Famous Ayn Rand Quotes on Religion

Discover Her Views on Faith and Reason

Author Ayn Rand was born into a Russian Jewish family, but she was a staunch atheist who spoke openly about her views on religion. Both Rand's fiction and nonfiction have served to promote her worldview, known as objectivism.

According to this philosophy, the accomplishments of the individual matter first and foremost. Many Westerners have embraced Rand's worldview because of its connection to capitalism, which also centers on individual achievement.

 

Want a better understanding of Rand's views on religion? The quotes that follow shed light on her way of thinking.

Heaven and Earth

Rand often discussed heaven, earth and the universe generally. The three quotes below sum up her views.

Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.

In that world, you'll be able to rise in the morning with the spirit you had known in your childhood: that spirit of eagerness, adventure and certainty which comes from dealing with a rational universe.

Are you in a universe which is ruled by natural laws and, therefore, is stable, firm, absolute - and knowable? Or are you in an incomprehensible chaos, a realm of inexplicable miracles, an unpredictable, unknowable flux, which your mind is impotent to grasp? The nature of your actions - and of your ambition - will be different, according to which set of answers you come to accept.

Mystics of the Spirit

Rand also discussed what she termed the "mystics of the spirit." Get a better idea of what she meant by this with the following quotes.

The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive - a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence...Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God... Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith....The purpose of man's life...is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. [Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual]

For centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection racket - by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners. [Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual]

On Faith

While Rand did not have faith in a god, she spoke about the relationship between faith and humanity. She saw it as a hindrance to thought rather than as a boon to it. 

...If devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.... the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.[Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged]

Qua religion, no - in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very - how should I say it? - dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith. [Playboy interview with Ayn Rand]

Faith is the worst curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.

To rest one's case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one's enemies- that one has no rational arguments to offer.

The Traits of God

Rand described how she viewed God, and it was far from how believers did. She said:

And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.

This god, this one word: I. [Ayn Rand, Anthem]

Original Sin

Rand spoke at length about the concept of original sin and why she disagreed with it.

(The Doctrine of Original Sin) declares that (man) ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge - he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil - he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor - he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire - he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which (the preachers) damn him are reason, morality, creativeness joy - all the cardinal values of his existence.

Rationality

More than faith, more than God, Rand believed in reason. Here's what she had to say about rational thought.

[T]he only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim.

If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine, that attacked (or 'limited') reason, which did not preach submission to the power of some authority. [Ayn Rand, The Comprachicos, in The New Left]