Borrowing from Theism?

Mr. Apologist wrote: Atheism must borrow from theism the idea of an ordered universe, in which things cohere in a transcendent unifying principle.

Again, we find the persistence of what appears to be a deliberate misunderstanding, built on a hapless disintegration of essentials, which lays onus where no onus is due. Mr. Apologist holds the absence of theism as such accountable for presumed faults, but his announcement of these accusations is delivered through a series of unargued assertions, one after another, each built on the same misunderstanding, each built on a false view of what atheism entails in terms of essentials, thus a product of religious bias, not of reason. This puts all atheists in the same boat in terms of that philosophy to which atheists do ascribe or employ, which is embarrassingly naïve. This is just another attempt to paint an individual’s rejection of theism as inherently impotent, and it fails for the same reasons we’ve seen so far.

If one’s atheism is the product of reason, there is no reason why the accusation that atheists must “borrow from theism” necessarily holds. Reason and faith are epistemological opposites, and regardless of what the theologians have said through the centuries, reason is not the “handmaid of faith.” However, in spite of these facts, Christian apologists will continue to accuse non-Christians of “borrowing” from their worldview. So let us attend to this accusation for a few moments before moving on.

To validate the claim that all non-theistic or all non-Christian philosophies must “borrow” from Christianity, the theist would have an enormous homework assignment, involving but not limited to the painstaking review of every form and variant of non-Christian philosophy in existence, as well as anticipating those non-theistic philosophies which may be discovered or refined at some future time, in order to document such dependence. Essentially, the theist would have to show that the alleged connection between atheism as such and the supposed need to “borrow” from theism is philosophically mandatory and unavoidable in all cases.

I would say that validating such an enormous claim is too big a task for theists to take so lightly, as Mr. Apologist appears to do here. And even in repeating it, he overlooks the fact that there is at least one philosophy which can be demonstrated as a complete exception to this claim. For in Objectivism we have a philosophy which dispenses entirely with any form of theism, and is therefore atheistic in nature, but which nowhere borrows from theism in general or from Christianity in particular.

A rational philosophy is not derived from a primitive and/or mystical philosophy. Nor does a rational philosophy assume supposed religious “truths” which have no objective reference to reality and which must be accepted on faith. From its basic axioms (e.g., existence exists, etc.) to its theory of concepts, from its emphasis on man’s need for an objective theory of values and for a rational defense of his individual rights, to its conception of art, Objectivism bears no philosophic, systematic or developmental resemblance to Christianity, nor does it assume in any way, shape or form the truth of Christian theism. The higher-strata positions and tenets throughout Objectivism are conclusions whose reasoning is wholly contained within its own framework, reducible exclusively to its own, entirely non-theistic, non-Christian starting points, the axioms, and the primacy of existence metaphysics. Objectivism is wholly independent of any theistic philosophy, Christian or otherwise, contrary to the thrust of such commonly encountered misrepresentations as we see here.

The Bible, Christianity’s primary source, does not identify its doctrines as stemming from core, axiomatic concepts; any such foundational ideas must be inferred from ambiguous, frequently inconsistent and exegetically flexible implications. But even then it is not the case that one doctrine follows logically from another, for Christianity ignores the objective, hierarchical nature of knowledge completely. It does not follow from the claim “God exists” that “God rested on the seventh day of creation,” or from the notion that “Adam was the first man” to the position that “Jesus is God’s only begotten Son,” any more than the claim that Jesus was “crucified and resurrected from the dead” follows from the claim that Jesus was “born of a virgin.” There is no logical consequence which gives rise to these ideas; one must simply accept these claims wholesale as a part of an enormous, maximally cumbersome package-deal of unconnected parts which are essentially supposed doctrines derived from purported ancient histories (much of which are obviously mythological in nature), and which can only be pieced together while disintegrating one’s own mind. Objectivism borrows nothing from this belligerent package-dealing. In fact, since Christianity begins with the notion of a universe-creating, reality-ruling consciousness, and thus assumes the primacy of consciousness as its fundamental principle, it cannot be said that Objectivism must assume the truth of Christianity or “borrow” from it in any sense or capacity, for Objectivism begins squarely and without exception on the basis of the primacy of existence, which is incompatible with the primacy of consciousness.

Modern Christians often claim that non-theists and/or non-theistic philosophies must “borrow” from Christianity in order to justify their assumption of the uniformity of nature. But unlike Christianity, Objectivism does not attribute the uniformity of nature to the functions of a universe-creating, reality-ruling form of consciousness (e.g., a “divine will“). Indeed, Objectivism wholly rejects the notion that reality, nature, and natural law are the product of a will or desire of a supernatural being. Objectivism rightly recognizes that existence exists, that existence exists independentof consciousness (the primacy of existence principle), and that to exist is to be something, to be itself, i.e., A is A, all points which theists themselves must assume, even though their theistic commitments wholly contradict or undermine them. There is no borrowing on the part of Objectivism from Christianity, or any form of theism for that matter, and this is precisely why some theists have been inclined to attack Objectivism, even if they refuse to take the steps necessary to comprehend it, or deliberately misrepresent its tenets. The prospect that there exists a philosophy available to all men which defies the theists’ repudiation of atheism is a threat which many cannot face head on.


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