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Unfinished: Objectivism vs Christianity - Philosophical or Semantic Differences?

DISCLAIMER: I started writing this a long time ago and don’t anticipate ever finishing it. It’s possible I don’t even completely agree with myself anymore … but I might as well throw it out there for discussion, right?


I became very interested in Objectivism after reading The Fountainhead1 and Atlas Shrugged.2 After a few years of reflection, I still identify with the ideology set forth by the Russian novelist-philosopher, but I’ve begun to wonder if it is more semantics-based than philosophy-based. In other words, instead of creating her own philosophy, I think Rand might have just made a simple (yet important) point on perspective. The supposed conflict between objectivism and religion is as good an example as any.

The inclusion of principles such as faith in most religions, especially Christianity, is portrayed by many on both sides as being something outside of reason" and therefore totally unacceptable in philosophical discussions. Objectivism, the philosophy created and made popular by Ayn Rand’s novels, has come to represent the epitome of this sort of thought, rejecting in toto the belief of anything supernatural and positioning reason as man’s only means of acquiring knowledge.3 On the other hand, Christianity, often defined as the secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will outside of reason or logic, emphasizes faith as the fundamental theological virtue.

But do Objectivism and faith have to be interpreted this way? It’s certainly at odds with my experience of reason and faith – or my understanding of Objectivism and Christianity. In my view, they don’t present themselves as two poles, with my mind attempting to find a comfortable place between, but as two very different ways of expressing oddly similar principles.

Here I take a look at the fundamentals and compatibility of objectivism and Christianity as representatives of the philosophical and religious spheres. I’ll address the three pillars of philosophy (i.e., Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics) and consider a possible of a marriage of the two worlds.

Objectivism

Objectivism is a philosophy created by Ayn Rand, a Russian born novelist-philosopher from the early 1900’s. Rand portrayed her “philosophy for living on Earth” in the form of the fictional heroes of her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead4 and Atlas Shrugged,5 as well as in non-fiction works such as The Virtue of Selfishness,6 Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal7 and Philosophy: Who Needs It.8

Objectivist Metaphysics

Rand summarized the metaphysics (or the “what is”) of her philosophy as follows:

Reality, the external world, exists independent of man’s consciousness, independent of any observer’s knowledge, beliefs, feelings, desires or fears. This means that A is A, that facts are facts, that things are what they are – and that the task of man’s consciousness is to perceive reality, not to create or invent it.9

William Thomas of the Objectivist Center summarized in more detail:

Objectivism holds that there is one reality, the one in which we live. It is self-evident that reality exists and is what it is: our job is to discover it. Objectivism stands against all forms of metaphysical relativism or idealism. It holds it as undeniable that humans have free will, and opposes metaphysical determinism or fatalism. More generally, it holds that there is no fundamental contradiction between the free, abstract character of mental life and the physical body in which it resides. And so it denies the existence of any “supernatural” or ineffable dimension for spirits or souls.10

This view of the world can be broken down into a few main principles including the following.

The Primacy of Existence and The Law of Identity

The aforementioned phrase A is A is known as the Law of Identity,11 which is related to the Primacy of Existence.12 These two concepts go hand in hand to assert that reality is absolute; what is not only is, but is something in particular, regardless of what is thought about it. Rand is adamant that a person’s thoughts cannot change reality:

To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence. Whether its basic constituent elements are atoms, or subatomic particles, or some yet undiscovered forms of energy, it is not ruled by a consciousness or by will or by chance, but by the Law of Identity.13

Reality exists as an objective absolute – facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.14

Commanding and Obeying Nature

Rand adopts the famous statement of Frances Bacon, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed,”15 but the statement has a slightly different meaning within the context of Objectivism. In her book Philosophy: Who Needs It?, Rand describes the relationship between man and nature as follows:

Man’s volition is an attribute of his consciousness (of his rational faculty) and consists in the choice to perceive existence or to evade it. To perceive existence, to discover the characteristics or properties (the identities) of the things that exist, means to discover and accept the metaphysically given. Only on the basis of this knowledge is man able to learn how the things given in nature can be rearranged to serve his needs (which is his method of survival).

