What Would Ayn Rand Do?

Religious conservatives have plenty to learn from the Objectivist author.

For a group that claims to be offended by the mere whiff of politics and religion's intermingling, the left sure does bring up Jesus quite a lot.

The most recent outburst is the work of a progressive outfit called American Values Network. In this instance, God is being dragged into the debate as a way to exaggerate the late author Ayn Rand's influence on GOP policymaking and to smear anyone who happens to find any of her ideas appealing. Not only is she loony, don't you know, but also her notions are in "direct contradiction to the Bible." And Beelzebub's minions—Paul Ryan and others like him—simply "can't have it both ways, and neither can Christians."

They can, actually.

As I am neither a theologian nor a Christian, I am in no position to answer the "What Would Jesus Do?" question. My friends on the left (and by friends I mean people I watch on cable TV), though, have alleged that Jesus supports compulsory "charity" so that the wealth can be appropriately invested in Her Lady of the Ethanol, The Blood of Bankruptcy-Prone Social Dependency Program, or other worthy causes. That's what Jesus would do.

Now, Rand's influence may induce Republicans to stray from the Lord Almighty, but it is doubtless that most liberals find Rand's anti-theist views the least distasteful aspect of her philosophy. I am no Objectivist, either, not even close, and though I doubt her ideas contradict the Bible (well, except the ones in which she denies the existence of God and all), I do know they are in direct disagreement with the doctrines of liberal morality.

For the casual Rand fan, it's the rigid and idealistic conviction about individual freedom and capitalism that is most seductive. For ardent detractors, people who believe that compassion and charity are best meted out by economic systems and government policy, this is depravity. Ayn Rand believed that individuals have the moral responsibility for their own actions. In free will. So, as you can imagine, in this kind of disorder, even Ronald McDonald would get away with it.

All of which, of course, would matter if anyone bought the contention that those who embrace one notion of a philosopher are on the hook to embrace all of the philosopher's notions. Are those who admire Isaac Newton now impelled to believe in alchemy? Is anyone who enjoys Richard Wagner now an anti-Semite? Are all those who believe that wealth should be more "fairly" distributed by the state slouching toward Marxism ... Oh.

And why aren't we focusing on more contemporary cases of guilt by intellectual association? You will remember that the mere mention of the president's pastor or his academic roots or his graduate work or his reading material or his testimonial dinners to terrorist apologists were irrelevant to the man. This administration has put together an all-star team of Malthusian nuts, truthers, and Mao-quoting czarinas and czars, yet that doesn't mean a thing. But The New Republic can laughably claim that the heart of Rand's ideology "has become the central focus of both modern conservative thought and Republican policy-making."

Helpfully, the left has spent years pulling passages and alerting us to the bizarre habits of this strange lady. Personally, I enjoy reading about her more than I do reading her work. There are those authors and intellectuals who are so thoroughly odious that they must be completely dismissed. That's understood. But if those on the left are intent on making that case, they should stick to the real reasons they dislike her. Then smear away.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Donkey Time||

    John has sex with donkeys.

  • Dylan||

    Democrats? That's disgusting!

  • Mr. Soul||

    Rand Paul: my favorite two authors!

  • GregorySmith3||

    How could anyone disagree with Rand when she wrote stuff like this:

    "To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?"

    The American Values Network are a bunch of progressives calling themselves Christian.

    Jesus did not die on the cross so we could be crucified by Marxism. He died so we could be free. In fact, I don't remember Jesus telling Pilate that Rome needs to help the poor and he needs to raise taxes.

  • The Bernank||

    Money is great. That's why I'm printing trillion$ more.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold..."

  • Dylan||

    "He died so we could be free."

    He died so that people could be free from sin. TRANSLATION: free to give your life to God and submit to his will. Doesn't sound like my kind of freedom.

  • Priest||

    Trust me: Heaven is great!

  • Priest||

    Bend over, I'll take you there.

  • A Serious Man||

    Notice how both God and Jesus were nice enough to leave that choice up to you.

  • Sarcastic Yup||

    Yeah, religion was never forced on anyone by anybody, not even the Inquisition or the Taliban.

  • A Serious Man||

    Jesus commissioned the Inquisition and Taliban? If you read the Gospels you'll see that he stressed the VOLUNTARY aspects of believing in him, what happened after his acession isn't his fault.

