home
RSS
My Take: Christianity and Ayn Rand's philosophy are 2 distinct religions
Ayn Rand's book "The Fountainhead" and the Bible.
August 15th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

My Take: Christianity and Ayn Rand's philosophy are 2 distinct religions

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Now that one of the Republican Party’s least ideological men (Mitt Romney) has christened one of the GOP’s most ideological men (Paul Ryan) as his running mate, Ayn Rand is back in the news.

Ryan, who used to give away Rand’s novel "Atlas Shrugged" for Christmas, once described this Russian-born preacher of heroic individualism as "the reason I got into public service.” “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism," he told the pro-Rand Atlas Society in 2005, "than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works."

Ryan’s religious conservatism obviously distinguishes him from Rand, an atheist who despised efforts by Ronald Reagan and others to marry church and state. And recently Ryan has tried to distance himself from her.

In an April interview with the National Review, he rooted his controversial budget plan, not in Rand’s laissez-faire philosophizing, but in Catholic values. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he said. “Give me Thomas Aquinas.”

Which makes me wonder just how these two influences on Ryan stack up against one another. Is it possible to love Aquinas and Rand at the same time? About as possible as loving God and mammon since Christianity and Randism are, in my view, two competing religions.

I know that Rand was an atheist, so it may seem like a stretch to call Randism a religion. But there are plenty of religions (Buddhism, for example) that have rejected God. And like Christianity, Randism has its founder, its scriptures and its miracles (since in the Gospel of Ayn Rand there isn't anything laissez-faire capitalism and its secular saints cannot do).

Randism also has its committed devotees, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and conservative talk-show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, not to mention the myriad commenters (see below) who will no doubt object to my efforts to brand her atheism a religion.

Here are five big differences I see between the  theologies of Christianity and Randism:

1. Jesus preached the virtue of selflessness; Rand wrote a book called "The Virtue of Selfishness" (1964). Altruism is evil, she argued, and egoism the only true ethics.

2. The Apostle Paul called the love of money the root of all evil. Rand wore a dollar sign brooch and saw to it that a florid dollar sign stood guard by her casket at her funeral. She also put a love letter to the almighty dollar on the lips of one of her "Atlas Shrugged" heroes, copper magnate Francisco d’Anconia (a speech Ryan has said he returns to repeatedly when pondering monetary policy). There d’Anconia calls money “the root of all good."

3. “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke. And he says in the Gospel of Matthew that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” In the Gospel according to Ayn Rand, however, it is the “traders” (“job creators” in modern parlance) who like Atlas carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, while the poor are denounced as “moochers” and “looters."

4. The hope of the Christian gospel is the kingdom of God, but Rand's objectivist philosophy opposes "collectivism" at every turn. “Man - every man - is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake,” the inventor John Galt proclaims in "Atlas Shrugged," “and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.”

5. The ultimate concern of Christianity is God. The ultimate concern of Randism is the unfettered freedom of the individual. While the Christian Trinity comprise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Rand’s Trinity is I, me, mine.

For years, Ryan and other conservative Republicans have been trying to have their Jesus Christ and their Ayn Rand,  too. But the two clash at least as much as an Obama/Ryan ticket.

Conservative icon William F. Buckley rightly recognized this fundamental incompatibility, running a blistering review of "Atlas Shrugged"in his National Review and denouncing that novel himself in a Charlie Rose interview as "a thousand pages of ideological fabulism.”

Evangelical leader Chuck Colson was equally critical, referring to Rand’s “idolatry of self and selfishness” as “the antithesis of Christianity.”

To his credit, Ryan seems to be acknowledging the gap between Randism and Christianity by attempting in recent months to distance himself from an intellectual mentor and emphasizing instead the Catholic roots of his budget plan.

But as Jesus once said, “By your fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16), and I for one still see much more Rand than Jesus in Ryan’s Robin Hood budget.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this piece said that Jesus called the love of money the root of all evil. The statement should have been attributed to the Apostle Paul.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Christianity • Economy • Paul Ryan • Politics • United States

soundoff (1,069 Responses)
  1. GTT1999

    The article cllearly shows Stephen Prothero never has understood Ayn Rand or the Gospel of Christ...

