Islam and science: The road to renewal

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THE sleep has been long and deep. In 2005 Harvard University produced more scientific papers than 17 Arabic-speaking countries combined. The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have produced only two Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics. Both moved to the West: the only living one, the chemist Ahmed Hassan Zewail, is at the California Institute of Technology. By contrast Jews, outnumbered 100 to one by Muslims, have won 79. The 57 countries in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference spend a puny 0.81% of GDP on research and development, about a third of the world average. America, which has the world’s biggest science budget, spends 2.9%; Israel lavishes 4.4%.
Many blame Islam’s supposed innate hostility to science. Some universities seem keener on prayer than study. Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, for example, has three mosques on campus, with a fourth planned, but no bookshop. Rote learning rather than critical thinking is the hallmark of higher education in many countries. The Saudi government supports books for Islamic schools such as “The Unchallengeable Miracles of the Qur’an: The Facts That Can’t Be Denied By Science” suggesting an inherent conflict between belief and reason.

Many universities are timid about courses that touch even tangentially on politics or look at religion from a non-devotional standpoint. Pervez Hoodbhoy, a renowned Pakistani nuclear scientist, introduced a course on science and world affairs, including Islam’s relationship with science, at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the country’s most progressive universities. Students were keen, but Mr Hoodbhoy’s contract was not renewed when it ran out in December; for no proper reason, he says. (The university insists that the decision had nothing to do with the course content.)

But look more closely and two things are clear. A Muslim scientific awakening is under way. And the roots of scientific backwardness lie not with religious leaders, but with secular rulers, who are as stingy with cash as they are lavish with controls over independent thought.

The long view

The caricature of Islam’s endemic backwardness is easily dispelled. Between the eighth and the 13th centuries, while Europe stumbled through the dark ages, science thrived in Muslim lands. The Abbasid caliphs showered money on learning. The 11th century “Canon of Medicine” by Avicenna (pictured, with modern equipment he would have relished) was a standard medical text in Europe for hundreds of years. In the ninth century Muhammad al-Khwarizmi laid down the principles of algebra, a word derived from the name of his book, “Kitab al-Jabr”. Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham transformed the study of light and optics. Abu Raihan al-Biruni, a Persian, calculated the earth’s circumference to within 1%. And Muslim scholars did much to preserve the intellectual heritage of ancient Greece; centuries later it helped spark Europe’s scientific revolution.

Written By: The Economist
continue to source article at economist.com

76 COMMENTS

  1. A woefully misinformed propaganda piece from The Economist.

    That “1001 Inventions” exhibition has been completely discredited- see
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Islamic_Inventions%3F_How_Islamic_Inventors_Di

    The Golden Age has been grossly exaggerated by Muslims and their apologists; very few of the claimed “inventions” are original, most being borrowed from earlier civilisations and shamelessly claimed as Islamic.
    Claims of science in the koran are ludicrously stupid, made in much the same way as accuracy claimed for Nostradamus.
    It only serves to prove Islamic backwardness and ignoranance; for evidence see any of the videos debunking the Prince of Islamic fools, Zakir Naik.

    Finally, an excerpt from http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/the_closed_circle_of_the_arab.html

    The great schizophrenia of the Arab mind must wrestle with two mutually exclusive thoughts: that Arabs are the most blessed of the earth while in fact being the most wretched. Unable to reconcile these twin polarities and in turn incapable of the self-reflection necessary for a civilization’s enlightened Reformation to occur, a host of scapegoats are necessary in the form of Jews, infidels, and imperialists who are persistently denying the chosen people their proper station. Until this transformation occurs, the remedy for the Arab soul will be “more Islam” and an unending return to filial bloodshed, intrigue, and unrelenting tyranny both between man and woman and between regime and subject. Having proved the biblical adage that “the dog returns to its own vomit,” the closed circle of the Arab heart retains a sickness that is never cured and a lesson that is forever unlearned

  2. In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    Can you get us a link that works? Can you find a less partisan source offering the same view?

    In the meantime an account of the Golden Age of Arab science from Professor Jim Al-Kahlili the president elect of the BHA. I find his account positive and convincing, though I dissent from his view on the decline of this period.

    Pathfinders

    Much as I hate religions with an extra special dose of distaste for Islam for its retrograde trajectory after the 13th Century the only way this sorry story will end is in individual Muslims discovering or rediscovering an identity that allows them escape from and power of the clerics. History is powerful with these parasites. It truly can come to their aid here.

  3. A Muslim scientific awakening is under way. And the roots of scientific backwardness lie not with religious leaders, but with secular rulers, who are as stingy with cash as they are lavish with controls over independent thought.

    If this is true, the examples The Economist cites of remaining anti-scientific attitudes should be secular in nature, but none of them are (see below).

    The caricature of Islam’s endemic backwardness is easily dispelled. Between the eighth and the 13th centuries

    Islam was invented in the seventh century. If we’re going by “first version wins”, they took a while to pull up their scientific socks. In any case, no-one contends that Muslims practising science today is historically unprecedented; what is argued is that, given modern Muslims’ beliefs, the territories where Islam dominates are scientifically held back. The author would have you believe the modern trouble is due to secular leaders, whoever they may be. But let’s see whether that holds water. But first:

    Science is even crossing the region’s deepest divide. In 2000 SESAME, an international physics laboratory with the Middle East’s first particle accelerator, was set up in Jordan. It is modelled on CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, which was created to bring together scientists from wartime foes. At SESAME Israeli boffins work with colleagues from places such as Iran and the Palestinian territories.

    Usually particle accelerators bring together collaborators from several continents of all faiths and none; US and European accelerators have a mixture of American, European, Indian, Japanese and Arabic researchers, to name but a few. SESAME may be doing well by the standards of general Israel-Palestine interactions, but it has a long way to go before it matches science as a whole. Anyway, on with whether it’s Islam or secularism that’s to blame for what anti-science exists in predominantly Muslim nations:

    Science of the kind practised at SESAME throws up few challenges to Muslim doctrine… [Some Muslims] conflate human evolution with atheism… Though such disbelief may be couched in religious terms, culture and politics play a bigger role, says Mr Hameed. Poor school education in many countries leaves minds open to misapprehension. A growing Islamic creationist movement is at work too.

    So religious objections occur whenever the religion disagrees with the science? There you go. Oh, it’s not religion, but culture, is it? I see; it’s “poor education” (part of what’s poor is its scripturalism, which prevents children of Muslims accepting salt water mixes with sea water even in the UK) and Islamic creationism (hello, religion!)

    Unlike his American counterparts, [Yahya] concedes that the universe is billions of years old (not 6,000 years).

    And that makes it secular?! There are plenty of Old Earth Creationists in US Christianity.

    Plenty of Muslim biologists have managed to reconcile their faith and their work.
    Until it’s the same percentage of Western biologists who accept evolution – well over 99 % – “plenty” still means there’s a religion-science conflict, because the two negatively correlate.

    Science describes how things change; Islam, in a larger sense, explains why, [Jackson] says.

    Oh, that chestnut. Wherever why isn’t a synonym for how (which it can’t be in this context, by the grammar of the sentence), it means “for what deliberate reason”, which assumes a conscious agent without first establishing its existence. In any case, “things happen because of the will of Allah” is the root of a major Islamic argument against even the existence of laws of physics, never mind the rest of science. While we’re comparing Islamic creationists to their Christian counterparts, at least the latter regularly rattle of numerous physical laws they take for granted when making their arguments. (They misunderstand the laws, but that’s not the point.) If you’re going to contend Islam fits with science, I don’t think the how/why trick will work this time.

    “The Koran is not a science textbook,” says Rana Dajani, a Jordanian molecular biologist. “It provides people with guidelines as to how they should live their lives.” Interpretations of it, she argues, can evolve with new scientific discoveries. Koranic verses about the creation of man, for example, can now be read as providing support for evolution.

    What about the salt/seawater thing I mentioned before, or semen coming from the spine, or any of countless phrases no novelist would use as a metaphor for anything true in a month of Sundays? These are not hallmarks of an advisory book not intended as scientific; they are the hallmarks of a book which wants to be scientifically accurate but fails in the attempt.

    Other parts of the life sciences, often tricky for Christians, have proved unproblematic for Muslims.

    Because their religious beliefs are different! Of course the contradictions are in different places. The point is that they are still quite numerous, and popular, and consequential. Now, where are all the secularists the author said were to blame for science’s problems in the Muslim world? Well, here comes the final example of someone causing problems:

    But the kind of freedom that science demands is still rare in the Muslim world. With the rise of political Islam, including dogmatic Salafists who espouse a radical version of Islam, in such important countries as Egypt, some fear that it could be eroded further still.

