"I HAVE TOUCHED THE FACE OF GOD" - HIGH FLIGHT by John Gillespie Magee; 1941
Supreme Being or Supreme Principle? Part I

Many in the atheist movement were shocked when long-time advocate of atheism, Antony Flew said that he now believed in God. This caused a negative reaction because the theists were doing huzzahs and handstands. Flew went on to say that this was not the god that is taken as "God" but more as a force of organization of nature. Over the last 350 years, God has become seen less as a "person" and more as a force as more and more of the "person"-related beliefs are proven to be rediculous mumbo-jumbo. We just haven't been the same since Gallileo.

I have maintained for years that there is no such thing as atheism or atheists. Yet I am as much a nonbeliever as the next. How do these two things square (integrate in a non-contradictory way)? All of this centers around one question, and here my Providence College Dominican education makes itself clear. "Does God exist?" If you say "no" then that finishes the discussion. If you say "Yes" Then we move on to the next questions and their answers. Referring to "atheism" or "atheist(s)" is a verbal shorthand that lebels someone as having said "No" to that question. And no more than that: Defining oneself or others as "atheist" or, as the Soviets tried, to "teach atheism" has no intellectual merit.

How come?

Because there is no such thing since it references what a doctrine or person is not, rather than what it or he is "atheism" and "atheist" tell me nothing that could not be said better by "Communist" or" Randite/Objectivist [the former term meaning an unabashed adherent to the full and original version of the latter: I'm so "conservative' here that I might consider Peikoff's material as revisionist. As is characteristic of me, I like mine straight so that I don't have to futz around with it to make it work right, and strong so that it can handle the abuse that I can dish out as part of using it. I tested my computer by drop-kicking it across the street]". A definition, by nature, is a list of affirmatives, not negatives. This is so because you can directly prove only affirmatives and you cannot prove a negative In logic, you "prove" that x is not true by proving that y is and that y being true rules out x being true. A position, doctrine or person can be atheistic but that is the extent of it. The label is a verbal shorthand for a whole list of things, some true and some false. This explains the rather comic effect of what happened when some atheists protested a Christmas display that included the dreaded manger scene as being uninclusive and were told "OK put one of your own up alongside it" and just made an empty area. They could have at least put up a Festivus for the Restivus pole. I could have easily met that challenge. I'd have put up a secular display. But then I don't define myself by what I'm not, but by what I am, a Randite; through and through and passionately so. That makes me a thoroghgoing Romantic and a hard-core Realist. As I've said, before "My two biggest passions are Space Patrol and Objectivism; the philosophical system of Ayn Rand. The first is a beacon from a bright and interesting future and the second is the means to get there". It also makes me totally atheistic with the understanding that if you can demonstrate the existence of God or gods. I will be perfectly willing and happy to change my mind. BTW: if you feel inclined to call me a "cultist"; GO RIGHT AHEAD; BUT DON'T SAY YOU WEREN'T WARNED>

Beyond, and the very heart of, that, having a negative in your essential list of characteristics negates the process of logic. The basic law of reasoning is The Law of Identity: A is A. If I define by negation, this first and basic principle of thought and understanding can not get traction because I am defining a non-identity. This leads to non-logic and non-rationality. Besides which there are plenty of persons willing to fill in the blank that you are leaving. Jerry Doyle has said "When I look at an atheist, I see nothing". Some years back I found a site listing the logical fallacies. Upon investigation, I found it belonged to an atheist group on Yahoo. I joined. What I found was a group totally the opposite of me, supporting Evironmentalism and using ad hominem attacks on their opponents. When I callced that into question I was told that (Rush Limbaugh) was a legitimate target to which I said "True, but it's not about the legitimacy of the target but of the tactics. If we violate our own rules, we not only are no better, but, in fact, worse and certainly dumb![it being the case that factual premises and valid reasoning yield true conclusions, how is abandoning valid reasoning by deliberately committing a gross fallacy in our interest?]". Further investigation showed there to be a good deal of anti-Objectivism as well (big suprise, huh!?). I did not remain there long after that. Any third-rate Dominican could have single-handlely wiped, washed, polished and buffed the floor up with this bunch, which made them a security risk to me. And to hear Madalyn Murry O'Hare going on about the "happy atheists in the Soviet Union". which I actually heard her do, would make any untrained sane person run to the nearest church and say "sign me up".