The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. It is an enormous and glorious power – and it is the only meaning of the concept “creative.” “Creation” does not (and metaphysically cannot) mean the power to bring something into existence out of nothing. “Creation” means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before. (This is true of any human product, scientific or aesthetic: man’s imagination is nothing more than the ability to rearrange the things he has observed in reality.) The best and briefest identification of man’s power in regard to nature is Francis Bacon’s “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” In this context, “to be commanded” means to be made to serve man’s purposes; “to be obeyed” means that they cannot be served unless man discovers the properties of natural elements and uses them accordingly.16

The Existence and Nature of Consciousness

The view of nature explained above is also extended to the individual via the consciousness. In this regard, Objectivism seems to parallel the thoughts expressed in Descartes’ Cognito, as represented in the following statement by the Atlas Shrugged hero John Galt:

If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that thing which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.17

While the conclusion is generally the same, it should be noted the path Objectivism followed to get there is a very simple, observational matter, while Descartes comes from the opposite direction in Meditations by assuming all experience to be deception.18

The Mind and the Body

Another corollary of the Law of Identity is the claim that what a thing is (or its nature) determines what it does. Much like the the action category of being defined by Aristotle,19 this results in a human being defined as a thing that does human things and a dandelion as a thing that does dandelion things. This is a rejection of the nihilistic law of causality, as it allows for the exercise of free will. Such agency is not over every aspect of our life, however; much like the Stoics, Rand holds that we are free “****stoic quote****.”20

Objectivism also avoids choosing between the pure physicality of Marxism and the apparent spirituality of Christianity. Instead, it acknowledges both mental and physical existences and their respective causal powers.

Objectivist Epistemology

Man’s reason is fully competent to know the facts of reality. Reason, the conceptual faculty, is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. Reason is man’s only means of acquiring knowledge.21

Objectivism rejects mysticism and skepticism in its acceptance of, simply, what is apparent to reason. The skeptic view that that we must doubt all our beliefs is said to be self-contradictory, as it at least claims certainty in one thing: human fallibility. This is seen as the abandonment of the mind. Mystical claims that God is beyond reason’s ability to understand is said to be an underestimate of the human mind, as it is always possible to define and contrast anything that exists because anything that exists has identity. This is seen as the abuse of the mind.22

Objectivism does not hold, however, that mankind will automatically reason. To do so requires action through free will. Like Aristotle, Rand sets humans apart from all other animals in their ability to have abstract thoughts or to form universals. Such thoughts are the basis of reason, and while all humans have the ability to reason, doing so is difficult and requires a logical method (also proposed and set up by Aristotle) to avoid error. This method relies on the Law of Identity, which was earlier described as the base of Objectivist Metaphysics.23

Reason is the faculty which… identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic – and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.24

Objectivism also rejects the idea that concepts formed are the result of arbitrary decision by society or a supreme being. The information provided to the mind by the senses is valid and can lead to knowledge only through reason.25 Simply:

I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.26

Objectivist Ethics

Reason

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists – and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the ruling values of his life: Reason – Purpose – Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues… -Rand, Atlas Shrugged27

Reason is man’s only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man’s survival qua man – i.e., that which is required by man’s nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute). Rationality is man’s basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. -Ayn Rand28

As Objectivism rejects anything but that which is apparent to the senses and reason, it deems ethics to be the attempt to stay alive. Animals are hard-wired with instincts to pursue this goal, but humans will often act in ways to harm their survival, the extreme cases being suicide or murder. The moral/ethical code, thus, centers on holding the nature of a human life as the standard and then objectively distinguishing between that which helps one survive and thrive and that which harms.

