Pharyngula

It could be worse

Taner Edis has written a short summary of Islamic creationism. It’s not a pleasant picture.

Muslims hold a variety of views on evolution; Yahya-style creationists do not speak for all. Some Muslim thinkers accept evolution in the sense of descent with modification, provided that this evolution is explicitly divinely guided. Even such comparative liberals, however, almost always reject the Darwinian, naturalistic view of evolution that is current in natural science. Human evolution meets with particularly strong rejection. Indeed, it is safe to say that most committed Muslims take naturalistic evolution to be religiously unacceptable. Most would consider the evolution of complex life forms through natural mechanisms alone, without the visible direction of a divine intelligence, to be an intellectual absurdity. The Harun Yahya material has no scholarly standing whatsoever. But more sophisticated anti-evolution views have wide currency among serious Muslim intellectuals, including very well-known Western-based scholars of Islam such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

That’s really a shame, that an entire culture has closed itself off to a significant and well-tested scientific concept. I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

Comments

  1. #1 MAJeff
    February 21, 2008

    countdown to gerry shrieking about zionist peeyar in 5….4….3….2….

  2. #2 Moshe
    February 21, 2008

    The really fucked up thing is that evangelical christian publishers who publish anti-science screeds also publish books that ‘prove’ islam is false because the Quran makes the same incorrect claims (i.e. flat earth) that the bible does!

    Bible vs. Science: Bible Wins
    Quran vs. Science: Science Wins!? WTF!

  3. #3 J
    February 21, 2008

    Science’s new battle cry: you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists!

  4. #4 Brownian, OM
    February 21, 2008

    I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

    Clearly, the Islamic world must be a utopia free of racism, hatred, despair, and pretty much else every other malady attributed to evolution. I wonder why the evangelicals just don’t all move to Iran. Without evolution, there’s no chance of an anti-semite like Hitler gaining power there!

  5. #5 Elf M. Sternberg
    February 21, 2008

    If you think that’s sad, PZ, consider the following from MemriTV: A physicist and an astronomer, both Iraqis, debate whether or not the world is flat.

  6. #6 October Mermaid
    February 21, 2008

    Spending time on youtube has taught me that things can ALWAYS be worse. But nothing is worse than zoo animals on wheels. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmB5I9VmEPc&feature=related

  7. #7 Barry
    February 21, 2008

    If the discovery institute (which I refuse to capitalize) is truly not religiously motivated, why are they not over in the Middle East performing valuable research? It’s a great “design-friendly” environment far beyond the suppressive reach of BIG SCIENCE.

  8. #8 CalGeorge
    February 21, 2008

    “Some Muslim thinkers accept evolution…”

    “Muslim thinker” is an oxymoron.

  9. #9 woowoozy
    February 21, 2008

    “it is safe to say that most committed Muslims take naturalistic evolution to be religiously unacceptable”

    In the game of religion versus science, religion always trumps science. Please, FSM, please, please, please make this not so….

  10. #10 raven
    February 21, 2008

    Science is almost a “don’t ask, don’t tell” field in Moslem countries. They do some but not a whole lot and tend to keep a low profile.

    The Moslem world is also largely stuck in the Middle ages. The ones lucky enough to camp on oil bearing rock have money, lots and lots of money. The rest without oil are usually pretty backward. The life expectancy in Afghanistan is 47 years.

    The Arabs alone estimate that in the middle east, in the last 30 years, they have imported between 1 and 2 trillion bucks worth of western science and technology.

    It is expensive to be ignorant. They will also always be a step or two behind the west or east while waiting for the latest stuff to buy.

    Recently the Gulf Arabs have decided that it makes more sense to build a science/technology infrastructure rather than shelling out big bucks to import everything. We shall see how it goes but IMO, it won’t go far. As far as I can tell, with oil at >100 USD/barrel, there is so much easy money floating around that no one really feels like they have to you know,…get an education and work. That is what foreigners are for.

  11. #11 Aris
    February 21, 2008

    All religions are inane superstitions, but I gotta say that Islam seems to be about the worst. Culturally and intellectually it seems stuck in the middle ages. It doesn’t seem to have been this way always, since it was Muslim Arabs who preserved many of the ancient Greek texts, developed Algebra, etc. But after being under the Ottomans for a few hundred years, Islam seems to have totally devolved into the primitive belief system it is today.
    ____________________________________________

  12. #12 pkiwi
    February 21, 2008

    Aris – The worst?
    But there are so many contenders:
    Scientology, culturally & intellectualy stuck in bad 1950’s sci-fi;
    Mormons, culturally & intellectually stuck in 1800’s gold rush, promised land mythology;
    Catholicism, culturally & intellectually stuck in misogyny, funny dresses for men, and 3-into-1 magic.

    The imams just have better control over their flocks bad PR skills. Oh as well as being inane and superstitious.

  13. #13 pkiwi
    February 21, 2008

    (Should have been “and bad PR skills”). Must have a curse on me…

  14. #14 Nadia
    February 21, 2008

    Hold on a second. “An entire culture”? What culture are you talking about? I was raised Muslim and attended school in Pakistan for a while where we were taught evolution in biology class (in sixth and seventh grade, if I remember correctly). No challenges to it, no discussion of creation, nothing. So yes, while there is indeed a fundamentalist movement similar to yours in the US, and while the level of illiteracy in most of the so-called ‘Muslim world’ leaves it open to the lies and delusions of religious lunatics, I’d urge you to extend to us the same courtesy we do to you when we don’t automatically assume that all Americans are gun-toting, fundamentalist, creationist whackos.

  15. #15 Midwest Product
    February 21, 2008

    I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

    Fundies don’t hate Islam because its beliefs are different, they hate Islam because they’re beliefs are exactly the same but Islam has achieved greater success.

  16. #16 Janine
    February 22, 2008

    I am thinking of a meeting between a hypothetical muslim creationist and hypothetical christian creationist. They are in complete agreement that atheists evolutionists are big meanies who are just so intolerant of any creationist talk. They also find common ground in the idea that secular though has so degraded humanity, that morals are going bad. Then they realize the the person they are talking to is an infidel that must be destroyed.

  17. #17 Brian English
    February 22, 2008

    they’re beliefs are exactly the same
    Really? The are beliefs? Anyhow, the little bit muslims believe about Jesus not being crucified and only being a prophet may be a point of divergence with xtians. But, I’m not a theologian.

  18. #18 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    February 22, 2008

    Thanks Nadia, for that balance. What would you say is the dominant form of belief with respect to evolution in the Muslim societies you have experience with?

