Ayn Rand Adamantly Defends Her Atheism on The Phil Donahue Show (Circa 1979)

Ayn Rand – she’s often considered the intellectual darling of America’s political right. Rand’s free market thinking rubbed off on Alan Greenspan in a big way. At the Cato Institute, Stephen Moore writes, “Being conversant in Ayn Rand’s classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok [Atlas Shrugged] was practically a job requirement.” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledges a deep debt to The Fountainhead, Rand’s celebration of the individual, and makes his law clerks watch the 1949 film adaptation of the novel. Rand Paul, the new Tea Party senator, calls himself a fan of both books. And Ayn Rand book sales surged once Obama came into office. You get the picture.

Given this love affair, it’s a little incongruous to rediscover old footage (circa 1979) that features Rand coming out “against God,” calling faith an abdication of individual responsibility (so important to her philosophy), an insult to the human intellect, and a sign of psychological weakness. If she were alive today, Rand would easily give the “new atheists” (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, etc.) a very good run for their money. It’s not exactly the stuff that traditionally makes you a conservative saint, but stranger things have happened. Maybe.

Related Content:

Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, with Jonathan Miller

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why He’s Uncomfortable Being Labeled an ‘Atheist’

Atheist Ira Glass Believes Christians Get the Short End of the Media Stick



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  1. Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle says . . . | November 20, 2010 / 3:04 pm

    Hurray! I wonder what the tea baggers would think of her if they saw this
    video? What an excellent find!

  2. Tamer Ibrahim says . . . | December 27, 2011 / 5:28 am

    I’m not sure how you can claim Greenspan even understood Rand with all the protection and bailouts he afforded corporate America.
    Greenspan obviously understood nothing from Rand.

  3. Brianna says . . . | June 15, 2013 / 9:51 pm

    Most conservatives who admire Rand understand that Rand is an atheist (yes, including the “teabaggers” oh tolerant liberal Hieronymus). They simply disagree with her on that score. See, one of the fundamental differences between people on the Right and people on the Left is that the Right doesn’t demand total intellectual lockstep. People are allowed to say, “I agree with this person on economics, but disagree with her on religion because I don’t understand how we could have an objective morality or natural rights without God.”

    P.S. I agree with Rand’s theory of natural rights, and that we don’t require God in order to possess natural rights that are inherent in our natures as opposed to something made up or granted by government. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand what the conservative objection to the theory is.

  4. Dan Colman says . . . | June 17, 2013 / 10:50 am

    Brianna, Let me refer you to Daniel Dennett’s Seven Tools For Critical Thinking, particularly Rule # 2: “Respect Your Opponent.”

    http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/philosopher_daniel_dennett_presents_seven_tools_for_critical_thinking.html

    That might help you make some more thoughtful generalizations about your opponent.

    Regards,
    Dan

  5. Dale Holmgren says . . . | September 16, 2013 / 5:05 am

    I am a tea party libertarian Christian, and her beliefs in this area do not upset me at all. Belief in God is something everyone must decide for themselves – I cannot force it on another person. This is very consistent with Ayn Rand’s philosophy not to force or impose beliefs on another.

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