Skip to comments.Reconciling Ayn Rand with the Gospel
Posted on 04/23/2011 7:42:56 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
My philosophy, in essence, is 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.
“If Anyone Will Not Work, Let Him Not Eat.”
The Christian religion is a religion of self-reliance combined with *voluntary* Charity given by believers to those who are incapable of work.
For those for whom this simple statement isn’t enough, Jesus himself retold it in the form of a parable.
Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “What if there isn’t enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he answered, “Most certainly I tell you, I don’t know you.”
The Christian is industrious, prepared, and self-reliant.
Rand’s philosophy is not incompatible with true Christianity. It is incompatible with the false gospel of the Sojouners.
I know Paine believed in God but didn't believe that Jesus was the literal Son of God or God in the flesh.
It sounds like Rand may be in that category. But I don't know. That line about, "In the beginning was Logic and Logic was with God and Logic was God", I find fascinating.
Rand proclaimed herself an atheist.
RE: Did she proclaim herself an atheist or was she branded an atheist like Thomas Paine?
From Wikipedia (EXCERPTS):
“She later recalled that while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason above any other human attribute.”
“In metaphysics, Rand embraced philosophical realism and atheism, and opposed anything she regarded as mysticism or supernaturalism, including all forms of religion. In epistemology, she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, the validity of which she considered axiomatic, and reason, which she described as “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses”
“Chris Matthew Sciabarra has called into question the motives of some of Rand’s critics because of what he calls the unusual hostility of their criticisms. Sciabarra writes, “The left was infuriated by her anti-communist, pro-capitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted with her atheism and civil libertarianism.”
I was an Ayn Rand rah rah back in the 60’s and greedily devoured everything she wrote. Nathanial Brandon came to speak on our campus and his presentation totally turned me against Objectivism. First of all, and please it’s been many years... he said in essence, to take everything they have to say to the letter, it’s all or none. Secondly, any form of religion is not Objectivist and to love one another as Christ teaches, is absurd, love of self comes first.
He made it very clear that you cannot pick and choose what they offered... you must swallow it whole. Isn’t that kinda like religion? Would one be an objectivist if they took 100% of what someone else said? It just seemed to be contradictory and certainly against who Jesus is in my life.
To the extent that Rand was yearning for freedom, you can. The Gospel message is that you can be FREE in Christ. Perfect freedom.
2 Peter 2:19
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravityfor people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I've only read your article here and haven't seen this movie, but I would argue that Rand is not necessarily correct in this statement. As Aquinas, Coke, Blackstone, and others discussed, there are various types of reason and not all are tied to godly reason. Reason is a subset of God. You could say reason is a subset of truth. You could also say reason is a subset of faith. Reason is not absolute, but God Himself, of course, is.
Oswald Chambers has said (sans my additions in italics), Reason without faith is rationalism (what we have a great deal of today) and faith without reason is fanaticism. God's life is not without reason, of course, but His life reaches beyond the comprehension of our reason where only faith can go. We ultimately walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) and are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not to our own understanding (Prov 3:5). So reason is our servant, not our master, and certainly not "absolute" because our reason is fallible and can be exercised apart from God Himself. We are to be ultimately ruled by God Himself, not by our reason.
Rand was a product of her Soviet environment. She did not have the benefit of religious influence in her young life, and left on her own, didn’t explore anything beyond what she witnessed through her own eyes. A realist to the max.
But she DID see the horrors of collective thought that suppressed individual achievement and personal success. And she saw man’s ugly side, the desire to profit from the work of others.
In the name of compassion, we’ve taken that concept to a whole new level of it being forced instead of voluntary. Rand saw this dangerous trend here, saw what it did to the human spirit in Russia, and developed her philosophy of Objectivism. Sure, it’s not even remotely like Christianity or any other religion, but it does overlap quite nicely.
So she was an atheist. She still had a lot to say of value.
The Christian religion is a religion of self-reliance combined with *voluntary* Charity given by believers to those who are incapable of work.Everything great in Western Civilization -- the Rights of Man, modern science, free markets -- all stem from the Christian religion.
That's why the leftists hate it so much.
(Of course, a lot stems from Islam too: pedophilia, rape, murder, subjugation of women, jihad, boys humping boys... got to give credit where credit is due.)
I'd say there's a lot of things, including what you mentioned, that cause leftists, and others, to hate Christianity. For instance, the Christian view of the nature of man is anathema to many.
To attempt to reconcile Ayn Rand to the Gospel is an act of futility or idolatry. Psalm 14:1; 53:1.
Then, read Acts 2:42-47 for how the early church lived and then 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 for the way the churches were supposed to act toward each other in this part of the Church Age.
Rand was against charity. Try this; Ephesians 4;28.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy is interesting but evil. Either God is on the throne of your heart or you are. If you are, then you are serving the Devil himself. Enjoy the ride.