    Clearly there would have to be places where Muslims do learn about evolution, free of Allah’s meddling. Still, I would be surprised if the teachers felt free to criticise Islamic creationism.

    Anyone have any poll figures for Muslim dominant areas equivalent to those we see being taken in the US and other bastions of christendom?

  19. #19 Kimpatsu
    February 22, 2008

    A corollary to this story is that the National Secular Society in Great Britain has reported Muslim students walking out of biology lessons in high school to go and “consult their imam” when the teacher mentions the dreaded e-word.

  20. #20 Fedor
    February 22, 2008

    #14

    I appreciate Nadia adding nuance to this issue. Not to accuse PZ of bigotry, but this may be a bit too much of a generalization of so large and still various a culture. E.g. I clearly remember Turkish scientists and teachers complaining about the meddling of the Yahya movement and turning to “contra-creationists” in the Western world for help with this issue.

    Admittedly, Turkey has a relatively strong secular movement. I wonder, however, how it is in fundamentalist kingdoms like Saudi-Arabia, and I am really curious as to how science education will turn out in an actually quite literate country like Irag, and perhaps less literate country like Afghanistan.

    Anyone got more info? Personal experiences?

  21. #21 Sigmund
    February 22, 2008

    Sometimes I suspect there are two categories of Pharyngula articles – the detailed thoughtful ones, written by an intelligent and witty associate professor of biology from the University of Minnesota, and the others – written automatically by a computer script that links some individual misdeed by a religious type to blanket condemnation of everyone of the same religion. This current piece is clearly the Pharyngu-bot on a bad day.
    What proportion of readers of this blog have had encounters with creationists of the islamic variety?
    How about of the christian variety?
    Speaking from personal experience I have known lots of muslims in my time (including my ex wife who was a saudi feminist- its a long story, don’t ask) and have never encountered a single one who questioned evolution. On the other hand I have encountered many christians who did (and every single one of them were members of US based evangelical christian churches). Living in Europe maybe I have a different perspective to the US based readers of this blog and perhaps there is indeed a vibrant islamic creationist group intent on ruining education in Minnesota, but I tend to doubt it. A committed muslim may have problems with many aspects of science, but so too will anyone committed to any other religion that involves intervening gods and miracles (i.e. most religious people on earth).
    Is there any major religion that fully accepts the current scientific viewpoint of evolution? The catholic church certainly doesn’t, they have just learned not to kick up too much fuss as they realize they will get their ass handed to them on a plate again.
    For the record I’m not a religious apologist and would probably place myself in the Weinberg/Dawkins/Larry Moran camp as regards the religion,/science debate (in other words there should be no compromise – down with the framers!). There are many, many problems with islam but individual loons like Harun Yahya aside, promoting creationism is way down the list.

  22. #22 Scott Hatfield, OM
    February 22, 2008

    I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

    Precisely why I lobbied for (and was delighted to receive) a copy of the ‘Atlas of Creation.’ The cognitive dissonance that this artifact will eventually provoke in my hands will be delicious. As Huxley said, I’m sharpening my claws in readiness.

  23. #23 tsig
    February 22, 2008

    You can bring a believer to the facts but you can’t make ‘em think.

  24. #24 Milawe
    February 22, 2008

    Hello all,

    I know that not all Pharyngula readers are left of center but I think too many of comments under this post feed into Islamophobic bigotry. Yes, there are sections of the Muslim community whose beliefs and practice are completely anti-human, but let us not forget that the US and her most sycophantic allies are guilty of killing in the order of a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children, justified largely through normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.

    Some Islamic cultures are so intrinsically backwards that you can’t help but despair for their people – but again it was the west that encouraged, or even supported, the worst elements in those countries in order to weaken and (successfully) destroy their organic secular movements. You can’t divorce politics from the current high point religion holds in the Middle East and it is this dehumanizing Arabs by arguing that they’re all in the middle ages that allows us to give a pass to the leaders of our countries when they argue that the ‘war against terror’ is a war to protect liberty and freedom (or whatever the current meme is). As a westerner, I can’t do shit to stop fundamentalist Islam in Islamic countries (except to support their home grown secular movements), but I can fight against religious fundamentalism in my own country and as it happens, that fundamentalism come largely from the Christian faith.

    In my neighborhood, migrant women wear the veil as a symbol of defiance against anti-Arab racism. That’s what this kind of rhetoric does; to encourage women to defend the very forces which oppress them. Keep it in mind next time you make an unnecessary and totally obvious snark against the culture we are currently smart bombing.

  25. #25 tsig
    February 22, 2008

    You just proved my point by using loaded words.

    Why do women have hide from your eyes.

  26. #26 Chav
    February 22, 2008

    Excellent points Milawe.

  27. #27 G. Tingey
    February 22, 2008

    The REALLY SCARY thing is that the US fundies actually prefer people to be even (shock horror) muslims rather than, you know, ATHEISTS.

    Push come to shove, they would make common cause with the muslims to persecute the unbelievers (us), before they then have their civil war, to control the wreckage of the civilisation they’ve destroyed between them.

    Be very scared.

  28. #28 Marcus Ranum
    February 22, 2008

    Islamophobic bigotry.

    Does that include making fun of idiots who believe such a load of bollocks? If so, sign me up.

    I don’t hate them, so “phobic” is probably not the right word. I pity them. 100,000,000 years of evolution applied to the brain, wasted in an instant…

  29. #29 Milawe
    February 22, 2008

    “Push come to shove, they would make common cause with the muslims to persecute the unbelievers (us), before they then have their civil war”

    This might be true for a tiny minority, but the Christian fundies who are represented by such forums as the Free Republic are fully in support of murdering Iraqi women and children in the name of destroying the heretics.

    It’s all a part of the rapture logic, come on.

  30. #30 battletoad
    February 22, 2008

    Milawe: “but the Christian fundies who are represented by such forums as the Free Republic are fully in support of murdering Iraqi women and children in the name of destroying the heretics.”

    But the bible says, “thou shall not kill.”

    No, why defend religion at all?

    We have enough problems (war, pollution, scare resources) that need to be addressed, religion will only hinder our efforts.

  31. #31 Nadia
    February 22, 2008

    There are two main factors to consider when you talk about the ‘Muslim world’ (and I put it in quotes because I don’t think there really is one – each country and region has its own beliefs and customs. I can’t figure out Saudi or Irani Islam, for instance, because it’s so different to what I was taught as a child in Pakistan).

    1. That the majority of the people who live in these regions are poor and either uneducated or completely illiterate. If they believe what these religious loons tell them, at least they have the excuse that they really don’t know any better.

