Carl_Svanberg

Peikoff on the coming election

354 posts in this topic

[...]

Are America and the world headed towards a religous revival, a general nihilistic disillusionment, or a second rennaissance?

America and the world are pulling all three of these directions at once, but the weight of the evidence globally is that the world is headed for a rennaissance...so long as we, here in the United States, don't give up on the dream that is liberty.

This was a wonderful post, Jack. I like your spirit. Thanks!

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This is a good point. It doesn't entirely convince, however. Primarely, at fiirst blush, because I'm not sure whether "religion is a very important part of their lives" is what we're talking about. I wonder what the percantage would have been, had they been asked, who would have said that "the enlightenment thinkers are a very important part of my life." "Religion" means a great many different things to a great many people, as does "important part of my life." So, if we're talking about the possibility of a State whose laws reflect explicitely religious doctrine I'm not sure that a 55% majority in favor of electing lawmakers who agree with them cuts much mustard against such a prospect.

Well, how about we try to be more objective about this. Instead of worrying who was more religious when, how about we look at the specific laws that actually were in effect at the time. After all, if we're going to be converted to a theocracy, it's through the laws that the political parties are able to pass that will enable this conversion. Isn't that the point of voting against all Republicans? But I think Stephen has already addressed this issue elsewhere, in other posts.

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That will help you avoid false alternatives.

...like voting for the takeover of Congress by defeatist Democratic Party leaders in order to avoid a potential Christian theocracy--only to find you live in a country that has lowered its defenses to actual Muslim theocracracies that are trying to murder you and your countrymen.

I am thinking about the issue of begging the question. In the meantime, here is the problem I have with this portion of your post. The fact of the culture that I'm looking at is the war. In 2004 I voted for Bush on exactly the grounds you and Robert presented in TIA. Has the situation gotten better? No! Worse, both on the ground in Iraq and Iran and the Middle East in general and in terms of the philosophical foundations being used by the president and the administration to defend those actions. As I read the situation the defenses are already lowered about as far as they can go. There doesn't look like there is any real hope of anything but a diplmatic attempt with Iran, et al. Rumsfield is a shell of the man we saw at the beginning. Chaney is completely marginalized. How will voting Republican in the face of an ever lower resolve (everything is on the table according to Bush) help stave off a Muslim Theocracy over the long term? At this point, soley in terms of the war, it looks like a toss-up. Who are we going to elect in 2008 that would fight a real war? Who can we vote for this year that will support a real war? I see no one.

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The problem with that argument is that a Christian Theocracy can be established by stealth, through education in the principles (as in the "scientific" ID debate)

How on earth could you systematically tear down the three branches of our Government and rebuild a fundamentally different one in its place, while controlling and manipulating several hundred politicians who can't get along or agree on anything, while launching a full scale Christian infiltration of the US education system on the University and Public School level, while staging a nation-wide grassroots revival and fundamentally changing the majority of 300 million people's sense of life (so they don't rebel), and turning the Marines, Navy, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard along with their several million soldiers into puppets for the Christian Theocrats (so there isn't a military rebellion), and ultimately converting the United States of America into a theocracy like Iran, all "by stealth"?

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This was a wonderful post, Jack. I like your spirit. Thanks!

I agree, that list of evidence you provided really lifted my spirits about America!

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And you know this how? What measure did you use to to determine that Americans now are generally irrational as compared to the periods in the past when the "religion-inspired laws" that you now fear were actually enacted? In this post I outlined those past religious effects for you, yet statistics show that belief in God from then till now has remained essentially the same. Overall, despite a little drop in the 1960s and 1970s, church attendance is much the same since the 1930s. What measure of irrationality do you use? Do less rational societies usually advance science, production, and technology to unprecedented heights, as our supposedly less rational society has done? If you have not based your judgment of more irrationality now than then on church attendance or belief in God, or on scientific achievements, advanced technology, or the accumulation of the greatest wealth man has ever known, all this in spite Democratic socialism eating away at the core of human achievement, then on what fundamentals is your judgment based?

[...]

Just what percentage of religious epople, the actual voters, does this "becoming increasingly popular" actually represent? Considering that since 1965 there has been a drop from 70% to 55% of people who say that religion is a very important part of their lives, I truly wonder what facts you base your concern on?

This is a good point. It doesn't entirely convince, however.

I made several points in that post, not just one, but even so those are just a few of the facts that have been identified throughout these threads. Alone, they are not meant to "entirely convince." In fact, I am not sure that convincing has been the goal for many of us here. The intellectual responsibility for convincing, at least for those who accept that responsibility, should lie with those who advance the positive assertions that so many of us find so implausible. It is up to them to provide evidence in support of their thesis, and it is sufficent for us to provide facts that contradict their thesis. In my judgment, the actual evidence provided by the opposition has been virtually non-existent, whereas the facts provided that contradict have been quite substanital. Those who assert an impending theocracy have simply not made their case.

By the way, when you quoted me in your post you pieced together one paragraph but left out some of my words without noting that you did so, and the flow of the words, and the argument itself, was fragmented. In this post I have restored my words to reflect what I actually said.

Primarely, at fiirst blush, because I'm not sure whether "religion is a very important part of their lives" is what we're talking about. I wonder what the percantage would have been, had they been asked, who would have said that "the enlightenment thinkers are a very important part of my life."

I suspect most would have asked "What is the Enlightenment?" B)

"Religion" means a great many different things to a great many people, as does "important part of my life." So, if we're talking about the possibility of a State whose laws reflect explicitely religious doctrine I'm not sure that a 55% majority in favor of electing lawmakers who agree with them cuts much mustard against such a prospect.

But the point is, between 1965 and now the figure went down from 70% to 55%, and since we had no impending theocracy in 1965 why the concern about it now when the figures are lower? And it is not as if everything hinges on these particular figures. We have provided many figures and facts, in historical context, throughout these threads, to be considered as a whole. If I had the time I could write endless page after page with more of the same. But, the real problem seems to be that figures and facts do not seem to matter, because they are dismissed as being "concrete-bound objections." Those who should be providing the evidence in support of their thesis are not doing so, and those who supply facts that contradict their thesis are supposed to be the rationalists? One poster offered a poll, in which 45% believed in a young-Earth, as evidence for the thesis, since such a belief is utterly irrational. But when I pointed out that the same poll showed a higher percentage eleven years earlier, indicating, if anything, a downward trend, that fact was not addressed. Seems like we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't. B)

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The fact of the culture that I'm looking at is the war. In 2004 I voted for Bush on exactly the grounds you and Robert presented in TIA. Has the situation gotten better? No! Worse, both on the ground in Iraq and Iran and the Middle East in general and in terms of the philosophical foundations being used by the president and the administration to defend those actions. As I read the situation the defenses are already lowered about as far as they can go. There doesn't look like there is any real hope of anything but a diplmatic attempt with Iran, et al. Rumsfield is a shell of the man we saw at the beginning. Chaney is completely marginalized. How will voting Republican in the face of an ever lower resolve (everything is on the table according to Bush) help stave off a Muslim Theocracy over the long term? At this point, soley in terms of the war, it looks like a toss-up. Who are we going to elect in 2008 that would fight a real war? Who can we vote for this year that will support a real war? I see no one.

No candidate so far seems willing to fight the war that many of us Objectivists want. But, first, please note that this an entirely different issue than voting totally Democratic because of the supposed threat of an impending theocracy. THAT is really the focus of this thread.

There are several other threads where the details of fighting the war have been discussed, and it is in those threads that any substantial conversation should proceed. But, briefly, in regard to the election, many have argued, me included, that the Republicans, even if ineptly, are at least fighting our enemy, whereas the Democrats want to let them in our front door.

Let's try to keep discussion of the war per se in threads to which that subject is devoted, and keep this thread focused on the subject topic.

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Stephen,

I'm completely on your side in this issue, but I think it's difficult to keep the 'how best, or who best, to fight the war' issue entirely outside. After all, apart from the 'impending theocracy' line, the other side is using the restults of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as important element to support their hypothesis. They point to these and say, 'It had to be so, because of the premises on which they are being fought. Those same premises are the ones leading American culture to a theocracy.'

I think they are dead wrong, but their argument -- in part -- is not that the war is not merely being fought ineptly, but that Bush, et al are actively aiding the very thing they claim they want to fight. And, therefore, will not really fight it at all. Therefore, we would be better off without them.