    August 17, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Or else YOU don't get it.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. Scuromondo

    All of the posters who express cynicism about "prayer" seem to have a definition of "prayer" that is much different than mine. Their definition seems to define prayer as a sort-of ritual to get "God" to change God's mind on something–that is, to convince God to "do" something that you think needs being done, but you apparently beleive that you need to raise God's awareness of it (which is odd in itself, given that God is omniscient) or you believe that you have to somehow coersce God into realizing how "good" it would be to do your bidding (which again is odd, given that, by definition, God should already know what is good and not need you to remind him).

    Anyway... prayer is not a technique for aligning God with your desires. It is a technique for aligning your desires with "God's" (however it is you define God, that is). If you pray in this way, you will not be disappointed God, but perhaps occasionally in yourself.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Seems like your definition of prayer is different than that of Jesus in the bible. Jesus states very clearly and unequivocally that if you believe and ask for anything it will be done.

      Matthew 21:21:
      I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
      _____________________________________________________________________________
      [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]
      _____________________________________________________________________________

      Mark 9:23
      All things are possible to him who believes.

      Luke 1:37:
      For with God nothing will be impossible.

      John 14:12
      Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

      John 14:13
      And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      John 14:14
      If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

      Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' own personal promises about prayer in the Bible.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  3. infonomics

    Immanuel Kant is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers ever.
    Ayn Rand referred to Kant as the most evil man in history.
    Republicans admire Ayn Rand.
    You finish this syllogism yourself.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • SillyMan

      I have it from a very reliable source that Immanuel Kant is a real pi$$ant who was very rarely stable.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  4. AJD13

    I am no fan of Rand's "philosophy" and I am an agnostic which is close to atheist except I refuse to say that "I know" for sure that there is not a god of any type since such a thing is unknowable I believe. The danger here is giving the impression that her atheism is part of her philosophy. They are two separate things. I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who are very charitable, selfless, kind, generous people who are not all about "me, me, me!" I know plenty of supposed "Christians" that would put Rand to shame with their selfishness. Extremism either way is a bad way to go.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  5. eroteme

    Ayn Rand's atheism has no special relationship to her political opinions. If she were a Catholic would we believe her Catholicism related to her political opinions? Methodist? Lutheran?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      As a kind-hearted atheist, let me just say that she strikes me as the kind of person who uses unbelief as a reason to be cruel to others. Nobody has to threaten me with hellfire to make me love my cranky, ignorant, and dangerous fellow humans; I just do somehow. You are all diseased, as Carlin used to say, but I love you anyway. Bless your freakin pointed little heads.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  6. Tim Hurley

    Finally, a well-written piece of prose by a guy who knows how to write...as opposed to Harry Cook.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  7. man air max 91

    I have to get around my own passion on your goodness supporting folks who require assist with el born area of curiosity. The genuine dedication to moving past the perfect solution around was extremely good and have often urged workers at all like me to succeed in cause real progress. Your individual valuable valuable information means anywhere near this much someone much like me but still a lot more to be able to my own colleagues. Thank you all people. man air max 91

    August 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  8. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit... thestarofkaduri.com

    August 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  9. HollywoodPR

    The only people who read Ayn Rand are overweight college girls. I hardly think Ms. Rand's philosophy poses a threat.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Paul Ryan is an overweight college girl? My guess is that your idea of an intellectual pursuit is watching Bevis and Butthead.

      August 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Jack

      Beavis and Butt-Head is the technical definition of atheist.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Jack, I thought B&B worshiped Cornholio.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  10. Matt

    When Jesus blathered about the virtues of the poor, the context was a class-based society with little to no mobility or opportunity. In modern context, with public libraries housing every bit of information someone could need to empower themselves, what do you see the homeless, single mothers, and drug addicts doing with this resource? Watching valueless stuff on youtube and hanging out on social media. The excons usually play chess and sometimes read, which is refreshing. Compulsory education, 12-step programs, libraries, student loans/grants, the GI Bill, etc... There is no longer any excuse to be a grubber. The context has shifted so much that Christ is now moot while Rand continues to gain relevance. The Christian backlash against Rand is parallel to the Islamist backlash against Western Culture. They know they've lost, they know their entire world view has expired in their skulls but they keep holding on to the corpse of their dead belief system and sneer with bitterness about it.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • trc1962

