Bible Notes - In fact, rather than try to hit all the points that are made in the speech, I'd like to focus on a handful of points and show how AS really matches up well with the Bible. The confusing part of AS is that Galt is God the Creator, yet Ms. Rand wants to also make him the ideal man. God would be the ideal man. However, the story makes more sense if we realize when Galt focuses on ideas he is the Creator and when he focuses on action he is the romantic lead. Here are my extremely abbreviated Bible notes.
Eden - Ms. Rand is correct with her evaluation of the immorality of organized religion's interpretation of Eden. However, the Bible is more in line with Ms. Rand. God created Adam and Eve without the knowledge of good and evil, therefore there was no guilt. God said not to eat of a specific tree. They did. Was it the fruit or the act that allowed them to know evil? I believe it was the act. They didn’t follow grace. But they did NOT get kicked out of Eden because of this sin. God (being moral) asked Adam why he did it. Adam could have done the moral thing: and told the truth (confessed) and repented. Everything that's written in the Bible says that Adam would have been forgiven and possibly continued to live in Eden. However Adam’s answer was to ignore reality and shift the blame to Eve. THAT was the cause for leaving Eden. Eve was given a chance to answer God. She could have done the moral thing and told the truth and repented. Then she could have stayed. Instead she shifted the blame. THAT was the cause for leaving Eden. In the Bible it says that Eve looked at the fruit comparatively. She saw what agreed with eating it. She didn’t look contrastively. Thinking comparatively actually let evil into the world. If you want to know the source of evil: it is comparative thinking. If Adam and Eve always thought contrastively, they would still be in Eden.
Grace Review - Your goal is to modify your moral code to match your unique sound moral code. The ability to recognize and retain truth for yourself (self awareness?) will determine your ability to attain your sound moral code. The extent that you let your sound moral code direct your action is the measure of grace you demonstrate. This process is completely dependent upon the individual's ability to think. Understanding that there are hundreds of principles, there are almost an infinite number of moral codes and sound moral codes. To take this model another step, the difference between your moral code and your sound moral code may be great or slight depending on the individual. Some people may have very little difference between their original moral code and their sound moral code (like Jesus?). Some people may have huge differences or may have made the differences greater through their lack of acquiring and retaining truth, or just not thinking. Remember, your moral code is proven by what you do, NOT what you say you'll do.
Original Sin - Original sin comes from the fact each man's original moral code is not sound. That is, man's instinct (first response without thinking) is to be comparative (sin). Sin is that which is done apart from faith, and faith is based on experience and understanding. However, it is only sin if you KNOW better. (Recall, Stadler was the guiltiest because he knew better. Hank was the guiltiest man in the room at the party.) If you don’t think, instinct (original moral code) will cause you to sin, but we know better because we have the choice over whether we want to think or not. Ms. Rand agrees with all of this. "Man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. Man has no automatic code of survival. An ‘instinct’ is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct." However, organized religion presents all of this the way Ms. Rand says they present it: "Faith is the opposite of understanding and sin is out of our control".
Hell – The Bible says hell will be cast into the lake of fire where people are in constant torment. Why? Could it be because these people chose not to think? Profitability (creation) is based on thinking about the truth. The people in torment will not create anything. How is this possible? Perhaps God is giving them what they want: blank out. Certainly the constant torment will not allow them the opportunity to think.
Dispensations – God has a specific way for people to remain profitable forever. However, God is Right and Just. If God instituted this plan against the will of the individual, then God would no longer be Just. Also, if God instituted the plan and someone said, “I think it could have worked another way.” God would not be Just. In order for God to prove this specific way is right, God has to use deconfirmatory thinking to prove all the other possible scenarios don’t work. These different scenarios are called Dispensations. The first brought involved the Garden of Eden. People had direct contact with God and no knowledge of good and evil. The results showed this scenario was flawed. The second scenario allowed people to live hundreds of years. The thought may have been that given enough time, people would realize that morality is profitable and evil is not. The result was there was only one moral person: Noah. The third scenario shortened the lives of people after the Flood. The thought may have been that having less time and seeing others die would give people a sense of urgency to figure out what was moral. However, it appears these people focus on the physical and built a tower. God mixed their languages and created nations. The fourth scenario involved God finding a person (Abram) and focus on the resulting nation to try and turn things around, but this fourth scenario didn't work.
