|I'm 57. I wonder if I can really channel my actual thoughts back to when I was 14. So I answered as a 57 yr old, as I must. Reason as a means to knowledge...and implicitly, knowledge as a means to happiness.|
But was that what initially attracted me?
Hmm. I wasn't initially just attracted; it was also about being repelled.
Someone I respected and admired and loved(my older sister) when I was 14 threw a well worn copy of AS at me and said "Read it."
I did, and couldn't put it down. As best as I can remember, back then, in 1969, with me about to enter my last year of jr high, ninth grade, the ideas expressed in her book were nothing like anything the rest of the world was trying to sell me. And after reading AS, I sought everything else she ever wrote and hungrily read it all. And later, often just for the sheer pleasure of it, have reread her works again.
But at 14, I'd just finished my instructed two year march through catechism as a youth, protestant evangelical christian instruction. At the end of that process, you are 'confirmed' in some rote ritual. My parents gave me the choice, and I wanted no part of it at all. It seemed stale and rote and cultish. It was pure misery. I never went to church or sunday school as a member again after that experience, and have only rarely been dragged into church in the 40+ years since, weddings and funerals and such. (There will be no minister at my 'services.' If my expressed wishes are met, I will be cremated, my ashes spread on the Lehigh River that I once grew up on and loved, period.)
My parents fully respected my wishes, barely even a discussion. They were merely checking off a parental duty, I think, consistent with the culture of the times.
But none of the gibberish I was being told in that church -- what substitutes for a weekly dose of philosophy in most young folks lives back then -- made any sense to me at all. I mean, I regarded it as 'good' but ... also filled with incomprehensible gibberish. A little too spookerish for me. Hell, a lot too spookerish. It was just ...gibberish, and it sounded like gibberish, and when I'd ask questions only to be told it was -supposed- to be incomprehensible, I regarded it as a long running purely man-made scam, had no respect for it at all. Walked away. In my mind at the time, not necessarily from any concept of 'God' but certainly from any aspect of man-made religion.
And I migrated to my present state of agnosticism; I intellectually understand the concept of God(not God)and so, intellectually understand that such a concept is neither provable nor disprovable from within the universe; if God is exogenous, then God can only prove himself, and if God is endogenous, as I strongly suspect but cannot prove, then God will never prove himself because he truly does not exist as God. Logic is a monster that way. Either way, it is not my concern to prove that God exists; I was placed in this universe, as it is, either by the universe, as it is, or by an exogenous God, and so, who am I to question my existence here? It was not my choice it was my gift, even if just from the universe as it is, and so, miracle enough.
If God made everything, including me, including logic, then it is purely God's responsibility that I don't have faith and believe in an exogenous God. As far as I can tell, the meme that I 'need faith' is being sold not by God, but by charlatans here on earth selling memberships to their political organizations.
And so, I am a devout agnostic on the concept of God, perfectly content in the universe I find myself in if that universe itself, as it is, is the only concept of God that truly exists. It for certain created me, and for me, that is plenty God enough.
Not the same as an atheist; to me, based on my understanding of logic, an atheist knows something that he can't possibly know about the concept God, and so, either does not intellectually understand the concept God or does not understand logic applied to that concept. It is not possible to know that something external to this universe does or does not exist until and if that something makes itself exogenous.
It is possible to know that through universal laws only, we are bound to this universe, and until such time as we develop the knowledge to circumvent or augment those laws, we have no ability to ascertain the existence or knowledge of anything outside of this universe. That is not logically the same as knowing that something does not exist, which is the atheist's firm belief. It is the same as faith precisely because the concept is external to the universe. A non belief in something would not be the same as faith if the concept was endogenous to the universe. And a non belief in something external to the universe that has not yet made itself exogenous(by injecting itself into this universe)can at most be expressed as "probably not" -- which is where agnostics come in. Agnostics don't -know- that which cannot possibly be known. Atheists -know- that something external to this universe does not exist.
I have a purely hypothetical example based on two universes- one dominated by matter, and a second dominated by antimatter, but it is flaky in detail. The point is, not only can't they know about each other(they are moving away from each other at the speed of light), but they may not as well; doing so would destroy both of them.
It is also not the same as pure symantics about the definition of 'universe.' We can intellectually define a term meaning 'all that is both internal and external to our universe' -- but that doesn't change the logic about what we can -know- about what is external to this universe.
That -- well mostly that -- was my thinking on the topic back then. It wasn't a scary thought. It wasn't a lonely thought. It was the only sense I could make out of the intellectual concept God as creator of this/the universe.
And then, at exactly that time, my older sister throws that copy of AS at me, and I am blown away. Here is someone intelligently writing about a philosophy based on living in this universe, on this earth, as it is, as the person I am. A philosophy based on reason as a means to knowledge, as a means of living in this universe, as it is, as we are.
And I never looked back at that muddy confused spookerville.
This life, this universe, is plenty miracle enough, and Ayn Rand's philosophy of life on earth is a celebration of that miracle.
Rand says that this universe and all that is endogenous to it is all that is of our concern, us being, those of us also endogenous to this same universe. That which is outside of and may or may not make itself exogenous is above our concern or paygrade, and will and can and must take care of itself; it is a waste of our gift here in this universe to concern ourselves with that which is safely external to this universe (until and if it makes itself exogenous by injecting itself into this universe), and it is only men in funny hats performing carny huckster tricks that claim otherwise. They've rolled their eyes into the back of their heads and seen visions, trust them, that external God is speaking through them to us.
Well fuck that noise, not buying it. Any God worth worshipping is perfectly able to sell direct and doesn't rely on carny middlemen wearing funny hats. And being repelled from that is certainly a part of what attracted me.