Letters to a Young Atheologist
Letter 6: God and Pure Self-Reference
by Anton Thorn
Dear Mr. Kappus,
"Anton, in the past you mentioned something about what you called "pure self-reference" and why this issue causes a problem for creation theism. I did not have a full understanding of what you meant by that. Could you explain what you mean by 'pure self-reference'?"
Mr. Kappus, this is a very good question, and I apologize for not taking the time to explain myself more fully regarding the fallacy of pure self-reference. I'm glad you have such a sharp memory! Let me explain a little background to the problem that leads to this error that is so easily overlooked by Christian apologists in the arguments they endorse.
Identifying the fallacy of pure self-reference:
The fallacy of pure self-reference occurs when a concept or statement is asserted as referring exclusively to its own object-less referring. 
Example: This statement is true.
To what does this statement refer? It refers not simply to itself, but only to its own referring.
Compare the above example with the following: Your statement about rational principle is true.
This statement does not commit the fallacy of pure self-reference because it refers to something beyond simply itself.
The essential error committed by the fallacy of pure self-reference is that the concept or statement committing the fallacy makes no reference to reality, i.e., it makes no reference outside itself. Thus, the fallacy of pure self-reference constitutes an evasion from meaning and, ultimately, an evasion from the law of identity and all of reality itself.
This is an error because consciousness requires an object (consciousness of what?), and therefore cognition as a function of consciousness requires a reference in order to establish meaning. According to Dr. Harry Binswanger:
Consciousness cannot be purely self-contained. That applies to any specific act of consciousness just as it does to consciousness as a whole. A statement cannot refer only to itself. More precisely, It cannot refer only to itself qua statement; a statement cannot refer only to its own referring. Its own referring to what? [
It is not a difficult task to detect this fallacy when examples like the statement above are met. However, this fallacy can be found embedded in numerous instances throughout errant philosophy. Religion, for instance, is notorious for its commitment to the fallacy of pure self-reference.
How god-belief is committed to the fallacy of pure self-reference in its cosmology:
God, claim the Christians, created the universe, reality, indeed all existence. Some Christians modify this claim by saying that God created "all existence apart from himself." While some theists may have a problem with this variant, such assignment to the notion 'god' fails to immunize it from its fallacy-ridden starting point. I have already discussed how this god-belief commits the fallacy of the stolen concept in prior articles, and so have others. 
Now I will show how the notion of 'god' as a form of consciousness responsible for the creation of all existence apart from itself commits the fallacy of pure self-reference.
God, they claim, is the creator of everything: the universe, the laws of logic, all matter, indeed all existence which is not God. Thus, the theists are claiming that at one time none of these things existed, since they need to be explained by reference to a creator to begin with, according to theism. They are claiming that at one time the universe did not exist, that no existence distinct from God existed, until of course he decided to create it. (The question of God's purpose in creating the universe will be discussed in future material.) Even "heaven" and "hell" and all their inhabitants are claimed to have been created by God at some time, so even these things are said not to have existed at one time.
Thus, at one time, we must infer, only God existed. At this time, there was no universe, no planetary bodies, no cities, no people, no sunlight, no anything, only God himself. This is the alleged starting point of theism: God and the void in which he existed prior to any act of creation. The void is nothingness. The void is utter absence of existence, and there's God right there in the middle of it. Even heaven and hell did not exist at this point as even these are said to be creations of God.
So here we stumble upon a contradiction, for indeed positing God as creator in this regard necessarily means that at one time God and only God can have existed. But God is a form of consciousness, and we know that consciousness requires an object in order to qualify as consciousness, for without an object, there is nothing to be conscious of. As Ayn Rand recognized,
If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. [
Thus, the religionist's starting point - a form of consciousness said to be responsible for the creation of all existence distinct from itself - is a contradiction.
What is the fallacy that generates this contradiction? According to Dr. Harry Binswanger, that fallacy is the fallacy of pure self-reference.
The fallacy of pure self-reference is unavoidable for the typical Christian. Of what was God conscious prior to his first act of creation? Since God was the only existent prior to his first act of creation, the theist must naturally posit that God was conscious only of himself to that point, for there was nothing else to be conscious of, nothing else to be perceived. Nothing else existed.