Rand sees reason as being vital to such “surviving and thriving.” Things such as effective medicine and technology help are products of reason, while man-made disasters are the result of errors in reasoning. Independent thought, integrity and productivity are all applications of reason that help humans achieve an objectivist ethical life.29

Rational Self-Interest

Man – every man – is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

Rand holds that every person should live and think for his own sake because each is faced with the constant choice to live or to die. Although one may choose what one enjoys or with whom one associates, one cannot choose to not need material goods or friendship and still expect to be happy. This is an extension of choosing to “live,” as oppose to “suffer” or “die.”

Thus, objectivism is the opposite of altruism. Instead of sacrifice, Rand proposes trade: each person giving something of value for something of value to their mutual satisfaction. Thus, a person avoids the dichotomy between enjoying life and morality as both are satisfied through the exercise of rational self-interest.30

Inclusive Happiness

One way this view of ethics is particularly manifest is in the view of happiness. Specifically, Objectivism views happiness as not coming at the expense of another’s and not through receiving, giving or expecting undeserved rewards. Thus, “a life of mutual respect and benevolent independence is possible for all.”31

I like to call this “inclusive happiness” in that all can benefit from an individual’s reason as it is manifest in discovery, art, production, etc. In other words, as one person learns to survive, others can share in this and benefit, not fight for survival like dogs over meat.

Cardinal Values

The cardinal values of Objectivism are Reason, Purpose, and Self. Reason, because it is our means of gaining knowledge, and, through production, our means of survival. Purpose, because each of us has free will and must direct himself toward chosen goals, through a chosen course of life. Self, because without self-esteem, a self-motivating being cannot find the means to continue. -William Thomas32

Rand sets out these values with the implication that because they are requisite for an individual’s happiness, proper ethics requires the respect of the same in others. Thus, acting to achieve these values and respecting them in others is right and good, while acting to destroy them or is wrong or bad – both considered “in the full context of human life.”

The main pillar and motivation of these values seems to be the maintenance of honesty and truth, or, in other words, dealing with reality as it really is. Thus, our principles and our actions are not permitted any incontinuity and we are to put value and merit in our own judgment and effort and seek to improve such.

Christianity

Christianity is centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Contrary to the philosophy of Objectivism, however, Christianity is a religion which traditionally holds belief superior to reason. Thus, the interpretations of Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the Bible and other ancient records33 are extremely diverse outside of a few commonly accepted principles. Despite this doctrinal diversity, the subject matter at hand necessitates agreeing on a “Christian philosophy,” or system of values by which a Christian lives; in order to discuss Jesus’ teachings, we must understand and quantify them. However, it is imperative that Christianity is represented, not a segment therein. Thus, the basics and fundamentals taught by Jesus himself or his apostles, as well as what logically follows, will be emphasized while particularly persistent or important interpretations are mentioned only briefly.

Christian Metaphysics

Christians34 believe in one God who was the creator of earth and mankind.35 They believe that both of these creations were initially good, but that mankind fell into sin.36 To overcome the effects of this fall, Christians believe that a Messiah was necessary and that Jesus was this Savior.

After Jesus was tried and executed, Christians believe He was the “first fruits of them that slept” in that he was resurrected. Through this resurrection, they believe that all mankind will overcome death and be resurrected again. Thus, Jesus is the key to overcoming sin and death.37

After resurrection, Christians believe that all mankind will receive a just and merciful eternal judgment from the resurrected Christ.38

Christian Epistemology

Christian Ethics

Christian ethics center around the two “greatest commandments” as defined by Jesus.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hand all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)39

Notably, the two commandments center on love.

Christian and Objective Interpretations

When Objectivism and Christianity are taken into deeper doctrines and logical inferences, two main conflicts arise: the view of the world (or nature) and the method of adopting the said world view.

Most Christians espouse the belief of a supernatural realm beyond that which is apparent to human senses or studied by human minds, a realm that is not limited by the “laws of this world.” They believe the Earth to have been created by a similarly supernatural God. Most objectivists, however, reject any notion of the supernatural realm or God as incompatible with reason due to the lack of identification through “credible evidences.” Christianity looks at the existence of the world and its complex order as such evidence of the existence of God. Objectivists view the existence of the world as not requiring an explanation by anything outside itself and see the natural realm as the only source for an explanation of how a something arises from natural causes (i.e., the origin of the natural world must be explained within the natural realm).

