What’s wrong with the world?

Putting Ayn Rand and Christianity to the side for a moment, your answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world?” defines at least 25% of the way you view life, the universe, and everything. And, in this case “42” is not the right answer. The books shown from left to right (in this post’s “featured image”) are Ten Theories of Human Nature, What’s Wrong with the World, and The Soul of Atlas. In some ways they go from general to specific or from many to one. In other ways they become more universal. They go from something that is applicable in one way to something that is applicable in many ways. Let me explain. The title on the left is a general first-year philosophy textbook that introduces ten different ways of looking at the world. To give an overview of this kind, the author does a good job of “cutting to the case.” He asks four questions of each world view. Namely, as it pertains to this world view, …

  • What is the nature of the universe (reality)?
  • What is humanity’s highest purpose?
  • What’s wrong with the world?
  • How do you fix it?

So you see, the answer to “What’s wrong with the world?” is part–but not all–of the perspective that makes up your worldview: how you view yourself and the world around you. That is the filter through which you answer all of life’s questions. Now G. K. Chesterton had a very specific answer to this question and he devoted (ostensibly) an entire book to answering it. But, to save you the suspense, Chesterton wrote to a newspaper in response to an editorial question.

He wrote,


In answer to your question, “What’s wrong with the world?”

I am.

Sincerely, G. K. Chesterton


Finally, look at the last of the three books (on the right), The Soul of Atlas. In this marvelous work of narrative nonfiction, the author applies the four question above, including some of the answers given by Chesterton to a comparison between two very specific world views: Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and Gospel Christianity.

I see how the progression could go from general to specific, but how could it be view in this opposite way?

In the obvious way, the “ten views” applies more broadly than the two views of The Soul of Atlas. Nevertheless, it may be that the two views that the author of The Soul of Atlas brings out are so universally relevant to today’s Western culture, economics, and politics that these two have broader applicability than any ten world views (Confucianism, Hinduism, The Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre, and Darwin). In fact, it could be argued that Ayn Rand and Gospel Christianity capture elements of each of these world views in themselves (or the other way around).

I’m interested in your views. What do you think is wrong with the world? How do you propose to fix it?

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One thought on “What’s wrong with the world?

  1. I like the way you look at all three of these books (including The Soul of Atlas), and I appreciate the way there is some way in which these philosophies (if you call Christianity a “philosophy”) shares some ways of thinking with Rand’s approach. But I still cannot get over the need for faith.

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