Your thoughts?

Jeff

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"I think they are dead wrong, but their argument -- in part -- is not that the war is not merely being fought ineptly, but that Bush, et al are actively aiding the very thing they claim they want to fight. And, therefore, will not really fight it at all. Therefore, we would be better off without them."

This should read:

"I think they are dead wrong, but their argument -- in part -- is that the war is not merely being fought ineptly, but that Bush, et al are actively aiding the very thing they claim they want to fight."

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Stephen,

I'm completely on your side in this issue, but I think it's difficult to keep the 'how best, or who best, to fight the war' issue entirely outside. After all, apart from the 'impending theocracy' line, the other side is using the restults of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as important element to support their hypothesis.

But the subject of this thread is "Peikoff on the coming election," and Peikoff's statement, as quoted in the first post of the thread, does not mention the war. Peikoff's focus on the election is religion and his expectation of an impending theocracy. In fact, in his statement, Peikoff states explicitly that "the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."

So, in the context of this thread, the war is irrelevant. If Peikoff's supporters on this issue have somehow connected the war to the supposed impending theocracy, then that should be dealt with where that is asserted. I do not recall that connection ever being presented here on THE FORUM, but if you or anyone else are interested in discussing that, you can certainly start a new thread devoted to that topic. Frankly, I cannot even imagine what an argument for a connection between the war and an impending theocracy would even consist of, but if someone can make a coherent argument in support, then we can discuss it.

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That's a loaded question. Asking it assumes that theocracy in America is even possible.

Where is the evidence for THAT? What about all the "concrete-bound" evidence presented that indicates otherwise?

Dr. Peikoff provided what I consider ample evidence, philosophical analysis backed by concretes, in his course "DIM Hypothesis". Do you reject all of this?

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Dr. Peikoff provided what I consider ample evidence, philosophical analysis backed by concretes, in his course "DIM Hypothesis". Do you reject all of this?

Can you provide some of this evidence, please?

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Can you provide some of this evidence, please?

You can listen for yourself at www.aynrand.org.

(You have to register, but it's free.)

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You can listen for yourself at www.aynrand.org.

(You have to register, but it's free.)

I know. I started. But that's 15 hours worth. How much did you understand if you have trouble summarizing the essential points?

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Dr. Peikoff provided what I consider ample evidence, philosophical analysis backed by concretes, in his course "DIM Hypothesis". Do you reject all of this?

I would reject ANY philosophical analysis backed by concretes if those concretes are not CAUSALLY related to true philosophical principles.

What I find so unconvincing about the claim that a Republican victory will lead to a theocracy in less than 50 years is that nobody seems to be presenting a valid causal justification. I see loads of concrete facts and numbers, usually presented without historical or other context, but nobody seems to connect them to imminent theocracy.

They cite polls that show that 31% believe in an authoritarian god and 54% of Evangelical Protestants spend more than $50 a month on religious products. They point out how irrational religion is and its horrible consequences. They point to a movie like "Jesus Camp" to show how totally vicious some religious people are. Then they stand back and rest their case as if these facts are self-evident proof of imminent theocracy. It most certainly is not.

The very same cited facts can lead to many different conclusions than the one asserted. For instance, since religion is so irrational and destructive, it is also impractical and that could lead people to give up religion. Considering how pragmatic most Americans are (bless their little concrete-bound hearts!), that is the most likely outcome. Those very same facts might lead to Americans getting fed up with politicians who try to apply religion to public life. Observe that after the Terry Schiavo flap, Bush's popularity ratings went DOWN.

The advocates of the counter-intuitive -- and often counter-factual -- assertion that theocracy is imminent have the burden of providing a much better proof than they have so far.

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I would reject ANY philosophical analysis backed by concretes if those concretes are not CAUSALLY related to true philosophical principles.

OK, I see. I thought maybe that you hadn't listened to Dr. Peikoff's DIM analysis.

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I know. I started. But that's 15 hours worth. How much did you understand if you have trouble summarizing the essential points?

