough to do the job.

Another difficulty I have is with the way Rand attempts to solve the "is - ought" problem. I have noticed that Rand slides past biological survival (and, frankly, there are many ways to survive, not one), and into what a man's life ought to be -- I don't think it works.

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Atheism is not a fundamental, it is a derivative. It does not say what you believe in, only what you do not believe in, namely God.

The evils of collectivism, in the form of communism or nazism, do not stem from atheism. What are the basic ideas of these collectivist ideologies?

Metaphysically, holism (the individual is not really real, only the group is). Epistemologically, mysticism (there is a source of knowledge beyond reason or in addition to reason: faith, intuition, instinct, feeling, revelation, etc). Ethically, self-sacrifice (sacrifice your life and happiness for others, e.g., the nation, the race, the economy, the future generations, or as an end in itself, is secondary). Politically, these ideas justifies and resulted, logically and historically, in the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.

In terms of essentials, there is NO difference between these ideas and the basic approach of the world religions. The existential results are the same: the medieval period of Europe was, after all, dominated by the totalitarian Church of Rome. (The Middle East was for long dominated by the totalitarian Caliphat and now it is slowly sliding back into this old, Islamic order.)

So you see, there is no mystery here. Ayn Rand hated collectivism, for the same reason she hated religion, because it rested on the same false and evil ideas, which give rise to the same massive destruction of human values, when enacted.

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Some, such as spiders, lose their lives because of reproduction, and only live long enough to do the job.

Another difficulty I have is with the way Rand attempts to solve the "is - ought" problem. I have noticed that Rand slides past biological survival (and, frankly, there are many ways to survive, not one), and into what a man's life ought to be -- I don't think it works.

So you are advocating that man should only live long enough to reproduce, and then lose their lives, or just having difficulty trying to identify what is fundamental to survival for man?

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"So you are advocating that man should only live long enough to reproduce, and then lose their lives, or just having difficulty trying to identify what is fundamental to survival for man?"

I didn't advocate for anything. I was pointing out that reproduction, and not simply survival, appears to direct non-human life. Survival is a means to that end.

Nor was I "trying to identify what is fundamental to survival for man." Try again.

I like and agree with many aspects of Objectivism -- I'm simply not convinced, as an earlier poster claimed, that it has never been proven wrong. I think there are problems with some of Rand's premises. This doesn't mean that it is not a useful philosophy -- aspects of it are -- but I don't think it should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker.

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but I don't think it should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker.

Neither did Miss Rand as she eloquently wrapped up her essay on Philosophical Detection II:

"I will list these essentials for your future reference. But do not attempt the shortcut of accepting them on faith (or as semi-grasped approximations and floating abstractions). That would be a fundamental contradiction and it would not work."
Edited by dream_weaver
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Neither did Miss Rand as she eloquently wrapped up her essay on Philosophical Detection II:

"I will list these essentials for your future reference. But do not attempt the shortcut of accepting them on faith (or as semi-grasped approximations and floating abstractions). That would be a fundamental contradiction and it would not work."

That's an important point. There's a flip side to this issue as well. Ultimately, Objectivism, as a whole, stands or falls as a totality.

From Dr. Peikoff's 1985 lecture, "Philosophy of Education," during the last (sixth) lecture, a Q&A session:

Q: In your disclaimer at the beginning of your first lecture you said that Ayn Rand has not reviewed all of what you would present, and also reminded us of your fallibility. Do you mean to imply that she was infallible?

A: No. But some people think so, so I was putting them on notice, that if they think she is, they surely don't think I am. No, she was not infallible. Nobody is infallible.

Q: Did I mean to imply that Objectivism is, as she defined it, right or wrong?

A: What do you think about that question? Is Objectivism as she defined it right or wrong?

Absolutely!

Objectivism is the name of her philosophy, so if you think it's right or wrong, it's exactly what she said it was. If you have a different philosophy, you call it "gloopism" or whatever you want, and then that's your philosophy, right or wrong.

Now the thing that this questioner fails to grasp is that a philosophy is not an eclectic congerie of ideas. It is not like four ideas on reality and six ideas on knowledge and three on ethics and eight or nine on politics, and, you know, you could be right on A3 but not B4 and C7. That is not a philosophy.

From what we've already said just about integration, you should know that a proper philosophy is one totality, and it's an issue of basic principles and their consequences. So it's either all right or it's all wrong, if it's an integrated system. And therefore, depending one your viewpoint, either Objectivism is all right or it's all wrong, but either way it is what she defined it as, one consistent whole.

Q: I view you and others as having the duty (let's say you don't mean that in the strong sense) of adding to and if necessary correcting the existing ideas of Objectivism. Do you agree?

A; Well, I agree that anybody interested in it who is a professional philosopher and so on - that's his field - should, if he can - it would be nice to come up with something more than just reiterating what was already stated. Sure. But nobody has the duty to discover something new. You can't have a duty to discover the new. It's the same reason why you can't teach how to discover the new. You either do it or you don't.

Now, what about, do we have a duty in correcting the existing ideas?

