Why An Immortal God Cannot Value And Therefore Cannot Love or Know Purpose

The Argument from Moral Values for the Non-Existence of the Christian God

Most theistic religions assert a God (or gods) that is the source of existence. Many also claim that this same being is the source of morality and of moral values. Such claims are commonly issued by apologists for Christianity. But these assertions lead us to ask many provocative questions. For instance, can the Christian God have moral values? Can the Christian God love? Can the Christian God have a purpose?

These are the questions that will be considered in this essay by analyzing the concepts against the claims made by Christians about the nature of their God. in this essay, I will examine whether or not a being defined as the Christians define their God, if such a being were to exist, could value, love and/or place before itself any purpose at all. Essentially, the question boils down to: Can the Christian God have a moral nature?

An Eternal, Immortal God?

Christians claim that their God is immortal. I Timothy 1:17 states: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Underscore added; see also Deut. 33:27, Isaiah 57:15 and Heb. 9:14.) ‘Eternal’ means ‘out of time,’ ‘not constrained by time’ or ‘inapplicable to time.’ ‘Immortal’ means non-mortal, which means, ‘does not or cannot die.’ An ‘eternal, immortal’ being, then, is a being which allegedly has always existed, which will exist forever without end, which will never die. Such a being is therefore indestructible and unaffected by its environment in any adverse way. This is the idea of the Christian God.

Now there is no example in nature of an ‘eternal, immortal’ entity that is also a living being. All forms of life on earth, whether they are primitive single-celled paramecia or bacteria, plant life, lesser invertebrates, reptiles, birds, mammals or man, have a typical life expectancy which they only rarely outlive. And even should an animal or other living being outlive its life expectancy, it will surely die sometime thereafter. That is the nature of all living beings: eventually the activity of life ceases and another takes its place among the living. [1]

Therefore, the assertion of an ‘eternal, immortal’ life form, being an outstanding claim, is without natural precedent or justification. “So be it!” says the apologist, “That’s the nature of God! He is supernatural! He is the way He is, and He shall always be so!” The intention at this point of my essay is to grant the apologist his wishes for an ‘eternal, immortal’ God for the time being, for the purpose of demonstrating the incongruity of the claim that God can value, love and act purposefully. Indeed, in many places (most notably in the New Testament), the Bible asserts that this immortal being called “God” is capable of loving both individuals and entire nations, as these online Bible search results demonstrate.

Is the assertion of an eternal, immortal being incongruous with the concepts value, purpose and love? Yes, it is. Why is this, do you ask? This is the central question under consideration in this essay, and the answer constitutes the main content of my present argument.

A Conspicuous Dearth of Definitions

The first thing that must be done at this point is to clarify the concepts in question, namely value, purpose and love. Without this clarification, without the proper identification of one’s terms, no rationality can proceed. In this sense, rationality is crucially dependent on one’s volition: We can only employ and reason consistently with proper definitions if we choose to; one cannot be forced to use reason in his cognition. Thus, without the proper exercise of one’s volitional faculties, one is doomed to arbitrary choices, and the results of such default can only be irrational.

Where shall we look for concise and objective definitions for these terms? Our first inclination might be to consult religious sources to acquire familiarity of what definitions religious doctrines themselves presume. In the case of Christianity, we should then seek our definitions in the Bible. But, sadly, concise and objective definitions are not to be found in the Bible, for the Bible gives definitions to precious few words at all. The meanings of the words used in biblical writings are commonly presumed without any attempt to identify in explicit terms what those definitions are. Instead, they must be inferred by context and usage.

For instance, I once asked a believer how the Bible defines the concept ‘truth’. He cited John 14:6, which states, “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'” Clearly this is unworkable if we are to equate the concept ‘truth’, which is an abstraction, with Jesus, which is (allegedly) an entity. Such verses, far from offering definitions of key terms, simply presume their meaning and the reader’s knowledge of their meaning. The statement “Jesus is truth” has no more meaning than “Jesus is blaff” if we do not have a prior understanding of what ‘truth’ means. This is the evasion of definition, not the fulfillment thereof.