    This is extraordinary: an article claiming a particular type of problem is due to As rather than Bs gives several examples of Bs as causes but doesn’t even try to give examples of As. (Not unless pretending “poor education” (which isn’t exactly irreligious) or “Islamic creationism” are secular is hoped to convince anyone.) Also, if you want one last example of how religion correlates with remaining problems, here’s a fact the article doesn’t mention: the nations where progress is finally happening, such as Qatar, have large non-Muslim influences; Qataris are non-Muslim about as often as Americans are non-Christian, while Turkey is notable for its strenuous efforts to portray itself to the EU as a secular nation, and its people (though almost entirely Muslim) are somewhat moderate by Islamic standards in the sense that, even at the height of Islamic support for terrorism in the early 2000s, Turkish Muslims supported it at far lower levels than their counterparts anywhere else in the world, including predominantly non-Muslim nations such as the UK. In other words, it looks more like things Islam stereotypically opposes succeed due to Islam weakening rather than due to it changing its tune.

  4. Whatever you may think of so-called Islamic science of the first millenium, it should never be mentioned in one sentence with Western science of the second and third millenium. They have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. Western science (and technology) is a mighty, high rise building with many windows, erected over the centuries by hundreds of thousands of brilliant minds, whereas Islamic science (in actual fact pre-Islamic science) is nothing more than a crumbled mud brick house.

  5. Since a major contentious point on this thread is how important were the influences of Arabic science in the Middle ages, I may as well link to Wikipedia’s brief summary of the main historical views on this:

    There are several different views on Islamic science among historians of science.

    The traditionalist view, as exemplified by Bertrand Russell, holds that Islamic science, while admirable in many technical ways, lacked the intellectual energy required for innovation and was chiefly important as a preserver of ancient knowledge and transmitter to medieval Europe.

    The revisionist view, as exemplified by Abdus Salam, George Saliba and John M. Hobson holds that a Muslim scientific revolution occurred during the Middle Ages,

    Scholars such as Donald Routledge Hill and Ahmad Y Hassan express the view that Islam was the driving force behind the Muslim achievements,

    According to Dallal, science in medieval Islam was “practiced on a scale unprecedented in earlier human history or even contemporary human history”.

    Toby E. Huff takes the view that, although Islamic science did produce a number of innovations, it did not lead to the Scientific Revolution.

    Will Durant, Fielding H. Garrison, Hossein Nasr and Bernard Lewis held that Muslim scientists helped in laying the foundations for an experimental science with their contributions to the scientific method and their empirical, experimental and quantitative approach to scientific inquiry.

  6. In reply to #6 by Jos Gibbons:

    Since a major contentious point on this thread is how important were the influences of Arabic science in the Middle ages, I may as well link to Wikipedia’s brief summary of the main historical views on this:

    This is useful. However, I don’t however think that the “Golden Age” need be any more than silver for our purposes of re-founding an image of a more open, outward facing, and tolerant Islam than its current image.

    It is important not to overclaim nor over criticise the achievements of the period.

  7. In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    It’s a bit rich to accuse The Economist of printing a propaganda piece (what exactly is the magazine’s particular bias regarding Islam?) then provide your own excerpt from an article in the American Thinker, which is Rush Limbaugh of all people’s go-to source when he’s running out of bilious crap to spout and is described thusly by Rational Wiki.

    I hope you don’t get all your information from this website “chock-full of right-wing conspiracy theories, birtherism, [articles on] creeping sharia, creationism, global warming denial, pseudoscience and anti-science”. You do seem to reference it quite regularly, Nodhimmi.

  8. Islamic Science? Really?

    3 Persian scientists, Avicenna, al-Khwarizmi and Abu Raihan al-Biruni, coming from a culture who always loved science and art and Islam without it would be as empty as Taliban’s and Mohammed’s version of it. The science of the first millennium wasn’t a danger to fundamentals of Islam and what Arabs believed in, at least they thought so but all this changed as we learned more and more and childish stories of Islam couldn’t hold its ground. And by the way, what Islamic Science means anyway? Nice try!

  9. On the backwardness of the foulest and most wretched religion ever to be conceived in a barbarous mind.

    “Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, for example, has three mosques on campus, with a fourth planned, but no bookshop”.

    Of course Mo perfected their view of reailty even down to the origins of the universe. NO need for any books then, no need for thinking, no need for universities. Just lots of sore knees on prayermats and cranial contusions.

    Abu Raihan al-Biruni was beaten to it by Eratosthenes by a thousand years!

  10. In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    It’s a bit rich to accuse The Economist of printing a propaganda piece (what exactly is the magazine’s particular bias regarding Islam?) then provide your own excerpt from an article in the American Thinker, which is Rush Limbaugh of all people’s go-to source when he’s running out of bilious crap to spout and is described thusly by Rational Wiki. I hope you don’t get all your information from this website “chock-full of right-wing conspiracy theories, birtherism, [articles on] creeping sharia, creationism, global warming denial, pseudoscience and anti-science”. You do seem to reference it quite regularly, Nodhimmi.

    So, say, Sam Harris’ recent tendentious train-wreck on training wheels pontifications on the delights of (his) gun ownership should dissuade us from ever reading him again and invalidate everything he has written before?

    What exactly do you see wrong with the actual content (not to be confused with your assessment of that website’s reputation) of Nodhimmi’s excerpt from that American Thinker article?

    [Edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use]

  11. And most of what is considered Arabic & Islamic were translations & extensions of Indo-Chinese civilizations. A long list of it’s influence is listed here,

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_and_Buddhist_contribution_to_science_in_medieval_Islam

    The term “Arabic numerals” annoys me to no limit. The numerals have been in practice for centuries before Arabs adapted it. It is taught as such to school kids in Europe & US. How about doing some research & teaching what is actually true!

    In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    A woefully misinformed propaganda piece from The Economist.

    That “1001 Inventions” exhibition has been completely discredited- see
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/IslamicInventions%3FHowIslamicInventors_Di

    The Golden Age has been grossly exaggerated by Muslims and their apologists; very few of the claimed “inventions” are original, most being borrowed from earlier civilisations and shamelessly claimed as Islamic.
    Claims of science in the koran are ludicrously stupid, made in much the same way as accuracy claimed for Nostradamus.
    It only serves to prove Islamic backwardness and ignoranance; for evidence see any of the videos debunking the Prince of Islamic fools, Zakir Naik.

    Finally, an excerpt from http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/theclosedcircleofthe_arab.html

    The great schizophrenia of the Arab mind must wrestle with two mutually exclusive thoughts: that Arabs are the most blessed of the earth while in fact being the most wretched. Unable to reconcile these twin polarities and in turn incapable of the self-reflection necessary for a civilization’s enlightened Reformation to occur, a host of scapegoats are necessary in the form of Jews, infidels, and imperialists who are persistently denying the chosen people their proper station. Until this transformation occurs, the remedy for the Arab soul will be “more Islam” and an unending return to filial bloodshed, intrigue, and unrelenting tyranny both between man and woman and between regime and subject. Having proved the biblical adage that “the dog returns to its own vomit,” the closed circle of the Arab heart retains a sickness that is never cured and a lesson that is forever unlearned

  12. It is fascinating to see the tribal response to the merits of “our” scientists versus “their” scientists. My tribal response is rather to favour scientists over shamans.

    Should we encourage an interest in science or not?

  13. There are few extremely rich countries in the middle east such as Qatar, Oman, Dubai, Kuwait etc. It wouldn’t be difficult to tally up their contributions to science & technology. At the same time, you can tally up the contributions made by equally rich western countries of similar size, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland. Now would it be wrong to state that some societies are conducive to human progress & wellbeing. I am sure the contributions made by developing world Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa, when adjusted for population sizes would still be better off than the above mentioned ME states. Do we have to blind ourselves with the sort of pc multicultural propaganda I sense in the article?

    In reply to #16 by phil rimmer:

    It is fascinating to see the tribal response to the merits of “our” scientists versus “their” scientists. My tribal response is rather to favour scientists over shamans.

    Should we encourage an interest in science or not?

  14. In reply to #16 by phil rimmer:

    It is fascinating to see the tribal response to the merits of “our” scientists versus “their” scientists. My tribal response is rather to favour scientists over shamans.

    Should we encourage an interest in science or not?

    It is disconcerting and tiresome to see of all places here on RDFRS the facile false equivalency, facts be damned ladling out of nonsense by the usual suspects – overeager purveyors of mindless slavish political correctness.

    Behold the only two (2) “Muslims” to ever have received the Nobel Prize for science. Please note the prestigious and venerable Muslim institutions of higher learning where they earned their degrees and did their prize winning work:

    Abdus Salam in 1979 the first “Muslim” scientist and only physicist to be awarded the Nobel Prize. BA degree with Double First-Class Honours in Mathematics and Physics St John’s College, Cambridge. PhD degree in Theoretical Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge.

    Ahmed Zewail in 1999 the only “Muslim” chemist to date to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the second “Muslim” scientist. PhD at the University of Pennsylvania post doctorate work at UC-Berkeley faculty appointment at Caltech

  15. In reply to #17 by kbala:

    Do we have to blind ourselves with the sort of pc multicultural propaganda I sense in the article?

    I certainly can see the propaganda. But should we encourage an interest in science or not?

    Simple question.

  16. In reply to #18 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #16 by phil rimmer:

    It is fascinating to see the tribal response to the merits of “our” scientists versus “their” scientists. My tribal response is rather to favour scientists over shamans.

    Should we encourage an interest in science or not?

    It is disconcerting and tiresome to see of all places here on RDFRS the facile false equivalency, facts be damned ladling out of nonsense by the usual suspects – overeager purveyors of mindless slavish political correctness.

    PC is not for me. (Quote me being so.)

    My question, still unaddressed, stands.

  17. Encourage an interest in science? Ja wohl! Yes, of course.

    But how do we go about doing that? I believe the most effective way is through mockery & ridicule of the beliefs & traditions handed down through scriptures from bronze age peasants. Science works & religion doesn’t. This should be more than enough to excite young minds. This is what I was taught and it does serve me well. Pussy-footing around religion is just plain futile. I grew up on this mantra and it did work,

    There is no God.

    There is no God.

    There is no God at all.

    He who invented God is a fool.

    He who propagates God is a scoundrel.

    He who worships God is a barbarian.

    • 1924, E V Ramasami, Vaikom Satyagraha, Kerela

    In reply to #20 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #17 by kbala:

    Do we have to blind ourselves with the sort of pc multicultural propaganda I sense in the article?

    I certainly can see the propaganda. But should we encourage an interest in science or not?

    Simple question.

  18. In reply to #14 by godsbuster:

    What exactly do you see wrong with the actual content (not to be confused with your assessment of that website’s reputation) of Nodhimmi’s excerpt from that American Thinker article?

    Well, I’m not a scholar of the Qur’an, but I think all religious books tend at least to imply that those who follow their precepts can consider themselves to be “the most blessed of the Earth”. Does Islam also say that Arabs are “the most wretched”, or is that what the author of the article is claiming?

    You see, he’s already lost me: is Glen Fairmann saying Arabs are the most wretched people on the planet or does that come from a particular passage in the Qur’an? If it’s the latter then a citation would have been helpful; you know, something like “Wretched is the follower of Allah whilst at the same time also being super-cool”. If it’s the former then his entire first sentence and what follows is an example of the Circulus in Probando fallacy

    I think so, anyway. Or it could just be a matter of my reading comprehension.

  19. Well, what would be yours? Cajole imams, priests, bishops & monks to teach facts & evidence, and not to bugger kids?
    That seem to have worked wonders in faith schools, hasn’t it?
    In reply to #25 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #22 by kbala:

    I grew up on this mantra and it did work,

    Well that’s a plan and no mistake.

  20. I got this one.

    Jew scholar? Someone who isn’t a complete idiot. Someone who wouldn’t issue a fatwa for drawing cartoons.
    Ah, and someone who doesn’t suggest flying planes into buildings to increase the well being of sentient beings.

    In reply to #24 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #12 by Net:

    Yes, Katy Cordeth. I WAS being sarcastic.

    Ohhhhh, I see. I get it.

    Hey, what’s a Jew scholar, ‘m I right? Ha ha.

    [Edited by moderator, both here and in subsequent quotes and responses]

  21. In reply to #27 by kbala:

    I got this one.

    Jew scholar? Someone who isn’t a complete idiot. Someone who wouldn’t issue a fatwa for drawing cartoons.
    Ah, and someone who doesn’t suggest flying planes into buildings to increase the well being of sentient beings.

    So there are no scholarly Jews who are complete idiots then? I have to say I’m impressed you’ve met them all. Maybe it’s a lefty thing, but I tend to see people as individuals. Try as I might I find it impossible to say “Ah, those Muslims flew planes into buildings so it follows that all Muslims desire to fly planes into buildings.”

    Next.

  22. Touche :)

    May be it’s a marxist thing, I don’t like the bourgeoisie multiculturalist attitude towards religion.

    In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #27 by kbala:

    I got this one.

    Jew scholar? Someone who isn’t a complete idiot. Someone who wouldn’t issue a fatwa for drawing cartoons.
    Ah, and someone who doesn’t suggest flying planes into buildings to increase the well being of sentient beings.

    So there are no scholarly Jews who are complete idiots then? I have to say I’m impressed you’ve met them all. Maybe it’s a lefty thing, but I tend to see people as individuals. Try as I might I find it impossible to say “Ah, those Muslims flew planes into buildings so it follows that all Muslims desire to fly planes into buildings.”

    Next.

  23. In reply to #26 by kbala:

    Well, what would be yours?

    I would encourage scientists and would-be scientists in Islamic states to gain some defence for their activities by actively aligning themselves with this earlier more benign (at least for the period) age of “Islamic Enlightenment”. It was an age of greater diversity of thought and within its too brief span has left a fair legacy for us all. If it was OK then, they should argue with their gaolers, it is OK now.

    It is entirely politically expedient (not politically correct) to talk of this period as an “Islamic” “Golden” Age. Ordinary Muslims are corralled into tight little pens of allowable behaviour by their imams, clerics and shamans. We yelling at every last one of them from the outside because of the mind fucking they’ve had, make those pens seem the safest place to be. Alternately we could let those ordinary folk know that we quite liked their great great grand fathers even if we don’t like the current batch. And we also like those few behaving in an older and wiser way. You’ve changed. I liked the old you. You did stuff then. etc.

    If everything around Islam and its associate cultural history is absolutely the worst, if we paint it so, then it is very difficult for any trapped within it to make any incremental improvement. They will earn no rewards from us. The risks they face at the hands of their gaolers for any of their efforts will not be worth it. Only the bravest most intelligent few will make it out.

  24. I would further encourage young Muslims to have heroes other than religious leaders and martyrs. Choosing someone like Ibn Rushd could prove to be very beneficial indeed. He particularly prepared the ground very nicely for a host of secular ideas, not least being the thought that though we possessed an immortal soul any personal identity died when the body died. This is a profound moderation of religion’s primary carrot and stick.

    I do encourage people to go look for themselves into this topic rather than take the views of non-science and partisan sources. Wiki is not bad.

    The brief but notable upward burst of flame of the period was cut short. It guttered and died. To have young Muslims daydream about what if the renaissance were “theirs”, what if the flame took a hundred years earlier, when “they” had it, that, that could be mind changing.

  25. In reply to #30 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #26 by kbala:

    Well, what would be yours?

    I would encourage scientists and would-be scientists in Islamic states to gain some defence for their activities by actively aligning themselves with this earlier more benign (at least for the period) age of “Islamic Enlightenment”. It was an age of greater diversity of thought and within its too brief span has left a fair legacy for us all. If it was OK then, they should argue with their gaolers, it is OK now.

    Inconvenient though ain’t it that the last 500 years or so of science (which western supremacy is built on for better or worse) originates from those for whom the “holy” and infallible Qur’an has reserved the following treatment:

    8:12: “Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads and cut off fingers and toes.”
    4:89: “Take not unbelievers as friends until they fly in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, seize them, kill them wherever you find them”
    9:5: “Fight and kill the disbelievers”

    I’d be keen to see your wording of the memo you’d direct to “their imams, clerics and shamans” and the political leaders they keep in power and who in turn allow them to preach their nonsense. Are you going to suggest to them that those teachings are metaphorical, not really true and best confined to the dustbin of history? Tip: don’t present that memo in person.

  26. @godsbuster, well said.

    @phil, Here are few questions for you, that might help me understand your view.

    There are faith schools in England that teach bigoted crap from third world cultures & societies. Would you call for immediate shutdown of these schools & their authorities tried for child abuse?

    There are places of worship where they spew homophobic, misogynistic & xenophobic vitriolic dogma. Would you support the shutdown of these places & tax these cults to extinction?

    When third world religions impead scientific progress would you mock them or not?

    Or would you stick to the bourgeoisie, liberal justification for multicultural clusterf***?

    In reply to #32 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #30 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #26 by kbala:

    Well, what would be yours?

    I would encourage scientists and would-be scientists in Islamic states to gain some defence for their activities by actively aligning themselves with this earlier more benign (at least for the period) age of “Islamic Enlightenment”. It was an age of greater diversity of thought and within its too brief span has left a fair legacy for us all. If it was OK then, they should argue with their gaolers, it is OK now.

    Inconvenient though ain’t it that the last 500 years or so of science (which western supremacy is built on for better or worse) originates from those for whom the “holy” and infallible Qur’an has reserved the following treatment:

    8:12: “Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads and cut off fingers and toes.”
    4:89: “Take not unbelievers as friends until they fly in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, seize them, kill them wherever you find them”
    9:5: “Fight and kill the disbelievers”

    I’d be keen to see your wording of the memo you’d direct to “their imams, clerics and shamans” and the political leaders they keep in power and who in turn allow them to preach their nonsense. Are you going to suggest to them that those teachings are metaphorical, not really true and best confined to the dustbin of history? Tip: don’t present that memo in person.

  27. In reply to #33 by kbala:

    @godsbuster, well said.

    1 I don’t have a multicultural bone in my body. Some cultures are simply better more humane, fairer and more nurturing of their internal talent than others. I wish to work to actively change all corrosive and hateful cultures.

    2 I am utterly clear that the vector of the mind virus is the shamans and popes. Without these parasites the infrastructures of re-infection would be gone and the illness fade within a generation or three. These are the people and the power structures to despise above all others.

    3 You have to have a plan and it needs to start from where we are now. It needs to be well informed and we need to be deeply savvy about the psychology of individuals and groups. It needs to accelerate any natural tendencies to dissent.

    4 Reform and schism are some of the best we can hope for. These can only begin to happen in groups that can find themselves sufficiently unafraid to declare their modest differentiation. It is better to target self sustaining processes that may operate steadily over time. Increased eduction and respect (and reward!) for it, sound like a plan.

    5 Not having a plan is not good enough. Not being able to act politically is not good enough. Having righteous rage may empower others to do something, but there is always a chance they may be idiots. We must be clear what kind of plan we support.

  28. In reply to #32 by godsbuster:

    If it was OK then, they should argue with their gaolers, it is OK now.

    Inconvenient though ain’t it that the last 500 years or so of science (which western supremacy is built on for better or worse) originates from those for whom the “holy” and infallible Qur’an has reserved the following treatment:

    It is as inconvenient for you as for me that rulers withdrew patronage from Muslim “scientists” and philosophers, preferring to invest in their religious counterparts because of the enhanced power and stability that netted. We might imagine that a hundred or two years more of scientifically fueled debate from the likes of Ibn Rushd could yet have delivered a Reformation like “our” own.

  29. In reply to #35 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #32 by godsbuster:

    If it was OK then, they should argue with their gaolers, it is OK now.

    Inconvenient though ain’t it that the last 500 years or so of science (which western supremacy is built on for better or worse) originates from those for whom the “holy” and infallible Qur’an has reserved the following treatment:

    It is as inconvenient for you as for me that rulers withdrew patronage from Muslim “scientists” and philosophers, preferring to invest in their religious counterparts because of the enhanced power and stability that netted. We might imagine that a hundred or two years more of scientifically fueled debate from the likes of Ibn Rushd could yet have delivered a Reformation like “our” own.

    Sorry to have to report a minor setback to your plan. It did make such a fine tribute to Neville Chamberlain. Looks like you’re going to have to convince them to stop burning “their” stuff before they stop burning “ours.” If you can’t resist the urge to tell them they’re doing it wrong please do so from the safe distance of an aerial drone.

    http://www.expatica.com/fr/news/french-news/mali-islamists-torch-building-housing-ancient-manuscripts_256929.html
    Mali Islamists torch building housing ancient manuscripts

    Islamists fleeing Timbuktu in the face of a French-led offensive have torched a building housing ancient Arabic manuscripts, security and army sources said Monday.

    “A building housing the manuscripts was burned,” a security source told AFP.

    Timbuktu, which was the intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam in Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries, is renowned for its collection of manuscripts, some of which date back to the pre-Islamic era.

    “The Islamists caused damages before leaving. They burned houses, and manuscripts,” said a source in a reconnaissance team which first reached Timbuktu on Sunday.

    [Edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use]

  30. Ah, but that scientifically fueled debate can never deliver said reformation like our own.
    Not so long as the high tide of literal religious barbarism continues to militate against such an outcome.

    The current fruits of religious scientific progress in Islamic lands are not such as to encourage hope in concordance with the west.

    So far there is a nuclear arsenal in Pakistan and another apparently taking shape in Iran.
    If the scientific endeavour in Islamic countries were seen to be aimed at positive, pacific or humanitarian ends then and only then would it be right to encourage progress.
    If that seems unfair; if we are wrong to allow the Israelis their nuclear weapons, but yadayada, then I say better to be unfair than to facilitate a twelver shiite day of judgement.

    Also; there are hadiths that were not referred to in the article:
    Many hadiths are emphatic in instilling hatred of the Jews.
    Many are clear in preaching adherence to the ways of the prophet and his companions; warning against any departure from them in the future.
    Many hadiths joyfully record in great detail how Jewish communities were robbed, massacred, pillaged, exiled by the Muslims.
    How can all this be wiped out of memory. How can devout Muslims ever be trusted to disavow their religious obligations?

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    Reform is never going to work. Like treating cancer with aspirin.

  31. In reply to #37 by inquisador:

    Ah, but that scientifically fueled debate can never deliver said reformation like our own.
    Not so long as the high tide of literal religious barbarism continues to militate against such an outcome.

    The current fruits of religious scientific progress in Islamic lands are not such as to encourage hope in concordance with the west.

    So far there is a nuclear arsenal in Pakistan and another apparently taking shape in Iran.
    If the scientific endeavour in Islamic countries were seen to be aimed at positive, pacific or humanitarian ends then and only then would it be right to encourage progress.
    If that seems unfair; if we are wrong to allow the Israelis their nuclear weapons, but yadayada, then I say better to be unfair than to facilitate a twelver shiite day of judgement.

    Also; there are hadiths that were not referred to in the article:
    Many hadiths are emphatic in instilling hatred of the Jews.
    Many are clear in preaching adherence to the ways of the prophet and his companions; warning against any departure from them in the future.
    Many hadiths joyfully record in great detail how Jewish communities were robbed, massacred, pillaged, exiled by the Muslims.
    How can all this be wiped out of memory. How can devout Muslims ever be trusted to disavow their religious obligations?

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    Reform is never going to work. Like treating cancer with aspirin.

    Abso-f*****in-lutely!!

  32. The “Golden Age” transgressed Islamic principles by NOT ascribing all knowledge to the koran, therefore would eventually fade away; weakening of the Muslim empire, the crusades, Mongol invasion, etc. contributed; “the seeds planted by al-Ghazali 900 years ago may not have had much impact at the time, but they’ve bloomed into a deep-rooted system that remains disinterested in scientific achievement”

  33. In reply to #41 by Nodhimmi:

    The “Golden Age” transgressed Islamic principles by NOT ascribing all knowledge to the koran, therefore would eventually fade away; weakening of the Muslim empire, the crusades, Mongol invasion, etc. contributed; “the seeds planted by al-Ghazali 900 years ago may not have had much impact at the time, but they’ve bloomed into a deep-rooted system that remains disinterested in scientific achievement”

    Whats interesting is how just this very debate will play at the more progressive fringes of Islam (where most of the would-be scientists are).

    Islam despite the appearance of the claims of those most afraid of it, is not supernatural in its power and will succumb to conventional cultural evolutionary pressures in the fulness of time. The deep rooted system is there to support its beneficiaries not the great mass who are subjected to it. (Somewhat akin to Republicanism in fact.) Until we can see clearly feasible targets we won’t make much progress.

  34. In reply to #43 by Nodhimmi:

    In reply to #40 by James Martin:

    In reply to #39 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #37 by inquisador:

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    And your plan for that is….?

    It may be worth considering preemptive nuclear strikes on Muslim countries, as people like Sam Harris suggest, and forced conversion to Christianity of all Muslims in Western countries. These may seem extreme measures, but, after all, Muslims are like a cancer which must be removed. Too far?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcW_Ygs6hm0

    It is a terrifyingly real possibility- not a preemptive first strike; but what will Israel do if invaded by Iran/ Hamas? Surrender to genocide or push the nuclear button?

    Does this translate to ‘surrender to genocide, or commit it?’

    The more we think like them, the more we become them.

    How could Israel ‘nuke’ Hamas?

    How could Iran ‘nuke’ Israel?

    We have to have a plan in order to move from where we are now to where we want to be in the future.

    It will have to be asymmetric and multi faceted.

    There will be young Muslims in the school across the road from where I sit who will be watching Jim al Kalili’s series on Arabic science and its ‘golden’ age, and who will be encouraged to study science.

    I am as supportive of this as I am of exploring ways of ensuring Iran doesn’t obtain nuclear bombs.

    Anvil.

  35. In reply to #39 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #37 by inquisador:

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    And your plan for that is….?

