SOLO-International Op-Ed—An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Fri, 2010-04-09 04:46

SOLO-International Op-Ed: An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

James S. Valliant
April 8, 2010

Dear Mr. Glenn Beck,

As a fierce defender of the American Founding Fathers and the free market, as well as an atheist, I listened intently to your discussion of "faith" and the founding of America today, April 8, 2010, on the Fox News Channel. Despite my views on religion, I have become a regular viewer because, in my estimation, the history lessons you deliver every night are enormously valuable.

However, today's discussion not only left me unpersuaded of your case, but also profoundly disturbed for the future of American Ideals. If men like you, i.e., the defenders of America's Founding Fathers, have no better an appreciation of the Founders' achievement than you displayed today, then we have a far more troubling problem than a bunch of Leftists who simply ignore the Constitution to create their vision of a socialist America.

Let me take a minute to explain why.

Politics is a field of study like any other and, like any science, it transcends race and religion. Just as there is no "pagan -Greek" physics, "Christian-English" physics or "Jewish" physics, only the contributions of Archimedes, Newton and Einstein, so the concept of individual rights is non-sectarian in this respect, as well. All human beings possess inalienable "rights"—whether they know it or not, and whether they are Christians, Jews or ancient pagans.

More than this, in order to understand and support the concept of individual rights as embodied in America's Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, one does not need to assent to any particular faith, or, indeed, to any faith whatever—i.e., one need not be a Christian or a Jew to grasp and to agree with the American Bill of Rights. Rights are a natural fact and, thus, can be discovered through observation and reason, and no aspect of distinctively Jewish or Christian belief is required to grasp their reality and importance.

John Locke, the well-known political philosopher who argued the case for natural rights that would inspire America's Founding Fathers, did argue from the Bible and from Mosaic Law in claiming that individuals have rights recognized by their Creator, to be sure, but this was not the case for which he would become internationally famous. No, in order to have had the influence he did, Locke's case had to be qualitatively superior to the claims of European kings who also claimed a divine origin for their "rights" (as tyrants).

Locke, and Thomas Jefferson after him, would have had no stronger, and certainly no more "scientific" a claim to rights had Biblical exegesis been the extent of his reasoning. But Locke also argued that the hand and mind of God could be seen in the very nature of humanity itself. Humans are—observably—creatures of reason and choice, and possessed of differing moral statures. As a species, Locke argued, we survive by "mixing" our "labor" with the "soil" to create the material goods we require to live. It is from these facts of human choice, human reason and the requirements of his existence, according to Locke, that one can see that rights are a wholly natural thing—that whether created by God or not, humans are so constituted as to require a respect for their rights: that is, if they are to survive and flourish.

It is this, the natural element in the case for natural law and natural rights, that makes Locke's argument for rights superior to previous supernatural claims of the "Divine Right of Kings." The conservatives' idea that rights "come from God" places the concept in as unscientific, as nebulous, and as arbitrary a position as Louis XIV's claim to being God's choice to rule France. (Not to mention the fact that Louis may also have had the better claim in a strictly Biblical sense.)

Yet, conservative Christians and Jews in America today, such as yourself, claim that rights can only be understood as a unique gift of Jehovah, the Judeo-Christian deity without realizing how dramatically you undermine the Founders' original case in the process. You take "rights" to be a special, mystical endowment like a coat of magical paint God happened to apply to us during creation, and not a scientifically demonstrable fact applicable to all men, and provable to any honest and rational man, regardless of his cultural origins.

Moreover yours is neither Locke's argument nor the Framers'. When they spoke of persons being "endowed by their creator" they meant, in effect, "beings of such a nature," and it is to that natural condition to which they referred. The belief in God which most men shared at the time was mere overlay. Just as Newton's physics was, for Newton, a revelation into the mind of the Creator, but something that would stand or fall on its own evidentiary merits in the minds of men who did not necessarily share his religion, so it was with Locke and the Founders: the idea of rights can and must be established on purely natural grounds, they held, through observation and logic, and be provable to the heathen as well as to the Christian in just the same fashion that Newton could establish the truth of his physics to an atheist.

Let's recall the story of the great astronomer Johannes Kepler in this context. A devout if unorthodox Christian, he sought to read the mind of God by reading the stars. He believed that if the orbits of the five observable planets could be lined up with the five "regular" solids of geometry, he could prove that a divine order had set them in motion, and that Creator was a skilled mathematician who left us geometric clues to his existence. Of course, the orbits of the planets do not line up to the regular geometric solids. (As it turned out, there are even more than five planets.)

What made Kepler a hero of reason and science was his willingness to set aside his Platonic vision of an Ordered Universe in the face of evidence gained from telescopes belonging to men like Tycho Brahe. The facts, not his own dearly-held suppositions about the "mind of God," must dictate our conclusions, Kepler knew, and, in the end, he produced an accurate description of the laws of planetary motion. Whatever "order" to the cosmos there was, he realized, it could be discovered only through observation and sound mathematics. Like the Protestants reading the text of the Bible for themselves in this new era of reason, so the Age of Science saw brave men reading the universe for themselves for the first time, as well, and to the same end: to read the mind of God not through ancient text but through observation of the natural world. For such a man, Christian though he was, the test of truth was the test of reason, and previous "authority" could hold no weight.

So it was with Locke. Christian though he was, he believed that the natural argument was essential to his case.

Yet, contemporary political conservatives in America like yourself seem determined to drain all of the natural reasoning and natural law out of the Founders' case for natural rights.

If the United States was built on distinctively Judeo-Christian principles, as you contend, then the Bill of Rights is no sounder an assertion than had been the claims of Louis XIV to rule France. But, if the science of human nature serves as our guide, then our conclusions will be ecumenically applicable and understandable.

Before mentioning rights as divine endowments, the Declaration makes reference to equality before the law as being the upshot of "the laws of nature and of nature's God." This is crucial, and often misread. According to Jefferson, the laws of nature themselves establish the vision of rights he laid out. Whether or not the laws of nature may be found in the Bible, and on this point the Declaration is silent, the concept of rights can be found in the "the laws of nature." To know God's will, in other words, one needs science, not just ancient text. Notice, too, the assumption that the laws of nature and God's laws must perfectly correspond to one another, and that observations of human nature, therefore, have greater merit than arguments like King Louis' purely Biblical case. It is observable fact, not Biblical text, upon which the Declaration builds its case, and it is not the God of the Bible, but the "God" of the natural world detailed by science, i.e., "nature's God," to which Jefferson appeals.

This is why the Bible was not used as a guide in the framing of the U. S. Constitution. In establishing a "republic," the Framers explicitly used pre-Christian models from pagan Rome as their principal inspiration. There would be no "parliament," but a "senate" and popular assembly, and two executive officers, one of whom possessed a "veto" power over legislation... and even much of the ancient, pagan nomenclature was adopted. No concept of individual liberty, no principle of "freedom of speech," much less one of "freedom of religion"(!) is to be found in the Bible at all. No limits on republican power can be found there because no concept of a "republic" is to be found in the ancient text in the first place, populated as it is with Divinely Chosen or hereditary Kings—even hereditary "messiahs."

Most of America's Founding Fathers were Christians, of course—although men like Jefferson and Franklin cannot be meaningfully described as "Christians"—and the Christian Framers saw their political views as being consistent with their religious views. However, the political philosophy upon which America was founded was based squarely on naturalistic reasoning and ancient, pagan precedents. Such reasoning and such precedents make America the distinctive and outstanding achievement of the Enlightenment and of secular, scientific reasoning—not Christianity. This same Christianity had had the better part of two thousand years to make itself felt politically with no outcome similar to the American Constitution.

You contend that the three pillars of America's foundation are "faith, hope and charity." However, all three of these "virtues" can be practiced by advocates of royal, theocratic or totalitarian governments, just as they were originally articulated by men who had absolutely no concept of limited government.

No nebulous "hope" in a better life-to-come informed the American Revolution, but a worldly demand for a better life right here and now. It was not the concept of "charity" which had been piously practiced by Christian monks throughout the Dark Ages which inspired the Founders, but the concept of worldly property rights and the pursuit of one's own earthly happiness, i.e., a form of ethical egoism, which lit their fuses. It was not "faith" but naturalistic reasoning, as we have seen, that served as the Founders' guide.

As our Islamic foes understand seemingly better than you, America has been the very symbol of worldly ambition, material success, the piling up of the "treasures" of this earth and the selfish pursuit of profit. This focus on the natural and the worldly explains why America has achieved such prosperity, just as the contrasting supernatural focus of the Christian Dark Ages characterizes its superstition and resulting misery.

The American revolutionaries ignored Christ's command to "render unto Caesar," refusing to pay even the modest tax from a king far less tyrannical than Caesar. They also ignored St. Paul's command to obey the governmental authorities placed over them. They ignored the Bible's plea for peace and the advice to "turn the other cheek" to coercive agents of the state. They were rebels akin to the Jewish zealots of Jesus's own time, the zealots of whom Christ was so critical.

No, it is not "faith, hope and charity" that uniquely distinguish even the American Christian, but reason, action and wealth-production that signal the distinctively American approach to their faith—with Reverend Ike advising his parishioners that "the best way to help the poor is not to be one of them," and Christian evangelists who argue for the "divine right to prosperity," notions so strangely out of step with the other-worldliness commended by the Sermon on the Mount.