    2. That the few who have the privilege of education are taught math and science and english and everything else. Religion may or may not be taught – most people hire tutors for their kids if they want them to learn about religion. Note I said IF.

    For those of us who are educated, there is no conflict because we’re not taught a conflict. Creation is not really taught in basic religion courses. Yes there’s some vague Adam-and-Eve tale, but at no point is science even discussed. As for religion entering science class, why on earth would anyone discuss religion in science class?

    What we were taught, however, is that the very first instruction to people is READ. I was taught that learning, inquiry, research, discussion, debate, and, in the end, knowledge was something every Muslim had a responsibility to acquire even if, if I remember my teacher correctly, he or she had to travel all the way to China to acquire it (China being appropriately far away, I assume).

    I don’t know where this is from and I don’t know if it’s a loose interpretation or verbatim from the Koran because I’ve never bothered to look it up. It’s something that was presented to me by my elders as part of what Muslims believed and, like the equality of men and women, it is something I have grown up with. I suppose you could compare it to the bazillions of different versions of Christianity out there.
    Personally, I am an atheist, and my family and my peer group, for lack of a better word, is not religious. We are, however, still part of the Muslim cultural world, much like most of the people reading this are part of the Judeo-Christian cultural world. The difference is, every time some crackpot says or does something asinine, every single vaguely Muslim person who speaks a language you understand is plagued with questions about ‘beliefs’ and ‘culture’ and what not and expected to provide comprehensive answers. How many educated culturally Christian Americans could at the drop of a hat answer a barrage of mostly uninformed questions about those crazy Scientologists? Oh what? Not all Americans are Scientologists? You don’t say! Wow. What a wonderfully complex and intriguing culture you must have.

    Sorry…that was snarky, and I’m not trying to be rude. I’m trying to explain that, dammit, we’re just people. The US is where this creationist nonsense seems to have started and it seems that because of that, creationists from the ‘Muslim world’ are being given air time (or maybe people with no previous interest in it are getting in on the action because, hey, if the world’s only superpower thinks it’s important, why not get a few articles published while the subject is still fashionable?).

    I respect PZ for not pussyfooting around sensibilities when it comes to challenging non-science and illogic wherever he finds it. I think it is necessary to do so, and to point it out for all to see. But blanket statements like this are beneath any thinking person. I’m going with Pharyngu-bot being the writer here.

  32. #32 Milawe
    February 22, 2008

    Battletoad, people use religion to explain the world because everyone wants _something_ to explain the world. They might take the whole bible literally (in which case they’d be in some mental conflict) or they might take palatable bits as doctrine. As a wiser man than me said “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions. ”

    Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal.. Attending midnight mass at Xmas, or donating a couple of thousand to some charity for the dispossessed in Indonesia post-quake is nothing but a manifestation of a desire to do right by their fellow man; it is not really worthy of derision in terms of humanistic morality.

    Enough Christians care about the disenfranchised as do militant atheists to make irrelevant questions of moral superiority. and make schadenfreude.(as enjoyable as it may be) embarrassing. .

    More to the point, most of the world is religious, you can’t just sit there taking the piss out of 80% of the world, you need to be a part of overcoming the problem which means offering a realistic alternative. Yeah look, it’s Friday night, I’m a bit under the influence of cheap cask merlot/cab. I hope you understand my point..

  33. #33 Alfonso Armenta
    February 22, 2008

    Just because people want an explanation of everything in the universe that doesn’t either mean they will get one that they will understand, or that they will be pleased with the answer.

    But from an honest (yet deluded) desire to explain the universe, which is what some use to justify the existence of religion, to what we have to day known as ‘religious morals’ and ‘religious ideals’ there is a very long stretch.

  34. #34 Bernard Bumner
    February 22, 2008

    Science is almost a “don’t ask, don’t tell” field in Moslem countries. They do some but not a whole lot and tend to keep a low profile.

    Plenty of good science comes from Muslim countries, along with good sicnetists, and from Western Muslims. Even biologists, because I see many Turkish, Iranian, and Pakistani, researchers coming into the British system – as post-graduates, and as post-docotoral researchers.

    The Moslem world is also largely stuck in the Middle ages.

    Alas not! In the Middle-Ages, the Islamic enlightenment movement was fed by religious leaders and scholars. It was considered to be the main duty of a Muslim to seek personal education and improvement. Islamic scientists led what might be called the known-world as scientists.

  35. #35 Bob Carroll
    February 22, 2008

    Well done, Nadia and Milawe. In the US, we need to get priorities right. Here, Muslim fundamentalism is much less a problem than the Christian variety – it’s the relative populations, of course. We need to fight against all fundies, as an intellectual mandate. We also have our local terrorists, like Timothy McVeigh and his ilk, and the KKK. We can’t blame it all on those awful strangers.

    And we need to work on our vaunted technology to reduce the opportunity for violence engendered by our rapidly changing culture. Violent opportunists have too many points of attack.

    Milawe. that famous quotation from Marx is correct, in my view. Marx wasn’t disparaging religion, he was appreciating its role. “Opium of the people” was in his day a sort of praise. Then, of course, he pointed out that we would be better off if we abolished the need for that anodyne.

  36. #36 negentropyeater
    February 22, 2008

    G.Tingey, #27

    “Push come to shove, they (the US Christian fundies) would make common cause with the muslims to persecute the unbelievers”

    Interesting. I actually think that this is untrue.

    First because two sets of highly deluded people, even if some of their delusions do overlap to certain extent, will focus on the non overlaping areas, and both consider that they are mandated by their God, to convert the other ones. Finding common cause in this context is very unlikely, if not impossible.

    Second, because, as I have been witness to, during my years spent in Malaysia and Morrocco, Muslim clerics consider, generally speaking, non believers to be less of a problem than Christian or Jewish fundamentalists.
    In many occurences, I was told, they consider it to be a worst evil and even more heretic, to believe in what they consider as false notions, than to not believe at all.
    For instance, how many times were I told, as a non believer, “ah well at least you don’t believe in these nonsensical ideas that God reincarnated himself, the virgin birth, the resurection from the dead, etc…”. Many Muslim fundamentalists view non believers as a kind of “blank state”, which is easier to part with, than fundamentalists of other religions, as they say, it is not necessary to “erase false beliefs first”.

    Let’s not forget also, that muslim countries view the US, as the nest of Judeo-Christian fundamentalism, and their prime enemy, and on another hand, view W.Europe, as the nest of non belief, and a lesser enemy. And I do believe, that the reverse is, by and large, also true.

  37. #37 Stephen Wells
    February 22, 2008

    Fuller Marx: “Religion is both a response to real suffering and a reaction against that suffering. It is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the soul of soulless conditions and the heart of a heartless world. It is the opium of the people.”