Moses – In the fifth scenario, God gave Moses the Law. Before the law was given, people didn’t have immediate guilt over immorality. The Law was given to help people better realize they were sinful. It also showed that forcing everyone to do the right thing, by objectively defining specific sin, doesn't result in people doing the right thing. God proved that being a looter and a moocher doesn't work in the Long Term. However, the Law itself is truth. This is a subtle point. The Law says that lying will not be profitable to you in the Long Term. (It's amazing how many times the word profitable is used in the Bible.) John Galt says lying makes you a slave and is not profitable to you in the Long Term. However, God and John Galt both want to leave it up to the individual to decide if they are going to lie. They want the individual to be motivated from the inside (grace). Organized religion wants to force you not to lie (looter) or make sure you feel bad if you lie (moocher).
Jesus - The Gospels show Jesus as the most purposeful person that ever lived. (Recall Francisco "could always name the purpose of his every random moment". AS 1:5) Jesus constantly talked about profitability and gave a reason for everything He did. In earlier notes I asked, "Why should we be kind to our enemies?" The reasons given in the Old Testament and New Testament are the same, "So we will get a reward". Think about that. Jesus gives us a reason (rational) and a value why it benefits us (self-interest) to be kind to our enemies. (Justice says that we all get exactly what we deserve, both good and bad. If we give value to our enemies then the only way we will get what we deserve is from God. Being kind to your enemies is a guaranteed way to get value directly from God.) Jesus was the first person to preach the Gospel of "rational self-interest" (Yikes!). This is the easiest way to fluster a second-hand Christian. Organized religion has told them that Jesus preached selflessness, however the Gospels record that He gave a reason and a value why it benefits us to do everything He said. You don't HAVE to do what Jesus (or John Galt) says, but it makes you profitable in the Long Term. (By the way, “The Matrix: Reloaded” states that Neo is in the sixth version of the Matrix. We live in the sixth dispensation. In “The Matrix”, Agent Smith says the first version of the matrix was a paradise but was rejected by humans. Our first dispensation, the Garden of Eden, was also a paradise rejected by humans.) So is this sixth scenario a success?
Cross - Most of the confusion surrounding Jesus occurs because people don't determine where they are relative to the cross. When someone quotes Jesus they need to determine if they are prior to the cross (when Jesus fulfilled Jewish Law) or after the cross (when Jesus demonstrated Christianity).
Rapture - Just like in AS, God takes all the "producers" out of the world to prove their value. It's the only just thing to do…all other religions believe this world needs to be purified by removing the “bad” people. Terrorism is being fueled by this belief. It is interesting to note that Christianity is the only religion that believes the people with a sound moral code will be removed and the earth will be left to the people with an unprofitable moral code (just like Ayn wrote). For that reason, everyone else will unite when the sound moral code people are gone because it fits all of their beliefs.
Millenium - During the Millennial Reign (seventh scenario), the Devil is locked up. I know Christians who think that will be Heaven. However, the Bible says that after 1000 years the Devil will be loosed and he will deceive people. How? Well I always ask Christians how they convert people. (Basically, what is their John Galt destroyer speech?) About 99.9% of the time it has to do with how to avoid sickness, hell, and depression. Then I say, "It looks like you NEED the Devil, otherwise, how would you explain to people why they need to know God (be moral)?" During the Millennial Reign, people will have to learn to be moral enough to resist the thing they've never experienced. Worse, people may say, “I can do whatever I want and repent in 900 years just before the Devil comes back.” Obviously, this is not a profitable scenario. The only option is God’s. By the way, is it more profitable to know or not to know when Jesus is coming back?