We run into the same dead end when we look for definitions of concepts such as ‘value’, ‘love’ and ‘purpose’ in the Bible. And when this failing is pointed out (why a text should be held as an authoritative guide on life and knowledge when it does not even articulate its own definitions is never explained), we are told that the Bible is not a dictionary. If apologists are happy with this conclusion, then why would they go to the trouble of claiming that verses like John 14:6 offer definitions of important terms?

The Bible barely even mentions the word ‘value’, even though its authors had optimum occasion to address this crucial philosophical concern had they considered it important. My copy of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible lists seven passages which use the term ‘value’ [2]; four passages which use the term ‘valued’ [3]; and one passage containing the word ‘valuest’. [4] Neither passage offers a definition of this term, but instead assumes the reader’s understanding of the term and some hint of its moral meaning, even though this meaning is never explicitly identified. For instance, the passage in Job 28 extols the incomparability of the value of wisdom with that of gold. However, it is never explained why gold should command such unanimous agreement among men as to its value. This is simply assumed, which makes for very careless philosophy.

Additionally, I have consulted supplemental sources in addition to the Bible in order to find definitions of the terms ‘value’, ‘love’ and ‘purpose’. For instance, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary [5] lacks entries for both ‘value’ and ‘purpose’, but includes an entry for ‘love’. In the entry for ‘love’ it states that love is “[c]hiefly represented in the Scriptures as an attribute of God and as a Christian virtue. Its consideration, therefore, belongs to both theology and ethics.” But does the Bible Dictionary offer a definition of ‘love’? If it does, it certainly is not very clearly stated. The entry twice equates love with “affection,” and also with “feeling” and “tender and passionate attachment, a sentiment of [man’s] nature excited by qualities in another person or thing that command our affection.” But this still does not define ‘love’ in terms of essentials. It also states that love is “a virtue of such efficacy that it is said to be the fulfilling of the law.” But if this were the case, what would one need the law for in the first place?

Furthermore, the entry for ‘love’ in Unger’s nowhere mentions the role of values in determining what and why man loves or should love. This is a glaring omission, for how can one pontificate on love without reference to values? Sadly, Unger’s aligns itself with the tired, worn-out anti-man tradition of disparaging man’s capacity for love. For the same entry states that love “is the antithesis of selfishness.” But love is irrescindably selfish in nature. According to whose values-hierarchy does one love anything? Certainly, one loves according to his own values-hierarchy. Whose emotions are affected when one achieves or loses an important value? One’s own emotions. According to Rand, a so-called selfless love in the context of personal relationships, “would have to mean that you derive no personal pleasure or happiness from the company and the existence of the person you love, and that you are motivated only by self-sacrificial pity for that person’s need of you.” [6] The view of love which Rand describes here is perfectly compatible with religious ideas which condemn man’s selfishness as evil.

At the same time, Unger’s offers the contradiction that the “contention… that true Christian love should be disinterested, that we must love God exclusively on account of His perfection, so that if He did not bless us, but were to cast us off, we would love Him still, finds no support in the Scriptures.” But if it is the case that love “is the antithesis of selfishness,” then how could love not be disinterested? Unger’s does not say, nor does it appear ready to recognize its own contradictions.

Next, I looked at the online Catholic Encyclopedia, specifically under entries beginning with the letter ‘v’, to find its definition of ‘value’. Amazingly, there was no listing for this so crucial philosophical term. How peculiar that those who have so highly placed themselves in charge of matters of morality should fail to discuss the very unit of that branch of philosophy!

Similarly, although the Catholic Encyclopedia does include an entry for ‘love’, it fails to include an entry for ‘purpose’ (see entries beginning with the letter ‘p’). While the editors of the Catholic Encyclopedia consider the terms ‘virtue’ and ‘truth’ to be important philosophical and/or theological terms meriting respective entries, it is to be inferred by their absence that the terms ‘value’ and ‘purpose’ must figure quite loosely at best in Catholic philosophy. The same inference can be made for Christianity proper, for its primary sources’ default in the same.