I've heard Rush Limbaugh say, as a rejoinder to the Environmentalists' claim of the near-exhaustion of our fossil fuels that "...God is making more oil". Also to the same effect that the Environmentalists' claims are false "...I believe in creation". Well, he did say in 2003 that Iraq would be "a cakewalk" so I guess he knows something the military doesn't as well as knowing something that geologists don't and something that astrophysicists don't. Another Rush quote; "[the libs]... laugh at people who believe things that can't be proved". Aside from the fact that somebody ought to, isn't it a wee bit hypocritical coming from the guy who trashes liberals from here to Andromeda and back for putting "feeling above reason"? Something about glass houses with trebochets in the back yard that get daily use. In sports, we call this "letting the other team hang around to come back and bite you" and "not closing the door [on the other team]"

This is how the worst elements of the Right have polluted the discussion and have done more to obscure the better aspects of their ideology and leave the door open for the left to trash them as part of their own rather twisted agenda. In the case of Rush, those were three home run pitches that had Airhead America any sense, they'd have featured those quotes in their ads and prospered. For decades the conservative commentators talked about "Godless Communism". For about 40 years I would pose the question "would Communism be OK if it was not 'Godless'?" I have my answer and it is as I thought. Another example; Existentialism, which is taken as the quintessential form of Nihilsm allows for beilief in God and the whole thing. There is even a bramch of that sorry system called Christian Existentialism. The Kicker. The liberal commentator, Jay Diamond, has said of the consevatives' economic system of choice "[it is]...the product of a devout Russian atheist". and so many conservatives, from Rush Limbaug to Matt Allen have at one time or other praised Atlas Shrugged as having the right answers to economic questions while being stupidly oblivious to the context of how those answers apply.

For decades, the theists have portrayed themselves as believers in a universal order and the non-believers as apostles of nature, as supporters of a haphazard way of thiking. Those of you who follow this website know what I have to say about that. If not then now is as good a time as any to ACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH IT. It is this claim that gives theists entree into the world of credibility. It is also the use of childhood indoctrination that disables otherwise rational and good persons from using the same critical thinking that they would use in evaluation a car or medicine from doing the same with the more outrageous claims of theism and the cult of personality that is Christianity. of a specific area of which Ayn Rand said "This is the psychology of gargoyles; But in the United States!?, In the Twentieth Century!?". Imagine a grown-up picking up the Bible and reading it and being told he should believe this actually happened: I am writing this from my hospital bed having fallen over from intense laughter and broken an arm and two ribs and collapsed a lung. Yet when you see the Professional Atheists, you gotta stop and wonder. Well they are what they are because of what I said in the third paragraph.

The sad fact is that "atheist"s do include Nihilists, as does the Christian religion. It can be argued that religion, by appealing to faith, which is the acceptance of soemthing without regard to proof (factual premises and valid reasonong) is the ultimate form of Nihilism since its implicit premise is that, where the rubber meets the road, facts, reason, truth and order don't matter and therefore, neither can principles based on them. The aforementioned Rush got all bent out of shape saying "the libs laugh at people like me who believe what can't be proven". Well, somebody should. Besides whicn Rush has made a living attacking the libs for being intellectually weak so they'll hit the targets that they can find so it's up to him to be bulletproof; you cannot do those who cannot be done. If you have the epistemology of a mind-numbed robot (faith in the modern sense; not in the Thomistic sense), you've shot one leg out from under yourself. When you attack your opponents for being mind-numbed robots, they can say "at best, so are you so we're not answerable to you" so you've left the gun lying around for them to shoot the other leg out from under you. But then too, the libs are vulnerable to the same charge, when I heard one of the Airhead America hosts saying that the conservatives should "crack open a science boook, I laughed so hard I nearly choked on my Italian sub sandwich. This from the movement that gave us Environmentalism; the most overt and virulently anti-science movement bar none, the public schools, and support for an economic system that has failed whereever it has been tried and who demonstrate a smarmy holier-than-thoug streak that puts an Evangelical to shame and a voice so full of hatrd that I didn't understand how come they had not already drowned in their own bile. The whole thing being a cross between a New England social worker, Elmer Gantry and Nazi gauleiter. So it cuts both ways. "Atheists" also include the most Aristotelian of all philosophies, to. A Randite and a Thomist can go toe to toe and I consider the Thomists to be good guys and will let nobody abuse the Domincans and was accorded the best of treatment by the Domincans at Providence College, too. Ayn RAnd was a huge fan of St. Thomas Aquinas. TRIVIA: J.R.R. Tolkien was a Thomist.