    Besides, we all know that the Inquisition was just a tool by which the newly united monarchy of Spain consolidated its power by driving out Muslims, Jews, and other subversives.

  • Yup||

    Agreed on Jesus's utter inculpability in the cult that became Christianity. He'd probably be shocked and appalled, not that we'll ever know. But you did say "God" and Jesus, and as there are as many gods as insects on the planet, there has never been a shortage of people (kings or priests or your neighbors) who know The Truth and would burn you at the stake to prove it. Genuine choice in religion is a modern phenomenon, and only the most civilized cultures enjoy it.

  • DLM||

    as there are as many gods as insects on the planet

    Don't confuse God with the various human concepts of God. You probably confuse maps with the land they attempt to represent, too.

  • Yup||

    I'm not confused. I know that "god" is a human invention.

  • ||

    Don't confuse God with the various human concepts of God.
    And you really think there is a difference? Care to prove it?

  • Matt Hanley||

    No they didn't. It is galling that Christians go around making this claim when the Bible states clearly that the names of those to be saved have already been chosen and were written in the book of life before they foundations of Earth were laid.

    Only those who have been chosen will make the choice. If you were not chosen and try to make the choice, it will be false and you will not be saved.

    It amazes me how many christains don't read their own holy book.

  • ||

    It is completely voluntary, as opposed to say, the left's idea of forcing you to submit to the collective.

  • ||

    Certainly it is completely voluntary. How could eternal damnation be considered coercion? When a person says to me, "do this or suffer eternal torture" I think "I am free to choose".

    Income taxes and, indeed, all laws are completely voluntary. You are "free" to murder all you like. Of course, execution and/or lifelong imprisonment are not "voluntary", either.

  • KW6||

    Eternal damnation is NOT coercion, any more than a deep valley is coercion to keep you on the bridge across it.

    If you believe in the possibility of damnation, you will already want to be the kind of person who isn't going to be damned in the first place -- not to avoid damnation, but because you want to be a better person.

    I'm a Mormon. I don't do ANY kind of dope, legal or not. This isn't because of Church doctrine, but because I don't WANT to be drunk, stoned or reeking of stale tobacco. I turned away from all of these things before I joined the Church.

    OTOH, so long as you don't harm innocents, you are welcome to blast your brains out on nicotine, alcohol or any other dope.

    This, BTW, is why I'm the Dope Warriors' worst nightmare -- I want drugs legalized, but they can't claim that it's so that I can use that garbage myself.

  • ||

    "I'm a Mormon. I don't do ANY kind of dope, legal or not."
    Oh, really? What do you call the dopey belief in a personal god and in Mormonism?
    But I agree with you on legalization. You're not entirely lost.

  • The Derider||

    Jesus did.

    Mark 11-15

    And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.

  • ||

    this is of course against using the Temple for the purpose of money changing not money-changing itself. That's one reason why I don't go to church for I know to many people who use the church to meet new business contacts only, not out of religious belief.

  • Yup||

    Church is the original social media network.

  • The Derider||

    He called them "robbers" not "men of good will"

  • fyngyrz||

    "and they came to Jerusalem..."

    Hey, I read this same science fiction/fantasy book! I liked the part where the story covers the magicking of that lady into a pillar of salt.

    Did you folks know that at various times, salt and pepper were worth their weight in gold? I mean, what a cool gift to give the husband, eh? All that salt, just BAM!!!

    Of course, there's not that much salt in the human body, so your suspension of disbelief takes a pretty hard knock, but still, that sure is a loving god concept, eh?

    Religion is so full of cute ideas. :^)

  • Thomas O.||

    "The liberals say 'Jesus would have wanted universal health care!' But not at the tip of the Roman spear." - Andrew Wilkow

  • Rev. Ray Dubuque||

    If largely atheistic socialistic countries all over the world can vote for universal health care, why on earth can't followers of Jesus who share his liberal views join with the atheistic liberals in America to form a majority and likewise vote to provide all Americans with universal health care?
    Is THAT too rational for so-called "objectivists" to understand?

  • Joedoe||

    As far as I know Jesus said we should help the poor, not that we should threaten others with violence if they don't help the poor.