    Opium = legal analgesic at the time.

    @14: Nadia, you appear to be saying that you can have good science education in an Islamic country so long as you have no Islam in the science education.

    s/Islam/Christianity/ as necessary.

  38. #38 Nadia
    February 22, 2008

    @37. Yes. I am also saying that it did not occur to us as students that the religion and science COULD be mixed. I don’t know if the idea of mixing the two ever crossed our teachers’ minds, but if it did, they certainly never communicated it. This wasn’t some miraculous holding-out against the forces of darkness. It was just, well, obvious.

  39. #39 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Nadia, you appear to be saying that you can have good science education in an Islamic country so long as you have no Islam in the science education.

    s/Islam/Christianity/ as necessary.

    Exactly; there are some cultural universals, after all.

    But in the main Nadia, Milawe and others makes an excellent case that there is enough diversity that one can’t lump all islamic nations into one homogeneous culture. I do recognize the tendency of PZ to do this, and I do think he is trying to discuss the muslim religious culture more than the culture of the muslim nations at large (s/muslim/christian/jew), but it is what amounts to a US-centric perspective that is presented.

    As for cultural diversity, I have problems to grok it, as I’m from a basically monocultural nation that now tries to embrace a reasonably large (~ 10-20 %, depending on definition [don't ask - or perhaps, do]) amount of immigrants and their views. Travel and stays help, but this is something better getting used to while growing up.

    The point I wanted to make after this prelude was that during my year long stay in US I had this unsubstantiated feeling that while US citizens embraced more diversity within their nation, they never the less weren’t particularly subjected to much foreign culture as such. Why would US coffee and bear be watered down variants of the real stuff if not a strong homogenizing factor to embrace the least common denominator were naturally present, either by market mechanisms or by cultural preferences?

    So yeah, while religion has some universal evils (coming back to the quote), it is a mistake to lump all nations or their citizens under the same description. Most atheist would agree of course, for example Dawkins makes this point (more exactly, about not defining children after their parents religion) a major part of The God Delusion.

  40. #40 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Nadia, you appear to be saying that you can have good science education in an Islamic country so long as you have no Islam in the science education.

    s/Islam/Christianity/ as necessary.

    Exactly; there are some cultural universals, after all.

    But in the main Nadia, Milawe and others makes an excellent case that there is enough diversity that one can’t lump all islamic nations into one homogeneous culture. I do recognize the tendency of PZ to do this, and I do think he is trying to discuss the muslim religious culture more than the culture of the muslim nations at large (s/muslim/christian/jew), but it is what amounts to a US-centric perspective that is presented.

    As for cultural diversity, I have problems to grok it, as I’m from a basically monocultural nation that now tries to embrace a reasonably large (~ 10-20 %, depending on definition [don't ask - or perhaps, do]) amount of immigrants and their views. Travel and stays help, but this is something better getting used to while growing up.

    The point I wanted to make after this prelude was that during my year long stay in US I had this unsubstantiated feeling that while US citizens embraced more diversity within their nation, they never the less weren’t particularly subjected to much foreign culture as such. Why would US coffee and bear be watered down variants of the real stuff if not a strong homogenizing factor to embrace the least common denominator were naturally present, either by market mechanisms or by cultural preferences?

    So yeah, while religion has some universal evils (coming back to the quote), it is a mistake to lump all nations or their citizens under the same description. Most atheist would agree of course, for example Dawkins makes this point (more exactly, about not defining children after their parents religion) a major part of The God Delusion.

  41. #41 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 22, 2008

    perhaps there is indeed a vibrant islamic creationist group intent on ruining education in Minnesota, but I tend to doubt it.

    Not in Minnesota, no…

    knowledge was something every Muslim had a responsibility to acquire even if, if I remember my teacher correctly, he or she had to travel all the way to China to acquire it (China being appropriately far away, I assume).

    ‘Utlub al `ilm hatta fi Sin — seek wisdom/knowledge/something all the way to China.

    I bet, though, that many interpret this as philosophical and/or outright religious “wisdom” rather than as science.

  42. #42 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 22, 2008

    perhaps there is indeed a vibrant islamic creationist group intent on ruining education in Minnesota, but I tend to doubt it.

    Not in Minnesota, no…

    knowledge was something every Muslim had a responsibility to acquire even if, if I remember my teacher correctly, he or she had to travel all the way to China to acquire it (China being appropriately far away, I assume).

    ‘Utlub al `ilm hatta fi Sin — seek wisdom/knowledge/something all the way to China.

    I bet, though, that many interpret this as philosophical and/or outright religious “wisdom” rather than as science.

  43. #43 Lilly de Lure
    February 22, 2008

    Hi Nadia – love the posts:

    Yes. I am also saying that it did not occur to us as students that the religion and science COULD be mixed. I don’t know if the idea of mixing the two ever crossed our teachers’ minds, but if it did, they certainly never communicated it.

    Sounds like the US could do with a few of the teachers you had on their school boards!

    Nadia, you appear to be saying that you can have good science education in an Islamic country so long as you have no Islam in the science education.

    Erm, surely the point we are making when we defend science against any flavour of ID/creo-bot is that you can have perfectly good science education in any country so long as you leave religion out of it. The problem seems to be persuading the religious of this.

    I find it rather amusing, in a sad sort of a way, that the very people whom fundie creationists Christians in the West vilify the most (fundie creationist Muslims in the East) are the very group with which they have so many things in common (and vice versa), but then self-awareness has never been the hallmark of the religious fanatic (of any stripe).

  44. #44 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Why would US coffee and bear [sic] be watered down variants

    The irony that I’m happened to do exactly what I’m arguing against is not entirely lost on me.

    I meant coffee and beer in general, damn it! The micro breweries started a revolution thankfully felt all the way here, and the coffee bean supply at stores where more diverse than those available in the nearest coffee shops here.

    @ Milawe #32:

    Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal.

    That is another major point in Dawkins TGD [recently read, if it isn't obvious by now] – the alternatives are present, and often much better than the religious – cultural and/or humanistic morality [way superior], secular laws [way, way superior], scientific knowledge of nature [way, way, ..., way superior], secular and/or humanistic interest organizations, secular charities, et cetera.

  45. #45 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Why would US coffee and bear [sic] be watered down variants

    The irony that I’m happened to do exactly what I’m arguing against is not entirely lost on me.

    I meant coffee and beer in general, damn it! The micro breweries started a revolution thankfully felt all the way here, and the coffee bean supply at stores where more diverse than those available in the nearest coffee shops here.

