Ayn Rand and the virtue of evil

Joe Carter tries to think what he ever saw in Ayn Rand, who despised Christianity and held that the only virtue is selfishness. He cites a new biography that details how bad she was, though at least consistent with her assumptions:

She announced that the world was divided between a small minority of Supermen who are productive and “the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent” who, like the Leninists, try to feed off them. He is “mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned.” It is evil to show kindness to these “lice”: The “only virtue” is “selfishness.”She meant it.

Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.”

via Two biographies of Ayn Rand. – By Johann Hari – Slate Magazine.

Like Nietzsche, Rand held Christianity in contempt for its teachings about love, which encourages the weakness of compassion that allows the weak to survive, as opposed to helping them die out as they are supposed to.

A lot of conservatives, though, like her.  Why?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Michael Garofalo

    Speaking as one who used to love Ayn Rand, I think the reason that a lot of conservatives like her is simple: she made Nietzsche’s implicit distaste for government explicit. To a populist, which is a label many modern conservatives would happily self-apply, the idea that productive members of society can tear down bureaucracy and destroy the “leeching” seen in modernity (one thinks immediately of the idea of the “social safety net”, popularized in the latter half of the 20th century) is terribly appealing, and I use the adjective “terribly” with full intention. It is indeed terrible that approval should be so thoughtlessly granted, for Rand represents the worst parts of modern conservatism, the parts diametrically opposed to conserving.

  • Michael Garofalo

    Speaking as one who used to love Ayn Rand, I think the reason that a lot of conservatives like her is simple: she made Nietzsche’s implicit distaste for government explicit. To a populist, which is a label many modern conservatives would happily self-apply, the idea that productive members of society can tear down bureaucracy and destroy the “leeching” seen in modernity (one thinks immediately of the idea of the “social safety net”, popularized in the latter half of the 20th century) is terribly appealing, and I use the adjective “terribly” with full intention. It is indeed terrible that approval should be so thoughtlessly granted, for Rand represents the worst parts of modern conservatism, the parts diametrically opposed to conserving.

  • Winston Smith

    Libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives see in Rand a champion of freedom as opposed to oppressive, stifling bureaucratic control. Many of them (one hopes) would be appalled by her truly amoral thinking, as shown above.

    Rand’s philosophy is totally incompatible with Christianity. “The fool hath said in his [her] heart, there is no God,” Psalms 14:1. Rand is the flip side of the godless communist; she is the godless capitalist. Godless communists and capitalists are basically materialists; they have no belief in a transcendent and good God, much less the God of the Bible.

    Any conservative professing a Judeo-Christian worldview should think twice before praising Rand (or naming a son after her).

  • Winston Smith

    Libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives see in Rand a champion of freedom as opposed to oppressive, stifling bureaucratic control. Many of them (one hopes) would be appalled by her truly amoral thinking, as shown above.

    Rand’s philosophy is totally incompatible with Christianity. “The fool hath said in his [her] heart, there is no God,” Psalms 14:1. Rand is the flip side of the godless communist; she is the godless capitalist. Godless communists and capitalists are basically materialists; they have no belief in a transcendent and good God, much less the God of the Bible.

    Any conservative professing a Judeo-Christian worldview should think twice before praising Rand (or naming a son after her).

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    I imagine conservatives agree with Rand’s criticisms more than her solutions. At he beginning of Atlas Shrugged, she lampoons those who think making money is distasteful but are utterly dependent on those who feel otherwise. Only later does she espouse heartlessness as virtue.

    Maybe conservatives who say they like the book didn’t finish reading it. This is understandable given how long and dull the book is. I read a condensed version and even that was wearisome.

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    I imagine conservatives agree with Rand’s criticisms more than her solutions. At he beginning of Atlas Shrugged, she lampoons those who think making money is distasteful but are utterly dependent on those who feel otherwise. Only later does she espouse heartlessness as virtue.

    Maybe conservatives who say they like the book didn’t finish reading it. This is understandable given how long and dull the book is. I read a condensed version and even that was wearisome.

  • Carl Vehse

    Winston is correct. It’s the libertarians who hold Ayn Rand and her egoism philosophy of “Objectivism” in esteem. Another person with similar philosophical ideas was Alexis Carrel, a Nobel Laureate in medicine, but who, as a Frenchman, symphathized in the ’30s with the Nazi idea of a ‘Master race’.