    Err.. I was hoping you might have one?

    I think that the most we can hope for is that we might begin to see a decline in the appeal of Islam in western countries like the UK.
    The propaganda or dawa being used to stimulate pro-Islam sentiment by the use of false and whitewashed stories of history, need to be recognized for what they are and countered.

    Sorry, Mods, but this is where relevance to the headline story comes in.

    It really is quite astonishing to learn the extent to which Muslim editors at Wiki have been working at falsifying the whole history of Islam. Including that of the alleged ‘Golden Age’ and the ‘Muslim’ inventions and science.

    I already knew that many of the great Muslim geniuses of that ‘FoolsGolden Age’ were inhabitants of places like Egypt, Iraq, Persia; then recently conquered by sword and still largely or till recently Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian or other, now governed by a small Muslim minority. Most ‘Muslim’ scientists and inventors were not actually Muslim at all. Arabic names would not be reserved for Muslims of course.

    I second Nodhimmi’s recommendation given above. here again:

    http://www.wikiislam.net/wiki/Islamic_Inventions%3F_How_Islamic_Inventors_Did_Not_Change_The_World

    If you follow the links and explore further from the above, you’ll see what I mean.

    There is an information war going on and the truth is losing. But we can all do our bit to turn it round.

    Rowan Atkinson is doing his! -

    http://www.islam-watch.org/authors/146-admin/1235-rowan-atkinson-an-islamophobe.html

  36. In reply to #47 by inquisador:

    In reply to #39 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #37 by inquisador:

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    And your plan for that is….?

    Err.. I was hoping you might have one?

    As per Anvil’s view, many.

    Work to get girls access to education. Work to extend education further into critical thinking and the use of evidence (the point of this piece). A friend in the arts works to encourage Iranian and Pakistani playwrights to create pieces with modern images of Muslims (nearly always non religious in nature or posing tough problems). This gets my support as does Maryam Namazie and a host of such initiatives.

    Positive reinforcement for ordinary folk and negative reinforcement for the real baddies, the exploiters and abusers.

    China beat us on just about inventing everything in part failing to consolidate this gain through the lack of a good glass technology, so crucial to Gallileo and Hooke. I forget the precise date but they drilled down nearly a kilometer to extract natural gas a thousand or so years ago.

    Stuff is re-invented often given the discontinuity of civilisations and the religious barbarian sacking of libraries. The point is not who invented what first but that invention and experiment was done, that there was a different mode of doing this stuff in the Muslim world from currently. And yes this world was extensive and diverse, just like the Christian world with its adherents from many different backgrounds. The point is what happened in the Muslim world at that time.

    Again this isn’t a pissing contest.

  37. In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #47 by inquisador:

    In reply to #39 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #37 by inquisador:

    Not until Islam itself is wiped out.

    And your plan for that is….?

    Err.. I was hoping you might have one?

    As per Anvil’s view, many.

    Work to get girls access to education. Work to extend education further into critical thinking and the use of evidence (the point of this piece). A friend in the arts works to encourage Iranian and Pakistani playwrights to create pieces with modern images of Muslims (nearly always non religious in nature or posing tough problems). This gets my support as does Maryam Namazie and a host of such initiatives.

    Positive reinforcement for ordinary folk and negative reinforcement for the real baddies, the exploiters and abusers……

    Sorry to have to report a minor setback in your plan. Perhaps you would care to be more specific on what your “negative reinforcement for the real baddies” entails? This is what they have been up to of late, destroying their own stuff. On second thought, perhaps we should we be encouraging that:

    http://www.expatica.com/fr/news/french-news/mali-islamists-torch-building-housing-ancient-manuscripts_256929.html

    Mali Islamists torch building housing ancient manuscripts

    Islamists fleeing Timbuktu in the face of a French-led offensive have torched a building housing ancient Arabic manuscripts, security and army sources said Monday.

    “A building housing the manuscripts was burned,” a security source told AFP.

    Timbuktu, which was the intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam in Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries, is renowned for its collection of manuscripts, some of which date back to the pre-Islamic era.

    “The Islamists caused damages before leaving. They burned houses, and manuscripts,” said a source in a reconnaissance team which first reached Timbuktu on Sunday.

    Malian and French troops surrounded the fabled city on Monday, after ten months of occupation by radical Islamists who earlier destroyed ancient Muslim shrines they consider idolatrous.

    Timbuktu mayor Halley Ousmane also confirmed the destruction of the building.

    “I spoke to my media officer this morning. What has happened in Timbuktu is tragic,” he said.

    “The Ahmed Baba centre, which holds valuable manuscripts, has been burned by the Islamists. It is a complete cultural crime.”

    The Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research (CEDRAB) was founded in 1973 and has built up a collection of between 60,000 and 100,000 manuscripts, according to the Malian culture ministry.

    In 2009 the new Ahmed Baba Centre was opened as part of a bilateral agreement with South Africa to promote the conservation, research and promotion of the manuscripts as African heritage.

  38. In reply to #35 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #32 by godsbuster:

    It is as inconvenient for you as for me that rulers withdrew patronage from Muslim “scientists” and philosophers, preferring to invest in their religious counterparts because of the enhanced power and stability that netted. We might imagine that a hundred or two years more of scientifically fueled debate from the likes of Ibn Rushd could yet have delivered a Reformation like “our” own.

    Symptomatic of your romanticizing of reformations you fail to recognize that our “own” Reformation did not come out of any “scientifically fueled debate”. In fact it merely replaced Roman Catholic witch-hunts with Protestant witch-hunts even further removed, if that is even conceivable, from reason, sanity, justice and simple human decency. Accompanied by the European religious wars – Sunni Shia violence sound familiar?

    You are mistaking the Reformation for the Enlightenment – religion’s nemesis not its handmaiden. The Enlightenment came after the Church had lost a great deal of its political/military power.

    Any gradual and gentle approach is to be preferred over violence yet will you have enough time to tease reason out of an ideology 60% of the content of whose foundational “holy” text consists of prescriptions for extreme unpleasantness to be visited upon “unbelievers” while alive or after death to which they are to be put as savagely as possible?

    The Jihadi’s howling at the gates are no longer armed with clubs and swords. Standard equipment now starts with machine guns and RPG launchers. Nukes are already within their reach in Pakistan and coming soon in Iran. Good luck.

  39. In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    I really do not give a fig what was invented by who, where or when.

    The Islamic Golden Age is bullshit. Luring in new suckers every day.

    My only interest is in trying to get some true information about Islam out there to counter the mass of lies and inventions, distorted or whitewashed stories and omissions of unpleasant facts.

    many people are converting to islam on the strength of all this bilge. Take a look at the BBC learning, Islam section for example.

    I agree with you about Ibn Rushd, by the way; and some of your other ideas are heading in the right direction. But is it enough? I don’t think so, but there are no easy solutions.

  40. In reply to #51 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #35 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #32 by godsbuster:

    Symptomatic of your romanticizing of reformations you fail to recognize that our “own” Reformation did not come out of any “scientifically fueled debate”. In fact it merely replaced Roman Catholic witch-hunts with Protestant witch-hunts even further removed, if that is even conceivable, from reason, sanity, justice and simple human decency. Accompanied by the European religious wars – Sunni Shia violence sound familiar?

    You are mistaking the Reformation for the Enlightenment – religion’s nemesis not its handmaiden. The Enlightenment came after the Church had lost a great deal of its political/military power.

    Any gradual and gentle approach is to be preferred over violence yet will you have enough time to tease reason out of an ideology 60% of the content of whose foundational “holy” text consists of prescriptions for extreme unpleasantness to be visited upon “unbelievers” while alive or after death to which they are to be put as savagely as possible?

    The Jihadi’s howling at the gates are no longer armed with clubs and swords. Standard equipment now starts with machine guns and RPG launchers. Nukes are already within their reach in Pakistan and coming soon in Iran. Good luck.

    The Reformation was simply the edifice of Roman Catholicism taken to schism , which when once done could happen again and again with reducing difficulty and dissipating totalitarian power.

    This specifically is what I was proposing could come out of this period. Ibn Rushd was indeed very nervous that his deliberations could lead to such a dissipation of religious authority and feared it. A generation or two on having lived with his thoughts others might have actively come to wish it. Education applied over generations can do this.

    The Reformation is the necessary start of the rot.

  41. In reply to #52 by inquisador:

    In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    I really do not give a fig what was invented by who, where or when.

    The Islamic Golden Age is bullshit. Luring in new suckers every day.

    Exactly. Watch Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg point out that many “Golden Age” “Muslim” “scientists” were not religious and some even hostile to religion. From about 7 minutes in but I recommend listening to all 3 videos for his full lecture here.

  42. In reply to #52 by inquisador:

    In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    I really do not give a fig what was invented by who, where or when.

    The Islamic Golden Age is bullshit. Luring in new suckers every day.

    My only interest is in trying to get some true information about Islam out there to counter the mass of lies and inventions, distorted or whitewashed stories and omissions of unpleasant facts.

    Then describe it for what it was, merely a more enlightened, inventive and open period in their history. I’ve claimed nothing more. Its all I need for my purposes. Good luck with yours.

  43. In reply to #53 by phil rimmer:

    The Reformation is the necessary start of the rot.

    Our reformation was not the start of any rot. It merely heralded the onset of more rot diversification culminating in the + – 38000 different flavors of christian rot we have today. E.g. Mormonism, Russian Orthodox, The Saddleback church. Please explain how any of those are an improvement on Catholicism which actually founded 1,358 universities and colleges the world over?

    If schism is your silver bullet, hope it’s not modeled on the christian schism -a long drawn out civilization stunting violent slog replacing one dogma with another. Hope it’s not modeled on the Muslim Shia/Sunni/Sufi/Bahai etc schism either – a long drawn out civilization stunting violent slog replacing one dogma with another.

  44. In reply to #55 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #52 by inquisador:

    In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    I really do not give a fig what was invented by who, where or when.

    The Islamic Golden Age is bullshit. Luring in new suckers every day.

    My only interest is in trying to get some true information about Islam out there to counter the mass of lies and inventions, distorted or whitewashed stories and omissions of unpleasant facts.

    Then describe it for what it was, merely a more enlightened, inventive and open period in their history. I’ve claimed nothing more. Its all I need for my purposes. Good luck with yours.

    Well at least let us be clear that the credit for that more enlightened period should belong, not to Islam, being too obsessed with the sayings and doings of Mohammed to depart therefrom, but to the thinkers and proto-scientists responsible.
    Mostly non-Muslim or pretend-Muslim-to-escape-subjugation.

    So, Golden Age, perhaps; Islamic Golden Age, not so much.

  45. In reply to #54 by godsbuster:

    Exactly. Watch Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg point out that many “Golden Age” “Muslim” “scientists” were not religious and some even hostile to religion. From about 7 minutes in but I recommend listening to all 3 videos for his full lecture here.

    Thanks for that Weinberg link. Very good indeed.

  46. Our reformation was not the start of any rot. It merely heralded the onset of more rot diversification

    No, the Reformation is intrinsically intertwined with the Renaissance, with Individualism – a fundamental change in the view of the self, the protestant ethic, capitalism, the spread of information, the development of the nation state, petty nationalism, and the Enlightenment.

    No Reformation, no Age of Reason – indeed it is difficult to understand where one ends, and the other begins.

    You may argue, for example, that the reformation began with Luther nailing his ninety five theses to the door of a church in 1517, but this never would have happened without the renaissance – and it is equally valid to argue that the renaissance would not have occurred without the collapse of Byzantium.

    Would Florence have had Plato without the fall of Constantinople?

    Would the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the Spanish have developed their empires, and their ships, and, more importantly, the direction they sailed them in, without the Ottomans being where they were?

    In this sense then, it is as possible to argue that western civilisation, as we know it today, is the responsibility of a 22 year old called Mehmet II – no less, surely, than it is possible to argue that the confiscation and allotment of church lands in England caused a tidal wave of capitalism to flow across Europe creating the nation states we now know.

    Of course these words, these era, are nothing more than arbitrary lines that we draw to try and establish an understanding of our species movement through space-time. They are just constructs to aid our understanding of this journey.

    It bodes ill to deny or dismiss any of these periods or era as this denies us knowledge and understanding.

    The Abassid period is important in our understanding of our journey through history as those early caliphate’s developed stability over a long period of time. This stability led to developments in agriculture, jurisprudence, bureaucracy, trade and communication over vast distances, and culture.

    It is this ability to create the conditions whereby two hands can produce much more than one mouth can consume which is vital to the progress of the time.

    It is this progress, this culture which preserved and translated much of the works of the ancients – initially into Arabic and Persian, and then Turkish.

    We are lesser people for not knowing the history of Geber, Averroes, Al Razi, Avicenna et al, for this is not their history, it is ours.

    So, were these great people? Of course. Were these great people the result of an almighty god ? Of course not. Were they as a result of Islam? Well, certainly no less than the patronage of the Medici during the Renaissance was Christian.

    So when we confront people who seek to attribute science, or indeed any discoveries, or progress to Allah, or Yahweh, or God, what should we do?

    How, in other words, would you explain to your Muslim neighbour that political Islam is anti-scientific and is not just holding back Islamic countries but all countries?

    Would you start by ranting on about how such and such was really Egyptian or Persian, rather than Arabic? Or that such and such an invention was really invented by the Chinese or the Greeks?

    I’m proposing that you start with science. I’m proposing that you start with a materialist analysis of history.

    I’m proposing that you use this materialist analysis of history to explain why we have progressed to where we are – and what is stopping us from moving on from where we are, to where we could be.

    Having a Golden Age of flourishing is not mis-information – it is a weapon, for it allows you to show why this flourishing occurred, and why it now does not.

    Anvil.

  47. In reply to #59 by Anvil:

    No, the Reformation is intrinsically intertwined with the Renaissance, with Individualism – a fundamental change in the view of the self, the protestant ethic, capitalism, the spread of information, the development of the nation state, petty nationalism, and the Enlightenment.

    No Reformation, no Age of Reason – indeed it is difficult to understand where one ends, and the other begins.
    …..

    ……Having a Golden Age of flourishing is not mis-information – it is a weapon, for it allows you to show why this flourishing occurred, and why it now does not.

    Anvil

    Whitewashing the Reformation i.e. the nonsense peddled by a Martin Luther not to mention this proto Joseph Smith’s most abhorrent anti-Semitism by “intrinsically intertwining” read conflating it with the Renaissance is intellectually dishonest obscurantism almost at an (Scott)* Atranesque level.

    Yes, feudalism in Russia and the exploitation of workers and child labour at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England inspired the work of Marx and Engels. It was “intrinsically intertwined”. So are we now to celebrate Russian feudalism and the human rights violations of the Industrial Revolution because they brought forth the works of Marx and Engels?

    Your “Islamic” “Golden Age” of “Flourishing” to the degree it even was golden and flourishing (wasn’t anything when comparing it to the dark ages?) occurred in spite of not thanks to Islam. As even a cursory (all that it deserves) reading (which too few of our accommodationists here do too little of) of the Koran or the hadith makes readily apparent.

    So will you tell your Muslim faithful this? Or are you going to lie to them and tell them it flourished goldenly because how great Islam was then and can become again? The true reason it flourished is because those scholars essentially ignored Islamic teachings and why it now does not is because Islamic teachings are all that is allowed.

    *”I think religion is basically a neutral vessel… and there is nothing intrinsic about religion for the good or for the bad.” Scott Atran [3 minutes and 30 seconds into his talk] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJl2-AdLt48) at the Beyond Belief 2007 Conference, “Enlightenment 2.0.”

  48. In reply to #60 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #59 by Anvil:

    Whitewashing the Reformation i.e. the nonsense peddled by a Martin Luther not to mention this proto Joseph Smith’s most abhorrent anti-Semitism by “intrinsically intertwining” read conflating it with the Renaissance is intellectually dishonest obscurantism almost at an (Scott)* Atranesque level.

    So you can show me where I ” whitewashed” the reformation, can you? Your personal opinions of Martin Luther are meaningless with regards to the debate. All ‘prophets’ are proto Joseph Smiths – unless of course you feel that some really are communicating with a God?

    As for intellectual dishonest obscurantism, well, what can I say? I made no attempt to ‘conflate’ the reformation with the renaissance, merely to state that one necessarily precedes the other. I thought this was pretty clear from my insistence on a materialist analysis, and far from being obscurantist, is barely intellectually strenuous, and stating my position clearly is hardly dishonest.

    Still, you’re free to point out any further dishonesty.

    Yes, feudalism in Russia and the exploitation of workers and child labour at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England inspired the work of Marx and Engels. It was “intrinsically intertwined”. So are we now to celebrate Russian feudalism and the human rights violations of the Industrial Revolution because they brought forth the works of Marx and Engels?

    See, now this is dishonesty. You suggest the implication that I’m celebrating the ‘Jew hating’, ‘proto Joseph Smith’, ‘Matin Luther’ when I do no such thing. You then intrinsically intertwine a historical situation with an observation of the situation, and then imply this would make me celebrate the historical situation because it brought forth the observation.

    Intellectually dishonest obscurantism?

    Your “Islamic” “Golden Age” of “Flourishing” to the degree it even was golden and flourishing (wasn’t anything when comparing it to the dark ages?) occurred in spite of not thanks to Islam. As even a cursory (all that it deserves) reading (which too few of our accommodationists here do too little of) of the Koran or the hadith makes readily apparent.

