The Atheistic Philosophy of Ayn Rand– the Donahue Interview

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One of the more remarkable aspects of the current political season is the love affair of the conservative right with the Randian economic and political philosophy of ‘unfettered, unregulated capitalism and the virtues of selfishness’ somehow welded to the chassis of Christian conservatism and ‘family values’ by Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and others. Whatever you think of that ‘unholy alliance’ here is an interview that makes very clear what Ayn Rand thought about God, altruism, and self-sacrifice– certainly traditional Christian values,

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben Witherington

    Yes! I am voting for Stephen Colbert :) BW3

  • Jeff Messenger

    So increasing a big brother government and it’s regulatory power is more “Christian?” I don’t think so. There will be no Government that is “Christian,” until Jesus himself returns.

  • Glen

    The thing I despise about some in the GOP is that they equate being in their party with being a Christian. If you can’t vote for the GOP because you dislike the greed, and the exclusive push to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, then you aren’t a Christian.

    At one time I supported the GOP. That changed when the Iraq War started and we didn’t find WMDs. When I questioned the war, I was told I was unpatriotic and a traitor.
    I can tell you that I’ve heard plenty of conservatives say that we should get rid of all regulation and talk about how much they hate the government. Then, I see they are the first in line to take advantage of every government giveaway. I also see them make fortunes off the backs of the working poor and then give a little to charity to get recognition and soothe their consciences. To me this is worse than Ayn Rand.

  • Ben Witherington

    That’s not the issue Jeff. The issue we live in the most self-centered and greedy culture in the world. It’s a fallen narcissistic culture. In such a culture there have to be restraints on sin, including the sin of greed. BW3

  • Chris

    It’s interesting Dr W that where it concerns the evil of greed you are aggressively pro-government intervention while where it concerns the evil of murder or molestation, you advocate nonviolence on the part of the government in dealing with that type of evil. I believe greed is a bit more personal and its something that can be curbed in a number of ways and not necessarily by government. Defending innocent people from attack or molestation on the other hand seems like a natural thing for a government to provide. I realize that you will say that you believe the government should restrain the evil of murder and molestation without using force but I’m interested to know what that would look like. It seems as though your contempt for greed is much more aggressive than the contempt you might have of a child molester. If not capital punishment for killers then what? What should the government punishment for greed be?

  • Ben Witherington

    Chris I’m afraid you have misunderstood. I’m advocating Christians be non-violent. I haven’t taken a position on whether governments should be in this post. I have said I don’t think that the two wars we are in can be justified by any reasonable ethical just war criteria, and on top of that, they are undeclared wars. They certainly do not meet the Geneva convention criteria. As for police, I don’t remember saying we shouldn’t have police? I also think Romans 13 is clear enough the government officials have the right to carry at least defensive weapons. So…. you’ve been misreading me. Blessings any how, BW3

  • Ben Witherington

    P.S. In case you’re wondering, I take this to mean that Christians should not serve in roles where they might be called upon to use lethal force, since its against their credo. They can serve in other roles in the police or military. But in any case, that whole discussion has nothing to do with greed. Which is a serious problem in America. BW3

  • Ben Witherington

    What was the punishment for Bernie Madoff with the cash? Do you remember him? His little ponsy scheme represents much of what is wrong with our whole system of investing. And why exactly is it that so many conservative Christians would like to ignore the prohibitions of charging interest to fellow believers in the Bible? Obviously child molesting is a serious crime, and if Mr. Sandusky did it, he should not be released ever. The same applies to serious theft. If you have ruined someone’s life savings, and in the process hastened their death by stealing the funds they needed to live on in old age, I would say that also is a heinous crime. BW3

  • Chris

    I did misunderstand so thanks for clarifying. It’s an interesting proposition that we should be OK with non-believers using force when necessary to protect us.

    I agree that Madoff and Sandusky should share a cell.

  • Ben Witherington

    I would just add that what we do for those folks like firemen and policemen is just as important as what they do for us, or can be. My grandfather was a fire chief in Wilmington N.C. and I regularly support the firemen and policemen around here when they call for funds. BW3

  • Edmund DeSoto

    Ayn Rand was a Russian-and so called American novelist who brought her Socialistic/Communistic atheistic philosophies to America.

    Atheism is responsible for the types of dictatorial governments in the former Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea and China.

    When a government or group of dictators decide to manipulate its population and other people through forceful ideas and dictate to them what they can or cannot do, this form of dictatorship is based on an atheistic socialistic/communistic philosophy.

    Nothing good has ever come out of Socialism and Communism. Nothing ever will. We have proof of this from all the societies based on these philosophies that have failed.

    Nothing good will ever come out either, for it hasn’t yet, of the present socialistic/communistic Obama administration in the USA today. Although it is trying to lead us into a more socialistic and communistic society, all it will end up doing will be the reconstruction of America to reflect and be a more government controlled society.

    This will lead us into The Catching Away Of The Church. http://edmunddesoto.org/CatchingAway/

  • David Capp

    Having spent probably more time pondering this discussion, I wonder if part of Ayn Rand’s views isn’t a reaction to the totalitarianism of the world she grew up in, taking an almost completely opposite approach, except that she stayed with the fundamental belief… atheism.

    Now another thought about all of this, it still feels like there’s an assumption being made that because she was an atheist, her whole philosophical system should be rejected. I definitely think the totality of objectivism is very problematic. However, that her ideas sometimes intersected with those held by conservatives, even Christians, doesn’t mean that the idea held by Christians is wrong, even if it’s very similar to Rand’s.

    It seems to me that what is most important that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and as a Christian, that my belief is in line with scripture. And I think it’s wise that I give respect to those Christians who come to different conclusions on issues as well, especially those which are non-essential (by which I mean those issues that do not determine a proper saving relationship with Christ).

    Again, while I’m not where you are at on a lot of issues, I do appreciate your discussions, and interactions on the thread Dr. Ben. It definitely helps me to process these questions.


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