  • Carl Vehse

    Winston is correct. It’s the libertarians who hold Ayn Rand and her egoism philosophy of “Objectivism” in esteem. Another person with similar philosophical ideas was Alexis Carrel, a Nobel Laureate in medicine, but who, as a Frenchman, symphathized in the ’30s with the Nazi idea of a ‘Master race’.

  • Joe

    Winston – Rand Paul is not named after Ayn Rand. His name is Randell. Rand is the nick name his wife gave him.

    As for thinking twice before praising Rand, yes we should think about such things. We should think about whether we can learn anything from someone who is not a Christian. We should ask ourselves, despite her ridiculous hatred of Christianity, is there something that can be learned? For me the answer to that question is yes. Ayn Rand, lived through the Bolshevik revolution and its immediate aftermath, has lessons to teach about the dangers of the over centralization of power in the hands of the gov’t even when such power is accumulated for the noble purposes of fairness and equality.

    You do not have to subscribe to Objectivism to learn something from her and more than you have to embrace Aristotle’s views on slavery or women or religion to learn from Aristotle.

  • Joe

    Winston – Rand Paul is not named after Ayn Rand. His name is Randell. Rand is the nick name his wife gave him.

    As for thinking twice before praising Rand, yes we should think about such things. We should think about whether we can learn anything from someone who is not a Christian. We should ask ourselves, despite her ridiculous hatred of Christianity, is there something that can be learned? For me the answer to that question is yes. Ayn Rand, lived through the Bolshevik revolution and its immediate aftermath, has lessons to teach about the dangers of the over centralization of power in the hands of the gov’t even when such power is accumulated for the noble purposes of fairness and equality.

    You do not have to subscribe to Objectivism to learn something from her and more than you have to embrace Aristotle’s views on slavery or women or religion to learn from Aristotle.

  • Steven Peterson

    Well, as a libertarian, I have always found Ms. Rand to be distasteful, immoral, and echoing John, extraordinarily boring. There are many other libertarian/classical liberals that provide both better and more moral, Christian arguments for markets as against government such as Lord Acton.

  • Steven Peterson

    Well, as a libertarian, I have always found Ms. Rand to be distasteful, immoral, and echoing John, extraordinarily boring. There are many other libertarian/classical liberals that provide both better and more moral, Christian arguments for markets as against government such as Lord Acton.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    A friend recommended Rand to me about ten years ago. When I got 100 pages into Fountainhead I really wondered why a strong, intelligent woman would recommend a book in which a woman falls in love with the man who raped her… supposedly because of his great virtue.

    The findings you quote above aren’t surprising at all. I do feel a bit vindicated.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    A friend recommended Rand to me about ten years ago. When I got 100 pages into Fountainhead I really wondered why a strong, intelligent woman would recommend a book in which a woman falls in love with the man who raped her… supposedly because of his great virtue.

    The findings you quote above aren’t surprising at all. I do feel a bit vindicated.

  • Tom Hering

    “… allows the weak to survive …”

    I remember watching Phil Donohue’s interview with Rand on his old show. When it came time for questions from the audience, a perfectly normal-looking young woman got up and started off her question by saying, “Ms. Rand, I used to read your books in college …” Well, Rand – misunderstanding what the young lady meant by “used to” and acting highly offended – went ballistic and blurted out, “I don’t answer questions from hippies!”

    There’s weakness, and then there’s weakness.

  • Tom Hering

    “… allows the weak to survive …”

    I remember watching Phil Donohue’s interview with Rand on his old show. When it came time for questions from the audience, a perfectly normal-looking young woman got up and started off her question by saying, “Ms. Rand, I used to read your books in college …” Well, Rand – misunderstanding what the young lady meant by “used to” and acting highly offended – went ballistic and blurted out, “I don’t answer questions from hippies!”

    There’s weakness, and then there’s weakness.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The trouble with Randy nihilism is that if one doesn’t believe in God one may believe in anything. The horror of the twentieth century ought to have made that clear. Ayn Rand’s Jewish people were slaughtered by a radically evil figure who idolized Nietzsche.

    The nihilists, liberals, extreme libertarians, and pietists all suffer the illusion that radical evil can be overcome with romantic ideology.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The trouble with Randy nihilism is that if one doesn’t believe in God one may believe in anything. The horror of the twentieth century ought to have made that clear. Ayn Rand’s Jewish people were slaughtered by a radically evil figure who idolized Nietzsche.

