Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics . . . .
Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated, indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason, dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of reason.
Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence. This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and that’s all.
In this passage we meet once again our old friend 'Existence exists.' And we note the sort of linguistic mischief that Rand/Peikoff engage in. It cannot be denied that existing things exist, and only existing things exist. This is entirely trivial. Anyone who denies it embraces a contradiction: There are existing things that do not exist. We should all agree, then, with the first sentence of the second paragraph. So far, so good.
But then Peikoff tells us that to postulate something supernatural such as God is "to postulate something beyond existence." Now it may well be that there is no God or anything beyond nature. It may well be that everything that exists is a thing of nature. But the nonexistence of God does not follow from the triviality that everything that exists exists. Does it take a genius to see that the following argument is invalid?
1. Existence exists, ergo
2. God does not exist.
One cannot derive a substantive metaphysical conclusion from a mere tautology. No doubt, whatever exists exists. But one cannot exclude God from the company of what exists by asserting that whatever exists exists. Now it is not nice to call people stupid, but anyone who cannot appreciate the simple point I have just made is, I am afraid, either stupid, or not paying attention, or willfully obtuse. Here is an example of a valid argument:
3. Nothing supernatural exists
4. God is supernatural, ergo
5. God does not exist.
For Peikoff to get the result he wants, the nonexistence of God, from the premise 'Existence exists,' he must engage in the linguistic mischief of using 'existence' to mean 'natural existence.' Instead of saying "only existence exists," he should have said 'only natural existence exists.' But then he would lose the self-evidence of "Existence exists and only existence exists."
Conflating a trivial self-evident thesis with a nontrivial controversial thesis has all the advantages of theft over honest toil as Russell said in a different connection. It would take a certain amount of honest philosophical toil to construct a really good argument for the nonexistence of any and all supernatural entities. But terminological mischief is easy. What Peikoff is doing above is smuggling the nonexistence of the supernatural into the term 'existence' Now if you cannot see that that is an intellectually dispreputable move, then I must say you are hopeless.
It is like a bad ontological argument in reverse. On one bad version of the ontological argument, one defines God into existence by smuggling the notion of existence into the concept of God and then announcing that since we have the concept of God, God must exist. Peikoff is doing the opposite: he defines God and the supernatural out of existence by importing their nonexistence into the term 'existence.' But you can no more define God into existence than you can define him out of existence.
There are other egregious blunders in the above passage. But if I were to expose every mistake of the Randians, I might attain the age of a Methuselah and still not be done. Or perhaps I should liken it unto a Sisyphean labor, one of endless and futile toil. Futile, because the Randians I have so far encountered seem quite unteachable.