Do Christians and Atheists View Reason differently? [Part 1 of 3]

This three-part series looks at reason from two perspectives: a Christian’s and an Atheist’s. These two world views are represented by my two fathers. Part One of Three introduces the topic from The Soul of Atlas.

I grew up with two fathers: John, my stepfather and Dad, my biological father. What made that more strange was that they were best friends one at one time. Furthermore, John is an businessman, entrepreneur, and a follower of Ayn Rand; Dad is a farmer, a professor, and a Christian. It would have made sense for the two of them to play out a Conversation of world views. Yet, as Pascal’s famed couplet tells us, “The heart has its reasons, of which reason does not know.” And so, those discussions never happened; events in their lives separated them. As if taking on a will of its own, though, the Conversation found a way, and inevitably, the forum became my life. I was a liaison between Christianity and Objectivism, and between these two men. Over and over, we talked. The arguments they would have had with each other, they had with me. “Faith versus Reason” was among them.

I imagine the two philosophies as two lawyers in a courtroom, each appealing to each other for Reason. I am the jury. Dad heeds the plea for Reason through the prophet Isaiah, “Come, let us reason together.” If God is calling us to reason with him, what does it say that we will not reason together with those whose distance is far less removed? Dad agrees with Ayn Rand that if Man is to survive and live as Man, he must live by his Reason. “In other words,” he would say, “Reason is what differentiates humanity from animals. Reason, language, logic: they all define us. We’re made in the image of God.” Dad and John agreed about Reason, except of course, for the “God” part.

“Reason,” John said as if reading right out of Ayn Rand, “is our only means of grasping Reality and of acquiring knowledge.” In Rand’s own words, she characterizes Reason like this:

Man’s mind is his basic means of survival—and of self-protection. Reason is the most selfish human faculty: it has to be used in and by a man’s own mind, and its product—truth—makes him inflexible, intransigent, impervious to the power of any pack or any ruler. — Ayn Rand, Return of the Primitive, p 34

As an Objectivist, John boils everything down to what is rational. That does not mean for a moment that he is cold or humorless. On the contrary, his sense of humor improves his life and the lives of the people around him. Nevertheless, he is passionate to affirm that “Whatever negates, opposes, or destroys rationality or logic is evil.” John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, urges his hearers to think:

Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little. Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life. — Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p 982.

In what ways does John’s way of seeing resonate with you?

Other posts in this series:

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

22 thoughts on “Do Christians and Atheists View Reason differently? [Part 1 of 3]

  1. (Please read before you delete)

    Christians and Atheists have a huge amount in common. They both naturally adhere to ideas about common good and basic morality. Atheists are no more likely to murder, steal or lie than Christians. Both hold some ideals as morals and others as immoral.

    Beyond that, suggesting the teachings of Ayn Rand have anything at all in common with the teachings of Jesus is not only counter productive, but gives false respect to Ayn, whose views should deserve no respect, and only ire from true followers of the Teachings of Christ.

    “Man – every man – is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of
    others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to
    others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own
    rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral
    purpose of his life.” Ayn Rand

    “And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to
    them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up
    his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it;
    and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36
    For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his
    life? 37 For what can a man give in return for his life? 38 For whoever
    is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation,
    of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory
    of his Father with the holy angels.” MARK 8:34

    Laying down one’s life for the sake of others is a foundation of Christ’s teaching. If you teach another Gospel, Paul has harsh words for you:

    ” I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

    Galatians 1

    Ayn’s thoughts on the Teachings of Christ:

    “.The purpose of man’s life…is to become an abject zombie who serves a
    purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.”

    “The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short circuit destroying the mind.”

    “Faith is the worst curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.”

    I am sure you are aware of these quotes as they are foundational to her teachings. Sad to see such blasphemy taught in Jesus Name today.

    • Hello ‘HopeForpeaceNow’,

      It is very good that you take the word of God so seriously and that you are aware of the grave dangers of misunderstanding it, or twisting it to mean something other than what it is meant to communicate. Hopefully this makes you realize how extremely important it is to really and critically analyze Scripture in context (and the fullest context of Scripture is always Reality) before jumping to abrupt and superficial conclusions about what we think it might mean.

      Did you notice that the passage you cited spoke of laying down one’s life for “Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s”, but that in your paraphrase you said that it was about laying down our lives for other people? Have you thought about what you mean by “other people” and how that could potentially contradict doing it for Christ and for the Gospel? I have.

