Objectivism– thoughtful responses

I have been reading “Atlas Shrugged” as part of a curriculum in a leadership group discussing the American Founding, capitalism, and civic engagement. Can anyone suggest resources that would help me better engage in discussions/debates about the superiority of Christianity over Objectivism? Not looking to win debates but rather discuss in a manner that values the other. Thank you.

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Hi Edward,
welcome to the forum. :slight_smile:

I’m no philosopher; and haven’t heard of the term ‘objectivism’ as a view before; and haven’t read the book Atlas Shrugged so I did a little research. I have read Abdu Murray’s book ‘Saving Truth’ (a RZIM speaker), which was very good dealing with objective vs subjective truth and morality.

do you think this summarises objectivism? from this article (https://theobjectivestandard.com/what-is-objectivism/)

Objectivism is fully secular and absolutist; it is neither liberal nor conservative nor anywhere in between. It recognizes and upholds the secular (this-worldly) source and nature of moral principles and the secular moral foundations of a fully free, fully civilized society.

Morally, Objectivism advocates the virtues of rational self-interest—virtues such as independent thinking, productiveness, justice, honesty, and self-responsibility. Culturally, Objectivism advocates scientific advancement, industrial progress, objective (as opposed to “progressive” or faith-based) education, romantic art—and, above all, reverence for the faculty that makes all such values possible: reason. Politically, Objectivism advocates pure, laissez-faire capitalism—the social system of individual rights and strictly limited government—along with the whole moral and philosophical structure on which it depends.

and there is a lot to digest, even in the wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism)

I’m sure you are familiar; but there are 4 questions that make up a worldview (as Ravi mentions in a lot of his talks; and is covered in detail in the RZIM Core Module); perhaps some discussion could be had leading back to the Morality category.

for example; let’s say that ‘objectivism’ holds that morality is based on ‘each individual acting in his own best interest’; which individual has ‘right of way’ when two individuals are opposed in their self interest that defines their individual morality. if I decide that if it’s in my own self interest to go and steal some money; is that not just acting in my own self-interest to get ahead?

so I would say that the morality of objectivism falls over; because if it’s based on individuals own rational self-interest then it is not objective (outside of ourselves); but subjective.

As William Lane Craig points out; the Moral argument for God’s existence is the best one because everyday we get up and make moral choices.

Every day you get up you answer by how you treat other people, whether you think that human beings have intrinsic and objective moral value, and therefore are to be treated as ends rather than mere means to your own selfish purposes. And so the moral argument is inescapable, and if we do believe, as I think the vast majority of us do, that there are certain things that are really objectively right or wrong, then the question arises as to what is the basis or ground for these objective moral duties and values that we sense?

And it’s very very difficult to provide any sort of basis for these on an atheistic or naturalistic worldview. On that view, we are just animals, and moral values and duties are just illusory spin-offs of the evolutionary process which are conducive to our survival as a human species. But when the sociopath murders and sexually abuses a little girl on that view he doesn’t really do anything wrong; he just does something that is antisocial. And so we’re confronted with this very deep question and very disturbing implication of atheism as to what foundation there is for the objective moral duties and values that we confront in everyday living.

I’m persuaded that theism by far provides the best explanation. Moral values are grounded in the very character of God, and moral duties are grounded in his divine commands to us.

just a few thoughts; definitely not comprehensive; hopefully others will add some thoughts also.

Also, as a little bonus; I enjoy John Lennox’s writing - if you are having a discussion with someone who places faith in their own ability to reason; perhaps this little article might be of interest. Basically it’s saying if there is only secular humanism, via darwinism, then the ability of our own reason to find truth is undermined. Might be of interest. :slight_smile:

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@matthew.western- wow. What a brilliant reply for someone who started without knowing objectivism. I was clueless too, but curious. I am sure there are variations of it, held by individuals. But you have opened my eyes to how some people may think.

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Thank you for your extensive and thoughtful reply. You’ve given me a great starting point and resources. I wish I could offer a more extensive reply but both work and studies right now are filling my time. I’m very grateful for what you have offered.

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@etuttle Hi!

I’m not an expert on this worldview, but William Lane Craig has a YouTube video in which he answered a question about Ayn Rand’s Objectivism specifically, which I have provided a link for below. To paraphrase William Lane Craig’s response, it seems like he objects to this worldview for the following reasons.

  • There is no objective grounding for values in that worldview.
  • There is no obligation or duty to adhere to the values in that worldview.
  • There is no ultimate moral accountability in that worldview.

William Lane Craig on Ayn Rand’s Objectivism

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Thank you for this Jonathan. It led me on a search for similar videos. Very helpful and enlightening.

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This is not to enlighten you about objectivism (you have received many good replies for this), but only to share an interesting experience I had when I started reading this book many years ago.

A copy of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was given to me by someone and it remained unread on my shelf for years. One day, being off duty and having nothing else to do, I picked it out and started reading it. Chapter 1 has a character named Eddie Willers, aged 32 years, who is walking along a street and the date on a giant calendar was September 2nd. When I looked at myself, I was a 32 year old man (at that time) and when I looked at my calendar, I was reading the book on September the 2nd. It appeared that I had involuntarily chosen the exact date and age to read this chapter!! Yes, it was a coincidence, but the coincidence was so uncanny that it disturbed me and I shut the book. Today, the incident strikes me as funny - and now that you mentioned the book in this platform, maybe I will start reading it sometime.

I have a friend who is a businessman and a great fan of Ayn Rand and the objectivist philosophy - perhaps the book will help me understand him better.