George H. Smith
The philosopher, author and lecturer George H[amilton] Smith (b. 2/10/49) has specialized in two areas close to my own heart, freethought and freedom, and has been the author of numerous essays and books instrumental in both fields. Author of Atheism: The Case Against God, Atheism, Ayn Rand and Other Heresies, The Lysander Spooner Reader, The State (by Franz Oppenheimer) and more recently Why Atheism?, has completed a new book on liberty (I do not know the working title), in addition to his schedule of lecturing and debating. Known best for the logical clarity of his exposition, Smith is known for plumbing the depths of the most difficult subject in a manner which makes almost any topic surprisingly easy to understand, a feat unmatched by almost any other philosopher.
Smith, although noting certain positive elements within Christianity, authored the classic work criticising religion in general and Christianity in particular, Atheism: The Case Against God. There has been no other more influential freethought work in the last half century. His debates with theists of various stripes and lectures on freethought have been significant to both sides of the matter.
Smith became known as a leading independent libertarian intellectual since 1970 with a deep grasp of several schools of thought: Ayn Rand's epistemological and moral ideas, Murray Rothbard's anarchocapitalism, Nisbet's conservatism (through lectures by Nisbet while in Arizona) and even Robert LeFevre's antipolitical "freedom philosophy". Smith's "Rational Anarchism"
" is grounded in the belief that we are fully capable, through reason, of discerning the principles of justice; and that we are capable, through rational persuasion and voluntary agreement, of establishing whatever institutions are necessary for the preservation and enforcement of justice. It is precisely because no government can be established by means of reason and mutual consent that all Objectivists should reject that institution as unjust in both theory and practice."
Rational anarchism, like more recent efforts, has been a thoughtful integration of objectivism and free market anarchism, and forged the direction which much of libertarian thinking has progressed since he formulated his views, although not often credited for his accomplishments.
Smith is also known for his dry sense of humor and wry wit which often brings as many to his side of a conversation as his deep grasp of both theory and history. On a personal note, I've been a friend of George's since the early 1970's and can confirm this effect.
Happy Birthday George!