So the situation is that you are on an Objectivist forum, a detailed analysis is available for free by what I (and many) consider the top Objectivist philosopher in the world, and you want me, a non-philosopher, student of Objectivism to attempt to explain it to you. (BTW, it's 15 one-and-a-half -hour lessons.) If you make an effort to study his course, I will be happy to discuss my understanding of specific points. Otherwise, why should I make the effort?

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I know. I started. But that's 15 hours worth. How much did you understand if you have trouble summarizing the essential points?

So the situation is that you are on an Objectivist forum, a detailed analysis is available for free by what I (and many) consider the top Objectivist philosopher in the world, and you want me, a non-philosopher, student of Objectivism to attempt to explain it to you. (BTW, it's 15 one-and-a-half -hour lessons.) If you make an effort to study his course, I will be happy to discuss my understanding of specific points. Otherwise, why should I make the effort?

Well, you certainly do not HAVE to make the effort; putting forth effort is not a requirement per se for posting on THE FORUM. It is a desired trait, but not a formal requirement.

However, if you have noticed, we currently have over 7,700 separate threads, containing almost 42,000 posts. Many of those posts, but certainly not all, are answers to questions posed by other Objectivists who have read some of the works by THE foremost Objectivist, Ayn Rand, but not all of her works. Some of us who think we do understand, offer our understanding to actively minded people who may not be quite as informed as we. It's an optinal choice, whether to do so or not, but a choice often motivated by a combination of intellectual interest and a sense of benvolence.

But, as I said, participation like that is not a requirement. However, I must admit it is unusal, it is rather rare, that someone who does not want to put forth that effort bothers to particpate in that thread. Certainly there are times when someone asked a question, for instance, about epistemology, and it was suggested that the questioner read Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology. More typically, however, those who participate, answer the question.

In fact, I recall you bringing up the ideas of Robert Laughlin, referencing a book you had not read. We had an interchange of a few post in which I explained the ideas to you, and you ended by saying:

"That’s a very good identification. That is what I was trying to understand. Thank you."

If I had no intention of explaining Laughlin's ideas to you, I probably would not have participated in the thread. But in doing so, I put forth some effort to explain to you what I my knew quite well, and you benefitted from me doing so. I think that that is what Paul has asked here of you. He hasn't listened to the more than 15 hours of the DIM hypothesis, but he asked for an identification of some essentials in support of the thesis being questioned here. If you are not interested in explaining at least that little bit, then I am not sure why you are participating in this thread. If it is just as a cheerleader to say that Peikoff is right, without supporting defense of substance, then I would suggest there are blogs and other forums that are better suited for that purpose.

I also want to note, and this is not addressed directly to you, that I have noted some few Objectivists over the years who hold the philosophy much like religionists hold theirs; as a matter of faith. The writings of Objectivism are treated much like religionists treat the bible; they point to it as the word of God. But such an approach couldn't be more un-Objectivist, in that a philosophy of reason and individualism demands a firsthanded approach, an active mind that accepts no idea or principle as being true, without grasping the nature of that truth.

I recall a very strange experience at one of the Objectivist conferences not too long ago. After the conclusion of Leonard Peikoff's Induction lectures, which were labeled to be an 'historic moment,' one of us spoke privately to a non-technical Objectivist intellectual. He said that the material was too complicated for him, that it mostly went over his head, but he was sure it was brilliant. In fact, quite a few people were later asked to answer a rather simple question related to the material in the course, and not a one could give a rationally justifiable answer. Strange experience, indeed.

p.s. When you explained to Paul that you are just a "student of Objectivism," you did not mention that you have been a student for 44 years.

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Greetings.

It's me: The world's foremost pro-American non-American.

I've just finished reading the posts on this thread.

I strongly disagree with Leonard Peikoff's position and practically every part of what he says and where he's coming from.

From top to bottom, the whole thing is a mess.

In fact I even find the original question itself quite offensive in its outlook and tone: "In view of the constant parade of jackassery which is Washington ..."

Who asked this question? Was it a journalist? If so, which one? There is no link or reference. Was it Leonard Peikoff himself? Was it one of his colleagues? Was it a student at a lecture?

This sort of language being publicly used to characterize the people involved in Government is hardly the tone I'd expect of someone who claims to be "The world's foremost authority on Ayn Rand's philosophy: Objectivism". It's cheap and nasty. And it's unbecoming.

