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.