You’re right, of course. There are many reasons. But I think the Rights of Man stem from the nature of man as viewed by Christians.
For instance, the Christian view of the nature of man is anathema to many.
They can not stand the idea of original sin. They will not admit that humans are fundamentally flawed. The basic premise of the leftist state is that man can be perfected with the application of the right state policies.
The best parts of Rands Objectivism are thinly disguised elements of theistic Natural Law, painted over with a thin patina of atheism to make them palatable to a broader audience. Objectivism recognizes a great truth, also accepted by theistic Natural Law, that economic process works best in terms of matching needs to resources when it is conceived of as the interaction of self-interested peers. However, it arrives at this right conclusion for the wrong reason. Reality is objective and reason may be used to discover much about it. But reality is also bigger than anything we can see with either our eyes or our minds. Limiting our definition of morality, as Rand recommends, to asking the single question, Whats in it for me, falls well short of the better solution provided in theistic Natural Law as the Founders used it.
Why? Because without rights being a grant from the Creator, there is no logical stopping point whereby we may prevent ourselves from descending into the Nietzschean nightmare struggle for individual dominance, the surrender of all reason and morality to an eternal battle among selfish selves, irresolvable for lack of an Arbiter. This, BTW, is why Marxism and Objectivism end up at the same destination. Marxism, as a system of ideals, is nothing but a facade to get buy-in from useful idiots; the real game is what it has always been, what Rand and Nietzsche say it is, that some pigs end up being more equal than others, just because they can be. In the end, there is no separating Rand from Nietzsche, and therefore there is, apart from principles borrowed illegitimately from theistic Natural Law, no reconciling Rand with Christian theism.
Weak argument. See my blog post on this topic at www.offgridblogger.wordpress.com.
A nonsensical headline.
Ayn Rand was the only one who could reconcile Ayn Rand with the Gospel, and she refused to do so.
I read the book, wish she had been a Christian, but she’s right about freedom of man and how the state should not lord it over the individual man and overtax.
No. She didn’t even understand the true definition of freedom.
I didn’t expect this article. It’s thought provoking.
Theism of any sort assumes as it's most basic principle that there is a superior creature, with knowledge and a code of living that is superior to what man can divine for himself.
Objectivism puts nothing higher than the self.
I guess I wish I could have debated these folks. Belief in G-d is very objective to me. But that's a long story.
Love of self does come first in the Bible. We are commanded to "Love your neighbor as yourself." So if one doesn't love himself first, there won't be much love for the neighbor.
Alas, you've strayed into contorted theological waters here. You cannot define God's essence as logic and reason. Both names are limited concepts which are not the entirety of the essence of God which is greater than being itself. You can say plenty about Him being the source of such concepts, but all things we say that God "is" are analogies. Even the claim God "is" love is inadequate; he is love, but he is more than a human concept.
One reason that you cannot say that God is reason is that he does not think or know by means of sentenced predication, images, or sensory input. Such things are a limitation because they are constituents of something, and nothing is a constituent of God. Nothing can be predicated of the infinite God. He has no parts. He is one God in three persons, but he has no components. The Word Logos for the Greeks meant more than logic and reason, it could simply mean "word" for instance. It was obviously metaphoric for the second person of the trinity, but all distinctions in God are internal distinctions.
Why this is important is because we can stray into tri-theism, or polytheism if we are not careful.
But your post is thought provoking nonetheless.
To argue that the work of Christians be dismissed is to argue for the dismissal of a large percentage of the advances and breakthroughs in mathematics, physics, and biomedical science that have been achieved over the last several centuries.
That door swings both ways.
I love how she flees an atheistic nation to a Christian nation and realizes how good it is but says, “Too bad its not atheistic enough.”
This is a typical liberal problem: after they completely ruin a state with liberalism, they move to a conservative state and think, “Hmm, its so nice here, but it needs to be more liberal!”
"The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind."
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations
It is interesting that this article if featured at this time of year when Christians commemorate the resurrection. Ayn Rand the objectivist yet she rejects the most objective religious fact, the resurrection. The resurrection actually happened.
Rand was right on her stand against collectivism, I’ll give her that, but as a Christian conservative when you leave out the “Christian” part you can count me out. No wonder she is such a darling of the Libertarians. Rand is an atheist, that’s all I need to know. Her so called objectivism is just so much blah, blah.
>> “ To argue that the work of atheists be dismissed is to argue for the dismissal of a large percentage of the advances and breakthroughs in mathematics, physics, and biomedical science that have been achieved over the last several centuries.” <<
Sorry, but that is false.
Until the age of government financing of “research” few atheists produced anything at all.
RE: Until the age of government financing of research few atheists produced anything at all.
Was Charles Darwin’s work financed with government money?
