I'm a college student who just finished Atlas Shrugged, and I was blown away-- it truly was an epic piece of literature, and it spurred me to research some of the concepts introduced in the book.
I have a few base questions about Objectivism. In order to be up front, I'll go ahead and say-- I don't agree with all that I've read about it, but there's a lot I find intriguing. Plus, I'm the only person I know who actually would give it a second thought. I'd like to learn about it so I can learn about Objectivist viewpoints, as well as be able to argue for it with people who are in complete disagreement.
Now, on to my questions.
1. How do Objectivists deal with Pascal's Wager?
Feel free to look up Pascal's Wager (or Gambit, if you prefer) if you don't already know about it. The entire argument seems immensely rational to me; I have a hard time thinking of objections. Now, if for the purpose of this post one were to conceded Rand's statement "belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason" (http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_FAQ#obj_q6), which may or may not be accurate, then still...
If Rand is right and you are a Christian, you die in (maybe, maybe not) blissful ignorance and have no further punishment. Everyone is guaranteed death.
If Rand is right and you are not a Christian, you die and have no further punishment. Everyone is guaranteed death.
If Rand is wrong and you are a Christian, you get rewarded for all of eternity. Incredible value. You are guaranteed life after death.
If Rand is wrong and you are not a Christian, you get punished for eternity (and, as it's crucial to this argument, please pause and think of eternity) and are guaranteed eternal suffering.
When framed in this manner, how is the rational thing to do denounce the existance of the divine? The response to this may or may not be solely Objectivist, but athiest in general, except for the fact that Objectivists claim to depend solely on logic; thus, it is logic I ask for.
2. Why do Objectivists trust reason?
This is one I really don't understand. According to Objectivism, we are to blindly trust that reason and the material world are inherently accurate; this actually goes against reason itself. If you don't see the inherent problem in this logic, I don't quite know how to explain it. Basically, to trust that reason is worth basing your life off of seems like a major leap of faith.
3. How can the future/probability be trusted?
This argument is largely based on Hume's statements, but here goes anyways. Basically, how can one assume that they know enough about reality from an objective sense to really understand anything? What if all this time, scientists were missing that the earth actually revolves around the sun (lousy attempt at a historical tie-in), or that our knowledge of probability is not hindered by some variable of which we are not yet aware? Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, and it seems logical to me that to say that one knows the exact nature of the physical universe is somewhat ridiculous.
Thanks for responding to my questions! I certainly hope I don't sound like a troll; I just would like to read some responses. If you would like any clarifications, that's fine.
Quick note-- I know someone will respond with my allegory in question 3 to, "But they were religious fanatics!" However, I feel this is irrelevant; they did the best with the science they had at the time. However, their science was based off religious texts. We base ours off certain empirical facts, but my question is whether or not it is rational to trust the validity of both these supposed facts and the conclusions we draw from them.
Have a great day!