The theist cannot have his cake and eat it, too. If he wants to posit an omnipotent conscious being as the creator of the universe, as creator of everything except itself, then he must accept that at one time nothing existed excepting this alleged omnipotent, conscious being. But that's the problem, for consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms, as Rand pointed out. If one wishes to posit an omnipotent, conscious being as existent prior to the existence of the universe, as the primary creative agent of all reality and 'super-reality', then there is no choice but to posit a first act of creation by this cosmic entity, and to posit a point before the first act of creation. This is the untenable puzzle that the theist necessarily brings on himself by arguing for a creative intelligence behind reality.
Here is a brief synopsis of the Christian's problem:
Fact: Consciousness requires an object. (Consciousness of what?)
Claim: God is said to be conscious.
Question: Of what was God said to be conscious prior to his creation of the universe, of heaven, of hell, of the angels, of any of his alleged creations?
Claim: God, to have been conscious to begin with, must have been conscious only of himself. (For only God Himself can be posited to have existed in order not to contradict prior claims.)
Inference: Thus, at the very beginning of his cosmology, the theist must posit the idea of consciousness conscious only of itself.
Detection: This is the fallacy of pure self-reference.
Conclusion: God-belief is false cosmology.
Any attempt to contest the fact that consciousness requires an object would itself have to originate from or be defended by a consciousness that was itself aware of something (e.g., at the very minimum it would have to be conscious of the claim that "consciousness requires an object" as well as of those with whom such disputes is engaged). Thus, any attempt to refute the fact that "consciousness requires an object" would contradict itself.
God, according to any religious program that asserts the notion, is always portrayed as a being which is conscious. In fact, the notion "God" is always asserted in the context that it is purely conscious, i.e., a conscious without a body, without a physical host of any kind (which ultimately means "God" has no means of consciousness). Any assertion that states that "God knows" or "God said" asserts a God which is thought to be conscious.
If God is said to be conscious, and God is said to be the creator of "all existence distinct from Himself" as many Christians do, then the question "Of what was God conscious prior to his creation of these things?" is fully justified, given the fact that consciousness requires an object.
The Christian's only possible answer to this question, lest he contradict his own cosmological claim that God is the "creator of all existence distinct from Himself," must be to posit that only God as the original entity, i.e., the entity from which all existence distinct from God originated, was conscious only of Himself prior to His creation of any entity distinct from Himself. (For to suggest otherwise would endorse the idea that some existence exists independent of God, and most Christians will find this idea extremely uncomfortable, for it cannot be integrated with his other claims about God as the cosmological source for existence.)
Thus, unless he resorts to undoing his prior claims, the Christian is compelled to assert a consciousness conscious of nothing but itself as the starting point of his cosmology. Any compromise of this position will imperil his entire cosmology. By this point, the Christian faces the ruin of the two horns of a dichotomy of his own making: Either God is not creator of all that is distinct from Himself (and thus "God" fails to live up to the theist's claims about "Him"), or God qua conscious being is the foundation of a cosmology which is committed to the fallacy of pure self-reference. Christians routinely favor the latter, more salient option, even though it is internally fallacious, because the destruction resulting from denial of the former is far more obvious.
Therefore, the Christian inadvertently endorses the fallacy of pure self-reference as the very starting point of his entire cosmological scheme. Consequently, his entire religious program is invalid from the very beginning according to its own descriptions.
How god-belief is committed to the fallacy of pure self-reference conceptually:
The fallacy of pure self-reference can be found in many instances of religious thought. It is, essentially speaking, a starting point and standard for the religionist, alongside the fallacy of the stolen concept. As we saw above, for example, we see how the notion of a universe-creating consciousness must begin with the fallacy of pure self-reference. Since any object of this being's awareness would have to be said to be its own creation, the position of a universe-creating consciousness entails that prior to its creating of any object distinct from itself, it must be maintained that it was conscious only of itself.
In doctrine-building and in debate, the fallacy of pure-self reference also avails itself as a standard for evasion and rationalization. This alludes to the mystic's dependency on the intrinsic view of concepts. Since the mystic will ultimately have to confess that his view logically entails the view that concepts are "out there" in that they originate beyond man's mind (e.g., they originate in and are distributed by God's mind), the question of a concept's meaning and reference is open to revision at the apologist's whim. 
The definition or identification of 'God' for the religionist, for example, amounts to an entity which is said to be perfect. But as compared to what standard is God said to be perfect? The theist has a few options here, but none is likely to inspire much confidence. For instance, the theist may claim that God is perfect compared to no standard at all, but this is usually found unattractive because it is so uncompelling. If God is claimed to be perfect compared to no standards, then the apologist, liking it or not, commits himself to the dubious position that standards are not necessary, that anything can be said to be 'perfect' so long as it is not measured by any standards. This solution will probably not win a lot of supporters.