  • ||

    Ah, my boy!

  • Rev. Ray Dubuque||

    {Luke 4:18}
    "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
    he has appointed me
    to preach Good News to the poor;
    he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted
    and to announce that the blind shall see,
    that captives shall be released
    and the downtrodden shall be freed
    (i.e. liberated) from their oppressors."
    This is just ONE of the MANY passages that show what a great LIBERAL Jesus was and how much he opposed OPPRESSORS and supported the LIBERATION of the downtrodden. See many others at my http://liberalslikejesus.org/Christlike.html

  • KPres||

    Nope. Not a liberal. Nothing about raising taxes in that passage.

  • ||

    Where does it say it's ok to rob Peter to pay Paul?

  • Ventifact||

    Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort.

    It's not money Rand is talking about, but free trade. It's basic, glaring gaps in articulation like this that made Rand's claim to be a philosopher laughable, and make her the kind of author who can only "convince" people who already agree with her. Is it any wonder people caricature Rand as greedy -- obsessed with possession -- when she can't keep from chanting "money, money, money" even when she's supposed to be talking about something else?

  • Ventifact||

    Money is an abstract quantification of economic value. It exists in societies with various economic systems, including systems Rand would abhor.

  • ||

    Before going off on your rant, it might help if you knew the context the quote came from. Yes, the speaker WAS talking about the free market, but the topic of conversation was about money being the root of all evil. "Don't let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil-and he's the typical product of money."

    It's from a character in a novel, not a political/philosophical speech. Your ignorance completely discredits your argument.

  • Ventifact||

    Der, I am familiar with Atlas Shrugged. The context doesn't change anything here. The philosophically cogent thing for Rand to (have her character) say would not have been to claim that money is something it isn't, but to point out that a free society prevents money from being rooted in evil. It's the same basic point I made in my "rant": money isn't the point, it's free exchange. Indeed, Rand gives the same moral endorsement to free barter as to free currency-based commerce. In fact, this happens in Atlas Shrugged, as you are no doubt aware.

    By the way, note that "a character in a novel, not a political/philosophical speech" is a false dichotomy when it comes to Rand.

  • ||

    You have found an idiot in our midst. Look in the mirror for confirmation of identity.

  • Tim||

    She had issues.

  • affenkopf||

    Religion not being one of them.

  • Dylan||

    "..and though I doubt her ideas contradict the Bible..."

    Her ideas are the complete and utter opposite of those in the Bible. She held that each individual person is the meaning and purpose of their own life. The main theme of the entire Bible is that man exists to glorify God. Christian leaders will often state that the worst sin is the sin of pride, thinking of yourself as important. Ayn Rand held that "Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned-that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character..."

  • Yup||

  • BigT||

    Maybe that's why she embraced atheism - man is real and should not place the Flying Spaghetti Monster above himself.

  • Yup||

    I know what you mean, but Rand didn't "embrace" atheism. Contrary to popular belief and supported by her writings, she wasn't a rabid atheist in the sense that she considered her atheism the primary focus of her life's work. Far from it. Atheism is a natural state of being. There's no point in spending an inordinate amount of time in denying the existence of that which doesn't exist. Let the theists prove god's existence. Rand had bigger fish to fry.

  • Teve Torbes||

    Well said.

  • ||

    You are correct - it is technically inaccurate to consider her an atheist. Atheism presupposes the assertion that God does not exist. Rand asserted many times, that such assertions of a negative, or a lack of existence, are logically futile.
    That is not to say she was agnostic either. She did not believe that any empirical or theoretical evidence was available to grant the idea of religion the privilege of entering her “faculty of cognition”.
    Rand would most accurately be described as “irreligious”. She merely dismisses the thought of anything that is based on empty assertions. As you described it, “Let the theists prove god's existence.” – This is a perfect representation of her beliefs.

  • Boxbot||

    If you view either the Bible or Atlas Shrugged as magic books that have the answers for everything and obviate the need for thought, whichever one you choose, you'll find the other problematic. Fundamentalisms fail at any type of thought more nuanced than identifying contradictory points of view and discarding them.

    Objectivism is not identical to Christian theology. I hope that's not a huge surprise. But completely and utterly opposite? That's untrue.