If your purpose is to convince us that Christians have a special claim to the universal truths embodied by the American Constitution, then you are simply mistaken.

But of your goal is to persuade all Americans, not just Christians, of the virtues of the American Constitution, the free market, individual rights and individual liberty, then you must abandon the sectarian arguments which serve only to associate American liberty with mystical faith.

Sincerely,

James S. Valliant

James Valliant: jsvalliant@cox.net

SOLO (Sense of Life Objectivists): SOLOPassion.com


WSS

Rosie's picture

Just found this about Einstein whilst trawling through the Berean which may be of interest to you:

"5. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists. This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: 'I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.'" Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice," and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed."

SOLOCONZ?

William Scott Scherk's picture

Rosie asks when I am thinking of travelling to New Zealand.

The only time I have available is New Year (rather Dec 28 to Jan 2).

Good to see that Lindsay would be willing to drag his ass over for snacks and goblins. I don't quite think it is fair for him to take away the music control from Goode, however. He will be in someone else's house, and thus subject to House Rules. If he is lucky, and Goode a useful adjunct to your hostessing, Goode will tailor the programme to his audience. But . . . if there is Slayer, I will be puking out on the Lanai.

Just saying.

If Lindsay is serious about me Speaking My Crazy Objections live in NZ, why not go whole hog, spend the twenty bucks and have a SOLOCONZ?

Means and ends

Richard Goode's picture

What moral judgments are not statements of what means are appropriate to given ends?

Some moral judgements are statements of ends - moral ends. Some moral judgements are statements of what means are appropriate to such ends.

According to Objectivism, life is not a moral end. Objectivism's answer to the question, "Is life good?", is no.

I know what you were alluding

Richard Wiig's picture

I know what you were alluding to. What's a joke is that you believe in fairies as opposed to what is actually in front of your own eyes. That's the joke.

Richard

Curt Holmes's picture

"But neither of these oughts are moral oughts. The sentences above are not moral judgements. They're just statements of what means are appropriate to given ends."

What moral judgments are not statements of what means are appropriate to given ends?

"the differences between Soviet Russia and the USA"

Richard Goode's picture

The differences exist because those who founded the USA recognized that men have natural rights and sovereignty over their own lives whilst the Soviets believed that the party was sovereign and that men have no rights other than those granted by the party.

The differences between Soviet Russia and the USA existed because those who founded the USA believed that men have natural rights and sovereignty over their own lives whilst the Soviets believed that the party was sovereign and that men have no rights other than those granted by the party.

That is to say, the differences are to be explained solely in terms of what the Founding Fathers, and the Soviets, believed. Their beliefs explain the differences. The existence or otherwise of unalienable rights doesn't come into it. The truth of their beliefs is irrelevant. Unalienable rights are explanatorily redundant.

You can't see (observe) unalienable rights. You don't need to posit them as part of the best explanation of the differences between Soviet Russia and the USA. You don't need to posit unalienable rights to explain anything. Thus, there is no reason to believe in unalienable rights. Nonetheless, as Ross puts it, unalienable rights make for a Good Bedtime Story.

"the differences between Soviet Russia and the USA"

Robert's picture

The differences exist because those who founded the USA recognized that men have natural rights and sovereignty over their own lives whilst the Soviets believed that the party was sovereign and that men have no rights other than those granted by the party.

The reason why the USA is the sole example of its type in the world is that to 'see' the truth in the fact that man (if he chooses to live as a man, rather than as a slave or as prey) must have rights, requires the use of your brain. It requires you to deduce the nature of man by observing nature as it is, not how you wish it could be. By extension, that requires you to accept that men have the means to correctly perceive nature as it is. That our senses, whilst limited, do not deceive us.

In other words you have to think and think clearly.

Buy Dr Goode, you don't appear to believe in thought or the products of it (the concept of unalienable rights) because you can't see it. Which baffles me because you have no such qualms about God.

Actually I lie. It doesn't baffle me at all. It bores me. I've seen you run this intellectual shell game before. The only difference is that you've finally admitted that you believe in God and that your only proof is faith.

Linz

Rosie's picture

It's you who are proceeding from "nowhere in particular" with your imaginary goblin
Linz, I am not for the moment trying to make the case for Christianity although I will refer to it from time to time to compare how it works when and where Objectivism fails.

I am slowly trying to illustrate that the basis for moral rights is faith. In the process of doing so, since you are convinced that Objectivism is not based on a faith, I will illustrate how and why Objectivism is based on a faith.

If man wants to live he must develop a code of values conducive to living.

But a code of values conducive to living for, say, the orphan Oliver Twist, meant petty theft. Without adopting those values he would have died. (Unless, of course, a loving self-sacrificing person with a Christian ethic took him as a child "out of the goodness of her heart" rather than, Fagan-like, to add to his team of petty thieves.)
Note that the Christian ethic, among other codes of ethics, is conducive to living also.

If he wants to live with other men he needs the concept of "rights."
Not necessarily. Historically, the concept of "rights" was first recorded in 622 AD. It would seem that man did not necessarily think about or have the need for rights much before then. I do not think that it is disputed that men lived with other men before that date.

If he wants to die he has no need of morality.
If he wants to kill or steal or lie he has no need of morality. If he wants to die he has no need of water, food, warmth. If he wants to die he has no need of anything other than that which will expedite his death. So is there any point in what you are saying?

"Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." (Ayn Rand)

We have looked at the choice to live and the case of Oliver Twist whose rational ethic told him that if he chose to live his principle of action was to join Fagan and steal.
In the alternative, if he chooses not to live, "nature will take its course". Does this mean "he has no need of morality"? (Linz's interpretation) or "he will die"? or "he will live or die depending on whether others choose to look after him"? Or perhaps it simply means "que sera sera"? They are weasel words - they say and mean nothing clear or pertinent or relevant to morality. Morality exists regardless of his choice in any event. And, strictly speaking, if he makes a choice to die, a rational ethic (and it is singular and not plural) will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice also. Indeed, his choice would be expedited in so doing rather than letting "nature take its course" which could go any old how. Furthermore, in certain circumstances, he may be the subject of a moral right to die.

I think the above comments illustrate that morality is not based on the choice to live or die. The premise therefore, that morals are based on the choice to live, is wrong. It comes from nowhere in particular (other than Ayn Rand's opinion) and is nothing more than an article of faith by her and everyone who agrees with her.

In the case of Objectivism, that faith is wrong.

Curt

Richard Goode's picture

It's true that you ought to hug your daughter rather than slit her throat if you desire happiness and life over misery and death.

It's also true that you ought to slit your daughter's throat rather than hug her if you desire misery and death over happiness and life.

But neither of these oughts are moral oughts. The sentences above are not moral judgements. They're just statements of what means are appropriate to given ends.

The fact that you desire happiness and life over misery and death (which, by the way, I applaud) or, as Rand would put it, that you have "chosen life", doesn't magically elevate the first of these oughts to the status of a moral ought.

What Objectivists dignify with the term "ethics" is really nothing more than common sense.

Richard...

Olivia's picture

How is the existence of peoples and governments a reason to believe in unalienable rights?

You mean as opposed to “believing” in God and his laws?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our birthright (endowed by our creator - Nature). "Unalienable rights" summarizes the fundamental physical and psychological needs of man with a political imperative.

Governments and peoples recognize that birthright in order to secure it, or fail to. Either way the effects are observable.

It is not a belief. It is a recognition of the laws of nature.

There exists no entity named God, so any discussion of its laws is just an exercise in fancy which I for one cannot indulge anymore.

Richard

Curt Holmes's picture

"It's not easily seen that rights arise due to man's identity."

I happen to agree with you on this statement.

But when choosing what actions I will take, can you not recognize that I ought to hug my daughter rather than slit her throat if happiness and life are desired over misery and death? And can you not recognize this without some goblin-rule?

What a joke

Richard Goode's picture

What a joke.

Yes, it was a joke. Duh. I was hoping I wouldn't have to explain it. But here goes.

I was alluding to Jefferson's famous sentence in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Jefferson thought it was "self-evident" that we are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights. You think it's "easily seen" that rights arise due to man's identity. You're both wrong. It's not self-evident that we are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights. It's not easily seen that rights arise due to man's identity.

That we are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights is an article of faith. So is the belief that rights arise due to man's identity. Where's the evidence that rights arise due to man's identity, or that we even have rights? There is none.

Objectivist ethics is a joke.

What a joke. Gourds in the

Richard Wiig's picture

What a joke. Gourds in the ether are easily seen? Since when? It's not just silly, Olivia. It's moronic.

What can be more easily seen than something that's self-evident?

Olivia

Richard Goode's picture

The reason is because there is no God whereas peoples and governments actually do exist.

How is the existence of peoples and governments a reason to believe in unalienable rights?

No, it's not

Richard Goode's picture

It's easily seen that rights arise due to man's identity.

No, it's not.

Rights do not arise due to man's identity. "Man's identity" is another Objectivist article of faith, in any case. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What can be more easily seen than something that's self-evident?

This is just getting silly...

Olivia's picture

But the differences between Soviet Russia and the USA are not due to differences in the unalienable rights possessed by their respective peoples.

Not due to differences in the unalienable rights possessed by their respective peoples, but the difference between a government which guards those rights and one which does not.

I put it to you that there is no more reason to believe in unalienable rights than there is to believe in God and his laws.

The reason is because there is no God whereas peoples and governments actually do exist.

