Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

Somebody’s been reading with their eyes closed again…

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Writing in the National Review, Michael Novak looks at “Christmas Atheists” (þRandex):

Over the last two weeks, leading American atheists have registered complaints about all the attention given to Christmas in the United States. These atheists have issued three challenges. First, they insist that being atheist does not mean being immoral. Second, they want other people to see that atheists are law-abiding, compassionate, and generous to others—that one does not have to be Christian or to feel “the Christmas spirit” to care for the poor and the needy. Third, they insist that monotheists have a harder time being tolerant of others than atheists do. Atheists, they think, are more humble, tolerant, and sweet-tempered; since monotheists think that they “have” the truth, and know God’s will, they are more stiff-minded.

In my own experience, though, many different belief systems are found among people who call themselves atheists.

Well and good so far, but his second kind of atheist includes an admission that he only knows Ayn Rand by way of Whittaker Chambers, or else that he read Rand’s works with his eyes tightly shut:

Two. Those relativists and nihilists who do believe, as Nietzsche warned, that the “death of God” has also meant the death of trust in reason and science and objective rules of morality. Such atheists, therefore, may for arbitrary reasons choose to live for their own pleasure, or for the joy of exercising brute power and will. This is the kind of moral nihilism that communist and fascist regimes depended upon, to justify the brutal use of power. It appears, also, to be the kind of atheism that Ayn Rand commended.

This is a smear, pure and simple, especially as Rand falls under his first description, to wit:

One. Those rationalists who believe in science, rationality, and truth, and who abhor relativism and nihilism, and who have very firm moral principles grounded in reason itself — but who see no evidence for the existence of God, neither for the theism of the ancient Greeks and Romans nor the personal God of Judaism and Christianity. They might wish that they could believe in God, but their intellectual conscience will not allow them to.

The only part of that which doesn’t apply to Rand is the last sentence — she would have no wish to believe in God.

But to say that Rand was in any way arbitrary, or relished brute power and nihilism, is to admit that you are wholly ignorant of what Rand actually wrote and thought.

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Written by [IMH]

5 January 2008 at 8:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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