FTNCI 059: Objectivism Book Study (Week 01)

 
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We invite you to check out the Objectivism Book Study, now available on YouTube and podcast. This is our series of in-depth philosophical interactions with Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff.

This is aimed toward anyone wanting to…

-Get to know Christians defending individual rights and capitalism.
-Sharpen skills in defending America’s unique principles.
-Explore connections between Christianity and Ayn Rand’s ideas.

Listen to the podcast in the player below, or view the video here.

INTRODUCTION:

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is Leonard Peikoff’s complete presentation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

Those who attend for this book will come away with a solid understanding of both the philosophy of Objectivism and of the convictions we hold at For the New Christian Intellectual, which are sometimes aligned and sometimes not aligned with the Objectivist movement.

At For the New Christian Intellectual, (FTNCI), we aim to create a Christian reconstruction of significant parts of Ayn Rand’s philosophical system, correcting the errors inherent in a philosophy that has rejected Christian teaching.

As a participant in this book study, you will get the chance to play a part in this effort of reconstruction by contributing questions and discussion points. We will review around two chapter subsections per week. Typically, that would be around 8-15 pages. We will proceed at a pace suitable for heavily philosophical material with time for question and answer sessions.

You’ll find this book study more accessible if you have already read Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged and if you have already listened to the first nine episodes of the FTNCI podcast, which you can find at this website.

Each week I (Cody Libolt) will introduce the reading, and guide the discussion. The goal will be open discussion. We are not aiming for agreement or what you could call indoctrination on the points under discussion. The aim is to explore where Christian can agree, cannot agree, and might agree with Rand’s various claims.

The claims in this book are made by Leonard Peikoff, but for simplicity, I will be referring to them as Rand’s claims, or the claims of Rand and Peikoff, and I will operate on the assumption that Peikoff has accurately represented Rand’s views.

This week, the reading was:

The Preface
Ch. 1 – Reality (Introduction) 1
Ch. 1 – Existence, consciousness, and identity as the basic axioms 4

To frame the discussion for this week, here is a short introduction:

What is the truth you are most sure of? And what is the most logically basic fact? Here, I am not asking for a tautological statement like A is A, but for a fact describing the universe as it is.

The correct answer is: That things exist.

Once I asked a seminary friend (now a professor) this same set of questions. His answer was that the most basic thing he knows, and the thing he is most sure of, is that there is a good God who exists and created him and loves him.

That is the difference between a common Christian (typically Van Tillian) view of faith and knowledge vs. the objective view of these things. Mainstream evangelical Christians, whether Van Tillian or not, tend to assume that God’s existence is the truth of which we (creatures) are (and ought to be) most certain. They tend to believe that anything other than this would be a failure of piety. The unchallenged assumption is that the thing that is the most important would necessarily be the thing that is known first.

But which is greater: The herald, or the king? The fact that a truth comes first to our attention means it is most foundational, or basic, or early within our human process of gaining knowledge, but that has no bearing on whether we consider it to be the truth that is most glorious. Here we see the confusion between ontology and epistemology.

God is ontologically prior to all other things. But God is not prior to all other things in the order of human knowledge, anymore than the king would be prior to the herald in the order of the knowledge of the peasants. It is due to our status as peasants that the herald is necessary. If we were God, we would start with God in our order of knowing. But we are creatures.

While many Christians might try to claim that their approach is the one that properly glorifies God, their approach is built on assumptions incompatible with the kind of world God has made. They might even say the approach toward knowledge that I am advocating is “man-centered.” That is a hand-waving way to dismiss the discussion. What we ought to be discussing is whether God is glorified by an approach to human knowledge that does not draw distinctions between God vs. man—the king vs. the peasants.

(The discussion continues in the audio.)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

List of Dates and Readings

Why Christians Should Reconsider Ayn Rand

About Us (For the New Christian Intellectual)

Ayn Rand and Christianity?

Christianity + Western Civilization

The Plunder of the Egyptians

Americanism Book Study

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Video Version

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About the Podcast

For the New Christian Intellectual is a free show created for Christian thinkers and communicators.

We focus on classical (and overlooked) Christian principles such as reason, rational self-interest, individualism, and individual rights.

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The post FTNCI 059: Objectivism Book Study (Week 01) first appeared on For the New Christian Intellectual.

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