    The nihilists, liberals, extreme libertarians, and pietists all suffer the illusion that radical evil can be overcome with romantic ideology.

  • Kimberly

    Like Rev. Lehmann @ 7, my first and only experience with Ayn Rand was The Fountainhead. I had to read it for my AP English class my senior year and was nearly sick reading it. Being brave enough to flaunt conventional standards of architectural beauty is one thing, the outright brutality and immorality that follows for both Howard and the woman he rapes is completely another.

    Ayn Rand took Nietzsche’s abhorrent principles to their (illogically) logical conclusion. I’m thankful she only did so in dull and boring books, not in real life.

  • Kimberly

    Like Rev. Lehmann @ 7, my first and only experience with Ayn Rand was The Fountainhead. I had to read it for my AP English class my senior year and was nearly sick reading it. Being brave enough to flaunt conventional standards of architectural beauty is one thing, the outright brutality and immorality that follows for both Howard and the woman he rapes is completely another.

    Ayn Rand took Nietzsche’s abhorrent principles to their (illogically) logical conclusion. I’m thankful she only did so in dull and boring books, not in real life.

  • Louis

    Some “conservatives” seems to be attracted to “toughness” like a certain type of adolescent male – hence their admiration. It has been said, i can’t remember by whom, that Rand had a dispostion that could neuter a bull at 20 yards.

    Incidentally, one of her inner circle of disciples was Alan Greenspan…

  • Louis

    Some “conservatives” seems to be attracted to “toughness” like a certain type of adolescent male – hence their admiration. It has been said, i can’t remember by whom, that Rand had a dispostion that could neuter a bull at 20 yards.

    Incidentally, one of her inner circle of disciples was Alan Greenspan…

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    @Joe,

    Libertarians didn’t bring us the ideas of limited government and free markets. So if we are going to reject them for their views that are abhorrent, why do we need them for the other areas if they are redundant to thinkers before them?

    Libertarianism has to be taken as a whole, in my view, otherwise it is no longer libertarianism.

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    @Joe,

    Libertarians didn’t bring us the ideas of limited government and free markets. So if we are going to reject them for their views that are abhorrent, why do we need them for the other areas if they are redundant to thinkers before them?

    Libertarianism has to be taken as a whole, in my view, otherwise it is no longer libertarianism.

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    Regarding Ayn Rand and adolescent males, the following quote comes to mind.

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    Regarding Ayn Rand and adolescent males, the following quote comes to mind.

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

  • E-Raj

    Instead of the wholesale dismissal of a person’s writings, I choose to take bits and pieces that actually have merit. Ayn Rand’s views of religion and morality are not only problematic, but quite illogical. However, her view of government’s tendency to interfere with every aspect of human life and that strong individuals are the driving force behind a society’s success is spot on. I finished reading Atlas Shrugged about a month ago, and I really tried to go into it without preconceived notions. I did my best to simply take it at face value. I found the book to be an inspiring treatise on the human spirit, and how people can’t be kept down by others, unless they wish to be. Did I agree with everything in the book? Of course not…especially the parts that criticized religion. But why throw the baby out with the bathwater? There were some very good arguments made about government control of business and how it destroys creativity and productivity.

    I guess some people, especially Christians, are afraid to admit that they like anything from Rand, out of fear they will be labeled an amoral atheist. I remember commenting on this when Rand was brought up in a post a couple of months ago (I think it was concerning Rand Paul’s name). My general question still stands. Why is a person not allowed to glean some good points from another person’s philosophy without being branded a full-bore disciple of that particular philosopher?

  • E-Raj

    Instead of the wholesale dismissal of a person’s writings, I choose to take bits and pieces that actually have merit. Ayn Rand’s views of religion and morality are not only problematic, but quite illogical. However, her view of government’s tendency to interfere with every aspect of human life and that strong individuals are the driving force behind a society’s success is spot on. I finished reading Atlas Shrugged about a month ago, and I really tried to go into it without preconceived notions. I did my best to simply take it at face value. I found the book to be an inspiring treatise on the human spirit, and how people can’t be kept down by others, unless they wish to be. Did I agree with everything in the book? Of course not…especially the parts that criticized religion. But why throw the baby out with the bathwater? There were some very good arguments made about government control of business and how it destroys creativity and productivity.

