North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › A Religion Compatible with Objectivism

A Religion Compatible with Objectivism

A former member
Post #: 73
The topic "Objectivism as a Religion" was not quite what I meant. "Objectivism", as defined by Ayn Rand, is a philosophy. What I am advocating is a religion compatible with Objectivism.

Certainly no religion that advocates a belief in the supernatural is compatible with Objectivism. Fortunately for us, the courts have long held that belief in the supernatural is not a required element for a religion. In a nation where not all of the religious believe in the supernatural, a non-sectarian reference by our government to a universal God is an act of religious discrimination.

Ideally a religion compatible with Objectivism would also promote Objectivism. This could be inherent in the rites and rituals. As suggested by John Davis before the recent baby naming ceremony, we discussed which Objectivist elements we might introduce into the ceremony. I proposed words to the effect that in a capitalist society each new child brings new prosperity to humanity as wealth is not simply divided but created by each member of our population.

When we marry and bury our dead, we do not want officiants who will use the event as an opportunity to promote their supernatural beliefs. We want celebrants from our own religion who will speak the words that give us strength and comfort. We certainly do not want them to upset us at that time. Nor do we want to simply ignore the necessity of life event celebrations.

Perhaps more than others, parents need religion. We need a support group to promote our ideas such as naturalism and capitalism in an environment dominated by the supernaturalists and collectivists. We need to immunize them from the memes that might infect them in the future. We need to provide them with social opportunities. We need our own holidays to celebrate with the children that instill our own values.

"Science, as a system of discovering, organizing, and applying mutual knowledge, is already unified and universal in principle, though its efficiency as an organ of the human species could still be much increased. It remains for man to unify and universalize his religion. How that religion will take form -- what rituals or celebrations it might practise, whether it will equip itself with any sort of professional body or priesthood, what buildings it will erect, what symbols it will adopt -- that is something which no one can prophesy. Certainly it is not a field on which the natural scientist should venture. What the scientist can do is to draw attention to the relevant facts revealed by scientific discovery, and to their implications and those of the scientific method. He can aid in the building up of a fuller and more accurate picture of reality in general and of human destiny in particular, secure in the knowledge that in so doing he is contributing to humanity's advance, and helping to make possible the emergence of a more universal and more adequate religion." -- Julian Huxley

"In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. [...] After religious teachers accomplish the refining process indicated they will surely recognize with joy that true religion has been enobled and made more profound by scientific knowledge. [...] The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge." -- Albert Einstein
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 34
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David,

You have told us that "belief in the supernatural is [not] compatible with Objectivism." You have yet to give us a definition of religion and how your concept is compatible with Objectivism. Your desire to remove supernatural beliefs from religion remains unjustified. Indeed, without an element of the supernatural, religion loses one of its essential characteristics.

Given your previous posts and the title of this thread, the request for a definition is a fair one. Are you going to give us one?

Your discussion regarding the courts' treatment of religion does not appear to be related to the topic at hand. Why include it?

You have not yet justified your assertion that 1. religion can be properly understood without a belief in the supernatural and 2. how your definition of religion--assuming one is forthcoming--is both justified and compatible with Objectivism.
A former member
Post #: 74
You have not yet justified your assertion that 1. religion can be properly understood without a belief in the supernatural and 2. how your definition of religion--assuming one is forthcoming--is both justified and compatible with Objectivism.

In answer to the first question, I refer you to the above two quotes by Julian Huxley and Albert Einstein. I also provide the following:

"It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content and the depth of the content and the depth of the conviction concerning its overpowering meaningfulness, regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities." -- Albert Einstein

"Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others." -- Justice Hugo Black

"And that, Davis ruled, is what gives the group its religious status.
"The Court finds that (the Society), in its pursuit of the Ethical
Ideal, acts like a traditional religion and functions as a traditional
religious organization for its members," Davis wrote in an opinion in
December.
He noted that the group holds Sunday worship services, provides Sunday
school education for children and performs "life cycle rituals such as
weddings, baby-naming ceremonies and memorial services."
He said courts in the past have understood worship of a supreme being as
an element of religion but not as the "linchpin factor."
"If the rule were otherwise, universally recognized world belief systems
such as Buddhism and Taoism, which do not subscribe to a theistic world
view, would not be considered religions," the judge wrote."
http://taint.org/pipe...­

Before I answer the second question, I ask this: After reading these five quotes, are you now persuaded that religion does not require a belief in the supernatural?
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 49
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Answer these 2 things.