Rational Definitions

Fortunately, we have a rational philosophy, Objectivism, which is most careful when it comes to the vital need of definition. The vital need fulfilled by definitions is the comprehensibility of the meaning of our speech and writing, of the words we use, and consequently, any points we try to make. But while the Bible holds man’s understanding in low regard (cf. Proverbs 3:5 et al.), Objectivism holds that definitions are “the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration.” [7] In tandem with this, Objectivism holds that the “truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions.” [8] Given Objectivism’s unique and refreshing willingness to insist on clear definitions, one should not object to consulting Objectivist sources for definitions of important terms when other sources default in this regard, as we saw above.

Objectivism holds that life as such is the root of morality. According to Objectivism,

[t]here is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence – and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. [9]

Since man is a living organism, he faces the alternative which Rand mentions above. Man exists, and can cease to exist. “Like other organisms,” writes Objectivist Eyal Mozes, “man needs to act in order to survive; but unlike other organisms, man does not take the needed actions automatically. Man must choose to act to sustain his own life, and find out how to do so. That is why man needs morality.” [10]

According to Objectivism, morality is a “code of values to guide man’s choices and actions.” [11] Since man faces the fundamental alternative of existence versus non-existence, he must act in order to live. Thus, just as he requires a code of principles to guide his thinking, which is reason, he also requires a code of values which guides his choices and actions.

Miss Rand defines ‘value’ as

that which one acts to gain and/or keep. The concept ‘value’ is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible. [12]

This definition assumes alternatives open to choice. For instance, one may value spending one’s evenings after a day at work taking a course on computer programming instead of whiling away his evenings in front of a television. This presupposes that one values one activity over the other, which means, broadly speaking: value as such depends on those capable of valuing. Thus, value presupposes conscious living beings which are aware of alternative goals and capable of choosing between them.

In conjunction with this view of ‘value’, ‘love’ is defined as “an emotion proceeding from the evaluation of an existent as a positive value and as a source of pleasure.” [13] Thus, love is directly harmonious with one’s values. One loves something because he determines that something to be of benefit to him for some reason.

For instance, if one values his own skills and the fulfilling rewards they make possible in his life, he likely loves his ability and the values he earns with that ability. In the case of the person spending his evenings after work taking courses in computer programming, he does so because he values the education he is learning and the values which that education may make possible for him to achieve in the future. Since he likely recognizes that the achievement of values is not guaranteed by his efforts, his love for those values and the joy they bring to his life supplies him with the motivation necessary to invest his energy in pursuing an education in his “off hours.” This is indisputably and profoundly selfish, for he is the primary benefaciary of his own actions, and he invests in maximizing the value-achieving potential of his actions. [14]

With the same care for essentials, Dr. Leonard Peikoff defines ‘purpose’ as “conscious goal-directedness in every aspect of one’s existence where choice applies.” [15] It is with the purpose of attaining a chosen goal or accomplishing a chosen objective that one acts. Purposeful action in this sense is that action which one sets in motion in order to achieve, maintain or preserve his values. For animate beings, the ultimate objective of that purpose is expected to achieve is life. Without life, purpose is not possible, just as values are not possible without life. [16]

The Objectivist concept of purpose coherently integrates the nature of a living being’s need for goal-directed action and the need to choose between alternatives, just as the concepts of ‘value’ and ‘love’ above do. If there is no fundamental alternative, what could possibly guide such choices and actions, and what goal can such action be directed in achieving?

The assertion of the concept ‘purpose’ assumes that its achievement and fulfillment are possible, at least within the general context of reality. It is arbitrary to speak of a goal which by its nature is said never to be achievable. If something is by nature never achievable, then what qualifies it as a goal? And if it does not qualify as a goal, what is the purpose of pursuing it? Thus, when the Bible speaks of an “eternal purpose” (Eph. 3:11), we are right to ask: What did its authors have in mind? And if an “eternal purpose” is a purpose which by its very nature can never be fulfilled, why should anyone attempt to pursue it?

The Heart of the Matter

The essential premise to keep in mind is the fact that value, love and purpose can only apply to a certain class of entities, namely living entities. In each case, we see how the meanings of these concepts presuppose certain conditions which belong only to this class of entities. We do not say that non-living things can value or love, or that they can engage in purposive action apart from the context of their relationship to living beings which control them (such as a machine designed to achieve a certain goal for those who produced it and/or manage it). It is only the class of living entities which faces the alternative of existence or non-existence, and only these entities which can generate their own action to make their existence possible.

“But God is a living being!” claim the religionists in their objection to perceived molestation of their age-held beliefs. “God is living, He is a living being, He is the source of life itself! He alone is the Creator of life, and therefore the Author of value, love and purpose!” Such claims will be asserted in the face of facts that contradict their mystical nature.

But if ‘god’ is immortal – i.e., if ‘god’ cannot die, then how can it be said that ‘god’ is a living being? The concept ‘life’ can only be meaningful if in fact the entity to which it is applied faces the alternative life vs. death. If this is not the case with ‘god,’ then the term life is misapplied.

Of central importance here is the fact that the concepts ‘value,’ ‘love,’ and ‘purpose’ can only apply to living beings which face the alternative life vs. death. This is because, as Ayn Rand writes, “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.” [17] Thus, it must be pointed out that ‘value’ finds its meaning in ‘life’.

Objectivist Tara Smith confirms the truth of this position when she argues that the

nature of value can be fully appreciated only by understanding what gives rise to value… Thus it is crucial to understand what renders something valuable… Rand observes that life gives rise to the very concept of value. The alternative of life or death is what allows and what necessitates the pursuit of values. The quest for life makes the idea of value intelligible and imposes the need to identify values and to act to achieve them. Thus, it is life that mandates human beings’ adherence to a moral code. Life is the end of value and establishes the standard of value. As such, it is the source of moral obligations, which are prescriptions for how to achieve that end. [18]

Indeed, if man did not face the fundamental alternative of life or death, or existence vs. non-existence, Objectivism argues that he would have no need or capacity for values. In fact, Smith argues, “Humans are not alone in seeking values. To the extent that plants and animals act to acquire certain objects – for example, growing toward the sunlight or scurrying to find nuts – they are also pursuing values.” [19] In other words, since both plants and animals are living entities, and consequently face the same fundamental alternative which man faces, namely live vs. death, they too require values as well, even though they do not possess the cognitive faculties needed to form the concept ‘value’ itself. Life as such, therefore, is the metaphysical precondition which makes values possible.

But a rock, for instance, does not pursue values because it does not face the same alternative, life vs. death. A rock neither generates its own action, nor is any action it is caused to do goal-directed in nature (that is, in relation to itself). A rock does not need nutrients in order to exist, nor does it need shelter or warmth. Why is this? Because it is not living, because it does not face the same alternative as living entities.

Similarly, a being which is said to be immortal by definition would not face this fundamental alternative, just as the rock does not. If an entity does not face this fundamental alternative, even if one wants to argue that this entity is conscious, it still could not value. As Rand argues:

To make this point fully clear, try to imagine an immortal, indestructible robot, an entity which moves and acts, but which cannot be affected by anything, which cannot be changed in any respect, which cannot be damaged, injured or destroyed. Such an entity would not be able to have any values; it would have nothing to gain or to lose; It could not regard anything as for or against it, as serving or threatening its welfare, as fulfilling or frustrating its interests. It could have no interests and no goals… Only a living entity can have goals or can originate them. And it is only a living organism that has the capacity for self-generated, goal-directed action. [20]

If God does not face a fundamental alternative as man does (i.e., if God does not face the alternative existence vs. non-existence), then God cannot be said to possess the metaphysical precondition which makes values possible. And if God does not possess the metaphysical precondition that makes values possible (i.e., the fundamental alternative existence vs. non-existence), then God cannot know value at all. Such a being could know no loss, especially if such a being were also omnipotent, which means that there would be nothing that is impossible to such a being.