  • Dylan||

    "If YOU view...as magic books.." Then the problem is with you, not with Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand.

    Tell me where Ayn Rand advocated that people accept what she said on faith.

  • Yup||

    Can't. Never happened.

  • ||

    then why would anybody right anything with a philosophical bent, because they want you to accept their ideas. The same reason many of us write here to support and gain acceptance of ideas we just don't come out and say accept my ideas because of "x" reason.

  • Dylan||

    So you're admitting that there is no rational behind your ideas? Good to know.

  • ||

    Where does my comment say that?

  • ||

    All through Atlas Shrugged Reardon and Dagny act on faith - they almost never think anything through. They are constantly being impelled by un-named feelings within them that they only later understand. When Reardon is talking to D'Anconica at Taggart's wedding, Reardon remarks that according to reason he should hate Francisco and see him as the greatest villain in the world, but he just can't "make himself feel it."

    Rand has a lot of virtues, but consistent adherence to the principles of reason and objectivity is not one of them. In the end she appeals to our feelings, not our reason.

  • DK||

    This is untrue. It's a pretty consistent theme throughout the novel that people like Dagny and Rearden act rationally when it comes to addressing manipulation of resources to make products. But when it comes to interactions with others, they don't apply those principles consistently. The reason being that they've spent years living in a collectivist society which has taught them to believe that their perception of the world and the men who live in it is evil. The book is a coming-of-age story in which they learn Rand's philosophical tenets. This means that the characters were inconsistent (a trait that Rand acknowledges many times throughout the novel), not that the novel is.

  • DK||

    And I don't see what the objection is. Obviously most of the world is not Objectivist. Rand clearly wanted more Objectivists in society. In order for this to happen, people would be required to transform their thinking processes in the same manner as Dagny and Rearden. So it makes complete sense to have the protagonists only partially aware of Rand's philosophy; at some level, they're caricatures of the reader.

  • ||

    Point taken, but at root because of their context in a perverted society Dagny and Reardon are forced to follow their intuitions, even if these intuitions are manifestations of a deeper objectivity and reason. Rand seems to suggest that even in a society in which we are submerged in misdirection and lies, we can have faith that reason is buried deep in us somewhere and that the "little voice within" will guide us to it (i.e. not conscious acts of logical reasoning).

    My point is merely that Dylan's statement that Rand doesn't ask anyone to take anything on faith is untrue. By correlation, and through no necessary fault of hers, there is an army of "Rand faithful" who are really not Objectivists in any way she would recognize, which is I think the point Boxbot was making about fundamentalisms.

  • ||

    I think you're confused about the meanings of the word 'faith.' I have faith that the Sun will rise in the East, that my car will start when I turn the key, that my dog will come when I call him. This is in no way the same meaning as 'faith' in god. Don't confuse them. And don't confuse behaviors that are based on reasonable projections that could be described as faith or use of intuition with these words when they fall out of the mouths of theists. They aren't the same thing.

  • ||

    Exactly. Rand has depicted her characters as discovering what are her own philosophical tenets. She couldn't very well give her characters full-blown philosophical positions from the first; she needed to show how they arrived at them.

  • Yup||

    Are you sure you didn't read Atlas Mugged by mistake? Your analysis is, to put it charitably, bizarre.

  • Boxbot||

    Fundamentalism isn't about accepting things on faith. It's about reaching a point where you stop listening. Most people who slid into one fundamentalism or another did so because they were rationally convinced that the beliefs they were subscribing to were true (whether it was or not is irrelevant) and ceased listening to any possibly contradictory arguments.

    Not that it's used this way by most Christians, but new testament Greek uses the word "faith" (pistis) to mean trusting something that you already know to be reliable. By the time the NT writers got to it, the word had been adopted by religion, but it was still largely a contractual or business term. You have faith that FedEx isn't going to steal your package because you've used them 500 times before and they don't do that. Faith isn't supposed to be something that operates independently of reason and experience, but just a practical extension of them. Irrational, counterfactual "faith," in a Christian context, probably should be called fideism, which would have been as foreign and nonsensical a concept to the NT authors as vegetarian steak.

    Incidentally, Rand does advocate this kind of faith in Atlas Shrugged Remember the guy from the harvester company who said that he didn't like people who demanded that you trust them, who would rather deal with people who just did what they said they would do? That's new testament faith.

