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Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies by [Smith, George H.]
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Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 324 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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About the Author

George H. Smith is the author of the world's most popular book on nonbelief, Atheism: The Case Against God, and Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2790 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 Jun. 1990)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036TG2OA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,121,099 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover
This loosely connected series of essays expands his earlier work, extending beyond Atheism to embrace various Christian and social 'heresies'. Beginning with his personal Path to Atheism, he provides the skeptic with methods of argument and several readings. He gives accounts of those Christian philosophers who wrote against atheists and heretics. Heretics, of course, have been subjected to the severest punishments in the Christian churches, for a soul lost is more serious than an unconverted heathen.
Smith's discussion of Deism is the highlight of this book. As a philosophy accepting a god without a structured religious organization, Deism was a major theme among critics of Christianity. Abolishment of church hierarchies, with their inevitable moral and monetary corruption, led many thinkers to leave Christianity in favour of a personal relationship with a deity. Many of the Founding Fathers of the United States adhered to this view, a product of the European Enlightenment of the 18th Century. Arising coincidentally with many philosophies of personal freedom, it was almost inevitable that a nation experimenting with democratic ideals would espouse it. Smith's essay on the writings of Deists is enlightening.
Smith's discussion of Ayn Rand's ideas came as a bit of a shock. It's difficult to find anyone, apart from a few feminists, in this era who knows who she was. Smith's account of her life includes a smattering of choice quotations, but the brevity of the entries demonstrates the paucity of adherents. There is an Ayn Rand Institute site on the 'Net, but seems hardly worth the bother.
The two essays on public education and the War on Drugs are heartfelt expressions of a true libertarian.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent collection of essays on atheism, Ayn Rand, and miscellaneous issues. Smith is an excellent writer. I only give the book a 9 because some of the articles lack references. His essays on Rand are good medicine for those dogmatic Randians who have never read any other works of philosophy, and think that Rand can do no wrong. A previous reviewer questioned the relevance of "Franz Fanon and John Locke at Stanford", but this essay is important in analyzing the drastic effects of political correctness on the campus.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a loose collection of essays by Smith. They cover a variety of topics, like Smith's personal atheism, heresies over the years, and Objectivism. His critiques of Objectivism are well-written and, IMHO, spot-on.
I wish I could give the book five stars, but there doesn't seem to be much of an underlying theme, as the title suggests. I would've liked to have seen something where the chapters lead to an inevitable conclusion, as in A:TCAG.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91f7ae4c) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96c97b58) out of 5 stars Interesting collection of essays 19 Feb. 2003
By Eric C. Welch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Heresy, Smith defines in his preface, is the rejection of the orthodox, and heresies are considered a threat to the established social order once the dogma of the institution (be it religious or otherwise) has become aligned with the power of the state or political force. The state, holding the reins of power, uses force, instead of persuasion, to enforce the orthodoxy. The Founding Fathers, most practicing Deists, itself a form of heretical thought, understood this and insisted on the separation of church and state, thus preventing the establishment of an official religion, preventing, they hoped, official heresies as well. Orthodoxy itself is not dangerous, only its alliance with political power. The central theme of Smith's book is the "crucial difference between the voluntary orthodoxy of organizations and the politicized orthodoxy of governments. "A free society, complete with orthodoxies and prejudices, is the best of all worlds for the heretic. Liberty permits the heretic to pit his beliefs against those of the orthodox majority." The paradox for the heretic is whether if and when his view becomes the dominant - to politicize the new orthodoxy or to permit liberty, which enabled the heretic to conquer ideologically, to possibly undermine the new orthodoxy?
Smith is unapologetically atheist; belief in God for Smith is simply unreasonable and irrational. Asked to prove the nonexistence of God, Smith's answer is simply that one cannot prove a negative and that the person who asserts the existence of something bears the burden of proof. He asserts that to believe in faith or to rely on faith is to "defy and abandon the judgment of one's mind. Faith conflicts with reason. It cannot give you knowledge; it can only delude you into believing that you know more than you really do. Faith is intellectually dishonest, and it should be rejected by every person of integrity.
The book is a loosely connected series of essays that discuss a variety of Christian and social heresies. He begins with his own philosophic journey to atheism. He is certainly a libertarian, and the essays on public education and the War on Drugs reflect that philosophy. But the reason I began this book was to discover his writing about Ayn Rand. He devotes two substantial chapters to her and the Objectivist philosophy.
Rand evokes fierce passions, both pro and con. "Accounts of Objectivism written by Rand's admirers are frequently eulogistic and uncritical, whereas accounts written by her antagonists are often hostile and what is worse, embarrassingly inaccurate." The situation has been made worse by her appointed heir to the throne, Leonard Peikoff, who has declared Objectivism to be a "closed" philosophy, i.e., no critical analysis will be tolerated; one must accept it as he says it is and that's that. Whether Objectivism will survive such narrow-mindedness remains to be seen. It's a classic case of the true believer "unwilling to criticize the deity. Thinking for oneself is hard work so true believers recite catechisms and denounce heretics instead." Typically, this was contrary to Rand's philosophy of individualism and critical, rational thinking where "truth or falsehood must be one's sole concern and the sole criterion of judgment -- not anyone's approval or disapproval."
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96c97bac) out of 5 stars Required reading for atheists and Ayn Rand admirers 21 Jan. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent collection of essays on atheism, Ayn Rand, and miscellaneous issues. Smith is an excellent writer. I only give the book a 9 because some of the articles lack references. His essays on Rand are good medicine for those dogmatic Randians who have never read any other works of philosophy, and think that Rand can do no wrong. A previous reviewer questioned the relevance of "Franz Fanon and John Locke at Stanford", but this essay is important in analyzing the drastic effects of political correctness on the campus.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91cfef48) out of 5 stars An interesting collection of essays. 4 Oct. 1997
By David Kerr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While I enjoyed immensely George H. Smith's book, 'Atheism: The Case Against God,' this book doesn't live up to it's predecessor especially at such a high price.

