Friday, June 10, 2005

The Second Most Dangerous Book Ever

Another Evangelical Outpost article on the world's most dangerous book got me to thinking about more deep philosophical issues. Hat tip again to Joe Carter for keeping me blogging and keeping me from sleeping.

The Bible is a little like Atlas Shrugged. the scenario of Atlas was that when energetic, intelligent and productive people are removed from society, the world becomes virtually hell-on-earth. The thesis of the Bible is that when an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God departs from earth, the world becomes literally hell-on-earth.

Now Atlas and The Fountainhead are dangerous books! I've heard of people who've left careers, left spouses, left churches because of those books. But Atlas is the darkest and most negative, most dangerous if taken too literaly. In that sense, they're like the Meccan and Medinan verses of the Koran; the former extolling benevolence and human virtue, the latter wanted to see people destroyed who don't tow that line. People can make alot of mistakes when they fail to see the flaws behind her philosophy.

The dirty little secret of Atlas is this: Rand doesn't care that everyone dies and society shuts down--even if it effects relatively innocent parties. She does not think that other people--simply for being people--have any value to an individual, so that she should save them. To her, I would posit that if her housecat were about to jump out of the window of her high-rise apartment, for the selfish reasons of preserving the aesthetic beauty of the cat, and preventing the aesthetic uglyness of seeing it die, she would intervene to save it. If so, would not the aesthetic beauty of a human soul be worth saving, and the uglyness of its death be worth preventing?

Biblical agape love is appraising value to a human being because he is a human being, made in the image of God, and worth preserving. Such love is based just as much on rational self-interest as it is on God's commands.

7 Comments:

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At 8:27 PM, Blogger Maverick45 said...

Sorry, but I don't agree with you at all. Rand states that people should not live merely for others, i.e. they should not exclusively live for others and never attend to their own needs, lest they cease to exist. Example: A man who gives someone else the food he earns every day, because they claim to need that food more than him, will starve to death. However, if you care for someone, and do not wish for them to die, you can help them and maintain their morality. In Atlas shrugged, the people who die are those who are unwilling to help themselves; everyone else will survive. Ayn Rand saw that as long as you feed a leech, it will continue to suck your blood. That is what Atlas Shrugged states in a nutshell. If you care enough to reply, my email is leviathan8800@yahoo.com

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger karljonasson said...

Hey there. This is an interesting blog you've got here. From what I've read, I get the idea that the crux of your biscuit is to integrate Christianity with the parts you like of Objectivism. Don't you think that maybe these two things are completely frickin' irreconcilable? I sure do. Ayn developed Objectivism as a full-meal-deal. If you chop out the parts that clash with Christianity (most of the parts) you won't be left with anything resembling Objectivism. You'll have the same sort of thing she spoke of in the West Point speech - a hobbled together philosophy-zombie. Maybe I've misunderstood your blog completely. Perhaps a blog that roughly outlines your philosophy would be helpful to some of us. Keep blogging, though. It's interesting stuff. Feel free to write me at karljonasson@yahoo.com.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger LFB said...

It doesn't appear to me that you understand Rand's philosophy at all. This is such a crude interpretation that I have to ask if you read the book. If so, did you understan d it? If you say yes to both then why distort it?

 
At 7:10 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Yes, Maverick! The "mystic parasites" also infer from Cain's objection (Book of Genesis) that we should each be "our brother's keeper" even if our brother is a blood-sucking "leech."
On the other hand, the apostle Paul wrote that a "brother" who refuses to work to earn his own bread should NOT be supported materially by the church (in Thessalonians).
Then, in one of the books to the Corinthians, he further stated that no one should be required to make material sacrifices ("offerings") beyond what they can afford.
Finally, in the scenario pertaining to the "widows mite," (Mark Chapter 12) Jesus had warned his disciples about the "scribes and Pharasees" who were 'devouring the houses of widows and for a pretext made long prayers'. Then she comes along and deposits two very small coins, "her whole living" into the temple treasury chest. She had been deceived by those "mystic parasites" into making a relatively huge sacrifice for a temple service that Jesus had already condemned (and which was later destroyed by the Romans).
I am not saying that Jesus was an objectivist (!), but that those who quote the Bible as a justification for sacrificial, altruistic actions on behalf of human leeches are contradicting THEIR own "rule book."
Thanks for holding up "Wyatt's Torch" on your blog.

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger Trevor said...

ATLAS SHRUGGED UPHOLDS THE BIBLE ETHIC!!!

In particular, the parable in the new testament about the 'talents' upholds Atlas Shrugged as a basis for how to live.

The parable tells of three servants who each get 10, 5, and 1 talent from the Master before he departs on a journey. When the master returns many months later, he finds that first two servants DOUBLED their talents (PRODUCED WEALTH) by 20, 10, respectively. The evil servant with only one talent did nothing but went and buried his in the ground. The master was furious with this lazy coward and took his talent and gave it to the one with 20 talents. He then banished him from the kingdom (ATLANTIS)!!!

Witness how the socialist doctrine turns this parable on its head. Socialists would confiscate the servants who produced the wealth and hand it over the evil lazy one. That's what socialist policies do to our society, it corrupts the work ethic and incentives to produce wealth.

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged upholds this parable in today's world. In fact, if you took the basic axioms on which the bible reveals this support Atlas Shrugged unequivocally.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Owner Ship said...

A noted 20th century biblical evangelist once stated that truth (reality) is truth, no matter what the conduit or "channel" by which it is received. Thus, most religious "holy" books present many "truths" that harmonize with reality, the way things actually are. This qualifies them as great literature, to be sure, on a par with such classics as the works of Aristotle, Homer, Plato, etc.

This also, however, underlines the danger that shallow-thinkers and particularly the young, are easily deceived by surface appearances, because they ignore context and the lack of coherence (integration) when it comes to concept-formation.

Many biblical accounts thus highlight important Objectivist principles, like those illustrated in the above-mentioned parable. Then there is also the just principle that those who downright "refuse to work" should not be given free food (Paul), and the one about not sacrificing one's "soul" (self) for profit (Jesus).

On the other hand, the Bible also promotes the dogma of Original Sin, as if there is some built-in leaning toward wrongdoing that has been passed on to all men from Adam and Eve. E.g., the Apostle Paul's comment that "I do not understand what I am doing ... I can will, but I cannot do what is right. I do not do the good things that I want to do, I do the wrong things that I do not want to do," etc. Such a view is irrational, contradicts the fact that man is a volitional being, and is not derived from "the way things actually are." (= the truth) We might be mistaken, even "tempted" to do something we know is wrong. But when we reason on the facts as to where such a course will ultimately lead, that it is self-destructive, and we hold no inner "contradictions" on the matter, the temptation goes away. So, the Bible's doctrine of "Original Sin" contradicts reality.

If one therefore maintains that the 66-books of the Bible are all "God-inspired," originating from the same supernatural entity, then one is compelled to acknowledge that the said Entity is a schizophrenic, at times rational, but at other times not.

Furthermore, there are several verses (e.g., in Revelation, Galations) where it is forbidden for "mere mortals" to revise, delete, or add to the Bible (and several other "holy books"), even in the face of factual evidence and reason, which removes any hope of revision or amendation.

These books may be "great literature," full of wisdom, but one must not blindly follow them without thinking. The "Gospels" and the rest of the books of the Bible do not always present "gospel truth."

Reason, arrived at through the application of rationality, is the prime tool for discerning the truth: "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." (Thomas Jefferson)

 

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