There certainly is more

Richard Wiig's picture

There certainly is more reason. Men exist. They have identity. Their identity can be ascertained through reason. It's easily seen that rights arise due to man's identity. Gourd, on the other hand, must be taken on faith.

God's laws

Richard Goode's picture

You can see the effects of people living by them or violating them.

You can see the effects of people living according to God's laws, or violating them.

I put it to you that there is no more reason to believe in unalienable rights than there is to believe in God and his laws.

You can see the effects of

Richard Wiig's picture

You can see the effects of people living by them or violating them. What the fuck are you trying to prove?

Unalienable rights are unalienable

Richard Goode's picture

You can't see the difference between Soviet Russia and the USA? Between Britain under Queen Mary I and the USA under George Washington?

Of course, I can. But the differences between Soviet Russia and the USA are not due to differences in the unalienable rights possessed by their respective peoples. Both the Soviets and the Americans possessed the same unalienable rights.

The differences between Soviet Russia and the USA must be due to something else.

You cannot see the effects of unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Prove me wrong with a single example.

Why are you a Libertarian then?

Robert's picture

You can't see the difference between Soviet Russia and the USA? Between Britain under Queen Mary I and the USA under George Washington?

Yes, it is certainly not from

Richard Wiig's picture

Yes, it is certainly not from "nowhere in particular". I'm always bewildered at that kind of statement.

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You say:

Richard is saying (and I agree) that "Morality arises from the choice to live" is a bald assertion from nowhere in particular and is, as such, an article of faith. Which takes us back to my original point, that moral rights are based on an article of faith.

Speak for yourself! It's you who are proceeding from "nowhere in particular" with your imaginary goblin. Life is scarcely "nowhere in particular." Look within and around you and it's right there!

If man wants to live he must develop a code of values conducive to living. If he wants to live with other men he needs the concept of "rights." If he wants to die he has no need of morality. As Rand puts it:

Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course.

And:

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.

Robert

Richard Goode's picture

Can you see a political concept (e.g. 'unalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness' or 'the divine right of Kings' or Marxism or National Socialism)?

No.

But you can see their effects

You cannot see the effects of the divine right of Kings.

You cannot see the effects of unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Prove me wrong with a single example of either of the above.

Rosie

Curt Holmes's picture

Thank you for the compelling arguments as to why stealing and fraud are not only not destructive to one’s life, but indeed may belong on the shelf of life affirming activities. I trust you will understand why I felt an immediate sense of relief knowing that you believe in a goblin and that you also obey your goblin when it mandates that you refrain from stealing.

Thick as I am, I may require some help in recognizing that putting heroin in my son’s veins is no better or worse than food in his mouth. You know, without invoking the goblin thing.

How would that go again?

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Don't be too reassured. "Recreation" is synonymous with "fun" after all.

I do agree with Marcus about your goblin's piss-poor showing of late. If all these earthquakes and volcanoes going off are another of its hissy fits, it could at least let us know by means of accompanying goblin-giggles or some such. Now you're telling me it can't even sprout hair on Goode's head, and might even throw another hissy fit at being asked to. Touchy, touchy, your goblin. And people call me a drama queen!

Returning to the discussion.....

Rosie's picture

Richard: It's timely to remind readers that the fundamental axiom of Objectivist ethics, that morality is based on the choice to live, is
a bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence.

Actually, it's an article of faith.

Linz: Your post doesn't advance the discussion one whit. If you don't accept that the need for morality arises from the choice to live, fine.

Actually, Linz, I think that Richard's point is a good and valid one.

Richard is saying (and I agree) that "Morality is based on the choice to live" is a bald assertion from nowhere in particular and is, as such, an article of faith. Which takes us back to my original point, that moral rights are based on an article of faith.

Linz : Postscript

Rosie's picture

Dining with goblinites is one of my favourite forms of recreation.

I take solace in the understanding that it is recreation and not sport.

Promises, promises Rosie...

Marcus's picture

"Sorry, Linz. At Massah they tempted the Lord God (Deuteronomy 6:16) and it brought God's wrath down upon them. (Exodus 17:7)."

I have seen the wraith of your Lord Goode being brought upon Linz, but not Lord God.

Couldn't you at least have God conjure up a burning bush with a booming voice imploring Linz to mend his ways?

Why is your God so silent and apparently uninterested. Or do I mean Goode?

He's putting in a piss-poor showing at the moment.

If only he would strike down the Atheists, Heathens and Homosexuals in a bolt of lightening from time to time we may get some entertainment value out of it.

But don't listen to me, I'm under the sway of Lord Satan. Or do I mean Lord Linz?

He makes me drink red blood from a wine glass. Is that normal?

Linz darling

Rosie's picture

"Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:5).

If goblinite Goode can sprout hair by this time tomorrow night, and cause Mr. Valliant's wondrous thatch to fall out (and post the proof of course) through the power of prayer, then I too shall become a goblinite.

Sorry, Linz. At Massah they tempted the Lord God (Deuteronomy 6:16) and it brought God's wrath down upon them. (Exodus 17:7). We see it again in Psalm 78:18 - 31 the Jews tempted the Lord and doubted his powers and he killed the leading men of the nation of Israel. When God told King Ahaz to request a sign Ahaz refused saying "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD" (Isaiah 7:10 - 12)

In Matthew 4:7 and Luke 4:12 Jesus quotes scripture in a reference to Deuteronomy 6:16. Jesus makes the same injunction in Matthew 4:7 and Luke 4:12 when he says , "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Paul threatens us with snakes in 1 Corinthians 10:9.

The combination of the threat of snakes with a plea for hair serves too hideous a Medusa-like vision that I think it better to let any miracle unfold in its own sweet time. Innocent

Loved your story about the Bishop. The last line was perfect.

Philip dear

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Any chance of someone saying a 'hair prayer' for me, while they are at it?

No chance. You don't need hair to be PhilipD(ivine). Any goblin who put hair on that delicious dome would have me to answer to!

Any chance of someone saying

PhilipD's picture

Any chance of someone saying a 'hair prayer' for me, while they are at it?

Rosie dear

Lindsay Perigo's picture

*Of course* I would *not* turn down a dinner invitation from you (as long as Goode wasn't in charge of the music)! Dining with goblinites is one of my favourite forms of recreation. See http://www.solopassion.com/nod.... Besides, how could I turn down someone whose comments on the grotesquery of Babs's beyond-disgraceful smear-letter and what followed are so on the money?

In the meantime, I have figured out a way we can settle the momentous theological controversies here once and for all. In my last post I reminded you goblinites that the onus of proof is on you. Here's what would persuade me beyond doubt that there's a goblin there after all. Hair via Prayer. If goblinite Goode can sprout hair by this time tomorrow night, and cause Mr. Valliant's wondrous thatch to fall out (and post the proof of course) through the power of prayer, then I too shall become a goblinite. The only thing more miraculous would be Scherk's actually delivering his Objections to Objectivism, but in his case I suppose we can waive divine intervention and wait for him to bring them with him.

Can I say fairer than that? If the goblin can do water-to-wine, it surely can do bald-to-luxuriant and vice versa.

Bear in mind that failure to deliver will expose you to Mr. Bandler's threatened coups de grace, and this is one classy gentleman whose coups de grace are devoutly to be avoided.

WSS

Rosie's picture

Rick Giles, the brothers Howison, and Lindsay. If I have time I want to track down Kevin Owen.

I don't know where Rick Giles or Kevin Owen live but, if in Wellington or thereabouts, we could begin your time here with a dinner party including the Brothers Karamazov...er Howison. Given the nature of these discussions, however, The Brothers Karamazov does seem appropriate.

I think Lindsay lives in Auckland now so regrettably he would not be present. However, he would probably turn down any invitation from me in any event. (Not to avoid you, of course, but a goblin worshipper like me. See "going out" of Linzisms - very amusing. But the funniest thing of all on SOLO has to be the "famous" letter from Babs that Kasper posted recently. Have you read this? I am sure it is not supposed to be funny but the character she depicts is hilarious. What a humourless bunch they must all be over there in US Objectivist Land! It is a pity the place where the lecture Linz wanted to give was not in the UK. They would have had Lindsay over in a trice if they had received such a letter from Babs and probably would have instantly given him a job with the Daily Telegraph!)

When are you thinking of travelling to NZ?

Standing with Paine, Jefferson, Einstein and the other guy

William Scott Scherk's picture

Yes, fair to call Einstein an agnostic. He claimed zero knowledge of a gawd such as your omnipotent goblin Yahweh, Richard. Zero claims of Gawd Knowledge.

You claim no gawd knowledge beyond your faith in the motivated, empathetic, fair, timeless, unchanging, all-pervasive ultimate goblin.

It is no skin off my nose that you could believe in a vague Deist compromise or the harshly biological Jeeziss of Jefferson, or a gawd-goblin that turned the key on the Big Bang. And it is no skin off my nose that you believe, faithfully, that Moralist Hoohaw comes down the pike from Thor or Krishna or Joseph fucking Smith.

However, I do not actually believe you pray or truly expect Tinkerbell to hear you or respond in any way whatsoever.

In this dim mystery that is reality, Richard, shared reality, i have faith that you choose your own moral course, that you plan your moral journeys with zero contemplation of what Tinkerbell or Mithra with think of you.

If it pleases you that some vague lovely immanent-ish goblin has inflated your moral liferaft and given you oars and maps and biscuits and drinking water . . . well, I don't mind.

