Friday, March 20, 2009

Faith, Religion, and Ayn Rand

"Now choose to perish or to learn that the anti-mind is the anti-life. ...  Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. ...  His mind is given to him, it's content is not.  To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action."
- Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, p.926, 50th Anniversary Edition, Signet Books

A comment from the last post asked me about my new political views and what of their influence on my religious views.  It's an interesting thing.  While my shift in political views and my new found interest in Ayn Rand and her philosophy has changed the way I think about about everything, including my faith and religious beliefs, it hasn't actually changed them.

I've always enjoyed questioning things - especially authority!  It's not that I won't "do what's right" or make good decisions, I just hate being told to.  Just ask my parents.  I was a fun child to raise.  As I've grown up and become more of an adult I found this translated into a love for the more philosophical and more abstract parts of faith and religion.  I say more philosophical and abstract because most faith is just that.  When I finally settled on a course of study in college, it was religious studies with most of my focus in Jewish studies.  I loved finding the similarities between different religions.  I enjoy - no, love - no, thrive - to question faith, not to prove it wrong, but to prove it right.  There is so much of this world, universe and existence that we don't understand and probably can't comprehend.  That's where faith and hope step in.  It excites and even more than that, it thrills me to think that there is more out there.  That life continues after my body dies.  That whatever the part of who I am that continues to exist after my body has grown old and died, the soul, spirit, or intelligence, will continue to learn and grow.  Forever.  I truly believe that I will be able to still explore faith, fact, and beliefs into eternity.  That is how I "act" - I question and in turn learn and grow.  I think the same is true of the "next life."  That if we don't think, we won't survive.

That's what the quote of the top of the page means to me.  That "blind" faith is equivalent to the act of choosing not to think and therefor, not to live.  Mind you this is my own personal belief and standard that I choose to hold only myself to.  For others, "blind" faith during this life is a good and satisfactory existence.  I don't judge - we are each individuals.

And as for how Ayn Rand's philosophies have affected me.  Well, I have found more common ground than not.  And I've been proven right.  Again. 


Shelly Beson said...

I have to say I really like how you handle this touchy subject. I was raised in a christian church and know way too much about the bible but I dont believe any of it. You wrote that there is so much we dont know and that is precisely why I believe religion exists, to fill in the blanks. We humans just cannot function without answers so we made things up to soothe our worries. That makes sense to me. Did you study the pagans? It seems to me that all the stories they made about the sun, moon and stars are the same ones that run through almost every other religion that came after them. It's all so interesting. I hope you dont mind my comments.


Charmaine said...

Are you kidding? I love your comments! Funny you should mention knowing way too much about the Bible. For my foreign language in college, I took Biblical Hebrew. Yup, I read the Old Testament in Hebrew. Talk about knowing too much about the Bible - and it being a touchy subject. I think too many people read the Bible and take it as the end all and be all. It's no secret that the Bible as we have it today has been copied and recopied probably millions of times - in Hebrew. The "original" Hebrew version isn't original at all. Nor is the New Testament's Greek versions. And who was it that decided that those particular prophets and writers would be included as the religious text to last thousands of years? It wasn't God. There are many good stories and parables in the Bible and lot's of good advice for how to live a good life, but there are also many mistakes.

I was going to talk about the similarities in religions in this post, but I left it out because it didn't seem coherent with the other things that I was saying, but you've inspired me to write a whole new post about it. You should know, I have lot's of opinions about this kind of stuff! It's because I love these types of philosophical and religious discussions. A lot of it is speculation though.

Anyway, I look forward to continuing this "conversation." Of course, you may find you get bored of what I have to say or that you'll think I'm completely off my rocker. That's ok. I could be wrong about some of these things - it has been known to happen. :)

Anonymous said...

Sure, the council of nicaea wasn't God. But we can't have it both ways, either the Bible is the word of God, or it's not, right?

I believe that God's hand did play a huge role in deciding what particular prophets and writers would be included in the Bible.

The Bible is the word of God and probably should not be "played down" from holding the truth and important scripture that it does.

Maybe you didn't mean it to sound this this way. But maybe we're not giving God enough credit for preserving His word throughout history.