      Did you notice that the passage also says “whoever would SAVE HIS LIFE would lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s WILL SAVE IT. For what does it PROFIT a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his soul?”? Have you noticed the constant and profound personal motivations which Jesus puts forward for obeying Him? Have you notice the astounding number of commands in the Bible to BE HAPPY in God? Have you noticed the commands to take care of our inner lives (of our thoughts and our feelings); to watch over them carefully? Have you considered that such care is considered “selfish” today? Have you considered that our cultures worship of “self-lessness” could actually about contrary to the will of God – as demonstrated all throughout Scripture; that maybe our culture has been infect with horrible philosophical assumptions (from people like Immanuel Kant) which have blinded us from seeing very clear things in Scripture? Again, I have.

      Rand based her thoughts of Christianity on what she saw in the Church. She saw people acting like abject zombies, she saw people using faith as an excuse not to think. Is that they way Christians SHOULD be? Or was Rand condemning things in the Church that need to be condemned?

      It is extremely sad to see blasphemy taught in the name of Jesus. If you care half as much as you seem to, you will be careful to consider the above and to examine yourself and your thoughts lest you later come to discover that Paul’s words might be aimed at you.

      Consider the CHRISTIAN C.S. Lewis as he speaks about these things in a blog I recently posted:

      http://thechristianegoist.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/selfish-love-with-c-s-lewis-and-ayn-rand/

      Longing to take every thought captive for the glory of Christ,
      -Jacob

      • Hello “Christian Egoist”,

        Thank you for your kind note. May I suggest though, that my disagreement
        with you does not belie misunderstanding, though it is telling that you
        suggest I had jumped abruptly to conclusions.

        I have been studying the Bible for over 30 years. I speak with much consideration.

        “Did you notice that the passage you cited spoke of laying down one’s life
        for “Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s”, but that in your paraphrase you
        said that it was about laying down our lives for other people?”

        The entirety of scripture – the law and prophets hang on these 2 commands –

        1. Love God 2. Love people. What people – you ask? Jesus made that clear in the
        parable of the Good Samaritan, in His command to love your enemies and in His
        description of the least of these. These teachings are not tertiary – but foundational
        to understanding and serving the Gospel.

        Yes. The point is to lay down your life for other people. Jesus did – did He
        not? Paul and all of the Apostles – according to Acts 2&4 did. Jesus was Perfect – He died for sinners, and we are to have the Mind of Christ, to follow Him in all things.

        Where – in your opinion – did Jesus exhibit ego??

        No, instead the scriptures regarding this are many – a few I list here;

        1 John 3:16

        This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
        we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

        John 10:11

        “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life
        for the sheep.

        “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain
        in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:9

        4 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

        25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

        26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16

        “38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

        39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

        40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

        41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

        42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

        43 Ye have heard that it hath been said,Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

        44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

        45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

        46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

        47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

        48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”Matthew 5

        “Have you thought about what you mean by “other people” and how
        that could potentially contradict doing it for Christ and for the Gospel? I
        have.”

        You ask if I have noticed many points – but you give no examples of scripture
        that I was supposed to notice. Why not go back and do so … I’d be happy to hear them.

        Your questions 1; Yes, I have read the scripture. It makes my point.

        2 “Have you noticed the constant and profound personal motivations which
        Jesus puts forward for obeying Him?”

        What are you referring to? The only personal motivation that is valid is to Love God with all your heart, soul mind and strength ….. if you are called to a life of service, as all are, what other motivation is there ?

        3. “Have you notice the astounding number of commands in the Bible to BE
        HAPPY in God?”

        Can you give a few examples so I can follow your premise?

        4. “Have you noticed the commands to take care of our inner lives (of our
        thoughts and our feelings); to watch over them carefully? Have you considered that such care is considered “selfish” today? Have you considered that our cultures worship of “self-lessness” could actually about contrary to the will of God ”

        Not at all.

        “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.
        Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the
        commandments, which is the most important?”

        29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:
        ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

        32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

        Love yourself AS you love others. Loving yourself comes first as shown by the word “as”. They are not separable. In my 30 years in the church I can guarantee you there is plenty of bellybutton gazing going on.

        “Have you considered that our cultures worship of “self-lessness”
        could actually about contrary to the will of God – as demonstrated all throughout
        Scripture; that maybe our culture has been infect with horrible philosophical
        assumptions (from people like Immanuel Kant) which have blinded us from seeing
        very clear things in Scripture?”

        (I found little Kantian Theory taught in my years in the church)

        If you call laying down your life for the sake of the Gospel a “horrible
        philosophical assumption”. I was a conservative Christian for 25 years, they
        suffer no such danger from what I saw. Feeding the poor was a part time hobby
        at best in most churches.

