Ayn Rand and Objectivists’ View of Religion

how can this not be clear?

“Religion is a primitive form of philosophy, because it attempts to provide a theory of the nature of man, man’s place in the universe, and a guide to human action. But religion admittedly has no rational basis, meaning: no basis at all. “Faith” is merely someone’s assertion (without evidence) that something is true. As a “guide” to life, it couldn’t be more dangerous. And it is becoming an increasing danger to Americans as the 21st Century approaches. The religious right’s efforts to enforce religion and destroy our rights is all around us: laws preventing abortion and assisted suicide, censorship, school prayer in public schools, laws against homosexuality, laws mandating the teaching of “creationism.”

from http://capitalism.org/faq/religion.htm
and from http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=media_topic_religion

Can any sensible Mormon tell me why they would see this philosophy as one that can be combined with Christianity, especially with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the LDS Church?

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About Daniel

Life is grand. This is the story of a new family, a recently married couple and their honeymoon baby girl. Life throws at you some fastballs, and then some curveballs.
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9 Responses to Ayn Rand and Objectivists’ View of Religion

  1. Aaron Sellers says:

    I’ll take a crack at it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints and I am also a believer in most of the teachings of the Objectivist philosophy. Most of what Ayn Rand teaches is compatible with our religion. If you understand that most of Christianity is nothing more than mysticism, it is easier to understand why Ayn Rand had a problem with religion. Mysticism is the belief that there are certain mysteries of God that cannot be explained and cannot be known. Most churches state that you should not try to know anything about the mysteries of God, you should just take them on Faith and that to question what is said in the Scriptures or what is said by the Pope or even what is said by local ministers is tantamount to Apostacy. In our church we are encouraged to question and to not have blind faith in anything. We are taught to ‘study it out in your mind’ and then ask God if these things are not true. Our church definitely is not one of mysticism.
    If you understand that Ayn Rand’s encounters with Religion were encounters with Mysticism, it is easier to understand her take on Religion in general. Mysticism is not rational. It is blind faith.
    So 95% of what Ayn Rand teaches is compatible with our Religion. We believe in individual rights. We believe that there are no contradictions (A is A). Truth is truth and even if you don’t believe something that is true, it is still true. We believe that man has agency and that with that agency comes stewardship. These and many other points of our religion are all a part of the Objectivist philosophy.

  2. redhatmandan says:

    Hi Aaron. Thank you for your comments.

    I wonder though about Rand’s philosophy. Objectivism, from my understanding, is rather self-centered, whereas Christianity is not. Constantly we are told to lose ourselves, to sacrifice the only thing that actually belongs to us, our will, to that of our Father in Heaven. This is what the Savior did in Gethsemane. He said, “not my will but thine be done.” It seems clear that left to his own desires, the Savior did not want to go through the atonement, but freely chose to sacrifice his will to the will of his Father. This seems antithetical to the core of Objectivism, as described on Aynrand.org, which states the following:

    At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

    1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
    2. Epistemology: Reason
    3. Ethics: Self-interest
    4. Politics: Capitalism

    If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

    If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence. This last is the predominant philosophical position today, particularly in the field of politics.

    My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

    1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
    2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
    3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
    4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

    I highlighted the sections that are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The first is Ethics. Ayn Rand believes self-interest rules her ideal man. But as we know at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the service of others, the loving of others, the charity for others. Charity, as we know from the Book of Mormon, is the “pure love of Christ.” Take a look at what Rand thinks about charity.

    Objectivism holds that there is nothing wrong with charity, so long as one is pursuing one’s own values in providing it. As Ayn Rand said, charity is a marginal issue: it is not especially noble to engage in it, but if pursued prudently and seriously, and not at the cost of other important values, it can be a source of good for one’s society and ultimately one’s self. Objectivists tend to view their donations to causes as investments in some kind of improvement: a better culture, a better city, etc. But like investments, these require attention to make sure they are paying off.

    The Objectivist view of charity is very different from most traditional moralities, such as Christian ethics or secular altruism. These ethics esteem self-sacrifice. They are contemptuous of wealth and are suspicious of individuals who seek achievement and happiness for the sake of their own well-being here on earth. These ethics see greed as a major vice, and charity as a major virtue. Many ethicists and religious leaders today believe that those who are successful have an obligation to support those who are not. They see incompetence as having a claim on competence, and seem to think wealth is created by making other people poor.

    Objectivism rejects the altruist premise of self-sacrifice. It holds that what is most morally admirable is achievement, productivity, rationality, all in the service of one’s own life and happiness. This doesn’t mean that we should crush others underfoot: we benefit from benevolent relations with others, which can include generous support of causes and individuals we think deserve extra support. (You can read more about the Objectivist view of benevolence in David Kelley’s monograph “Unrugged Individualism,” available from, among others, Principle Source.)

    Objectivism sees benevolent generosity as the complement of justice, not its antithesis. One reason we don’t have blanket obligations to support “the poor,” for example, is because many poor people are poor because of their own choices and congenital vices. You mention poor children, on the other hand, and here at least we may see opportunities to invest in people and see results, since children can be taught better ways of living. But mere charity is not necessarily helpful even in the case of children, as generations of government welfare programs and decades of ever-rising public school spending have proved.

    This seems antithetical to what King Benjamin said in Mosiah 4:16-25:

    16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
    17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
    18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
    19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
    20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
    21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
    22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
    23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
    24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
    25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

    Rand continues by saying “man is an end unto himself.” We know this to be false. We are the sons and daughters of God, and have as our inheritance all that God has. Man is not an end unto himself, but has Godly potential. She believes man should not be sacrificing himself for others. That is the exact opposite of what the Savior taught and did.

    If you truly believe that Rand’s Objectivism is in line with the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please show me evidence to the contrary of what I just showed you. At the heart of objectivism is self-interest. At the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the love of others. According to Rand’s own words, the two philosophies could not be more different.

  3. Aaron Sellers says:

    Before I answer you, have you read “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” or “The Virtue of Selfishness”? If you haven’t, you might want to check them out. I will try and give you a detailed explanation as to why I believe in most of the tenets of Objectivism in a post later (when I find time 🙂 )

  4. redhatmandan says:

    Aaron,

    No I have not read those two books. The main tenet of her book “Virtue of Selfishness” though is that “man is an end unto himself” and that man should not sacrifice himself for others. Knowing that, why would I want to read the book? How does a book that tells me I am all that is help me get closer to God?

    The problem with attempting to read Rand’s books is that I already know what she herself has said about religion and religious topics. To then try and really stretch to find a connection between the two is like a follower of Rand trying to read Marx and find a connection to religion through his works.

    Rand and Marx are not that dissimilar, if you think about it. Both had a supreme hatred for the other’s philosophy, and both abhored religion. If they weren’t on the opposite ends of the spectrum, they might get along quite well.

    I started reading the Fountainhead, as it was a gift from a libertarian, but could not get very far. The protagonist was just absolutely unrealistic, and I already could not stand him. He had no soul.

    As for the rest, take your time. I started this post one year ago. It ain’t goin’ nowhere. 🙂

  5. Aaron Sellers says:

    First of all, thanks for responding. I want to address each of the highlighted points below. I will answer them as succinctly as possible in the interest of time. If you find that I did not explain my viewpoint thoroughly enough, please feel free to ask me more about what I mean.

    1. Self-interest:

    Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is based on ‘Rational Self-interest’ which is completely different from ‘Selfishness’ as we use the word. In her book, ‘The Virtue of Selfishness’, she uses the term selfishness, but not as we use the term. In this book she states that when she uses the term, she does not mean “the desires, the emotions, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices, have never discovered an industrial society and can conceive of no self-interest but that of grabbing the loot of the moment” (The Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 34). In the Book of Mormon, it says, “Man is that he might have joy”. Is this not then, one of the main reasons we are here? God wants us to act according to our own interests. And part of that self-interest does mean that we should help and serve others because that is what will make us happy. Ayn Rand talks a lot about helping others being in our own self-interest. Even God pursues his own self-interest: “For this is my work and
    MY GLORY, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” He is doing it because it brings him glory and makes him happy to see his children progress.

    2. “Man is an end in himself.”

    I’m not sure why you think that this is inconsistent with gospel principles. As the above scripture stated, ‘Man is that he might have joy.’ This clearly states that man is an end in himself. His happiness is his purpose for living and those things that bring him happiness (what he values) should be the things he pursues. These things clearly include helping those around him. Christ loves us and values us. This is the reason he was willing to go through so much pain for us. He was seeking what he values and what would bring himself the most happiness (Self-interest again).

    3. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

    Again, I’m not sure why you have a problem with this statement. Truth is truth, regardless of how someone feels about it. It matters not if I feel that the law of gravity, for instance, should not be real. It is a fact and if I choose to ignore it, the consequences will follow. This is the case with all reality. There IS an objective reality to which we are all subject and no amount of crying or ignoring or desire for it to be otherwise will change that fact. We may ‘kick against the pricks’, so to speak, but we will only injure ourselves. We MUST face facts if we are to survive as thinking, rational beings.

    4. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

    I understand why you have a problem with this one. Obviously, Ayn Rand had a problem with religion and I have states in my first post why this was so. Most religions teach a man to ‘just believe’ without studying it out in his own mind. She was not familiar with our religion and had she been, I think that she would have been more accepting of it as we do not teach blind faith. She had had no experience with revelation and so did not believe it to be a means of perceiving reality. Thus, to her, reason was the only way to perceive it. But, fortunately, we as Latter-day Saints, have knowledge that revelation does continue. The fact that Ayn Rand was not aquainted with this way of receiving knowledge, however, does NOT make the many truths in her philosophy untrue. As Ayn Rand said it in ‘Atlas Shrugged’, “A is A”

    5. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life..

    The idea that man must sacrifice himself to others and that to do anything in your own self-interest is at the core of the philosophy known as ‘Altruism’ which has been the cause of more death and misery in the world than any other idea. This idea states that man’s life does not belong to himself. It belongs to others and it is the philosophy that has created socialism. Socialism states that man’s life belongs to the society as a whole and that it is the right of that society to dispose of the individual’s life as it sees fit. This is the antithesis of what the American Founding Fathers envisioned when they created our inspired constitution. The Founding Fathers understood that man’s life is his own and that he has the God-given right to do with his life as he wishes. If a man decides on his own that it is in his best interest to sacrifice his life for another, then so be it. By doing this he is saying in effect that he values the life of the other person over his own life. The term, ‘sacrifice’ above, as Ayn Rand means it is different from the way we use it in our church. Ayn Rand defines it as giving up something you value more for something you value less. This is obviously not what we mean when we use the term. If a husband sacrifices his life for the life of his wife, he values her life over his own and according to Ayn Rand’s definition, it is not a sacrifice. It is in his own rational self-interest. So I think that many of the problems people have with Ayn Rand is her definitions of words. She uses the definitions as they apply to Altruism. Altruism states that if a man gives up something he values for something he values less, it is a sacrifice. Obviously that is not congruent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ taught us to sacrifice something we value for something we value more (eternal life, for instance). Unfortunately, many of the teachings of Christ have been distorted by men during the Apostacy.

    6. Charity:

    This is an interesting topic. I think the problem is, again, one of definitions. Ayn Rand’s definition of charity is basically, ‘the giving of the unearned’. Which is the idea that most liberals have when they created our welfare state. The welfare state is NOT gospel oriented. It is not good to give the unearned to people. It only incentivizes people to become lazy and slothful. Does this sound like something God would want? Our own church welfare system is nothing like the welfare system of the state. We expect people to earn their keep (by working at the cannery or whatever) and we work at helping people become self-reliant as quickly as possible. This is congruent with what Ayn Rand teaches (Virtue of Selfishness, ‘The Ethics of Emergencies’).
    In your post there are many statements that show clearly why Ayn Rand did not believe in giving the unearned. For instance, “These ethics see greed as a major vice, and charity as a major virtue. Many ethicists and religious leaders today believe that those who are successful have an obligation to support those who are not. They see incompetence as having a claim on competence, and seem to think wealth is created by making other people poor.” From these types of statements it is easy to see that Ayn Rand was an advocate for Self-Reliance, which is definitely a gospel principle.

    I would like to offer another view to the scriptures you cited (Mosiah 4:16-25). Do you think these scriptures meant that people should just give up what they have earned to a bum on the corner who makes his living begging? That the ‘beggar’ in these scriptures is the same type of beggar mentioned in these scriptures? Also, does ‘give of your substance’, have to mean your money? Why couldn’t this mean your human life value (which is your knowledge, your personality, etc.). If you really want to help someone who is in need, wouldn’t it be better to help them improve their situation (by offering them a job or helping them find one, etc), then to just give them some money? By reasoning it out in my mind, I just don’t see how just giving money to someone will help them. All it does is create more looters and moochers, who are parasites on society and want something for nothing. Obviously, if someone needed some short-term help and was willing to work for it, I would give of my money. This is what I think the scriptures mean.

    I would love to hear what you think. I hope this helped some in understanding why I love Ayn Rand. Obviously, Ayn Rand was human and her philosophy had some faults, but by and large I believe that Objectivism and Capitalism are moral and are congruent with natural law and the laws of the gospel (which are the same, by the way) J

  6. redhatmandan says:

    Aaron,

    Thank you for responding. I’m working on my response. Give me a bit. 🙂

  7. redhatmandan says:

    Aaron,

    Thank you for responding. As you probably figured, I do have many questions. I feel, as I read your response, that you are stretching the logic to try and bridge the two philosophies. Perhaps I am not as familiar with the standard definition of self-interest, but somehow I can’t see this as being accurate. You say:

    God wants us to act according to our own interests. And part of that self-interest does mean that we should help and serve others because that is what will make us happy.

    I have many many questions about this starting with what Rand herself says. In Objectivism, she believes:

    Objectivism rejects as immoral any action taken for some other ultimate purpose. In particular it rejects as immoral any variant of what it calls “altruism” — by which it means, essentially, any ethical doctrine according to which a human being must justify his or her existence by service to others. According to Objectivism, every ethical or moral action has the agent as its primary beneficiary.

    Objectivism especially opposes any ethical demand for sacrifice. Objectivism uses this term in a special sense: a “sacrifice”, according to its Objectivist definition, is the giving up of a greater value for a lesser one. (In other worlds of discourse, for example baseball and chess, the term is used to mean the giving up of a lesser or shorter-term value for the sake of a greater or longer-term one. Objectivism does not regard such an exchange as a genuine “sacrifice.”)

    Let’s take the Savior, our ultimate example, as a test of this. Objectivism rejects an action taken for some other ultimate purpose. What was the purpose of the Savior’s atonement? Was it selfish? Now, when we look at the Savior’s actions in the Garden of Gethsemane, there are two aspects. One is the Savior swallowing up his will to the Father’s and the second is the atonement itself. The one benefits the Savior himself, while the other benefits others. By obeying God, the Savior stayed perfect and received his reward, but the Savior gets nothing in return for the pain and suffering of going through the atonement. In fact, he gets people trodding his pain and suffering under their feet. Yet he went through it, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Hence a sacrifice. How can something be called a sacrifice if you don’t give something up?

    every ethical or moral action has the agent as its primary beneficiary.

    How did going through the Atonment benefit the Savior?

    Objectivism states clearly they are opposed to sacrifice. But as we note from scripture, (Isaiah 53 for example), the Son of God was sacrificed, i.e. he gave up his own life for others. Is that rational self-interest? No. That is sacrifice. That is giving up something greater for something of lesser value. A God was killed for sinful mortals.

    So back to the self-interest point. Let’s look at what the Lord says about humanity. Who are we. In Mosiah 3:19 it states:

    19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

    I consider the natural man self-interest, where the desires of the individual outweigh all other things. I understand the point of saying real self-interest is in ensuring we are saved, but again, that only actually comes by us giving our self-interest to the Lord. Elder Neal A. Maxwell says it better than I can:

    Actually, everything depends—initially and finally—on our desires. These shape our thought patterns. Our desires thus precede our deeds and lie at the very cores of our souls, tilting us toward or away from God (see D&C 4:3). God can “educate our desires” (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 297). Others seek to manipulate our desires. But it is we who form the desires, the “thoughts and intents of [our] hearts” (Mosiah 5:13).

    The end rule is “according to [our] desires … shall it be done unto [us]” (D&C 11:17), “for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:5; D&C 6:20, 27). One’s individual will thus remains uniquely his. God will not override it nor overwhelm it. Hence we’d better want the consequences of what we want!

    Another cosmic fact: only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion (see Alma 12:10–11). The Lord will work with us even if, at first, we “can no more than desire” but are willing to “give place for a portion of [His] words” (Alma 32:27). A small foothold is all He needs! But we must desire and provide it.

    ——-

    Long before that, however, as Jesus declared, we must “settle this in [our] hearts” that we will do what He asks of us (JST, Luke 14:28). President Young further counseled us “to submit to the hand of the Lord, … and acknowledge his hand in all things, … then you will be exactly right; and until you come to that point, you cannot be entirely right. That is what we have to come to” (in Journal of Discourses, 5:352).

    Thus, acknowledging God’s hand includes, in the words of the Prophet Joseph, trusting that God has made “ample provision” beforehand to achieve all His purposes, including His purposes in our lives (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 220). Sometimes He clearly directs; other times it seems He merely permits some things to happen. Therefore, we will not always understand the role of God’s hand, but we know enough of his heart and mind to be submissive. Thus when we are perplexed and stressed, explanatory help is not always immediately forthcoming, but compensatory help will be. Thus our process of cognition gives way to our personal submission, as we experience those moments when we learn to “be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

    Then, the more one’s will is thus “swallowed up,” the more his afflictions, rather than necessarily being removed, will be “swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38).

    Seventy years ago, Lord Moulton coined a perceptive phrase, “obedience to the unenforceable,” describing “the obedience of a man to that which he cannot be forced to obey” (“Law And Manners,” Atlantic Monthly, July 1924, p. 1). God’s blessings, including those associated with consecration, come by unforced obedience to the laws upon which they are predicated (see D&C 130:20–21). Thus our deepest desires determine our degree of “obedience to the unenforceable.” God seeks to have us become more consecrated by giving everything. Then, when we come home to Him, He will generously give us “all that [He] hath” (D&C 84:38).

    In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!

    Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!

    For me to accept Rand’s philosophy as compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ, definitions would have to change, but I feel this would alter the entire belief of Objectivism. Instead of “self-interest,” it should be changed to “God-centric.” The real blessings for the true self comes not in following our own, even rational, self-interest, because we just don’t know ourselves well enough to judge what is best for the Self. True “self-interest” only comes from submitting our own will and interests to the Lord and letting him guide us to our new Self. But this is not what Objectivism states. By removing God out of the picture, Objectivism can’t even begin to direct a human being in the right direction, because Objectivism cannot state what is actually best for an individual. What was it that Joseph Smith said once “”If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” (As quoted by Elder Neal A Maxwell ). How can Objectivists know the real nature of man if they don’t talk about God?

    I had some comments for your fifth point, but they got erased when I accidentally hit the enter button, so away they went. 😦

    Oh well. Basically I have trouble with much of what you wrote in your post about man being an end to himself.

    In regards to Reason, you’re basically trying to say that were Rand a member, she would still believe the same thing about Reason that she believes now, outside the realm of religion, but her own words tell a different story. She would not believe what she believed if she believed in God. Reason does not come from the heart, only from the mind. In fact, she states clearly to avoid listening to your emotions and feelings. But those come from the heart. Where does the Holy Ghost touch us? Both in the mind and, more often than anything else, in the heart. A burning of the bosom does not occur in our minds, but in our hearts. Reason cannot explain this, so reason dismisses it. Just like reason cannot explain the existence of God, so therefore Reason dismisses God as a figment of a man’s emotional imagination.

    Finally regarding charity. Rand believes charity is defined as “the giving of the unearned.” How does the Lord define charity? “Charity is the pure love of Christ.” How do we best see this?

    Matthew 25:31-40

    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    The people who were sick and afflicted and in prison and at the hospital, did they earn the right to a visit from others? Did the “sheep” receive anything in return from the individuals whom they visited for their visit? Nope. But they did it anyways. Why?

    According to this parable, they didn’t know that the Lord was going to bless them for visiting the sick and afflicted, so you can’t use that as part of the calculation that they judged that for their own personal salvation, they should visit this person in prison, and they will most likely be saved.

    Can you see the cold calculating quality of Rand’s view of charity? This view of charity is self-centered. How many people can I visit to ensure I’ll be saved? You sacrifice something of lesser value (your time) for something of greater value (eternal salvation), according to Objectivism. Is that really the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    No, you are not saved because you made a calculation that sacrificing one thing will bring you a greater reward. You are saved because the Lord chooses to save you through his grace. Cold calculations cannot save us because at their heart is self-centeredness, where our will is of greater value than that of the Lord’s.

    Let’s look at one more example. Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his only son through his wife Sariah. Did Abraham know that God would spare him the actual sacrifice? What greater value was Abraham getting with his son sacrificed? Especially considering that Abraham himself was nearly sacrificed by his evil father! You cannot tell me that Abraham look at his son and said, “It is for my greater good that I sacrifice my only son.”

    Is it not more accurate to say, “It is the will of the Lord that I sacrifice my only son, and I submit my will to His.” This is not self-centered, or in the self-interest of Abraham, because Abraham has no assurance that the Lord won’t actually stop him from going through it. If he had that assurance, what test of faith would this be to Abraham?

    Do you think these scriptures meant that people should just give up what they have earned to a bum on the corner who makes his living begging?

    yes, I do think that this is exactly what King Benjamin was meaning. And yes, imparting of your substance is vague enough to include everything, and was not intended to be limited to your finances. I agree wholeheartedly that taking time out of your life to teach someone how to make an extra buck is of far greater value than providing the short-term relief of a dollar or two in his hat. But here’s the kicker of a question. Do you justify not giving to someone because you don’t have the time to help him out properly? Do you say, “If I had the time, I would provide him with information I have that will help him earn more money, but I don’t have that time, but it is also my principle that a short-term fix won’t get him out of his situation, so I won’t provide him with anything, even a couple of bucks out of my pocket which doesn’t harm me one bit.”

    You are most correct. The best option to help out bums on the street is to take of your time and actually help them. But, do you have that time? If not, what do you do? Do you still help him?

  8. Aaron Sellers says:

    I really enjoyed what you wrote. Thanks. It is difficult for me to explain as succinctly as you have why I love Objectivism (the part’s that are truth, anyway), but I have enjoyed our conversation. If you are interested, I would like to direct you to an online community where there are many Capitalists who talk about Ayn Rand and her philosophy much better than I can express it. I have read almost all of her works, including her best, Atlas Shrugged and I have really enjoyed it. When I first read Atlas Shrugged, I had many problems with her philosophy, much like you. But when I started joining in with this online community, I came to understand Ayn Rand better and believe that most of her ideas are true and are consistent with the gospel.
    You can find this community at http://www.franklinsquires.com/forum/

    Many if not all of them are also LDS, btw. I have found it to be a great place to learn about Capitalism and what the founder of FranklinSquires calls The Principles of Prosperity. I think you will find it to be an interesting place to check out. Thanks again for your post. I will think on it. Later.

  9. redhatmandan says:

    Aaron,

    Yeah, thanks for resurrecting this old post. I have studied her writings enough. I doubt I could ever read Atlas Shrugged. I could only get through 50 pages of Fountainhead before throwing the book away.

    She has some principles that are pretty sound, much like Marx, but most of her stuff is corrupted because 1) her upbringing in the Soviet Union distorts all possible social support programs, and 2) she dismisses God.

    I’ve looked at her work, like I’ve looked at Marx’s works. Both provide some good points, but in the end, are men’s philosophies mingled with scripture.

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