Who is John Galt?

I came across this statement, made blandly by an Ayn Randian:

“The essence of religion as the term is normally used is belief in the supernatural–without any proof and even despite proof to the contrary”

Unfortunately, the statement is simply and flatly wrong. It is the kind of thing a man who has never once had a serious conversation with a serious and well-read Christian would say.

I used to be an atheist for 43 years, all my adult life and most of my childhood. A day came when the supernatural intruded into my life so obviously, so vehemently, and so undeniably, that I was overwhelmed. All attempts, then or later, to explain the events in naturalistic terms, such as by positing a series of coincidences somehow coincidentally timed with various hallucinations, illnesses, recovery, prayers, internal and external sensations, prognostications, and on and on are so far fetched as to be beyond absurdity.

I believe in the supernatural for precisely the same reason I believe in the oxygen atom, even though I have never seen an oxygen atom: all alternate models of the universe are incomplete, inexact, and do not explain the facts on the ground.

Naturalistic explanations explain neither where we come from, nor what meaning life here on earth has, nor where we are going, nor why the conscience has authority to bind the will, nor how life should be lived, nor how death should be faced. They explain nothing about the human condition, not even the obvious point of why we suffer or why we love. Naturalistic explanation either end in stark absurdity, such as that men are meat robots and mind is an illusion, or end in stark inhumanity, such as that one must live and die a perfect Stoic, unflinching, unyielding, and as tearless as Buddha.

All naturalist philosophies aside from nihilism and stoicism do not end there because they are abortive, that is, the halt the philosophical process in fear of where it leads, of which Ayn Rand is a prime example. She praises all virtues as springing from reason, and reason as necessary for life, and life as the source and sole measure of value: but this admittedly elegant and admirable pagan system cannot answer the question of why one should live at all, if it is not to one’s liking? Nor does it answer what to do in situations where reason and virtue do not lead to longer or better life, such as when one soldier must decide whether to throw himself on a hand grenade and save his mates in his squad, or push a weaker squad mate atop the grenade and claim the weaker man bravely volunteered.

But let us not get too far afield. It is obvious that supernaturalism is needed to explain man, for he is not a natural beast. What is less obvious, but nonetheless a logical deduction, that supernaturalism is needed to explain nature.

Consider: the Big Bang is the starting point of time and space, matter and energy, and all the patterns of motion of matter which we call the laws of nature. There was no nature before the Big Bang. Indeed, in one sense of the word, there was no ‘before’ before the Big Bang, since to speak of what event causes time is like asking what is more north than the north pole.

However, the Big Bang was defined by something, the same way a triangle, or a law of logic, or a law of morality is defined.  A is A was not caused by the internal behavior of a star, they way oxygen atoms were created. In that sense, ‘A is A’ is not created at all. But something defines it, sets its nature, sets the boundaries on what it is and what it is not.

Likewise, here. The Big Bang was the moment before which nature was not  defined, and after which nature was defined. So, then, what defines nature?  Nature cannot define itself. It must be defined by something. That something must exist and cannot exist in nor because of nature or any natural law or natural process. By process of elimination, nature must be defined by the supernatural.

Now then,  one may disagree with this line of reasoning or not, depending on how reasonable one is willing to be. That is not my point. My point is that for an Ayn Rand acolyte, the man dismissing all religion just BLANKED OUT this line of reasoning.

He is saying I have no proof, whereas I have abundant proof. Now, a reasonable man might examine my proof and conclude that I have made an error in judgment, but he cannot say I have made an error in logic nor in legal procedure, for the simple reason that I have not.

But this man has to believe in that error of logic — that I (and all Christians) entertain believe without proof — like a child has to believe in Santa Claus. It is part of his worldview, a matter of party loyalty, not of deduction: A matter of being faithful to his dogma.

In a rather unrandian way — in direct contradiction to her stated highest value, reason — the writer simply  suspended his mode of thinking, blanked it out, and pretended that Christian belief in the supernatural came from nowhere for no reason, whereas, on the other hand, in really, any catechized Christian can give clear and even forceful reasons to explain his faith.

The word faith means trust. It means remaining true to your oaths, true to your beliefs. It means remaining true to what reason has shown you, even during moments of deep and irrational emotion that threaten to introduce doubt where doubt is not logical.

The Ayn Randian is simply pretending that the intellectual history of the West from AD a onward just does not exist, that the thinkers and philosophers and theologians and wise men, poets and prophets and sages merely did not exist, did not write, did not think thoughts.

In other words, the Ayn Randian is committing the one and only sin Ayn Rand condemns: self-deception. The writer here is falsifying reality. Indeed, he is entertaining a false to facts belief for what is fundamentally a reason of self deception.

Nor is he alone in this. John Galt is the paradigm and hero of the Ayn Randian philosophy: the allegedly perfect and perfectly rational man, the one to be imitated. In one rather telling scene, he defines himself as the man who is innocent of original sin. Conveniently for her plot, he has no weaknesses, no pity, no sins, and yields to no temptations.

Who is John Galt? He is a Houyhnhnm, a creature of pure reason.

In a perfect man, self-esteem, self-regard, egotism and selfishness are not sins, because he never places himself out of proper rational and honest relation with his fellow man, never defrauds them, never is ungrateful, never is craven, never is violent. He also has no children and suffers no disease, sickness, loss, need, loneliness, nor want, so he need never ask nor beg any man for anything, but all his human interaction, including his love life, are a fair and equal and evenhanded exchange moderated by such perfect justice that no cause for complaint exists, not even when one man alienates the affections of a desirable woman from her lover. The two men just shake hands like gentlemen after a chessgame.

Unfortunately, prelapsarian man is an much a figment of speculation and imagination as the Houyhnhnm. Self-imposed sinlessness, which is the prime axiom of the Ayn Randian system, is false to facts.

As she would put it, when asked how in her system, or her personal life, she deals with sins such as pride and adultery and betrays of loved ones  — BLANK OUT — there is no such thing.