        “Rand based her thoughts of Christianity on what she saw in the Church. She
        saw people acting like abject zombies, she saw people using faith as an excuse
        not to think. Is that they way Christians SHOULD be? Or was Rand condemning
        things in the Church that need to be condemned?”

        Have you studied Rand deeply? It seems to me you leave out the foundation of
        her thinking:

        “PLAYBOY

        Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything
        of constructive value to human life?

        RAND

        Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.

        But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.”

        Ayn believed faith – not just as practiced today – but faith
        as a negation of reason was the most dangerous premise society was built on. Objectivism words it this way:

        “Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated,
        indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond
        existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason,
        dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell
        with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of
        reason.

        Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and
        therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any
        supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence.
        This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural
        ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and
        that’s all.” Leonard Peikoff Objectionist Forum

        Ayn goes on:

        “Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He
        personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the
        Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins
        of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed
        for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that
        sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than
        that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice.
        And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves
        for their inferiors. “

        Do these go together:

        “If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more
        indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or
        virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to
        sacrifice themselves for their inferiors.”

        And … or vs ..

        “1 John 3:16

        This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
        we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

        John 10:11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life
        for the sheep.

        “13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
        John 15:9

        ????

        “Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the
        tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the
        knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn
        his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience
        desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they
        damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his
        existence.” Ayn

        Myth?

        “[There is one] possibly misleading sentence . . . in Roark’s
        speech: “From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction,
        from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have
        comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.”

        This could be misinterpreted to mean an endorsement of religion or religious
        ideas. I remember hesitating over that sentence, when I wrote it, and deciding
        that Roark’s and my atheism, as well
        as the overall spirit of the book, were so clearly established that no one
        would misunderstand it, particularly since I said that religious abstractions
        are the product of man’s mind, not of supernatural revelation.” Ayn

        Now, I would like to ask you if you have considered why you might conflate
        the Teachings of Christ with the teachings of an atheist. I have.

        It is extremely sad to see blasphemy taught in the name of Jesus. If you
        care half as much as you seem to, you will be careful to consider the above and
        to examine yourself and your thoughts lest you later come to discover that
        Paul’s words might be aimed at you.

        “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
        3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value
        others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

        5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

        6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

        did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own
        advantage;

        7 rather, he made himself nothing (so egotistical !!!)

        by taking the very nature of a servant,

        being made in human likeness.

        8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross1” Philippians 2
        What part does egoism have with humility?

        Maranatha,

        Hope

        • HopeForpeaceNow
          – Thanks for your insights. I appreciate the way you address the issues with understanding and respect. I also empathize with the extreme statements that Ayn Rand makes that set her solidly against Christian principles. In other cases, I see that she brings some truth to the table for Christians. I would be delighted to hear your thoughts about The Soul of Atlas, particularly chapter 11 “Who is John Galt? Really.”

          • Hi Mark,

            I appreciate your note. I would very much like to continue our conversation, it is a subject of great interest to me. I must start by admitting I haven’t read Soul of Atlas yet – I expect it in the mail today. May I begin by pondering what I understand as the foundational premise of Objectivism;
            (Rational) Self interest is to see oneself as an end in itself. One’s life and happiness are humanities highest values, and that no one exists in reality as a servant or slave to the interests of others. Each person’s own life and happiness is his ultimate end. Self interest includes self-responsibility: one’s life is his own, as is all responsibility for tending it.

            Would you concur on this basic analysis of the foundation of Objectivism. Of course, you can imagine how one who follows the teachings of Christ would find that the antithesis of the foundation of His teachings. Do you find this to be the case in your understanding?

          • I think you have articulated Ayn Rand’s view of rational self-interest very well. As Pascal said, however, “all men seek happiness, even the man who hangs himself.” So the question remains “What is in a person’s rational self-interest?” Whereas Ayn Rand sees the self as the end, the Apostle Paul sees God as ultimate.

          • May I say with great respect, the man who hangs himself may very well be seeking his own happiness, but how long will his perceived happiness last? Will he be happy in the last moments of his life as his neck extends
            and he may realize he wanted to live? (Sorry, not a big fan of Pascal – Jansenism is too close to Calvinism for me.) Attaining sturdy happiness is a valuable goal, though. The great question is how? Ayn Rand’s Objectivism uses rational thinking, accurately processing data and pursuing virtues to attain the that goal. I find her position based on the strictly empirical, naming non-empirical or faith-based data evil. By her definition, it is the great opposite of rational thought..