    @ Milawe #32:

    Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal.

    That is another major point in Dawkins TGD [recently read, if it isn't obvious by now] – the alternatives are present, and often much better than the religious – cultural and/or humanistic morality [way superior], secular laws [way, way superior], scientific knowledge of nature [way, way, ..., way superior], secular and/or humanistic interest organizations, secular charities, et cetera.

  46. #46 Duff
    February 22, 2008

    Milawi,
    You seem to be unduly influenced by the fact that 80percent of the world is religious. Other than being a basic fact, what significance is that regards this discussion? I dare say at one point in history 100% of the inhabitants of the planet thought it was flat. Also meaningless and incorrect.

    If you are sensitive to criticisms of Islam, I would suggest you get busy and start doing what you can to influence the radical islamist of the world because things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

    We atheist in christian society are doing what we can to point out the utter stupidity of our fundamentalist christians. Science will win that battle here, but science is losing the battle in the fundamentalist muslim societies.

  47. #47 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr (as glowingly described on his own foundation web site):

    Nasr chose to go to M.I.T. for college. He was offered a scholarship and was the first Iranian student to be admitted as an undergraduate at M.I.T. He began his studies at M.I.T in the Physics Department with some of the most gifted students in the country and outstanding professors of physics. His decision to study physics was motivated by the desire to gain knowledge of the nature of things, at least at the level of physical reality. However, at the end of his freshman year, although he was the top student in his class, he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism. Furthermore, he discovered that many of the metaphysical questions which he had been concerned with were not being asked, much less answered. Thus, he began to have serious doubts as to whether physics would lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality. His doubt was confirmed when the leading British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in a small group discussion with the students following a lecture he had given at M.I.T, stated that physics does not concern itself with the nature of physical reality per se but with mathematical structures related to pointer readings.
    [...]
    Nasr’s continued interest in science is made evident by his latest book on this subject, The Need for a Sacred Science. Also, together with one of his former students, Mehdi Amin Razavi, Nasr is now bringing out a major four volume work, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia which will be published by Oxford University Press. Razavi also edited earlier, The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, which is a collection of Nasr’s articles on Islamic philosophy in Persia written during the last forty years.

    Yet another example of someone who stopped thinking after becoming disillusioned with science.

  48. #48 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr = Deepak Chopra.

    A quotation from The Need for a Sacred Science:

    “The Ultimate Self in its inner infinitude is beyond all determination and cosmic polarization, but the Spirit or Intellect which is both created and uncreated, is already its first determination in the direction of manifestation.”

    Published! In a book!

  49. #49 Lilly de Lure
    February 22, 2008

    CalGeorge said:

    Yet another example of someone who stopped thinking after becoming disillusioned with science.

    Reading the quote you provided he sounds more to me like someone who gave up on science once he realised that no, physics wasn’t going to give his pre-existing religious ideas a free pass into the classroom, and has been in a snit with it ever since.

    he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism.

    This bit gave me a giggle, he was in a physics class for FSM’s sake! Why the hell did he enroll he found a scientific atmosphere oppressive?

    Silly, Silly little man (Islam has evidently found it’s CS Lewis).

  50. #50 Santiago
    February 22, 2008

    It’s scary that this is the sort of world that the christian fundies are trying to pull us towards, even if they don’t know it. I think this might be a good argument to give to moderates, their implicit support and tolerance for religious nuts would eventually take us into this middle ages style society.

  51. #51 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 22, 2008

    If you think that’s sad, PZ, consider the following from MemriTV: A physicist and an astronomer, both Iraqis, debate whether or not the world is flat.

    That’s probably because as a response to recent events the Iraqis think that the (or at least their) world will be flattened.

    I know that not all Pharyngula readers are left of center but I think too many of comments under this post feed into Islamophobic bigotry. Yes, there are sections of the Muslim community whose beliefs and practice are completely anti-human, but let us not forget that the US and her most sycophantic allies are guilty of killing in the order of a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children, justified largely through normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.

    This has nothing to do with Bigotry. This is about pointing out groups of people promoting ignorance in the name of a religion. If they weren’t making ridiculous claims about subject matter they are so poorly educated or are desperately ignorant then they wouldn’t draw the fire of people who actually know more about the subject. If you read this blog frequently, Islam takes its hits but by a long distance Christian stupidity and ignorance takes the majority of the criticism.

    That charge is purely an appeal to emotion and is not based on logic or facts and brining up the war in Iraq (while completely insane it is) has exactly zero to do with the fact that some Islamic groups are promoting stupidity. It’s a red herring.

  52. #52 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 22, 2008

    Bah. Late night call into to fix a crashed server and 1.5 hours of sleep is showing.

    Should have closed that blockquote and started a new paragraph after “justified largely through normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.”

    time for more coffe

  53. #53 Lilly de Lure
    February 22, 2008

    MAJeff said:

    countdown to gerry shrieking about zionist peeyar in 5….4….3….2….

    That’s a point, almost 50 comments in and not a peep yet. You don’t think MOSSAD actually do have him tied up in basement somewhere do you (and if so how large a bribe do you think it’ll take to get them to keep him)?

    ;-)

  54. #54 Matt Penfold
    February 22, 2008

    “That’s a point, almost 50 comments in and not a peep yet. You don’t think MOSSAD actually do have him tied up in basement somewhere do you (and if so how large a bribe do you think it’ll take to get them to keep him)?

    ;-)”

    If MOSSAD do have him then they will they will know what he is like. I think they would keep him locked up for free.

    I often think the Big Brother TV programs missed a trick. They could have done a really worthwhile public service in inviting some of the worst loons around into the house, locking the door, turning off the lights and walking away.

  55. #55 Pharyngu-bot
    February 22, 2008

    The Pharyngu-bot has a purpose. The Pharyngu-bot highlights the wickedness and stupidity of the religious without compromise or amelioration because you can always get the excuses and apologetics from the standard media. The Pharyngu-bot wants to raise your consciousness and make you aware that slapping the name of God on something does not make it noble and wise — it typically makes it stupid and wrong.

    The Pharyngu-bot thinks Myers should simplify his blog categories and consolidate “Kooks” and “Stupidity” with “Religion.” The Pharyngu-bot considers those words to be synonyms.

    The Pharyngu-bot thinks tying bad behavior to whole countries is a good idea — the Pharyngu-bot thinks far too many people use the cop-out of blaming the bad on a subset of their culture, excusing themselves from blame. The Pharyngu-bot computes in America, is part of the American culture, and holds the idiocy of American politics and the creation wars to be part of its responsibility — and does not care how smart and sensible you are, if you claim to be part of a culture, you must bear its failings as well as its glories. The Pharyngu-bot thinks that a deep sense of shame among the secular, intellectual members of the United States, the Islamic world, or the Christian world is a necessary prerequisite to motivate change.

