After 6 months I finally finished "Atlas Shrugged". I know that I'm about 51 years late in joining the party. I liked it. Probably most people have strong feelings toward this book, either positive or negative. I am not 15 anymore so I like to think that I don't blindly embrace anyone who spouts ideas I find appealing. As far as literature goes, I would not say it is the greatest book I ever read. The dialog does not exactly flow. The speeches and the characters inner thoughts are filled with one superlative after another. The best this, the highest ideal that etc.
I wanted to read the book with an open mind so I decided to wait until after finishing the book to read the Whitaker Chambers review on National Review online. After reading Chamber's review, I was surprised that the review did not do much to argue against Rand's themes. The main objection seems to be that the novel is written in an operatic fashion with simplified characters that are either completely good or completely evil. I would agree with this, but I think Ayn Rands objective in writing the novel was to promote her philosophy of "Objectivism". Creating a good story and well developed characters was secondary to this. Just for fun, this should teak some people, but the Bible does the same thing in the parables that Jesus told. The characters were stereotypes to illustrate a lesson, not created for their literary value.
Whitaker Chamber's chief criticism was with Rand's notion that Capitalism was an end in and of itself and that mans pursuit of happiness his only morality. Chambers argued that happiness without religion could degenerate into a pursuit of pleasure. He seems to be arguing for the desirability of religion. As an agnostic, I don't believe in a God as the bible describes that is highly involved in our everyday lives. I also don't believe in a God who would give us an intellect and then expect us to find our way to him without using it. The God who created us would not expect us to base our knowledge of him on faith, in my opinion. He gave us the ability to reason I think he would expect us to use it. I don't know if it is better for humanity to believe in God than not to. If God does not exist and we chose to believe in him because we think that faith is the better choice for humanity then what path are we taking for humanity's future? Can deluding ourselves into believing something that is false for the betterment of humanity really make humanity better. I think this is what appeals to me the most about Rand, her point that you cannot escape reality. Now I could be wrong about God or the nature of God but my reasoning and logic leads me to believe that I am not and those are the only tools I have to figure out the universe or understand the nature or lack of nature of God.