Skip to comments.The 'Ayn Rand vs. Jesus Christ' Campaign
Posted on 07/05/2011 7:23:13 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The American Values Network, a left-wing group, with considerable funding by George Soros, has launched a media blitz under the banner "Ayn Rand vs. Jesus Christ." As an Institute founded by Ayn Rand's heir and devoted to advancing her philosophy, Objectivism, we would like to respond. Since this is an issue Rand faced repeatedly in her lifetime, our response is basically to let her speak for herself.
The AVN campaign is right in saying that Rand opposes accepting any ideas on faith -- i.e., in the absence of rational evidence. Reason, based on sensory observation, is man's only means of knowledge -- the knowledge on which his life depends. Accordingly, she considers not only religious faith but any departure from reason to be destructive both personally and culturally.
But the AVN is wrong in bringing religion into politics at all. The American system treats religion as a private matter, not something to shape government policy. This is a corollary of the separation of church and state. The AVN campaign goes to shocking lengths in violating this principle. A recent video shows a young man pursuing Paul Ryan in a parking garage urging him to follow the Bible not Rand (whom he has praised) in his congressional budget proposal. Bringing religion into politics doesn't get much cruder than that.
In a 1963 letter to Congressman Bruce Alger, who had questioned Rand on much the same grounds as the AVN, she wrote:
In accordance with the principles of America and of capitalism, I recognize your right to hold any beliefs you choose -- and, on the same grounds, you have to recognize my right to hold any convictions I choose. I am an intransigent atheist, though not a militant one. This means that I am not fighting against religion -- I am fighting for reason. When faith and reason clash, it is up to the religious people to decide how they choose to reconcile the conflict. As far as I am concerned, I have no terms of communication and no means to deal with people, except through reason.
Although religion does not belong in politics, reason certainly does. And it is a rational philosophy to which fans of Atlas Shrugged and Rand are responding. Atlas Shrugged dramatizes a non-contradictory form of the original American philosophy of reason, individualism, and free enterprise -- i.e., capitalism. Many in the Tea Party movement admire Rand because she provided a moral defense of those values, particularly of capitalism. She showed that it is immoral -- unjust -- for the state to rob some to benefit others. It is even worse when the state sacrifices the productive to the unproductive, punishing success while rewarding failure ("too big to fail" being the latest manifestation of that perversity).
To live, man must use his mind; he must think. All human values -- from money to art to love -- are based on and require unbroken commitment to rationality. This is why, in the Objectivist ethics, rationality is the primary virtue.
If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a "moral commandment" is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
As to those on the "right" who seek to combine reason, individualism, and individual rights with the religious faith and the primordial view of man as an object of sacrifice, Rand was clear: "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."
To those who seek such a compromise, we say: if you think you can reconcile reason and faith in your personal life, go ahead and try. But we urge you not to base your support of freedom and capitalism on religion: to say freedom stems from faith is to say that reason is on the side of dictatorship.
Harry Binswanger, PhD, is a member of the Ayn Rand Institute Board of Directors, and teaches philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center.
Of course, the notion that you should choose this standard rather than any other is itself faith-based. I value objectivity, but at the root of Rand's belief system was a stunning failure of consistency.
Reason, based on sensory observation, is man's only means of knowledge -- the knowledge on which his life depends.
This faith-based claim assumes that revelation does not exist, begging the question. (And as a practical matter we all rely very heavily on authority, trusting what others have told us. Otherwise I would have no basis for saying I think I know what the tallest mountain in the world is, or the melting point of lead, or anything else I haven't personally experimented on using tools I built and calibrated myself.)
How about a “Karl Marx vs. Jesus Christ” campaign?
Oblectivism sets man as the measure of all things and thus is doomed to the same failures of moral conscience as any other man centered system of law; Relativism.
“Authority” and “Faith” are two different things. One can can double-check authority but one cannot double-check faith.
In other words, anyone can (if they had to) measure a mountain or the boiling point of lead, and prove to themselves the facts of reality, regardless of what authority says.
You cannot do the same for faith — the definition of “faith” is to believe without evidence, or even, despite the evidence. Water into wine? No independent evidence I know of supports that. And everything else I know about the world does not support it, either.
People believe Jesus changed water into wine based on faith — they believe it in spite of the evidence...that’s why they call it a miracle.
