A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 15

This is part 15 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,I think Haidt's work on the five foundations of morality has a lot of validity, although I'd argue that the conservative, "beehive" values tend to work better in smaller and more homogeneous societies. Large, multicultural civilizations, by their nature, need to rely first and foremost on the "contractual" values of harm/care and … [Read more...]

In Defense of Radical Individualism

Conservative Christians are still grappling with the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage this summer. It's sinking in that Obergefell was just the starkest example of how they no longer enjoy the absolute cultural power they once held, and that, as younger generations become more secular, their influence will keep dwindling. Some are reaching for apocalyptic rhetoric - Franklin Graham, for example, has said in response to the ruling, "I believe the end is coming... we are in the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Horseshoe Theory

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IVHere's this chapter summarized in two sentences: Jim Taggart's wife Cherryl finds out that he's not the great businessman she thought he was, but one of the worst of the looters, and that he married her for the sadistic pleasure of crushing her spirit. In despair, she commits suicide.That's really the only thing that happens. It has no larger importance, but Rand spends an entire chapter on it, piling on the bathos and melodrama, just to emphasize what … [Read more...]

The Post-Work Society

Laziness is a good thing.For as long as civilization has existed, people have been trying to live as well as possible with as little work as possible. That drive has created kings and kleptocrats who get rich by robbing their subjects, but it's also led to every technology that makes work easier, from horse collars to steam engines to industrial robots.Think of how few people in the industrialized world work in jobs that have a direct connection to the necessities of life: agriculture, … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 14

This is part 14 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew -I always like it when people come to our debates and tell us afterward that neither of us was who and what they were expecting. I take pleasure in confounding expectations!I like your mention of the public school system, which is one of the best things that the government has done: a great equalizer, a stirring rod of the American … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Problem of Original Property

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IINow that his brief moment of genuine, appropriate emotion is over, Francisco goes back to doing what he does best - delivering Randian Monologues. In this one, he explains to Dagny how he joined John Galt's conspiracy:"Dagny, when I took over my father's business, when I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, it was then that I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe. I saw the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: L’Etat, C’Est Moi

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIWhile Ragnar Danneskjold thinks of himself as a reverse Robin Hood, I think he's more like the Objectivist Santa Claus. He comes down the chimney to give gold to all the good girls and boys of superlative individual value. He may not have a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer, but he does have a stealth battleship which can both outrun and outfight all the navies of the world while simultaneously being small enough to hide undetectably, which we can safely say … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Jolly Roger

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IILeft alone in John Galt's house, Dagny is cooking breakfast when a visitor arrives:She was setting the table, when she saw the figure of a man hurrying up the path to the house, a swift, agile figure that leaped over boulders with the casual ease of a flight. He threw the door open, calling, "Hey, John!" — and stopped short as he saw her. He wore a dark blue sweater and slacks, he had gold hair and a face of such shocking perfection of beauty that s … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Hume’s Meadow

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IAlthough Galt's Gulch is the fullest picture of a capitalist utopia that Ayn Rand ever presents, in this book or any other, she's frustratingly vague or inconsistent about some of the crucial details. We've seen that it's somehow organized so there's no real competition. We've also asked why Mulligan sells land to the others, rather than living off rents like a feudal lord which, according to Objectivist morality, he'd have every right to do.For … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 13

This is part 13 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,Thanks again for your hospitality when I came to visit Indianapolis earlier this month! I relished the opportunity to go (metaphorically) into the lions' den and speak to some Christian audiences together with you. I got the impression that neither of us were precisely what the audiences were expecting, which is great! I think debates … [Read more...]