Objectivism Part 2

Sunday, Jan 31, 2021
Jim Sutton

In the last post, I introduced the four tenets of objectivism as stated in the book, Atlas Shrugged: reality, reason, self-interest and capitalism. Ayn Rand’s definition of reality was the focus in the last post. Ayn Rand was clear that the premise supporting these tenets was an atheistic worldview; my thoughts were that it was a non-sequitur to define reality in this matter as something that is unyielding and fixed, because reality in the view of an honest atheist is accepted by faith. There is no rational explanation for sentient life and all it entails that science by its methods and tools can rationally decide by its own rules of test and independent verification. This is the point where philosophy is invoked by most atheists. Philosophy utilizes tools of reason and logic, not testing and independent verification, however. Both are based on the biased premises of each other, neither supported by anything approaching terra firma.

Reality by the Christian is also built on a non-testable premise. That premise maintains that God created the reality we can know and experience, and we are playing in His universe that was setup with His rules pertaining to physical laws and the reality of our birthright as humans to freely choose our beliefs. In a free society, this is easier than a closed society, but this view of reality states in Scripture that our conscience bears us witness to the truth that God exists through what we experience during our sojourn on earth.

So, moving forward, I am operating under the intentional premise (at odds with Ayn Rand’s beliefs) that reality is based on a belief that God created our reality, and in Ayn Rand’s words:

“Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.”

According to Ayn Rand, ours is to discover the one reality that exists, the one we live in, since it is self-evident. Ayn thought that any form of metaphysical relativism or idealism was unacceptable. The reality that could exist in her thoughts was only the reality of the senses and the mind, a constraint on what might be the true nature of reality, but a limited reality she was willing to set as a ground rule. This was the point of faith for Ayn Rand that a reality including more than the mind and our senses did not exist.

I’m not willing to accept this faith premise, but I am willing to accept the premise that an expanded view of reality exists, and it has an objective absolute component enabling a reality that is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The facts that surround his life, teachings and actions on earth are the basis for the reality I will accept independent of my feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. In summary, I accept the definition of Ayn Rand’s first tenet, but reject the premise that limits it unnecessarily.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the second tenet, reason. Reason, as stated in the previous post functions as an igniting spark for something new, like tele-communications, internal combustion engines and heavier than air aircraft. I believe it is possible in a universe that is ordered, structured, with potential to be developed into greater value/benefit for humanity. Reason can also provide a hedge, or protection against human behavior that is destructive of humanity, whether we are considering physical or mental destructive mechanisms in the medical, political, industrial or legal disciplines. Conversely, reason can also deceive us into accepting destructive tendencies that will have power to destroy our conscience and our very lives. The obvious manifestation of this destruction is in those who have terminated their physical selves by suicide, but there are more subtle manifestations. Paul warns of the results stemming from the destruction of the conscience in I Timothy 4: 1-2:

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

Conscience as I am using the term is our ability to reason properly, according to reality that is based on absolute truth. Scripture states that this truth is self-evident at one time or another in our lives. Most people would recognize that reason which is built on a false premise, even when flawless logic is employed, will reach a conclusion that cannot be trusted as true. These are the story problems we missed in math classes when we applied the correct formulas but started with the wrong premises of what the story problem was asking. If the right answer is reached, it would have been by accident. Our teacher, using reason could recognize the initial error however well we implemented the logical formulas.

Reason, when aligned with a reality that is not artificially constrained will more likely discover truth. Reason, when coupled with false premises may produce glimpses of what is true in terms of our nature but will fail in the long run to reveal a clear understanding or full benefit of our nature from a flawed foundation. Reason with false premises is just as likely to result in unleashing destructive forces, both towards our minds and our physical selves. This idea is evidenced in human history. For instance, the idea of a superior race in the pre-WWII German nation brought about the destruction of 6 million Jewish people and countless others. Reason was used to make this conclusion from a flawed premise. That is a tragedy, but perhaps the greater tragedy continues to be those who have allowed their consciences to be destroyed and carry with them the seeds of even greater human destruction with existing technology. Is it possible that they could be propelled to the unthinkable by beliefs that cannot tolerate the claims of a different reality than one that limits reality to the senses and the mind?

Next post I will delve into the third tenet, which is self-interest, something that appears at first look to be at odds with historic and current Christianity.