1) How is wrapping objectivism in the rites and rituals of a philosophical movement whose core beliefs are opposed to objectivism viable?

2) How is religion with rites, and rituals not creating dogma?

I have never said anything about the supernatural, these are my two major issues with even bringing this topic up.

- Travis
A former member
Post #: 75
1) How is wrapping objectivism in the rites and rituals of a philosophical movement whose core beliefs are opposed to objectivism viable?

2) How is religion with rites, and rituals not creating dogma?

I have never said anything about the supernatural, these are my two major issues with even bringing this topic up.

Travis and I had a couple of break-throughs last night during discussion at the NTOS meeting.

1. I had asserted that my religion is faith-based in that I had "faith in Humanity". I held this position as I concluded that our love of life, i.e., survival of Man qua Man, was a core value that was not derived through a rational thought process. It was something we simply accepted and was therefore a matter a faith. Travis pointed out to me, though, that my reasoning was that this love of life was a genetic predisposition shaped into us by evolution through the forces of natural selection. He then pointed out that this was not faith. I immediately realized that I had erred in assuming that this value must be faith because it was not derived rationally. I had been overlooking a third source: instinctual knowledge.

2. The terms "rites" and "rituals" have connations related to dogmatic behaviors. The term "ceremony" is less offensive. Naming, wedding, and memorial "ceremonies" are acceptable.

Where we left off was whether we needed a religion and whether a religion could still be defined as a religion if it was neither supernatural nor faith-based.
Old Toad
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 203
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David wrote:


... I immediately realized that I had erred in assuming that this value must be faith because it was not derived rationally. I had been overlooking a third source: instinctual knowledge.

...

Where we left off was whether we needed a religion and whether a religion could still be defined as a religion if it was neither supernatural nor faith-based.


David,

The deterministic and mystical ideas you are espousing here are not compatible with reality and reason, and, therefore, are not compatible with Objectivism.

There is no such thing as "instinctual knowledge."

To quote from Galt's speech:
An instinct of self-preservation is precisely what man does not posses. An "instinct" is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct. A desire to live does not give you the knowledge required for living. And even man's desire to live is not automatic. ... Your fear of death is not a love for life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it. Man must obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own destroyer-- and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.
(Original emphasis.)

And from "The Objectivist Ethics", The Virtue of Selfishness:
Man has no automatic code of survival. He has no automatic course of action, no automatic set of values. His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. His own consciousness has to discover the answers to all these questions-- but his consciousness will not function automatically.
(Original emphasis.)



Further, "religion" is a belief -- any belief -- based on faith, i.e., without evidence or reason. As such, religion -- whether it is a fervent, heartfelt belief in the supernatural, reincarnation, or French-speaking penguins -- is contrary to reality and reason.

To the extent words have objective meaning, including for the purposes of thinking and communication, you cannot unilaterally define unreason to mean reason, irrationality mean rationality. In other words, to the extent you are trying to communicate, well-accepted definitions are important for communication. If you try to unilaterally define "French-speaking penguins" to mean "chicken fried steak," you probably won't like what happens after trying to order for diner.

-- Todd
A former member
Post #: 2
The problem with this idea is one you state yourself...

"Ideally a religion compatible with Objectivism would also promote Objectivism."

The two are inherently mutually exclusive.

As far as support groups go...those can exist without religion. This site would be only one example of many. I also find it concerning that you assume that someone needs a support group at all.

