Skip to comments.Atlas Shrugged and Christians
Posted on 03/27/2010 11:06:47 PM PDT by razorbacks198
My granddaughter sent me this of a young conservative lady defending libertarianism and John Galt, and this person was saying that Jesus can't go along with Atlas Shrugged. I want to know what a true conservative view is on the two things.
I suspect that there are conservative atheists, as well as religious liberals. Certainly there were Catholics who supported communists as “Liberation Theology” became fashionable.
My personal idea is that conservatives are guided by experience. Young people don’t have much experience and tend to be more liberal, unless they are educated enough to be able to access the experience of others. Experience can be in any of many areas. Religious education permits accessing prior experience of other’s religion.
Progressives/liberals tend to reject lessons of experience. An airy “Oh, but things are different now” and off they go having hundreds of sexual partners, loaning money to people who can’t pay it back...
The central tenet of Objectivism is the virtue of selfishness [properly understood]. As Ayn Rand said: "In order for civilization to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men need to reject."
It is possible for some kinds of Christians to be Conservative, and for some kinds of Conservatives to be Christians. It is possible for a type of Conservative to be an Objectivist, and vice versa. It is not possible under andy circmstances for an Objectivist to be a Christian, nor for a Christian to be an Objectivist.
John Galt makes this clear in his semi-climactic discursis toward the end of Atlas Shrugged and Rand made this clear in all of her writings.
Conversely, jesus makes it pretty clear that his morality is entirely a morality of altruism.
While the author was an atheist and opposed religion as authoritarian I believe that many of the sentiments she expressed only work with Judeo-Christian values. If you have read the book you will find the one thing missing is the soul. She had no concept of Christian love and of spiritual faith, even her denunciations of it are shallow because she knew little of what she attacked.
It is really the only huge glaring flaw of her work.
The Freeper Book Club had a HUGE long series of threads over every chapter of Atlas Shrugged.
I think a person can be very sympathetic to libertarianism and smaller government, while recognizing that Atlas Shrugged is spiritual poison and severely at odds with Christianity.
“Men are gods” is not consistent with a religion that highly values humility and condemns pride as a sin
I think Atlas Shrugged is an important book to read and understand, and there are definitely parallels. But Ms. Rand was just a person - who at the end of the day believes that money=power, and that power is the goal.
She was an atheist, and reportedly very demanding and woe to the person that disagreed with her.
(From what I can tell of people who believe in the gospel of Rand there is no charity of any kind, and really they are the most self centered, non charitable people I have ever come into contact with.)
The only thing conservative about the objectionists are they believe in free market capitalism. Everything else I see is left leaning libertarian.
The religion of Rand is really quite interesting to observe, and it really truly is a religion of sorts.
Are you asking if you can be a believer and an objectionist? If so perhaps if it’s by misunderstanding what Jesus taught or what Ms. Rand taught, but they seem to be mutually exclusive.
Without a foundation there can be no morality
Rand’s reply to your “foundation” is that it is imaginary, and therefore no foundation at all. More charitably, I would argue that your foundation is a matter of faith, so it is no firmer than Rand’s (who believed in herself.)
My view is that Big Government wants to kill me and take my money. Christians don’t. Conservatives don’t. Objectivists don’t. There aren’t any other issues that matter.
“I believe that many of the sentiments she expressed only work with Judeo-Christian values.”
It has been awhile since I read Atlas Shrugged, and it is the only book of hers I have read. But, it did leave a big impression on me. As a Christian, I had to filter some of the stuff in the book through that. (Just like I do with songs, movies, etc.)
I do know that in my business, I treat my clients fairly, do a good job, and even cut my prices back when needed to help them out. I suppose it is rooted in a Christian upbringing, but it has big payoffs as well. As a kid, I never understood why my old man would cut prices (home builder) on certain things, or even taking a loss on some add-on items. Or pay his two carpenters even when they weren’t building and times were slow (the Jimmy Carter years). Although he always did seem to find odd jobs for them somewhere. As a kid I thought “heck of a way to run a business”.