But why try to market Goblin Liferafts to SOLOists? I just can't figure that part out.

Apologium et suspendiran

William Scott Scherk's picture

[WSS:]Rosie is not much different from the crazy lady who wears two pink wigs at a time

-- not at all, not at all. What I wrote was "[It is another Type One error. It is like me saying] Rosie is not much different from the crazy lady . . . "

Meaning, we shouldn't too easily sort together things that are not conceptually unified. Unless you ask for people's grocery money to build your crackpot Xtian broadcasting empire, you aren't a lot like Jan, IMHO.

You are one of the six people (Goode among them) whom I will look up when I am in New Zealand.

[ROSIE:] LOL. Which would explain why you would like to visit me. And will I recognise you when you come to my door by the gorgeous pink outfit you are wearing in your photo? [ . . . ] You are more than welcome to stay when you come to NZ and I hope you will enjoy dining on my exquisite invisible sandwiches, sludge and sewage.

Sweet!

Incidentally, who are the other four you have on your hit list?

Rick Giles, the brothers Howison, and Lindsay. If I have time I want to track down Kevin Owen.

The pink wig reminds me of a story.

[ . . . ]

To my surprise the hosts started clapping. Mr X, however, was not amused.

Yes, indeed, Mr X doesn't like being burned with the same torch he uses on other people.

I don't take much personally but I do think being told on a public site that I have been dishonest is pretty awful. I have forgiven you though.

False reports in no way imply dishonesty. I apologize if I seemed to insinuate evul beyond imagining. Type One errors are errors, not Objectivish Sins.

Dear Goblin!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It seems to have eluded some folk that the truth or otherwise of the proposition that goblins exist is not dependent on which historical figures affirmed, negated or were agnostic on it.

These same folk affirm that goblins do indeed exist, and that without goblins, morality would be impossible. The onus of proof is on them. We wait.

Ah hah

Richard Goode's picture

You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist [e.g., James Valliant] whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.

- Albert Einstein, letter to Guy H. Raner Jr., September 28, 1949

Ah

Ross Elliot's picture

"An interesting turn of phrase, coming from someone whose worldview has no Author, no Story and no Plot."

This appears to be an appeal to the Argument from a Good Bedtime Story.

You see it calms the nerves to believe there's a grand meaning to life. That all is under the watchful gaze of a fatherly figure and that the ending to the tale--despite many horrors along the way--will be comforting, warm and all wrapped up in a pretty bow.

Deism

Richard Goode's picture

I'm happy to stand with the likes of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein and Antony Flew.

You really have lost the plot.

An interesting turn of phrase, coming from someone whose worldview has no Author, no Story and no Plot.

Rosie - A Case Study in Christian Apologia

Doug Bandler's picture

While I disagree with everything Rosie is arguing for, she nevertheless is offering up all the patented arguments so popular with Christian apologists. I have spent alot of time arguing with both Presuppositionalists and Thomists so I have alot of experience with this. There is no hope of ever converting them but the value of such discussions lies in getting them to explicitly lay out the supernaturalist elements of their position and to show it for the contradictory mess that it is. This can be difficult sometimes as many Christian apologists can be very sophisticated especially if they are trained in philosophy.

For example, Rosie has made the common theistic argument that the universe needs a creator because it had a beginning but God does not need a creator because he has no beginning. Only things that began need to have their creation accounted for. Then Rosie calls on the Big Bang theory to say that since the universe was created with the Big Bang therefore it began and needs an explanation. God, being infinite, needs no explanation. Now this is wrong but it is somewhat sophisticated.

I am going to list some of these arguments in a blog post of my own soon. There are five or six of them that are very common and somewhat sophisticated. In the course of this thread Rosie has raised many of them: Design, First Cause, Necessity, Randomness/Design false alternative, Inherent Properties, etc.. Rosie and Dr. Goode have also defended the Historicity of Christ. That's another subject that I intend to give its own blog post. But the pattern is typical: the existence of God is asserted as necessary for metaphysical reasons and then the divinity of Jesus is asserted as undeniable because there is a wealth of legitimate research that confirms it beyond doubt. This is what we're up against and it has a 2000 year head start.

William

Rosie's picture

Rosie is not much different from the crazy lady who wears two pink wigs at a time
You are one of the six people (Goode among them) whom I will look up when I am in New Zealand.

LOL. Which would explain why you would like to visit me. And will I recognise you when you come to my door by the gorgeous pink outfit you are wearing in your photo? Or will you have perfected your make up tips by then so that I will recognise you from your balaclava and mask? (In which case I do hope that you come to the right address.) You are more than welcome to stay when you come to NZ and I hope you will enjoy dining on my exquisite invisible sandwiches, sludge and sewage. Incidentally, who are the other four you have on your hit list?

The pink wig reminds me of a story. When I was at university, a friend and I arrived at his parent's place quite late to find them in the midst of a dinner party. They invited us to join them. Their conversation turned to a friend of ours who was their friends' child. She had returned from finishing school a punk rocker and had evidently caused many raised eyebrows amongst the parents as a result.
Mr X said, "..and what is more the other day I saw her wearing a pink wig, if you please. A pink wig!" he repeated for emphasis.
I said, "And what is so wrong with a pink wig, Mr X?"
"Well! It is preposterous. ( A host of other reasons followed.) I mean what would you say if you saw me at a party next week wearing a pink wig?"
"Well, I suppose I would have to say, "Why, what a hypocrite that Mr X is! Only the week before he was decrying Polly for her pink wig and now he has one on himself!" "

To my surprise the hosts started clapping. Mr X, however, was not amused.

I don't take much personally but I do think being told on a public site that I have been dishonest is pretty awful. I have forgiven you though. Innocent

Buttressing Gawd Arguments With False Reporting

William Scott Scherk's picture

Rosie the Goblin-believer is aflutter because she got called on a falsity embedded in a malformed argument.

Here is how it went: In an effort to make points against Objectivism (and atheist attitudes), she claimed that "I have an intellectual need to find the best explanation for all the facets of reality/life."

Which is nice. Which is great. Which she further asserts is the same need that drives the best intellectual inquiry:

"Theism is the best explanation which is why it is taken seriously by academics (and many more)."

Which is shit. The argument at its pallid, boneless best: I like Tinkerbell. Smart guys like Albert had nothing against Tinkerbell. Thus, I am right to like the Tinkerbell Explanation.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

But since Rosie is trapped in an infertile cul-de-sac which she apparently believes is Truth Boulevard, let me lay out her train of thought starkly so she can see where she rolls off the rails into the ditch:

-- Rosie asserts no personal 'psychological need' for gawds and goblins to be real.

-- Believing gawds, goblins, pixies and Jupiter to be 'real' spirit entities is the 'best explanation' of reality.

-- Believing in a Jupiter/Thor/Yahweh/Jesucristo/Tinkerbell 'reality' is Theism.

-- Theism is taken seriously by 'academics.'

Now, this is an argument. A weak, unwarranted argument so far, but an argument. And one that Callum took issue with. If 'Theism' is taken seriously by academics and others -- what does 'taken seriously' mean? What does 'academics' and 'many more' mean?).

Reasonably, Callum looks for material to counter or support Rosie's assertion. Do 'academics' and 'many others' take the Tinkerbell/Thor thing seriously?

(aside: even if true, that 'others' and 'academics' take Tinkerbell-Thorism seriously, or take Abrahamic mumbo-jumbo seriously, so what? Who are they? Who cares what an unspecified aggregate deemed 'academic' think about Jupiter Jesus Smith Muhammed? Who really cares what vaguely nominated 'others' think of Tinkerbell? Rosie's is the kind of sloppy, empty claim that makes me gag. 'But lots of smartish folk believe in Tinkerbell!! Though I can't name one offhand . . . ')

For those who don't know who actually wrote what Callum posted, its context or its import, please check this link at Stephen J Gould's legacy website: Leading scientists still reject God. The full context quote is from Dawkins's God Delusion.

Callum, please, if you are going to cut and paste quotes, IDENTIFY THE SOURCE, please.

So, Dawkins. What was Dawkins talking about? Well, as cited, a famous piece of correspondence to Nature by Larson and Witham (PDF)

Intriguing news. Academy members (academics?) show a declining belief in gawds that do gawdlike things, things like offering you eternal life, things like being magical life coaches and personal assistants.

Rosie's response? Well, what about Einstein? He was a believer . . . in spirits and goblins and sprites and brownies and Jesus, just a hop away from my beliefs, really.

Which is the false report, no matter how you apply Tinkerbell's Ginsu to it.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Recapping, Rosie 'I believe in YWH/Jupiter/Tinkerbell' Purchas claims she is a reasonable person rigorously following evidence to its logical conclusion, a conclusion shared by muffle muffle important thinkers mumble mumble.

Callum says, 'yeah, important thinkers like these? --'


[from the letter by Larson & Witham]

Then Rosie drags in Authority. Oh, silly Callum, that silly survey asked about a 'personal gawd.' And the Greatest Authority On Everything and thus Useful To My Sophistry -- old Albert -- well he believed in Gawd!

Rosie: "Albert Einstein, for example, believed in a God but not a personal God."

Which is false. He did not believe in a Gawd.

The regularity inherent in the Universe depicted by Einstein (and intuited by Spinoza) is one thing. The Theism Argument By Rosie is entirely another. It is specious reasoning to imply that the one thing is like the other. They are like the other in the way that sewage is food. Yes, brainless creatures feed on sludge. No, sewage is not food (to Humans).