      Rand's writing and thot was nothing I beieve Jesus would believe in-at any time in history. Her writing showed her great deal of focus on herself and money-period. She cared about no one more than herself-not very christian. Many in our country are hurting economically and the least we can do is to reach out to those we can-and hope if we need it someone will reach out to us.That is the mentality I believe Jesus woul endorse. No wonder Ryan is back pedaling on his association with Rand. He calls himself a devout cccatholic? I dont get it period. By the way, I am not a fat girl in college, but a teacher and librarian who has read A LOT of books.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example; Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine–year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      August 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Tina

      HeavenSentUnhealthyUntruthSayin, does your Jesus wear a thong?

      August 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Texas Governor Rick Perry (remember him?) held a prayer vigil last year in Houston's Reliant Arena asking god to end the drought. Texas is still in the worst drought in recorded history and the state climatologist says the drought may continue another 5-15 years. Either god was not listening to all those prayerful christians, or else his answer was "Up yours, Rick Perry!" But, for a fact, all that prayer changed nothing.

      Recently, a high school classmate of mine died from brain cancer. Many of our classmates prayed for her recovery. Instead she died. Apparently, either god was not listening, or else the answer was no. But, for a fact, prayer changed nothing.

      I do, however, understand your delusion. Brainwashing is a tough thing to overcome.

      August 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Strong Spirit

      Wes Scott, Prayer helps make the spirit strong to face the material suffering. Why prayer does not yield the desired result is a complex subject. Some of the simple lessons are as follows....One must pray daily, not just when there is a problem. Also, confessions and prayer do not help, if you are committing the sins repeatedly. God said "Thou shalt not kill", and food based products of slaughterhouses are the norm. Faith in God means following God's instructions. Going to church and committing all kinds of sins do not help.

      August 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then why do so many of you do just that?

      August 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Yeshua

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example; Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine–year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      Greetings! Might I add prayer does not work like a insta-fix to difficult situations, or a way of guiding God through what we want. It is the act of humbling ourselves, acknowledging the Love and Mercy and Grace our creator has for us, and communing with God asking for HIS guidance. It is for praising Him when life is the worst, for rejoicing to Him when life is the best. The Bible says "Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf." Ps.37v.5 The hebrew word for "He will act" literally means he will produce/cause an effect/bring about/ordain/appoint. But the beauty is, the spirit leads us to pray HIS will be done, not ours.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      This is unfortunate, God appointed us with the capacity to utilize medicine, and prayer should be directed towards our health professionals, God can and has and will miraculously heal people, but according to His plan, we cannot know the mind of God, for our minds are finite.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      I understand your frustration, but know that this does not embody the meaning and purpose of prayer. People are people, and God is God, who manifested in the flesh so that we may have life, Jesus is the focus of prayer, seeking the will of God is done through prayer, mountains are moved through prayer. Does that mean God grants everyone all they desire? Does that mean prayer lets us have carefree lives, where hardships and trials melt away with a few solemn words?

      I pray knowing God's Will will come to pass. My current Job I have now, I would never have had without prayer. Of course the flip side "it would have happened anyway" but how can we know that? WE predict it. So me praying just confirmed it was where God wants me to be, regardless of whether I got the job or not. Of course there is no "verifiable" way to "prove" prayer, if there was, what use is there of spirit and flesh?

      that which is Spirit is Spirit and that which is carnal is carnal, you cant use one to prove or deny the other since they are effectively on different planes. I hope this at least gives you another side of prayer, that a lot more Christians have seen verified in their spiritual walk with Jesus, rather than the sensational stories of misguided people refusing to utilize the Doctors God has appointed with a skill and capacity to save lives through medicine.

      God Bless!

      August 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • AJD13

      I love how if someone prays for something and it happens it's because "prayer works" and it's a miracle and god's doing but if they pray for something and it doesn't happen, then the excuses start flying "It wasn't god's plan" or whatever. I used to be a Christian. Looking back never in my life has prayer changed or caused anything to happen that would not have happened otherwise or would not have happened without my own hard work and dedication to it. I also love how religious people will fawn all over the one case of someone surviving some disaster or disease when the chances were slim but ignore the thousands of people who didn't survive that were also prayed for just as fervently.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yeah, you keep saying that exact same thing. You've been saying it for weeks. You never change, so I call BS.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Huh?

      So Bible Clown since Atheism is not...keeps posting the same thing over and over it must be B.S. based on your version of logic. 😉

      August 19, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  12. Scuromondo

    Even though I agree that Objectivism and Christianity are not intimate pals, I think Protheror’s article is quite misleading in several areas. For example, the first “difference” he mentions is that Christianity promotes selflessness while Rand promotes “selfishness.” While this may be literally true, the fact is that, as part of her overall philosophy, Rand defines certain terms she uses, and the term “selfishness” is among them. Unfortunately, her definition of the word “selfish” is not the same as the dictionary definition, and so it cannot fairly be compared as opposite to the dictionary definition of “selflessness.”

    Protheror’s third “difference again misrepresents an allegorical symbol, the dollar sign, which Rand uses in “Atlas Shrugged,” by interpreting it literally to say she is advocating a love of money. Even a casual reading of the novel should make it apparent that those who sport the “dollar sign” symbol are not primarily motivated by huge bank accounts but rather by ideas and individualism.

    Protheror’s third “difference” quotes Luke’s translation of the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Blessed are the poor.” Matthew’s account of this event reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” and is considered by most biblical scholars to likely be a more accurate representation of Jesus’ philosophy, and therefore of this sermon. While the life of Jesus clearly indicates that he thinks the powerful have an obligation toward those without power, it is unfair to suggest that Jesus blessed the poor simply due to the fact of their poverty—suggesting that poverty itself is somehow virtuous.

    Anyway, while I do think Rand’s writing is flawed and her philosophy imperfect, both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are really darn good tales that, apart from occasional rambling ideological monologues, are really very fun to read! Unfortunately, from Protheror’s article, it appears that if he has read these philosophical treatises at all, it was only at the literal level.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Sue

      There's not much "selflessness" involved in a religion whose aim is personal salvation, no matter who you have to protest against in getting it.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Violet Weed

      Thank you I (or any of the fake names I need to use in order to post in c n n bc they are always 'blocking me') COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER. Heck, this writer had to print a 'revised' version bc he thought JESUS said 'money is the root of all evil".

      August 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • AJD13

      Thank you, Sue. That is an argument I have used many times. Which is better? Someone that does good things because they believe that will get THEMSELVES into an eternal paradise or those who don't believe in that or that there even is anything after death....no reward, no eternal life, etc etc and STILL do good things?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Humpty Dumpty

      When I use a word, it means just what I want it to mean and nothing else. 'Selfish' has a meaning, and it applies just fine to her views. It's a book, and a science fiction novel with idealized, heroic characters; trying to concoct a philosophy from it is as nutty as making up Libertarianism out of a Heinlein book.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Kalashnikova

      The Bible is quite clear on what Jesus said about these things:

      Matthew 19:21 - Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

      Luke 18:22 - When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

      Acts 2:45 - Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

      Acts 4:34-35 - There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

      August 18, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  13. Katherine

    Problem with your .3 assertion: It's "Blessed are the poor IN SPIRIT", not "Blessed are the poor". I don't think God is asking Christians to "be poor". In order to help people we have to have resources. If you're poor, that's pretty hard to do.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Cq

      You're thinking only of Matthew. Luke 6:20 has Jesus say "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Besides, people who are poor in spirit, the depressed, wouldn't be considered good according to Rand either.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Jack

      Figures the arrogant can't fathom that poor means humble. Badda bing, these atheists are too stupid.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • AJD13

      You'd think a devine being who wanted people to follow his word to please him would have been much more clear and left no room for interpretation in his "handbook."

