-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The GOP hearts Ayn Rand. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), all mention the works of Ayn Rand as being influential in their lives. Even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is an acolyte of Rand’s thinking and knew her personally.
I would like to focus on one aspect of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, and its implications for Christianity.
Rand saw the role of any philosophical system as the understanding of reality. Reality (existence) and the ability to understand reality (consciousness) are at the heart of Objectivism. Considering existence (reality) and consciousness (man’s awareness of it), Rand assigns primacy to existence, “the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness).” In other words, “wishing doesn’t make it so.”
For Rand, consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists, “consciousness is consciousness of an object.” Eric Johnson, in a review of chapter one of Leonard Peikoff’s book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, wrote:
Since the nature (identity) of consciousness is to be aware of reality, existence is prior to, necessary for, and not subject to the control of, consciousness.
Consciousness cannot be conscious only of itself because you run into the chicken-and-the-egg problem. Consciousness requires objects to be aware of in order to create consciousness. Sensory deprivation does not validate the notion of consciousness without anything to be conscious of. Consciousness of objects, and their associated memories, were already formed before any experiments with sensory deprivation.
Rand’s primary axiom of Objectivism is the Primacy of Existence. In contrast is the Primacy of Consciousness, “the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both).” Rand’s Primacy of Existence is the reason for Objectivism’s position of atheism with respect to religion, especially Christianity and its “creator God.”
The Christian concept of God as a disembodied consciousness that created everything, except itself, is antithetical to Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Objectivism provides a solid philosophical foundation for rejecting the Christian worldview.
The Primacy of Existence hasn’t received the media attention that it deserves, and I doubt that Rand’s fans in the GOP/Tea Party would understand its ramifications.