Here is Rosie's saddest statement once again:

"Theism is the best explanation which is why it is taken seriously by academics (and many more)."

Hooey.

On this issue, I am 98% with Lindsay. I also wonder why Rosie bothers at SOLO. The same wonder attended Bill Tingley's flustering, and Reed's flustering, and now Goode's flustering. What point is there to try to sell Tinkerbell to folks who don't believe in the supernatural?

What point is there in trying to sell belief in Thor to folks who have no truck with spirit mumbo-jumbo? I don't understand this behaviour.

+++++++++++

Rosie, I think you are a nice, sweet, lady. You are one of the six people (Goode among them) whom I will look up when I am in New Zealand. So don't take my argument against bullshit personally. I calls it like I sees it, which is why they keep me around here . . .

The idea that you are somehow in the company of Einstein is funny. It is like me thinking you were in the company of Jan Crouch. It is another Type One error. It is like me saying Rosie is not much different from the crazy lady who wears two pink wigs at a time and praises Jeeziss. I mean, there is no gap between you and her, is there, Rosie? A couple of surface differences, perhaps, but your message is exactly the same, no? You are both selling sandwiches that no one can see . . .

How can you say they are one

Richard Wiig's picture

How can you say they are one and the same when one is metaphorical and the other is literal? Slay the infidels literally means, slay the infidels. The other is about setting people apart with his word.

Goblinite Goode

Lindsay Perigo's picture

God is the Creator, purposive, loving, just, eternal, immutable, omnipresent and supreme.

You really have lost the plot. Another bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence.

Rosie dearest

Lindsay Perigo's picture

First, your goblin's statement is a clear one of intent, not a prediction—regardless of your attempts to obfuscate. "I came not to bring peace but a sword." Your goblin didn't say, "The result of my coming will be bloodshed." It said it came to bring bloodshed. No, it didn't instruct its followers to harm anyone, and I never claimed it did; I said it said it came to bring not peace but a sword. As I also said, there's no difference between this and the Muslim goblin's "Slay the infidel wherever ye find him."

Second—actually it matters not one whit whether Einstein was or was not a goblin-worshipper. If he were, on the grounds that nature is so intricate it had to have a designer-goblin, he'd be faced with the same problem as you: who designed the designer-goblin?

You've already acknowledged that you don't get morality (or anything else) from reality but from fantasy, Rosie. There's no need for you or Goode to make it any more obvious.

You and fellow-goblinite Goode are peddling bald and arbitrary assertions devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence.

William Scott Scherk

Rosie's picture

Please don't use this kind of false reporting to buttress your arguments.
Please don't accuse me of false reporting for any purpose. I take that very badly indeed.

"I want to be right at any cost" and "I will lie and deceive others with falsehoods and carry on a legacy of ignorance so that I can make one minor point to Callum over some statistics" is NOT even an idea worthy of imagining. Perfectly laughable.

So please don't make false reports about me making false reports, to buttress your cheap insults, Billy Boy. Furthermore, your quotes from Einstein do not contradict what I said to Callum in any event! What a waste of time and energy you have created for me having to defend my honour against your false claims. And to not illustrate any real contradiction in what I said by your quotes strikes me as rather odd or perhaps you think that they did?

These are quotes from Einstein/information from books about Einstein from which my comment derives.

A.First part: Einstein did not believe in a personal God
1."It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."
Albert Einstein, in a letter March 24, 1954; from Albert Einstein the Human Side, Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, eds., Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 43.

I said Einstein did not believe in a personal God. Your first quote from Einstein simply backs up what I said in my own post that Einstein did not believe in a personal God. No contradiction. Your second quote does not contradict anything I said either. It is a completely different point about the concept of a personal God.

B.Second Part: Einstein did believe in deism.

1. In developing the theory of relativity, Einstein realized that the equations led to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning. Unable to believe what his own equations were telling him, Einstein introduced a cosmological constant (a "fudge factor") to the equations to avoid this "problem". When Einstein heard of Hubble's discovery, he said that changing his equations was "the biggest blunder of [his] life". Of course, the results of Edwin Hubble confirmed that the universe was expanding and had a beginning at some point in the past. This led to the idea that a Creator was a possibility.

2. From the book "The Creator and the Cosmos", Hugh Ross states the following on Albert Einstein.
" Astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 from his measurements on forty different galaxies that the galaxies indeed are expanding away from one another. Moreover he demonstrated that expansion was in the same manner predicted by Einstein's original formulation (with the correction from Willem de Sitter) of general relativity. In the face of this proof, Einstein grudgingly abandoned his hypothesized force and acknowledged "the necessity for a beginning" and "the presence of a superior reasoning power".
"Einstein's "superior reasoning power," however, was not the God of the Bible. Though he confessed to the rabbis and priests who came to congratulate him on his discovery of God that he was convinced God brought the universe into existence and was intelligent and creative, he denied that God was personal.....[he goes on to tell them the problems he has with a personal God]...
"...Lacking a solution to the paradox of God's predestination and human beings free choice, Einstein, like many other powerful intellects through the centuries, ruled out the existence of a personal God. Nevertheless, and to his credit, Einstein held unswervingly, against enormous peer pressure, to a belief in a Creator. "

3. "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
Albert Einstein, upon being asked if he believed in God by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York, April 24, 1921, published in the New York Times, April 25, 1929; from Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, New York: World Publishing Co., 1971, p. 413; also cited as a telegram to a Jewish newspaper, 1929, Einstein Archive 33-272, from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 204.
Kayser, Rudolf, 1946, with an introduction by Albert Einstein. Spinoza: Portrait of a Spiritual Hero. New York: The Philosophical Library.

4. It would seem that Einstein was not an atheist, since he complained about being put into that camp:

4.1 He said in a conversation with Hubertus, Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views." Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

4.2 "I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God." Time Magazine, Einstein & Faith
from Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer, Princeton University Press, p.48
Glimpses of the Great by G.S. Viereck (Macaulay, N.Y. 1930)
Einstein - A Life p.186 quoted by D Brian,

5. Christianity
In an interview published by Time magazine, with George Sylvester Viereck, ("Einstein & Faith", Time) Einstein spoke of his feelings about Christianity. Viereck was a Nazi sympathizer who was jailed in America during WW II for being a German propagandist. But at the time of the interview Einstein thought Viereck was Jewish.

Einstein was then asked to what extent he was influenced by Christianity, to which Einstein replied as follows, "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."

Einstein was then asked if he accepted the "historical existence of Jesus," to which he replied, "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

6. Your first quote is only part of a letter. For you to assume that a man's entire life, his works, his views, and his achievements can be summed up in one sentence or one letter is arrogant to say the least.

There is a lot more to that letter. Einstein is responding to a book sent to him by Gutkind, (about Jews and the dogma of religion). When he goes on in that letter to say that, despite their differences about the Jewish religion, they may have the most important view in common, it is considered that he is meaning that God is more than is defined by man or religion and that religions and their definitions are simplistic or "childish" compared to the truth that is out there.

The reference to the passage from Gutkind's book to which he is referring reads:
"Our main sin today is that we do not ultimately accept our human destiny…. This demand made upon Man seems to be superhuman, and yet is must be accepted. It is what the great philosopher Kant called: the dignity of Man. We are looking for something petty, something practical, something to give us shelter. We must realize that our present situation is very advanced and by no means petty. It brings us to the awareness that Man is greater than he thinks."

7. This is a scholar's opinion about Einstein and God after reading and studying ALL his works and letters.
From Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times, New York: World Publishing, 1971, pp. 19-20.

“However, Einstein's God was not the God of most other men. When he wrote of religion, as he often did in middle and later life, he tended to adopt the belief of Alice's Red Queen that "words mean what you want them to mean," and to clothe with different names what to more ordinary mortals — and to most Jews — looked like a variant of simple agnosticism. Replying in 1929 to a cabled inquiry from Rabbi Goldstein of New York, he said that he believed "in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exist, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men." And it is claimed that years later, asked by Ben-Gurion whether he believed in God, "even he, with his great formula about energy and mass, agreed that there must be something behind the energy." No doubt. But much of Einstein's writing gives the impression of belief in a God even more intangible and impersonal than a celestial machine minder, running the universe with indisputable authority and expert touch. Instead, Einstein's God appears as the physical world itself, with its infinitely marvelous structure operating at atomic level with the beauty of a craftsman's wristwatch, and at stellar level with the majesty of a massive cyclotron. This was belief enough. It grew early and rooted deep. Only later was it dignified by the title of cosmic religion, a phrase which gave plausible respectability to the views of a man who did not believe in a life after death and who felt that if virtue paid off in the earthly one, then this was the result of cause and effect rather than celestial reward. Einstein's God thus stood for an orderly system obeying rules which could be discovered by those who at the courage, imagination, and persistence to go on searching for them. It was to this past which he began to turn his mind soon after the age of twelve. The rest of his life everything else was to seem almost trivial by comparison.”

Einstein and the concept of gawd (yes, he thought it was shite)

William Scott Scherk's picture

Goblin-believer Rosie says this: Albert Einstein, for example, believed in a God but not a personal God.

I hate it when religionauts trot out this canard. It isn't true, Rosie. Please don't use this kind of false reporting to buttress your arguments.