These differences concerning the views of the world are secondary, however, to the primary conflict between objectivism and Christianity, which centers on faith versus reason, or the means of adopting one’s worldview. Objectivism regards reason as the absolute and holds that all knowledge is based on the evidence of the senses. Christianity, on the other hand, involves faith, which most Christians regard as belief without proof (other than revelation or authority) and something required by God in the worship of Him. Both belief systems set up their source of knowledge, faith or objective evidence, as the source of knowledge and certainty, which lead to peace and happiness.

A good example of how these differences of perspective is found in the justification each side gives for developing seemingly non-physical attributes (e.g., love, creativity, trust, etc.). Both systems recognize and emphasize needs outside of shelter, food and water, but they define the needy essence differently. Christianity’s view is based in the existence of the soul or spirit, a supernatural entity that requires ‘spiritual values’ for health. Some Christians view these qualities as the essence of the religion, as opposed to a belief system based on the creation of the world and humanity, but all believe that human life requires more than the achievement and success that objectivism pursues. Objectivists agree that the same basic “spiritual” values are vital to happiness and fulfillment, but they seek to define them in secular terms centered on the human consciousness. According to objectivism, consciousness is because it is, and the requirement for the said virtues stems from the nature of consciousness’ observed characteristics (e.g., the capacity for reason, creativity, free will and self-awareness). Objectivists even find a secular meaning for traditionally religious concepts usually omitted from philosophy such as exaltation, worship, reverence, and sacredness through “grandeur of the human capacity for achievement and heroism.”

(http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/dkelley_faq-objectivism-compatible-religion.asp)

A Possible Solution

It is apparent that objectivism and Christianity, our representatives of religious and philosophical perspectives, approach the nature of the world very differently – as well as how one should go about living on that world. It is notable, however, that most of the direct conflicts come only when extrapolating the basic beliefs of each perspective to their commonly accepted conclusions. But what if the beliefs were stripped of all assumption and left in their as-given state? Would they then conflict so clearly? If Christianity was strictly limited to what was defined previously by Christ via the two greatest commandments (love for God and neighbor), and objectivism, as well, limited to the values set forth by Rand in her 1962 description, could they then be married to produce a sort of objective Christianity?

In order to start such a discussion, it is first necessary to make two concessions, one in favor of each. First, in a nod to the objectivists, this kind of discussion must be done on a philosophical stage, using reason and logic to determine what “makes sense.” This manner is decidedly not a Christian one (as Christ mentioned nothing of logic or reason in the two great commandments) but the nature of discussion necessitates it. Second, nodding to Christianity this time, in order to be consistent in all aspects of our discussion, we must include in our discussion questions of why. Objectivism deems such questions unnecessary (in certain cases) to provide what Ayn Rand called “a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life”, but this discussion is not limited to that scope. With the acknowledgement of the philosophical method and the admittance of the “why” questions, the discussion can now begin by placing the same issues discussed above on the new playing field, one where the very roots of Christianity and Objectivism will be compared.

Metaphysics

Though Objectivism grants that some particular existences are mental (e.g., minds, thoughts, desires, intentions), it holds that, if what fundamentally exists is independent of any consciousness, then the universe as a whole is neither the creation of a divine consciousness nor itself mental. (This argument is laid out in Chapter 1 of Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand). -WP article

A major facet of Objectivism that sets it apart from other philosophies is the belief that there is no need for proof that something exists outside of detection through the human senses. Christianity, also, is not burdened with such a proof and takes for granted the fact that the human consciousness exists within a very real and existent world and universe. This is, therefore, a non-issue.