Most of the essays are excellent: 'My Path to Atheism,' 'Philosophies of Toleration,' 'The Righteous Persecution of Drug Consumers,' and 'Children's Rights in Political Philosophy' are a great read and the last one really made me think.

However, there are some questionable essays; one wonders what interest anyone would have in reading 'Frantz Fanon and Jonh Locke at Stanford'. One thing I found annoying were constant spelling errors scattered throughout - was this book edited? Another thing I could not figure out was whether Smith was a libertarian or an anarchist - he certainly has no problem with the privitization of the justice system, yet on the back of his first book he is described as an advocate of the libertarian view.

If you have some extra cash to spend and want to add this to your collection, get it! If you haven't already bought 'Atheism: The Case Against God' or 'Atheism: A Philosophical Justification' buy those instead.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96c97eb8) out of 5 stars A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS BY A REKNOWNED LIBERTARIAN ATHEIST 28 Feb. 2012
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
George Hamilton Smith (born 1949) is an American author, who has also taught classes under the auspices of the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies; and served as General Editor of Knowledge Products, and was scriptwriter for their "Great Political Thinkers" series. He has written other books such as Atheism: The Case Against God (Skeptic's Bookshelf) and Why Atheism?.

The essays in this 1991 collection are subdivided into three categories: Atheism; Ayn Rand; and Other Heresies (e.g., "Drug Consumers and Other Heretics," "Children's Rights in Political Philosophy," etc.).

In the opening essay, "My Path to Atheism," he recalls that Rand's lasting influence on him, as well as on thousands of other young people, was "to convince me... that ideas MATTER." (Pg. 30) He states that atheism is "not a belief; it is the absence of belief." The atheist is not a person who believes that a god does not exist; he does not believe in the existence of a god. (Pg. 183)

He rejects the "psychological atheism" of Freud and Feuerbach (i.e., that God is a "projection") on the grounds that they commit the genetic fallacy, which is the attempt to refute a belief through an examination of its psychological origins. (Pg. 185) He also criticizes linguistic philosophy: "Whereas medieval theologians made philosophy into the handmaiden of theology, analysts have transformed philosophy into the handmaiden of language." (Pg. 190)

He criticizes Rand for rarely quoting anyone except herself, and for actions such as criticizing John Rawls' book A Theory of Justice: Original Edition based on a book review, rather than actually reading the book. Smith comments, "Having herself been victimized by such tactics, one would have expected better from Rand." (Pg. 214-215)

Smith's observations are always thought-provoking, and well worth reading for any students of philosophy in general, or Objectivism or atheism in particular.
HASH(0x91f5c054) out of 5 stars This is a Great Book of Essays 26 Feb. 2015
By JoeCobb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is another excellent book by George H. Smith. Everything I have read by him is brilliant. I love reading about the history of ideas and George H. Smith is a true scholar.
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