By a stretch, you could claim that Richard Goode believes in a gawd but not in a personal gawd, since his magic sky goblin is characterized as purposive, loving, just, eternal, immutable, omnipresent and supreme

Just what Einstein did not believe in.

Here's our Albert:

The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

Letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, January 3, 1954

The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence, who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes; the God who, according to the limits of the believer's outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even or life itself; the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing; he who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God.

- Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930

Honestly, I am amazed when anyone with brains professes the goopy nonsense promulgated by Goode. It is sad. Goblins and fairies and spirits and ghosties and demons and angels and other such muck.

Richard and Rosie, you are getting a very soft berth here at SOLO. It would sure be fun for you to try out your faith over at Pharyngula, where they eat the deluded gawdsters for tea.

Linz

Rosie's picture

You really must do some study before you quote from scripture. Smiling
This passage is not a statement of His intention but a prediction of the result of His coming.

Matthew 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
Luke 12:51 "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."

In the context of the passage, Jesus was warning his disciples. Whether internal or external, conflict will come for Christians.

This division between righteous and unrighteous is the "sword" which Jesus brought. And as a result of this division:
" Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death," indicating that the message would divide families between those who accepted the message and those who rejected it.

Rather than advocating violence, Jesus was warning his disciples that they would encounter violence from those unwilling to accept the Truth. Nowhere in the passage read as a whole does he instruct them to harm anyone. On the contrary, he instructs them to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons, and explicitly tells them to be "as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves." These are all instructions consistent with his message of love and grace. He does not command them to resort to violence with those who reject the message. On the contrary, he tells them to leave the homes of those who reject them, because God alone will be the judge of those who reject the Truth.

Forget it Kasper

gregster's picture

He and it aren't worth it. We all already know he's a buffoon. No Goode. Fucked in the head.

HAHA

Kasper's picture

Go on Richard. Just try to make case for what you're saying. This is becoming entertaining.

Whatever it takes

Richard Goode's picture

My conception of God is whatever it takes to underpin the moral facts.

Morality supervenes on God. So, too, does the physical Universe.

God is the Creator, purposive, loving, just, eternal, immutable, omnipresent and supreme.

Goode the goblin-worshipper ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Wrong on all counts.

First, though it's not the point here, let's not pretend there's any difference between your goblin and the Muslim one in regard to slaying. Your goblin says:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Regardless, neither you nor the Muslim can reason with impunity about anything since you've rejected reason and said in effect that something is so simply because your goblin is said to have said it is so. Your post doesn't advance the discussion one whit. If you don't accept that the need for morality arises from the choice to live, fine. In the furtherance of my choice to live I will insist you keep your slaying (and your Slayer) to yourself. And the fact remains that someone who chooses to die has no need of morality. The fact also remains that the goblin whose alleged edicts you call morality is, as you've already quoted me saying:

a bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence.

Ah, Callum

Rosie's picture

There is your answer in the survey - the question asked is always important. In this survey, the question is whether the scientist believes in a personal God. Quite a different proposition. Albert Einstein, for example, believed in a God but not a personal God. The best explanation (Ockham's Razor principle) points to this only not a personal God.

Whose faith?

Richard Goode's picture

And faith is a license for anything goes. As Mr. Holmes so succinctly puts it, "Whose faith?"

The point of "Whose faith?" is that by definition anyone's faith is as valid as anyone else's, since it is faith and there's no reason for it or behind it.

One big problem with not thus arriving at rights via reason and reality is that rights-affirmation based on faith must of necessity have the same status as rights-denial based on faith. Anything goes, and might becomes right.

It's past time this objection was put to rest.

Let's not confuse epistemology and metaphysics. It's true to say that rights-affirmation based on faith has the same status as rights-denial based on faith. But it's the affirmation and denial which have the same status, not the rights affirmed or denied.

Suppose you say that one ought to slay the Infidel (At-Tawba 9:5) and I say one ought not to slay the Infidel (Matthew 19:18). Who's right depends on whether or not one ought to slay the Infidel. Our respective moral judgements do not have the same status, since one of the judgements is true and the other false.

Clearly, the Christian and the Muslim will have to agree to differ. They cannot reason about who's right, since for both their conflicting moral principles are articles of faith. But this objection applies just as much to the Objectivist!

Suppose you say that one ought to put one's creative endeavours ahead of family concerns and I say no, one ought to put family ahead of work. You try to reason with me, and say that

virtues, values, etc are ultimately based on a primary choice... the choice to live.

But I disagree with this fundamental premise (as does every non-Objectivist, i.e., nearly everyone). So we cannot reason about who's right.

It's timely to remind readers that the fundamental axiom of Objectivist ethics, that morality is based on the choice to live, is

a bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence.

Actually, it's an article of faith. There is no case for Objectivist ethics.

Rosie

Callum McPetrie's picture

The survey's results can be found here:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org...

Also, I'm not saying anything in regard to Objectivism's status in the academic world - merely that Theism is no longer considered the "best explanation" amongst academics as you claimed.

Curt

Rosie's picture

I do not think it is destructive to his life because it is wrong (to steal). It is wrong to steal because it is destructive to his life (as a human).

This is interesting. The crux of it. Morality, from my point of view, completely reversed.

I'd rather ask you to take a shot at it first

I will have a go, Curt. You can mark the attempt and return it with the correct answers!

1. He is creating relationships with others based on falsehood and deception. They are, therefore, relationships which can not develop. (Like the Woody Allen line, "When I saw him he looked away as though he owed me money.") This may not necessarily be destructive to his life though. He may not want that person's friendship.

2. He can not regard his work with any pride. Again, he may not care about this. He may prefer to look, with pride, at his increasing bank balance, his busy social schedule and the array of women in his bedroom.

3. His work is not productive. Of course, from his view, it is productive of great wealth to himself.

I have had a go but I keep coming up with a defence for him. You are going to have to give me something that is completely and utterly destructive to his life that is not based on the fact that stealing is wrong first (i.e., that excludes the corruption factor) and that can not be defended at all.

Callum

Rosie's picture

Just briefly, Callum, (a) don't trust statistics unless you see the whole survey; (b) the qualifying preceding sentence to my post you quoted (The study of philosophy is somewhat more complex than objectivism contemplates. This is the reason why it has not been taken seriously by academics.) might justify Nature's statistics about scientists. Eye

Rosie

Curt Holmes's picture

"But I am interested to know why you think it is destructive to his life other than the fact that it is corrupting of self and wrong.

I do not think it is destructive to his life because it is wrong (to steal). It is wrong to steal because it is destructive to his life (as a human).

Now I could list one or more reasons why stealing and defrauding is destructive to one's life, but I'd rather ask you to take a shot at it first. You're obviously a sharp woman and I believe you can do this.

Without invoking your faith.

"Theism is the best

Callum McPetrie's picture

"Theism is the best explanation which is why it is taken seriously by academics (and many more)."

Rosie, if this is true, how does it follow that

"A study in the leading journal Nature . . . showed that of those American scientists considered eminent enough by their peers to have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences . . . only about 7 per cent believe in a personal God."

- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Curt

Rosie's picture

Sorry Curt. I wrote only your comment at first but thought it needed a reference to what was being repeated. I meant to convey this by use of the ellipses. I thought the two were sufficiently juxtaposed as to convey the meaning.

Stealing was destructive to his life, whether he recognizes it our not (and he may, despite your claims to the contrary). I also believe you could identify how stealing was destructive to his life without invoking your dictates of faith.

I said that he writes that he would wake from sweaty nightmares about what he was doing. I don't think this is a claim he doesn't recognise it was wrong. Destructive to his life? Maybe to a degree but not enough to make him stop. He writes a bit about how he thought about stopping before he was caught. But in the meantime, he was meeting all sorts of "interesting" people that he would not have otherwise met who then introduced him to others and so on and a whole new world was opening up for him. He was kind of sucked into it - glitz, glamour, wealth, fine hotels, restaurants, travel, Lear jet private flight between countries, etc., - and it was too enjoyable and exciting for him to give up.

He writes: "Cheating, deceiving and swindling are exciting and a hugely enjoyable and rewarding business."

I haven't finished the book yet to know how he finally does give up.

But I am interested to know why you think it is destructive to his life other than the fact that it is corrupting of self and wrong. There is the caveat emptor argument too. The people who bought from him should have perhaps been less trusting and done a bit of research. The reason they trusted him originated from his made up interviews with Dali in a magazine so that it seemed he was a personal friend, an investment company approached him to buy a Dali as a result of his relationship with Dali and so he "found" one and the word went out that he was "the Dali man". His buyers were sometimes rather unscrupulous themselves of course. Eye

Ah

Ross Elliot's picture

"Of course, it's true that he ought to agree with everything I say, but he persists in being stubbornly oblivious to my infallibility."

Now I see the root of the problem.

Innocent

Linz

Rosie's picture

Well, strictly, Ross does qualify what he agrees you are correct about.

Lindsay is correct in everything he has said in his replies to Rosie.

And you may be correct in what you say in your replies representing objectivism but I do not see how objectivism claims morality from reality without putting in a whole series of assumptions and ultimately relying on man to get his reasoning "right" - and how can man get his reasoning "right" unless he already has a moral basis? And if he has this intuitive moral basis from where did this come?

You see, as I said before, I keep getting the feeling that the Christian ethic is invoked as "reasoning" to reach a decision. I try to imagine if I had been raised a Satanist, Hindu, Buddhist or fundamentalist Islamist who then chose to practise objectivism would I reason my way to a completely different outcome as a result of my upbringing? What do you think? Do you understand what I mean?

