Some social conservatives stumbled upon a few Ayn Rand interviews, and they’re shocked to learn that Ayn thought religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is horseshit. In fact, she called Christianity “the best kindergarten of communism possible”.
This makes Young Conor’s head hurt, so he falls back on the oldest trope in the book: Some of his best friends are good Christians and they like Atlas Shrugged. So what? Some of my best friends are good people and philosophically incoherent, too. And, more importantly, he says this:
Accordingly, I find no contradiction in Atlas Shrugged and the Bible both sitting on my shelf. Though they contradict one another, I take neither as infallible and I’ve gleaned moral truth from both. I am sure that makes orthodox Christians and Objectivists alike very uncomfortable. But it also highlights something that those two groups have in common: a conviction that certain texts and belief systems must either be embraced wholeheartedly or rejected – that any position in between is heretical or incoherent.
This is bullshit on stilts. While it’s absolutely true that most novels contain complex characters from whom one can gain insights into human nature and morality, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are not like most novels. They are carefully constructed polemics with characters and situations engineered to make it clear that rational self-interest is the one, true foundation for the good society. All the heroes in Atlas Shrugged, for example, are materialists and rationalists, the teachings of Jesus are never mentioned, religion in general is only mentioned to be deried, and the actions of its heroes are based almost entirely on love of self rather than love for fellow men. I can see little or nothing that a self-professed Christian can glean from this book that isn’t in conflict with Christianity as it is generally understood. That’s why Christians have every right to question what Paul Ryan and Rand Paul actually believe from the Bible, since they also profess admiration for Atlas Shrugged.
Read on for a few choice Rand quotes.
From Atlas Shrugged:
People with pleading eyes and desperate faces crowded into tents where evangelists cried in triumphant gloating that man was unable to cope with nature, that his science was a fraud, that his mind was a failure, that he was reaping punishment for the sin of pride, for his confidence in his own intellect-and that only faith in the power of mystic secrets could protect him from the fissure of a rail or from the blowout of the last tire on his last truck. Love was the key to the mystic secrets, they cried, love and selfless sacrifice to the needs of others.
This is from Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged:
The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man’s life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.’