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Christianity and Objectivism. Are these compatible in America?

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Reddog
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Can the two exist as functional idealolgies in our current culture? What are the logical results?

They both exist in our current culture. The same person cannot hold both completely, but people often pick and choose some aspects of philosophies and ignore others.

Nice quote, but tell me what say you?
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Christianity and Objectivism have co-existed for several decades now. The two ideologies are diametrically opposed to one another. Epistemologically, Christianity requires allegiance to a set of principles opposed to Objectivism. Logically , the adherence to one set of principles, in principle, means the avoidance or abdication of the principles opposed to it. While the principles that Christianity adhere to are held by more individuals, the principles that Objectivist adhere to are firmly rooted in the fertile soil of consciousness's awareness of existence.

Christianity's ethics, epistemology and metaphysics require a different mindset than an O'ist's. Metaphysically, Christianity requires a belief that consciousness preempts existence, that existence is subservient to consciousness. O'ism recognizes that consciousness is subservient to existence, that things are what they are in spite of what consciousness may desire them to be. Epistemologically, Christian epistemology relegates thought to a higher, or supernatural realm where O'ism's epistemology is derived from existence. Ethically, Christianity insists on the laws of morality to be derived from a Creator's will, where an O'ist recognizes that ethical laws are induced and derived from the nature of what life is and what life requires to flourish within existence.

Logically, the ideas that can be integrated without contradiction(s) will ultimately prevail. Christianity has the most contradictions to resolve. O'ism has the higher "hill to climb" in order to traverse the centuries of terrain 'required' to be climbed in order to be established by the years of precedence Christianity has ultimately precipitated them with.When reason is ultimately economized, this will be a non-issue.

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

Ayn Rand was far less antagonistic to religion properly practiced than most of her followers are. And I have no problems with my own Christianity and Ayn Rand's ideals. She positively nailed it when she referenced the melding of leftist politics with religion. Today the secular political religion of liberalism has almost totally consumed religious organizations in America.

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Christians alligning themselves with socialist/Marxist leanings always surprises me. Between the Christians I know and the Atheists I know (non Objectivist atheists that is) all the Christians are Capitalists and most of the atheists lean toward Marxist thought.

Anyone who tells you Jesus was a socialist is just plain wrong.

"Parable of the Talents – Matthew 25:14-30

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

"'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

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This seems a good place to bring up the Dudley letter again.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22400&#entry281408

Anyone who tells you Jesus was a socialist is just plain wrong.

Yet the early Christian communities were certainly communistic. See the Acts of the Apostles, and especially note the part where someone sells some of their property then fails to hand over all the proceeds to the group.

But ultimately the tenets of Christianity are vague enough to permit many interpretations.

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Yet the early Christian communities were certainly communistic. See the Acts of the Apostles, and especially note the part where someone sells some of their property then fails to hand over all the proceeds to the group.

Most Christians that are not socialist/communist leaning would argue that the distinction between Christian communalism and Christian communism is very important.

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Ayn Rand was far less antagonistic to religion properly practiced than most of her followers are. And I have no problems with my own Christianity and Ayn Rand's ideals. She positively nailed it when she referenced the melding of leftist politics with religion. Today the secular political religion of liberalism has almost totally consumed religious organizations in America.

One thing is for certain on an individual's level, a person cannot simultaneously hold the ideals of Ayn Rand and Jesus Christ without massive cognitive dissonance. You SHOULD have a problem with your beliefs Moralist because they clash. As far as I see it a person who believes in Christianity can take two attitudes. Number 1 is to sell all of your possessions and give them to the poor like Christ advocated. Number 2, is to not do this self sacrificial task and instead damn yourself for your failing to do it, for not being altruistic enough.

Number 1 is the destruction of your body, and number 2 is the destruction of your soul. Neither are compatible with Objectivism.

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One thing is for certain on an individual's level, a person cannot simultaneously hold the ideals of Ayn Rand and Jesus Christ without massive cognitive dissonance. You SHOULD have a problem with your beliefs Moralist because they clash. As far as I see it a person who believes in Christianity can take two attitudes. Number 1 is to sell all of your possessions and give them to the poor like Christ advocated. Number 2, is to not do this self sacrificial task and instead damn yourself for your failing to do it, for not being altruistic enough.

Number 1 is the destruction of your body, and number 2 is the destruction of your soul. Neither are compatible with Objectivism.

This demonstrates a very shallow understanding of Christianity as understood through the teachings of Jesus.

While Jesus certainly advocated that people with plenty give to the poor there was never a demand that all do so or burn in Hell.

Christian materialism is the most common term used for Christians who believe that capitalism holds spiritual value and while the term has only become common usage recently but its origins trace back to Jabez in Chronicles

edit:typo

Edited by SapereAude
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This demonstrates a very shallow understanding of Christianity as understood through the teachings of Jesus.

While Jesus certainly advocated that people with plenty give to the poor there was never a demand that all do so or burn in Hell.

Here it is from Jesus's mouth:

"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25

If a person earns more than $34,000 per year he is in the world's richest 1% (http://money.cnn.com...chest/index.htm). That means it is very unlikely that people in the West are going to heaven (given a literal contextless reading of this passage).

So people in the West choose Number 2 from my menu in the previous post. They choose to feel guilty and ask for forgiveness for not living up to Christ's ideal. Because Christianity also says that works are not the way to heaven. I put it to you that this kind of guilt and forgiveness begging is the destruction of a person's soul according to Objectivism.

Edited by Kate87
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Most Christians that are not socialist/communist leaning would argue that the distinction between Christian communalism and Christian communism is very important.