Quoting and Stealing

Curt Holmes's picture

I forgot to mention this when I noticed it. Earlier you quoted a post of mine as follows:

"But stealing (by way of fraud) wasn't destructive to Stan Lauryssen's life....why do you keep repeating it as fact?"

You have included your own statement along with mine within the same set of quotation marks. This could have one believe that I maintain that "stealing wasn't destructive to Stan Lauryssen's life."

If the reader doesn't go back and look at my post and instead relies on yours to determine what I wrote, then problems ensue.

Stealing was destructive to his life, whether he recognizes it our not (and he may, despite your claims to the contrary). I also believe you could identify how stealing was destructive to his life without invoking your dictates of faith.

Rosie Purchas!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

And Lindsay is not correct in everything he says. It would be more correct to say that you agree with Lindsay in everything he says.

I have known Ross for many years and can assure you it comes as astounding news to me that he agrees with everything I say. The very notion will keep me in belly-laughs for weeks. Fact is, Ross and I have had ferocious disagreements over the years—mainly, fortunately, in private. Every once in a while I e-mail him to say, "I can't remember—are we speaking at the moment? If we're not, go fuck yourself."

Of course, it's true that he ought to agree with everything I say, but he persists in being stubbornly oblivious to my infallibility.

Ross

Rosie's picture

I do not have that psychological need. You are wrong. Don't embarrass yourself by repeating it with such certainty as though you are qualified to do so because you really do not know or even understand what you are talking about. I have an intellectual need to find the best explanation for all the facets of reality/life. The study of philosophy is somewhat more complex than objectivism contemplates. This is the reason why it has not been taken seriously by academics. Theism is the best explanation which is why it is taken seriously by academics (and many more).

And Lindsay is not correct in everything he says. It would be more correct to say that you agree with Lindsay in everything he says.

No

Ross Elliot's picture

"But Lindsay is correct in everything he says and I have a psychological problem because I do not agree with him."

I didn't say that. I said you had a psychological need to believe in something outside cold reality. The existence of Lindsay matters not one bit to that need.

Try Again

Curt Holmes's picture

"There are no facts of human nature!"

Really, Rosie? None at all?

Religionist Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Morality from reality" makes no sense to me.

We had noticed, dear. Eye

Morality from goblins makes no sense to me.

Man's rational faculty is a fact. That it operates volitionally is also a fact. Proceeding on the basis of these facts rather than the imaginary utterances of an imaginary, unimaginably old and cosmically crabby goblin, makes sense to me.

What do you mean, no

Richard Wiig's picture

What do you mean, no consistency? Each person who has commented has essentially said the same thing.

There is no consistency as has been evidenced from the comments about SL.

Where else is it going to

Richard Wiig's picture

Where else is it going to come from? Unreality?

"Morality from reality" makes no sense to me.

I think the problem lies with A is A. You think that A is A and B and C and D. I can't think of any other reason why you'd need to ask this question.

Reality communicates this morality to objectivist prophets who put it into words?

Ross

Rosie's picture

Lindsay is correct in everything......he has said in his replies to Rosie.

It must be the most astounding surprise to you that the world has not universally embraced objectivism, Ross. Eye

"Morality from reality" makes no sense to me.

Reality communicates this morality to objectivist prophets who put it into words? It is man-made morality. A morality that each man decides for himself from his own sense of reality. There is no consistency as has been evidenced from the comments about SL. And yet this morality is described as absolute.

And the expression "human nature" let alone the "facts" of human nature is not clear at all. Yet Linz thinks that it is almost ludicrous that I do not find it clear. So I look at Wikipedia. And behold! No one knows. Some have said it was considered fixed in the middle ages, most now say it isn't, some say it depends on what you believe or your worldview. There are no facts of human nature! Can anyone list them , prove them? It seems not.

Someone said something about being able to observe the sovereignty of humans exercising free will; how do you know that someone is exercising free will by observing them?! One can't possibly know what someone else is thinking by observing them. Can you tell when someone is bribed or blackmailed or has been told what to say/do by another by observing them?

But Lindsay is correct in everything he says and I have a psychological problem because I do not agree with him. Forget about God for the moment. I would not agree with this even if I were Godless. I like the practical nature of it, and I daresay that similar decisions about how to act may be reached between us in similar circumstances, but the theory is IMPERFECT.

Richard

Rosie's picture

through to thugs like the nazis who loot whole nations of people

I remember reading somewhere that it is usually not long in ANY discussion amongst the proletariat before "those terrible nazis" are mentioned!

Another little song for the subject (with satirical Christian overtones to slightly lessen the possibility of my getting into further trouble from Linz):

Ross Elliot

Rosie's picture

She has a *psychological* need to believe in something bigger than cold reality

Oh! Ross! Welcome aboard! Just what we need at this juncture! An amateur psychoanalyst! Big smile

Maybe the bishop might make a post soon.

Time for a song.

Linz

Rosie's picture

Which part of "from the facts of man's nature," as already explained, is unclear?

Well, actually, "the facts of human nature" are not clear to anyone as far as I know!

For example, from Wikipedia on Human Nature:

"The existence of an invariable human nature is a subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times. Most famously, Darwin gave a widely accepted scientific argument that humans and other animal species have no truly fixed nature, at least in the long term. Before him, the malleability of man, even within one lifetime, had been asserted by Jean Jacques Rousseau.[1]

Since the mid-19th century, the concept of human nature has been called into question by thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, a number of structuralists and postmodernists.

Scientific perspectives such as behaviorism, determinism, and the chemical model within modern psychiatry and psychology, are neutral regarding human nature. They can be offered to explain its origins and underlying mechanisms, or to demonstrate capacities for change and diversity which would arguably violate the concept of a fixed human nature."

"There are a number of perspectives regarding the fundamental nature of humans. These are by no means mutually exclusive, and the following list is by no means exhaustive:

* Philosophical naturalism (which includes materialism and rationalism) encompasses a set of views that humans are purely natural phenomena; sophisticated beings that evolved to our present state through natural mechanisms such as evolution. Humanist philosophers determine good and evil by appeal to universal human qualities, but other naturalists regard these terms as mere labels placed on how well individual behaviour conforms to societal expectations, and is the result of our psychology and socialization.

* Abrahamic religions (most notably Judaism, Christianity and Islam) hold that a human is a spiritual being which was deliberately created (ex nihilo) by a single God in his image (according to the former two), and exists in continued relationship with God. Good and evil are defined in terms of how well humans conform to God's character or God's law.

* Polytheistic or animistic notions vary, but generally regard humans as citizens in a world populated by other intelligent spiritual or mythological beings, such as gods, demons, ghosts, etc. In these cases, human evil is often regarded as the result of supernatural influences or mischief (although it may have many other causes as well).

* Holistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic spiritual traditions regard humanity as existing within God or as a part of the divine cosmos. In this case, human "evil" is usually regarded as the result of ignorance of this universal Divine nature. Traditions of this kind include the Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism and other forms of Eastern philosophy, as also schools of western philosophy such as Stoicism, Neoplatonism, or Spinoza's pantheistic cosmology. Certain kinds of polytheism, animism, and monism have similar interpretations.

* Some astrologers believe that a person's personality and many of the challenges they will face in life are determined by the placements of the planets, each represents different aspects of their mental and physical nature. At the time of birth they may use many different techniques to 'guesstimate' the issues that will unfold throughout their lives and the actions that can be taken to gain the best results."

Lindsay is correct in everything...

Ross Elliot's picture

...he has said in his replies to Rosie. He can do no more... although, he'll try.

Eye

But Rosie ain't having a bar of it. She has a *psychological* need to believe in something bigger than cold reality--her God. Am I playing the man and not the ball? Yes. Sometimes it's necessary.

Just as collectivism--to its true adherents--denotes a mental aberration, so does religion to its true believers.

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

From where or whom do your absolute laws of morality derive?

Which part of "from the facts of man's nature," as already explained, is unclear? And, is reality itself not "absolute" enough for you? Why, for morality to be valid, must it be sourced outside reality (i.e. nowhere)?

Now, I'm a little fearful as to what you might mean by "absolute laws of morality" since your goblin is reported to have ordered us not to kill, and there are times when killing is justified, e.g. terrorists and pomowankers. But let's take eating, for an obvious instance. Reality says, "Thou shalt eat if thou wanst to live." Of course, reality doesn't literally *say* this in the manner you claim your goblin lays down *its* injunctions. Man must infer it from the facts and conceptualise it. We are not intrinsicists. But it's as real as real can be, as absolute as absolute can be, that he must eat if he wants to live. Thus, according to Objectivism, if he chooses to live it is moral to eat and immoral to starve himself. This "injunction," I would have thought is demonstrable and unassailable, unlike anything allegedly stipulated by an alleged goblin. ("Demonstrable" for goblin-worshippers is apparently a disqualifier.)

They must come from a non-moral entity (or the originator becomes never-ending in theory).

Well, the facts of man's nature as such are a non-moral entity. They are, as already explained, what makes morality both possible and necessary. There is no problem of infinite regress here. But are you saying your goblin is non-moral? (I concur, of course, since the non-existent can't have any moral status, but I'd be surprised if you claimed your goblin is non-moral.)

God is the all loving creator who has provided laws for his creation to live well and flourish.

