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Post 20

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 7:49amSanction this postReply
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Pete,

I'm not here to debate my theism. I'm here as a novice reader of Ayn Rand's works and am enjoying gaining new insights from Objectivists such as yourself.

I do thank you for your comments, however. In passing, I will note that Anthony Flew has recently come to the conclusion that there must be, in some sense, an Intelligent Designer of the universe - based on evidence of the senses (what can be observed empirically about the nature of the universe).

BKB

(Edited by B. Keith Brumley on 12/28, 8:32am)


Post 21

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 7:59amSanction this postReply
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Robert wrote:
I too first learned about Ayn Rand from my involvement with libertarianism.
Interesting how that works, isn't it? I've read good and bad about Ms. Rand from libertarian writers. Like the Apostle Paul, Ms Rand either causes riots or revivals when she hits town (ha).

Many believers think any competing philosophy, Objectivism for example, will usher in an orgy of murder and mayhem because there is no threat of punishment after death.

This is, of course, nonsense. I do not believe that Ms. Rand's philosophy is amoral or immoral. On the contrary, from my cursory understanding, it appears to be a highly moral, integrated system of ethics.

In the sense of having a code of ethics and strong sense of morality in everyday life Objectivism is similar to religion.
Yes, I've sensed a "religious ferver" from some of you Objectivists (ha). Gotta watch those "Atlas Shrugged-thumping" zealots! (ha)

 I tried for five years to reconcile Rand with Religion. I finally came to the conclusion that the supernatural does not exist. Instead of feeling alone and lost in the universe I have never been happier.

Keep studying and keep thinking.
Well, I cannot say that I started reading Rand out of some sense of needing to reconcile Objectivism with the Christian Faith. Perhaps it will lead there. I doubt it. But I will assure you that I will finish "The Fountainhead" and read Ms. Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." I may even read some of her non-fiction works and those of her devotees. And above all, I will assure you that I will keep an open mind and "keep studying and keep thinking."

Appreciate your kind words of encouragment, Robert.

BKB


Post 22

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 8:20amSanction this postReply
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Pukszta wrote:

All that said, Brumley, I think you will find much of Objectivism compatible with your Christianity.  It may even help you better understand what sacrifice really means in Christian thought.  Sacrifice is a big bugaboo with Objectivists, because altruism (as Rand defined) is to be despised as anti-life.  The fact is that a lot of Christians do reduce sacrifice to altruism, when in fact sacrifice means trading up one value for a higher one.  Therefore, Objectivists rightly criticize Christians for this mistake.
So far, I don't know enough about Objectivism to say one way or another how compatible it will be. I do know that I am impressed with Objectivism's insistence on truth being attainable (vs. the post-modern assumption that truth cannot be known). This accords with Christianity.

As to the idea of "sacrifice" - I find your thoughts intriguing. I've read a bit on Rand's views of altruism being "anti-life." As I understand it, to sacrifice self-interest for others is to sacrifice one's humanity needlessly for another - and therefore, one becomes less than human?

The idea that sacrifice is "trading up one value for a higher one" is what intrigues me. Jesus, of course, sacrificed himself for the whole of humanity (as Christian theology understands it). But he did so as an act of free will and to "trade up" one value (his life) for a higher value (to save the lives of all humanity). He did so knowing that he would be raised from the dead and his death would be the means by which others could have life. This was altruistic on his part, but not "anti-life." Of course, Jesus' altruism is unique in that he is uniquely qualified to make this sacrifice. No other human could've done so because no other human was (according to the Christian faith) truly God and truly Man.

But it is an interesting way of looking at sacrifice. I will look for this theme in Ms. Rand's writings. You could well be correct that his aspect of Ms Rand's philosophy could help me gain insights into the true nature of sacrifice. Thanks for the head's up!

BKB


Post 23

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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Level,

I agree with you about where the true disagreement lies between Objectivism and Christianity, which I don't think necessarily drives a gap between the two regarding politics and maybe aesthetics.  Of course, there'll be some divergence on morality, but on the issue of how people of different beliefs get along with each other, I'll take agreement on politics over anything else.