    I guess some people, especially Christians, are afraid to admit that they like anything from Rand, out of fear they will be labeled an amoral atheist. I remember commenting on this when Rand was brought up in a post a couple of months ago (I think it was concerning Rand Paul’s name). My general question still stands. Why is a person not allowed to glean some good points from another person’s philosophy without being branded a full-bore disciple of that particular philosopher?

  • Louis

    E-Raj – who are you arguing with here? One can find worthwhile things in many places – from Nietzsche to Marx to Sartre – without subscribing to their philosophies – even strongly disagreeing with 99% of it.

  • Louis

    E-Raj – who are you arguing with here? One can find worthwhile things in many places – from Nietzsche to Marx to Sartre – without subscribing to their philosophies – even strongly disagreeing with 99% of it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Classic John.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Classic John.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Was Rand an amoral atheist, or an immoral one? Methinks, given her love of fornication and “in your face” attitude towards the spurned wives of her paramours–not to mention her treatment of Ludwig von Mises for the “crime” of being married to a churchgoer–the latter is more appropriate.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Was Rand an amoral atheist, or an immoral one? Methinks, given her love of fornication and “in your face” attitude towards the spurned wives of her paramours–not to mention her treatment of Ludwig von Mises for the “crime” of being married to a churchgoer–the latter is more appropriate.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    The guy who wrote this, Johann Hari, has written other slanted
    pieces. For instance, he wrote a recent one called “How Goldman
    Gambled on Starvation.” It was all a set up arguing for more
    government intrusion into markets. (A good response to that one can be found here. )

    I think the writer knows that Ayn Rand is many people’s entry point
    into free market thinking. Anyone who picks up Capitalism: The
    Unknown Idea is likely to become a free marketer. Since those ideas
    are difficult to argue against, he has to make Rand look pitiable.

    I have never read anywhere that her ONLY virtue was selfishness. And
    when she speaks of Charles Lindbergh as having had many virtues, that
    makes it clear that there is more than one virtue.

    On the subject of virtues, and on many others as well, she seems
    fairly Aristotelian.

    I know she mentioned having admired Nietzsche, but I think this was an
    admiration that was not total. In her “Apollo 11 and Dionysius at
    Woodstock” speech, she says she holds to a different view of the value
    of the Dionysian than Nietzsche did.

    And do keep in mind that in her youthful writings she was living in
    Russia, and the looters were really looting. Their family had lost
    its property to them. Such people were going to be the death of her
    family and she could see it coming.

    Her early admiration for a killer is something I cannot make sense of, but I have to say it comes as somewhat of a shock to someone who has read a lot of her writing. The fact that it is shocking suggests that it is out of character. If she was like this in youth, then her later years show a miraculous improvement.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    The guy who wrote this, Johann Hari, has written other slanted
    pieces. For instance, he wrote a recent one called “How Goldman
    Gambled on Starvation.” It was all a set up arguing for more
    government intrusion into markets. (A good response to that one can be found here. )

    I think the writer knows that Ayn Rand is many people’s entry point
    into free market thinking. Anyone who picks up Capitalism: The
    Unknown Idea is likely to become a free marketer. Since those ideas
    are difficult to argue against, he has to make Rand look pitiable.

    I have never read anywhere that her ONLY virtue was selfishness. And
    when she speaks of Charles Lindbergh as having had many virtues, that
    makes it clear that there is more than one virtue.

    On the subject of virtues, and on many others as well, she seems
    fairly Aristotelian.

    I know she mentioned having admired Nietzsche, but I think this was an
    admiration that was not total. In her “Apollo 11 and Dionysius at
    Woodstock” speech, she says she holds to a different view of the value
    of the Dionysian than Nietzsche did.

    And do keep in mind that in her youthful writings she was living in
    Russia, and the looters were really looting. Their family had lost
    its property to them. Such people were going to be the death of her
    family and she could see it coming.

    Her early admiration for a killer is something I cannot make sense of, but I have to say it comes as somewhat of a shock to someone who has read a lot of her writing. The fact that it is shocking suggests that it is out of character. If she was like this in youth, then her later years show a miraculous improvement.

  • Booklover

    A woman of Ayn Rand’s philosophy would hope, if she were to contract Multiple Sclerosis, that her husband and children would ascribe to a philosophy that would be more akin to Christianity than to that of her own.

