Nate Smith

Ayn Rand on Religion

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I was just reading the articles (1 & 2) on The Jerusalem Post forwarded by ARI. There was a quote by Ayn Rand that I hadn't read before (in the second link):

"I want to fight religion as the root of all human lying and the only excuse for suffering."

It's interesting, but I don't fully see her point. I'd like to hear some comments from people on this, particularly how religion is the root of all human lying.

Thanks.

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I was just reading the articles (1 & 2) on The Jerusalem Post forwarded by ARI. There was a quote by Ayn Rand that I hadn't read before (in the second link):

"I want to fight religion as the root of all human lying and the only excuse for suffering."

It's interesting, but I don't fully see her point. I'd like to hear some comments from people on this, particularly how religion is the root of all human lying.

Thanks.

I take it that she means it allows humans to lie to themselves; that it makes irrationality "respectable", and irrationality is the cause of suffering.

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I was just reading the articles (1 & 2) on The Jerusalem Post forwarded by ARI. There was a quote by Ayn Rand that I hadn't read before (in the second link):

"I want to fight religion as the root of all human lying and the only excuse for suffering."

It's interesting, but I don't fully see her point. I'd like to hear some comments from people on this, particularly how religion is the root of all human lying.

Thanks.

The statement itself isn't a formulation in her mature philosophy. It was written in her private journal on April 19, 1934 when she was 29. It's probably too long too quote here, but you can find the entry in Journals of Ayn Rand. It had to do with religion breaking a child's ability to think with abstractions connected to reality, including the role of self-interest, thereby undermining his thinking before he even gets started. Here is an excerpt:

I want to prove that religion breaks a character before it's formed, in childhood, by teaching a child lies before he knows what a lie is, by breaking him of the habit of thinking before he has begun to think, by making him a hypocrite before he knows any other possible attitude toward life. If a child is taught ideals that he knows are contrary to his own deepest instincts, [ideals] such as unselfishness, meekness, and self-sacrifice, if he is told he is a miserable sinner for not living up to ideals he can never reach and doesn't want to reach, then his natural reaction is to consider all ideals as out of his reach forever, as something theoretical and quite apart from his own actual life. Thus the beginning of self-hypocrisy, the killing of all desire for a living ideal.

Religion is also the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one tenth of its possibility, yet before they learn to think they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith.

(If you don't have Phil's Objectivist Research CDROM get it while you still can!)

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