Objectivism is a rather peculiar philosophy. Admittedly, when I first encountered Objectivism (I believe I encountered it for the first time in late 2013), I thought it was a crock of crap that was an embarrassment to philosophy (not that most of philosophy isn’t embarrassing–it is). However, it really wasn’t Objectivism’s fault that I was given such a bad impression of it. It was the fault of those whom I first ran into that espoused the philosophy. The atheists I ran into on social media that held to this philosophy (many quickly left the philosophy after its problems were exposed) did not have a good understanding of meaningful philosophical discourse, and as a result, the philosophy of Objectivism was not well represented.
I later found out that these atheists were getting a lot of their material from a blogger named Dawson Bethrick who also goes by ‘Bahnsen Burner.’ I think a better blogger name for him would be ‘False Advertising,’ because I have no doubt that Bahnsen, a Presbyterian who was a very educated and intelligent believer, would get the better of ‘Bahnsen Burner.’ I found Bahnsen Burner’s blog posts to be interesting, but his writing style was quite crude.
Later, I read Ayn Rand and I wondered why more universities hadn’t embraced her philosophy. This is quite the back pedal from what I said a few years ago. Yes, I was wrong. I admit it. I dismissed Objectivism as a joke and pointed to how professional philosophers did not take Objectivism seriously. In 2016, I started to realize that most “professional” philosophers are hacks; in particular, the outspoken ones typically are hacks. Of all non-believing empiricist philosophers, I would probably place Ayn Rand as the best of them (I am not counting David Hume because I view him as more of a skeptic).
Secular philosophy’s embrace of Kantian philosophy is one large reason why academic philosophy (particularly in the secular arena) has become a joke. For secularism, Rand’s philosophy is certainly superior because Ayn Rand did something that most unbelieving philosophers don’t do–she defined her terms, and she did so more precisely than any other empiricist that I have ever read. It is also worth mentioning that Rand thoroughly destroyed Kant’s altruistic ethics.
Objectivism is still insufficient in the sense that its attempts to bypass the issues that empiricists have faced over the course of the history of philosophy are a failure, but I cannot deny that Ayn Rand’s attempts to deal with these problems were valiant. For anyone who is interested in the history of empiricism, Ayn Rand is an underrated philosopher that is a must read.
What follows is a brief dialogue that I had with an objectivist in the ‘Defending Presuppositionalism’ group. A Christian asked a question about how Christians and atheists can rationally resolve their disagreements. I gave an answer, and then an objectivist responded. Notice that the first thing I do is ask the objectivist to define his terms. This is something that I teach in my book, ‘Apologetics Made Simple.’ Key terms must be defined in any discussion in order for it to proceed in a way that is meaningful. Throughout the history of philosophy, the term ‘reason’ has been defined in many ways. Because of this, it is important that we get clarification of what this Objectivist means by ‘reason.’ If you wish to corner an atheist, the best thing you can do is get them to define as many key terms as possible. Because unbelief in God is foolishness (Psalm 14:1), they will inevitably trip themselves up. Notice how quickly the objectivist was buried underneath his own terminology and problems that surfaced from the way he worded his definitions.
How can the difference of opinion between the atheist and Christian be rationally resolved?
By having the atheist admit he is wrong and embrace the Biblical worldview.
You’d have to use reason for that, and reason is in short supply, in the presupp fan.
The perception and processing of sense data into meaningful concepts – a conceptual map of reality that is mostly accurate – accurate enough to ensure our survival.
There is no rule of inference that allows a perception to be inferred from sensory data. I recognize that Ayn Rand attempted to bypass this problem with peculiar definitions for perceptions and concepts, but without the allowable inference, the problem remains unsolved. As sharp as she was, that is the thing that Rand missed. While definitions are important, they must be workable within the context of the subject matter or else the propositions that are expressed by those definitions will fail.
You can’t know that a concept is accurate without knowing ‘reality.’ You have a chicken or the egg problem here. Either you already know the ‘reality’ and weigh your concepts against it thereby making concepts unnecessary or you cannot know if your ‘concepts’ reflect reality because you will only be able to assume that your concepts match reality. Either way, this does not work.
Survival also is of no epistemic benefit. That is an irrationalist position that Ayn Rand would probably scoff at (not sure how religiously you follow her, but it is worth noting). It is true that, ethically speaking, Ayn Rand held to egoism, but the truth of propositions are not determined by survival value.
Reason is perfect, humans don’t reason perfectly.
Then you cannot know that reason is perfect, nor can you know enough to say we must use reason to bring someone to the faith. Your assertion is unsubstantiated and indemonstrable because you are a human. You may want to rethink the way you are wording that statement.
My Book on Apologetics: