3) Original Sin Falsely Indicts Man
We approach an area worth debate when we reflect upon the nature of man. Christianity indicts man as fallen from an original perfection in the image of God. We call this state and its subsequent behaviors sin.
The concept of sin is unceremoniously rejected by a metaphysics which denies the existence of any god we need to live up to. Rand regarded man as a noble being whose productive activity in pursuit of happiness is objectively virtuous. In fact, a Christian may find no title more abrasive among those authored by Rand than The Virtue of Selfishness which she introduces thus:
In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.
Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.
This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.
Rand’s appropriation of selfishness lays the groundwork from which we can not only reconcile certain aspects of Christianity and Objectivism, but actually understand Christ better. Let that be a tease for next week’s review of the debate.