(Note: This post builds a bit more upon this post by P M Prescott. [Which links back to me, as it happens.])
Last week something of debate appeared in the pages of USA Today. A religion professor named Stephen Prothero argued that the “Objectivist” philosophy of Ayn Rand is incompatible with belief in the Christian religion. He is, in my view, correct; because Rand herself repeatedly stressed that this was the case, and moreover that one had to either accept her philosophy entirely or not at all. One could not believe some of John Galt’s teachings and some of Jesus Christ’s teachings, in other words.
But some people disagreed with this view, and wrote in to USA today to say so. You can read their dissensions here. Their general point is that you can in fact believe in both these things.
Quite apart from Rand’s own statements regarding this, I really do not see it. As a friend of mine pointed out to me: consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Both of these appear to be endorsing the idea of equal rewards for unequal work–sharing rewards based upon needs. Add to this the well-known statements made by Christ on the subject of the poor and Christianity and Objectivism look quite irreconcilable, in my opinion.
Prothero goes on to make the following remarkable statement: “In fact, [Objectivism] is farther from Christianity than the Marxism that Rand so abhorred.” Indeed. Rand herself called Christianity “the best kindergarten of communism possible.” (This reminds me of the conservative philosopher Oswald Spengler’s claim that “Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.”)
Now, I am not one to make such bold assertions as those above. But I really, really do not understand how one can glean support for free market capitalism out of Christian teachings.