Natural vs Supernatural

While neither worries with the burden of proving existence, deep issues concerning the nature of this reality are apparent. Objectivism insists that nothing exists outside of nature; there is no supernatural. Christianity, on the other hand, involves the miracle of forgiveness and the reward of Heaven – things that are usually thought of as being supernatural or outside of physics. But, is that necessarily the case? Does Christ include in the gospel of Christianity any tenant separating “nature” from God? No. On the other hand, it is very possible that sciences that mankind observes (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, etc.), their corresponding laws (e.g., gravity, conservation of matter, etc.), and even laws we don’t understand completely (almost everything) are simply rudimentary understandings of tools used by God to accomplish his work. Each truth found in science is a part the whole and truth is consistent throughout the universe, whether it be here, Saturn or Heaven.

Laws that we haven’t mastered aren’t “supernatural;” we just don’t understand them. Miracles are the same. They are not outside of “natural” laws; they are just the application of laws we don’t know or in ways we don’t understand. With miracles and the nature of God explained this way, there is no reason for the basic belief of objectivism that there is nothing supernatural to imply there is no God.

Also, the greatest commandment of Christianity centers on love, which indicates that God is something we can love (i.e., it would be hard to love something supernatural).

Another aspect of Christianity that is often thought of as unnatural is the spirit – both the spirit in each human and the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. However, these spirits could also be made of matter and governed by “natural” laws, albeit these are laws beyond the knowledge of today’s science.

Free Will

Another aspect of objectivism that conflicts with traditional Christianity is the idea of free will. It contends we are agents unto ourselves and masters of our own destiny. In Christianity, some are led to believe in predestination and others adhere to the idea of free will. Stripping it down to the basics of the two greatest commandments, it is obvious that mankind is intended to make decisions – to either obey or not to obey the commandments. Even if one doesn’t agree with this interpretation of Christianity, it is certain that free will is not excluded by Christianity’s basic tenants.

Mind and Body

Objectivism protests the idea that the body and spirit are at odds and sees the love of the mind and the body as being intertwined. They see unconditional love as love without standards and ill-advised. It sees the …
(http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/abissell_faq-love-sex.asp) Among Christians, some see the spirit as being trapped in the physical body and see the physical half of the being as something to be repressed. Unconditional love is also a central part of the beliefs, as the two greatest commandments do not specify any conditions for the love they require. The reconciliation of these two views comes in the definition of love and the soul. While the commandments given imply a choice and, consequently, multiple “sides” to choose from, the choices could be offered from outside influences. In this way, the body and the spirit together must choose – not fight against each other.

Also, while Christ commands mankind to love their neighbor and this is generally understood to be all of their fellow men, this does not mean there are no standards. In fact, the very fact that Christ commands everyone to love everyone else could be seen as an indication that they are worthy of such love – whether we see it or not. Who knows what trials each person has been through or what they may merit? Additionally, it is important to understand what Christ meant by “love.” Christ was the perfect example of this and he spent His life in a very Objective manner – He did not leave behind everything that was important to Him to do what others thought was important. He did not sacrifice the things he knew to be true in order to make another happy. He was absolutely true to himself – and that self was manifest in his actions of accomplishment. Truly, even to the nonbeliever’s eyes Christ’s accomplishments rival those of any other. As Christ was the perfect example of following his two greatest commandments, it is obvious that the kinds of “separated love” that are hated by Objectivism (both the self-denial of religious ascetics and “free love”) are not the same kinds of love referenced by Christ in His commandments. The love referenced is simply the opposite as hate – a quality exemplified very well by Rand’s heroes.

Epistemology

Separation of feelings and senses (source of info)

Objectivism specifies that human senses and scientific investigation are the only valid sources of knowledge, and some will rule out other sources of learning like revelation. But, why is it that revelation cannot be reasonable and available to the senses? Given that God exists and that he communicates through “natural” laws (both established previously), it follows that His communication with a person would be observable and very real.

Ethics

Selfishness

Ayn Rand was a huge proponent of selfishness, going as far as to author a book entitled The Virtue of Selfishness in 1964. Christ, on the other hand, taught to love God and love others – but never included a commandment to love oneself. However, reconciliation is possible when considering the motivation for following Christ-s commands: happiness and eternal reward. Objectivists would call any act with this as the ultimate goal selfish. Christians would call it salvation through selflessness (i.e., in order to find yourself, you must first lose yourself). Both Christianity and Objectivism realize the same truth – as one works to truly improve his/her salvation/happiness, others will be helped on their path as well.