            From what I understand of Ayn’s perspective she would not support the idea there is any similarity between Objectivism and religion. Objectivism was for her the definition of good and faith the definition of evil. I wonder what she would think about this blog?

            Here’s another question I would have loved to ask her; what if sacrificing for others is the only thing that makes a certain person happy – would altruism be acceptable under those circumstances? Think Mother Theresa.

            I see a great disconnect between the Teachings of Jesus and rational thought as defined by Objectivism.

            “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3

            And

            “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”- Mt
            11:25

            I wonder what Ayn thought of that last one. It seems the negation of her thesis.

            Here, then, is a pertinent question – which teaching from the Sermon on the Mount would you consider “rational”? I think she would pick this one as being the only rational Teaching of Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

            peace to you my brother ….

          • Pascal’s view was not that we do what will make us happy, but that we do what we think will make us happy. The suicidal man may not be doing the right thing, but he sees it as what will make him most happy in that moment. Both Rand’s worldview and the Biblical worldview agree with Pascal’s assertion. In the case of the Objectivist, a person should pursue his self interest. Why do they do it? Because they perceive that it will make them happy. By the same token, Christians seek God as their first priority. On some level, this is also because they are seeking happiness.

            Even ‘altruists’ are pursuing what they think will make them happy. No one gives money away in order to feel sad. The person who gives his money to the poor out of a moral obligation does so because his conscience is appeased when he does, and he feels happier. And those people who give money away to increase the happiness of others are doing so because it makes them happy to help. I’m not saying this is selfish, only that it is the way humans work, biologically, psychologically.

          • “but he sees it as what will make him most happy in that moment. Both
            Rand’s worldview and the Biblical worldview agree with Pascal’s
            assertion.”

            This is a very curious statement – did you mean Rand, Pascal and Jesus agree that success is chasing what you think will make you happy in any given moment? Or did you mean they agree at the fundamental core of their theses?

            I’m aware of Pascal’s ideas. Again, I believe it is not always wisdom, as I mentioned. Again – lets look at the man who hangs himself .. “The person slowly dies of strangulation, which typically takes between ten and twenty minutes, resulting in a protracted, grisly and painful death.”

            What are the chances he actually finds happiness in those last moments? What is the effect on his long term happiness? What if he decides he wants to live, but too late? Are there any circumstances, in your opinion, under which he is not actually happy with his results?

            Maybe I misunderstood your point?

            As to Pascal, though I don;t think that was his fundamental teaching – he worried much more about the nature of truth.

            He also said this: “Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.”

            Do you find that agreeable to Ayn’s thesis on faith?

            What do you think Ayn would think of this Pascal quote? “Love has reasons which reason cannot understand.”

            Yes, Jesus teaches one should lay down one’s material life for the sake of the Spiritual reality – establishing eternal connection to the Divine. Not everything one does to achieve this bring immediate happiness

            Lets look at Matt 5 …

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
            for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
            4 Blessed are those who mourn,
            for they will be comforted.
            5 Blessed are the meek,
            for they will inherit the earth.
            6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
            for they will be filled.
            7 Blessed are the merciful,
            for they will be shown mercy.
            8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
            for they will see God.
            9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
            for they will be called children of God.
            10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

            The meek, the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the persecuted and the insulted, Jesus teaches here are blessed. But are they happy? So, yes, many things one may do to give up one’s life for the Kingdom may make one happy, equally it seems many may not.”

          • Quote: “Yes, Jesus teaches one should lay down one’s material life for the sake
            of the Spiritual reality – establishing eternal connection to the
            Divine. Not everything one does to achieve this bring immediate
            happiness”

            It doesn’t need to bring IMMEDIATE happiness. The bottom line is that people ALWAYS do what they perceive to be in their own best self interest. Every decision in life is a value judgement, and the scales ALWAYS have to lean toward self benefit. If people must suffer now in order to receive a greater perceived benefit later, then so be it.

            Now, the example of the man who hanged himself. He perceived that it was more beneficial to die than to continue experiencing the pains of life. That part is pretty straight forward. Now, after he falls and the rope is tight around his neck, he suddenly decides that he wants to live… what’s he gonna do now? Well, he’s going to try to free himself. Why? Because NOW he perceives that it’s in his best interest to live! Can you see where this is gong? We ALWAYS think, choose, act on the perceived benefits.

