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Intriguing Parallels

I am currently reading, among other things, “Who Wrote the Bible?” by R. E. Friedman. My interest in this book comes from a desire to flesh-out my belief that the Bible is a fiction created by man to express a particular vision of existence that grew from early interpretations of his physical and social world. I consider the Bible to be an early compilation of philosophical treatises born in the psychologies of the individuals involved in it’s creation, rather than divinely inspired works. It presents a particular vision of existence, with a particular associated epistemology, and a particular moral theory.

I have never read the Bible. The closest I ever came to the Bible was a picture book I was given as a child, the occasional discussions I have had at my door with Jehovah Witnesses, and what I have found in hotel rooms. I get the sense that the Old Testament has a very different message and vision to the New Testament. From what I can gather, the Old Testament seems to be very absolutist, commandment oriented, and focussed on the control extending from the centre-outward. (This social structure reminds me of ARI and what happens on SOLOP.) The New Testament strikes me as having more of an appreciation for the relative perspective of individuals towards the Absolute, personal will, personal judgement, self-monitoring, and self-guidance, all within the framework of the absolutes given by God. I get the sense the New Testament is more about finding God’s absolutes from one’s relative perspective rather than having God’s absolute perspective flow through and displace one’s relative perspective. (This social structure reminds me more of TOC and what we do here.)

I am looking for feedback on these thoughts. Is my sense of the Old and New Testaments on the right track? Is there any books anyone might suggest I read along the lines of these thoughts? Does anyone else see any parallels with the Objectivist movement and Christianity?

Thanks,

Paul

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If your experience with the Bible is as you say, Paul, then you are a neophyte on this subject. You won’t know what people are talking about when they refer to the Torah and other texts detailing the Abrahamic family experiences and the exodus of the Jews from Israel with Moses. You won’t see the relevance of this and Jewish prophesy to what happens in the New Testament. All you are noticing now is that the New Testament seems to be a kinder and gentler version of the Old Testament, and this is what you compare to the ARI and TOC. Gee, Paul, there is so much more!

Yes, the Old Testament portrays God as sort of mean and unforgiving. He wipes out people in a flood. He orders people to kill everyman his brother, and everyman his companion, and everyman his neighbor. Yet, in the New Testament, which is supposed to be about the same God, he is a God of love and forgiveness, in some places. Some Christians say this is because of a new covenant made when Jesus came to earth.

Still, there is much to doubt about the accuracy of the New Testament. Much of it, written after the Old Testament, could have simply been an attempt to make it look like Jewish prophesy was coming to pass. Remember, too, that these manuscripts were in the hands of Monks for a thousand years or more before they were printed, in languages that weren’t spoken by the people they were about, and made available to the public.

Whatever evidence we have of the actual existence of the historical Jesus would not be allowed in a court of law. It is hear-say evidence, often three or more times removed from any alleged primary source. The Gospel of Mark was written first, approximately 40 years after Jesus was gone. Matthew and Luke contain information taken from Mark. John is not even one of the "synoptic" Gospels because it has a completely different plot line and focus from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Although the synoptic Gospels are attributed to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, most scholars agree these people most likely did not actually write the Gospels attributed to them. The Gospel of Mark is most likely not written by someone named Mark.

There are other Gospels which didn't get included in the Bible, but they have the same problems as those included in the Bible. They were written long after Jesus was gone, and they follow the basic story found in Mark. There was the Gospel of Thomas, and there were the Dead Sea Scrolls.

One source is non-Christian, a historian named Josephus. He appears to have mentioned Jesus, but these could have been doctored additions to the text. All of these sources were in the hands of Christians for about a thousand years.

There are also many pagan myths which have stories similar to that of Jesus. The story of Jesus could have been a compilation of these.

Even according to Josephus, crucifixion of robbers, highway men, was common, and many of these highway robbers were Robin Hood types who had the sympathy of poor villagers. Some robbers also had hopes of becoming king, i.e., messiah.

However, Jesus, if he did actually exist, was not one of these robbers. He was most likely a traveling faith-healer who, with his followers, healed people in exchange for food, which was shared with all, and he told cryptic parables and preached of Jewish prophecy, the coming of a Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven. This would threaten and insult the Roman rule which thought it should be enough and wouldn't want the Jewish people thinking it was not.

Women are seen as property in the ten commandments. Wives are not to be coveted, just as oxen and other possessions are not to be coveted. There are also stories of the evil Jezebel and the evil Delilah. The barrenness of a woman is seen as her fault. Extending the line of the male is more important than the dignity of women. There were cleansing rituals required of women after menstruation and childbirth.

Certainly Jesus intervened in the stoning of an adulteress. It was one of the few things he did which I respect. However, were unfaithful males also stoned at that time?

Paul said terrible things about women. He said that women should learn in silence with all submissiveness. He permitted no woman to teach or have authority over men.

Witches have been burned. Justification for cruelty toward women has been found in the Bible. It's also used to keep women from being Priests in the Catholic Church. Why do women continue to put up with this?

I‘d recommend reading Bishop John Shelby Spong on his interpretations of the Bible. He is an Episcopalian priest, but a very liberal one. Some people say he is not a Christian. He takes much of the outlandish supernaturalism out of the Bible and explains it in a way modern minds may be more willing to accept, and he also favors women and homosexuals having more power in the church.

Bis bald,

Nick

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Hi, Paul

I am so grateful I wasn't exposed to this stuff as a kid. I think sometimes, Did I ever form a belief in a God? Honestly, the more I think about it I can honestly say, No, I never formed that belief. In fact, I rejected it heavily when I was very young and never took a step in that direction. At that time, I sensed something was bad about it. Even the very few times I walked into a church, it majorily gave me the heebie jeebies and I pretty much stayed clear of it. I look back on my life and what I've been through and look at how much I've been exposed to it, which is practically nill, I can honestly say I never formed the belief. My exposure and knowledge of religion is very close to being zero. And I am so grateful for that. As I read more and more about religion on O'ist sites, I become even more grateful that I am pure in that sense.

Since I know very little about it, my biggest problem with the whole religious thing, then and now, was people that formed the "belief" of a being you could not see and that this being could help make your life better or that you could pray to him to get what you wanted, etc. For me and my realization is that it was up to ME, to put hope into MYSELF and no one else. The way I look at Hope and that whole issue is that Hope comes from within and nowhere else. After what I read in Nick's post, I am very very grateful I never formed a belief in it. I am so very grateful I was never exposed to it other than my 2 to 3 week stint which I didn't take it seriously and thought it was a joke and then what I've seen on O'ist sites and the little I've been learning. I've been told that different religions are not all about a mean angry guy in the sky type deal. But there are many different variations of it and so on. I don't know. Obviously there are many different variations and interpretations of it. What a way to be pulled in so many different directions. Even more grateful now I never formed a belief and never took a step in that direction.

I have a friend that is an O'ist himself but grew up in a very strict religious family. But at the age of 23 or so in med school, he finally rejected it with a vengence. He is not on forums, etc., but is involved in ARI, O'ism, etc. and this is what he wrote to me the other night about O'ists, etc, "balking with physics and the origins of the universe in ways that remind me of the christian literalists....and supporting Israel too much, a theocracy."

He has noticed the same thing as you have and Christianity or such type religion. We were talking about O'ists that follow so blindly amongst various other aspects of it, etc. And the above is part of what he has sent me in addition to other emails over the last few days or so. But he told me the same, parallels between O'ism and Christianity and this is coming from a man who has been involved with ARI for many years.

I can't talk about religion since I have no understanding of it, beliefs formed, knowledge, etc., and prefer to keep it that way. But I just wanted to post this to let you know that you're definitely not the only one that sees the parallel of O'ism and Christianity.

Angie

As always, edited for clarification, never fails with me and how I am. keeping it as real and as clear as possible.....LOL

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It bothers me that both of you know so little about the Bible, Christianity, and other religions. And, you read Objectivist literature and accept it without question, being glad that you didn't learn more about other views.

One of the reasons I dislike Christianity and other religions is because people are often raised in those religions and taught to avoid and consider impious anything that questions or challenges those views. I consider this anti-educational. As Nietzsche once said, "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

The two of you got it from the opposite direction. You began with an anti-relgious philosophy which tells you how terrible religion is. It seems to make you want to avoid reading the Bible and learning about views which may question or challenge things Rand and Peikoff said. This is just as bad as religious bigotry. It is anti-educational.

