Ayn Rand and the Book of Mormon

Reviewing my favorite quotes from Atlas Shrugged last week reminded me of an interesting connection between it and the Book of Mormon.  This quote from Atlas Shrugged (1957): 

“You see, Dr. Stadler, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue–a highly intellectual virtue–out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt.”  (322)

makes essentially the same pessimistic point about human nature as this quote from the Book of Mormon (1830):

But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.  (Helaman 13:27-28)

Perhaps this is an example of the principle explained in Alma 29:8?

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5 comments on “Ayn Rand and the Book of Mormon

  1. I regard the works of Ayn Rand, as much as I know them, as anti-gospel and Rand as an the authors who “seduced the more part of the righteous” (Helaman 6:38).

    That said I must confess I’ve read only commentary of her works. I would be interested in learning more about your point of view re Rand and the gospel.

  2. Yeah, I told one liberal about a desire to read Atlas Shrugged. He immediately went off on a tirade of how counter to the Gospel the work was. For some reason, he sees a difference between a book that highlights the ills of liberalism, but nothing wrong with books that glamorize immorality.

  3. I think you should probably read her works first Ken before you dismiss them.
    I consider myself an Independent, but I lean towards the liberal point of view, and I enjoy both sides of the political spectrum, so I read Atlas Shrugged so I could see the quintessential conservative point of view. I didn’t agree with all of her points, but I especially liked her ideas about copyright and the way science works in society.
    Like any work of literature and art in general, Atlas Shrugged has some ideas that may be against the gospel standards and ideas (such as Ayn Rand’s questionable theory of sexuality), but also ideas that are very in line with the gospel (such as her ideas about how a person should work to get what they need, and not rely on handouts). Rand is overly vicious sometimes in her conservative attacks on the liberal point of view, but the same thing happens in reverse from liberal commentators.
    Deciding that Ayn Rand is anti-gospel seems like a very quick assumption to be made that has very little backing especially considering that you haven’t read the book. Just because a book or writer has some ideas that are objective towards the church doesn’t mean that they are somehow anti-gospel. By that reasoning, almost any book worth something in this world would be anti-gospel since most have at least one idea that is can be considered against church speaking. Thats why the uninspired men don’t write scripture.
    You really should read Atlas Shrugged, its interesting to see an opposing point of view and to see the things that are actually good about the conservative ideas and is a huge benefit in studying the economic and political ideas of the world we live in. Plus, it is an exciting and entertaining read, if you have the time of course.
    Remember that this is coming from somebody who usually agrees with the liberal point of view.

  4. Thanks for these thoughts, guys–you all add some valuable ideas. I agree with the whole tenor here–there are valuable aspctes of Objectivism, and some that aren’t (remember, one of the four basic tenets of Rand’s philosophy is that there is no God). Atlas Shrugged is good philosophy and good literature, but hardly parallel with scripture–like everything else outside of the gospel, take it with a grain of salt.

  5. The idea that altruism as a principle, is deleterious to the human race, will not fit inside the same library with human nature as we know it. When she was writing Atlas Sucks, she was still traumatized by all the forms of fascism of the day. She planted her feet in the concrete and decided that only she, and nobody else mattered. Or, you could say, she’s a good science fiction writer about a race of beings that don’t like each other.

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