Like Nietzche, her faith cannot be easily dismissed.

Ayn rand is dead, at the age of 77. Author of novels such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, she was for many years one of the leading voices of our time against Christianity. The temptation is for Christians to gloat (as in that popular bit of seminary graffiti: “ ‘God is dead”—Nietzsche. ‘Nietzche is dead’—God.”). But her ideas live on, and I have met many who, knowingly or not, embody them. For many, these ideas represent the most powerful and attractive attack upon our faith around today.

Like Nietzsche, Rand’s faith cannot be as easily dismissed as the naïve belief in the unaided progress of mankind we often refer to as “humanism.” She did not believe that humankind would become better simply as a result of an evolutionary process. For the most part, her world was populated with people who were, in her sense, totally depraved; only the few would ever rise to satisfy the rigorous demands of her moral vision.

She described this morality as “the virtue of selfishness.” For her, the ideal person was one who had a clear conception of where his own happiness lay, and who pursued this personal ideal with heroic effort. This world is filled with people who are afraid of their own desires, she felt, people who are too lazy and timid to chart clearly a course that will lead to productive achievement, which is the highest aim of man. It is only when an individual unashamedly sees his own fulfillment as the higest moral purpose of his life that he can make for himself—and for others—a life that is more worth living.

What Rand called “rational selfishness” cannot be passed off lightly as mindless self-interest. Her trust in man’s most genuine desires led her to posit that what ...

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