What Christian did Ayn Rand Admire?

Thomas Aquinas believed truth is to be accepted no matter where it is found. 

Many philosophical “bad guys” have come from the Christian tradition—on this, all can agree. But, unique among philosophers, St. Thomas Aquinas won the admiration of both Ayn Rand and the church. Aquinas helped reintroduce the teachings of Aristotle (“The Philosopher”) into western society, playing a key role in the Renaissance of human achievement.

Was it right for Aquinas to reach backward fifteen hundred years to resurrect the ideas of a pagan philosopher?

What did Aristotle teach?

Aristotle_Bust_White_Background_Transparent

  • The Principle of Non-contradiction
  • The Science of Logic
  • The Principle of Causality
  • The Peripatetic Axiom: “Whatever is in our intellect must have previously been in the senses.”
  • The Correspondence Theory of Truth

 

Where would we be without the genius of Aristotle? Or without Aquinas who made him known?

Should we accept truth no matter where it is found? Aquinas thought so. The “Doctor” met “The Philosopher,” and both benefited. Aquinas brought Aristotle’s genius to Christendom. Today we see a parallel situation: many Christians respect Ayn Rand as a thinker.  Could (and should) a Christian do for Ayn Rand what Aquinas did for Aristotle, bringing her genius to the church?

What do you think about the spectacle of Christians looking for truth in the writings of an atheist philosopher such as Ayn Rand? 

Weigh in.

Aquinas met great resistance in his day.  The leading universities outlawed parts of his teaching until fifty years after his death.  But seven centuries later, you know Aquinas, and you know Aristotle.  Let us continue to ask, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

18 thoughts on “What Christian did Ayn Rand Admire?

  1. I get it, and I think I agree. So why did Rand and her followers hate religion so much? And what exactly did Rand say about Aristotle and Aquinas specifically?

    • Good questions. According to Sciabarra (Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical), Rand acknowledged Aristotle as her greatest influence and remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend “three A’s” —Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand. She appreciated the role of Aquinas in bringing in the Renaissance. Rand said, “Catholicism had once been the most philosophical of all religions. Its long, illustrious philosophical history was illuminated by a giant: Thomas Aquinas. He brought an Aristotelian view of reason (an Aristotelian epistemology) back into European culture, and lighted the way to the Renaissance. For the brief span of the nineteenth century, when his was the dominant influence among Catholic philosophers, the grandeur of his thought almost lifted the Church close to the realm of reason.” You can check out: http://medievalwisdom.com/articles/ayn-rand-enemy-christian-nihilism-friend-thomas-aquinas It gives some helpful information on what Rand did and did not have in common with Aquinas and with Christianity. Interestingly, Rand said, “I am fighting for reason, not against religion.” At the same time, she saw religion as promoting an anti-reason approach, which has often, but not always been the case. That’s why she said she wanted to be known as “the greatest enemy of religion.” She saw religion and reason as fundamentally opposed. To the extent that religious people oppose reason, I think Rand was right to criticize them. As a Christian, I would love to help Christians embrace reason as an absolute.

  2. This is something that I always get into fights about with my sister and her husband. I don’t get it.

    • I think there is a lot to be learned from Rand and a lot that Christians may choose to embrace without contradiction. Happy Easter!

  3. Rand made the statement, “I would like to be known as the greatest enemy of religion and the greatest champion of reason.” I’m not convinced that truly understood Christianity. Rather she was interpreting all religion through Kant’s idea of duty.

  4. All due respect, I think you are all missing the point. Ayn Rand was an atheist. That makes her philosophy fundamentally opposed to any religion. No commingling!

  5. When Rand talks about “religion” does she mean Islam or Christianity or Catholicism or Hinduism? Or all of the above? If it’s “all of the above” are these the same in her view?

  6. I haven’t read “Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical” but do you really think she was a “radical” ? In my reading of her, I see that she made a lot of sense, and I don’t see that the Christian interpretation does her justice.

    • Ayn Rand said she wanted to be known as a radical for capitalism, in the
      sense of being fully committed. I think she makes a lot of sense 🙂
      I’m curious what you mean about the Christian interpretation doing her
      justice?

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