  • Dylan||

    Confidence is not the same thing as faith. I have confidence that FedEx will deliver the package because I have a ton of evidence that they will (they have delivered the first ten packages that I sent and its in their best interest to keep doing so). You have faith in god because you believe in him with no evidence whatsoever.

  • Boxbot||

    That's not the case. The original meaning for the word "faith" more or less amounts to reasonable confidence. This isn't a comment on correct theology, practice, or historical Christian doctrine; this is just the original lexical meaning of the word "faith" in its original usage. Any standard NT Greek reference will back this up. Here's one. There are others like it. You'll see that to the extent that the NT uses the word "faith" to mean anything other than confidence, it's a development on that idea, not a negation of it. The Kierkegaardian "leap of faith" or "blind faith" meanings are an imposition on the text, and would have been completely foreign to both the authors and the original audience.

    The NT authors assumed that the reason that people would believe what they were saying was because of 1) the facts as they understood them about Jesus, 2) consistency with the Old Testament predictions about the messiah, and 3) consistency with the tenets of the Jewish religion. Whether those things carry any weight today is another question, but at the time, they were expecting people to convert and stay converted based on reasonable confidence, not anti-rational force of will.

  • fyngyrz||

    But... regardless of the origins of the word, that's not what faith means today. At all. So what's your point?

  • Boxbot||

    For the purposes of Biblical interpretation, that IS what the word means today. Anyone who tells you differently is pulling a bait and switch.

    But you're talking about how the word is used today in popular religion, especially much of evangelical Christianity. As far as that goes, I don't have any defense, I don't think there is any viable defense, and even if there were, I wouldn't be interested in making the case. "Faith" as irrational force of belief is a disgusting concept, but it's not a concept that has historically been a part of Christianity. It's a relatively new idea, and so far as I'm aware, it's never even been a part of any major Christian theology. That doesn't mean that it's not present in huge swathes of religion as it's practiced, but it does mean that the suggestion that it's an intrinsic part of Christianity, much less all religion, is demonstrably false.

    I'm not trying to deny the reality that many religionists go to religion to flee from rationality. I live in the South, you don't have to remind me. But Gregory Smith flees to libertarianism because so he can justify jailing Mexicans. Neither decision makes sense. Both are reflections on the person, not the philosophy. The abuse does not abolish the use.

  • Boxbot||

    John Piper, the author who has probably come closest to tricking Evangelical Christians into thinking cogently about theology and moral philosophy, has said that Ayn Rand was a formative influence. Brother Jimmy was right. All that book-larnin

  • Boxbot||

    sends you right to the devil.

  • Zuo||

    "God helps those who help themselves"

    Yeah, its not from the Christians... but most of them don't know that. Ha!

  • ||

    Way to change the subject to Obama.

    A big part of Ayn Rand's worldview was that anyone who contradicted the Great Leader, in any aspect of her teachings, should be excommunicated and humiliated. She would not have supported Big Tent conservatism AT ALL, however necessary it might be for someone like Paul Ryan.

  • BigT||

    Link? I never got that impr3ession. She squabbled with many and was arrogant. But her writings do NOT acknowledge the great wisdom of a leader.

  • Yup||

    Rand did not believe in a subjective universe, of course, but contained within all her writings is the admonition to think for oneself. Individualists have no need of a Dear Leader. Learning how to think is the key, and that's the task of philosophy.

  • ||

    And if you did not learn to think like Ayn, then to the gaschamber go!

  • Yup||

    Yeah, she had that power. Just like Hitler!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    As witness: the theocracy of Egypt, with the Pharaoh as an embodied god—the unlimited majority rule or democracy of Athens—the welfare state run by the Emperors of Rome—the Inquisition of the late Middle Ages—the absolute monarchy of France—the welfare state of Bismarck’s Prussia—the gas chambers of Nazi Germany—the slaughterhouse of the Soviet Union.

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/Pa.....man_rights

  • DK||

    Actually, Rand simply stopped associating with people who didn't adhere to her particular belief system. Seems like she was pretty actively displaying her belief in the freedom of association.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

  • Crickets||

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Damn David. I woke up from my Wednesday afternoon drunken stupor for some Progressive Christianity ad hominem whining about Ayn Rand?

