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"Thinking is not a mechanical process", Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt's Speech But if atheism is true and man is a biological machine lacking what theists would call a soul, then how is "thinking not a mechanical process"?
On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I will answer questions on the good in American culture, romance between an atheist and a believer, the limits of humor, and more. This episode of internet radio airs on Sunday morning, 30 December 2012, at 8 PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET in our live studio. If you miss that live broadcast, you can listen to the podcast later. This week's questions are: Question 1: The Good in American Culture: How is American culture better today better than people think? I've heard lots of depressing claims about the abysmal state of American culture lately, particularly since Obama won the election. You've disputed that, arguing that America is better in its fundamentals that many people think. What are some of those overlooked but positive American values? How can they be leveraged for cultural and political change? Question 2: Romance Between an Atheist and a Believer: Can a romance between an atheist and a religious believer work? What are the major obstacles? Should the atheist attend church or church socials with his spouse? Should they have a religious wedding ceremony? Should they send their children to religious schools? Do the particular beliefs – or strength of beliefs – of the religious person matter? Question 3: The Limits of Humor: When does humor work against my values? Sometimes I wonder whether my jokes work against what I value. (For example, what's the most selfish sea creature? An Objectifish!) How do I draw the line? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. Again, if you miss the live broadcast, you'll find the audio podcast from the episode posted in the archive: Radio Archive: 30 December 2012. Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives. Be sure to follow Philosopy in Action via our blog, RSS feeds, and Facebook too. P.S. I've started a new thread because the old thread had "webcast" in the title, but I'm now purely on radio.
I found an interesting video on TED.com today, in which speaker Alain de Botton says that, while we need not agree with religions, we (meaning atheists in general, not specifically objectivists) may want to look into adopting some of their methods. I don't agree with everything that he says, but he made some interesting points. I especially liked what he had to say about art (his view seems rather O'ist). Below I've provided a link to the video (19:21 long), which includes a complete transcript on the webpage. http://www.ted.com/t...theism_2_0.html
I am here seeking intelligent discussion. On the spectrum of individualism to collectivism, I lean toward collectivism. On the spectrum of objectivism to relativism, I lean toward relativism. I am a fervent atheist and anti-militarist. I read Atlas Shrugged (AS) in the summer of 2011 and was fascinated. Saddened by the state of public discourse, which has been debased ever since the polar opposites of Goldwater and Reagan taught self-styled conservatives that they can achieve their objectives better through misdirection and bombast than through reason and civility, I am thrilled to find a community like this one. Rather than talking to the converted at Daily Kos, here I can test my assumptions and see other perspectives. At least at first, I probably will not comment on others’ posts, but rather will start a series of threads laying out what seem to me to be the faults or inadequacies of objectivism. I look forward to reasoned responses. By way of background, I was born in Southern California in 1963 to a Catholic mother and agnostic father. I was raised Catholic and participated in Boy Scouts, which largely shaped my father’s moral code. Before I was 10 years old, I began questioning Christianity and theism in general … first on logical grounds and later on moral grounds, disagreeing with teachings on sexuality and other issues. Later, as an adult, I tried evangelical Christianity and studied the Bible more closely. This cemented my atheism as I was appalled by the Bible’s sanction of genocide and other atrocities. My own moral code was nonetheless strongly influenced by the teachings of Jesus, including his skepticism of wealth, his rejection of violence and his emphasis on altruism. Driven by reason and justice rather than mysticism or fear, I was naturally drawn to communist ideals. I went to Berkeley in the early 1980’s, where I studied impractical humanities and protested Reagan’s illegal wars in Central America. Over time, I came to realize that true communism is impossible outside of a small community setting. As Ayn Rand showed clearly with AS’s Twentieth Century Motor Company, it creates harmful incentives and is inherently prone to corruption. As a youth, although I appreciated the idealism in the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, I realized that it pessimistically assumed there would be no surplus created. My view at the time was that the surplus should, in theory, be distributed in proportion to the extent to which each person achieves his potential. Obviously, this could only be theory since it would require godlike insight to implement and therefore is certain to be applied incompetently or corruptly. I came to understand that capitalism was a powerful engine of prosperity that harnesses human nature (what I believe objectivists call egoism) and realistic incentives. However, I continue to believe that capitalism must be tempered by fairness and redistribution is necessary to reduce the major roles played by luck and happenstance. While there is no perfect and incorruptible system to do this, I believe multiparty democracy is better suited to the task in the long run than any alternative. After a few years doing computer programming, in the early 1990’s, I first went to Columbia University where I got a law degree (JD) and then went to New York University for a masters in taxation (LLM). I practice international corporate tax law at a major accounting firm, having worked for the IRS for several years. Given my radical and progressive roots, my practice paradoxically includes helping companies move intellectual property offshore. I am able to do this with a clear conscience since I do not believe in the corporate tax, which is economically distortive and has an unknown incidence. From a tax policy perspective, I believe in a strongly progressive tax on individual income or consumption. My name, Swerve of Shore, comes from the first line of Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. For professional reasons, I cannot share my real name at this time – perhaps, when I retire.