Joy - Joy results in the creation of energy (life). This is different for each individual. What things do you do that result in you having more energy? That is, when you are done, you feel more alive. These are the principles that should be high in your moral code. Joy is spoken of repeatedly in the Bible. The Bible says it is our strength and is so important it should be tied to something we have control over. "Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live." God very definitely states that being moral makes you happiest in the Long Term. "You who are worshippers of the zero – you have never discovered that achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death. Joy is not ‘the absence of pain,’ intelligence is not ‘the absence of stupidity,’ building is not done by abstaining from demolition. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy. Happiness is only possible to a rational man." The Bible does give us things to aspire to, benefits and reasons. Yet, organized religion seems to focus on removing negatives. It's a subtle point, but this seems to be inherent in people. They look at things as being less bad rather than short of good. The biggest example is…
Life – The ultimate value to aspire for is life (the ability to create/repair), which is not the same as ‘not death’. What do most people think ‘life’ or ‘living’ is? "Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death." Life (like profitability) requires a specific course. "Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it." Life is dependent on knowledge. "You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island – it is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim, when there are no victims to pay for it, that a rock is a house, that sand is clothing, that food will drop into his mouth without cause or effort, that he will collect a harvest tomorrow by devouring his stock seed today." Life is dependent on morality. In fact, it is all fitted together at the beginning of the speech. The speech is essentially God telling the individual knowledge that creates life…which is the same as “grace” (the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life). The heart of the John Galt speech centers around contrasting life and death:
"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists – and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason – Purpose – Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living."
PRACTICAL APPLICATION (worth rereading)
The whole speech is ultimately the section worth rereading from the standpoint of the entire novel. I'm going to just focus on four key points.
Sacrifice - Sacrifice means "to kill flesh". However, people use it to mean when they give a greater value in order to get a lesser value in return. When sacrifice is used in this manner, Ms. Rand is right; it is immoral. However, Ms. Rand agrees with the Bible's view of sacrifice. That is, man needs to chose to kill their fleshly, instinctual desires and follow their mind. Another way of saying this is that a person needs to exhibit grace: ignore their original moral code and act according to their unique sound moral code. "‘Sacrifice’ is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty." Now the example makes sense. The mother needs to kill her flesh and do what is more profitable in the long-term.
Control - "To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages – and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust." It is ALL about control. The Eastern mystics try to control people by getting them to blank-out. Organized religion tries to control people by telling them they can't understand God and need not think. The Bible and God do not try to control people. They focus on freedom. It takes intelligence and character to exhibit grace (divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life), the same as it took Hank to refine and follow his sound moral code.
Government - Government loves to control people. That is not its purpose. "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law." The democrats try to control your money. The republicans try and control your social conduct. Neither of them trust (or want?) people to live free. September 11th has caused our government to return to their #1 purpose: protection. Remember, a business that doesn’t successfully address its #1 purpose will be forced to address it.
Childlike - It all starts during childhood. "Somewhere in the starting years of your childhood, before you had learned to submit, to absorb the terror of unreason and to doubt the value of your mind, you had known a radiant state of existence, you had known the independence of a rational consciousness facing an open universe. That is the paradise you have lost, which you seek – which is yours for the taking." Is this the ultimate cause of our problems? If so, what is the ultimate solution?
"I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it’s juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." (Cypher, The Matrix)
"To deny our impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human." (Mouse, The Matrix)
"The matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy...and when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen. Teachers. Lawyers. Carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemies. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged...and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it." (Morpheus, The Matrix)
“Over a hundred years ago, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that maternity patients were dying at an alarming rate. He made the connection that the patients were being treated by students who had just finished working on cadavers! After insisting that the students wash their hands before treating the mothers, the number of deaths decreased fivefold.” Source: Centers for Disease control and Prevention (It’s a good thing Dr. Ignaz didn’t decide to ignore the problem…maybe it would go away.)
"He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." (Job, Old Testament)
"A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father?" (Bible)
"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for in doing so, …the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs)
"But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have?" (Jesus)
"For the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Bible)
"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." (Bible)
"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Bible)
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (Jesus)
"I came to realize the obviousness of the truth. What is the matrix? Control. The matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control." (Morpheus, the Matrix)
"Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the 'virtues'. In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are 'good,' it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of ‘prudence’ about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves,' but also 'as wise as serpents'. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first class fighting trim. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened." (CSL-MC)
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