There have been various reports that Israeli soldiers have made the claim that the "Hand of God" saved them by diverting enemy rockets into the sea. As an Objectivist, obviously, I place reason above feelings and faith. My status update stated the following:
Message to Israel:
Making claims that the "hand of God" diverted missiles...does not help you make your case. In fact, statements like this make no one's case for anything.
This prompted a discussion and a comment from a friend of mine who pointed out:
Israel's entire history and culture is that they are "God's chosen people." They have to believe that His hand is in everything. It's their faith. It's also why other countries and terrorists want the obliterated.This got me to thinking about the larger problems we are having in the Western world.
By now it is no secret that we are sinking into collectivist doctrine in America. We have been for a number of generations violating the principle of individual rights for "the greater good." Israel was very socialist for a long time, although I believe they are now slightly less so.
I contend the same problem which is dogging Israel is part of the same problem which is hurting the rest of Western Civilization. It is true, that Judeo-Christian tradition was partially responsible for bringing about the Enlightenment. However, ultimately, reason and faith are completely incompatible. The original Enlightenment was built on a contradiction. The Enlightenment philosophers which gave birth to free nations had, at the time, only God to work off of in regards to defending individual rights. Individual rights, their foundation, cannot be based upon the existence of something which one cannot prove. Ayn Rand laid the foundation of individual rights within objective reality. This particular post will not address the scope of that since there are many other places one can find such information.
Here I would like to point out, there is a fashionable idea going around the internet that the philosophical concept of "individual rights" was just made up, therefore, it's dispensable. One can imagine the sorts of people who are making this argument and why. I would like to point out to these people, most of whom I would imagine used the concept of individual rights to keep the government out of their bodies in regards to abortion (a position I happen to agree with), that if individual rights don't exist--then you can expect anyone to lay claim to telling you what to do with your body once again. Just because a court ruled on it once, doesn't mean it can't be over-turned, so I would think long and hard about dismissing individual rights so easily.
If there are no individual rights--then anybody who happens to gain political power can do any thing they want to you any time they please--your life becomes disposable to their whims. You may love the sound of socialism--but never forget, theocrats gain power too.
One cannot defend either civilization or individual rights "on faith." No argument can be defended consistently and rationally using religious arguments because it demands that your argument be defended by the indefensible.
Take the following scenario in regards to Israel's claim that God is on their side...stick with me:
I contend most of their "PR" problem comes from the idea that they are God's chosen people. That alone is enough to piss people off.
Suppose you had a co-worker who walked around the office all day, every day, proclaiming, "God chose me as "Employee of the Year" and I'm going to be "Employee of the Year" and because of that I get the best parking spot and best seat in the lunch-room for the next 365 days."
No one...not one person, would take this person seriously. Of course there would be hatred and there would be an element of wondering what kind of crazy-train this person may have fallen off of. On the other hand, take an employee whose boss can show his proven record for the company's highest sales and awards him "Employee of the Year." There might be employees who are envious (though a healthy person should see it as an opportunity to try harder and improve themselves) but the point is--there would be observable, verifiable proof of his record off of which the boss's award was based. No one could contest it.
My over-arching point is this, and I think we should have by now realized as human beings (though I seriously wonder considering where we're at) that making the claim that "God is on my side"--is not a way to win friends and influence people--to borrow the title from a well-known book.
I pointed out to my friend that the Muslims claim God is on their side too. Who is to be believed? How does one prove one's case? Neither side can. Ultimately, the virtues of each side have to be looked at with a reasoning mind. And this is exactly why reason should be regarded as an absolute. This is the element the first Enlightenment was lacking, grounding individual rights in reality and reason instead of faith and mysticism.
Notice I keep saying "first Enlightenment." Why? Because I think a second Enlightenment is necessary to work out the kinks which the first one left open.
Now, we can begin to make rational evaluations of each side without bringing faith into the picture at all:
Israelis (and the Western World, in general): respect for individual rights (granted there is some collectivism coloring their society), all faiths within their borders are given respect, women and minorities including gay men and women are shown respect, they lead the sciences with many innovations and inventions, they have a respect for this world and life, they protect their women and children and citizens
Islamists: no respect for individual rights--they are not fighting for liberty they are fighting to impose an oppressive theocratic caliphate, women and gay men and gay women are subjugated and murdered and hung in the streets, there is no respect for other belief systems, they use women and children as shields, they hide their weapons caches in private homes
I don't need to go into it all. I think by now most people know the value differences between the two cultures.
My point is, the minute the claim is made by Israel that "God is on our side"--the claim can be easily dismissed, laughed at, ridiculed, not taken seriously, seen as collectivist-thinking (which it is). The world-wide collectivist Left and the Islamists have joined forces. They both have similar goals, if not similar ends in mind. The very thing which is bringing down Western civilization is the very same thing which it never grasped: it's evasion of the fact that reality and reason are the only way to defend civilization and individual rights.
If the people in Israel and the West begin to grasp and apply this one thing philosophically--they have the collectivists of the world beat. What concerns me is--people neither want to make an effort to grasp or accept this. The American Constitution, the greatest constitution yet written, is riddled with philosophical contradictions.
If Israel stood up and said:
We know we have been referred to by history as 'God's chosen people'--but we know there is no way for such a claim to be verified. We fight, not to prove we have God on our side, but to preserve liberty, civilization and all of the values that go along with that. We cannot claim those values come from God but we can say they are necessary values for living life on this earth happily. Our enemies do not love life. Neither the secular collectivists, the socialists and the fascists nor the theocratic Muslims, whose goal is to implement an oppressive caliphate, have no respect for individual rights or this life. We don't ask the world to join with us because God is on our side--we ask the world to join with us because we have verifiable values on our side--values which are necessary for the furtherance and love of life on this planet: free-markets which make free, peaceable, voluntary trade possible; science and inventions which spring from the creation of that wealth; the promotion of free-ideas in an effort to discover the objective truth in any and all cases to the best of our rational ability. This is what we have to offer you. The other side offers you death and misery. We don't appeal to your feelings or your faith. We appeal to your reason.
This would go a long way in improving their "PR" problem. Yes. There would still be people who would criticize them and choose to stand with the barbarians--the socialists, fascists and Islamists, but these people are lost to civilization anyway. No matter what you tell these people they would not find themselves standing next to freedom, liberty, capitalism and respect for individual rights. Their very ideologies are built around envy, force, manipulation and irrationality. You cannot reason with the unreasonable. You cannot reason with people who make up every excuse in the book to obliterate existence and the values it requires to navigate successfully.
Until Israel and the Western World at large learns to reject the irrational in favor of reality and the rational--they will not win the battle against barbarism. You cannot save anything of value unless you can rationally justify those values.
It truly is either-or.