Objectivism & Theism — Part 1: Introduction

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I’m a Christian who greatly admires the work of Ayn Rand. I do not, however, claim to be a Christian proponent of Rand’s whole philosophy (called Objectivism). I agree with Rand that Objectivism, as a philosophy, is necessarily atheistic. 

I also think that her philosophy is wrong on that point—and wrong by her own standards of reason, which I happen to agree with. 

My theism isn’t based on “faith,” but on reason. I believe that the Christian God exists because I am convinced that reason demands it. And by reason, I mean what Rand means: observation and logic. I agree that reason (roughly defined as the application of logic to observation) is our only means of knowledge. And I join Rand in rejecting everything else—including faith—as a means of knowledge. 

For a long time I’ve wanted to seriously unpack the rationale of the above position (i.e., that reason demands Christian theism) specifically in a way that would be both understandable and appealing to Objectivists (to the extent that reason is appealing to them). That is the goal of this series.

However, I can’t just dive straight into arguments for theism because there’s quite a bit of anti-theistic baggage in the minds of many Objectivists which needs to be dealt with first. 

In a sense, this is somewhat understandable. Most theists do not agree with Objectivists that reason is our only means of knowledge. They allow other substitutes for knowledge—whether they be faith, tradition, emotion, or some other non-rational means—to be the “reason” undergirding their theism. And this has the effect of making their theism seem unassailable by reason. Since it is not based on reason, it need not adhere to the standards of reason. If that is the only variety of theism Objectivists are aware of, then they are right to reject it out of hand. I would too. 

Unfortunately, the strong (and righteous) rejection of that sort of irrational theism has led to a number of less than rational arguments against theism from Objectivists. I call these anti-theistic arguments. They serve as a sort of a priori assurance to the Objectivist that theism is necessarily irrational; that it’s not possible for there to be a rational argument for theism, and therefore there is no reason to even consider theistic arguments. Some can even allow this to become a question-begging circle that goes something like this:

“All theism is mystical and not based on rational argument, therefore there is no need to even consider any claims about rational arguments for theism.”

For reasons which should be obvious, so long as that sort of assumption is even considered a live option in the minds of Objectivists, there can be no rational discussion about theistic arguments. As soon as an argument for theism begins to seem plausible, the Objectivist with the above assumption will fall back to that question-begging circle and dismiss the need to even hear the rest of the argument out. 

Why is it question begging to think “there is no rational argument for theism, therefore I need not consider any claims to rational arguments for theism”? To be fair, there is a possible non-question-begging meaning one could have in thinking that. 


They could mean that theism has certain internal contradictions, and based on those internal contradictions, they conclude that there can be no rational argument for theism. This would be true. If there were actual internal contradictions to theism, then no claims to rational argument for theism would need to be considered. But, as I think will be shown in this series, it is very difficult to identify an actual contradiction in theism. 

Moreover, when most people employ the assumption, “there are no rational arguments for theism,” they are not doing so based on some actual contradiction they have identified. Rather, they are doing so based merely on the fact that they (claim to) have never encountered such an argument. This is why the conclusion of, “therefore I need not consider any claims to such an argument” is question-begging. If the Objectivist has never encountered a rational theistic argument, it surely does not follow that no such argument could possibly exist—and thus, it does not follow that the theistic argument being proposed is automatically irrational. 

The only rational, non-question-begging, basis for dismissing theistic arguments up front is the identification of an internal contradiction in the theism being proposed. Therefore, the first thing I’d like to do in this series is to consider the supposed internal contradictions of theism which Objectivists might cite as reasons to dismiss the need to consider rational arguments for theism. I will call these “anti-theistic arguments.” 

Click here for the first anti-theistic argument from Objectivists we will consider: the argument against supernature.


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