It's a huge difference between small micro groups of people agreeing to pool resources in much the same way as a family does... and huge macro governmental bureaucratic coerced transfer of wealth programs. (edit: removed unappropriate remark)

Edited by moralist
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And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Again, shallow understanding. You conveniently left out the part where his disciples questioned him about it and he responded:

""If you stand by the side of men, and see it as men see it, it appears impossible; but stand by God's side, see it by His side, and all things, even the salvation of both rich and poor, becomes possible".

Jesus also states many times how difficult it is for anyone to get to Heaven, rich or poor: This translation from Aramaic to English:

"How narrow is the gate and strict the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it!"

It helps not to have just read only the most glib and common quotes.

Malachi also offers many justifications for prosperity ministry.

I'm not arguing for Christianity here. But what I am saying is that many Objectivists use arguments against Christianity that are just as misinformed and uneducated as the arguments people use against Objectivism.

edit typos

Edited by SapereAude
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It's a huge difference between small micro groups of people agreeing to pool resources in much the same way as a family does... and huge macro governmental bureaucratic coerced transfer of wealth programs. Only liberals could possess the motivation to fraudulently attempt to link the two.

To your first point, precisely.

To your second point, I wouldn't necessarily go so far..... a poor choice of words can have even a rational person appearing to support something they do not.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt on that one as a hastily typed response has left me seeming to conflate unrelated things.

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One thing is for certain on an individual's level, a person cannot simultaneously hold the ideals of Ayn Rand and Jesus Christ without massive cognitive dissonance.

I totally agree with you here, Kate.

It is impossible to reconcile the liberal political interpretation of Christ as a weak feminised limpwristed indolent left wing Marxist hippie with the decent courageous upright responsible productive Capitalist ideals of Ayn Rand.

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To your first point, precisely.

To your second point, I wouldn't necessarily go so far..... a poor choice of words can have even a rational person appearing to support something they do not.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt on that one as a hastily typed response has left me seeming to conflate unrelated things.

Your point is well taken. There was still edit time, so I remove the remark.

Edited by moralist
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Here it is from Jesus's mouth:

If a person earns more than $34,000 per year he is in the world's richest 1% (http://money.cnn.com...chest/index.htm). That means it is very unlikely that people in the West are going to heaven (given a literal contextless reading of this passage).

So people in the West choose Number 2 from my menu in the previous post. They choose to feel guilty and ask for forgiveness for not living up to Christ's ideal. Because Christianity also says that works are not the way to heaven. I put it to you that this kind of guilt and forgiveness begging is the destruction of a person's soul according to Objectivism.

One important principle to keep in mind when evaluating a religion like Christianity, or an ideology in general, is that "Christianity is as Christianity does." It's not enough to do even a close, informed reading of the foundational text of Christianity. That won't bring a sufficient understanding of the religion or the role that it plays in people's lives. We also have to look out into the world, at Christians attempting to live by their religion, and see what that means to them. While it's certainly circular to define the religion with, "Christianity is what Christians practice," we do need to understand what it is Christians practice in order to understand the religion. Religions can undergo fundamental transformations without their foundational texts changing one bit; we can look to the Protestant Reformation for an example of this.

One of the things we see in Rand's above quote on the subject is precisely this; that she looks at what Christians in America are actually preaching, how they actually live their lives, and uses that to inform her evaluation of the religion. You can quote the Bible all you want, and insist that Christians who don't practice the Christianity that you see in the Bible are just hypocrites choosing "the destruction of their soul," but at some point it's worth asking whether your characterization of Christianity is really more objectively justified than theirs.

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I feel as though Tolstoy created the most honest formulation of Christianity. In particular the book "The Kingdom of God is Within You" is a criticism of the church, state, and private property, before Marxists gained any real power in that country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolstoy#Religious_and_political_beliefs

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""If you stand by the side of men, and see it as men see it, it appears impossible; but stand by God's side, see it by His side, and all things, even the salvation of both rich and poor, becomes possible"."

This is quite a generous reading. The greek would almost certainly not support that phrasing. I'll have to find my concordance......

Edited by Plasmatic
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""If you stand by the side of men, and see it as men see it, it appears impossible; but stand by God's side, see it by His side, and all things, even the salvation of both rich and poor, becomes possible"."

This is quite a generous reading. The greek would almost certainly not support that phrasing. I'll have to find my concordance......

It's one of 8 different translations I own, I'm at work now but can get back to you with which one it was from- but it was one who took their interpretations from St. Clement of Alexandria so it isn't like some modern hack job. Even so, the ones that leave out specifically "rich" and "poor" the point is made clear.

From the same text:

"So also let not the man that has been invested with worldly wealth proclaim himself excluded at the outset from the Saviour's lists, provided he is a believer and one who contemplates the greatness of God"

Edited by SapereAude
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Ayn Rand was far less antagonistic to religion properly practiced than most of her followers are.

The OP's question doesn't ask about her attitude or level of civility, it asks about her philosophical beliefs. Ayn Rand may have been less antagonistic, but she was 100% against religion. Can't be more against religion than Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

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Can the two exist as functional idealolgies in our current culture? What are the logical results?

They can and do, and will likely continue so long as a credible separation of church and state is maintained. Having been raised Christian and discovered Objectivism, I remain more impressed by the philosophic similarities than differences, and somewhat comforted by the arguments on ideology that arise within each camp independently of one another. As softwareNerd suggested earlier, I suspect people tend to adopt and reject aspects of both ideologies based on the trueness of their own individual experience. I believe in Nature's God, but I don't rely on faith to balance my checkbook.

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