From its more lightweight assumptions such as "even if the two parties are both rotten" to its key assumptions "Republicans stand for religion" to its fear of America moving towards some kind of theocracy, Dr Peikoff's comments are way off the mark.

"Democrats stand for socialism ... " No they don't. Sure, the Democratic Party has plenty of socialistic types of policies, but I don't see that they stand for Socialism.

"Socialism—a fad of the last few centuries ... " Socialism has been a "fad"? A "fad" that has lasted a "few centuries"? Hey, that's some fad!

But socialism has "been almost universally rejected for decades"?

Has it been rejected? By who? Americans? The world? "Universally"? Does that mean by everyone? By the so-called left? By the intellectuals? I don't understand.

Religion is "the destroyer of man since time immemorial"?

I don't see how such an assertion can be made. I don't see religion as such to be a destroyer. I don't see it as the only destroyer or even as the greatest destroyer.

I think its sloppy of Leonard Peikoff to lump all religions together or to treat Christianity or Christians as one consistent body.

It's clear to me how destructive Islam is. But Islam is not just a religion. In what way and at what level is Christianity destructive?

For one thing, Christianity as such does not, to my knowledge, advocate the use of force.

After 2 years of studying Islam, I've only recently begun studying Christianity. My current project is to root out any evidence of Christian texts advocating either the use of the sword to spread its message and any evidence that Christianity advocates some combination of Church and State. So far I've found nothing.

There are other issues I need to explore regarding Christianity. In particular, its position on the mind and the mind's relationship to reality.

But let me point the reader to Pope Benedict XVI's amazing 9/12 speech. In this speech one of the world's leading Christian authorities:

  • Invoked the spirit of the Ancient Greeks
  • Criticised Kant
  • Declared that religion/morality and coercion don't mix

Leonard Peikoff claims that religion is "is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government."

Hold on a sec!

The notion that Americans could ever be moved towards a theocracyis - to put it mildly - ridiculous.

Have you ever actually met an American?

Have you ever listened to an American talking? Have you ever watched an American working?

You should try it some day.

On my two visits to the USA I made a point of chatting with as many "average Americans" as I could.

This is not a people who will ever accept any sort of dictatorship - socialist, fascist, green, or theocratic.

Don't be fooled by appearances. The American spirit is unique. There is nothing like it anywhere.

Show me an American and I'll show you a revolutionary.

Anyone who underestimates the ability and willingness of Americans to stand up and fight for liberty - their own and that of others - is in for a surprise.

During my trips to the United States I met with many religious Americans. Many enthusiastically religious Americans.

Driving across the USA we stopped one afternoon to have lunch at a KFC. This big guy with long hair and tatooes came up to me, gave me his card and invited me to his church. I had a pleasant chat with him. And then it struck me.

It wasn't that this fellow was being wildly religious. What he was doing was being American!

Americans don't wait for permission. They don't wait for things to be handed to them. They go out and get what they want. They go out and build what they need. They're self-reliant. They're high-energy. They get the job done!

In America, the atheists are enthusiastic. The Scientologists are enthusiastic. The Christians are enthusiastic. The Socialists are enthusiastic.

In America, they don't just play sports. They turn sports into a major event.

They bring in the cheerleaders (a distinctly American phenomenon). They bring in big business and big bucks (Business is the business of America). They hype it up. They think big. They enjoy and they profit. They merchandise. They broadcast. Go! Go! Go! USA! And they do it with pride!

Every American project is 1776 all over again.

And that includes religion.

George W Bush - whom I consider a great President - doesn't just go in to topple the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, he goes in to democratise the whole Middle East. It can be done. It should be done!

I urge all American Objectivists to VOTE REPUBLICAN on Tuesday.

Leonard Peikoff is out of step with all of this.

Has he ever met an American?

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I would reject ANY philosophical analysis backed by concretes if those concretes are not CAUSALLY related to true philosophical principles.

My one-word response: Amen! (topical irony intended) B)

What I find so unconvincing about the claim that a Republican victory will lead to a theocracy in less than 50 years is that nobody seems to be presenting a valid causal justification. I see loads of concrete facts and numbers, usually presented without historical or other context, but nobody seems to connect them to imminent theocracy.

They cite polls that show that 31% believe in an authoritarian god and 54% of Evangelical Protestants spend more than $50 a month on religious products. They point out how irrational religion is and its horrible consequences. They point to a movie like "Jesus Camp" to show how totally vicious some religious people are. Then they stand back and rest their case as if these facts are self-evident proof of imminent theocracy. It most certainly is not.

The very same cited facts can lead to many different conclusions than the one asserted. For instance, since religion is so irrational and destructive, it is also impractical and that could lead people to give up religion. Considering how pragmatic most Americans are (bless their little concrete-bound hearts!), that is the most likely outcome. Those very same facts might lead to Americans getting fed up with politicians who try to apply religion to public life. Observe that after the Terry Schiavo flap, Bush's popularity ratings went DOWN.

You can trade volleys of pro and con all day. "Bush consults with televangelists!" Oh, yeah? Well he also consults with Bono and Kofi Annan and Leftist atheists.

"He's for faith-based initiatves, which are merely wedges to institute Christian theocracy." He also calls Islam a "religion of peace" and hosts White House services for the Eid ending Ramadan. No kidding... B)

For all the citations of Christian fundamentalism turning this country into a theocracy, I can cite the Right's defeat of Terri Schiavo, or how one man, Michael Newdow, got the entire country to debate prayer in public school and the Pledge of Allegiance and nearly won its prohibition, or how virulently anti-Christian our major cultural forces such as academia, the press, the media, and Hollywood are, or how the ACLU wins case after case to bar references to Christian or Jewish religion, yet fights for, and wins, taxpayer-subsidized references to Islam, and on and on. I'd wager the con list far outweighs the pro.

It all boils down to what Betsy said at the top. The causes must point indisputably to the effect, and they just don't.

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Greetings. It's me: The world's foremost pro-American non-American.
Greetings, Prodos, and it's great to see you post to The Forum. I love your show, and keep up with your archives, er, religiously. I also love your American spirit and that you are such a great salesman of capitalism and reason in the Oceanic world.

If I might offer my two cents, the comment about "jackassery" came from a gentleman who e-mailed a question to Dr. Peikoff. He also posted to The Forum here. Personally, I thought he went easy on Washington, but that's just me. Our political and military leadership really is a mess.

Democrats don't stand for much, you're right, but they definitely do legislate and promote a considerably damaging amount of socialism. Moreover, they are extremely nihilistic, the implications of which I know you fully understand. I think they are to be feared much more than the Right.

I took Dr. Peikoff to mean that religion was a destroyer of man, but not the only one. He may have been tieing religion to the broader corrupting phenomenon of mysticism -- I couldn't exactly tell from his statement. But applying Objectivism to Dr. Peikoff's position, Christianity is most definitely destructive, and at every level. It is anti-mind, anti-life, anti-morality, anti-everything that man needs to live as he can and should. To whatever extent Christians have lived a happy, productive, selfish life throughout the ages, it is the extent to which they have rejected the Bible and the Church and embraced reason. The massive extent to which President Bush is morally uncertain about smashing Islamofascism is largely attributable to his Christian faith. And the Bible has commands to initiate force all over the place, mostly in the OT. Also, it tells us to surrender ourselves to God's will, which makes life impossible.

I don't know if America could ever become a theocracy -- if so, it'd be America in name only -- but the issue raised by Dr. Peikoff is whether or not Christians are becoming a dominant cultural-political force and using the GOP (the Republican party) to institute a Christian theocracy in the near future. I think they are not even close on both counts.

As for President Bush's success in fighting terrorism, I would respectfully suggest you examine the direct results that his military and foreign policies have had, such as negotiating with openly hostile Islamic nations, dealing with a hostile UN, creating rules of engagement that put our soldiers at tremendous risk and make it impossible to defeat the enemy, punishing our soldiers for killing the enemy, treating the enemy's ideology with respect, failing to confront imminent military threats, and so on.

Dr. Peikoff deserves better than to question his Americanism. He has written OPAR, which by itself is a monumental philosophical achievement, and gives mankind singular intellectual ammunition to live life properly. But he hardly stopped there. And yes, he has met many Americans and knows what America is all about. He even met, befriended, and became the intellectual heir to the greatest American of all: Ayn Rand. By any fair reckoning, he is among the greatest Americans himself.