      August 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • AJD13

      The irony of calling people stupid who don't believe in talking snakes and can see how illogical it would be for a god to punish a woman made ignorant of evil for falling for the manipulation of it when she couldn't have known what manipulation was having no idea what evil is.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "The irony of calling people stupid who don't believe in talking snakes " Sounds as if he's one of the poor in spirit. Pickled in alcohol for years, I imagine.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Kalashnikova

      Pick up a Bible, woman.

      Matthew 19:21 - Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

      Luke 18:22 - When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

      Acts 2:45 - Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

      Acts 4:34-35 - There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

      August 18, 2012 at 6:08 am |
  14. Bible Clown©

    Ayn Rand would certainly have n problem joining whatever church most of you scary people attend, since there's no forgiveness or thought for others required.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Sue

      And the primary motivations are the selfish desires to get salvation, and live forever in heaven, no matter who you have to shun, judge, or rob of their rights in order to get them.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Jack

      Sue, it's up to the individual to get right with Jesus.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      My big problem with so-called Christians is that they are commanded to love all mankind, and they don't. I disbelieve the talking-snake part of your magical faith, but the parts about helping each other and forgiving others for their trespasses seem like just good common sense to me. I am naturally helpful and kind, even to hateful people who need a bop from the Clown Hammer©.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Jonah

    I'm confused. How can someone whose philosophy is "individualism" at all costs and that caring for others is a sucker's bet inspire someone else to spend their life in public service, you know, a life spent serving the public? That doesn't make any sense. Is that like saying Jesus' rage against the moneychangers in the temple inspired me to become a banker so I could rip off gullible people?

    August 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • ME II

      I can't speak for anyone else, but one possible reason is that the person see values in the economic system and wants to improve that system. Alternatively, or in addition, maintaining a healthy, functioning economic system benefits the individual. Improving the lives of others is just a nice side-effect.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • ME II

      "...sees value... " not "... see values..."

      August 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Maybe Ayn Rand inspired Paul Ryan to infiltrate Govt. in order to eviscerate it. George W. said he wanted to "starve the beast". It is Repub. mantra that Govt. is the enemy which must be destroyed & they set out to accomplish that goal every time they gain power.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Cq

      Jonah
      As odd as this may sound, Jesus did his own thing, and did not conform to the conservative religious views of his day. Rand might have said that his was a personal example of how to act selfishly. He denounced his family and expected duties in order to preach without raising a family, as expected, and he urged his followers to do the same.

      How many modern-day Christians can say that they do the same? Most follow what's expected of them by their society and family. Their sense of altruism is that of the collective, with very little allowance for personal calls on what's "right", and not sinful. Even if they feel empathy for gays wishing to marry, for example, most would feel incapable of acting on it. Conservative Christianity is counter to Rand's philosophy.

      August 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Richard B.

      Public Service owes its existence to collectivism. What a better place for an apostle of individualism to start conquering from within... Sort of a Manchurian Candidate. How scary?

      August 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Jack

      All this Ayn Rand stuff is to tell you that our politicians screwed us royal.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  16. WWRRD

    This is a pretty true assessment. The means to reconcile the individualism, and selfishness of Randism to Christianity is compassion and charity.

    The people that are capable have a moral obligation, (not a civic one) to care for the less fortunate. If you have the intellect and skill to create jobs and grow a business you are doing a service to your fellow man. You should do everything ethical in your power to create the most wealth possible. That is where the randism part comes in.

    A christian businessman that tolerates poor workers, gives discounts to customers, endangers his business. His task should be to work hard and create a healthy and profitable business to the best of his ability.

    After you have created that wealth, you have a moral obligation to "love others as yourself". Being generous and caring for others. That is where the christian element comes in.

    Democrats largely think of caring for the individual before creating wealth. They would rather argue over cutting up a smaller pie. Conservatives generally want to maximize the pie. However, many conservatives operate strictly as Rand suggests and despise the needs of those around them. I strongly advocate a conservative approach where individuals give to others directly instead of depending on government to be the caregiver.