He died a very happy, well respected, and a fairly wealthy man.
Since she believed all forms of collectivism are evil, and all demands placed on individuals simply arising in the needs of the demander are immoral, I really don't see how you can make this statement. There is nothing whatever leftist in any writing of Rand's. If you equate: not social conservative = left leaning libertarian, I might take your point. But that has nothing to do with "Right" or "Left."
Without morality the foundation flounders.
Ayn Rand came from a non-observant Jewish family. As far as I know, she was an atheist her whole life, never rejecting faith, any faith, because she never had a faith.
It seems to me that while her ideas about free markets are consistent with conservatism, most of what she believed is incompatible with modern American conservatism and America’s Judeo-Christian values.
The quintessential essence of Atlas Shrugged goes beyond libertarianism. The essence is this: the gov’t does not have the power or the right to make me give my all to others. What Jesus taught goes along with this.
The disciples and early followers of The Way - in the book of Acts - sold all that they had, distributed the money to all, and they had all things in common.
That is Commonism. Commonism is “What is mine is thine.”
Communism is “What is thine is mine.”
In Atlas Shrugged, people labored under a totalitarian system that is at least eerily similar to Communism. Since Jesus never taught “What is thine is mine,” Jesus would not be against Atlas Shrugged - at least within those narrow confines that I elaborated.
very well spoken and absolutely true.
I said what I see in objectionists, perhaps I could have said “in general”.
I stand by my statement from what I have personally observed. Left leaning libertarian, outside of fiscal issues.
Kant's drowning man argument is instructive. Two men are drowning. One is your brother, the other a stranger. You can only save one. In Kant's view, it is immoral to save your brother, because it is not truly selfless. Here is another example: a murderer and a millionarie are drowning under the same circumstances. It is less moral (in Kant's inane worldview) to save the millionaire, because there is the possibility of a reward.
It is this making a fetish of altruism that is so destructive to our civilization.
Is is possible to be a Christian Objectivist? Why yes, as long as your objectivism is bounded by a Christian moral framework, and not the other way around. I cannot think of a more basic objectivist statement as what Paul stated in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
The great debates at the American Founding were between Libertarians and Conservatives. Those were the good old days, when we had the luxury of true geniuses with honest disagreements crafting a masterwork of governance and tradition.
Now we are in the fight of our lives: it's toxic to go looking for enemies among people with common cause.
actually her quote is
“If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject. “
I know atlasshrugs a long time, it’s very conservative, AND very pro Christian!
I guess my old man was really immoral! He told me later that he paid his two carpenters not only to keep them fed and everything, but also so they would be with him when things got busy again! (They also ignored all of the various labor strikes too!)
Interesting viewpoints from Kant. I’ve heard of the guy, but didn’t realize he was that far out there. I imagine if someone were drowning I wouldn’t have too much time to think about it. Would probably either go for the closest one first, or the one having the most trouble.
You are right that she would be more sympathetic to [some] Pauline writings (she was, like Paul, a Hellenist in her philosophical origins) but she rejected the fundamental basis of Christianity: there was no need for man to be redeemed, because he has done nothing wrong. In her opinion Original Sin was impossible, since sin involves not merely wrongdoing, but volition as well. Her moral viewpoint is that we all arrive in the world, as Jesus, in a state of sinlessness.
Finally, I would say that you're being too charitable to Rand -- a charity she didn't ask for, and wouldn't accept. She believed that the Buddhist concept of forgiveness was alright; you forgive a wrong so that it stops eating you up inside. In other words, you forgive a wrong for your own sake. She wrote, in The Virtue of Selfishness, that the Christian concept of forgiveness was stupid and was nothing more than a reward to bad actors for bad behavior. Rand did not see Christianity as fundamentally different from Communism. In her opinion, both were collectivist evils founded in pie-in-the-sky promises that demanded self-sacrifice of their adherents. And she did not believe self-sacrifice was ever really justified.
Here the short version. Atlas Shrugged = morally bankrupt.
Jesus = abundant God.