    The Pharyngu-bot is not about us-vs.-them, but about we-is-them and they-is-us, and you’d damn well better wake up to the stupid kooks and evil cultural paradigms that are swaddling you.

  56. #56 Ian Gould
    February 22, 2008

    “I was raised Muslim and attended school in Pakistan for a while…”

    Nadia, around here that pretty much automatically disqualifies you from having a valid opinion about Islam.

    The real experts are the guys who once took a taxi ride with a driver who was Muslim (or Sikh or something) and are therefore eminently qualified to pronounce on the intellectual inferiority of all Muslims.

  57. #57 poke
    February 22, 2008

    Don’t fret. One day they’ll progress from denying evolution to denying that science can produce truth of any kind and we’ll happily welcome them into our midst and pronounce them “sophisticated.”

  58. #58 Ian Gould
    February 22, 2008

    “In my neighborhood, migrant women wear the veil as a symbol of defiance against anti-Arab racism. ”

    And in Malaysia and Indonesia women wear it because it was symbol of nationaliam and assertion of their local cultural identities in the face of British and Dutch colonialiam.

    No, wait, they were it because they’e brainwahsed slaves in constant fear of torture and murder by their blood-crazedesadistic male relatives and acquaintances.

    It says so on the internet so it must be true.

  59. #59 raven
    February 22, 2008

    Plenty of good science comes from Muslim countries, along with good sicnetists, and from Western Muslims. Even biologists, because I see many Turkish, Iranian, and Pakistani, researchers coming into the British system – as post-graduates, and as post-docotoral researchers.

    Sure, there are many smart Moslem scientists. They tend to get their higher education in the west and stay and work in the west. A classic brain drain. The head of the US NIH is a Moslem. IIRC a Pakistani scientist from a Xian derived sect even won a Nobel prize in physics.

    For the amount of money and population they have they do very little science and being a scientist in some countries isn’t particularly valued. Look what happened in Libya with their AIDS problem. They didn’t even understand routine infectious disease control in the medical system.

  60. #60 Lilly de Lure
    February 22, 2008

    Matt Penfold said (re Jerry)

    If MOSSAD do have him then they will they will know what he is like. I think they would keep him locked up for free.

    Only if they’ve got him gagged or have a deaf guard standing over him, if not I’d suspect they’d pay to get rid of him!

  61. #61 Margaret
    February 22, 2008

    “The REALLY SCARY thing is that the US fundies actually prefer people to be even (shock horror) muslims rather than, you know, ATHEISTS.”

    John Allen, the Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, commenting on NPR’s Morning Edition, November 29:
    “On the other hand, Benedict clearly does want good working relations with Islam because, at the end of the day, the fundamental clash of civilizations that he sees in the world does not run between Islam and the West, it runs between belief and unbelief, that is, between cultures that prize religion, prize the supernatural, and those that don’t. And in that regard he thinks of Muslims as his natural allies.”

  62. #62 tyrone slothrop
    February 22, 2008

    This seems a rather spurious claim:

    “an entire culture has closed itself off to a significant and well-tested scientific concept.”

    So, Islam is now a “culture?” Though we know that a variety of peoples, from the Gayo of Sumatra to the Morrocan Muslims, have indeed very different “cultures” and interpretations of Islam. Here is another hint, cultures do not do anything. People do. Such essentialist arguments are not just bad social science, they are bad science.

    We have known this for awhile now, though we continue to ignore or forget as the case may be. John Bowen’s 1992 article, On Scriptural essentialism and ritual variation: Muslim sacrifice in Sumatra and Morocco. American Ethnologist. 19(4): 656-671 is a nice place to start. Good science should be empirical, it should not be based on sweeping generalizations that essentialize complex social realities.

    One would, also, of course want to know what kind of empirical research this Edis had done. I am sure, beyond being trained in physics, he also conducted serious empirical research in a variety of Muslim countries. Perhaps he did ethnographic research in a variety of locales? Surveys? Interviews?

  63. #63 Bureaucratus Minimis
    February 22, 2008

    Thanks, Nadia, for your posts. Your writing is both informative and persuasive, and offers a perspective that is not often heard in most of the online debates I’ve seen.

  64. #64 poke
    February 22, 2008

    In the Middle-Ages, the Islamic enlightenment movement was fed by religious leaders and scholars. It was considered to be the main duty of a Muslim to seek personal education and improvement. Islamic scientists led what might be called the known-world as scientists.

    Science was opposed by Islam even in the Middle Ages. Natural philosophers were always on the defensive and natural philosophy was never institutionalized or considered a part of normal education. It was never a major part of Islamic society. Furthermore, “science” in this context means mostly commentaries on the works of Aristotle; i.e., philosophy. Only historians could consider something that involves no observation, no experiment and no quantification or mathematics “science.”

  65. #65 gerald spezio
    February 22, 2008

    Nadia, I am reading, absorbing, respecting, and thanking you for your objectivity, scholarship, and contributions to a critical discussion of our human frailties and political passions from all perspectives – as in the best science.

    Innocent people’s lives hang in the balance and our most rigorous understanding & humanistic reconciliation of the causal chains in this scientific issue.

  66. #66 gerald spezio
    February 22, 2008

    Bureaucratus Minimus & tyrone slothrop, how well I know.
    I always wondered (and hoped) when and where some other observers would come forth.
    Grazie.

  67. #67 battletoad
    February 22, 2008

    @ #32

    | “Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal..”

    Milawe, what is more real than reality? I can only offer that much to the delusional. I can’t offer hope for fantastic things like eternal life, virgins in heaven, or using the force. However, science might one day provide extended life, unnatural abilities (human flight), and near perfect paradise (just ask Hue Hefner about Viagra). Oh wait, science already provides these. This is real hope. Science is real hope. That is the better hope, that I propose. And, who knows, the future of science could hold hope for life eternal and things greater than anything in those myths. But at least, if we believe in science, we can keep progressing, instead of regressing.

    Science is based on observations of reality, and it cuts across all cultures and religions. My culture is no different (yours too). If 80% of the world is steeped in cultures that cannot see the hope that science offers, and not free themselves from their opiate addiction, then we have to help them break free. I agree with you, we have to offer them an alternative; fortunately, we already have one.

    And, if I have to piss on 80% of the world (to wake them up to reality), then watch me die trying to drink enough water.

