Why would human beings believe in Islam to the tune of 1.6 billion people, rather than believe in Objectivism, where Objectivism may have less than 50,000 adherents worldwide? Why would over a billion people rather believe in a religion that treats women terribly and as inferior, and advocates violence, and is so cult like, one can be killed for apostasy, rather than a philosophy that espouses objective reality, reason, happiness, individuality, human rights, freedom and the non-aggression principle.
What does this say about humanity, that humans would rather choose a religion that encourages people to dive bomb planes into buildings with innocent people, and is so evil, even merely criticizing it could get you hurt or killed, rather than espouse a philosophy that sees freedom and reason as one of its highest aspirations?
asked Jun 05 '14 at 22:52
Why would human beings believe in Islam to the tune of 1.6 billion people [worldwide], rather than believe in Objectivism...? Why would over a billion people rather believe in a religion ... rather than [in] a philosophy that espouses objective reality, reason, happiness, [individualism,] ... freedom [from coercion]...?
This formulation seems to assume that the "choice," insofar as people worldwide have a choice, is free and informed. In reality, however, the alleged "choice" is neither free nor informed (especially outside the U.S.). People in Muslim countries are not free to choose their religion, nor are they informed about the existence of Objectivism.
Early in her nonfiction writing (1960), Ayn Rand offered a whole lecture on "Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World," published in PWNI, Chapter 7 (pp. 79-103 in the Signet paperback edition). In discussing the morality of altruism and its effects on Western civilization, Ayn Rand observes (PWNI pp. 84-85) :
[T]here is one word -- a single word -- which can blast the morality of altruism out of existence and which it cannot withstand -- the word "Why?" Why must man live for the sake of others? Why must he be a sacrificial animal? Why is that good? There is no earthly reason for it -- and, ladies and gentlemen, in the whole history of philosophy no earthly reason has ever been given.
In case anyone is puzzled by my switch from Islam to Western civilization, the connection is that the rise of Islam, historically and today, is but an aspect of the larger picture of Western civilization, and the same conflicting principles that are tearing Western civilization apart are paving the way for religions such as Islam. Indeed, historically, Islam is an older form of religion not greatly unlike the Medieval-Christian era in "mainstream" Western history, an echo from the distant past that never experienced a Renaissance and shares a common heritage with Medieval-Christian religion.
As for why people who haven't fully understood reason are attracted to mysticism and faith, Ayn Rand explains (see "Mysticism" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon):
A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at his first encounter with the minds of others. Somewhere in the distant reaches of his childhood, when his own understanding of reality clashed with the assertions of others, with their arbitrary orders and contradictory demands, he gave in to so craven a fear of independence that he renounced his rational faculty. At the crossroads of the choice between "I know" and "They say," he chose to submit rather than to understand, to believe rather than to think. Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others....
In another excerpt from that same Lexicon topic, Ayn Rand further points out:
I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible.... men have no recourse except to physical violence.
All of the excerpts in that topic are highly illuminating. Refer, also, to the Lexicon topic of "History" and the many cross-referenced topics which it lists. Leonard Peikoff's book, The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out, elaborates still further on reason versus mysticism and the historical consequences from the perspective of man's possible modes of cognitive integration (or non-integration). Ayn Rand's opening article in FNI also presents a broad overview of the role of psycho-epistemology (reason versus mysticism) in history.
Update: Social Primacy of Consciousness
From a comment:
[There is a] desire for people to "belong".... It is incredibly painful for anyone to feel ostracized.... People may not have "surrendered" their minds so much as have a desire to "belong" to a team, a family, a group. It's nice to be in the company of others and feel that you are wanted/loved. This is probably religion's biggest attraction.
There are several key points worth noting here.