Yes, there comes a time when one must take a stand and not compromise. It is good to have principles and integrety. And, there is a lot of garbage out there which is objectively not worth our time and effort. However, a well-rounded intellectual tries to understand views other than just his or her own and, whether he or she agrees with those views or not, has respect for some or them. Reading and learning about views other than our own often helps us understand our own views better. And, sometimes, we may find flaws with our own views which would not have become apparent if we had not looked at them from a different perspective.

Yes, I'm an atheist, and I don't think one can learn much from popular evangelists like Dobson, Falwell, Franklin Graham, or Pat Robertson. However, I read Tolstoy. I read C.S. Lewis. I read Bishop John Shelby Spong. I also read Ingersal, Russell, Sartre, and Camus; respected atheists and agnostics. I also read Walter Kaufmann and Michael Martin.

You don't have to worry that your Objectivist views might get corrupted. If they are so fragile that non-Objectivist views may sway you away from being an Objectivist, then maybe you aren't a good Objectivist after all.

Read lots of different sources and views. Then, make up your mind. Expand and refine your views. Be an informed Objectivist.

bis bald,

Nick

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Nick wrote:

It bothers me that both of you know so little about the Bible, Christianity, and other religions. And, you read Objectivist literature and accept it without question, being glad that you didn't learn more about other views.

It bothers me that you think you know anything about me from reading a few lines that I have written. Take your high and mighty, holier-than-thou, I've got you and the world figured out, attitude and back-off! If you want to preach, you've come to the wrong forum. You should learn to take some time to get to know the people you are dealing with before you attack their characters. I am not the strawman you think I am. If you want to discuss anything further with me, show more respect! Learn some manners!

Paul

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I am a neophyte on anything to do with the Bible. This is exactly why I am asking for feedback. I am leaping at conclusions that are more intuitive than empirical. In fact, I would say my post is misleading as far as how it suggests the logic of my chain of thought to be. I’ve been thinking about Barbara’s questions re “Objectivism’s Plague,” and have been pursuing the thought that there are two distinct psychological orientations which generate two distinct social structures which are at the root of the Objectivist divide. I carried this causal framework with me into reading “Who Wrote the Bible” and began to suspect the same dynamics might be at work.

Staying with a focus on Christianity for this thread, would it be fair to say that the stories of the Old Testament depict people being relatively unable to act morally of their own will and as more in need of an absolute central authority to govern their lives? This is pretty much how I experienced the social structure of school administrations when I was growing-up. I still hold my rebellion of those days close to my soul. My psychology does not fit this centralized authority social structure. It is always grounded in someone’s claim to having a special relationship to the absolutes of reality. In the Bible it is about Devine inspiration. In school it was about the wisdom that could only come with age.

In the stories of the New Testament, are individuals depicted as seeing the world from their own relative perspective, trying to understand their world, using their own judgement, acting positively from the impulse of their own will, and using the word of the Absolute as a guide to actualizing their best potential? Does the New Testament show some respect for the development of the individual’s relative perspectives rather than a need to replace it by following the commandments of an absolute authority? If so, I can understand the draw of Christianity better. If it wasn’t for the fact that Christianity is incompatible with my vision of existence, my understanding of the nature of knowledge, and my moral code, it might be a fit for my psychology.

I am not trying to paint a rosy picture of Christianity, though I am trying to understand it in a non-hostile way. I had my hostile phase and my indifferent phase relative to Christianity. Now I want to understand its power and its influence. I want to understand the causal relation between human nature and Christianity. I want to understand the psychological and social dynamics that Christianity fits so well to produce the wealth, the devastation and the stronghold on people’s spirits. I think somewhere along the line Christianity figured out something about psychological and social dynamics that has so far eluded Objectivism. I think it might have something to do with the fact that Christianity addresses more elements of human nature, more parts of the human spirit, than does Objectivism. (Rich, why does your name come to mind right now?) If so, then perhaps we had better reevaluate the Objectivist view of human nature.

Paul

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Am I wrong to infer that you know little about the Bible? Didn't you tell me that in your post?