    Everyone is expected to work and contribute. Success and productivity is rewarded. Compassion and charity cares for those that cannot help themselves.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ WWRRD:

      As a person who apologizes for having been a member or the Young Republicans as well as a member of the party before diagnosis of a degenerative, non-curable, neurological disease, I assure you that you are overly optomistic about what conservatives are willing to do for the less fortunate. Other than the St. Vincent De Paul Society and the local chapter of the MS society, no private assistance was available for the time it took to establish my replacement income. It took an application, an appeal from a privately paid advocate and fourteen (14) months for Social Security to approve. Still, Social Security was LIGHTENING QUICK compared to the process I experienced with Cigna disability insurance despite the fact I paid premiums through payroll deductions for years while I worked before diagnosis and while contiuing to work under an ADA accomodation.

      You opined "Everyone is expected to work and contribute." Shall we assume that your suggestion to me is to die as quickly as possible so I don't disturb the federal economy?

      August 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      The key word is AFTER; How they attain their wealth & when they feel economically secure to begin "doing good" often involves a lot of Collateral Damage.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Sue

      WWRRD
      Not everyone can be rich, or develop a successful business, right? Is there any economist who can model an economy where everyone is middle class, or above? Building a successful business usually means driving much of the compet.ition under, creating poor people. How can you have one without the other?

      Even this theoretical wealthy Christian businessman that you describe must have pushed whatever compet.ition he had under, or limited the benefits he paid his employees, sold a product or provided a service that wasn't really necessary, cut costs that dug unto someone else's profit margin, or did other things that somehow pulled wealth away from others. Money doesn't just materialize out of nowhere; every rich person got it from somebody. Rand supported laissez-faire business practices, are you saying that it doesn't matter HOW a business person made their money as long as he shares SOME of it afterwards?

      August 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  17. god is imaginary

    Calling atheism a religion is like calling health a disease.

    Atheism is the denial of an assertion. A ridiculous assertion of fairys – invented by feeble minded and scared humans.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • SillyMan

      It is still coming to a conclusion without evidence. Unless you have evidence that no one knows about that God does not exist.

      Amazing how some people, so quick to point out the holes in others logic can be so blind to the holes in their own.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • mitch

      @Silly Man
      Your handle elevates you to a staus you do not deserve.......
      Unless you have evidence that no one knows about that god does not exist.
      has got to be one of the stupidist statement of nonsense ever posted on this blog.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • SillyMan

      @mitch: Anyone can say something is stupid. I can say that anyone who believes that gravity exists is stupid. What separates the 14 year old trolls (you) from the adults, is that the adults actually require an argument (in the formal, not common sense) to back up a statement.
      Common Mitch, buddy, raise the bar a little, I know you can do it!

      August 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • TheDukeOfHighwayJ

      @SillyMan
      I have no evidence that unicorns and leprechans dont exist, but Id be on pretty firm ground to assert that they dont.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • mitch

      @SillyMan
      As a 14 year old pimply faced troll, as you assume, and trying to respond on a level that you may undestrand....
      In a format that should it include common sense that would everyone know that may or maybe not include violation of belief that actually requires a cogent response that atheism is the one true religion that believes in the satanic presence of the one true creator that resides in the soul of SillyMan and that He is the great apostle of all fairy tale embodiements of the creation including the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the SillyMan tries in vain to bring his noodly appendage into life to show to HS that he is indeed carnal.

      Quite true SillyMan, calling someones musings stupid, may not be fair, but if their statements are written and do not make any sense as my statement above, I can only say stupid is what stupid does. Try writing a post, reading it and determine if your thought process has been expressed in your comment, because so far you do not make any sense.

      August 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Veritas

      @SillyMan. Did you even read the post you replied to?

      August 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Cq

      SillyMan
      How "agnostic" are you about fairies? There's nothing in Christianity against the belief that they could be real, but do you go around thinking that some day people might actually discover them? I mean actual little guys with wings a couple of inches tall? I would probably be safe in guessing that the vast majority of people (who aren't country British, at least) KNOW that fairies aren't, and never were, real despite our utter inability to prove that they aren't and, like it or not, the exact same thing does apply to God.

