Sunday, January 16, 2011

Interview with Ayn Rand

A reader sent me this link a couple of months ago.  I've been lazy and slow to get it posted.  It's an interview with the late author Ayn Rand about atheism.  I read her novel Atlus Shrugged when I was in university, and it was one of the few books I was ever forced to read yet actually liked.  I must confess that I skipped the 80-page long monologue by John Galt near the end, but that wasn't even 10% of the book.  I was able to relate to the protagonists in the book, as their situation with the people around them was very similar to my situation with my family.  The protagonists' leadership and intelligence was frowned upon, as the society around them slipped into a socialist state which rewarded mediocrity and lack of initiative.

I had to write an essay on it, and was able to relate the situation in the book with my situation at home.  The professor was so impressed that he called me at home to tell me what a good job I'd done with it.  I remember including an example.  We had just bought a new computer, our family's first.  I had taken the time to read the relatively short introduction manual and to play with some of the options.  My family refused to read it and demanded that I teach them and help them with everything.  I remember even if I'd tell them that the answer to their question was on page 16 of the manual, they'd still scream at me, telling me what a bad brother/son I was, often threatening me with violence, because I wouldn't pass along what I had learned.  I'm a strong believer in the give a man a fish/teach him to fish saying, and was trying to teach them to fish, which in this case meant to use the manuals and other available tools to find their own answers.  They angrily declined.  That might explain why I moved away from home as soon as I was done my undergrad studies, while my other brothers lived with my mother for so long.  One moved out at age 29.  The other two still live with my mother, even though they're 31 (this month) and 26 years old.

Anyways, enough of my rambling.  Here is an excerpt from the interview, which I'll publish unedited:

Interviewer: I think atheists are as arrogant as many of the so-called Christians or relgionists that you defy. I'm saying...

Ayn Rand: Arrogant in what way?

Interviewer: In that you are here with your certainty saying there is no god and anybody who believes there is is... It's almost a suggestion that you believe that you are foolish if you believe there is and I think that's a little arrogant and condescending.

Ayn Rand: No. The arrogance and foolishness... I would have to tell the truth. I think it's a bad sign psychologically. It is a sign of a psychological weakness, a man who is afraid to stand on his own mind and has no responsibility. Because it is the absence of proof that brings on false thinkers. Every argument for the existence of god is incomplete, improper and has been refuted and people go on and on because they want to believe. Well, I regard it as evil to place your emotions, your desire above the evidence of what your mindknows.


Magnamune said...

That mindset is a great way to view the world. However, whatever Ayn Rand feels about religion, she's still an Objectivist. I find the political view to be flawed, and find her books difficult to read.

Jim said...

Well put answer. I'm going to quote her on that.

Charles said...

Ayn Rand's philosophy is probably one of the most selfish, amoral philosophies I've ever heard of. She's also a terrible example of an atheist, and serves only to support what the various Christians say about them; a woman who clearly values herself, and her money and power, and values nothing else in turn. Its social darwinism in its most bare, naked form. She can clearly think, she's clearly intelligent, but she has no self-knowledge. She uses her rationality only to justify her actions, rather then to learn more about the world.

On the contrary, the strongest arguments for ethics can be and are purely rational, never invoking god, but still teaching us that we should do good and help others, for its own sake alone. When I support my fellow man, I am bettered, and I -know- that I am bettered because I have philosophy. Lesser people think wealth or power are goals in life, things to aspire towards; but because of rationalism and philosophy, I know that happiness is all that matters, that seeking after wealth and money endlessly will never bring me happiness, and that neither god, nor sex, nor any of the crap people shove in their heads will do so.

That is rationalism. Ayn Rand...thats objectivism.

Admin said...

Rand's life philosophy is taken to an extreme, but in a more moderate form, I believe it is among the best life philosophies to hold. I believe people need to do more to watch out for and to help themselves, but I don't believe in selling water for $5,000 to people who are dying of thirst.

Admin said...

I don't see how Rand could be considered a terrible example of an atheist. Unlike a terrible example of a Christian, who might believe in the divinity of Jesus but does not adhere to the teachings of the religion, atheism's only requirement is to not believe in gods. She's an excellent example of one of those. Atheists come in all personalities and philosophies. Some of us are good people, some of us are jerks. The sooner religious people understand that we don't stick to any other beliefs or standards, the better off we'll all be.