The hypothetical drowning men have gotten a lot of mileage in moral philosophy, but Dads who employ temporarily useless carpenters (or metaphysically congruent equivalents) are a lot more common, and a lot more useful to the debate, and the world. For all of their differences, I believe Ayn Rand and Jesus would have agreed (for vastly different reasons) that your Dad was, in fact, a moral man.
“My view is that Big Government wants to kill me and take my money. Christians dont. “
I am a Christian. I believe Big Government certainly may want to kill us and take our money. Christians believe that all men are sinners, in need of a savior. So I’d say we are pretty much aware that a government can be totally corrupt.
We are still supposed to submit to lawful authorities, unless they command us to sin.
We debate among ourselves what a lawful authority is from time to time.
“That is Commonism. Commonism is What is mine is thine.
You have taken the passage out of context.
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they recieved their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” Acts 2:44-47a
This speaks not of commune, but rather, that Christians held onto their possession loosely, ready to use them when ever someone needed it.
Furthermore, they did not pool their resources. But rather, sold their own possessions in order to provide for the church, and expresses fellowship and witness to the gospel. The text clearly states this.
“I guess my old man was really immoral!”
No. Jesus said to do unto others as we would have done unto us. The Bible says we are our brother’s keeper. There are laws about leaving some of your harvest available for gleaning by the poor, the principle being, don’t hold on to every cotton picking dime.
Your dad sounds as though he had a pretty good handle on things.
In the recent debates from Lefties, how many times have we heard, "I consider [Socialized Medicine, Global Warming, Immigration Amnesty, etc etc] to be a moral issue." And so they do. The problem is these are NOT moral issues, they are public policy questions. Even if we stipulate for the sake of argument that these are moral issues, isn't this the bunch who doesn't think there are moral absolutes? Isn't this the same outfit that says no one has the right to enforce their morality on anyone else?
And please do notice, that these are the folks who despise Christians, and yet, every demand made upon us is laded with the guilt that we are obligated -- because we are our brother's keepers.
Let's see. Given your Kant philosophical examples, I will add: If Ayn Rand and I. Kant were both drowning which one would I rescue? Ayn! Because girlfriend was damn intelligent, fascinating, as well as prescient in her understanding of these commie whackers and had herself the objectivity to look through the looking glass and see the world with incredible accuracy.
I totally agree. Her heavy reliance on misquoted passages to prove her bogus points about prejudice and “thoughtless faith” make it clear she is totally out of touch with reality.
I question your statement that, " It is not possible under andy circmstances for an Objectivist to be a Christian, nor for a Christian to be an Objectivist" is also not true. You imply that an Objectivist could never be charitable.
I suspect an Objectivist Christian would be the person that does not lie to himself about the true nature of the charitable acts he chooses to do even in Christ's name.
Your typos seem to reveal some anger regarding your feelings about Objectivism. You'll feel much better if you just let that hatred go and try to think more objectively.
“My personal idea is that conservatives are guided by experience. Young people dont have much experience and tend to be more liberal, unless they are educated enough to be able to access the experience of others. Experience can be in any of many areas. Religious education permits accessing prior experience of others religion.
Progressives/liberals tend to reject lessons of experience. An airy Oh, but things are different now and off they go having hundreds of sexual partners, loaning money to people who cant pay it back...
I could not possibly agree more with your assessment. The amazing thing is that while younger people are definitely more idealistic, they do after all get older and even though they experience life more fully, as do the rest of us, many of them still remain “stuck on stupid”.
It must be genetic and possibly gender driven.
I believe there is a religious part of freedom that can't be expressed in other countries that are secular. Islam breeds it's own type of morals as does atheists do in communism. In the end, doing the right thing comes from God, and others will fail trying to figure out what the "right" thing is from their made up rule books.
I have nothing against Objectivism. See my homepage.
You imply that an Objectivist could never be charitable. I imply no such thing. You have inferred it, and you are mistaken. Charity can be selfish -- properly understood. Jesus' view is actually closer to Kant's: he admonishes people from taking satisfaction of the kind you write of in charitable work. Nevertheless, Rand would be horrified at the thought that an Objectivist could be a Christian. If you had ever read any of her writings, you would know this. Read my other posts, which quote her at length if you want to disabuse yourself of your silly ideas about Rand.