In regard to the notion of an immortal agent of value, Tara Smith asks,

If a person were assured of going on forever, what sense could it make to regard some states of affairs as better than others? I am not merely imagining a person’s life being extended by decades or centuries. Rather, imagine his life being literally endless. He is indestructible and will live for all eternity. Whatever the person did this afternoon, he would have an infinite amount of time to do other thing things. He would incur no loss by choosing one activity rather than some other…. Whatever a destruction-proof robot or immortal being does is not sustaining its existence since that is already guaranteed. Where survival is inherently assured and death is impossible, then, we are no longer talking about life. Rand’s robot is not a living being; that is why she calls it a robot. [21]

The Christian God, then, essentially resembles the indestructible robot in the example which Rand provides. Like the indestructible robot, the Christian God is said to be “immortal, indestructible…, an entity which moves and acts, but which cannot be affected by anything, which cannot be changed in any respect, which cannot be damaged, injured or destroyed.” Like Rand’s robot, the Christian God “would have nothing to gain or to lose,” nor could the Christian God “regard anything as for or against it, as serving or threatening its welfare, as fulfilling or frustrating its interests.”

How, then, can Christians claim that their immortal, indestructible, and unchanging God be capable of valuing anything? Certainly, they cannot claim this, if they assume objectively defined terms. And if the Christian God could not value anything, then it could not love anything, nor could it be capable of pursuing any purpose. Since the very notion of the Christian God denies the genetic roots of the concepts ‘value’, ‘love’ and ‘purpose’, any attempt to assert the Christian God as capable of these virtues reduces to conceptual fallacy. In particular, such attempts would commit the fallacy of the stolen concept, which renders invalidates such ambitions.

Therefore, since God is immortal, it does not face the fundamental alternative of existence vs. non-existence. And since it does not face this fundamental alternative, it cannot value. And since it cannot value, it cannot have a code of values, and thus cannot be a moral being. Neither can it love, nor can it have a purpose. Thus, because of its own internal incoherence, the notion of the Christian God is invalid. Such a being cannot exist.

Possible Objections and Counter-Positions

Religious apologists will no doubt attempt to raise objections against the argument from moral values for the non-existence of the Christian God. Below I consider what I consider to be the most common objections I’ve encountered.

  1. “God may be immortal and indestructible, but He can value, love and know purpose anyway.”This species of objection will usually attempt to rely on some argumentation which is designed to replace objective definitions with plastic definitions which can be molded at whim in order both to satisfy atheological criticism of god-belief as well as dispel it at the same time.For instance, one might assert that we need not assume a fundamental alternative as the basis of values, but instead that certain objects have inherent value, i.e., value apart from moral agents. This is essentially the intrinsic theory of values, which does not persevere under objective scrutiny. [22] The intrinsic theory of values is basically the attempt to acontextualize values from man’s nature; i.e., the attempt to dissociate values from a values-hierarchy, and consequently from a knowledge-hierarchy. Objectivism insists that all knowledge is hierarchical in nature, and consequently that values are hierarchical as well. If every instance of value were itself a primary that could be asserted without reference to a fundamental standard, one may have room to argue for this view of moral values. But since such views cannot adequately answer such fundamental questions as, Of value to whom? and Of value for what? – and since such views evade the rational integration of knowledge with values, of epistemology and morality, and the fact that the necessities of life give rise to values, they cannot properly be called values.

    Therefore, any objection taking this route is merely an attempt to evade the objective theory of values and the facts of reality (e.g., the fact that moral values have objective identity).

  2. “It does not matter if God is immortal and indestructible, God is the basis of all value, and therefore of love and purpose, and one cannot assert these latter concepts without presupposing the existence of the Christian God in the first place.”
    This would-be objection smacks of so-called “presuppositionalist” apologetics, a scheme of theistic defenses which argue that Christian theism supplies the ontological and epistemological pre-conditions of all intelligibility, including the intelligibility of moral codes. Though presuppositionalism has not shown itself to endure sustained criticism [23], this approach to defending Christian theism is gaining more and more popularity, and thus such an objection may likely be encountered.

