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Thread: In defence of Atheism

  1. #1
    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    In defence of Atheism

    I grew up never really believing in God, it was not until I started reading Ayn Rand that I declared myself an atheist. Her reasoning ( which I totally agree with) is as follows:

    The criteria for believing in God is that everything requires an origion, something that caused or created it. Therefor in response to the question "Who created the universe?", the religionist responds "God did." Yet if you ever ask a religionist "Then, who created God?", the response will inevitably be "He was always here."

    Ayn Rand refers to this as the "Stolen concept fallacy", where someone uses a concept, while at the same time negating a sub-concept that it necessarily rests upon. Two examples of this, and how to illustrate their fallacy; Pierre Joseph Proudon declared "Property is theft". Yet the whole concept of 'theft' rests upon the concept of legitimately owned property, an object cannot be stolen unless it previously had a legitimate owner. So his statement is in fact declaring "Property is the theft of property", or "Property is the negation of property", clearly irrational gibberish. Another example is the biblical concept of 'Origional Sin', that man is inherently immoral, not by his choosing, he is just naturally that way. Yet the whole concept of 'immoral' rests upon the concept of chosen beliefs or actions. What an avalanche does is tragic, but you could not call it immoral since rocks and soil do not have any soul or free will. So the concept of origional sin is in effect saying "Man has no choice in the matter of that he chooses to be immoral". Again, a contradiction that has to either be explained or dismissed.

    Now apply this to the concept of God. Saying that God was always here negates the theists insistance that everything requires a cause, it is invoking it when it is convenient, but then negating it as soon as someone asks you "Who created God?" It is true that everything within existance requires a cause, but does existance itself require a cause? By default, the only explanation students of Objectivism (Rand's philosophy) can see is that existance (i.e., the universe) was always here. Existance exists, and only existance exists; there is nowhere else to go!

    This is not to say that all atheists are moral or rational, or that all religionists are irrational, people can all too easily be of mixed principles. Nor is it to say that every atheist follows this road to their viewpoint. But it is the road that I hold to be most rational. The Objectivist road that lead me to this view also lead me to declare myself a radical for capitalism (small 'l' libertarian, if you wish).

    I am 51 years old, and declared my atheism decades before this slew of books by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens et. al. became bestsellers, so I'm not just jumping on a bandwagon because it is popular in circles. As my way is intellectual, and not nihilistic, I challenge critics to refute it intellectually.
    Last edited by John King; 05-25-2009 at 11:44 PM.

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Actually there's no logical fallacy in saying "God was always here" or "Nobody and nothing created God." "God" means Creator in monotheistic religions. As far as I can see it's Rand who's stealing a concept when she uses the word "God" but then slyly empties it out so it no longer means "creator of all things." Logically, the Creator of all precedes all.

    Rand's cheating again in the Proudhon example. She's ignored his argument (whatever it was) and changed the subject by taking one rhetorical line of his out of context and turning it into a logic lesson. I don't know anything about Proudhon other than that he was an anarchist, but it takes more than word games to show that capitalism is superior to anarchism. (And I agree that it is, but not because Proudhon was a colorful writer!)

    She cheated again on original sin, "proving" it illogical only by redefining it to suit her needs. She's mixed original sin up with personal sin committed knowingly (immorality, if you will). Original sin is different: it's an inherited tendency toward evil and death. Babies and small children are born with original sin (that's why they're baptized, at least if they're Catholics), but nothing bad they do can be called personal sin because their consciences aren't developed yet. But besides the tendency to evil, there is also God's grace pulling us toward life and the good, and we make free moral decisions every day as we choose life or death, better or worse actions. Maybe Ayn Rand can show that the Christian understanding of original and personal sin is stupid, but she isn't doing that when she's either misunderstood or mischaracterized it in the first place.

    As for the eternal existence of existence - theists would agree with you but for us that's like saying "God exists." Who is God? The Creator of all that is seen and unseen, who revealed his name as "I AM WHO AM" or "HE WHO IS" (Exodus 3:14).

    It seems AR has a habit of misrepresenting her opponents to make them look bad and counting on her readers not to notice.

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    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    Actually, Rand covered the second definition of origional sin, that man has a tendancy towards sinning. To say man has a tendancy towards sinning is like forcing him to play with loaded dice. It is trying to stack the cards against man before he has even taken his first babysteps.

    And when had Rand ever referred to the concept of God as something other than the concept of the creator of the universe, which, if you followed her logic, by necessity means the creator of existance, the creator of all things, as you put it? And the question again is: Who created the creator?

    And if she was taking Proudon out of context, well then what was his true argument? Proudon was a collectivist-oriented anarchist, and his "Property Is Theft" saying is just one example of how he was foolishly wrong.

    As for your last line about Rand "counting on her readers not to notice", are we talking about the same woman? The one who exhorted her readers to use their own judgement, providing they could back it up with reason?

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    I've only read tidbits of Rand, and I could not understand the movie, The Fountainhead when I was a kid so I kind of ignored her. Does her philosophy still hold up?