Or, the theist may claim that God is the standard of all perfection. But for the perfection of what then is God then supposed to be a standard? Could God be said to be the standard of that which he creates? But any apologetic taking this direction will have to deal with the uncomfortable notion that a being of perfection, as the source of all existence, is ultimately responsible for the creation of imperfection, which is doctrinally integral to Christian theism, since man, a creation of a perfect being - it is held, is neither perfect nor capable of perfection . The "God as the standard of perfection" position will also have to answer the objection that a means of comparing anything to God must lie outside man's ability, for man can neither perceive God nor is there anything within man's objective grasp to serve as a standard representative of God's perfection. Thus, we find another implausible solution to the problem of defining in what way the theist can claim that God is "perfect" which essentially amounts to another evasion.
Perhaps the apologist intends that God is the standard of perfection for reality? How can reality be compared to God? What means would be used to make such a comparison? Sensation? Perception? Induction? Argument? Emotion? How would a scheme intended to execute a comparison of reality (or any other existent said to be distinct from God's being) deal with the problems that have already been identified, such as the fallacy of pure self-reference committed by positing a universe-creating consciousness that must have been conscious only of itself prior to creating anything distinct from itself? How would such a scheme resolve the stolen concepts arising from the attempt to explain existence by positing a form of consciousness? Indeed, the apologists have plenty of work before themselves if they wish to argue their god into existence. Such a position would also have to deal with the logically consequential idea that, if God is said to be the standard of perfection for reality, it cannot be held that God is also real. This problem is also met when the apologist claims that God created reality.
Finally, unsatisfied with previously attempted solutions, the theist may opt to hold that God is perfect and that God is the standard of his own perfection. And here is where we find the fallacy of pure self-reference. The only answer, under this scheme, to the question, "How is God perfect?" can be, "In the way that God is perfect." Or, if one holding this view is asked "Compared to what is God perfect?" he would have to answer, "God is perfect by comparison to Himself," since the apologist could not allow any appeal to any standard other than God. In other words, only by the purely self-referential gauging of the object of measure (a "perfect God") with the standard of measure ("God's perfection"). The standard of measure and its reference are one and the same, engaged in the contentless and interminable circularity of the apologist's arguments. Thus, the claim "God is perfect" is as meaningless as the claim "God exists," as we saw above.
In such ways, the meaning of concepts is completely destroyed. For instance, how can the theist define the word 'perfect'? If the theist maintains that "God" and "perfection" are conceptually equivalent, and that 'God' is his starting point beyond which one cannot posit anything, either real or imagined, then a definition of 'perfect' could only be ostensive, and not be made up of references to any prior concepts. If the apologist claims that he can define 'perfect' as he uses it in his theological descriptions by reference to prior concepts (e.g., 'perfect' means 'possessing no defect or fault' or 'lacking absolutely nothing'), not only does he contradict his own professed conceptual hierarchy (for he posits concepts prior to his alleged starting point), he commits himself to incoherence which arises when he attempts to integrate other characteristics commonly ascribed to God.
For instance, if God is claimed to be perfect in that he 'lacks absolutely nothing,' the theist encounters problems when he assigns the qualities of living and purpose to God. If God lacks nothing, then how can God possibly have a purpose? What would this purpose be? Purpose presupposes goal-orientedness. But what goal can a being which lacks absolutely nothing pursue, and why would he pursue it? Similarly, life is defined as "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action", action which is goal-oriented . And since goal-orientedness presupposes the need or desire to fulfill a certain goal, its action necessarily presupposes that achievement of said goal is either incipient or in process. Thus, the direct result of trying to integrate the notion of a "perfect God" which by definition is said to "lack absolutely nothing" with the notion that God is living, is confounding incoherence. For this reason, the notion of a perfect God and the concept 'value' cannot be integrated.
These are just a few of the problems which arise when the mystic remains committed to his god-beliefs.
An objective solution: Since an objective solution to any legitimate problem will reject all illegitimate proposals, an objective solution will discard all appeals to mysticism and to the arbitrary (to which mysticism reduces).
A Case in Point: Sample Dialogue with a Christian Apologist:
Below is a dialogue integrating numerous conversations and debates I've had with defenders of Christian theism, demonstrating how the very notion "God" reduces to an instance of the fallacy of pure self-reference.
Atheist: What is your starting point?