            A good way of putting this would be to ask the question: “Why does one ‘love’ Jesus, but not Satan?” Well, the obvious answer is that most people don’t love Satan because he doesn’t bring any perceived benefits to the table. On the contrary, Jesus brings love, acceptance, peace, harmony, and heaven. In this case, Jesus is not actually the object of our ‘love’, but the perceived benefits that he brings to the table are the object of our DESIRE. “Loving” Jesus is the means by which we aquire benefits for ourselves. Likewise, people who claim to love Satan are folks who value such things as fear, discord, deceit. These people ‘love’ Satan because he brings them a perceived freedom and other benefits, while Jesus is perceived as restrictive and not good for them. All people, everywhere, are chasing perceived benefits from their first breath to their last.

            It is ultimately impossible to make a conscious decision that is not in your own perceived best self interest.

          • Thank you for your kind note. Of course the poor man hanging may not free himself and learn the lesson that self gratification for it’s own sake is death.

            It would seem to me you are in the right track. Did the Good Samaritan act in his best SELF interest? Wasting his time, physical effort and money on a Samaritan whom he was not even supposed to speak to per Israel’s law? Why would he behave so, it makes no sense in the material world.

            “It is ultimately impossible to make a conscious decision that is not in your own perceived best self interest.”

            You wisely use the word “perceived”.

            When we visit the prisoner in jail, give water to the thirsty, clothe the cold, house the homeless or take any of the required action in the Name of God we are held to .. are we acting in OUR best interest?

            When we love our neighbor whose dog barks every night for 3 hours, or who borrowed from us and can’t pay back, or whose child poured water into your gas tank costing you $2K in damages which they can not repay – you get the idea.

            In the material, physical, no Spiritual requirement for entrance into the Kingdom would be thought of as logical. Take tithing .. why would anyone give $ away for nothing?

            Only when we understand the true nature of our reality – that our experience is Spiritual, not material, can we see the value in these actions.

            I agree with you, when we realize truly laying our life down for the sake of Christ means doing in the material what seems counter intuitive, or against the understood norms of society in terms of what we would normally perceive as our “best interest” – like tithing and loving our enemies, when we exchange these for the precepts of Christ, then we ARE MOVING in our own best interest for we secure for ourselves those things that are in our deepest best interest – love, joy, peace, clarity, power and wisdom. SO true.

            “Jesus is not actually the object of our ‘love’, but the perceived
            benefits that he brings to the table are the object of our DESIRE.”Loving” Jesus is the means by which we aquire benefits for ourselves. ”

            I honestly disagree there. Jesus is entirely the object of my love, apart from the benefits I can gain from that Love. If we love ONLY for the value of the benefit, is that really love? ALL your heart, ALL your soul and ALL your mind, right?

            “Matthew 22:36-40

            New International Version (NIV)

            36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

            37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
            38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

            39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
            40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

          • Quote: “When we visit the prisoner in jail, give water to the thirsty, clothe the cold, house the homeless or take any of the required action in the Name of God we are held to .. are we acting in OUR best interest?”

            Frankly, yes. If you choose to do those things, it is only because you perceived that those actions were the best for YOU. If those actions were not worth it… you would not have done them. The key words there are “worth it”. What was it worth to you? A good feeling inside? Feeling like you did the right thing? Feeling like you pleased God? Etc. Whatever the payoff was for you, it made it ‘worth it’. It was a value judgement, and you acted on the value that you received from the transaction.

            Once again I’ll reiterate; This is why most people don’t ‘love’ Satan. There would be no value in that transaction for them, only a loss. So… no love there.

            Just because an action is selfish does not mean that it can’t be mutually beneficial. Jesus dying on the cross was selfish, because it was a means to an end for him. He’s accomplishing HIS will, HIS wants, HIS ultimate plan. He gets to set up HIS kingdom, with HIS people… etc. It just so happens that his selfish act is greatly beneficial to many people.

            It would seem to me that if people had absolutely NOTHING to gain and everything to lose from their relationship with Jesus… they would NOT have a relationship with Jesus. And I can’t say it enough… this is exactly why most people refuse to have a relationship with Satan. Nothing to gain, and everything to lose.

            In the end, it’s all about personal benefits.

          • “It was a value judgement, and you acted on the value that you received from the transaction.”

            You must understand Spiritual value over material value well before you make a wise judgement, would you not agree?

            Otherwise, if you are not careful, you will note nearly no difference between your Spiritual and your economic paradigm .. your sentence sounds strikingly like the basis of Austrian Economics .. players only move in ways beneficial to them

            This is ONLY TRUE if you count the difference between the material and Spiritual worlds. I notice you don’t mention them in your note. Maybe you take that understanding for granted as you realize I’m a Christian. But non-Christians would be confused, I think.

            Outside a Spiritual understanding, serving or loving satan would make perfect sense is he could bring you financial gain and power.