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    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    I've only read tidbits of Rand, and I could not understand the movie, The Fountainhead when I was a kid so I kind of ignored her. Does her philosophy still hold up?
    The movie was about an architec who refuses to compromise on his designs.

    As to her philosophy holding up, her books still sell over 100,000 copies annually, and this is 27 years after her death. Atlas Shrugged was about what would happen if the producers in society decided to go on strike. And we're seeing that now in America, where the economic system is far from the laissez faire capitalism envisioned by Rand, or economist Ludwig Von Mises.
    Last edited by John King; 05-27-2009 at 07:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John King View Post
    Actually, Rand covered the second definition of origional sin, that man has a tendancy towards sinning. To say man has a tendancy towards sinning is like forcing him to play with loaded dice. It is trying to stack the cards against man before he has even taken his first babysteps.

    And when had Rand ever referred to the concept of God as something other than the concept of the creator of the universe, which, if you followed her logic, by necessity means the creator of existance, the creator of all things, as you put it? And the question again is: Who created the creator?

    And if she was taking Proudon out of context, well then what was his true argument? Proudon was a collectivist-oriented anarchist, and his "Property Is Theft" saying is just one example of how he was foolishly wrong.

    As for your last line about Rand "counting on her readers not to notice", are we talking about the same woman? The one who exhorted her readers to use their own judgement, providing they could back it up with reason?
    There's no contradiction in the idea of original sin. We have a tendency toward death too but that doesn't mean we're not alive now. We have a tendency -- not an uncontrollable force dragging us -- toward sin but that doesn't mean we're not capable of resisting evil and choosing good. Christianity (unlike philosophies based on materialism or determinism) places great weight on human moral freedom.

    "Who created the creator?" Who cooked the cook? It doesn't seem as though you have any interest in understanding the theological definition of God that you want to demolish. There is only one creator - eternal, ie, outside time and space (which are also created things). How can it make sense to look for another creator behind the one creator who created space, time and all beings? That would make God a created object, when *by definition* he's not. A better question is whether the universe is created at all or not - that's a debate that goes back to Aristotle and Plato at least and still rages today. A purely scientific worldview would say it just happened randomly. But either way you have to be willing to address arguments and evidence on both sides - not pretend to solve a huge centuries-old question in five minutes.

    About Proudhon and how great a rationalist AR is, I was only going by the examples of reasoning you gave. They didn't seem too impressive to me. And sorry, I can't spend any more time on this. You could check out Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica part 1) for a classic discussion (in question form, with arguments pro and con) of what Christians mean by "God."
    http://www.ccel.org/a/aquinas/summa/FP.html

  7. #7
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Well, getting back to topic: In Defence of Aetheism......

    I find aetheism geared to scientific fact finding, and religion as a matter of faith, and preoccupied with personal testimonials.

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    Shoe Diva
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    Well, getting back to topic: In Defence of Aetheism......

    I find aetheism geared to scientific fact finding, and religion as a matter of faith, and preoccupied with personal testimonials.
    Ok, I already know that I'm in WAAAYY over my head here but here's my opinion... Because I always think that the saddest part of aetheism is that it confuses God with religion.

    Its because of science, innovation and human advancement that strengthens my faith in God. I know that inspiration is a faith driven activity. Faith in one's self. Faith in original thought. And I say Thank God everytime I pull a random thought out and work it till it reaches the goal.

    Its this idea that makes me an environmentalist, a nonprofit professional, community volunteer and liberal activist. Because its important that my lifestyle reflects my faith by embracing my obligation to the greater world my fellow brothers & sisters and work for a better future. Faith makes me see that all is not equal in this world and its important to do something. My intellect forces me to see bigger than myself. My faith understands that without God, none of that is possible.

    My personal testimony enhances these activities because I feel the responsiblity of faith to honor, love, protect and respect the gifts we've received.

    Christ preached a gospel of loving each other without the constraints of formal religion practices. This is my faith and I embrace it. But I'm sure if I wasn't raised Christian, I would embrace the same faith and behave in the same way. Because God demands my best.

    Now, religion is a different matter - religion demands that I submit (ask my husband how I deal with that idea). religion demands that I judge my fellows. religion trys to stick me in a box. religion will tell me that I'm sinful. religion tells me that to want success and fancy shoes is wrong and selfish. religion attempts to dictate what to do with my body and my soul. religion will burn you at the stake for nonconformity.

    God doesn't do that - faith doesn't do that. Man does that.

    As for Ayn Rand - who I like, just read my tagline - I give credit to God that my intellect and heart are in perfect balance and I can enjoy her books, have a greater understanding for the importance for my work and know that its important to be true to yourself vs. looking for external confirmation.

    Heck, her books are probably the best marketing campaign for faith EVER and that's simply ironic.

  9. #9
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    As the old saying goes: God didn't invent Man. Man invented God.

    It's a never ending argument.

  10. #10
    Shoe Diva
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    As the old saying goes: God didn't invent Man. Man invented God.

    It's a never ending argument.
    The irony of THAT is never lost on me... But whatever. I shall counter with: "so sure that there's no God, then you better pray you're right"

    Ah... the wisdom of bumperstickers...

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