Here's another bit of trivia: in one of her last speeches at the Ford Hall Forum, Miss Rand said "If I were a religious person, I would say 'God Bless America' I am saying it anyway". The fact is, she did--and she was! She was also very fond of a Spanish Proverb that went "God said 'take what you want and pay for it'". Here's one more for you "Soren Kierkegaard was better than the Existentialists. He was a religious man": Puzzle that one out!

Well Space Patroller. you've gone and put your foot in it now; and up to your waist, too! How are you going to get out of this one?

One of the more fascinating science fiction writers was Cordwainer Smith. He wrote a series of stories set about 14.000 years from now in a setting called "the Instrumentality of Mankind". A subset of this was "the Rediscovery of Mankind". A good number of his stories had things that were obviously impossible, like solar wind-sail powered interstellar colony ships in "the Lady who Sailed the Soul" which showed that the story was more about the old sailing ships than starships

"A god? What do you call a god?"
"A person or an idea[emphasis added] capable of starting wholly new cultural patterns in motion."
--Cordwainer Smith: Under Old Earth
Now since I don't believe in angels, deamons gpblins or the Easter Bunny (I dunno about the tooth fairy; I accidently put one of my false teeth under the pillow and woke up with a frog in my throat: No, I mean a frog and there was a note that said "Keep it up, Furball and the next time I'll croak you for good -Dona Lunandra Anise Dorestella Argenta-Taradine"), and the rest of the Supernaturalist gobbledygook, and since I do hold to the idea that there are over-arching spirutual things that do act in the real world, this is where I am looking

First, the religionists have not cornered the market on the orderly universe idea. In fact if you look at it in it's present form, like the fiat money system, religion demands as a pre-condition, faith, which is the intentional belief in that which is admittedly and specifically unprovable without regard to, or even counter to, facts. This would have Aquinas rolling in his grave: He said "it is better not to believe in God at all than to believe on faith." Faith only becomes an issue as to the goodness and worth of the Word of God ("Sacred Doctrine"), not the existence thereof. Aquinas held to the necessity of strict standards of proof. However, you cannot prove the existence of anything: You demonstate it. I can't even prove that I exist; nor do I have to. It is self-evident. A rejoinder to the assertion that I must do so can be "Gee, If I found myself talking to something that does not exist, I'd see a shrink; they have places and medicines for that". Alternatively and more dramatically, you can wad up a sheet of paper and peg it at the offending non-mentality and ask just why he ducked and take it from there.

The other leg upon which theists rests is that much of what the Bible says is true. The difference is that these truths are psychological, not physical and many psychological truths are not physical ones, merely a correct identification of a fact of another aspect of reality that pertains uniquely to one or a few persons or are metaphors. These truths could just as easily been derived by other means, as many pagan societies did, and it is the inclusion of these truths with the mombo-jumbo, such as rising from the dead, curing diease by laying on of hands and the afterlife, that brings them into disrupute among those who use critical thinking. Who then get lumped in with the professional skeptic who would disbelieve that 1+1=2 despite all the evidence and proof.

Also many of the deeper forms of science fiction delve into things like "the Godlike whoe" or a "God engine". Beyond that, Religion has attached philosphy to itself.