      August 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      SillyMan, it is not possible to disprove a negative. So far, what else has not been possible is to prove that god actually exists other than in the minds of those who choose to accept his existence on faith and believe in it.

      August 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Silly, your screen name is apt.

      And, um...

      Nope, that's the only positive thing I can honestly say about your moronic post.

      August 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • SillyMan

      Wow. I really riled everyone up! Look folks: I'm a scientist. I follow the data. If the data is mum on a subject (like God and faeries) I'm also mum on it. It is OK to just say "I don't know" although everyone seems to really like to jump to conclusions without evidence. Everyone here is talking about my posts being "illogical" and not making sense although (again) no one is actually pointing out the flaws in the logic. They are very basic and easy to follow logic, they just don't lead to your conclusions.

      And for the record Wes Scott , it is quite possible to disprove a negative (we do it in chemistry all the time). I think you may be confusing the usage of the evidentiary axiom (which actually supports my point). There is no difference in formal logic between proving a positive versus negative assertion (and in fact, whether an assertion is positive or negative largely relies on the phrasing of the question itself).

      I appreciate everyone's input on this. It is good to see that it is not only the religious zealots who are able to argue there points from an emotional rather than logical basis.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " evidence that no one knows about that God does not exist" Wow. Hey, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn that I'm selling. Interested?

      August 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Mark S

    Nice logic CNN: anyone who likes any of Rand's books is a hater of Christians? I see you're running scared of the Ryan selection for VP and are 'framing' him – typical Liberal playbook material. I enjoyed Shrugged for its message of 'from each according to his ability; to each according to his ability'. I didn't adopt all of Rand's views – e.g. charity is a selfish act and should not be done.
    For Mr Robotron – nice smear attempt. Rand preferred the company of men for long periods of her life – not that it matters.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • SillyMan

      Ummm.. you just contradicted yourself. You agree with "'from each according to his ability; to each according to his ability'. But then you said you are OK with Charity? What if someone has very little ability (so they cannot support themselves, they are severely handicapped for instance)? According to the part you agree with they get little, and then die. If you give them things (through Charity) you are violating the first part of your belief.
      Wow. Do you even think before you blather?

      August 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • ME II

      "I didn't adopt all of Rand's views – e.g. charity is a selfish act and should not be done."

      Actually I think Rand's position on charity is that it should only be voluntary, not forced. Additionally, it should *only* be done because and for selfish reasons, not because someone else told you to or expects you to.

      One does a thing because one wishes to do a thing.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Sue

      Mark S
      Do you feel that doing charity and giving alms, or ti.thes is completely voluntary in most churches? Many, if not most Christians see these as obligations, just like the obligatory anti-gay marriage stance most churches have. Rand would argue that these don't actually come from the heart if they are expected within the group. Rand is all about actually being a Maverick, where Christians are usually all about being obedient little sheep.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  19. Mr Robotron

    I read somewhere that Ms. Rand's taco was completely flattened from years of bumping doughnuts with other dikes. Also her books are terrible.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Commenter

      Mr Robotron,

      You probably also read that the world was going to end last May 21st (bet you believed that one too!)

      August 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • PLEASE DON"T FEED THE ROBOTROLLS

      kthnx

      August 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      You must be reading the right wing propaganda list books. Thank you for clearly demonstrating your lack of literacy and integrity by stating things that are patently and knowingly false.

      August 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  20. Mr Robotron

    Rand was nothing more than a frisco dike.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Huh?

      Mr. R,

      "Ayn Rand, founder of Objectivism, held controversial views regarding ho'mose'xuality and gender roles. Although her personal view of ho'mose'xuality was unambiguously negative, considering it immoral and disgusting, Rand endorsed non-discrimination protection for ho'mose'xuals in the public sphere while opposing laws against discrimination affecting the private sector."

      August 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • SFO

      Robotron,

      I'll thank you not to call San Francisco "frisco".
      (besides, it makes you sound like a hick)

      Or are you referring to Frisco, Texas?

      August 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Tina

      HeavenSentUnhealthyUntruthSayin is a saggy, leaky old Frisco, Texas dyke.

      August 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.