          • Quote: “You must understand Spiritual value over material value…”

            It doesn’t matter what kind of value we’re dealing with. Monetary, spiritual…doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that you NEEDED value in return, or else you wouldn’t have done what you did. The point is that you were acting in your own interests. You perceived that your actions were valuable and beneficial (to you), and so you carried them out. In the process of helping YOURSELF, you happened to help others.

            Every decision we make is about acquiring benefits for ourselves. Benefits could be anything: thoughts, feelings, objects, spiritual rewards etc. There are many Christians who have deluded themselves into believing that they aren’t chasing rewards/benefits… when in reality that’s exactly what they’re doing. Christianity is essentially a reward system. Treats and goodies for the well behaved, and gnashing of teeth for the rebels.

            Have you ever stopped to think about why we need to “find” a partner, or “find” love? Why do we go through the process of dating? It’s because love is all about benefits. It takes time to find a good benefits package. A woman “falls in love” and marries the man that she perceives is most beneficial to her. She is essentially saying: “I’ve rejected every other man on the planet, because this man brings me more benefit than any other.” Then, a few years down the road when the benefits have waned, she divorces him. In the case of couples who ultimately stay together, it’s because it was more beneficial to their self interests to do so.

            Love is a fantasy, and selflessness is an impossibility. The good news is that selfish acts can be mutually beneficial. So… we can all be happily selfish together (sometimes).

          • “It doesn’t matter what kind of value we’re dealing with. Monetary,
            spiritual…doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that you NEEDED value in
            return, or else you wouldn’t have done what you did.”

            Outside of a spiritual understanding of our reality …

            … how many people do you think believe giving away their money for free, or visiting the prisoner in jail or feeding the poor or loving their enemy is “valuable”?

            “The good news is that selfish acts can be mutually beneficial.”

            How many Americans do you think consider spending a day feeding the poor is a selfish act?

            The consumer paradigm that runs this nation disagrees with any such notion. Giving away your $ for free is counter intuitive, AGAINST your best interest in the worldview of most.

            “Christianity is essentially a reward system. Treats and goodies for the well behaved, and gnashing of teeth for the rebels.”

            This is a law-based, behavioral understanding of relationship with God.

            Jesus replaced that with grace. You can not enter the Kingdom through behavior alone.

            It is the inner change that makes giving your money away for nothing and tending the least of these personally beneficial.

            According to the material worldview, they are NOT in your selfish personal best interest.

          • Quote:…how many Americans do you think consider spending a day feeding the poor is a selfish act?

            ***Not many. Most people are making value judgements on the subconscious level. They don’t ponder these questions deep enough to discover the truth about why they do what they do. All they know is that they ‘feel good’ about doing it. For these people, feeling good is better than having $20 in their pocket.

            Quote: The consumer paradigm that runs this nation disagrees with any such notion. Giving away your $ for free is counter intuitive, AGAINST your best interest in the worldview of most.””

            ***The consumer paradigm has nothing to do with your personal decisions, or the benefits that you derive from them.

            Quote: This is a law-based, behavioral understanding of relationship with God. Jesus replaced that with grace. You can not enter the Kingdom through behavior alone.

            ***Suffice it to say that I’m well Biblically educated. My point is that Christianity is the classic reward vs punishment system. If you submit to God, obey his laws, repent, bear good Christian fruit, have faith, confess with your mouth, etc etc etc (fill in the blank). If you do (x.y.z) you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you’re severely punished.

          • “Most people are making value judgements on the subconscious level”

            Absolutely.

            Yet all order their worldview by what they deem important or non-important, not all of that is done without conscious thought.

            “All they know is that they ‘feel good’ about doing it.”

            Apart from a value judgement based on Spiritual Truths, WHY would ANYONE consider spending their free time to feed smelly, disagreeable starving people, something that makes them “feel good”?

            I’ve worked in soup kitchens, few are there because the action they are taking is making them happy per se – ever face the mountain of dishes that will take you 2 hours to complete after feeding 400? It’s not a “feel good” moment!

            They are there because they understand the Spiritual value.

            Do you disagree that the accumulation of wealth is a basis of the American Dream?

            Why then would anyone feel good about giving their $ away for free sans understanding some underlying Spiritual benefit?

            Your answer, as I understand it is – they are not aware of their decision making and why they choose as they do. Yes?

            My answer is the MAIN reason they would make this choice is they have ordered their worldview around Spiritual teachings. Conversely, in the socially accepted worldview, such action would be considered detrimental and wasteful, not beneficial. IN fact, by pure animal instincts, we would just let these weaklings die off in a corner somewhere. Why feed them at all? It is beneficial to the group to let them die of starvation, then the group has more food for themselves.

