Sunday, 5 June 2011

Rand on religion

See, even big government liberals can admit “Ayn Rand Wasn’t Always Wrong.” Says P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula,

    This is a video of Ayn Rand on a talk show in [1979, three years before the died]. Don't run away yet! The interesting part… [is] the audience and also the host: they seem horrified that someone has so boldly stated that they don't believe in god. And that liberal host, Phil Donahue, "tsk, tsk, tsk"s her, and you can tell he's just unable to comprehend someone denying the deity.
    We have come a long way. I don't think a modern audience would be much less annoyed, but at least they wouldn't be as surprised.


  1. "See, even big government liberals can admit . . ."

    That's because libertarians and big govt leftists are two sides of the same secular-progressive coin, with the key difference between them being who gets to spend the money.

  2. Hey...Redbaiters back. -0

  3. I agree with her conclusion, and aspects of her reasoning, but I think it's worth mentioning that faith is not an optional aspect of the reasoning process.

    There is only one unchallengeable fact, that being the knowledge of your own existence. Every other piece of information requires some degree of faith to accept as 'fact'.

    The difference between reason and blind faith is how we decide what to believe. I think it is reasonable to believe something if the amount of evidence used to support a claim is sufficient to support the magnitude of that claim.

    If someone tells me that their favourite colour is blue, I'll probably believe them. It's not a huge claim, it doesn't affect me much at all, the fact that they're telling me is evidence enough.

    Causality is a reasonable belief. Every aspect of my life at least points to it being part in a long chain of events. What we know about quantum mechanics these days suggests it may not be a constant, so their their is doubt, but there's certainly enough evidence for me to believe in it's usefulness from a practical standpoint. I think you'd have to be deluded not to believe it.

    If you tell me the universe was created by an intelligent, omnipotent being, and that you have a 2000 year old book that tells me all about him, then offer no other evidence at all to back up its claims, nor yours, there's no way I'm going to believe it. There's not nearly enough evidence to support such a claim.

    Reason and evidence should trump faith certainly, but we are limited beings incapable of acting if we insist on waiting for absolute truths to be known. It is reasonable to act when faith is a minor variable.

  4. I see what you're saying, David, but I think you can accept many things as "fact" without regressing into infinite navel gazing.

    For example, we don't "know" for certain exactly how gravity works. We don't know that it's the same everywhere. We do know (or at least we suspect) that it has changed it's "strength" at least once during the initial expansion of the universe, and we suspect that it may have different values at different points in space-time.

    That matters not a whit to the fact of your existence in the "real world" though. It's still an immutable fact that if you jump off a twenty story building, you will be dead when you hit the ground as a result of the action of gravity upon your mass. If you think that might change, by all means, test it! ;) Until then, A remains A.

  5. David said...
    What we know about quantum mechanics these days suggests it may not be a constant, so their their is doubt, but there's certainly enough evidence for me to believe in it's usefulness from a practical standpoint.

    The argument about quantum mechanics is not about its usefulness but about its representation of physical reality. Its unquestionable to doubt its usefulness, however it is a different matter when you claim that it represents physical reality.

    Physicists have known this for decades. As Richard Feynman said in regards to Quantum Mechanics, Just Shut-up and calculate. He meant that its usefulness is unquestionable, but to say that it represents reality, is a completely different question.


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