    It is not my Islamic golden age. Just as it wasn’t my Christian reformation, or my Christian renaissance , or my Christian Age of Reason. But you’re right, it certainly was golden compared to the dark ages.

    Whether it occurred in spite of, or because of, the dominant social construct of the day is up for debate – but it’ll take more than a cursory reading of the Koran to persuade me otherwise. What are you suggesting was the cause? Does this suggest that the dominant social order of the day had nothing to do with the reformation? Or the renaissance? Or the enlightenment?

    Tell me, how did these people eat?

    I’m not too sure whether the charge of accommodationism is aimed at me or not? I have no idea how you would know this to be the case? Either way, let me say I’m with Karl Marx fully on this, it isn’t sufficient to merely interpret the situation, you have to be proactive in order to change it. Here I stand. I can do no other.

    So will you tell your Muslim faithful this? Or are you going to lie to them and tell them it flourished goldenly because how great Islam was then and can become again? The true reason it flourished is because those scholars essentially ignored Islamic teachings and why it now does not is because Islamic teachings are all that is allowed.

    I have no Muslim faithful. As regards what I would tell them, I thought I made myself clear, and with concision, in my previous post. And regarding your last para’, can you please explain why scholars presently do not ‘essentially ignore’ Islamic teaching? Is it because they can’t? And how did they manage back then, and when and why did it end?

    You think a cursory reading of the Koran will tell you?

    *”I think religion is basically a neutral vessel… and there is nothing intrinsic about religion for the good or for the bad.” Scott Atran [3 minutes and 30 seconds into his talk] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJl2-AdLt48) at the Beyond Belief 2007 Conference, “Enlightenment 2.0.”

    I really have no idea why you posted this link. Are you suggesting my previous post(s) state or imply the above? Would you like point this out?

    Anvil.

  49. I’ve just woken up and read through my last post.

    Whilst I will obviously stand by any content, I’d like to apologise for the tone.

    It was unnecessary and does nothing for the debate. In mitigation I can only offer that it was late and following a hard days work.

    Anvil.

  50. Whitewashing the Reformation i.e. the nonsense peddled by a Martin Luther not to mention this proto Joseph Smith’s most abhorrent anti-Semitism by “intrinsically intertwining” read conflating it with the Renaissance is intellectually dishonest obscurantism almost at an (Scott)* Atranesque level.

    *”I think religion is basically a neutral vessel… and there is nothing intrinsic about religion for the good or for the bad.” Scott Atran [3 minutes and 30 seconds into his talk] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJl2-AdLt48) at the Beyond Belief 2007 Conference, “Enlightenment 2.0.”

    Oh priceless. Accuse others of intellectual dishonesty and then misquote Atran. Couldn’t make it up.

  51. Claiming any science as islamic in origin in retrospect would be like my old church claiming major developments in catholic mechanics because by sheer dumb luck one of their members (me) had taken apart and rebuilt two bicycles by the time he was 12.

  52. In reply to #64 by Dave H:

    Claiming any science as islamic in origin in retrospect would be like my old church claiming major developments in catholic mechanics because by sheer dumb luck one of their members (me) had taken apart and rebuilt two bicycles by the time he was 12.

    That’s a nice story, Dave.

    Is science ‘Greek’ in origin, then?

    Or have we all stood on the shoulders of giants?

    Anvil.

  53. In reply to #62 by Anvil:

    I’ve just woken up and read through my last post.

    Whilst I will obviously stand by any content, I’d like to apologise for the tone.

    It was unnecessary and does nothing for the debate. In mitigation I can only offer that it was late and following a hard days work.

    Anvil.

    Not accepting apology (if it was directed at me) for “tone”. I did not notice anything the least bit discernibly wrong with it when reading it the first time, nor now after your alerting us to possible “tone” issues. In fact my tone could be considered to be more “strident” (the term ring a bell?) Now your content on the other hand…I’ll address on another occasion with a bit more time.

    Yes mods, this appears to be off topic but this is too opportune an opportunity to miss offering a quick sidenote regarding tone. There is way too much neurotic hand wringing going on about tone. Perhaps another byproduct of our current plague of political correctness . We ought to try to approach this issue more rationally (supposedly our stock in trade). Perhaps by understanding, internalizing and applying the following tenet: Offense is taken not given.

    Moreover, gratuitous ad hominem, vulgarity, trolling, falsifying facts and employing gamesmanship to “win” a debate or debating for sport rather than having as the goal a sincere effort to advance the topic self-indicts those who engage in this type of behaviour. And will result in them being ignored by bonafide participants. They either adapt or fall by the wayside. Natural selection of a sort.

  54. In reply to #64 by Dave H:

    Claiming any science as islamic in origin in retrospect would be like my old church claiming major developments in catholic mechanics because by sheer dumb luck one of their members (me) had taken apart and rebuilt two bicycles by the time he was 12.

    “catholic mechanics” lol. Nothing like humor to bring a point home.

  55. In reply to #63 by James Martin:

    Whitewashing the Reformation i.e. the nonsense peddled by a Martin Luther not to mention this proto Joseph Smith’s most abhorrent anti-Semitism by “intrinsically intertwining” read conflating it with the Renaissance is intellectually dishonest obscurantism almost at an (Scott)* Atranesque level.

    *”I think religion is basically a neutral vessel… and there is nothing intrinsic about religion for the good or for the bad.” Scott Atran 3 minutes and 30 seconds into his talk at the Beyond Belief 2007 Conference, “Enlightenment 2.0.”

    Oh priceless. Accuse others of intellectual dishonesty and then misquote Atran. Couldn’t make it up.

    Your trolling my posts, defending Mr. Atran as his fan-boy is endearing. But if you wish to gain credibility perhaps you might consider backing your accusations with facts. I deliberately linked to Mr. Atran’s presentation so that anyone who cares to can arrive at their own opinion by listening to the whole thing.

    Some of the position represented here by Anvil and Rimmer seems to be remniscent of the one articulated by Atran in his presentation. And it was precisely that presentation which triggered one of the most rigorous almost Hitchensian (pbuh) public intellectual reamings of an individual with the individual present I’ve seen to date: Sam Harris’ broadside starts here at 0:53:18

  56. In reply to #66 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #62 by Anvil:

    I’ve just woken up and read through my last post.

    Whilst I will obviously stand by any content, I’d like to apologise for the tone.

    It was unnecessary and does nothing for the debate. In mitigation I can only offer that it was late and following a hard days work.

    Anvil.


    Not accepting apology (if it was directed at me) for “tone”. I did not notice anything the least bit discernibly wrong with it when reading it the first time, nor now after your alerting us to possible “tone” issues. In fact my tone could be considered to be more “strident” (the term ring a bell?)

    To be honest it was more as a reminder to myself. When I start demanding that people address the issues at hand, to not obfuscate, romanticise, or misdirect, and to put up or shut up, then my posts tend to be removed.

    As to offence being taken not given, I can agree with the statement but would add that If I had fore knowledge that you would take offence I may adopt another strategy to keep you at the table.

    There are occasions that to do otherwise would be gratuitously vulgar and mere gamesmanship. This does nothing in any sincere way to advance the topic and ends the debate.

    Now your content on the other hand…I’ll address on another occasion with a bit more time.

    Yes, that was my point. You didn’t address the content.

    Moreover, gratuitous ad hominem, vulgarity, trolling, falsifying facts and employing gamesmanship to “win” a debate or debating for sport rather than having as the goal a sincere effort to advance the topic self-indicts those who engage in this type of behaviour. And will result in them being ignored by bonafide participants. They either adapt or fall by the wayside. Natural selection of a sort.

    Now, that does ring a bell.

    The OP raises issues regarding science and religion and, more importantly I feel, our interpretation of history. To deny that empires affect culture and that culture affects the advancement of science and technology is to deny the knowledge that history can give us.

    Who, when, where, what, and why? Are of immense importance.

    In reply to #52 by inquisador:

    In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

    I really do not give a fig what was invented by who, where or when.

    The Islamic Golden Age is bullshit. Luring in new suckers every day.


    Exactly. Watch Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg point out that many “Golden Age” “Muslim” “scientists” were not religious and some even hostile to religion. From about 7 minutes in but I recommend listening to all 3 videos for his full lecture here.

    I’ll presume this is Weinberg’s polemic on accomodationism? ( sorry, I have to go to work – though I will check you link later and edit or repost if I’m thinking of another ). From memory I don’t recall Weinberg denying a period of history called the Golden Age? Or that understanding this period was in any way a waste of time?

    It is in fact his understanding of the period which allows him to offer an analysis on the rejection of atomism in favour of constant re-creation which ended the Golden Age and spiralled Islam into their own ‘dark age’.