Christian: That only the Christian God can account for the uniformity of nature, the laws of logic and objective morality. [
Atheist: Is this starting point conceptual in nature?
Atheist: So, your starting point assumes knowledge of many broad areas of philosophy?
Christian: What do you mean?
Atheist: I asked you what your starting point is. You answered with an entire sentence: "That only the Christian God can account for the uniformity of nature, the laws of logic and objective morality."
Christian: That's right. Only the Christian God can account for these things.
Atheist: Well, hold on here. How can a sentence containing so many abstractions qualify as a starting point? Which concept in the sentence is primary?
Christian: Well, God, of course.
Atheist: I see. So, God is a concept?
Christian: Is God a concept? I'm not sure I understand your question.
Atheist: Is the starting point of your knowledge, which I assume is conceptual in nature, itself conceptual in nature?
Atheist: And above you settled on "God" as your primary starting point, right?
Christian: Yes, that's right.
Atheist: Then my question is: Is your starting point conceptual in nature?
Christian: As opposed to what?
Atheist: As opposed to non-conceptual in nature.
Christian: Can you give me a 'for instance'?
Atheist: For instance, this rock [picks up a pebble off the ground] is not conceptual in nature. It is metaphysical, but the concept 'rock' is conceptual - i.e., a mental integration, which refers to the rock.
Christian: I see what you mean. No, God is not material in nature.
Atheist: That does not exactly answer my question. (Of course, if God has no matter, of what does it consist?) You claim that "God" is your starting point. Is that starting point conceptual in nature?
Christian: Yes. He is conceptual. He is immaterial.
Atheist: I see. If God is conceptual in nature, what are "God's" referents?
Christian: I don't know what you mean.
Atheist: Remember the rock I picked up?
Christian: Yes. Of course. It's right there. [points at the rock]
Atheist: Good. I'm glad you remember. The concept 'rock' refers to the rock to which you just pointed.
Christian: Okay. That makes sense.
Atheist: You understand how the concept 'rock' has a metaphysical referent, the rock to which you pointed?
Christian: Of course I do. But that's only possible by presupposing the Christian God.
Atheist: Yes, that is your claim. But back to that starting point of yours. You say that it is God. Is God conceptual?
Christian: Yes. Of course God is conceptual. God is a spirit.
Atheist: Okay. If God is conceptual, then to what does 'God' refer?
Christian: I'm not sure I understand your question.
Atheist: Well, the concept 'rock' referred to a stone that I picked up and threw back onto the ground, right?
Christian: Right, I see that. But God isn't quite like that.
Atheist: But you still think God is conceptual, right? God is, after all, your starting point, right?
Christian: Well, you seem to have things turned around a bit.
Atheist: I would imagine you'd think that.
Christian: What did you mean by that comment?
Atheist: Just that I was not surprised by your remark. But please, go on. You were explaining how God is conceptual. Please proceed.
Christian: I was? God is immaterial.
Atheist: Okay. 'Immaterial' means… what, exactly?
Christian: 'Immaterial' means 'not physical', 'not matter.'
Atheist: Alright. If God is not physical and/or not matter, then what is God?
Christian: Well, as you yourself said: God is conceptual in nature.
Atheist: You mean like the concept 'rock'?
Christian: Well, sort of.
Atheist: Fill me in. If I'm missing something, please let me know.
Christian: God is infinite.
Atheist: Well hold on now. You're jumping to new characteristics when you haven't dealt with the one at hand. Let's focus on the "God is conceptual" characteristic first, okay?
Christian: Okay. What do you want to know?
Atheist: For one, can you tell me where the Bible says that "God is conceptual in nature"????
Christian: Well, you obviously aren't trained in the proper hermeneutic method.
Atheist: And which hermeneutic method would that be?
Christian: Well, of course, that which would open the Scriptures to answering your questions. 
Atheist: So, if God is conceptual, to what does the concept 'God' refer?
Christian: It refers to God Himself.
Atheist: So, God is conceptual in nature, and the concept 'God' refers to God?
Christian: Essentially speaking, that's right.
Thus, not only does the "universe-creating consciousness" theology back out to a view which logically stands on the presumption of pure self-reference as we saw in Christian cosmology above, the very notion 'God' in the treatment of "foundational apologetics" itself amounts to a purely self-referential utterance, having no reference to any entity in reality, having no objective meaning whatsoever. Apologists love to claim that "God is immaterial in nature." But this does not answer the question "Of what substance is God made?" Believers often assert that God is "spiritual" in nature, implying that "spiritual" refers to a kind of substance. But such claims do nothing to explain what God is. Statements such as "God is immaterial" only state what God is not. Expecting such statements to satisfy definition commits a reversal of definition.