  68. #68 gerald spezio
    February 22, 2008

    PZ, more than most anybody, you have gallantly advanced the banner of objective science against the forces of darkness – especially religious darkness.

    Your well deserved status and the respect that goes with it, however, comes with a price – I am just one who pays close attention to your every word and nuance – possibly sometimes unfairly.

    Nadia’s statement quoted here is precisely why I have taken you to task for some of your posts or some part of your posts.

    And almost surely you are innocent of all the possible political implications of those posts – that I claim may exist.

    Here is a repeat of Nadia’s comment.

    “I respect PZ for not pussyfooting around sensibilities when it comes to challenging non-science and illogic wherever he finds it. I think it is necessary to do so, and to point it out for all to see. But blanket statements like this are beneath any thinking person. I’m going with Pharyngu-bot being the writer here.”

    Posted by: Nadia | February 22, 2008 5:34 AM

  69. #69 gerald spezio
    February 22, 2008

    Milawe, your precise words are passionately respected and on point in this life or death debate;
    ” … but let us not forget that the US and her most sycophantic allies are guilty of killing in the order of a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children, justified largely through normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.”

    pkiwi, Fedor, & Sigmund; from one scientific grunt to his fellows;
    Grazie, because “A lone baboon is a very lonely baboon.”

  70. #70 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    (Allah is the one God) who made all things He created excellent; and He began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his offspring from the extract of base fluid; then He fashioned and breathed into him of His Spirit; and gave you hearing and sight and the faculty of inferring. And yet how little are the thanks you offer! Qaliluma ma Tashkuroon (Al-Quran, 32:7-9)

    Is this idiotic statement part of the Muslim culture we are supposed to respect?

    I think I’ll save my respect for other things.

  71. #71 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    “I’d urge you to extend to us the same courtesy we do to you when we don’t automatically assume that all Americans are gun-toting, fundamentalist, creationist whackos.”

    Americans are residents of a continent.

    Muslims are people who believe in Allah.

    Big difference.

    Bashing all the people who live in a particular place: not a good idea.

    Bashing all the people who believe a load of crap about Allah: it’s always open season on stupidity.

  72. #72 SLC
    February 22, 2008

    Re Nadia & others

    Although it is true that there are competent scientists from various Muslim countries, the sad fact is that only one Muslim, Abdus Salam, won a Nobel Prize in physics and the only Arab to win a Nobel Prize in physics, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, is an Algerian Jew. Although some may attribute this to Western bias, a number of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian physicists have won Nobel Prizes in Physics. This dispite the fact that Muslims make up some 20% of the worlds’ population.

  73. #73 gerald spezio
    February 22, 2008

    CalGeorge; you stated above in an earlier post; “Muslim thinker is an oxymoron.”

    Now, immediately above you quote the Koran to illustrate the clear idiocy of Muslim religion.

    Since you claim to respect clear thinking and you claim to know it when you see it, may I suggest that your quoted passage is a perfect paraphrase of Christian Biblical Genesis.

    Such glaring sociocultural similarity might give you scientific pause and suggest that a sound scientific strategy would consider looking for the causal chains of both claims about how the world originated – especially since they approach identity.

    A scientist’s agenda, so to speak, is searching for the truth – not that it is easy.

  74. #74 tyrone slothrop
    February 22, 2008

    Dear CalGeorge,

    This is either intentionally dishonest or unintentionally dishonest, either way it is certainly a factually false claim:

    “Americans are residents of a continent.”

  75. #75 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    “American” is a word that represents an incredibly diverse range of attitudes.

    “Muslim” is a word that signifies belief in Islam.

    That’s all I was trying to say.

  76. #76 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    Wikipedia:

    Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly pronounced the Shahadah, which states, “There is none worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is His Messenger.” This is often translated as, “There is no God except Allah”; “Allah” is the Arabic word for “the God”. Currently, there are an estimated 1.4 billion Muslims, making it the second largest religion in the world.

    Well? In my book “Muslim thinker” is an oxymoron because someone who professes to “There is no God except Allah” is not thinking.

    Simple.

  77. #77 tyrone slothrop
    February 22, 2008

    Dear CalGeorge,

    What does a “belief in Islam” mean? On a local level, as anthropologists like John Bowen have shown, there is a great deal of diversity of beliefs. The Gayo of Sumatra are very different in their Islamic practices, than Muslims of Morocco. And, even internally there are debates and disagreements. It seems we could all stand to read a bit of the ethnographic research on Islamic practices. Besides Bowen, Steve Caton, Flagg Miller, Lila Abu-Lughod, Robert Fernea, Elizabeth Fernea, and still others, have all looked at local practices of Islam. As a global “religion” it is variously localized (the local knowledge of Geertz). Perhaps my degree in anthropology makes me less than eager to bash other people and a bit more willing to attempt understanding.

  78. #78 Chav
    February 22, 2008

    And, if I have to piss on 80% of the world (to wake them up to reality), then watch me die trying to drink enough water.

    But Battletoad, what does that mean in reality? It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.

    The religious in these countries are not being “pissed on”, they’re being incinerated by bombs, napalm and cluster bombs.

    They are being “liberated” from their ignorance with 500 pound high explosive bombs.

  79. #79 ndt
    February 22, 2008

    Nadia, in #14 you make a good point but using a bad example. I am sure there was quality science education in Pakistan when you went to school. But as you may have noticed, things have changed in Pakistan over the last twenty years.

  80. #80 poke
    February 22, 2008

    Chav,

    But Battletoad, what does that mean in reality? It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.

    I’m pretty sure secular criticisms of Islam played absolutely no role in the decision to invade Iraq. Half the population are probably as likely to know Iraq’s religious affiliation as they are to find it on a map anyway. Spreading America’s civic religion – liberal democracy – is enough to get people all wide-eyed and frothy these days.

  81. #81 Chav
    February 22, 2008

    I’m pretty sure secular criticisms of Islam played absolutely no role in the decision to invade Iraq.

    I’m not sure about that Battletoad. I’d have to trawl through the utterances of the Cruise missile liberals and that’s not my idea of a good time.

    My point really though is that the MSM doesn’t discriminate in the source of the criticism of Islam. It lumps it together with the Xtian fundamentalism of leading Republicans and the more openly pro-imperialist rationales for war to feed into the Islamophobic meme.

  82. #82 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Although it is true that there are competent scientists from various Muslim countries, the sad fact is that only one Muslim, Abdus Salam, won a Nobel Prize in physics and the only Arab to win a Nobel Prize in physics, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, is an Algerian Jew. Although some may attribute this to Western bias, a number of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian physicists have won Nobel Prizes in Physics.”