    Really?

    REALLY?

    It's nice that Progressives don't think atheists like Rand (and if pressed, Christians who worship Jesus-Marx) can offer an ethical or moral defense of individual liberty.

  • Tim||

    I doubt anyone will remember Rand in 200 years, much less 2,000.

  • Dylan||

    I doubt you will post an interesting comment.

  • Yup||

    Dontcha get it? Rand will never be as popular as Jesus. Nya-nya-nya!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    And neither will the Beatles, all things considered.

  • Lady Gaga||

    [sniff]

  • Dylan||

    What Ayn Rand attacked, more than anything else, was not Christianity, religion, socialism, or collectivism, but faith - believing in things just because you believe in them. And what she mainly supported was not atheism, individualism, or capitalism, but reason - forming beliefs based on logic and evidence.

    She was just as big an enemy to Christians and liberals because to her they were essentially the same thing - Christians having faith in God, and liberals having faith in their collectivist morality (which ironically is the same morality that Jesus taught, only applied to society instead of individuals).

  • Yup||

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.

  • DK||

    Not precisely true. There are many ways of formulating internally consistent ethical philosophies, only some of which lead to capitalism. It's all a matter of choosing which axioms to use, then determining whether what follows is acceptable. I think that the set of axioms associated with libertarianism (non-initiation of force, etc) lead to the proper results. But I don't claim that libertarianism is great because it is internally consistent - lots of things are.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    The old logic vs. reason problem.

  • Dylan||

    BTW, anybody know what happened to Old Mexican?

  • Nope||

  • KW6||

    You might want to be careful the next time they serve tacos in here.

  • ||

    I've noticed that many Christians who preach mostly from the Book of John get nervous when you talk about the Book of James.

    I've also noticed that many Rand fanatics are not familiar with the 'Fountainhead', but instead want to argue every minute & obscure passage from 'Atlas Shrugged'.

    Both Christians and 'Randians' mostly want to use an incredibly dumbed-down version of ideology/religion to support justifications for preaching, which is usually just a bunch of 'hot air' with a mix of 'patriotism'. Too much of dumbed-down religion or ideology is boring particularly in modern English.

    If I have to read any more Rand stuff (novels), it is going to be in a foreign language. (just for fun)

  • Yup||

    many Rand fanatics are not familiar with the 'Fountainhead'

    I'm pretty sure that to be considered a genuine fanatic, you have to have read everything, not just the magnum opus. Not that there aren't plenty of shallow and intellectually lazy "fans" out there who get religion by reading one or two books (Glenn Beck, are your ears burning?)

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I hear there's a French version of Atlas Shrugged online somewhere.

  • ||

    Yeah, that John Piper, he's always tricking Christians into developing a deeper understanding of their theology.

  • ||

    /\Comment belongs higher in this feed.

  • DLM||

    Jesus was actually a dictator at heart enamored with central planning. All that 'render unto Caesar' stuff was just window dressing. /sarc

  • Brett L||

    I doubt Rand would have had a problem with 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's'. She might quibble with Christ's definition of Caesar's, though.

  • DK||

    I laughed a bit at this. Nice.

  • ||

    BTW, anybody know what happened to Old Mexican?

    I think he got a job. Why that should affect his HnR postings, I'm not sure.

  • Yup||

    He has a conscience?

  • Wow||

    An Ayn Rand/Religion thread, and not one "Fuck you!"*

    'Tis truly a miracle.

    *Yet

  • Knutsack||

    You know which other organization has the initials AVN?

    That one is way more interesting than the American Values Network.

  • ||

    "The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog is."
    -- G. K. Chesterton

  • Mr. Soul||

    The hypostatic union of Christ (how he could be both man & God) is the model for we Christian Randians. The dual natures are not at emnity, they compliment each other.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "My friends on the left (and by friends I mean people I watch on cable TV), though, have alleged that Jesus supports compulsory "charity"

    A position for which they do not have the slightest shred of evidence.

  • Ol' Liberal||

    ... oh Thank God. I was worried the highly intelligent Mr. Harsanyi would not come up a justification for libertarians doing whatever conservatives tell them.

