Objectivism and Theism:
Introductory Material
by James Kiefer
Unpublished dot-matrix printout dated June 28, 1980

[Editor’s notes are in blue.]
For the Flyleaf

In my course I have known and, according to my measure, have cooperated with great men; and I have never yet seen any plan which has not been much mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the business.

— Edmund Burke, quoted on the flyleaf of Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

I explained to him that it was not a matter of personalities, age or experience, not a matter of who said it, but of what was said, and that I would give in to his office boy, if the boy happened to be right.

— Ayn Rand, “Introduction to ‘The Night of January 16th,’” The Objectivist, April 1968.

If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, madame, I shall hear it gratefully.

— Francisco d’Anconia.

An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it.

— John Galt

When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.

— John Galt

In this paper I propose to consider the relation between Objectivism, the philosophy of Miss Ayn Rand, and theism, the belief in God. Dr. Nathaniel Branden, in his lecture, “The Concept of God,” [*] which prompted this paper, argues that atheism is an essential part of Objectivist philosophy. I grant that it is a position taken by Miss Rand and by Dr. Branden. [01] But I deny that it follows logically from the basic Objectivist principles about the nature of reality and of man’s mind. I maintain, on the contrary, that these principles logically imply the existence of God, and that Miss Rand’s atheism (and the same for Dr. Branden’s) is an anomaly, a logical flaw in the over-all pattern of her thought.

(Note: Except as otherwise indicated, quotations from Dr. Branden are from works of his that have been endorsed by Miss Rand. [02])

In what follows, I do not intend to present arguments for the truth of the Objectivist principles, or to consider the question, “How do you go about presenting the case for theism to a non-Objectivist?“ These are worth-while considerations, but they fall outside the scope of this paper.

Part One [chapter 1] of this paper presents a positive case for theism based on Objectivist premises. Part Two [chapters 2–7] is a point-by-point reply to Dr. Branden’s arguments against theism in the first park of his lecture, “The Concept of God.” Part Three [chapters 8–11] deals with the remainder of Dr. Branden’s lecture and some related topics. Part One perhaps asks more of the reader’s patience than the other parts, and a reader who finds himself bogged down in it is advised to skip to the beginning of Part Two, which is a series of short arguments rather than one long one, and can be read independently of Part One. [These parts do not correspond to the tracks of the original lecture.]

[Editor’s notes are in blue.]

* Nathaniel Branden, “The Concept of God,” from his lecture series “The Basic Principles of Objectivism.” That lecture is fully transcribed in his book The Vision of Ayn Rand, chapter 4. Partial and perhaps complete audios seem to be available throughout the Internet. See also R.A. Childs, “The Epistemological Basis of Anarchism,” Note 19.

[01] A. Rand, “Our Cultural Value-Deprivation” 5/4/6c. [References of this form refer to The Objectivist Newsletter, so that volume 5, number 4 would be April 1966. After volume 4, the name of the publication was The Objectivist. The page numbers for the latter are those of the original format, not those in the bound volume.]
MMI, who am an atheist....

N. Branden, “A Report to Our Readers —1965” 4/12/58dd [December 1965].
MMAs uncompromising advocates of reason, Objectivists are, of course, atheists.

[02] A. Rand, “A Statement of Policy” 7/6/7r--bb.
MMI want, therefore, formally to state that the only authentic sources of information on Objectivism are: my own works (books, articles, lectures), the articles appearing in and the pamphlets reprinted by this magazine (The Objectivist, as well as The Objectivist Newsletter), books by other authors which will be endorsed in this magazine as specifically Objectivist literature, and such individual lectures or lecture courses as may be so endorsed. (This list includes also the book Who Is Ayn Rand? by Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, as well as the articles by these two authors which have appeared in this magazine in the past, but does not include their future work.)

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