Faith cannot be argued against because it is argue-proof — no amount of evidence can be used against it. People believe something no matter what the evidence shows. That’s the heart of what faith means.
Authority on the subject of mountain height and boiling points can always be challenged.
I love and adore Rand. I also know that the Bible is the only true religious text. Yet somehow, I, an ignorant leyperson, can accept both as guiding philosophies. It’s not a binary choice, people. Those who would like you to think so either aren’t educated in one of the subjects at hand, or are purposefully distorting the matter to get their fifteen minutes of fame. There really is no other explanation.
The AVN campaign is right in saying that Rand opposes accepting any ideas on faith -- i.e., in the absence of rational evidence
Binswinger shows his profound ignorance (arrogance) here. Kurt Godel demonstrated exactly the opposite. And, although not accepted by the untouchable ones at the Rand Corporation and Santa Fe Institute, we have written essays on the Prisoner's Dilemma which also shows it to be a corollary of Godel's Theorem, and disproves the faithless hegemony.
The AVN and author's statement an extraordinary, profound, fundamental, human (and religious) mistake.
Johnny Suntrade, the Suntrade Institute
While Rand's dismissive attitude towards faith is the standard among ego-fueled atheists, she at least is willing to concede that people have faith have the right to their choice.
The Left has never accepted that concept.
Have we not seen enough of those leaders and thinkers who claim a personal faith but in their public lives are guided by whatever they can get by with? That's what we call hypocrisy and yes, it is ever so easily reasoned away.
The banker who says he is a man of integrity and yet helps to launder drug money, the priest that abhors abortion and yet works make it legal everywhere, we can name others who say they have a personal faith but in the conduct of their public lives it is dead.
"....Now, one thing individualism implies -- as we shall see -- is God. Therefore, ideologies that promote individualism in the absence of God (and this includes some varieties of conservatism, e.g., Ayn Rand) are not only intellectually bizarre but frankly destructive and disorganizing. ..." bttt
Is this on Pay Per View?
The enemies of freedom could hardly hope for a bigger boost.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The bible is full of evidence.
It was on last night (went numerous rounds all night, as a matter of fact). The match ended pretty quickly around sunrise, when Rand dislocated her hip.
I would question how you would evaluate the validity of "logic" through your 5 senses. And without logic and the law of non-contradiction, you'd have no basis of knowledge.
I told her to stop smoking!
There is one religion that is not based on blind faith but faith in evidence—Christianity. Rand was apparently ignorant or oblivious to this fact. See our site www.faithfacts.org. Freepers will find our section on religion and culture of interest.
I agree. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and Rand’s Shrugged inform one another in a way similar to the right brain/creativity mist and the left brain/logical list do. The Left is trying to make it where either way you look at it you are wrong. If you have faith/Christian then you are to be dismissed as a crackpot without thinking capabilities and if you have respect for Objectivism and reason then, “aha” you are a nonbelieving rascal. IF they can manage to get these two things framed up as “SIDES” and get them arguing with one another then they will win and we will have neither faith nor reason reigning, but just pure evil and control by a faceless, nameless bureaucracy. We must not get tricked.
But as ALWAYS, Jesus comes out as the winner!
That is exactly what it is....Chambers wrote about that in “Witness” in 1950’s. There is a cultural war (and has been ever since the Enlightenment——”God vs. man”.
Chambers said the man was winning in the 50’s....that is because he understood the infiltration of Marxism into the media and schools of the US which was rampant in the fifties. The ideas were seeping into the children by then and produced the largest conformity movement in a sixties—the sexual revolution. The sick and twisted ideas (and lies) of Kinsey, Freud and that sodomite John Maynard Keynes had been forced into the heads of the kids in public schools: If it feels good, do it...there is no absolute truth or right and wrong. Man (by emotions) determines what is right and good....no intellect allowed.
If there is objective truth, then there is objective right and wrong (either compliance with or violation of that truth).
“Discovery” of this truth through “reason” is still inherently NON-objective, because it depends on each person’s interpretations and biases.
Admitting to “objectiveness” of truth, though, is a first step in the right direction. You then have to ask WHY there is such a thing and where it came from.
Excellent point. One simply cannot argue with a "believer". Once the phrase "because I believe it to be true" enters the argument, thinking stops. From that point on, further argument is useless.
I have even observed a "believer" attempting to prove a point of biblical or moral "fact" to a non-believer by using the very book in which the other individual has no belief....the bible.
