In my second edition of Guest Blogger, I am excited to have a man write for Atheist Evolution whom I have known and respected for 12 years. Martin Gasser and I first met in the crucible of military unarmed combat, and although he was in a leadership position in the regiment to which I belonged, I always considered him a friend and looked up to him as a person. I have served under him proudly in the best years of my career, and we served together overseas on my first NATO tour. He taught me much of what I know about the military, and the skills that I need to survive in the battlefield and, although he doesn't know it, he teaches me still more to this day in helping me develop the way that I think about, and view the universe.
It was 11 years after our first meeting that I learned of his objectivist outlook (sadly after he had moved away and the possibility of talking about it over beers was far more unlikely), and I hope you will enjoy the same surprise and urge for introspection that his words gave to me.
Before I ramble on too much, here is Martin Gasser on;
"The Atheist Conclusion"
Martin Gasser is a 23 year veteran of the Canadian armed forces in the Royal Canadian Dragoons. As a reconnaissance soldier he has served overseas numerous times as both soldier and leader. He is a father and a husband, and a strident thinker. His objectivist leanings were inspired by Ayn Rand and her words, and you can read HIS words and thoughts at his blog "Uncommon Sense"
Considering that this is a blog specifically about Atheism I guess, logically it falls to me to explain why Objectivists arrive at the Atheist conclusion. That goal drags me back to axiomatic metaphysical and epistemological positions.
Objectivist Metaphysics acknowledges that the universe is stable, which is to say that it is governed by natural laws. It is knowable and the laws governing it are absolute. Mans knowledge of the laws governing the universe may be incomplete in places but there are natural and scientific laws, and the universe does work in accordance with them. The fact that we do not, as of yet, understand all there is to understand does not negate the facts of this reality.
All religions, to some extent, deny the knowable universe. To them it is malleable (unstable), able to be altered on the whim of their deity. It sprang out of nothing created by and for god. It is also unknowable, in that God can (and may) arbitrarily alter any and all of its “laws”. So while all mystics (the faithful, true believers, the religious and the pious of any and all faiths organized or not) do seek to acquire knowledge from and about the Universe as it is they, through their religion, introduce the arbitrary, the fanciful and the miraculous into it.
Epistemologically objectivists recognize man as a being of rational faculty, which is to say that he validates knowledge through the use of his mind. Man is born tabula rasa, it is through reason that he integrates and validates the information from his senses. He can through this process arrive at certainty with regard to the knowledge he has integrated. Epistemologically Objectivism knows that man MUST think to survive.
Mystics believe man can be granted certain knowledge through divine revelation, and that there is no validation required for certain ideas and ideals garnered by that method. The religious claim that we possess certain innate knowledge, that our brains are pre-loaded from the factory as it were. At the core, the believer can not claim any knowledge as being irrefutable for the mere existence of God, an omnipotent being, means that what is true and valid today could be negated tomorrow by divine mandate. All of these epistemological machinations lead to one thing, the separation of man from the process of thought, from reason. He is told to believe certain things only because god ordained it and not through any rational process. He, therefore, knows that he can not rely on the real physical world and its laws because it could all change if God willed it.
The mystics take the arbitrary and make the word of god out of it. Remember that religious metaphysics (how one views the universe), epistemology (how one acquires knowledge about that universe), and ethics (how one ought to react within human society) is based on the arbitrary.
For the Objectivist it is from the metaphysical and epistemological that we derive our atheism. It is a by-product of the philosophy, a corollary of our existence in the real known and knowable universe. It isn’t a central tenant, it’s not a commandment or a directive but a rational, non-contradictory position arrived at by observing reality and integrating that information through the use of reason. Any philosophy (including all religions) that proposes or supports the existence of god must do so arbitrarily, without evidence and without reason to back it up.
Objectivism simply can't accept this sort of unstable universe, nor that irrational approach to it without denying the central tenet to it.
Man must think to survive.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed providing it. I also hope I have been able to show you, how Objectivists arrive at atheism as a true and valid position. If you want to know more about the Objectivist position or Objectivism itself I would recommend the resources available for free from the Ayn Rand Institute (http://www.aynrand.org/).