The Role of Religion Today教育阿特拉斯大學
The Role of Religion Today

The Role of Religion Today

May 23, 2023

“What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” That was a question asked by Tertullian, an early Church father. In his time, Athens and Jerusalem were symbols of philosophy vs. religion, reason vs. faith. Tertullian wanted nothing to do with Athens. But the legacy of ancient Greece—especially the works of Plato, Aristotle, and others—have always played an important role in Western civilization. Reason and religion have had changing roles and degrees of impact throughout the history of the West. Today, Athens is represented by the Enlightenment culture of reason and science; its impact is exclusive in some areas. But Jerusalem—the Judeo-Christian outlook—is still part of Western culture.

What is the Objectivist Position in Morality (Ethics)?

The table below is my assessment of the respective roles of religion and other cultural influences in serving human needs. If we draw a broad distinction between material, spiritual, and social needs, then we can say, equally broadly, that the economic dimension of society serves man’s material needs, whereas culture serves his spiritual needs. Culture also serves social needs, but these are also strongly shaped by the economic division of labor (as well as the political structure).

Throughout most of the history of civilizations, religion has provided the core of culture, but it has been losing many cultural as well as social functions over the centuries. The table is a list of various needs and of religion’s role as a provider—the main, significant, or minimal one—and the other forms and institutions that also serve these needs.

My assessments in each row are based on decades of observing and analyzing our culture, but they are only my intuitive assessments. There is abundant data, from Pew Research and other sources, and I have reviewed a lot of that data over the years. But the table is not based on the systematic evidence currently available. Please do not take my assessments as anything more than the judgments of an intelligent observer.

Hicks: Are there absolute truths in morality?

Religion remains a powerful cultural player a) because it is still the main provider of certain important needs; and b) because no other institution or cultural form has taken its place in any unified way. Indeed, one aspect of modernist civilization has been precisely this fragmentation of culture, a greater degree of division of labor in the cultural “industry.”

In principle, Objectivism is capable of providing for all of these needs, either directly (e.g., morality, understanding man’s place in the universe) or indirectly (setting basic standards in education, art, logic of science, etc.) My table may be a guide to the level of difficulty Objectivism faces in becoming a major provider for our various needs.

你能愛上帝和安·蘭德嗎? |《華爾街日報》
David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


凱利的哲學著作包括倫理學、認識論和政治學方面的原創作品,其中許多作品以新的深度和新的方向發展了客觀主義思想。他是認識論論文感官的證據》的作者;客觀主義中的真理與寬容,論客觀主義運動中的問題;粗獷的個人主義:仁慈的自私基礎;以及《推理的藝術》,這是一本廣泛使用的入門邏輯教科書,現已出版第 5 版。

凱利曾就廣泛的政治和文化主題發表演講和出版。他關於社會問題和公共政策的文章發表在 《哈珀斯》、《科學》、《理性》、《哈佛商業評論》、《弗里曼》、《論原則》等雜誌上。在1980年代,他經常為 《巴倫週刊》財經和商業雜誌 撰寫有關平等主義、移民、最低工資法和社會保障等問題的文章。

他的著作 《一個人的生活:個人權利和福利國家》 批判了福利國家的道德前提,並捍衛了維護個人自主、責任和尊嚴的私人替代方案。1998年,他出現在約翰·斯托塞爾(John Stossel)的ABC/TV特別節目“貪婪”中,引發了一場關於資本主義倫理的全國性辯論。




概念與自然:對現實主義轉向的評論(道格拉斯·拉斯穆森和道格拉斯·登厄伊爾)”,《理性論文》第 42 期,第 1 期,(2021 年夏季);這篇對最近一本書的評論包括對概念的本體論和認識論的深入探討。






現代性黨”,卡托政策報告,2003年5月/6月; 導航員,2003年11月;一篇被廣泛引用的文章,關於前現代、現代(啟蒙)和後現代觀點之間的文化分歧。

"I Don't Have To" (IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) and “I Can and I Will” (The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011); Companion pieces on making real the control we have over our lives as individuals.