|Bill (I really like that better than "rat"),|
Yet, Objectivism has its own faith requirements. By damning a belief in God as irrational, it by default embraces a materialistic belief that our universe is purely mechanical. By Objectivist lights the universe must be deterministic -- i.e., there is no uncaused cause.
This is not true. What is true is that Objectivism, or at least Ayn Rand, did not tackle the ontological question, assuming it belonged to the province of science, I think, to provide the answer. However, Rand did assume volition, and consciousness itself, were not "physical" or "mechanical." The physical aspect of material existence is that which consciousness is conscious of, it is not consciousness itself, however, which would be solipsism, and volition is an aspect of consciousness.
Reality is whatever is, and reality, we know, includes living, conscious, volitional beings. Obviously, material existence is amenable to such beings or they could not exist. Life, consciousness, and volition are common attributes of material existence. There is no difficulty at all with the mechanical determination of physical existence. The purely physical, mechanically determined world we directly perceive and which the sciences study is existence with its other normal attributes, life, consciousness, and volition, left out. The determined physical existence is a subset of material existence which includes these other attributes.
No faith at all is required. The suggestion that it is either God or a, "mechanical universe," is a false dichotomy.