Are you attacking my character? Calling me high and mighty?

You said you wanted some feedback, and I gave you some. I may have been wrong about some of what I surmised from what you said, but I don't think I was entirely out of place and deserving of an outburst of emotion.

I speak my mind. If you think that's rude or preachy, I think that's your problem, not mine. And, I don't live to please you.

Now, if you want to tell me more about yourself and correct my misconceptions, go ahead. I can be wrong. However, I think my point about people who avoid literature about which they don't agree is still valid. If you didn't think I was talking about you, personally, wouldn't you agree?

bis bald,

Nick

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Nick,

This is truly in all due respect, but admonishing people to step in shit just so they can give an "informed"(and perhaps empirical?) opinion that it smells like shit, is ridiculous. Some people have better things to do with their time, and their olfactory gland...not to mention that it truly only takes a fleeting glance, or whif to recognize shit unless you're walking around with a seeing eye dog for the epistemologically, and metaphysically blind. Mind you, this is coming from a connoisseur of shit; I have read the bible(several times) and attended the Sunday-tell-your-logic-to-look-the-other-way exegesis for most of my childhood. Angie has a fine nose for shit, and need look no further. As does Paul, though he is honestly asking questions about it.

Paul--I think the only radical difference between the old and new testaments is one of immediacy. The new testament was written around the idea of Jesus qua messiah, and the need to get your ass in line for the fastly approaching second coming("there are those here who shall not taste death until they see the son of man..."...;yada, yada). And remember that Jesus(at least twice, supposedly) said, "I came not to change the law of the prophets"(meaning all that old testament shit). The new testament sets about to tell you that Jesus is the messiah, and that he's a'coming soon to burn those worthy, and play some jazzy number on the harps with those 'others' who are worthy.

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*Am I wrong to infer that you know little about the Bible? Didn't you tell me that in your post?*

Irrelevant to my point. This was not the attack on my character.

*Are you attacking my character? Calling me high and mighty?*

This was not an attack of your character. It was an identification of, and response to, the inflammatory nature of your statements about me. Your tone was "high and mighty."

*You said you wanted some feedback, and I gave you some. I may have been wrong about some of what surmised from hat you said, but I don't think I was entirely out of place and deserving of an outburst of emotion.*

In saying, “...you read Objectivist literature and accept it without question, being glad that you didn't learn more about other views,” you WERE entirely out of place and deserving of a MORAL outburst.

*I speak my mind. If you think that's rude or preachy, I think that's your problem, not mine. And, I don't live to please you.*

To borrow from Gary Williams: I don’t care.

*Now, if you want to tell me more about yourself and correct my misconceptions, go ahead. I can be wrong. However, I think my point about people who avoid litereature about which they don't agree is still valid. If you didn't think I was talking about you, personally, wouldn't you agree?*

My point was not that I want you to get to know me. It was that you should before making unqualified remarks about my character. At last count, I had 173 posts on this forum. If you want to qualify your remarks, you can start there.

As far as avoiding literature about which I don’t agree, I started this thread by talking about a book I am reading on the origins of the Bible. Where is the avoidance? Aside from this, I don’t entirely agree with your point. I haven’t bothered with the Bible prior to this because my interests have taken my attention in other directions. Part of maturity is recognizing that we have limited resources. This means we must prioritize where to direct our attention and our energy. Before now, the Bible was not a priority. Not reading does not equal avoiding.

Paul

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I don't think someone will get much out of a book about the Bible if that person has not read much of the Bible. And, if someone has a set purpose in mind for doing research, simply finding what one is looking for, information to flesh out a pre-conceived view; that person may find it. People have found all sorts of conflicting things in the Bible. They may find passages about love and forgiveness but also justifications for hatred and anger.

Trying to talk about Christianity with people who know little about it is like trying to explain Objectivism those who know little about Rand or anything she wrote but want to find information to support their views that she is as flaky as some critics say she is. I've had that experience. It's a bit frustrating.

bis bald,

Nick

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In saying, “...you read Objectivist literature and accept it without question, being glad that you didn't learn more about other views,” you WERE entirely out of place and deserving of a MORAL outburst.