In the 1970's I owned a small retail business and found great success in NOT selling things which would bring me a greater profit then the things I did sell to a customer. It is easy to take advantage of a customer who comes in to a store and seeks advice from someone he perceives to be knowledgeable (it's te same idea that causes people to believe an elected official "knows what's he's talking about"). I could have loaded them up with all sorts of stuff to solve their problem and ring up a nice sale but instead chose to only sell them what they needed and to also take the time to guide them in using the product. By taking this approach I was able to generate additional sales by word of mouth advertising as well as build strong loyalty within my customer base. This allowed me to cut back on my advertising budget with the savings going in my pocket.
How is that Left leaning?
The answers are John - 3.16 and belief in the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Knowing the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation is not necessary to being a Christian any more than reading every work by and about Ayn Rand is a requirement for calling oneself an Objectivist.
I became a Christian in 1978. When I discovered Ayn Rand a few years later, I felt at that time that I had always been an Objectivist, because that fit how my brain is wired.
I have read, We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and many other articles and excerpts of the The Objectivist Newsletter. I am on the email distribution of the The Objective Standard although not a current subscriber. I still get the requisite yearly copy as an enticement to subscribe. Being Christian is of the heart, being an Objectivist is of the mind.
Concur. Read Acts 6 (IIRC) where Peter says to Ananias after discovering he had lied about his donation of the proceeds of his land sale. Peter explicitly says to him “Wasn’t the money YOURS?” Not “wasn’t the money the Lords” or “wasn’t the money ours” or “wasn’t the money mine”. No, he explicitly states the resources were his to do with what he pleased. There is nothing anywhere in the Bible that says the gummint should be the instrument of our acts of charity. This is a lie spread by libtards, the origin of which is (I believe) the “father of lies.”
“Her heavy reliance on misquoted passages ...”
I’ve read everything Rand wrote, most several times, including her journals and letters. The only near Biblical “quote” I remember is the paraphrase, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” which she approved of.
She had long discussions about religion, by correspondence, with Isabel Patterson, some quite profound. Patterson believed in God, but I’m not sure she should be called a Christian.
Most people, especially Christians will not like Rand. Nothing wrong with that, but when they lie about her, they demonstrate which has moral principles they live by. Whatever you think about Rand, she never engaged in lies about anyone.
I like your response and think it is much more concise and clear than anything I can say.
Rand worked from the basis of altruism and to an interesting extent she is correct. When one starts to get sucked into the whole idea of “social justice” vs. true charity one suddenly realizes what Rand may have been trying to communicate.
In the years that have passed since reading Atlas Shrugged with several book clubs it appears to me Rand was trying to point out how the idea of government altruism, coupled with religion as a propogandist is a device of evil.
Recently Glenn Beck with his magic chalkboards has started to diagram out this very idea of how progressives twist morality and turn it on its head. Rand’s past experiences and early life made her skeptical of religion as a place to find a true and loving God, therefore she lived out her life in the only way she knew how to protect her life.
While many discussions of Ayn Rand devolve into hateful hiss and spit matches on FR over her personal life, I find much of what Rand tried to teach us in Atlas Shrugged consistent with Natural Law. The same Natural Law spoken of by our Founder’s and the Pope.
Atlas Shrugged is well worth reading and discussing. There are two sections in the book that I have reread more than the book. One is, “The Money Speech” and the other is, “The Winston Tunnel.” Many people get hung up on the Money Speech’s first paragraph and miss or misinterpret the rest of the speech. This speech is where I think Rand tries to explain her difference between the communist concept of collective altruism and capitalist charity. She desperately dances around the idea of, “Thou shalt not steal,” in this fictionalized essay. One of the key phrases from that speech I now sign my outgoing email with is,
“An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more
than he has produced.” ~~D’Aconia, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
The essay while it is called the Money Speech, if one considers it very carefully, even from a Christian perspective, it is about respect for your fellow man and how money can be observed as the gauge of a society’s morals. The money speech attempts to put money its proper place...a tool. As a tool it cannot be worshiped. http://usabig.com/autonomist/moneyspeech.html
And this is the exact misinterpretation I am trying to point out. A pure capitalist cannot be a looter. A pure capitalist, as demonstrated in Atlas Shrugged, first bases their interactions involving money on honesty. It is the looter who uses the flawed contract to steal your production.