If anything is wrong anywhere, anybody who is interested in the truth should correct it. Does that mean that I concede that maybe there is an essential principle of Objectivism that is wrong? No, because by my understanding for the reason I just told you, it's one totality. So if any one principle is wrong, the whole thing is collapsed. In which case it doesn't make any sense to correct it. You then should start with Hegel or Marx or whoever you can find and do what you can within that framework.

Q: Can you say anything...

A: The problem is, you see, that people that ask these questions don't distinguish a principle from a concrete application and invariably have in mind, "If I disagree about a woman president, shouldn't I correct Objectivism?" That is not Objectivist.

Someday we'll have to have a whole course on "What is a principle?," and that will clarify these questions, cause there is really some things that are important, but it doesn't mean they are principles.

----

It's true, Objectivism is not to be accepted on faith, but it stands or falls as a whole.

And of course, the same applies to religions.

As to a course on what a principle is, Dr. Peikoff did give a speech on the subject, "Why Should One Act on Principle?," which, for any who do not know about it, can be listened to on one's "Registered User Page" at the Ayn Rand Institute's web site. (Registration is free.)

The lecture is about one hour long, and there's a second audio, about 30 minutes long, of the Q&A session following that lecture.

(If you're already registered, the link, "Registered User Page" is on the upper left of the ARI home page. If you're not already registered, once you do register, you'll automatically be taken to your "Registered User Page.")

*** Mod's note: Some discussion regarding Objectivism standing or falling as a whole has been split into a separate topic. - sN ***

Edited by softwareNerd
Added topic-split annotation
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I will however answer you anywhere on this forum if you intend to assert either that the 10 commandments are objective moral principles, which is plainly false.

Assuming the commandment derived from objective reality, that is, that "God" is objective reality:

1 - Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (i.e., A=A, there is no "other" objective reality)

2 - Though shalt not bow down or serve anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water (rejection of anything beyond objective reality)

3 - Though shalt take not the name of the lord thy God in vain (i.e., you will not make reference to objective reality while ignoring it)

4 - Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy (i.e., rest, and take advantage of the fruits of your work, and synchronize your activities to those of others)

5 - Honor thy Father and thy Mother (a rational tradition based on human habit and intended to propagate social support between generations - strengthened the family unit, increased life span, increased propagation of crucial knowledge from generation to generation)

6 - Thou shalt not kill (explicit recognition of the primary right of man - that is, his life)

7 - Thou shalt not commit adultery (the monogamous tradition was a safeguard against the spread of blood-borne communicable diseases, whose value would not be apparent through direct perception of causality. It also strengthened the family unit, and was explicitly supportive of the binding power of the contract)

8 - Thou shalt not steal (explicit recognition of the property rights of man)

9 - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (explicit recognition of objective justice)

10 - Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors (rejection of greed for the unearned)

These are all moral precepts that can be objectively derived from the facts of reality, and are thus not incompatible with Objectivism, although belief that they came from a speaking, burning bush, and not the mind of an intelligent man, is.

It bears repeating that the Jewish term for God, Yahweh, literally translates "I am what I am." Implicit in this phrase are the three axioms of Objectivism: Existence ("am"); Consciousness ("I"), and non-contradiction.

It's unfortunate that the concept of "God" evolved into a fanciful, anthropomorphicism that suited organized religious tyrants, rather than reverting (eventually) back to its roots in objective reality. Objective reality, as we all know, is all-powerful, and must be obeyed, lest we be punished mercilessly.

I'm curious, though, how the Catholics on the forum reconcile the fact that nearly all the rites and traditions of the Catholic faith trace back to the Roman pagan religion, and that the hierarchical Catholic church bears very little resemblance to the individualist concept of religion developed by Jesus Christ, who rejected organized religion, in favor of a personal, private interaction between a man and his "Father."

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Assuming the commandment derived from objective reality, that is, that "God" is objective reality:

1 - Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (i.e., A=A, there is no "other" objective reality)

@Agrippa1 if god is your only objective reality does that mean this physical world you and I live in is non A e.g. a dream or something you have to take as faith. Only a sincere question.

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@Agrippa1 if god is your only objective reality does that mean this physical world you and I live in is non A e.g. a dream or something you have to take as faith. Only a sincere question.

No, I mean that if "God" is taken to be synonymous with "objective reality," then the ten commandments are not inconsistent with objective morality. The physical world exists in objective reality. I'm not suggesting that because God is objective reality that objective reality is mystical, but exactly the opposite.

I believe there is a rational origin of the belief in "God." In fact, to believe otherwise is to believe that the concept "God" derived somehow outside of perception and reason; that it is an innate concept, or materialized spontaneously as an underived abstract. That, I believe, is a contradiction of Objectivism.

Edited by agrippa1
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That, I believe, is a contradiction of Objectivism.
What exactly does Objectivism say about early notions of God. Do you think that Objectivism suggests that the idea of God was innate? Do you think it suggests that early man was nutty when he came? Do you think the idea that men were groping for causation and came up with the idea of God from such groping is somehow rejected by Objectivism?
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I believe there is a rational origin of the belief in "God." In fact, to believe otherwise is to believe that the concept "God" derived somehow outside of perception and reason; that it is an innate concept, or materialized spontaneously as an underived abstract. That, I believe, is a contradiction of Objectivism.