At some point, any argument has to appeal to or assume an “ultimate authority”. It is not circular thinking to say that the ultimate authority is true because it is the ultimate authority.
If your UA is not the Bible, it is something else. But what is the assumption behind the validity of that something else?
With the corruption of religion by Marxism, it is difficult for a person such as Ayn Rand to see any good in religion. I was insulated from this corruption by my Italian grandfather (which is a little funny, since he was a syndicalist, but I digress). He said he believed in the church but not the priests. Not expecting much from the priests, I am not disappointed by them. Pope John Paul II, whom I greatly admired, said what we know through science we must accept. Therefore, what we know through special revelation can only complement what we know through science. He taught against the various form of socialism including the welfare state. But, I notice that his successor skips over him and alludes to the social teachings of Pope John XXIII. So, what are we to make of this? And, what about the Social Gospel movement and the teaching of the World Council of Churches on “social justice” and other nostrums that assault man’s reason? Concerning this, I would point out that Jesus said those who teach against God’s Laws will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Why will they be called least? I think it is because of all the harm they do, including the misrepresentation of God himself. Look at breakdown of law, civility and the work ethic in this country, the destruction of the family and the collapse of entire cities (with the prospect of the collapse of several states and even the nation). Who is responsible for this? Ayn Rand or the Social Gospel’ers and Progressives who are today indistinguishable from each other?
Is that like trying to prove naturalism by referring to... nature?
Make an observation,
Ask a question,
Form a hypothosis,
Conduct an experiment,
Accept or reject hypothesis
Observe accepted hypothesis,
Ask a question....etc, etc, etc.
"It requires an act of faith in order to employ first principles of any kind, whether "scientific" or religious. For example, if your first principle is that only empirical knowledge is possible, your first principle cannot be proven empirically. Rather, you take it on faith."
"...Furthermore, the contemporary Christian must not only be able to confidently and lucidly respond to what passes for the fashionable worldly wisdom of the day, but to confront the enemies of Christianity with superior arguments, something which is eminently possible. What is the alternative, being a clown like Pat Robertson or [the late] Jerry Falwell, so people will go on thinking that such bozos are somehow representative of the intellectual depths of Christianity? ...."
"..We can easily show that science, especially in our time, has become a faux religion. This is because, in maintaining the bright line between religion and science, a lot of religion ends up on the science side. Thus, while the father of empirical science may be doubt, its mother is unabashed faith. For example... "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world, and therefore in cosmic analogy. This is why he could arrive at the cosmic law of gravitation in consequence of the fact of an apple falling from a tree. Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful."
"...There is a translogical component to acceptance of any truth. We are not merely "logic machines." In other words, we must make a free act of assent to truth, and this cannot be reduced to the principles of logic. For example, there is no logical proof that one should abide by logic. What if I want to live a life a life guided by absolute spontaneity and transgression of logic, like people who live in San Francisco?..." bttt
First, define "naturalism" as used in your question.
I've often attempted to come up with a suitable analogy for the "using the bible to prove a biblical "fact", but have, so far, been unable to do so.
It's always interesting to watch the naturalists commit the very error they ascribe to others and then work very hard to deny that they did so.
You are right. Marxism is about divide and conquer—the dialectic.
Reason was Modernism...Bacon, Newton, Descarte—Ayn Rand faithfully embraced Modern philosophy. BUT Marxism throws OUT modern philosophy—REJECTS Natural Law Theory!!!! and by default, God’s Laws......which Natural Law Theory presupposes and is the basis of the USA.
Rand described Postmodernism as irrational (which is correct). It defies Natural Law (homosexuality is good, you reward evil behavior and you steal by force of govt. and expect a “civil” society. Actually Marx wants serfs.)
Marxism is a result of the Postmodern German Philosophy that consumed the Continent in the 1800’s (destroyed Christianity and “God”) in both Germany and Russia and replaced it with no moral truths which spread to all Western societies (America is the last one to receive the “filth from the Rhine”)....man makes up right and wrong.
Rand had a firm grasp on “Virtue” as understood by Aristotle and the Moderns-—Homosexuality was wrong and a perversion....Reasonable deduction by Rand—that is the other reason Marx (Soros) wants her destroyed....She had created a Virtue system that was quite inlign with Christianity BECAUSE St. Thomas Aquinas in 1245 aligned Catholic Theology (basis of all Christian thought) with Natural Law Theory (reason and logic). Of all religions, Christianity is the most “reasoned” because of St. Thomas who said that Truth and religion should never disagree.