    “A lot of conservatives, though, like her. Why?”

    Because of their common belief in the power of and esteem for the individual rather than the state; the common belief in a limited government and free market. But these conservatives should read more to get the full picture.

  • Booklover

    A woman of Ayn Rand’s philosophy would hope, if she were to contract Multiple Sclerosis, that her husband and children would ascribe to a philosophy that would be more akin to Christianity than to that of her own.

    “A lot of conservatives, though, like her. Why?”

    Because of their common belief in the power of and esteem for the individual rather than the state; the common belief in a limited government and free market. But these conservatives should read more to get the full picture.

  • spurg63@gmail.com

    Ayn Rand and her philosophy in my mind ,is as evil as Hitlers. I have no use for her at all . Under her views both my wife and youngest son basically should be put down because of their illness and disability. I do not get why anyone likes her views at all. I give no quarter when it comes to her .

  • spurg63@gmail.com

    Ayn Rand and her philosophy in my mind ,is as evil as Hitlers. I have no use for her at all . Under her views both my wife and youngest son basically should be put down because of their illness and disability. I do not get why anyone likes her views at all. I give no quarter when it comes to her .

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I pulled out my copy of the Journals of Ayn Rand, and find that the quoted passages have been severely misquoted. She was writing a character study for a work she was planning to write. She used some of the killer’s public statements (Heard at a point when she did not know the extent of his crimes. This was 1928 and all she had were newspapers.) as suggestions for a character. But she was writing about a character for herself in a private journal. Later statements show that she considered the killer to be a degenerate.She also said of her hero that “the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.” It is common for writers to be looking for material wherever they can find it. That you would use a line from an evil person does not mean you condone the evil.

    Most people who react too strongly to Rand are usually guessing what her views are without having read her for themselves. And the secondary work on her is often slanderous.

    The following is a good introduction. It is a talk she gave before a large audience.

    Apollo 11 and Dionysus at Woodstock

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I pulled out my copy of the Journals of Ayn Rand, and find that the quoted passages have been severely misquoted. She was writing a character study for a work she was planning to write. She used some of the killer’s public statements (Heard at a point when she did not know the extent of his crimes. This was 1928 and all she had were newspapers.) as suggestions for a character. But she was writing about a character for herself in a private journal. Later statements show that she considered the killer to be a degenerate.She also said of her hero that “the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.” It is common for writers to be looking for material wherever they can find it. That you would use a line from an evil person does not mean you condone the evil.

    Most people who react too strongly to Rand are usually guessing what her views are without having read her for themselves. And the secondary work on her is often slanderous.

    The following is a good introduction. It is a talk she gave before a large audience.

    Apollo 11 and Dionysus at Woodstock

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    The scriptural admonition;

    ‘The first to plead his case seems right,
    Until another comes and examines him. ‘ (Prov, 18:17)

    should be a reminder not to rush headlong embracing opinions and judgments about people and their ideas until we are better informed.

    Kudos to Rick for actually doing some research and shedding some light on the subject.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    The scriptural admonition;

    ‘The first to plead his case seems right,
    Until another comes and examines him. ‘ (Prov, 18:17)

    should be a reminder not to rush headlong embracing opinions and judgments about people and their ideas until we are better informed.

    Kudos to Rick for actually doing some research and shedding some light on the subject.

  • Trey

    One thing is very clear concerning Ayn Rand was she was anti-Christian and exhibited fascist, humanistic beliefs. In Christianity for the Tough Minded edited by J.W. Montgomery, her statements are examined and compared to Christian belief.

  • Trey

    One thing is very clear concerning Ayn Rand was she was anti-Christian and exhibited fascist, humanistic beliefs. In Christianity for the Tough Minded edited by J.W. Montgomery, her statements are examined and compared to Christian belief.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    she made clear the oppression of communist/socialism-and the hypocrisy of the ‘royal’ elite (my words) who would control other humans….
    kind of like the ‘royal’ attitude exhibited by our supposed servants in government here in the U.S….
    I’m waiting for our Christian leaders to stand up and not be threatened by PC-ism…
    waiting-waiting—
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    she made clear the oppression of communist/socialism-and the hypocrisy of the ‘royal’ elite (my words) who would control other humans….
    kind of like the ‘royal’ attitude exhibited by our supposed servants in government here in the U.S….
    I’m waiting for our Christian leaders to stand up and not be threatened by PC-ism…
    waiting-waiting—
    C-CS

  • ptl

    Many thanks to Rick Ritchie at #21 for the link to the Ayn Rand lecture “Apollo and Dionysis” which was really wonderful! Have bookmarked the site and shall return to hear more!

    Dr. Veith and everyone hould check it out too, guarantee you will like it…..and it won’t corrupt you!

    Thanks again Rick….and speaking of Dr. Veith, perhaps you would want to consider adding his site to the list of blogs on your site :)

  • ptl

    Many thanks to Rick Ritchie at #21 for the link to the Ayn Rand lecture “Apollo and Dionysis” which was really wonderful! Have bookmarked the site and shall return to hear more!

    Dr. Veith and everyone hould check it out too, guarantee you will like it…..and it won’t corrupt you!

    Thanks again Rick….and speaking of Dr. Veith, perhaps you would want to consider adding his site to the list of blogs on your site :)

  • Booklover

    Ayn Rand subscribed to the supremacy of reason. Some would rather subscribe to the supremacy of God. Ayn Rand held the philosophy of egoism. Some would rather hold the teachings of the Man who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, but that he lay down his life for a friend.”

    Ideas have consequences.

  • Booklover

    Ayn Rand subscribed to the supremacy of reason. Some would rather subscribe to the supremacy of God. Ayn Rand held the philosophy of egoism. Some would rather hold the teachings of the Man who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, but that he lay down his life for a friend.”

    Ideas have consequences.

  • sg

    Yeah, Rand and Nietzsche are lost souls. However, the despising of Christianity may be of a sort of hating civil religion which destroys both the church and the state. Just the other day folks at the BJS blog were lamenting the pitfalls of American civil religion. The atheists hate it for what it does to liberty but from the opposite side, so do the religious. Maybe it really is better to just give the government theirs and God His.

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=11664

    “The LCMS syncretism clause is designed to prevent the pastors and leaders of the LCMS from getting involved in events of the American Civil Religion, among other things. Our forefathers saw what German Civil Religion did to the church in Germany. We owe our forefathers a debt of gratitude for helping to keep our church at arm’s length from the Homeric siren that is American Civil Religion.”

  • sg

    Yeah, Rand and Nietzsche are lost souls. However, the despising of Christianity may be of a sort of hating civil religion which destroys both the church and the state. Just the other day folks at the BJS blog were lamenting the pitfalls of American civil religion. The atheists hate it for what it does to liberty but from the opposite side, so do the religious. Maybe it really is better to just give the government theirs and God His.

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=11664

    “The LCMS syncretism clause is designed to prevent the pastors and leaders of the LCMS from getting involved in events of the American Civil Religion, among other things. Our forefathers saw what German Civil Religion did to the church in Germany. We owe our forefathers a debt of gratitude for helping to keep our church at arm’s length from the Homeric siren that is American Civil Religion.”

  • http://www.lordjimemperoroficecream.blogspot.com The Jungle Cat

    I don’t actually know too many conservatives who like her beyond the superficial level (though, with libertarians, it is a different story), but I think that the general affinity for her on the right, to the extent that it exists, mostly exists because she is disliked by the left.

  • http://www.lordjimemperoroficecream.blogspot.com The Jungle Cat

    I don’t actually know too many conservatives who like her beyond the superficial level (though, with libertarians, it is a different story), but I think that the general affinity for her on the right, to the extent that it exists, mostly exists because she is disliked by the left.

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    I’m coming a little late to this conversation, but I wanted to add my thoughts.

    I started reading Ayn Rand for the first time this summer. And, besides the terrific writing style and description, I’ve found many of her ideas compelling as well.

    The virtue of selfishness, while vile when takes to its full conclusion, has elements of truth that cannot be ignored. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is fueled by rational self-interest after all. We want and others want to provide because it is to their advantage. It’s the way the world works.

    Paired with her anti-government/bureaucracy tendencies, this is a perfect conservative hunting ground.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say that the ONLY virtue she believed in was selfishness. She was married after all and successfully so. It’s difficult to believe this was achieved through selfishness in the traditional sense. I think she intends a broader understanding of selfishness. Certainly what we “want” plays into all of our decisions. Very few of us are making decisions that radically conflict with what we want, whatever the reasons.