Again, bald as Richard and as arbitrary. Eye

Rosie

Kasper's picture

I am sorry for deviating from your intended purposes, however, your example of C and O's ethical positions is a false one.

You place an artificial dichotomy between what is right and what is practical. Objectivism siding with the practical and christianity siding with the moral in your example.

If an Objectivist is convinced that it is right to do something considering all context and circumstance and then refuses to do so then they have acted immorally by neglecting to follow through.

Linz

Rosie's picture

The details for the story are not relevant. O agreed that it was the right thing to do. (This means all context approved.)

The point of the story is simply to illustrate the difference in the ethics. Even when it is right to give, O won't without a reason (to benefit himself).

And here one gets into difficulties since Curt indicates that if his life is diminished (by the donation reducing his bank balance) he should not give, balanced against the rightness of helping others in need (in the right context of course!).

In terms of the argument between Valliant and Beck, your scenario adds nothing.
No. I apologise. It was an aside.

Look Again

Curt Holmes's picture

"When Curt said, "Whose faith?" I think that he presumed the answer would be "each individual man's faith" in much the same way that an Objectivist would answer to the question "Which man?", "Each individual man" in respect of the man qua man ethic."

These two aren't as similar as you suggest.

Linz

Rosie's picture

"Created by God" is a bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence. You haven't provided any evidence of your lonely goblin, let alone that he/she/it laid down laws of morality.

But no more have you provided any evidence for absolute laws of morality. (So again, "natural and absolute" as you say? Yes!) From where or whom do your absolute laws of morality derive?

They must come from a non-moral entity (or the originator becomes never-ending in theory). God is the all loving creator who has provided laws for his creation to live well and flourish. Smiling

That article I referred to in an earlier post about morality is here: http://www.leaderu.com/offices...

Do read it through.

Also, with regard to scientific evidence for God, Matt has recently written a very good article at www.mandm.org.nz/2010/04/scien.... Also worth reading.

Rosie

Curt Holmes's picture

If it would diminish his life, then it would not be right.

Oh Kasper

Rosie's picture

You have misconstrued what is written to suit your position and changed the facts to do so!

I will have to explain after all.

O agreed that it was right to give to the charity (not good - right) and the only reason he did not give was that he had no reason to give. (Not that he couldn't afford it - that is not the excuse provided here. Of course that would be justifiable.)

It exemplifies the objectivist ethic vs the Christian ethic.

The objectivist ethic is exemplified by the man qua man idea here in that despite it being right to help those people, to help them would not improve his life in any way. He had no reason to give. (He may even go so far as to say it would diminish his life since he would be $ short.)

The Christian ethic is straightforward. If it is the right thing to do, you do it. Doing the right thing is reason enough.

I am not knocking Objectivists or raising Christians at a personal level. I am sure there are plenty of Objectivists who give and plenty of Christians who don't give. I am just looking at the theory.

I think it is an excellent illustration of the two ethics and how they can differ.

He prospered only in the

Richard Wiig's picture

He prospered only in the sense that any criminal might be considered to "prosper" from short term ill gotten gains, from a young child who might steal a lolly from a dairy, through to thugs like the nazis who loot whole nations of people. In the sense of being productive, he hasn't prospered one iota. As with any criminal, he's created nothing with his actions and has only served to destroy wealth and contribute to the conditions that are contrary to his means of survival and his ability to flourish. Whether he immediately escapes the consequences or not is irrelevant.

What do you mean by "flourish"?

S L prospered enormously.

Rosie darling

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your O and C example equivocates between an action being right just because, and being right because it would help people made homeless by a hurricane. The latter fails to tell us why helping the homeless in a hurricane is necessarily and invariably right. Did your goblin say so?

Objectivism says it's right, as part of a generalised default position of benevolence towards other human beings, to help out in an emergency if you can afford to and the victims are deserving (didn't bring it on themselves and will go back to being self-supporting as soon as they can). Context and all that. (I wouldn't give money to the Haitians for instance—they didn't bring the earthquake on themselves but they sure as hell were maximally vulnerable to it because of their goblin-worship, which they have no intention of giving up.) Indiscriminate, unconditional benevolence is not a virtue in Objectivism any more than indiscriminate unconditional love is.

In terms of the argument between Valliant and Beck, your scenario adds nothing.

Rosie

Kasper's picture

O has conceded C's case but never committed to actually donating money.

I concede that it is right or good to give money to loads of charities. Were I to get 200 collectors at my door I probably wouldn't give any at all. Conceding it good to give does not mean that I would give. I may not be able to afford it. I may have financial committments elsewhere.

Your example makes no sense.

Now Rosie!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You really are a spoil-sport, substituting ellipses for my references to your lonely goblin. I am so looking forward to your partner's explication of his concept of the lonely goblin, btw, since he said he definitely had one, tho' I expect it'll be as long in coming as Scherk's Objections to Objectivism.

You say:

there are natural laws of morality created by God which are absolute

"Created by God" is a bald and arbitrary assertion, devoid of a skerrick of a shred of a scrap of an intimation of a suggestion of a hint of anything remotely resembling evidence. You haven't provided any evidence of your lonely goblin, let alone that he/she/it laid down laws of morality.

The point of "Whose faith?" is that by definition anyone's faith is as valid as anyone else's, since it is faith and there's no reason for it or behind it. Hell, the sillier the better, in fact, as a test of faith.

"Which man?" Each and every man who chooses life. To sustain his life he needs a code of values—morality. To establish which values he must be guided by the type of being man is, in reality: man qua man. Man is uniquely and universally a creature of reason and volition. That's a fact. (In that regard you're quite correct to say morality is not a cultural construct—but that still doesn't mean it comes from your goblin. It comes from nature: man's nature—the point James was trying to get across to the Mormon goblin-worshipper Beck. So again, "natural and absolute" as you say? Yes! Goblin-given as you also say? No!) Man lives by his mind which he uses by choice. In a social context the imperative upon all men because of their nature is to leave each other free to do just that, and thence to interact only by mutual, uncoerced agreement ... if, when and as they so desire. "Rights" define and ratify this freedom; laws codify it.

One big problem with not thus arriving at rights via reason and reality is that rights-affirmation based on faith must of necessity have the same status as rights-denial based on faith. Anything goes, and might becomes right. And history is replete with the eagerness of goblin-worshippers to deny rights.

Where Objectivism fails and Christianity flourishes

Rosie's picture

C persuades O on moral grounds that it is right to give money to Charity X. When the collector arrives, however, O does not give money. C says to O, "I thought I persuaded you that it was the right thing to give to this charity?" O replies, "Yes, you did persuade me that it was the right thing to give money and I agree with you but I have no reason to give to that charity so I didn't."

Let us presume that the charity is for starving, homeless people as a result of a hurricane.

Do I need to explain where Objectivism fails here?

Linz

Rosie's picture

What I imagine Kasper is trying to point out is that reality, which is neither moral nor immoral—it simply is—will soon call you on it if you choose to act immorally.... in the form of the real-life consequences of your actions which......will be directly appreciable to you..

By this statement, aren't you acknowledging that there are moral laws with naturally following appreciable consequences just as there are physical laws with naturally following appreciable consequences? I.e., a metaphysical given, not man-made

You see, when I talk of my considering the consequences, I am not only referring to accountability to God but also to the consequences to other people. This is because there are natural laws of morality created by God which are absolute. Hence doing the right thing is sufficient reason to act accordingly. This was to be the second part of my argument which you have pre-empted.

When Curt said, "Whose faith?" I think that he presumed the answer would be "each individual man's faith" in much the same way that an Objectivist would answer to the question "Which man?", "Each individual man" in respect of the man qua man ethic. (That presumed answer did follow from the first part of my argument which was, at that stage, allowing for each man's morality to be according to each man's faith which is the practical result for each man in the why, why, why outcome to the moral query, "Why is it wrong to steal?" Because God/Allah/Krishna forbids it etc.) BUT the reality is that moral laws must be absolute and the same for all people or they are nothing more than cultural conditioning. They must also be enough in themselves to dictate our behaviour.

On this latter point, there is a rather good story which I think illustrates how my understanding of morality shows where yours falls down! For the sake of brevity, I will put it in a new post......

Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Objectvism does not permit folk to make "amoral decisions." What I imagine Kasper is trying to point out is that reality, which is neither moral nor immoral—it simply is—will soon call you on it if you choose to act immorally. Not in the form of the voice of your lonely goblin having yet another hissy fit, but in the form of the real-life consequences of your actions which, unlike your lonely goblin, will be directly appreciable to you.

You seem still to be missing the point overall. The first question to ask is not, which morality is the right one, but why do we bother with morality at all? What is it, do we need such a thing, and if so, why? From the reasons we need it, if indeed we do, we may take our cue as to what should comprise it. That's the Objectivist approach. And Objectivism says we do indeed need it ... if we wish to live, given the type of entity we are: reasoning and choosing. It is only our nature as such that makes morality both necessary and possible.

You by contrast treat morality as a metaphysical given, not man-made. It's already there for you, independent of human beings, immutable, woven into the fabric of the universe by your lonely goblin after he got sick of being the only show in town (or there being no town for him to be the only show in) and made stuff. But your goblin is a fantasy, requiring faith to sustain itself since it flies in the face of reason. And faith is a license for anything goes. As Mr. Holmes so succinctly puts it further down, "Whose faith?" Dogmatism and subjectivism riding off together into the sunset, don't you see?

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