            Obviously the ideal of service and selflessness taught by Jesus is antithetical to a non-spiritual worldview.

            I’m a great example. I eschew the accumulation of wealth because of my spiritual views. I do not accumulate wealth, the normal, accepted social goal, for only one reason, I believe it is Spiritually valuable to do so. For that reason I take the Vow of Daily Bread. WHY should poverty make me happy? I’m often hungry myself and live from my faith alone, how is THAT beneficial to me on any level other than Spiritual?

            How would I come to that opinion apart from Spiritual understanding?

            “The consumer paradigm has nothing to do with your personal decisions, or the benefits that you derive from them.”

            Wow.

            Think of all that wasted $ advertising!

            I’m sorry, I wholly disagree.

            “Christianity is the classic reward vs punishment system.”

            How does grace fit into that, for you?

          • Quote: Why then would anyone feel good about giving their $ away for free sans understanding some underlying Spiritual benefit?

            ***It seems that most people DON’T realize that they’re receiving any benefit at all! These individuals actually believe that what they’re doing is sacrificial and that they’re exhibiting ‘selflessness’. These people don’t realize that “feeling good” is at the root of their actions, and if their actions didn’t deliver that “good feeling”, they would be spending their money and time elsewhere. For instance, if helping the poor made you feel awful inside, you’d stop doing it. But the fact is… it doesn’t make you feel awful, it probably makes you feel pretty good about yourself… like you’re doing the “right” thing and pleasing God etc. You may even be expecting a little something in the afterlife for all your trouble. This is the perceived reward / value / benefit that makes your decisions worth making, and without these rewards in place, you’d find a more rewarding hobby.

            Quote: How does grace fit into that, for you?

            ***Grace doesn’t change the fact that Christianity is the ultimate reward system, and besides, the grace isn’t for everybody. It’s only for a very select group who do things the right way. The rest will burn like chaff. They will be lopped off the vine, wither, and burn for an eternity in hellfire.
            ________________________________________________________

            I respect you as a human being, let’s part ways peacefully… but only because to do so would give me pleasant feelings! 🙂

          • “For instance, if helping the poor made you feel awful inside, you’d stop
            doing it. But the fact is… it doesn’t make you feel awful, it
            probably makes you feel pretty good about yourself… like you’re doing
            the “right” thing and pleasing God etc. ”

            Apart from a Spiritual notion of the world, why would anyone feel good about doing socially-counter intuitive things … was my question.

            I think we are beating around the same bush .,… you admit here one who thinks they are pleasing God finds happiness in spending 2 hours doing other people’s dishes.

            My simple point was – apart from that idea that they are pleasing God, most people would NOT be happy doing other people’s dishes, or most of the other actions that come from faith, like tithing and feeding the poor

            I don’t agree that one must earn grace by behavior. Remember – you can begin to rely on behavior and fall away from grace;

            ” You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4

            ____________________________

            Grace and peace to you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ

      • Quite curious – my long and well thought out answer is not here.

        I will repost as I wrote in a word doc … but very curious … as it is a word doc – the formatting messy – you can find me at hopeforpeacenow on youtube or at gmail if you would like to speak outside this forum …..

        Hello “Christian Egoist”,

        Thank you for your kind note. May I suggest though, that my positions disagreement
        with you though does not belie misunderstanding, though it is telling that you
        suggest I had jumped abruptly to conclusions.

        I have been studying the Bible for over 30 years. I speak with much consideration.

        “Did you notice that the passage you cited spoke of laying down one’s life
        for “Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s”, but that in your paraphrase you
        said that it was about laying down our lives for other people?”

        The entirety of scripture – the law and prophets hang on these 2 commends –
        1. Love God 2. Love people. What people – you ask? Jesus made that clear in the
        parable of the Good Samaritan, in His commend to love your enemies and in His
        description of the least of these. These teachings are not tertiary – but foundational
        to understanding and serving the Gospel.

        Yes. The point is to lay down your life for other people. Jesus did – did He
        not? Perfect – He died for sinners, and we are to have the Mind of Christ, you
        follow Him in all things.

        Where – in your opinion – did Jesus exhibit ego??

        No, instead the scriptures regarding this are many – a few I list here;

        “1 John 3:16

        This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
        we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

        John 10:11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life
        for the sheep.

