Monday, March 9, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance

It seems that I have worn out my welcome on another Bible-believing Christian's blog. While there is nothing particularly remarkable about this, I did find interesting that the straw that broke the camel's back was a critical comment about an atheist. I ran across PheistyBlog shortly before the election. Its proprietress is pretty far out on the right fringe to my way of thinking, but my comments were always met with reasonable civility. Last week, however, I responded to a post that invoked Atlas Shrugged as an analogy for the state of America today by pointing out that we are in this mess because our financial system has been operated on Ayn Rand's free-market principles for the last three decades.

That comment inspired the following tirade (as well as the deletion of my follow-up comment):
And Vinny, if you’re going to comment here, please at least attempt to disprove any of the points I make. So far, all you’ve done is make some half-baked comment about Ayn Rand. Don’t you have anything to say about anything else I’ve pointed out?
Of course you don’t, because you have no valid argument. Get lost, Vinny. I’m past the point of being pissed off at you socialists and am nearly to the point of rage. I’m not going to waste my time trying to be nice and decent to you because you’re a tyrant and you support measures that seek to steal my freedom (and my children’s) and the fruits of my labor. I’ve raised myself up from being a poor single mother by working very hard and making good choices, and I don’t have the time nor the patience to read your logic-lacking posts because this has gone beyond politics and has become VERY PERSONAL for me. YOU SEEK TO PUNISH ME for making good choices, paying my debts, and for working hard…and what gives you that right?? Are you that arrogant that you believe that your views are so correct that stealing from others is somehow justified? Do you think it’s fair that I should work harder and make more responsible decisions, only to have Obama and his minions force me into slave labor, so that I may provide for others who make poor decisions and are irresponsible?
I WILL NEVER labor for the sake of another human being other than myself and my own family, and will NEVER expect any human to labor for mine. The alternative is REPUGNANT and IMMORAL.

PheistyBlog is paraphrasing the oath required of entrants into the capitalist utopia of Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged in that last part: “I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live my life for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Nor is she the first evangelical Christian I have run across who is a fan of Rand's opus. This raises several questions for me:

  • Isn’t there something strange about a Bible-believing Christian embracing the creed of a militant atheist like Ayn Rand?

  • When the Apostle Paul instructs: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ” in Ephesians 6:5, doesn't it at least refute the notion that there is anything immoral or repugnant about a about a Christian submitting to slavery (even if you don’t take the passage as an explicit endorsement of slavery)?

  • When Jesus says “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” in response to a question about paying taxes in Luke 20:22-25, doesn’t that suggest that the Bible-believing Christian would be wrong to equate taxation with stealing?


  1. Rand isn't really very militant as an atheist. She doesn't deny it but rarely pushes for it. I believe she talks about it in her book Virtue of Selfishness.

    That's probably why fundies like Rand. They haven't read enough of her works to see her atheism. Maybe they read Atlas Shrugged like they do the bible: look up the stuff they agree with a priori and ignore the rest.

  2. You could be right Danny. I'm probably thinking of the Randophiles I knew back in high school who may have made a bigger deal about the atheism than she did.

    John Galt is pretty explicit about his atheism during his big radio speech in Atlas Shrugged, but I suspect that the fundies who read the book skip over most of that just like everyone else does after enduring a thousand pages of Rand's prose.

  3. No one who calls themselves a capitalist (conservative, laissez-fair, etc.) and a Christian has ever done a good, nor even satisfactory, job of explaining to me how the cores of those two beliefs mesh on a grand scale. I don't really see how you could combine the two. Capitalism requires people to be selfish, in principle. The competition in the market exists because people want success and money for themselves. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that selfishness and greed are sins. One must be selfLESS and charitable. You live for other people, for your community. They're completely opposite in principle. So, as it seems to me, Christian conservatives have an odd way of working this. They apply their Christian beliefs to social issues. And, when it comes to the economy, government, etc, they ignore their Christian teachings and act conservatively (or whatever you may call it).