Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on Ayn Rand, rational theism, and Christianity

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what it means to use both reason and faith in my beliefs as a Christian. So with all the news about the new movie featuring Ayn Rand's theories, my curiosity was piqued. Several of my friends consider themselves objectivists or rational theists. After some research into both philosophies I must say that in my opinion they take the color out of life while turning the universe into a purely mathematical, unwelcoming place.  

Rational theism appears to accept many of Christianity's tenets, yet it goes about explaining them in such a way that turns the organic, creative, ever-changing human being into something barely more than a machine. Mankind is a thinking AND feeling form of life; how can it be right to completely dismiss the emotional/relational side of ourselves? Rational theism may be a way of thought that appeals to those who are extremely logical or scientifically minded; however, I don't find any place for a personal, spiritual relationship with an ever-living God in its theories. Belief in reason is given precedence over belief in God. Yes, God has given us a mind, which we are meant to use wisely, but the mind is not what ultimately saves us. 

When I visited the Ayn Rand Institute's website to explore the values of Objectivism, I found several things that contradicted basic Christian beliefs. Under Metaphysics was the sentence "objectivism rejects any belief in the supernatural". Another phrase under Epistemology states that "objectivism rejects mysticism (any acceptance of faith or feeling as a means of knowledge)"; also, under Ethics: "objectivism rejects any form of altruism- the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society". These statements contradict the Biblical teachings about the validity of a spiritual realm, the importance of faith, and the core message of Christianity. Man should not be worshiped; the creature is not greater than the Creator.

Logic on its own comes to a conclusion that self-interest is, at its foundation, the best choice for mankind. However, when faith is the only advisor, the issues of narrow-mindedness, or "blind faith", and a disregard for rational thought emerge. At its root any religious belief must be taken on faith, but I think that there is cause for a healthy balance of reason that should go along with it. As Christians we are encouraged to think clearly without merely accepting the words of any teacher. Trust in God needs to be matched with wisdom and the search for knowledge.

As a final note, here is a quote I read on Sunday (apologies for not knowing who the author is). It is a reminder that despite the pain of this reality, there is a deeper meaning to our existence:

"As [psychologist] William James pointed out, if we are indeed part and parcel of a meaningless universe, the kind in which Jesus could be murdered on a cross with no resurrection, then being depressed only makes good sense. Under these conditions the sensitive and sensible person will be depressed. I have discovered only one event in history that redeemed all this evil for me and gave me hope: the resurrection of Jesus. Allowing the resurrected One to be constantly present, I can deal with all the evil suffered by Jesus, by my friends and by me. I can face all the rape, pillage, war and hatred that I hear about daily, and still have hope. The resurrection reveals the ultimate nature of the universe, and the risen Christ continues to victory over the power of evil."   

1 comment:

  1. Ayn Rand was once useful in pointing out the deep flaws in government interference with human actions and interactions. However, there are much better, and more well-known, writers out there now. She developed something close to a cult of personality around her. Here is a link to a one-act play written by Murray Rothbard, a former Randian, about the silliness involved: