Images via Wikimedia Commons
The political intersection of Ayn Randian libertarians and Evangelical conservatives is a baffling phenomenon for most of us outside the American right. It’s hard to reconcile the atheist arch-capitalist and despiser of social welfare with, for example, the Sermon on the Mount. But hey, mixed marriages often work out, right? Well, as for Rand herself, one would hardly find her sympathetic to religion or its expositors at any point in her career. Take her sound lashing of writer, scholar, and lay theologian C.S. Lewis, intellectual hero of Protestant Christianity. (Wheaton College houses his personal library, and there exists not only a C.S. Lewis Institute, but also a C.S. Lewis Foundation.) Lewis’ The Abolition of Man (1943), while ostensibly a text on education, also purports, like Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, to expound the principles of natural law and objective moral value. Rand would have none of it.
Religion journal First Things brings us excerpts from the edited collection, Ayn Rand’s Marginalia: Her critical comments on the writings of over 20 authors. In it, Rand glosses Lewis’s Abolition of Man with savage ferocity, calling the author an “abysmal bastard,” “cheap, drivelling non-entity” [sic], and “abysmal scum!” The screenshot above (Lewis left, Rand’s annotations right) from the First Things’ blog post offers a typical representation of Rand’s tone throughout, and includes some particularly elaborate insults.
The C.S. Lewis Foundation comments that Lewis “probably would not have approved of the level of venom, but he probably would not have liked Rand’s philosophy much either.” Another Christian academic has successfully squared an appreciation for both Rand and Lewis, but writes critically of Rand, who “seems to have interpreted Lewis’s book as a Luddite screed against science and technology,” part of her “tendency to caricature her opponents.” Certainly no one ever accused her of subtlety. “It’s pretty clear,” our professor continues, “that when showing students how to engage in scholarly discourse, Ayn Rand should not be the model.” No, indeed, but how she would thrive on the Internet.