    The problem with this objection, however, is that the notion of ‘god’ is completely superfluous in the context of man’s capacity to value, love and choose moral purposes. As the definitions and arguments I supply above amply demonstrate, the basis of man’s capacity for moral value is first and foremost the fact that he faces a fundamental, metaphysical alternative, namely existence vs. non-existence. Regardless of one’s god-beliefs or lack thereof, the fact that man must act in order to sustain his life is indisputable. Asserting that the Christian God is the foundation of man’s moral nature as such, or of moral values as such, simply begs the question, and ignores those principles which I identify above. Such an objection, if engaged, is properly identified as an evasion of the objective theory of values and of man’s nature as a rational being.

  3. “I don’t care, I admit that my definitions may not be objective, but I still believe God can value and act in his own interests regardless of what reason tells me.”
    This strategy is properly identified as the “whole faith” strategy, since it blatantly rejects rationality and objectivity, and asserts its desired conclusions in opposition to reason regardless of its resulting cognitive fallout. Such a position may not be intellectually honest, but it is at least consistent with the rudiments of the religious view of the world. The religious view of the world has historically condemned man’s ability to comprehend or at the very least relegated it to an inferior and undesirable position (cf. Proverbs 3:5). Additionally, this same view of the world has historically enshrined the incomprehensible by compelling men to accept that which is absurd and nonsensical as knowledge of reality.
  4. “God acts to his own pleasure.”
    Some Christian defenders may claim that God is capable of pleasure. But pleasure as opposed to what? If God is perfect as they claim, then how can God experience displeasure, disappointment, dejection, or frustration? As soon as the believer makes an attempt to explain away one contradiction (e.g., an immortal being which can value), he entraps himself in another (e.g., a perfect being which can be displeased). [24] More problems result. If God is perfect, how can it be man’s responsibility to please God? If God is perfect, how can the imperfect please or satisfy the imperfect? Indeed, why should the perfect need to be pleased in the first place? Instead of answers, such questions typically bring us evasions. What possible good could any of this accomplish? Blank out.

    Far from producing genuine points of contention which themselves endure scrutiny, such ploys are properly identified as mere evasive tactics. From biblical philosophy’s nonchalance in matters of defining crucial philosophic terms, we can rightly infer nonchalance in crucial philosophic disciplines, particularly in epistemology and morality.

In Conclusion, A Syllogism

The above points can all be generally boiled down to a simple syllogism:

Premise 1: Only rational beings that face the fundamental alternative of existence vs. non-existence can value, love and pursue purpose.

Premise 2: All definitions of the Christian God assert that God is immortal, which means that it does not face this fundamental alternative.

Conclusion: Therefore, God cannot value, love or pursue purpose.

Above we saw that value presupposes a conscious entity which faces the fundamental alternative between existence and non-existence, and that love is this conscious entity’s emotional response to those values which make its life possible and enjoyable. We also saw that purpose can only apply to those conscious beings which face fundamental alternatives and which are capable of acting on behalf of achieving and/or maintaining one over the other. In light of this, we see that neither of these concepts, ‘value’, ‘love’ or ‘purpose’, can be asserted apart from this fundamental alternative, since all three genetically presuppose this alternative. Consequently, the religious assertion of an immortal and eternal being which can value, love and pursue purpose commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

If one’s assertions are founded upon stolen concepts, those assertions are consequentially invalid. The idea of the Christian God asserts concepts while denying their genetic roots. Therefore, the idea of the Christian God is invalid. Such a being cannot exist.

Notes

[1] Ironically, these facts more than justify the religionists’ assertion that ‘God is incomprehensible’ for they maintain that God is living, yet it knows not death itself. However, if this be the case, how then can the religionist claim to know that ‘God is eternal and immortal?’ Of course, the religionist will claim that this ‘knowledge’ was revealed to the believer through ‘divinely inspired’ scripture, which only begs the question.

[2] See Lev. 27:8 (x2), 12; Job 13:4; Matt. 10:31; 27:9; Luke 12:7.

[3] See Lev. 27:16; Job 28:16, 19; Matt. 27:9.

[4] See Lev. 27:12.