  • gary payton||

    Really, when you think about it, Michele Bachmann and Pat Robertson are libertarians, too!

  • gary payton||

    Witness Reason's fealty to the Tea Party, which has hosted Tom Tancredo and Shruf Joe as speakers.

    Basically, libertarians we're always self-consciously "cool" conservatives, and since November 2008, they're no better than the "Bushitler" people in their desperation to disagree with all things Obama.

  • Michael R. Brown||

    One part of the foolishness of the recent debates about Rand is the idea that agreeing with Rand's prediction and diagnoses in "Atlas Shrugged" - the accuracy of which has been demonstrated in the last few years to a nicety - somehow magically commits one to agreement with her total philosophy. Would this argument be extended to an atheist leftist who recommends Tolstoy or Victor Hugo?

    The other part is a specific misrepresentation of Christianity. Christianity is not a pro-Statism religion; indeed, given who killed their Savior, it tends to the anti-State. (This is something the left has not yet dealt with.) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that wealth should be expropriated and redistributed by the dubious means of government structures; it speaks of personal and *voluntary* charity. One might add, looking at the horrific debt and unfunded liabilities situation that the U.S. is in right now, that the Bible and Jesus were wise in staying away from government panaceas.

    This entire kabuki charade is in bad faith. The Bible does not advocate any Progressive notions of "economic justice." The progressives who have suddenly discovered religion and its necessary role in politics - after thirty decades and more of stridently and rightly insisting it must be kept out of politics - are not sincere. After this temporary rhetorical bubble is over, they will resume their previous, also ad-hoc, declarations.

    As for the "sociopath" accusation, this is what comes of copying attack website garbage. The whole thing rests upon one author - Michael Prescott's - highly selective excerpting and chopping up of a private [i.e., thinking out loud without clarifications ] journal written when Rand was barely out of her teens, fresh from the blood bath of 1920s Soviet Russia - and still made it very clear that her read on the personalities of the observers showed that they were not appalled by Hickman's crime - she said there had been far worse, without the same spectacle of glee - but by his flamboyant and mocking defiance of society. She - who was writing about a *legally innocent man* at the time of the trial - even called him a repulsive and purposeless criminal. Enough with the disinformation and - yes - Satanizing of Ayn Rand.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "The Bible does not advocate any Progressive notions of 'economic justice.'"

    I think the Pope does, though.

  • cynical||

    To bad for him that a good chunk of Christians don't give a shit about his opinion.

  • Boxbot||

    Christianity is not a pro-Statism religion; indeed, given who killed their Savior, it tends to the anti-State.

    +1. And based on its founder's beliefs and history, it should be the most anti-Religious Right religion in world history. That that's not the case isn't the fault of Christianity.

  • ||

    I think Ayn Rand would create a almost comically simple, moronic philosophy which can be used to recruit people with simple minds, tie in knee-jerk nativism and call it the "Tea Party."

    But of course she wouldn't do that. Even the Tea Party is too stupid for her.

  • ||

    Saying that religious people can't believe in what Ayn Rand wrote about capitalism because she was an atheist?

    Is like saying people can't believe in what Thomas Jefferson wrote about freedom--because he owned slaves.

  • Progressive||

    That too!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Saying that religious people can't believe in what Ayn Rand wrote about capitalism because she was an atheist?"

    Is the sort of thing Ayn Rand would say.

  • ||

    Read Luke 6:30 (Giveth to every man that asketh *beg*).

    Doesn't necessarily mean taxes, but Jesus shows his support for the poor.

    Here's where it gets really cool:

    Romans 13:1-6 Every person must submit to the authorities, for the existing authorities are instituted by God. He so who resists is consequently resisting God, and has himself to thank for the punishment he will receive. ..

    For this you pay taxes, For the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

  • ||

    It is still God first before state. Christians should respect that government is there to keep order. But this certainly got messy for early Christians when Nero was murdering them.

  • Boxbot||

    Notice that the prima facie reading of Romans 13 doesn't make much sense in the historical context. Rome was ramping up persecution of Christians at the time, and the government in Jerusalem was in full crackdown mode. Submission to the authorities was tantamount to suicide.