Ayn Rand noted the habit of mystics to commit themselves to a reversal of definition. In John Galt's Speech, for instance, she wrote of the mystic's attempts to explain his notions:
All their identifications consist of negating: God is that which no human mind can know, they say - and proceed to demand that you consider it knowledge - God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out. [
We continue to encounter such evasion from meaning on a consistent basis in the arguments of those defending modern religion. The motivation behind the reversal of definition in the present context is the fact that a defense of the arbitrary (such as contentless notions built on purely self-referential notions) has no option other than to offer negations rather than affirmations (and even if affirmations are offered, there is no means of verifying them; they can only be taken on faith - i.e., because the priest or theologian says so). This is because the motivation is not to identify and embrace reality, but to reject it.
Paul and the Fallacy of Pure Self-Reference?
Can it be that the New Testament author Paul endorsed the fallacy of pure self-reference without knowing it? Indeed, in a frequently overlooked passage in the Epistle to Titus, it appears that Paul had been caught off guard.
Describing the potential threat which he believed non-believers and "false witnesses" posed to the church, Paul writes of a Cretan in Titus 1:12:
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are always liars…
Voicing his agreement, Paul continued in verse 13:
This witness is true.
Basically, Paul states that the testimony of a Cretan condemning all Cretan's as liars is true. Essentially speaking, the problem can be illustrated thus:
Person X (the Cretan prophet) insinuates that he belongs to a class of individuals (Cretans) who are always liars.
Person Y (Paul) says Person X (the Cretan prophet) speaks the truth.
If it is true that "Cretans are always liars," then it must follow that everything they say is false.
Compare with the fallacy of pure self-reference:
This statement is false.
This statement is true.
The kinship here is obvious.
Attempts to defend this verse from rightful criticism may concentrate on the proper rendering of the word 'always' (some translations have 'alway' instead) in Titus 1:12. The Greek word, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, isάεί (Strong's ref. 104) which means: "ever", "regularly", and "always" and implies continued duration or earnest. Apologists hoping to find a loophole by divining Greek word roots and exploring various word-sleuthing schemes will not have much success in preparing a convincing case that Titus 1:12 is simply a non-problem or, in the fashion of some apologetic circles, an "apparent contradiction," not to be confused with a legitimate contradiction. Such indulgences are simply evasions and often commit believers employing them to even larger problems down the pike.
Edmund D. Cohen, in examining of the evangelical mind-control system of the New Testament, writes:
On the one occasion when Paul discusses the truth value of a factual statement - as opposed to simply narrating events declared to have occurred, or speaking in generalities too broad to be verifiable - he affirmed the truth of a classical paradox inherently incapable of being true or false….
If the Cretan Paul quoted was a truth-teller, then what the Cretan said, i.e., that all members of the class he belonged to are non-truth-tellers, cannot be the truth. If the Cretan was a liar, then, for the thing he said to be a lie, the Cretan would have to have been a truth-teller. Either way, the proposition contradicts itself, and is incapable of being simply true or false. But Paul declared it to be simply true, and did so purporting to speak inerrantly for the God who cannot "lie." For the one and only time Paul committed himself on a question of fact to turn out to be a piece of semantic trickery, gives us an indirect indication of the third kind, that our leg is being pulled. [
Cohen proceeds to explain how the destruction of concepts, which Christianity fosters in the minds of those who call themselves "believers," can "resolve" the contradiction pointed out above. Of course, this destruction is made possible by the fallacy of reverse-packaging, which is "the attempt to divide single concepts by imposing on them an arbitrary idea or standard."  By thus dividing concepts to represent non-essential distinctions (such as "finite existence" versus "infinite existence" or "love" for worldly things and "love" for spiritual things), apologists can "deepen the mystery" of the "explanations" they offer in hopes of relieving critical objections. For those who accept the apologist's hidden but illicit premises, such "explanations" may indeed seem legitimate. However, once the various ruses of the apologist's devices and fundamental errors are recognized, appeals to "mystery" explain nothing.
Some possible contentions?
One may attempt to counter my arguments by claiming that Objectivism is itself committed to the fallacy of pure self-reference. For doesn't the idea "existence exists" amount to pure self-reference?
The answer to such an attempt to confound the Objectivist is quite simply: No, the statement "existence exists" does not commit the fallacy of pure-self reference.