Service/Charity

Objectivism objects to the giving of undeserved gifts in the form of altruism while the commandment to love ones neighbor does not specify

  • O: don’t give what isn’t deserved
  • C: give to the poor, help the needy, etc
  • A: Altruism isn’t because the needy have claim, but because it benefits those that give (under certain circumstances only).

Faith

Objectivism sees reason as the only way to make decisions that lead to fulfilling lives, while Christianity prescribes faith as the only way to happiness. In order to rectify this anomaly, faith must be further analyzed. While faith is not a sure knowledge, it is definitely justified by reason. For example, if a wife enters a house screaming that an attacker is chasing her, the loving husband will act. The husband would be foolish to wait for a “reason” that had been verified first hand by his own senses. Faith is also exercised when reading of places like the Great Wall of China. Many have never seen it, but they believe it is there because of the evidences. Such believing without seeing is an act of trust based very much on experience and reason. To analyze a more pertinent topic, if one assumes God exists (which we previously agreed was within the scope of basic objectivism) and that his plan includes the growth of our relationship with him, it is logical and reasonably that he would expect this kind of trust or faith. This is evident in the interpersonal relationships we have with each other. Trust is an essential component of love and fulfillment which leads to happiness. This is plainly apparent by observing the world around us (and even the heroes in Rand’s books). A successful business cannot bring happiness. Lust cannot bring happiness. But, trusting relationships bring it – trust manifest in faith. Therefore, the REASON for FAITH is to develop this kind of relationship with God and anything that doesn’t lead to this sort of development is not the faith required. Faith, therefore, as required in Christianity is most definitely not blind.

God’s goal is our progress. Our progress depends on us learning about Him and becoming more like Him. Faith is the method the whereby we accomplish this – a very reasonable and objective thing.

Conclusion

Christ would be the perfect “hero” in a Rand novel. He is completely honest and seeks accomplishment and success for his own growth. He does not do anything to impress others or without reason, purpose or the goal of progress. He does not compromise reality for consensus or popularity.

Notes

1 Rand, Ayn. “The Fountainhead.” … Available online from http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452273331/omninerd-20.

2 Rand, Ayn. “Atlas Shrugged.” … Available online from [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0525948929/omninerd-20 http://www.amazon.com/dp/0525948929/omninerd-20]].

3 For a brief summary of Objectivism by Rand, see this description given in 1962.

4 http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451191153/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9886376-0956621#reader-link

5 http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451191145/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9886376-0956621#reader-link

6 http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451163931/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9886376-0956621#reader-link

7 http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451147952/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9886376-0956621#reader-link

8 http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451138937/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9886376-0956621#reader-link

9 Rand, Ayn. The Ayn Rand Institute: Essentials of Objectivism_. AynRand.org. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_essentialsessentials.

10 Thomas, William. FAQ: What is the Objectivist View of Reality (Metaphysics)? The Objectivist Center. ObjectivistCenter.com. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/wthomas_faq-metaphysics.asp

11 http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_Identity.html

12 http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_RealityIsAbsolute.html

13 Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs it? p.25

14 Rand, Ayn. Introducing Objectivism. The Objectivist Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 8, August 1962. p. 35.

15 Bacon, Frances. The New Organon: True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature. Aphorism III. 1620.

16 Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs it? p.25

17 Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. p.1015

18 Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy: In Which the Existence of God and the Distinction of the Soul from the Body Are Demonstrated. Meditation I. Hackett Publishing, 1993.

19 Aristotle. The Categories. Kessinger Publishing. 2004.

20 ****Stoic source****

21 Rand, Ayn. The Ayn Rand Institute: Essentials of Objectivism_. AynRand.org. 2005. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_essentialsessentials.