[5] Merrill Unger, ed., Chicago: The Moody Press, 1988; 1392 pages.

[6] “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” pamphlet, 7.

[7] Ayn Rand, “Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto, p. 77.

[8] Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 63, italics in original.

[9] Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, (New York: Signet, 1961), p. 121; Atlas Shrugged, 931.

[10] Life as the Standard of Value.

[11] Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness, (New York: Signet, 1964), p. 13. I have tried to find a concise definition of ‘morality’ in the Bible on many occasions, and have been disappointed in every instance. Indeed, my concordance does not even contain an entry for the word ‘morality’, suggesting strongly to me that the Bible nowhere defines this crucial concept. Yet its defenders pose as champions of morality in every area of life, as if their religious doctrines were authoritative on the matter. Morality consists of obedience to God, they will say. But this does not answer any of man’s practical needs, such as the role of values or why man should even choose to be moral in the first place. It is my conviction that such intellectual default as this sufficiently incriminates Christianity as a worldview.

[12] Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 15.

[13] Rand, “Concepts of Consciousness,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 34.

[14] I have commonly heard people refer to such circumstances as an instance of sacrifice. For instance, a fellow who spent the last two months taking courses after working hours might call the time he spent in those classes a “sacrifice.” But this may or may not be the case, and ultimately depends on what that person values more, whether or not his time spent in the evening classes is really a sacrifice. “Sacrifice is the surrender of a higher value for the sake of a lesser one or a nonvalue (Ayn Rand, “The Ethics of Emergencies,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 44). If this person valued his evenings in front of a television more than he valued the education he was seeking and the values that education promises to make possible to him, then taking the courses would constitute a sacrifice for this individual, because the evenings in classes are taken at the expense of what he values more, which is an evening in front of the television. If, on the other hand, he valued his education and the values it promises to make possible to him in the future more than he values an evening of television, then taking the courses would not constitute a sacrifice, because he would not be pursuing a lesser value at the expense of a greater value. For a rational man, such investment is not a sacrifice.

[15] “Productiveness as the Adjustment of Nature to Man,” Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 298.

[16] Objectivists hold that their fundamental purpose in life is to live and to enjoy their lives. This is a purpose which one accepts by choice. Objectivists do not regard obedience to the will of others, be they men or alleged supernatural beings, as such to qualify as a legitimately moral purpose. To what end should one obey the will of others? Whose ends are to benefit from action resulting from such obedience? Why should one consider those ends important? Important to whom? Etc. Questions like these are never adequately answered by altruistic or pietistic systems of morality. Indeed, even these views cannot entirely escape man’s fundamentally selfish nature, even though they condemn his selfishness as his primary failing and consequently deem him immoral, depraved or even evil as such. The contradiction between Christian ethics and its condemnation of man’s selfishness, as we saw in Unger’s above, is clearly demonstrated when one asks Christians why one should obey Christian moral doctrine. “So you can please God,” they will say. Why should one want to please God? “So that you will escape torment and enjoy eternal joy and peace,” they will ultimately admit. Even though these goals are arbitrary, eternal joy and peace as the ultimate goals of Christian morality presuppose the satisfaction of personal ambition as the primary motivation for the Christian view of morality. Yet the satisfaction of personal ambition itself is condemned when they condemn man’s selfishness as the primary root of his evil.

[17] For the New Intellectual, 121; Atlas Shrugged, 931.

[18] Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), p. 85.

[19] Ibid., 118n.

[20] “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 16.

[21] Viable Values, pp. 87-88, 89.

[22] Footnote: The intrinsic theory of values

holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory which divorces the concept ‘good’ from beneficiaries, and the concept of ‘value’ from valuer and purpose – claiming that the good is good in, by, and of itself. (Ayn Rand, “What is Capitalism?” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, (New York: Signet, 1967), p. 21.)

See also Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, (New York: Meridian, 1991), pp. 245-248.

[23] Eventually I will be publishing my own critical analyses of presuppositionalism on my website. See also some critical arguments against presuppositionalism already published on the Secular Web.

[24] See also Smith, Viable Values, pp. 87-90.

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