by Art Lindsley, Ph.D.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand has been ranked as second only to the Bible as one of the most influential books in the lives of modern readers, and more than 30 million copies of her books have been sold. Nearly a million dollars in cash prizes have been awarded in essay contests encouraging high school and college students to read Rand’s novels, and increasingly universities are making her books required reading.
Aside from Rand’s success, why would the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) show interest in reviewing the thoughts behind her works, given that she was a virulent atheist, despised Christianity along with the Bible, condemned any form of altruism, exalted selfishness, and used the dollar bill as her symbol?
First, even if you have no intention of reading Rand – and her works are certainly not for everyone – it is at least worth knowing what she believed and how her beliefs compare and contrast with the Bible.
Second, any work that appeals to so many people likely contains some truths worth investigating. For example, I have learned specific truths through reading atheist, New Age, and neo-pagan works, even though I reject their overarching worldview.
We at IFWE believe in common grace, which means that every favor of whatever kind that this undeserving world enjoys originates from the hand of God. While it is true that unbelievers eventually twist truth, they nonetheless have some truth to twist. In other words, non-believers have both honey – created truth – and hemlock – truth twisted by the Fall. To discern or sift the truth from the twist, the true from the false, the honey from the hemlock, we need to use the Bible as spectacles to view the world. As we do, we destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Third, because all truth is God’s truth, we need to learn anything and everything we can, because each particular truth will lead us ultimately to God’s truth. We need fear nothing from this endeavor. We certainly don’t need to fear reading the works or examining the thoughts of an atheist. We have already suffered too much from ignorance. Our faith, after all, can stand up to the most rigorous examination.
David Kotter’s study of Ayn Rand is a helpful analysis of the honey and hemlock in Rand’s views. If we are going to be like the children of Issachar who understand our times (1 Chron. 12:32), it will be wise to know what is good and evil, true and false, about a leading influencer of modern thought.
Art Lindsley, Ph.D. is the Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.