22 Thomas, William. What is the Objectivist Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology)? ObjectivistCenter.org. 2005. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/wthomas_faq-epistemology.asp.

23 Landauer, Jeff & Rowlands, Joseph. Logic_. ImportanceOfPhilosophy.com. 2001. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Logic.htmlLogic.html.

24 Rand, Ayn. Philosophy, Who Needs It? p. 62.

25 McKeever, Paul. What is Objectivism: The Epistemology of Objectivism: Reason is the Way Man Obtains Knowledge. MondoPolitico.com. 2003. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.mondopolitico.com/ideologies/atlantis/whatisobjectivism.htm.

26 Rand, Ayn. Introducing Objectivism. The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 8. August, 1962. p. 35.

27 Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. p.1018

28 As quoted on The Ayn Rand Institute: Essentials of Objectivism.

29 McKeever, Paul. What is Objectivism: The Ethics of Objectivism: Rational Self-Interest or Egoism. MondoPolitico.com. 2003. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.mondopolitico.com/ideologies/atlantis/whatisobjectivism.htm.

30 McKeever, Paul. What is Objectivism: The Ethics of Objectivism: Rational Self-Interest or Egoism. MondoPolitico.com. 2003. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.mondopolitico.com/ideologies/atlantis/whatisobjectivism.htm.

31 Thomas, William. What is the Objectivist Position in Morality (Ethics)? ObjectivistCenter.org. 2005. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/wthomas_faq-ethics.asp.

32 Thomas, William. What is the Objectivist Position in Morality (Ethics)? ObjectivistCenter.org. 2005. Accessed December 2005 at http://www.objectivistcenter.org/objectivism/faqs/wthomas_faq-ethics.asp.

33 Some accept other books as authentic ancient records, such as The Apocrypha or The Book of Mormon, that also record Jesus Christ’s teachings.

34 Current debate concerning Christianity often centers on what groups or religions can be called “Christian.” When used in this article, “Christian” refers to anyone who generally believes in the manner described.

35 Genesis 1.

36 Genesis 3.

37 Corinthians 15.

38 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:2

39 All biblical verses quoted are from the King James version, available online here.

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First of all, this might interest you:

“In forming her philosophy of Objectivism, Ayn Rand disavowed all notions of the supernatural and religious. Still, even she had admiration for Jesus, as she wrote here in a letter to a fan in 1946.”

“Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism — the inviolate sanctity of man’s soul, and the salvation of one’s soul as one’s first concern and highest goal; this means — one’s ego and the integrity of one’s ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one’s soul — (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one’s soul?) — Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one’s soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one’s soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one’s soul to the souls of others.” http://www.hereticalideas.com/2009/04/jesus-christ-a-heretical-appreciation/

Next, I think it is important for those raised in the Judeo-Christian culture who are struggling with the siren call of Objectivism to notice the difference between Christianity and Theism in this context. I find your article to be a fine example of why it will be much more difficult for a contemporary Christian to embrace Rand’s ideas than it will be for someone who harbors a relatively undefined but nonetheless certain belief that there is a God. Serious Christians are saddled with the random chaos of ideas inserted into and handed down by means of the Scriptures, some of which must inevitably coincide with rational thought. If none of the Bible’s content squared with seat-of-the-pants human reason, it would never have been handed down.

The mandate to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is probably the closest Christianity can get to Objectivism. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” complies with Objectivism only when taken as a demand for mutual respect of human beings’ independence from each other that is prerequisite to the fulfillment of a universally common nature. Christians, however, have turned that idea into a mandate for mutual dependence, completely contrary to the Objectivist ethic.

The insurmountable problem you face in your effort is the same one the Libertarians face: a multitude of superficial similarities with Objectivism (in politics and economics in their case) that have no foundation in reality. Their beliefs are like those of Christians, not derived, but merely a body of internally self-consistent conclusions with no underlying premises that can connect it to the actual universe. The Libertarians err by starting with the valid applied science of Austrian economics as the base for their political philosophy. Politics, however, is the extension of individual ethics into a social context. Ethics must be its base, and economics can only be the science of explaining human action in any given political context.

