Objectivist and radio talk show host, Amy Peikoff, “The Logical Atheist” debates Fox News’s Tucker Carlson about a study that purported to show that atheists are more closed-minded than religious people.
(Tucker inaccurately labels Peikoff a feminist, a more accurate description would be an individualist or, even more definitively, an Objectivist).
Q. “If religion is instrumental in spreading altruism, can we fight altruism in America without fighting religion?”
A. “In America, religion is relatively non-mystical. Religious teachers here are predominantly good, healthy materialists. They follow common sense. They would not stand in our way. The majority of religious people in this country do not accept on faith the idea of jumping into a cannibal’s pot and giving away their last shirt to the backward people of the world. Many religious leaders preach this today, because of their own leftist politics; it’s not inherent in being religious. There are many historical and philosophical connections between altruism and religion, but the function of religion in this country is not altruism. You would not find too much opposition to Objectivism among religious Americans. There are rational religious people. In fact, I was pleased and astonished to discover that some religious people support Objectivism. If you want to be a full Objectivist, you cannot reconcile that with religion; but that doesn’t mean religious people cannot be individualists and fight for freedom. They can, and this country is the best proof of it.”
At the age of thirteen, Ayn Rand decided she was an atheist. Her reason: “the concept of God is degrading to man.” One major form of this degradation is religion’s effect on genuine values, including sacred values. This idea is prominent in her early writings and continues to be featured in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, as well as in her nonfiction.
In this lecture and Q&A, recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, philosophy professor Robert Mayhew examines this aspect of Ayn Rand’s distinctive approach to atheism.