If you get all upset everytime someone misrepresents you, you must be outraged quite a bit. Someone new to a messageboard may say some things wrong about me, but I don't bite their heads off. I simply mention that they are wrong and, sometimes, try to correct them.

I think you are a little rude and dismissive of me. hy not come to my messageboard and let me abuse you?

bis bald,

Nick

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{Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond? Should I respond? Should I not respond?}

NOT.

Paul O:)

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Wow, for one, Nick, do not ever say that I came to these conclusions based on reading the works of Ayn Rand or any other book looking for answers. I will have you know these conclusions I have come to were based on my own observations, my own conclusions. For the most part, they all line up exactly with Ayn Rand's. I do not look for answers based on what other people tell me or what I may find in a book. I look for answers that come from my own background, my own life, and my own mind. I do not search in books looking for someone else to give me answers. That is one of the biggest problems I have with people that bury themselves in books trying to find answers they will never find as to why they do what they do. The only person that can tell them why they do what they do is themselves.

My point being is that so many people say that religion is so heavy in a human being's life. They believe that we are all born into religion. I so emphatically disagree with this. I am walking proof that human beings do not need a form of religion to guide their lives. I do not believe in putting hope into a being that I cannot even see with my own two eyes. I do not put hope in a being that supposedly will take care of me, that will give me the answers. The only being that can give me answers as to why I do what I do and can take care of me and give me hope is MYSELF and not some god that someone wrote about or what Ayn Rand has written about. We are all individuals and we all have our own reasons as to why we do what we do. And I question everything that I do and always have. I do not accept something blindly and just go along with it.

The question that should be asked is How many Independent conclusions have you drawn on your own? Independent meaning, your own conclusions, your own knowledge, your own observations.

How can you truly own your mind when you are constantly looking for answers in a book or what Ayn Rand has said or the institution you believe in? You can't. That book owns a piece of your mind, Ayn Rand owns a piece of your mind, the institution owns a piece of your mind. I do not know you. You do not know my past. I have been an O'ist for the past 17 or so years. I came to the same conclusions that Ayn Rand has and to an extent NB has very early on on my own. There are a few at this forum that know the details of my past and what had happened and why and how I came to those conclusions and integrated them into my life.

After telling a good friend about 5 years ago about my past, my own conclusions, my own beliefs that I had formed, he then told me about Ayn Rand and asked me to read Atlas and then was asked to share my opinions with him which I did.

That just so rubs me the wrong way. Do not jump the gun on who I am and how I am as a person and be disprectful towards me by telling me that I read O'ist literature and accept it without question. I have read very little of Ayn Rand's works but I have come to the same conclusions she has ON MY OWN. I am heavily dependent on my own mind to give me answers. I do not depend on reading her books to give me answers as to why I do what I do and then accept it without question. Yes, I emphatically reject religion and have since I was very very young. My biggest problem with religion is that they believe in something they cannot see.

Do not jump the gun and start attacking people and their character without knowing them first. You do not pass judgment on a person unless you get to know them as an individual first and then you pass your judgment. Each person on this forum has their own beliefs, their own way of life, their own conclusions, what they will accept and won't accept. Some are heavy readers and others are not. I enjoy reading but I do not look to books to give me answers as to why I do what I do and I do not accept things blindly because Ayn Rand said so or some so-called god said so or whoever else. We all have our own reasons for doing what we do and why we do it. I cannot deny what I SAW with my own 2 eyes when I was very young. I cannot deny what I went through when I was so young and I definitely cannot deny the power of using my own mind to draw my own conclusions based on my own observations. Do not ever tell me that I accept blindly whatever I read.

Exactly what Paul said, if you want to discuss anything with me, show some respect for me as well as some respect for the others on this forum. But even then, I definitely do not like the way you handled that and so quickly jumped the gun and passed your judgment on the type of person I am and the type of person Paul is. You do not know either one of us. I most definitely did not appreciate that one bit.

Angie

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This is truly in all due respect, but admonishing people to step in shit just so they can give an "informed"(and perhaps empirical?) opinion that it smells like shit, is ridiculous. Some people have better things to do with their time, and their olfactory gland...not to mention that it truly only takes a fleeting glance, or whif to recognize shit unless you're walking around with a seeing eye dog for the epistemologically, and metaphysically blind.