As for whether a Christian would find my definition of sacrifice insulting (although true), that hasn't been my experience.  I play ping-pong with a Catholic neighbor of mine in his basement.  He is devout and frequently invites priests from a local information center to play too.  I've discussed my thoughts on sacrifice with these people and they have always been received without rancor - and even some agreement!

Whether or not the Bible-thumpers would react the same, I have my doubts and am not in a hurry to find out.

Pukszta.


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Post 24

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 6:19amSanction this postReply
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"Thanks for the head's up!"

You're welcome, Brumley.  I'm glad I could put a provocative thought in your head, as Christianity has put a few in my head since my introduction to Miss Rand's work.

Pukszta


Post 25

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 2:48pmSanction this postReply
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Rooster,

I agree with pretty much everything you've written. I like the pomp of Catholic Sunday services and some of their theological rationalism, though there is a bit too much dogmatism there for me. But if I was had to be a Christian, I have always said that I would be a Catholic. Many of the other sects, especially Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witnesses - well, since I can't find polite euphemisms right now, I'll just leave it there.

Cheers.


Post 26

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 3:00pmSanction this postReply
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Well, I'm not Roman Catholic. I'm neither a pentecostal nor a Jehovah's Witness either. So, I take no offence (ha).

I come from a Christian group which stems from a movement steeped in Enlightenment thought (especially influenced by Locke and the Scottish Common Sense philosophers). Perhaps that's where I get my love of "reason" and why I see some common ground with Objectivism?

BKB


Post 27

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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Keith,

In the year 2004 (soon to be 2005), if you are an intelligent person, it takes a lot of hard work to deny reason, given the success of the scientific method.  Theists and atheists come in all sizes and shapes.  However, I think that a love of reason comes with an intellectual temperament.

Honestly, the last thing that comes to mind when I'm speaking to someone are his proclaimed religious beliefs.  Why settle conclusively the most difficult questions (usually settled for you by your parents) in the beginning?  I mean, I am likely to have more points of agreement with you than some leftist atheists.

My atheism has very little to do with philosophical arguments against the existence of God. I am a product of many cultures, had an agnostic father and an Anglican mother.  Having seen how people in different cultures rationalize the general and special nature of their religious beliefs, I just wonder who is right, wonder why there are no similar arguments over the truth of "2+2=4", then smile and let everyone argue the rest.

I was lucky that because of my father, I had a secular enough worldview to understand morality apart from religion, because my father pretty much trounced the competition when it came to being a role model for principled behavior, despite his faults.

On the other hand, I've had enough problems dealing in person with certain varieties of religious people (sadly, I must include a couple of Objectivists) to know that religious disagreement can be seriously problematic.

Best of luck to you, Keith.  As long as you respect reason and start with the easier questions, theist or atheist, all is well. (OK, that was patronizing, but please, take no offense... or take as much as you want to, then let's make up and be civil..)

(Edited by Next Level on 12/29, 4:25pm)


Post 28

Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 8:51amSanction this postReply
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Level,

Seeing that I was raised Catholic until I was ten, at which point my father directed me to make my own choice as to religion (obviously, I chose to drop out), I am in accord with your sentiments.

Bible-thumping Protestants can wear one patience with their emotionalism.  It brings to mind something James Joyce said in an interview after writing "Ulyssess".  The reporter noted Joyce's hostile statements towards the Catholic Church to which he had belonged.  The reporter then asked Joyce which Protestant denomination he had switched to.  Joyce drolly replied, "I lost my faith, not my self-respect."

That said, I don't have any special brief against Protestants, including fundamentalists.  In fact, I am sympathetic to those who just want to be left alone from the government's secularist intrusions into their lives.  In that regard, they want what I want.  That's why I think Brumley can find a lot in Objectivism, especially its politics, that are compatible with his religious beliefs.

Pukszta 


Post 29

Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 9:23amSanction this postReply
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Mr. Brumley,

While I think you might find some common ground with those of us of Objectivist leanings, there will also be a few issues that will be difficult if not impossible for a Christian to accept.  Perhaps you've encountered these areas already:

1. Atheism - For reasons too obvious to explain, atheism cannot be reconciled with Christianity, and vice versa.

2. Abortion - Virtually all Objectivists believe that abortion should be legal, and that it is a viable form of birth control in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.  Rand certainly held this view.