        “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain
        in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
        John 15:9

        4 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

        25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

        26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16

        “38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

        39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

        40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

        41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

        42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

        43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

        44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

        45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

        46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

        47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

        48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”Matthew 5

        “Have you thought about what you mean by “other people” and how
        that could potentially contradict doing it for Christ and for the Gospel? I
        have.”

        You ask if I have noticed many points – but you give no examples of scripture
        that I was supposed to notice. Why not go back and do so …

        Your question 1; Yes, I have read the scripture. It makes my point.

        2 “Have you noticed the constant and profound personal motivations which
        Jesus puts forward for obeying Him?”

        What are you referring to? The only
        personal motivation that is valid is to Love god with all your heart, soul mind
        and strength ….. if you are called to a life of service, as all are, what other
        motivation is there ?

        3. “Have you notice the astounding number of commands in the Bible to BE
        HAPPY in God?”

        Can you give a few examples so I can follow your premise?

        4. “Have you noticed the commands to take care of our inner lives (of our
        thoughts and our feelings); to watch over them carefully? ? Have you considered that our cultures worship of “self-lessness” could actually about contrary to the will of God -”

        Not at all. I am quite sure our culture does not worship selflessness, personally.

        “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.
        Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the
        commandments, which is the most important?”

        29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
        with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor asyourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

        32 “Well said,teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and thereis no other but him. 33 Tolove him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all yourstrength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than allburnt offerings and sacrifices.”

        Love yourself AS you love others. In my 30 years in the church I can
        guarantee you there is plenty of bellybutton gazing going on.

        “Have you considered that our cultures worship of “self-lessness”
        could actually about contrary to the will of God – as demonstrated all throughout
        Scripture; that maybe our culture has been infect with horrible philosophical
        assumptions (from people like Immanuel Kant) which have blinded us from seeing
        very clear things in Scripture?”

        If you call laying down your life for the sake of the Gospel a “horrible
        philosophical assumption”. I was a conservative Christian for 25 years, they
        suffer no such danger from what I saw. Feeding the poor was a part time hobby
        at best in most churches.

        “Rand based her thoughts of Christianity on what she saw in the Church. She
        saw people acting like abject zombies, she saw people using faith as an excuse
        not to think. Is that they way Christians SHOULD be? Or was Rand condemning
        things in the Church that need to be condemned?”

        Have you studied Rand deeply? It seems to me you leave out the foundation of
        her thinking:

        “PLAYBOY

        Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything
        of constructive value to human life?

        RAND

        Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.

        But you must remember that religion is an early form of
        philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent
        frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by
        religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as
        philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a
        good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory
        context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on
        the ground of faith.”

        Ayn believed faith – not just as practiced today – but faith as a negation of reason was the most dangerous premise society was built on. Objectivism words it this way:

        “Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false
        metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics
        . . . .

        Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated,
        indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond
        existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason,
        dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell
        with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of
        reason.

        Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and
        therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any
        supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence.
        This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural
        ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and
        that’s all.” Leonard Peikoff Objectionist Forum

        Ayn goes on:

        “Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He
        personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the
        Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins
        of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed
        for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that
        sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than
        that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice.
        And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves
        for their inferiors. “

        Do these go together: “If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more
        indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or
        virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to
        sacrifice themselves for their inferiors.”

        And … or vs ..

        ““1John 3:16

        This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
        we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

        John 10:11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life
        for the sheep.

        “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain
        in my love. 10 If
        you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my
        Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
        and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved
        you. 13 Greater
        love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
        John 15:9

        ????

        “Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence.” Ayn

        Myth?

        “[There is one] possibly misleading sentence . . . in Roark’s
        speech: “From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction,
        from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have
        comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.”

        This could be misinterpreted to mean an endorsement of religion or religious
        ideas. I remember hesitating over that sentence, when I wrote it, and deciding
        that Roark’s and my atheism, as well
        as the overall spirit of the book, were so clearly established that no one
        would misunderstand it, particularly since I said that religious abstractions
        are the product of man’s mind, not of supernatural revelation.”

        Now, I would like to ask you if you have considered why you might conflate
        the Teachings of Christ with the teachings of an atheist. I have.

        It is extremely sad to see blasphemy taught in the name of Jesus. If you
        care half as much as you seem to, you will be careful to consider the above and
        to examine yourself and your thoughts lest you later come to discover that
        Paul’s words might be aimed at you.

        “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

        5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

        6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

        did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own
        advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing

        by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

        being made in human likeness.

        8 And being found in appearance as a man,

        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” Philippians 2

        What place does humility have with ego?

        Maranatha,

        Hope

        “ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25

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