Isn't this the same thing that could be said by a fundamentalst about all literature that goes agaisnt his or her teachings?

If I admonish such a fundamentalst, or at least condemn such behavior, shouldn't I be consitent and also condemn the same behavior by non-religious people?

Do you think Peikoff doesn't smell like sht sometimes?

I'm not really attacking other people here. I'm talking about myself. It bothers me when people admit not knowing much about something but accept views from others about it that they don't question. I think that if someone has a view and refuses to question it, avoids material and people who challenge it, he or she is being anti-educational. If the shoe doesn't fit anyone here, it doesn't have to be worn, but that is my view.

bis bald,

Nick

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Angie,

I considered defending you but I knew you would be well equipped and motivated to speak for yourself. I was right. It's the first time on this forum I have reached the conclusion that further discussion is futile. And changing someone else's point of view is not my responsibility.

Paul

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Thank you, Jody, My nose is finely tuned for SHIT, big heeping steaming piles of it and always turn my nose up and away when I smell SHIT....LOL

That just really rubbed me the wrong way. Independent conclusions, that's where it is at and always will be, not in what you find in a book or what AR tells you. Use the power of your own mind to draw your own conclusions. Surprised that I was told that I accept AR blindly and what she writes about without question. WOW, how wrong he is on that one and you know it as well as I do.

Thank you, Jody

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It bothers me when people admit not knowing much about something but accept views from others about it that they don't question.

Well then, since you've tossed the allegation, please specifically state where either Angie or Paul brought you to your conclusion that they "accept views from others...that they don't question." This is where I got ruffled, because neither Paul nor Angie have said anything that leads me to think that they are a "stepford wife" to someone elses views.

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Paul, we both defended ourselves. Although I was caught offguard a bit and could have worded it a lot better and a lot harsher but I think I got my point across I hope. I'm a bit surprised myself. Yes, it is futile and not our responsibility to change someone else's point of view.

But thank you for considering my defense. :D

Angie

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Nick-

From the first time I read one of your posts, I saw you as an intelligent, independent-minded guy...so don't take my criticism as a personal attack. Maybe I misunderstand your comments, but I've also read the posts of Paul and Angie, and I know their minds are purely their own; they do not gather their opinions through osmosis.

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Exactly what Paul said, if you want to discuss anything with me, show some respect for me as well as some respect for the others on this forum. But even then, I definitely do not like the way you handled that and so quickly jumped the gun and passed your judgment on the type of person I am and the type of person Paul is. You do not know either one of us. I most definitely did not appreciate that one bit.

That's okay, Angie, I don't need to talk to you or anybody else. I'll just keep posting until I find someone who doesn't mind talking with me, who isn't so high and mighty that he or she gets insulted when not seen the way he or she wants to be seen, or until I get banned from the board.

bye,

Nick

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Nick-  

From the first time I read one of your posts, I saw you as an intelligent, independent-minded guy...so don't take my criticism as a personal attack. Maybe I misunderstand your comments, but I've also read the posts of Paul and Angie, and I know their minds are purely their own; they do not gather their opinions through osmosis.

Again, I've heard religious people who talked exactly like Angie about views which conflicted with their views. They say they are glad they didn't get into Objectivisim or some other atheistic philosophy, based on what some critic of Objectivism said. I've also heard religious people say they wanted to get some negative information on Objectivism, even when they haven't read anything by Rand. I thought there was some irony here, and I pointed it out.

I'm accused of jumping the gun and passing judgment and being high and mighty just for offering feedback which was asked for. And, I'm the stranger here, so all the regulars are closing ranks. I understand that.

Well, if I'm such a threat, then perhaps someone should ban me. It's been done before. Often times people can't refute my arguments with logic, so they accuse me of being impolite. It's a trick used by religious people a lot.

I know I'm not accepted by many people, and some people really hate me and will look for any excuse to condemn me. I've experienced this before. Still, I try to be polite, not tell them to blow it out their @sses, and keep saying what I think needs to be said.

bis bald,

Nick

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Nick-

I don't care what you've heard religious people say, you did not answer my question. It still stands.

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