That said, I hope you'll become a regular here on The Forum.

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So the situation is that you are on an Objectivist forum, a detailed analysis is available for free by what I (and many) consider the top Objectivist philosopher in the world, and you want me, a non-philosopher, student of Objectivism to attempt to explain it to you. (BTW, it's 15 one-and-a-half -hour lessons.) If you make an effort to study his course, I will be happy to discuss my understanding of specific points. Otherwise, why should I make the effort?

Well, in Post 234, you made a postive statement. As this is a forum for discussing ideas, it is up to you to provide support for those ideas. Why should I spend 15 hours of my life on something that you can't demonstrate understanding of by providing a one paragraph (or whatever length) answer to a question? Suppose I responded to you and said, "Dr. Peikoff's points have been refuted. I've already answered your concerns, and you should go reread the entire 200+ posts in this thread, then go read another 5 threads and put the relevant points together for yourself?" Am I providing an answer to your question, or does it appear that I'm avoiding answering because I can't demonstrate my own understanding?

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Show me an American and I'll show you a revolutionary.

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"Freedom-loving Americans begged us to make the difference in the most closely contested election in the nation's history," said Heston.

"Liberty was on the line, and God bless you, you who made the difference," he said.

Heston added: "You are of the same lineage as the farmers who stood at Concord Bridge" at the start of the American Revolution.

Given a musket from that war, he held it above his head and said, "I have only five words for you: From my cold, dead hands."

Heston guns for fourth NRA term

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I recall a very strange experience at one of the Objectivist conferences not too long ago. After the conclusion of Leonard Peikoff's Induction lectures, which were labeled to be an 'historic moment,' one of us spoke privately to a non-technical Objectivist intellectual. He said that the material was too complicated for him, that it mostly went over his head, but he was sure it was brilliant. In fact, quite a few people were later asked to answer a rather simple question related to the material in the course, and not a one could give a rationally justifiable answer. Strange experience, indeed.

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This is an extremely interesting point. In the first two lectures of the DIM Hypothesis that I've listened to, Dr. Peikoff is frequently asking questions of his audience. Few answers demonstrate a good grasp of what he is talking about and what his focus is. Many answers are way off base. This is fine, but as has been demonstrated by many people who use their support for the DIM Hypothesis on several other blogs and forums, I have yet to see an explanation that shows that the DIM explains how Evangelicals cause theocracy.

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Hooray! Prodos is posting on the forum!

For what it's worth, the best case against Christianity (fully implemented) is to observe the results of history; what happens when it gains political power. Usually, it's people who exploit it, twist it to their advantage (Tetzel's sale of indulgences being one of history's more memorable examples); but it's the inherent fact that it rests on faith that makes it a potential problem. I attended a Catholic high school, met some great (and other not-so-great) people, with fantastic senses of life and appreciation of achievement. So I don't deny that your average 'religionist' can be as enthusiastic about life as you or me. But inherent in that enthusiasm is a commitment to reality, to achieving life, and so forth. Faith, however, requires one to accept a statement in the absence of evidence, that is, in opposition to reality. So the mixture is an uneasy one.

Your summary was excellent:

"I find Leonard Peikoff's characterization of politicians and public servants to be false! Wrong! They do not match reality."

I don't think Peikoff has correctly assessed the level of threat from religion. But its potential for evil is there.

Oh, and you're right when you say that Christianity doesn't advocate violence. What it advocates is pacifism - love your enemy - and that's just as bad, because it enables violence. It discourages judgement too. And oozes egalitarianism. I could go on.

Here's a question for the forum at large:

My observation has been that Peikoff always argues against religion first and foremost. His speech on America vs Americans is one of several examples. Andrew Bernstein, however, in his Villainy article (which, by the way, I have nothing but endless praise for) suggests that religion is 'less' an evil than socialism due to its egoistic 'components'.

To Peikoff, religion > socialism, in terms of evil.

To Bernstein, socialism > religion.

I should add that I'm aware how much of a gross oversimplification this is of both men's arguments. But that's the essence of it. Is there a contradiction here?

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