    I've never heard any New Testament scholars' take on this theory, but here's what I think: Romans was an open letter sent to a church under close scrutiny in the capital of the Empire. If Paul had elaborated on or even just repeated Jesus's "Render unto Caesar" principle, it could have led to a crackdown. Anything he said along those lines would have to have plausible deniability for anyone who wasn't familiar with church teaching.

    So he engages in wordplay. To wit:

    Every person must submit to the authorities, for the existing authorities are instituted by God. He so who resists is consequently resisting God...

    The key term is "existing authority." That is, the authority that exists, or the real authority. Read one way, he's saying that authorities have God's sanction. Read another, he's saying that only the authorities that have God's sanction are legitimate. Further, he's saying that the Romans, the illegitimate, non-Messianic authority, is resisting God and is going to get its just deserts. I'm not a Greek scholar, but it seems like a plausible reading to me because the concept of legitimate authority had already been a topic of discussion in Jewish circles for some time. A subjugated people tends to view imposed authority with a good deal more suspicion than the people doing the imposing, so the double meaning wouldn't be so apparent to an observer.

  • ||

    "I'm pretty sure that to be considered a genuine fanatic"... Yup|6.15.11 @ 3:13PM

    Rule Number 1) There is a difference between a fanatic and a genuine fanatic
    Rule Number 2) ungenuine fanatics must be purged, ridiculed, punished, reformed and forced to confess their sins, being fanatics-in-name-only (FINM), until their acts of heresy are cured, whereupon they can reclaim the title of TRUE & genuine fanatics.

    I know all about this process. In the winter on '72/'73 I made the terrible mistake of showing up at an LP meeting in Denver CO at a public park. I was 19 years old and didn't know who Ayn Rand was. I had no idea about radical Randians and the Church-of-Ayn-Rand, AKA LP. (I got purged and ridiculed and then told to come back for the next meeting. Big &%#@ing deal.) One of the things that bothered me was the Randians (that barred me) didn't know a thing about railroads or Amtrak, but everything about some novel called 'Atlas Shrugged'.

  • sevo||

    "Christianity is not a pro-Statism religion; indeed, given who killed their Savior, it tends to the anti-State."
    Ah, except there was and is no 'savior' who was killed by anyone.
    Heard the one about.....?

  • ||

    Caution: acronym typo in above post

    Should read FINO (Fanatic-in-Name-Only)

    Laughing and typing is sometimes hard.

  • Trivial Ends||

    Christianity is indeed for simple-minds, but then again, so is Libertarianism.

  • durhur||

    Only the simple-minded would make such an asinine assertion.

  • ||

    "Christianity (& L) is indeed for simple-minds" ....Trivial Ends

    Master, how can we ever be as smart as you? We are not worthy. Whip up some more. Maybe we will wise up.

  • Rev. Ray Dubuque||

    You would think that someone like David Harsanyi “As I am neither a theologian nor a Christian, “ and then “. I am no Objectivist, either, not even close,” would steer away from pontificating on those topics. But instead he publicizes his ignorance by proclaiming “I doubt her ideas contradict the Bible”.

    I happen to be an expert on Christian theology ( See my http://LiberalslikeChrist.Org ) and a student of Ayn Rand’s thinking, which I have found requires as much credulity on the part of her disciples as my faith does on its adherents. The difference is that we OPENLY call on our disciples to take what we teach on faith, whereas Rand is DEVIOUS about doing the very same thing. There may be a little more "reason" involved with "objectivism", but only after its basis premises are firmly established on a basis of unproven "truths" that you have to accept because Rand says it is so. PERIOD

    It’s far from complete, but I’m working on a website which will eventually include videos that highlight the INCOMPATIBILITY of the teaching of Ayn Rand and that of Jesus Christ,.
    It’s called http://thegodlessconservativeparty.org .

  • ||

    Rev. Ray Dubuque
    Re: Conservative v. Liberal
    I checked out your great site. This really simplyfies things. It's pretty obvious that the gob'ment is going to tax the flying *% out of ev'rybody, and all we have to do is decide if the money is going to be spent on lots and lots of warfare or lots and lots of promises of some kind of expensive 'program' that has some kind of 'charity' sounding feelgood stuff for 501(c)(3) christians and the 501(c)(4) christians (who usually don't want to include the Book of James).

  • دردشة العراق||

    THank you man

  • air max||

    is good

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement