Economics 101

Are You Ready? A Biblical View of Ayn Rand’s Life and Work

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Ed. note: this is the first in a series of posts by David Kotter, Ph.D, exploring the life and work of Ayn Rand. This series was adapted from Dr. Kotter’s full research paper, “Check Your Premises: Ayn Rand Through A Biblical Lens.” 

“Are you ready?” asked John Galt, as he took the hand of the broken and bleeding heroine Dagny Taggart.

At the conclusion of the recently-released film “Atlas Shrugged II,” based on Ayn Rand’s best – selling novel, Atlas Shrugged, Galt was about to pull Dagny from the burning wreckage of her world and carry her into his paradise.

In a similar way John Aglialoro, one of the movie’s producers and trustee of the Atlas Society, is reaching out to unite with Christians to “reclaim America” by promoting shared principles of free markets, limited government, and individual rights.

Indeed, the Bible has significant areas of overlap with Rand’s Objectivist philosophy.

Nevertheless, Rand’s mixture of capitalism, atheism, and misguided anthropology should give Christians pause before jumping completely on board. Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World Magazine, challenges Christians to “show what in Rand they agree with and what they spurn.”

This series will accept Olasky’s challenge by comparing Rand’s work to the timeless truth of the Bible. Specifically:

  • We will begin next week with an overview of Rand’s life and philosophy.
  • The following week will contrast Rand’s contention that selfishness is the highest virtue with a biblical understanding of self interest and altruism.
  • Next, this investigation will consider Ayn Rand’s anthropology in light of biblical teaching on gender.
  • The last post will highlight that Rand’s conception of the ideal man has striking features in common with Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? Ayn Rand remains one of the most prominent business philosophers decades after her death in 1982. Her thought has inspired many public figures who in turn have impacted the world we live in:

  • House Budget Committee chair and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was inspired to pursue economics after reading Ayn Rand.
  • Former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan was a personal friend of Rand and a committed follower.
  • John Allison, new head of the Cato Institute and former CEO of BB&T Corporation, is unequivocal in Forbes magazine:

I am a major proponent of Rand’s philosophy because Atlas Shrugged changed my life.

As evidence of Rand’s wide impact, more than 30 million copies of her novels Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, We the Living, and Anthem have been sold.

The Modern Library Reader’s List of the 100 best novels includes all of Rand’s titles in the top ten with Atlas Shrugged sitting at the top. Finally, when researchers conducting a study for the Library of Congress asked readers, “What one book most influenced your life?” Atlas Shrugged was second in influence only to the Bible.

Next week we will examine the life and philosophy of Ayn Rand to better understand what the Bible says is right and wrong about Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism.

What are your thoughts on Ayn Rand, her work, and her philosophy? Leave your comments here.

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