North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Objectivism as a religion

Objectivism as a religion

Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 46
I am starting this as a new thread so as not to hi-jack a decent discussion of: An Objectivist Coffee Shop -- or other name for a new gathering place?


I am pushing for Objectivism as a religion. It would be Objectivist in philosophy but with the rites and rituals of Religious Humanism. At our most recent service of the Humanist Fellowship of North Texas, we had our first baby naming ceremony.

At our last service, John Davis made the point that Objectivist rites and rituals help promote and sustain Objectivism.

I was very disturbed at the points John was making with using rites and rituals. Trying to create rites and rituals for Objectivism amounts to the same as creating dogma, and Objectivism rejects dogma. I view them as being the tools of religion and other groups that wish to indoctrinate beliefs.

Have you actually read the drivel that The Humanist puts out? Do you really not see the contradictions between what humanistic ideals and Objectivism hold? Let pull a few select quotes:

From A Secular Humanist Declaration

Secular humanists may be agnostics, atheists, rationalists, or skeptics, but they find insufficient evidence for the claim that some divine purpose exists for the universe.

From The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles

We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

From Humanist Manifesto III

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

I could go on and on with this stuff. The only good thing I have to say about humanism as a whole is that it did lead me to Objectivism.


- Travis
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 93
Just a clarification:
The first two links Travis has here are from the Council for Secular Humanism, which, I am pretty sure frown on "religious" humanism. The third link, is from the American Humanist Association (AHA), which doesn't really seems to accept that humanism can be religious or secular.

I am not speaking for Travis, but I know for some this difference may seem important, since this thread is about Objectivism should be turned into a religion. The Humanist is a publication that the AHA puts out that basically turns my stomach, and caused me to turned my back against humanism, any form.

Anyhoo...just thought that needed to be stated.

Back to the subject at hand:
Objectivism is of course a philosophy NOT a religion. Rand was very clear that it was not a dogma, nor applied properly should it ever become one.

I think you have to ask yourself: What is religion? Religion implies belief and faith. Objectivism has neither of that. It is all on reason. No faith.

I think it is extremely important that a fine line is always drawn between religion and philosophy. Why should we take such a reasonable philosophy, and drag it down to the level of religion?

I used to believe religious humanism was something I needed in my life to replace the religious community I had once in my life before I left religion. What I have come to found out is all I needed was a rational way to live and a community of people that can think for themselves. Not religion.

Here's something to think about : You can't use a collectivist philosophy's rituals and rites to concretize and promote objectivism. It is an oxymoron.

(No disrespect to John meant either. While I enjoyed the presentation, I personally found it full of many collectivist ideas, and it surprised me, since it was supposed to have an Objectivist slant.)

If you feel the need to create a new religion which uses concepts from Objectivism, please keep Objectivism out of the name, and makes sure there is a clear distinction that Objectivism is a philosophy NOT a religion. Objectivism is a closed system, despite what the David Kellys of the world want us to believe.
Chris Jones
gearjammer351
Dallas, TX
Post #: 32
This is not the first time that I've heard someone lamenting the sense of community (or some other aspect of church attendance) that they feel that they have 'lost' since they no longer practice a religion. This sense of community, a group of common goals, beliefs, and philosophy is exactly what Todd is trying to create with the NTOS.
I can sympathize since I grew up in a very small town where the church was the center of the community. We had big pot-luck dinners there after services and kids ran and played on the church lawn. There were community events and gatherings there since it was the only meeting place in the area. I remember well that sense of community and fellowship that existed there and completely understand how it could be missed. I think that if someone wants that they should make a contribution to turning the NTOS into the type of community that they want (as some have done with the study groups). We will probably never sing songs or recite prose collectively, it's just not the sort of people we are (though some quote AR's books with the fervor of a southern baptist with a bible). However, the community exists, and there is no need to try and turn it into a church-which would drive away more Objectivists than it would attract.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 94
However, the community exists, and there is no need to try and turn it into a church-which would drive away more Objectivists than it would attract.

absolutely!
A former member
Post #: 71
This is not the first time that I've heard someone lamenting the sense of community (or some other aspect of church attendance) that they feel that they have 'lost' since they no longer practice a religion.

Yep.