    Lastly, her philosophy has helped me evaluate the decisions I make in the work I do. Why am I doing what I do? Because I think it’s best or because I’m afraid of losing a client? I’ve learned to be confident in driven in my pursuits (without going radical).

    With all of this said, I must add that I have chosen to not read anymore of her writings at the present. I see too much of myself in the dark vision of men she paints. My time would be better spent in the scriptures.

    Clif

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    I’m coming a little late to this conversation, but I wanted to add my thoughts.

    I started reading Ayn Rand for the first time this summer. And, besides the terrific writing style and description, I’ve found many of her ideas compelling as well.

    The virtue of selfishness, while vile when takes to its full conclusion, has elements of truth that cannot be ignored. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is fueled by rational self-interest after all. We want and others want to provide because it is to their advantage. It’s the way the world works.

    Paired with her anti-government/bureaucracy tendencies, this is a perfect conservative hunting ground.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say that the ONLY virtue she believed in was selfishness. She was married after all and successfully so. It’s difficult to believe this was achieved through selfishness in the traditional sense. I think she intends a broader understanding of selfishness. Certainly what we “want” plays into all of our decisions. Very few of us are making decisions that radically conflict with what we want, whatever the reasons.

    Lastly, her philosophy has helped me evaluate the decisions I make in the work I do. Why am I doing what I do? Because I think it’s best or because I’m afraid of losing a client? I’ve learned to be confident in driven in my pursuits (without going radical).

    With all of this said, I must add that I have chosen to not read anymore of her writings at the present. I see too much of myself in the dark vision of men she paints. My time would be better spent in the scriptures.

    Clif

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    I neglected to add this thought:

    If we evaluate Ayn Rand’s philosophy post-conversion, is there some thing valuable to take away? Is the virtue of selfishness more palatable if the individual has let Christ transform their desires after His own?

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    I neglected to add this thought:

    If we evaluate Ayn Rand’s philosophy post-conversion, is there some thing valuable to take away? Is the virtue of selfishness more palatable if the individual has let Christ transform their desires after His own?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Clif (@30), if “the individual has let Christ transform their desires after His own”, in what way can his thoughts or actions subsequently be described as “selfish”? Jesus gave up his life for the sins of the world, showing love even to those who hate him. Christianity urges us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” How could you possibly work Rand’s philosophy into that, or vice versa?

    Arguably, your statement (@29) that “Very few of us are making decisions that radically conflict with what we want, whatever the reasons” is a description of the problem. We satisfy our sinful natures all too often, with little thought of others. And yet, this is what we are called to do. And not even to do it because it will get us in good with God — for that would be selfish once more — but because our neighbor needs it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Clif (@30), if “the individual has let Christ transform their desires after His own”, in what way can his thoughts or actions subsequently be described as “selfish”? Jesus gave up his life for the sins of the world, showing love even to those who hate him. Christianity urges us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” How could you possibly work Rand’s philosophy into that, or vice versa?

    Arguably, your statement (@29) that “Very few of us are making decisions that radically conflict with what we want, whatever the reasons” is a description of the problem. We satisfy our sinful natures all too often, with little thought of others. And yet, this is what we are called to do. And not even to do it because it will get us in good with God — for that would be selfish once more — but because our neighbor needs it.

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    We are using different definitions of selfish I guess.

    My point is that Christ did not do what is right and pure out of obligation. He did it because it was a function of who He is. Neither should we.

    As Mark Driscoll often comments, Christianity is not a religion of people not doing what they want to do and doing what they don’t want to do. It’s people letting Christ inform and transform their desires so that they get to do right and are free from the slavery to the wrong.

    And, that is also what I was implying when I said few of us are radically doing what we don’t want to do. No matter what our reasons, we do what we do because at some level we want to do that more than the alternatives. We deny our fleshly desires because at another level we WANT to deny them.

    Make sense?

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    We are using different definitions of selfish I guess.

    My point is that Christ did not do what is right and pure out of obligation. He did it because it was a function of who He is. Neither should we.

    As Mark Driscoll often comments, Christianity is not a religion of people not doing what they want to do and doing what they don’t want to do. It’s people letting Christ inform and transform their desires so that they get to do right and are free from the slavery to the wrong.

    And, that is also what I was implying when I said few of us are radically doing what we don’t want to do. No matter what our reasons, we do what we do because at some level we want to do that more than the alternatives. We deny our fleshly desires because at another level we WANT to deny them.

    Make sense?


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