Marx wants no Absolute Truths.....Rand established Absolute Truth (although not acknowledging God) exactly in the manner that Nietzsche stated was necessary if you kill off God....you have to replace God with some immutable standard of right and wrong....Rand had it—Objectivism. She was consistent, although people hammered her stance on homosexuality because she said it was wrong because of biological science and reason.
She actually was brilliant....and almost had it right....maybe, at death, she realized her mistake...she never had children so I think she had a misinterpretation of the word “sacrifice” as related to happiness.
Refer to post #29
Your definition will probably work just fine.
"I've often attempted to come up with a suitable analogy for the "using the bible to prove a biblical "fact", but have, so far, been unable to do so."
As I have often attempted to imagine a suitable analogy for the 'scientific proof' of naturalism but have, so far, been unable to do so.
You did the very thing MrB said you would do.
Can you identify it?
As if George Soros is a follower of Jesus Christ
GourmetDan responded: "Is that like trying to prove naturalism by referring to... nature?"
"...what eludes both atheists and religious literalists "is that form and meaning are complementary." For example, in order to play music, harmony, melody and rhythm are necessary.
In their absence, there is only disorganized noise, not music. But to think that music may be reduced to musical theory is also wrong, for form is simply the vehicle but not the substance of music. ....
"To stop at the literal level of the text as [the late] Rev. Jerry Falwell or [the atheist] Sam Harris would, is to leave most of the meaning out, and [to] deify the Bible itself for their purposes (either pro or con) and to miss out completely on the doing of its meaning being actively threaded through the reader's soul."
Exactly, for the modern deviation of "fundamentalism" is no less a form of debased materialism than materialism proper. In fact, it represents the reaction of a weak soul to the abnormal conditions of modernity -- an attempt to combat materialism by fully conceding its assumptions.
"Quite obviously, the Bible is not "the word of God." It is not the logos. Rather, it is inspired words -- inspired (or even "authorized") by the Word -- about the Word.
Once again, this conflation of the Bible and the Word -- or bibliolatry -- is a modern deviation that essentially concedes all ground to the horizontal flatlanders. It is a reduction of that which can only by understood by the nous to that which may be understood by the material ego. ...."
The smug superiority exhibited by Hiss and his allies in the media turned my stomach and foreshadowed what we are facing today with antichrist in the white house (nota bene: I used small-a not Capital-A.)
GOOD POST; you have addressed the purpose of the thread, and I appreciate that. The 'Ayn Rand vs. Jesus Christ' choice is a false choice.
In other words, nothing is knowable?
Is the sum of 2+2 dependent on a persons interpretation or bias? If a person thinks that 2+2=5 does it equal 5 simply because they think that? Does this persons failing to reason correctly somehow invalidate that 2+2=4 ?
Does understanding why and where 2+2=4 comes from change 2+2=4 in any way?
"Once again, this conflation of the Bible and the Word -- or bibliolatry -- is a modern deviation that essentially concedes all ground to the horizontal flatlanders."
So you're saying that the literal, inspired words by the Word and about the Word may be in error about the true Word?
This campaign shows that the Left is afraid of Rand’s views spreading out into the mainstream.
As a fundamentalist legalist college student, I was fascinated by her critique of progressivism, but turned off by her atheism.
I was given portions of her writings at that time by one of my dorm roommates.
Now thirty years later Glenn Beck has succeeded in spreading her ideas to a “religious” audience.
In Kentucky, Rand Paul has been able to get himself elected which is a sure sign that a libertarian can win an election in a place with a lot of religiously conservative voters.
This campaign reflects the fear of the Left that a limited government philosophy will take hold among the millions of grassroots religious folk out there.
Why then do you ask?
I’m saying that your reason is irrational without defining your Ultimate Authority.
I put quotes around “reason” because people irrationally put reason as their ultimate authority, when in reality, it’s simply an individual authority to the person doing the reasoning.
Would you be happy if they began everything they say with, "Reality is my UA"?
In that sense, reality wouldn’t be objective, because two different people can honestly assert two different realities, so therefore, it would have to be rejected as the ultimate authority. There is no such thing as multiple ultimate authorities.