Posted by Jerry on September 20, 2006
I discovered atheism before I embraced Objectivism; perhaps, that might explain why it seemed relatively easy for me to accept Rand’s positions. My atheism probably primed me for what Objectivism was to offer.
For, if I were to have remained the deeply religious Christian that I was, I would have most likely rejected Rand as “evil,” wrong, misguided, and corrupting. I would probably never have given reason a chance. Moreover, I would probably never have understood the essential foundations upon which Rand basis her metaphysical views of the universe and of her atheism.
Rand’s atheism was rather passive–she wasn’t primarily concerned with defending atheism as such, because she rightly understood that the defensive stance must be adopted by the ones purporting the existence of a supernatural Being. Nevertheless, her atheism was not a lazy default belief due to an absence of evidence for God; rather, her atheism was simply a logical implication of her well thought-out system of philosophy.
I had no such philosophy to guide me in my early days of my “soul-searching.” Were I to come across an argument for passive atheism such as “the onus of proof rests on the believer to prove the claim that God exists,” I would most certainly not understand the metaphysical principle being stated, i.e., that existence has primacy over consciousness and that claiming something exists implies being conscious of an objective entity. Such passive atheism would do very little to convince me to abandon faith and accept atheism and reason.
Fundamentally, all religious believers have to take the “leap of faith.” Thus, metaphysical principles based on reason and logic are of very little use to them, and are sorely inadequate in convincing them of the truth of atheism. If it is fundamentally a matter of faith–or so they believe–then no matter what edifice of reason you present to them, it will all seem shallow, “human,” and meaningless.
And this is why I reject the passive approach to atheism where atheists sit as lame ducks while claim after religious claim are made about the supernatural. My approach is to tackle the claims head-on, grab the God-concept at its core and blow it up into pieces, destroy every shred of believability and credibility in any God-concept. My approach is to give a religious believer no breathing space in the plane of intellectual discourse, such that he is relegated to the mind-caves of faith from where he would have to concede that his Deity is as fanciful as believing that Batman is God. My approach is to drag the believer of the supernatural into the province of reason by demonstrating that NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING is outside the province of reason–not even his God!
Just as faith gives no breathing room for reason, my approach to atheism gives no breathing room for faith.