3. Homosexuality - Although Rand didn't have much to say on the topic of homosexuality, she did not view it in a favorable light.  Thus, there are some Randroids out there who probably share that view.  However, most SOLO members do not think that homosexuality is immoral, and in fact there are several openly gay members on this site. I'm not aware of any other Objectivist forums where this is the case. 

I don't know your views on these issues, and I don't know to what extent you may have already evaluated them in the context of Objectivism, but these are what come to mind for me as far uncommon ground between Christianity and Objectivism is concerned.


Post 30

Friday, December 31, 2004 - 8:47amSanction this postReply
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Pete,

You are correct about two of three of these issues where a Christian and Objectivist cannot agree.

1) Of course it is obvious that Christian theism and Objectivist atheism conflict (for obvious reasons).

2) I am pro-life. I am so because of my theological convictions. I will also say, however, that Dr. Ron Paul (a personal hero of mine and a man influenced by Ms. Rand) makes a good case as both an OB-GYN physician and a libertarian against the abortion position (without bring theology into the argument). His basic premise - abortion is an act of agression against a living human. I happen to agree.

3). Re: homosexuality. As a citizen of this Constitutional Republic I would fight to my death to ensure that homosexuals retain the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit. I disdain so-called Christians who have such hate and vitriol directed at homosexuals. They read a different Bible than I do apparently. Of course, I would say that I would not want to water down biblical statements about practicing homosexuals in the church. I would welcome a homosexual who desired to follow Christ and be compassionate towards his or her struggle, as I am grateful for Christians who are compassionate towards mine and help give me strength. But I am in no way "anti-homosexual" and have, indeed, friends who are homosexual.

BKB


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Post 31

Friday, December 31, 2004 - 10:20amSanction this postReply
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First off, do you go by Keith, B., BKB or what?  I'm not sure how to address you.

Anyhow, regarding the abortion issue, a former SOLO member (G. Stolyarov, II) is the only person I know who argued from an Objectivist position that abortion  is immoral.  You can read his article here.  If non-religious arguments against abortion are of interest to you, there might be some nuggets in there for you.


Post 32

Friday, December 31, 2004 - 11:48amSanction this postReply
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Hi Pete,

LOL -- I go simply by Keith. Just sign posts "BKB" out of habit.

Thanks for the article from Mr. Stolyarov. I've bookmarked it. The print is pretty tiny on the webpage so I'll cut & paste into my word processor and print it.

Thanks again,
Keith


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Post 33

Saturday, April 22 - 3:36amSanction this postReply
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Another Random Past Article with some interesting content.  I just went through some of this over on MSK's OL.

From Next Level in Post 14:

1) In Mathematics, negative assertions are proven all the time. ...

2) ...  his problem had more to do with the standard of proof and the cognitive content of the concept of God than anything else.

3) ... You only believe that one cannot prove negative statements if you think that he cannot prove a universal statement, ...  


4) Proof is a concept of intelligence - unless there is some agreed upon standard of proof, there is no way you can prove something to someone else.

 

As far as I have come with this is that the negative assertions that cannot be proved are empirical claims. In the Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures on the subject of God and religion, Nathaniel Branden offered the example that you cannot prove that the far side of the Moon does not have rose gardens and Coca-Cola vending machines.  Just because we have not found them yet, does not mean that they are not there.  Etc.  

 

As noted, though, in the case of rational or logical claims, as in mathematics, negatives are proved all the time. The oldest may be the proof that the square root of two is not a rational number.  Realize that before that, the Greek thinkers seemed to have all accepted that such a number existed, but had only not been found yet.  The reason for that is that from the Egyptians, fractions were expressed as sums of addends whose numerators are 1 (one).  3/4 = 1/4 + 1/2  or   3/7 = 1/3 + 1/14 + 1/42.  etc.  We accept the existence of irrational numbers is a positive claim: pi, e, and infinitely many more.  But it began with the proof of a negative assertion.

 

Where I stopped thinking (the place often called a "conclusion") is in the unity of the analytic and synthetic claims.  Why is it that we can prove a negative analytic, but not a negative synthetic?  



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