The following quote is from the Preface to “The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto” by Edwin H. Wilson:

"Dr. Wilson was a primary author of both Humanist Manifesto I (originally published in 1933 as "A Humanist Manifesto") and Humanist Manifesto II (1973). He knew that both the consensus process of creating the first manifesto and its publication were significant events worthy of recording in this book, which he wrote over the course of many years during the 1970s and 1980s.
Wilson remained a fierce advocate of religious humanism his whole life. In the interview with Earles, she reported to Wilson that she had heard said of humanists: "They're atheists who can't quit the habit of going to church." To this somewhat lighthearted challenge, Wilson responded that he thought churchgoing "was a good habit. It organizes one's life. It's where your friends are. I find a great deal of stimulation in the institution of continuing education." In fact, Wilson always equated the humanists' quest for greater knowledge while striving toward the ideal of a "good life" as a form of continuing education."
http://www.infidels.o...­
A former member
Post #: 14
I think this is an important subject.
My short version:
1. no room for dogma: u r supposed to obey reality, not AR.
2. Rituals demean active, ambitious minds. Spontaneous cultural customs can be good.
3. Community yes; religion no.
4. Objectivism is a direct parallel and competitor to religion, more than it is to academic philosophy. Why? because it is supposed to be a system of convictions to live by, not merely theorize about.
5. Objectivism is the opposite of religion in its substance.
A former member
Post #: 109
Is it a ritual when I stand and take off my hat at baseball games for the singing of the national anthem?

(I ask because I'm not clear on what a ritual is, so how about some examples.)
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 48
Is it a ritual when I stand and take off my hat at baseball games for the singing of the national anthem?

(I ask because I'm not clear on what a ritual is, so how about some examples.)

Actually yes, you're quite right with that. While yes, I do take off my hat when singing the anthem, here I do take issue with the ritual. Taking off your hat, placing your hand over your heart, and singing the national anthem; standing and facing a flag and saying the pledge of allegience; taking the oath on a bible before taking the stand; these are a few examples of rituals that force a person into paying respect to an idea that they may not wish to or don't even think about. If a person does not feel they believe in whatever beliefs these rituals are trying to convey, then we say sure, you do not have to do them, simply abstain.

Taking your hat off at the anthem, placing your hand on your heart and singing. This one isn't quite so bad if you don't do it, it's normally in a larger crowd when it happens, but you could still gain the 'stigma' of being 'unpatriotic' when you don't do it. Right after 9/11 I remember a few grumblings about people that wouldn't do this.

Pledge of allegience. Children that don't want to do this in school are often faced with ridicule when they either don't stand or leave the class. Many teachers won't even let the children leave but make them at least stand instead. I used to see nothing wrong with making them at least stand till I thought about the it. Does a kindergartner or 1st or even 2nd grader really understand what it means to be patriotic? We teach them what to do to show their patriotism long before they understand.

The oath taking before testimony should be quite obvious. The view many religious jurors will take of anyone's testimony who is a godless heathen that refuses to take an oath if it contains a reference to god.

How many people really think about why they say bless you after someone sneezes? Off hand, I can not think of many rituals in society that do not involve observing some sort of belief system that others could find offensive or not wish to do. Look at the backlash of men holding doors for women the feminist movement brought. Rituals in society are a collective idea that ignore the individual.

Again, this is something to be taken in context. Personal rituals as opposed to rituals of society are a different subject matter. If you always brush your teeth 20 times up and down left to right every single time, go ahead. If you wash your car the same way every Saturday, go ahead. If you actually feel patriotic, go ahead and take off your hat, sing to your hearts content, but don't feel that the person next to you is unpatriotic and rude because they don't follow the ritual.

- Travis

[edit] BTW Dean, the moment of silence is what I consider to be the larger evil, not the option to pray. By introducing the ritual of a moment of silence, they opened the door to other things.
Old Toad
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 218
For the record of this discussion thread:

1. This discussion was continued under a new discussion thread A Religion Compatible with Objectivism started by David Croft (aka "deadliner") on May 6, 2006.

2. Later, On May 9, 2006, I removed David Croft (aka "deadliner") as a member of NTOS. For my explanation, see:
Organizer is asking David Croft to Withdraw from NTOS

-- Todd
Belatedly adding this post to clarify and link the chain of discussion threads.
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