For the statement "existence exists" refers to all that exists, i.e., to all entities, to all objects, to all attributes, to all qualities, which exist. In short, "existence exists" declares explicitly that reality exists, for 'reality' according to Objectivism is the realm of existence. The concept 'existence' is the widest of all concepts in that it is all-encompassing. The statement "existence exists" does not refer to its own referring; instead, its reference is all that exists. The concept 'existence' has reference beyond itself.
To hold that the axiom "existence exists" commits the fallacy of pure self-reference constitutes a fundamental breach of cognition. For such a claim would amount to the claim that all of reality (to which the statement "existence exists" refers) is merely a reference having no reference to reality. But reality (i.e., the realm of existence) is the object of reference for the Objectivist. This ultimately reduces to an attack against man's cognition, for it essentially constitutes the claim that one cannot refer to reality by use of concepts. Such a position would contradict the very purpose of concepts, and therefore commit, in grand scale, the fallacy of the stolen concept.
We see after identifying the essential nature of certain religious assertions how god-belief commits itself to the fallacy of pure self-reference in at least two respects, one cosmological and one conceptual. We see that the fallacy of pure self-reference is inescapable for any belief scheme which asserts a universe-creating consciousness said to be responsible for "all creation." For a consciousness to be conscious, it must be conscious of something. Attempts to evade this fact merely destroy the legitimacy of any view built upon it. Furthermore, we see that the very notion 'god' itself commits itself to the fallacy of pure self-reference, since both the notion 'god' and the entity to which that notion supposedly refers are conceptual in nature. This evades the whole purpose of concepts and renders the notion 'god' and any idea which depends on the assertion of a God essentially contentless.
Mr. Kappus, I hope your family is well and that you are fully recovered from your recent illness. Please write soon.
This definition of the fallacy of pure self-reference is my own creation, which is based on my own efforts to isolate the essential problem as illustrated by many examples, some of which appear in this paper. If a more concise statement defining this little-known fallacy could be supplied, I would love to see it.
 The Metaphysics of Consciousness, recorded lecture, Tape 2, Side B.Dr. Binswanger's three-tape lecture series The Metaphysics of Consciousness is available through Second Renaissance Books, which can be accessed at the following URL:http://www.rationalmind.com.
 For instance, see my articlesCommon Fallacies Atheists May Encounter When Dealing with Religionists, The Byron-Choi Dilemma, Kicking Against the Pricks, particularly Volley 11: The Final Word, and various posts from The Tindrbox Files, namely from Sessions 14, 15 and 16. Also please see Survey of Catholic Philosophical Errors, Part 1 - Metaphysics, by Nick Wiltgen, and "Reality," chapter 1 of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Dr. Leonard Peikoff (New York: Meridian, 1991), pp. 1-36.
 "This Is John Galt Speaking," For the New Intellectual, p. 124; Atlas Shrugged, p. 933.
 For an excellent analysis and exposé of how the New Testament authors practiced and modeled the misuse of words and concepts, see Cohen, Edmund D., The Mind of the Bible-Believer, (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1988), particularly chapter 4, "The Evangelical Mind-Control System," "Device 3: Logicide," pp. 183-234.
 See additionally my essayA Perfect Being?
 Ayn Rand, "This Is John Galt Speaking," For the New Intellectual, p. 121. For more discussion of these principles, the reader is referred to Leonard Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, particularly the section titled "Living Organisms and Goal-Directed and Conditional," in chapter 6, "Man," pp. 189-193. For a more thorough-going analysis of the goal-oriented nature of life, I refer my readers to examine Dr. Harry Binswanger's expanded thesis, The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts, (Los Angeles: The Ayn Rand Institute, 1990), 255 pages, including notes and author index.
 This statement is taken verbatim from a dialogue I've had with a presuppositionalist apologist.
 In other words, 'hermeneutics' in this case refers to reading into some text or series of statements a conclusion which is irrelevant or unsupported by the text in question. In such a treatment, it is the conclusion which is the beginning of one's argument and the text or series of statements in question are recruited into its support by gratuitous interpretation or outright, agenda-driven interpolation. This practice is very common to apologists.
 Atlas Shrugged, pp. 951-952. See also my upcoming essay "A Survey of Presuppositionalist Reversals."
 The Mind of the Bible-Believer, p. 200.
 Quoted from my ownThe Issue of the Historicity of Jesus, Letter 1 of this correspondence series.
© Copyright by Anton Thorn 2000. All rights reserved.Posted July 3, 2000
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