Ahhh; now you're getting there. In fact it was specifically the Aristotelian philosophy that religion claimed as it's own and it was the fall of some of the basic tenets of Aristotelian physical science that the Nihilists use to attack Aristotelian philosophy and try to supplant it with things that are so bizarre, arcane and convoluted that their stuff fits more with religion that Aristotelian philosophy. Beyond that the religionist fails to understand the conscepts of identity and probability that lead them to create the false dichotomy of a created versus a haphazard universe. Of course like begets like, if two dogs mate, what else but a dog could result? Dogs are dogs, not cats: not spiders, you don't need ghosts, goblins or gargoyles to get that, just a microscope that can see mitochondriae. And the idea of a "creator in that sense runs contrary to the conservation laws "Neither matter nor energy can be created from nothing nor destroued to nothing, only changed in form". If God exists, then He has to be something (has an identity) and has to be somewhere. So before God can exist, you need the something and somewhere to be that something, so you're no better off than before you posited God as having created it all. More likely you're worse off because you have another being to explain and make fit in and you know what William of Occam sad about that. The universe at large fills the bill for the "uncaused first cause"; that which you must have to get the rest. So now where are we?

Well, over the past 2,000 years, in order to gain traction. the idea of God has come to include a "first principle". That is, a principle from which all others come.

However, principles aren't things like space, time, matter and energy. They are derivatives based on the activity of the faculty of mentality applied to the things or space, time, enerrgy and matter, then used to mentally address the behavior of those things.

This being so then if you look at my model of philosophy: METAPHYSICS: The way the world works, EPISTEMOLOGY: What do I know and how do I know it, ETHICS: Can I tell good from evil and how so, POLITICS: Are there things that we need to bar from human life and what are they and how do we best do this: and ESTHETICS: What is the role of art, you see a series of related sets of questions and variables. The problem persons have with this is that they are unused to thinking of matters that are overarching all of being, knowing and doing. Yet this is the highest level of consciousness. If you look at the religious definition of the soul, you get "The intellect and will". If you look at what I use, you get the following definition of Mankind" "The only Terrestrial animal the unique characteristic of which is volitional rational consciousness". They are both the same. except I look upon the "soul" as a fcaulty or characteristic rather than some kind of "thing". Without getting into the mechanical details, it follows that principles are the material used by the human mentality to navigate and steer the being. Thus my quote that "Principles are the stars we steer by". The right principles, properly applied, be it in physics, medicine, or ethics, lead to success in the specific endeaver and if consistently, to happiness born of general success. The wrong ones can only lead to failure, and if not changed, misery. Now presuming that one finds and adopts a principle that generates, subsumes and enables all principles, or as stated by others "factual premises and valid reasoning yield true conclusions" What would that lead to? Not infallibility or omniscience but an overall record of success in one's endeavors sufficient to cause the overall emotional consequences of being competent to live and worthy of living.

It would not be a supreme being, but it would be a supreme principle. The uncaused first cause of all principles that unify into a coherent whole all other pricniples which kind of addresses the Unified Field Theory, too, the sum of all there is and that which binds the mind to the whole of the universe. "Getting" it would raise consciousness, the specifically human attaribute, to the highest state possible. It's that which you could say "makes the world go round". If you could lock that down, how happy would that make you as a human being? Unless you're a genetically programmed grouch, it'd "put you in orbit". You'd have to be the Grinch of all grinches for it not to. Isn't that what God does? In one sense it does generate a supreme being by elevating the level of human consciousness as high as it can go. In another sense, it's only the starting and therefore, lowest, point to living at the human level of existence.

That is all well and good, but is that psssible? The impediments are pretty big, Its explanation would require a statement and a demonstration to support it. Is there such?

