A Reason for Faith: 6 Fatal Misconceptions
As a dialogue begins between advocates of Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy and professing Christians, it's vitally important to clarify terms.
February 21, 2013 - 8:40 am
Biddle concluded his talk by turning a critical eye toward faith, religion, and Christianity in particular. He argued that Christianity promotes altruism, which is the opposite of the egoism required for human survival. A castaway employs egoism, living for himself, seeking that which perpetuates and improves his life. An altruist lives for others – for the poor, for the tribe, for the state, for God. The path of altruistic sacrifice leads to destruction, Biddle argued. With that, he lost me. As a Christian, I was not about to renounce my faith in support of a compelling political argument.
It was roughly a year from that first exposure to objectivist philosophy that I was confronted with it again, this time in a breakout session at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Yaron Brook, president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, offered a presentation on how morality informs the cultural battles in our political discourse. Like Biddle, he laid out the case for the objectivist ethic. Unlike Biddle, he avoided the topic of religion. That was until I rained on the parade by asking him about God during the Q & A. Forced to disclose his atheism, he lost most of his audience.
After his talk, I approached Brook and told him that I thought the arguments he and other objectivists were making in support of individual rights were fantastic, but doomed to obscurity so long as they were tied to criticism of religion. When you come after Jesus, you turn off a huge segment of your audience. Brook shrugged and unapologetically declared that, as an atheist, reconciling faith with reason was not his job. It is up to the Christian to examine their faith and determine whether it makes any logical sense.
That exchange stuck with me and motivated a study of Objectivism and a review of Christian apologetics. What I found was, far more often than not, Christian critics of Ayn Rand do not understand what Objectivism really is. Likewise, far more often than not, Objectivist critics of Christianity do not discern between what professing Christians have said or done and what the Bible actually teaches. Here are 6 fatal misconceptions which prevent an essential dialogue.