    Anvil.

  57. The imams’ job is done. They can pack up and go home if they have the support of attitudes like godsbuster’s. The only true Muslim is one like X, they say.

    Progress happens despite religion not because of it. A melting pot of conflicting ideas like the Renaisance can pave the way for the accommodations of religious interpretation. (This is God of the Gaps on its head. This is Reason in the Gaps of Religion.) Tweaking religion to “improve it” and make it compatible with how people naturally and variously come to see the world, is a process that is rubber stamped when the very tenets of a religion are rewritten by Reformation and schism. The principle had a good run up to the Quakers and Unitarians, when free market evangelism slowed things down, but only for a little while. The Enlightenment and a very great deal of social and scientific progress in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries happened at the hands of the of those from the liberal schisms. Even the illiberal schisms serve their purpose in draining the poison from the mainstream. Fragmentation is intellectual liberation, not a hydra like reestablishment of manifold equals.

    Again this isn’t about the innate merits of a religion but the possibility of a broader religiously tagged identity.

    Atran was loathsome for me in seeking to normalise Islamic terrorists. (His views are nicely undercut by a new book by…erm…Professor… er…I’ll post a link.) This is entirely different from seeking to normalise ordinary folk born into repressive cultures by encouraging the assumption of a broader identity.

  58. In work now, but bored, so stealing some time…

    It is in fact his understanding of the period which allows him to offer an analysis on the rejection of atomism in favour of constant re-creation which ended the Golden Age and spiralled Islam into their own ‘dark age’.

    I should have added that this is ‘one’ interpretation of these historical events.

    It would certainly be part of my own, and one which, when given the opportunity, I pass on to whosoever is in my vicinity, Christian, Muslim, Islamist, or Atheist. Loudly but calmly, and with as much evidence as possible.

    I’m glad Weinberg does, too. ( I was tempted to finish this sentence with, “it seems I’m in good company…” but that would be cheap as it may well have been Weinberg who sparked my interest initially? )

    In reply to #64 by Dave H:

    Claiming any science as islamic in origin in retrospect would be like my old church claiming major developments in catholic mechanics because by sheer dumb luck one of their members (me) had taken apart and rebuilt two bicycles by the time he was 12.


    “catholic mechanics” lol. Nothing like humor to bring a point home.

    Unless the point is based on ignorance. Did they own the bikes? Pay for the parts? How come we do not know this information?

    Anvil.

  59. In reply to #68 by godsbuster:

    In reply to #63 by James Martin:

    Whitewashing the Reformation i.e. the nonsense peddled by a Martin Luther not to mention this proto Joseph Smith’s most abhorrent anti-Semitism by “intrinsically intertwining” read conflating it with the Renaissance is intellectually dishonest obscurantism almost at an (Scott)* Atranesque level.

    *”I think religion is basically a neutral vessel… and there is nothing intrinsic about religion for the good or for the bad.” Scott Atran 3 minutes and 30 seconds into his talk at the Beyond Belief 2007 Conference, “Enlightenment 2.0.”

    Oh priceless. Accuse others of intellectual dishonesty and then misquote Atran. Couldn’t make it up.

    Your trolling my posts, defending Mr. Atran as his fan-boy is endearing. But if you wish to gain credibility perhaps you might consider backing your accusations with facts. I deliberately linked to Mr. Atran’s presentation so that anyone who cares to can arrive at their own opinion by listening to the whole thing.

    Some of the position represented here by Anvil and Rimmer seems to be remniscent of the one articulated by Atran in his presentation. And it was precisely that presentation which triggered one of the most rigorous almost Hitchensian (pbuh) public intellectual reamings of an individual with the individual present I’ve seen to date: Sam Harris’ broadside starts here at 0:53:18

    Well someone’s a little grumpy. Intellectual reamings? You must be having a laugh right? Atran asked Harris a question and Harris ignored it and basically went on another polemical rant. Atran’s more detailed reponse to Harris is here
    http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#atran2

    Interestingly, Harris backed down to respond.If another debate did occur between Atran and Harris as he propsed, it would go a similar way to Harris’ debate with Bruce Schneier – with Harris getting his ass kicked not knowing remotely what he is talking about.

  60. In reply to #73 by James Martin:

    Thanks for posting the Edge/Atran exchanges. Its interesting to see them again.

    I must confess that it really reinforces my antipathy to Atran’s arguments. He seems unaware of when he lapses into thoroughly unscientific assertions. Dennett takes him down best in my view, though Harris whom I thought also on shaky ground with insufficient caveats offered for his initial views, correctly identifies Atran’s interpretation of the significance of phrases used by his subjects as being the source of his disconnect with a proper understanding of motivation. Psychology experiments summoned by Atran mostly stand un-duplicated and are of a type prone to easy bias in how they are set up. He has some data but I don’t think it really helps his interpretation of bomber psychology well.

    Besides since Harris and Atran things have moved on with additional evidence going into the mix from Adam Lankford

  61. In reply to #74 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #73 by James Martin:

    Thanks for posting the Edge/Atran exchanges. Its interesting to see them again.

    I must confess that it really reinforces my antipathy to Atran’s arguments. He seems unaware of when he lapses into thoroughly unscientific assertions. Dennett takes him down best in my view, though Harris whom I thought also on shaky ground with insufficient caveats offered for his initial views, correctly identifies Atran’s interpretation of the significance of phrases used by his subjects as being the source of his disconnect with a proper understanding of motivation. Psychology experiments summoned by Atran mostly stand un-duplicated and are of a type prone to easy bias in how they are set up. He has some data but I don’t think it really helps his interpretation of bomber psychology well.

    And yet Atran’s work was so unscientific that it went through rigorous peer review in scientific journals. Oh well. If you want further research on suicide bombng by Atran his initial research was here http://sitemaker.umich.edu/satran/files/science-gst.pdf
    In his most recent book, he actually interviews caught or potential suicide bombers from groups like al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar-e-Tayibah, and the Madrid train bombers, as well as other non-Qaeda groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, and their sponsoring communities. This is worth a read. So too is Robert Pape.

  62. In reply to #75 by James Martin:

    In reply to #74 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #73 by James Martin:

    Thanks for posting the Edge/Atran exchanges. Its interesting to see them again.

    I must confess that it really reinforces my antipathy to Atran’s arguments. He seems unaware of when he lapses into thoroughly unscientific assertions. Dennett takes him down best in my view, though Harris whom I thought also on shaky ground with insufficient caveats offered for his initial views, correctly identifies Atran’s interpretation of the significance of phrases used by his subjects as being the source of his disconnect with a proper understanding of motivation. Psychology experiments summoned by Atran mostly stand un-duplicated and are of a type prone to easy bias in how they are set up. He has some data but I don’t think it really helps his interpretation of bomber psychology well.

    And yet Atran’s work was so unscientific that it went through rigorous peer review in scientific journals. Oh well. If you want further research on suicide bombng by Atran his initial research was here http://sitemaker.umich.edu/satran/files/science-gst.pdf
    In his most recent book, he actually interviews caught or potential suicide bombers from groups like al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar-e-Tayibah, and the Madrid train bombers, as well as other non-Qaeda groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, and their sponsoring communities. This is worth a read. So too is Robert Pape.

    I trust peer review is always thorough. I don’t think what I’ve said debars Atran from publication because he identifies how he is interpreting the phrases so the data it represents is fully available to other analysis with other interpretation. Peer review doesn’t mean something is right merely that having followed enough of the rules of due process it is likely to prove useful going forward, which it probably is. His stuff on the Edge site is not so careful and that is where he makes non scientific claims. (The sex metaphor was poor.)

    Thanks for the Pape, though the Huff Post link doesn’t work for me.

    I suspect many motivations play into the behaviours of suicide bombers. I strongly suspect that Religion acts as an anaesthetic at the very least and can usefully increase the yield of turning the individually and culturally disaffected into suicide bombers. It seems quite likely that feeling personally thwarted by circumstance may conflate nicely with a feeling of national and cultural thwarting….

    But this is off topic now, sadly…..

  63. In reply to #41 by Nodhimmi:

    The “Golden Age” transgressed Islamic principles by NOT ascribing all knowledge to the koran, therefore would eventually fade away; weakening of the Muslim empire, the crusades, Mongol invasion, etc. contributed; “the seeds planted by al-Ghazali 900 years ago may not have had much impact at the time, but they’ve bloomed into a deep-rooted system that remains disinterested in scientific achievement”

    Sorry Nodhimmi, I hadn’t noticed your post here.

    Would it be equally valid to say that, prior to Al Ghazali’s thesis, Islam DID NOT ascribe all knowledge to the Koran?

    Anvil.

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