Ayn Rand described her system as "a philosophy for living on earth [in the real world], with happiness as Man's goal and Reason as his sole guide". Now that's something you don't see everyday, Chauncey. What's that Edgar? "Happiness as a goal and Reason as the means". The dichotomy of Reason and Happiness is part of Stoicism, not Aristtolianism. All Aristotle did was demonstrate that consciousness had to preceed pleasure on the chain of existence, Which he did when he confronted the Hedonists. In fact much of Aristotelian philosophy deals with "appetitive Man" and teaches you how to bend the emotions (sorry Spock) and appetites to one's will and make them one's servatnts. Despite her abundance of quotable quotes and the material of brilliance in her notes, Rand did not regared herself as highly intelligent, simply as having "gotten" and applied it. The same with me. I regard myself as an ordinary person who knows a good thing when I find it. True I've acquired the highest level of consciousness possible but that just makes me better off, not inherently better. It's there for anyone and I want everyone to get it. For one thing, all would know that evil, unaided by inaction or tacit approval, cannot succeed, only destroy its practitioners, and realize more that Erhardt or any of the EST-ians, the full meaning of "When you tell it like it is, your word is law in the Universe". Now you understand my aversion to evil and why it was said of me. "You don't have any Envy [in the sense of resenting those who have what I don't]". I know too much and where the bodies are buried. I've also said that I'd rather be a competent bad guy than an incompetent good guy. But then, If I were competent, I wouldn't need to be a bad guy, would I? In fact, that would be an impediment in my dealings with people and make it harder to get what I need and want.

OK, Give!

I've been pointing to philosophy. This is for a reason. As I said elswhere "Philosophy writes the software we use to navigate the world". It will not tell me a thing about any scientific material, but it will shape my attitude toward science, It will not give me a moral code, but it will tell me how to decide good from evil and come up with a moral code. It will not tell me why hip-hop is crap but it will be fundamental to my decision that it is (It's a jumble of musical tones, lyrics that are usually hateful and rhythm none of which hangs togeter and clashes with the idea of a world that isn't a mess of worms all squirming around their separate ways) Better philosophy; better software; better results; better off. When Rand wrote Introduction to objectivist Epistemology, she introduced two things which I use

  1. IRREDUCIBLE PRIMARY: That which cannot be broken down or analyzed further without leaving the topic at hand. In philosophy, that is the workings of the universe as a whole. To analyze further would get into the realm of the "special" sciences which would be unproductive since it would take you into the minutiae of the mechanisms at work. All you need to know is that they are at work and build your universal laws around that: Gravity, not love, steers the stars.
  2. AXIOMATIC CONCEPT; a single idea (concept) that makes the particular world (in this case Randite philosophy) go 'round and is an irreducible primary: the "given" that makes it all happen.
For Randism, it is "Existance exists". As recounted in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, asked what she meant by existence she described sweeping her hand across the whole area and said "I mean this [and by extension, the whole universe, which from our point of view is an irreducible primary]". Asked what she meant by "exists" she said "has being outside and prior to our knowledg, thoughts and feelings". Everything else derives from that. It is the axiom or foundation of Randism, why she called her philosphy "Objectivism" and its referent is that which cannot be proved or refuted. To "porve" something is to connect it to facts, the existence of which is establshed. To refute it, is to implicitly accept it. It binds the volitional rational consciousness to the Whole Damn Thing without boggling it with the details all at once. "The Only choice open to Man is to think or not to think": The rest follows. If you don't apply that consciousness to the external world, you don't make the connection, you fail and possibly die. Let's compare that with the Newtonian Synthesis: "The laws of science work throughout the universe though the particulars may vary". Yeah, huh? This explains a characteristic of her novels that took me years to figure out: They had denouments, but not endings, they just pointed to a future (for the reader to fill in?). If principles are the stars we steer by, then an axiomatic concept; any axiomatic concept; is the Polaris of the whole thing.

Miss Rand has attained the status of a pseudo-cult figure. When I explain the rest you will understand how come. Remember her quote about "...'God bless America'" and I said, she has and she is? By explicitly stating "Existence exists" she enabled us to "put our arms around" the whole universe. What would you expect? Given that and the rest of what she has wrought in the Randite philosophy and with crystal clarity and metallic hardness, If her words were your first experience with that, which is the case with many 18-25 year-olds, How would you react if you had an ounce of humanit? However, there is MORE.