False alternative here. If someone were to make something up out of whole cloth that would be something with no rational origin, derived outside of perception or reason--but would not make it an innate concept.

Or perhaps you really did mean "derived", akin to deduced... but if so, in saying so you assume what you seem to want to prove, that there is a logical reason to believe in god that doesn't ultimately hang on some admittedly subtle fallacy.

As for your enumeration of the ten commandments on the assumption that god should be understood similar to Spinoza's god or in a pantheistic way, I don't believe even the author of Exodus understood it that way; he would not have personified such a god and given it a voice. (You point to this issue, actually, by discounting the burning bush tale.) So even if your analysis makes some sense for someone who believes god=reality, I doubt _anyone_ back then thought that way so it makes no sense to claim that Judaism as practiced today is somehow a corruption of something much purer in the distant past.

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I'm curious, though, how the Catholics on the forum reconcile the fact that nearly all the rites and traditions of the Catholic faith trace back to the Roman pagan religion, and that the hierarchical Catholic church bears very little resemblance to the individualist concept of religion developed by Jesus Christ, who rejected organized religion, in favor of a personal, private interaction between a man and his "Father."

There are in fact numerous Catholics that reject "Pauline Theology" which is the commonly used term for the Roman bastardization of the teachings of Christ.

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"I'm curious, though, how the Catholics on the forum reconcile the fact that nearly all the rites and traditions of the Catholic faith trace back to the Roman pagan religion, and that the hierarchical Catholic church bears very little resemblance to the individualist concept of religion developed by Jesus Christ, who rejected organized religion, in favor of a personal, private interaction between a man and his "Father.""

To answer the first part of your question: the rituals are Jewish in origin. As fot the second part of the question: it's not relevant to the topic at hand. You can send me a private message if you want to discuss it further with me (though I will say that your assessement is false).

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False alternative here. If someone were to make something up out of whole cloth that would be something with no rational origin, derived outside of perception or reason--but would not make it an innate concept.

Or perhaps you really did mean "derived", akin to deduced... but if so, in saying so you assume what you seem to want to prove, that there is a logical reason to believe in god that doesn't ultimately hang on some admittedly subtle fallacy.

No, I meant "underived," that is, a concept that emerges spontaneously without a premise. A concept can't derive from faith that it is true. It must derive from a premise first, before it is believed (or rejected).

As for your enumeration of the ten commandments on the assumption that god should be understood similar to Spinoza's god or in a pantheistic way, I don't believe even the author of Exodus understood it that way; he would not have personified such a god and given it a voice. (You point to this issue, actually, by discounting the burning bush tale.) So even if your analysis makes some sense for someone who believes god=reality, I doubt _anyone_ back then thought that way so it makes no sense to claim that Judaism as practiced today is somehow a corruption of something much purer in the distant past.

I'm not saying that God "should" be understood that way, I'm pointing out that the Ten Commandments are consistent with objective morality. The person who wrote down the Ten Commandments did not get them from a burning bush, but he told the people that he did in the hopes that their fear and superstition would lead them to accept the morality by faith. That was a corruption of something purer, however far that corruption propagated through history. Before there were books or formal philosophies, there were smart people with good ideas who tried to guide others in what they believed was the right way to live. Without the wherewithal to communicate the logical basis of their ideas, with, for instance, a collection of essays or a fictional novel illustrating their ideas in context, they were left to "argue" their ideas far and wide and to future generations with very limited tools - simple carved tablets, fear, superstition, sometimes burning stakes. That the means of propagating these ideas is now recognized as irrational, does not necessarily mean that the ideas themselves were irrational, especially given the lack of means to communicate their logical basis.

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There are in fact numerous Catholics that reject "Pauline Theology" which is the commonly used term for the Roman bastardization of the teachings of Christ.

Those bastardizations included churches, priests and the pope. How does someone call himself a Catholic if he don't believe in these?

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Those bastardizations included churches, priests and the pope. How does someone call himself a Catholic if he don't believe in these?

I'll have to get back to you on this, I have to get off the computer for the day. I may not get a chance to respond so if interested and you have the time looking up Pauline Christianity and the controversy about it within the theological community will give you some answers.

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The assumption she is making, then, is that survival -- biological survival -- is the pattern or blueprint (sorry, neither word is quite right) that animals and plants follow. But that's simply not the case -- the natural world seems to be geared towards reproduction, with survival simply a means to that end. Plants and animals expend themselves to reproduce, which is at odds with the idea that survival is the primary driving force. Some, such as spiders, lose their lives because of reproduction, and only live long enough to do the job.

The relevant point is that value is biocentric. We can have a discussion about the best starting point of biocentric ethics (individual, familial, species, biome, etc.). But the importance to this thread is this: an objective foundation for morality rests on life, not omni-spirits.

Edited by FeatherFall
grammar
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