The only premise underlying Christian conclusions is the assumption that faith is a form of cognition, which it most certainly is not. Rand goes into great detail explaining the direct and verifiable relationship between ideas that are the product of reason and the actual nature of us and the reality we exist in. Christians just assert, and that doesn’t cut it. Christians do not understand the concept of contextual knowledge—that knowledge is limited to that for which evidence logically traceable to the perceptions of the senses can be provided. All else is only possible, probable or unknown. Their fantasies of God and Heaven cannot even reach the first level of possibility without at the very least a cogent definition of each based on at least some verifiable evidence. Definition, however, is consistently evaded in favor of assertions based solely on feelings. Life on distant galaxies is more possible, for at least we know and can define the conditions necessary to support it and the possibility that such conditions could actually occur. Not so Heavens and Hells.

Theists who pay only token attention to the Bible or Jesus other than socially are in a much better position to be religious Objectivists. They have a precedent model in the Deism of the founding fathers, Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin et al. Their view of the ‘clockmaker’ God who made everything and then retreated to observe it functioning in accordance with its nature (or not) implicitly acknowledges that the ought for each living entity can only be derived from its (God-given) nature. Objectivism is the non plus ultra prescription to that end that could be followed to a T for the purpose of fulfilling one’s own nature in the service of one’s God—and necessarily without His interference (as He intended).

To introduce this idea to my hyper-Christian half-brother, I revised “Pascal’s Wager” accordingly:

Now that Ayn Rand has finally demonstrated the efficacy of Reason to man in the 20th century, a new speculation about God has emerged revising Blaise Pascal’s 17th c. thought that it is safer to “wager” that God does exist than that He doesn’t, as follows:

The existence of God cannot be determined through Reason. Though all men are free to “wager” as though God does exist, they should take into account that Reason would have to be God’s crowning creation and gift to man. It endows man with the capacity to grasp everything that exists in the universe that God wants man to be able to know and the capacity to use that knowledge to perfect the life God gave him. They should consider also the distinct possibility that God would not want to be known by man, but rather would prefer to observe from afar what men can achieve on their own by means of the capacities with which He endowed them.

After all, God would not have given man Reason if he did not want man to use it in accordance with its designed function. Furthermore, any rejection of Reason, such as the arbitrary replacement of it by the Satanic anti-capacity of Mysticism to fabricate false ideas of God’s universe, or worst of all, false ideas of the nature or will of God Himself, would most certainly constitute the most damnable sin.

Thus, in that case, man would be subject to only one commandment: I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt falsify neither other gods before Me, nor the nature of Me Myself nor the nature of My creations.

Thus, in that case, there would be only one mortal sin: the rejection of God’s Reason in favor of Satan’s Mysticism.

Thus, in that case, in the end, Heaven would necessarily be occupied only by God and around Him all of the rational atheists who ever existed.

Thus, in that case, all who abused the rational minds God gave them and stubbornly clung with nothing more than Faith to religions that worshiped some allegedly revealed God would necessarily go to reside with Satan in the fires of Hell for eternity.

Thus, in that case, it would perhaps be better not to “wager” on the existence of God after all.

Brandon,

At the time of this post I have not read the whole article but I think its fun.

One of the interesting things that I find about human nature is the ability to compartmentalize and to meld idea’s once a connection is made. As an abstract example one can push forward in a career, direction or idea in an objective/secular way with no apparent spiritual attribute to ensure a repeatable logical and rational process or method. That same person can very well return home, pray and devote his evening to a spiritual being. That person may well start off having to divorce the two occupations or thoughts to excel in both areas of life and either to make a connection where the two are now in an agreement due to a new found perspective or to never find that agreement but living a satisfied life just the same.

Consequently this ability to compartmentalize difference facet of our lives is what makes me less concerned about one’s religion when running for office or leading any group/corporation and more with his behavior and abilities. This is not intended to turn into a political discussion but rather a general idea.

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