I can't imagine what you've observed, but there is absolutely nothing "left-leaning" about Objectivism. You can say what you want about Rand, but she detested the left. Her entire work was dedicated to destroying the left and its authoritarian, faux-altruist philosophy.
Study up on the philosophy; it will give some context to your observations.
I like Atlas Shrugged. There is fundamental truth concerning the basics of good and bad government in this book. Truth is what it is. Whether it comes from Rand or Thomas Paine. Thomas Paines Common Sense is a brilliant body of work that God used in the beginnings of this nation, although Thomas Paine himself eventually became a Deist and rejected the Bible in his later years.
All wisdom comes from God. When Rand, Thomas Paine, or anyone speaks of things like liberty, individual freedom, self reliance, self government, they are speaking wisdom and that wisdom comes from God. Whether they believe it or not.
Just as the earth itself comes from God, so too does wisdom. You can worship the earth yet still deny the One who made the earth. You can worship reason and common sense, yet deny the One Who is Reason and Common Sense.
It is unfortunate, but the way of man. Worship the creation, yet deny the Creator. Yes, Ayn Rands books expose the lies, corruption and waste of big government, while revealing the truth and wisdom of self government. Yet she denies the Author and Source of all Truth and Wisdom, Jesus Christ. Unfortunate.
The idea of what Rand tried to teach us,
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We *want* them broken. You'd better get it straight That it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with." -- Ayn Rand, _Atlas Shrugged , Ch. III, "White Blackmail"
The 2700 page law signed this past week makes us all criminals in some form or another. What is the "right" thing to do with this 2700 page law? Even our founder's would say we're not bound by such unconstitutional laws.
Whence the silly, new-age view that the most moral acts are those no one knows about.
Let me also put another anti-Rand shibboleth to rest: that she was anti-family and opposed to helping others. This is a short excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged". The character is agonizing over an order he's been given which will, he's certain, result in the deaths of several hundred people.
As Bill Brent had learned to see, by a single glance at a few numbers on a sheet of paper, the entire trackage of a division so was now able to see the whole of his own life and the full price of the decision he was making. He had not fallen in love until he was past his youth; he had been thirty-six when he had found the woman he wanted. He had been engaged to her for the last four years; he had had to wait, because he had a mother to support and a widowed sister with three children. He had never been afraid of burdens, because he had known his ability to carry them, and he had never assumed an obligation unless he was certain that he could fulfill it. He had waited, he had saved his money, and now he had reached the time when he felt himself free to be happy. He was to be married in a few weeks, this coming June.
Rand never preached that you live your life only for yourself. She believed that we were not born merely to serve others -- but that we should choose our obligations freely and rationally.
My beliefs inform the importance of proper education.
One persons experience is but a miniscule part of total human experience. To be guided only by one’s own experience is very nearly to be guided by no experience at all.
I once had a job that involved research with artificial intelligence. That approach to developing a control system proved unreliable because in the training process a bad set of training data could teach the artificial intelligence engine to be crazy. The difficulty of certifying a control program was just transfered to the difficulty of certifying a training data set.
We have a situation where US citizens are badly trained, partucularly badly in history, the record of human experience. The only safe harbor is the contitutional limits on government power, in the sense that powers are enumerated, and any powers not so enumerated are not granted to the government. To change the enumerated powers 38 states are required.
First, big government doesn’t want to kill you. They want to defraud you, and if that doesn’t work to enslave you, and if you wont work hard enough, to torture you. Only if you are a noisy little piggy will they kill you.