I have just finished reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which was surprisingly engrossing in spite of being absolutely infuriating.
As a self-proclaimed libertarian and die-hard fiscal conservative, I found her ideas about the role and functioning of government to be refreshing. But when extended to the individual level, her philosophy advocates a self-centered and indulgent lifestyle that embraces no truth and will only lead to misery.
She does not believe in God. In her novel, Rand presents a world shaped by man, rather than by God. All good things flow from man's effort and he owes his success to no power but his own. Because of this one-to-one correlation she sees between effort and success, Rand believes each man is entitled to no more and no less than the results of his labor. She denies our debt to the Being who gave us life, who gave us our abilities that we might succeed, and who continues to sustain us from day to day. No matter how effectively we use our lives and our abilities, we will always remain unprofitable servants who cannot claim anything as our own.
She does not believe in Christ. In Atlas Shrugged a handful of self-made men, possessing a great but finite amount of virtue (or dollars), are bled dry by "the looters". They are the victims that would have saved the world, if they had been left to forge their own paths. In truth, there is only one self-made man and He is our Savior. We all rely on His merits; He possesses the infinite virtue and strength needed to redeem us all.
She does not believe in a resurrection. Rand sees this life as the only time of importance and, consequently, accuses anyone who would diminish her pleasure of stealing away her life. However, once you understand the doctrine of the resurrection, the race to preserve and enhance your life at all costs seems a lot less pressing. It becomes less important that we gather and savor treasures now when we see the eternities stretching before us.
She does not believe in an eternal reward. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Rand does not understand this true law of compensation, which is that whatever we loose in this life will be returned to us in the next. Even when we are not just with each other, God is just with us--as long as we take into account our eternal, as well as our mortal, lives. It is virtue--and not sin--to sustain another at our own expense, for that expense will be returned to us by the Loving Father of us all.
How wonderful that existence is more beautiful and merciful than Rand imagined it!