As for protecting children from memes...there is a necessity for context and gradual introduction of children to new ideas...but that doesn't necessarily require an established support group with ceremonies. In fact, I'd say one doesn't really need the other at all.
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 51
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Another thought I've had running through my head today is that objectivism as a philosophy is complete, it is sound, it is all that is needed. If you can not accept all of it, you can not accept any of it. What is it missing that can not be obtained by the philosophy that a religion would give? Could those things not be also achieved simply by staying inside the bounds of the philosophy itself? Is there any other purpose for starting a religion that is based on objectivism besides social or political?

- Travis
Hammad Hussain
user 2469690
San Marcos, TX
Post #: 10
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I would add that Objectivism rejects "faith" (the acceptance of beliefs apart from or against sensory or rational evidence) thoroughly as a negation of reason. Their is plenty of inescapable evidence for this in the Objectivist literature (including OPAR). And as Dan Chern implied in another thread, this cannot be circumvented by arbitrarily "redefining" "faith" (or by appealing to a court's alleged definition of some term, as if existing law courts were final authorities in matters of metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics). Definitions are NOT arbitrary; they are properly validated through inductive generalization. (And this is the Objectivist view of definitions, based on its view of concepts. Read ITOE. To hold that definitions are arbitrary is already to reject a fundamental Objectivist principle of proper methods of thinking.)

Further, consider this quote from Mr. Croft's post:

"1. I had asserted that my religion is faith-based in that I had "faith in Humanity". I held this position as I concluded that our love of life, i.e., survival of Man qua Man, was a core value that was not derived through a rational thought process. It was something we simply accepted and was therefore a matter a faith. Travis pointed out to me, though, that my reasoning was that this love of life was a genetic predisposition shaped into us by evolution through the forces of natural selection. He then pointed out that this was not faith. I immediately realized that I had erred in assuming that this value must be faith because it was not derived rationally. I had been overlooking a third source: instinctual knowledge."

To assert that, according to Objectivism, man's life as a value is not derived through a rational thought process, but is taken on FAITH, is a statement that can only be made by someone who does not even have a basic knowledge and understanding of Objectivism. Ayn Rand argues in two places (Galt's speech in AS and "The Objectivist Ethics" in VOS), and Dr. Peikoff in one place (Ch. 7 of OPAR) that since the very concept of "value" is derived from and logically dependent on the concept "life," one can be consistent only in holding one's life as one's ultimate value. Not to do so would be committing the "fallacy of the stolen concept" in regard to the concept of "value." Further, Dr. Peikoff argues that the choice to live (as a basic choice in regard to values) is not arbitrary, but is based on accepting the realm of existence as such. This is Objectivism's famous attempt (an attempt which Objectivists consider successful) to bridge the age-old "is-ought" gap in philosophy (in particular, in ethics). This relation between the concepts "life" and "value" is THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL idea of the Objectivist ethics, upon which the rest of the Objectivist ethics builds. For more detailed expositions, READ the cited sources.

As far as the love of life, "love" is an emotion, and having an emotion is not an issue (like holding an idea) of grounding it on reason or taking it on faith (i.e. ungrounded). Emotions, according to Obectivism, are automatic responses to value judgements. An emotional response (though not subject to a direct justification by reason) is justified if the value(s) (or disvalues) causing it are rationally justified. Since life is the rationally justified ULTIMATE value, according to Objectivism, the love of life is an (indirectly) justified emotion.

Perhaps Mr. Croft thinks that Objectivism's argument to bridge the "is-ought" gap fails (which, again, is an implicit rejection of Objectivism). But even if that is the case, he is still not justified in implying that Objectivists take the value of life on FAITH. Obviously, if one is an Objectivist, one think's that Objectivism's REASONING to bridge the "is-ought" gap (and thereby prove life to be the ultimate value) succeeds.

--Ahmad Hassan
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 96
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All I can add to what I have said in other threads about this is the following:
religion is beneath Objectivism. Don't drag it down to its level. It cannot be compatible with something it finds cotemptible.
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