Statesboro, GA, USA
I think you're underestimating the potential power of rationality, Stephen. Newton believed that if you knew the position and acceleration of every particle in existence, you could mathematically calculate the future. Rand lived in a similarly deterministic world, possessed of an intellect far sharper than most. Her conclusions weren't always right, but she apparently (who can know for sure?) never doubted them at all.
Admittedly, I don't hold much trust in the idea of autonomous reason, or reason-in-itself. The existentialist philosophers cured me of that. Just consider the things that Kirkegaard, Schopenhaur, Nietzsche have said about that very thing.
But Ron, knowing my view of reason and intelligence (as an important thing, but contingent), you should realize that I'm not doubting Ayn Rand's intelligence, or her confidence. Though I'm not claiming that she was all wrong (nor are egoists), I'll simply remind you that plenty of smart and confident people have been mistaken. So an appeal to intelligence, isn't the only thing that matters in such a discussion as this.
I don't see a great deal of difference, Stephen, between interpreting what someone told you to do (and not always getting that right, either) and reasoning out for yourself what is the best course of action to follow. Both, I think, rest on a foundation of faith.
Faith is still no in-itself-virtue. The object of faith is still the issue. Faith (in something) is simply a given. But also, I wonder how faith in God is justified in your own mind if you see "no great deal of difference", between going it on your own, and trusting God. Unless I've misunderstood you.
I certainly don't have a problem with arguing the existence of God. Shoot, I do it all the time. What I don't do, what I believe is ultimately futile, is argue that God is the ONLY thing that exists and that God's existence can be proven by disproving all other alternatives.
Then you have misunderstood me as well. I don't say that God is the "only thing that exists". Within his truth is great liberty. So much that even lies are rife with with it. Nor do I interpret everything as negatively against Christianity (I just got through arguing that Evolution would not imply atheism- as many assert). But, where systems of thought (whatever it may be) take away the foundation for what is good and evil, and replace that foundation with something like autonomous reason, then I will point out the predicament.
Naturalism, egoism, Objectivism, these are all moral alternatives that must exist, and indeed, must be viable, if Man is to have a Choice. Christianity doesn't have the market on morality. It can't if God's promise of free will is to be believed.
I don't doubt that there is truth in all of these philsophies and world-views. But, your premise about viability doesn't make sense, if it is based merely on free-will. Sometimes you can look at an extreme, to see the fallacy of an argument. And if you could consider that Hell itself (in Christian Theology) would represent at least some kind of respect (on God's part) to man's free will, then you might be able to admit that the ability to choose a path, and live there, doesn't necessarily make something "viable".
I don't mind you arguing for objectivism, naturalism, or any other "...ism", as long as you don't resort to free will as some kind of carte blance justification. If that were true then all things are justified. And I know you too well to think you believe that.