It certaintly is. I know many Christians who will not read Rand or even consider her philosophy because they consider her godless and immoral.
As a Christian myself, however, I enjoyed AS and don’t believe that objectivism is inconsistent with Christianity. I know that a man’s only purpose is God’s plan for his life. We are His creation and therefore His tools to use as He sees fit. How God uses us is directly impacted by our free will to make choices. How do we make choices? Through reason and logic.
>> “Ayn Rand was the only one who could reconcile Ayn Rand with the Gospel, and she refused to do so.” <<
And that is likely why others who also refuse idolize her.
Charles Darwin called himself a Christian; believe it or not!
He was, in fact an officer of the church. (he was also deeply confused and misguided)
No doubt about it.
I agree with her, especially regarding Sexuality. I found the two sex scenes in the movie to be illustrative of Rands masterful understanding of human behavior, self worth, and the “pursuit of happiness”.
As a christian my love and devotion to sexual morality revolts at Ayns personal life and her conceptualization of Dagnys search for the highest in human achievement playing out in her willingness to move from Francisco to Rearden to Galt without being encumbered by a marriage license. This licentiousness, the very notion of which, diminishes the idiology she espouses to all people of faith does NOT mean that we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
So much truth is found in the pages of Ayns books, particularly the devastatingly clear deconstructing of Collectivism, that to say Because Rand was immoral and her characters are sexually libertine, nothing good is to be found in the pages of those books, is simply a Lie.
For me, the discovery of these books at the age of eighteen provided a tremendous counter balance to the 13 years of
marxism I was spoon fed during my public school incarceration in Michigan.
The four standard works used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I have been a faithful member since the age of eight, also provided this powerful deterent to my mind being completely overwhelmed by Socialism. The book of Mormon in particular was and is the great clarifyer for me when attempting to understand the purpose of life. Because I have been taught and believe that my own sense of Joy is the purpse of my own existence: http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2.25?lang=eng#24
And because the gospel of Jesus Christ is also called by members of my Faith, The plan of Happiness, I do not need to read Atlas to know or believe that my own pursuit of Happiness is the highest ideal to reach for.
What Atlas does is it creates a map, a set of boundaries (sexual boundaries are not within the parameters Heavenly Father has set, but Rand did have sexual boundaries in her books) that if adhered to would help individuals understand the value of their own pursuit of Happiness.
I love her philosophy on many different levels, and while I would never call myself an Objectivist, I can comfortably rave about her books and movies simply because they are the PERFECT counter balance to the Collectivist storm we now find ourselves enmeshed in as Americans.
Objectivism holds that there is nothing wrong with charity, so long as one is pursuing one's own values in providing it. As Ayn Rand said, charity is a marginal issue: it is not especially noble to engage in it, but if pursued prudently and seriously, and not at the cost of other important values, it can be a source of good for one's society and ultimately one's self. Objectivists tend to view their donations to causes as investments in some kind of improvement: a better culture, a better city, etc. But like investments, these require attention to make sure they are paying off.
Answered by William Thomas - Copyright, The Atlas Society.
The above is not the ultimate progression from Objectivism as you seem to proclaim with relish. What you state is against rational self-interest. It is not logical for individuals to destroy each other in a game of one-up-man-ship. You must see that Objectivism itself provides man the "logical stopping point."
How can you sleep at night when you claim that the most intransigent anti-Communist of the 21st Century was on par with Marx and Stalin?!
A more sensible question is whether Rand can be reconciled with Ragnar Redbeard's Might Makes Right and La Vey's Satanic Bible. The answer is a resounding yes, since all three are made of the same sort of stuff.
Here, read this.
Rand was not against charity.
Rand was against compulsion under the guise of charity.
You’ve no idea what you’re talking about.
Paine's point was that it was defamatory to a loving God for men to claim that they murdered innocent men, women and infants at His bequest.
The bottom line is that Paine did believe in God, just not the God of The Bible.
RE: Objectivism holds that there is nothing wrong with charity, so long as one is pursuing one’s own values in providing it.
Then the ATTITUDE is not Christian even if the act looks outwardly Christian. Christ gave of Himself sacrificially because of His love of others and He teaches His followers to do the same.
And as in the incident of the Widow’s mite, Christ looks at your heart.
Good distinction. Same thing may be said of Eric Hoffer. Have you read Hoffer's "The True Believer"? He discusses this very thing.
There is no other.
I agree that it is not Christian, but in our modern times it is the best ally we will ever find. The non-religion and anti-opression tenets staunchly oppose Evil Islam. The individual liberty and laissez-faire capitalism principles stalwartly oppose liberalism, socialism and communism and fascism.
In spite of Objectivism rejecting faith, its embracing rational self-interest and personal happiness as the guiding purpose of life grants any sovereign individual tacit license to hold personal beliefs as desired, Nathaniel Branden notwithstanding.