    How many Latin Americans have won Nobels in the scientific disciplines?

    South East Asians?

    Subsaharan Africans?

    Maybe the underrepresentation has less to do with Islam per se than with poverty, political repression which discourage intellectual curiosity and autocratic governments that systemically underfund science education and research?

    Take a look at Japan – 95% or more of the Japanese are Shnitoists, a religion every bit as irrational as Islam and, if anything, more innately inconsistent with scientific inquiry. Yet they’ve won 9 Nobels in the scientific discplines.

    Take a look at China – all of the four Chinese laureates in the Physical sciences live and work in the US (and one of them is an American whose parents were living temporarily in China when he was born.)

  83. #83 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    As for the claim that Islamic science consisted only of commentaries on the Greeks:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_al-Haytham

    “Ibn al-Haytham is regarded as the father of optics for his influential Book of Optics, which correctly explained and proved the modern intromission theory of vision, and for his experiments on optics, including experiments on lenses, mirrors, refraction, reflection, and the dispersion of light into its constituent colours.[8] He studied binocular vision and the moon illusion, speculated on the finite speed, and rectilinear propagation of light,[9] and argued for the corpuscular theory. Due to his formulation of a modern quantitative, empirical and experimental approach to physics and science, he is considered the pioneer of the modern scientific method[10][11] and the originator of experimental science[12] and experimental physics,[13] and some have described him as the “first scientist” for these reasons.[14] He is also considered by some to be the founder of experimental psychology[15] for his experimental approach to the psychology of visual perception and optical illusions,[16] and a pioneer of the philosophical field of phenomenology. His Book of Optics has been ranked alongside Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica as one of the most influential books in the history of physics,[17] for initiating a revolution in optics[18] and visual perception.[19]

    Among his other achievements, Ibn al-Haytham gave the first clear description[20] and correct analysis[21] of the camera obscura, discovered Fermat’s principle of least time and the law of inertia (known as Newton’s first law of motion),[22] discovered the concept of momentum (part of Newton’s second law of motion),[23] described the attraction between masses and was aware of the magnitude of acceleration due to gravity at a distance,[24] discovered that the heavenly bodies were accountable to the laws of physics, presented a critique and reform of Ptolemaic astronomy, first stated Wilson’s theorem in number theory, formulated and solved Alhazen’s problem geometrically using early ideas related to calculus and mathematical induction,[25] and in his optical research laid the foundations for the later development of telescopic astronomy,[26] as well as for the microscope and the use of optical aids in Renaissance art.[27]“

  84. #84 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.”

    Alhazen

  85. #85 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrico_Fermi#Personal_life

    Anyone want to argue that as a Catholic and a believer in such ideas as the virgin birth, the resurrection and transubstantiation, Enrico Fermi was “not a thinker”?

  86. #86 Brownian, OM
    February 23, 2008

    Anyone want to argue that as a Catholic and a believer in such ideas as the virgin birth, the resurrection and transubstantiation, Enrico Fermi was “not a thinker”?

    It’s pretty self evident he must not have been much of a thinker with regard to those idiocies.

  87. #87 Ichthyic
    February 23, 2008

    Anyone want to argue that as a Catholic and a believer in such ideas as the virgin birth, the resurrection and transubstantiation, Enrico Fermi was “not a thinker”?

    The point is not to encourage handicaps simply because some have been notable in their attempts to do well in spite of them.

  88. #88 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    Spend five minutes with the average scientist discussing sport, politics; their capacity to hold their liquor; their sex appeal; their singing ability or the uniquely wondrous qualities of their kids and you’ll soon realise that they’re as capable of self-delusion as anyone else.

    As a further example, AQ Khan managed to combine the intellectual capability to build Pakistan’s nuclear weapons with support for militant Islam.

    The point isn’t whether a belief in Islam or any other religion is desirable or positive for a scientist. The point is scientists all over the world seem to function perfectly well while adhering to all sorts of nonsensical beliefs. I fail to see why Islam should present a different and insurmountable barrier.

  89. #89 negentropyeater
    February 23, 2008

    Ian,

    that’s one of my favourite quotes from Ibn Al Haytham, there are many other nice ones from him.
    The point is that 1000 years ago, Islam was in a process of, should I say, enlightment. But then, it all stopped. And obscurantism showed its ugly face.

    So, I have to agree with others here, what do we want to encourage (if at all we can have a modest influence) ?

    And I have no problem if intelligent, well educated people, after having considered all the arguments, continue to believe in (strange) things. At least, it’s their choice. Nobody was obliging Fermi, Lemaître, or now Collins and Miller to believe in these things.
    The problem is, that in the muslim world, more than anywhere else, it is not, a matter of personal choice, but an obligation. And that’s what needs to change.

  90. #90 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Ian Gould, I am both grateful and edified by your scholarly commentary.

    A recent study in the UK asserting the overwhelming anti-Muslim distortions prevalent in the UK media.
    Demonizing by assertion an entire civilization and culture by design.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/nov/14/pressandpublishing.religion

  91. #91 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Chav, have you visited this website displaying gruesome photographs of actual “liberated” Muslim women?

    http://poetryforpalestine.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!92AA638F9B6EA940!1628/?startingImageIndex=28&commentsExpand=1&addCommentExpand=0&addCommentFocus=0&pauseSlideshow=0

    The nitty gritty and “how to” liberate Muslim women from horrendous Muslim oppression.

  92. #92 Jake
    February 23, 2008

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I just wanted to point out (as someone who lives in a city with a large Muslim population, and who attends a campus where Muslims make up a very significant proportion of the student body) something that may not be known to people whose knowledge of Muslims is entirely theoretical:

    When a Muslim religious leader makes a comment of the form “Muslims don’t XYZ” or “Muslims believe ABC,” he’s always committing a No True Scotsman fallacy. What he means is “I don’t XYZ and I believe ABC. Any Muslim who wants to be in my good graces had better believe ABC and refrain from XYZ as well!” while completely ignoring the large numbers of Muslims who, sure, believe some wacky stuff, but aren’t batshit insane.

    Which is all to say that there are plenty of Muslims who accept the theory of evolution.

  93. #93 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    negentropyeater, we’re largely in agreement.

    For me though one of the key questions is how do we effect change in the Muslim world.

    Many posters here seem to be of the opinion that we simply need to keep telling the Muslims how silly and inferior their beliefs are.

    To me it just seems that reminding Muslims of the glories of their past and showing them that intellectual inquiry isn’t inconsistent with Islam or their cultures is more likely to be effective.

  94. #94 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re Ian Gould

    Mr. Gould is seriously in error in claiming that Islamic beliefs have nothing to do with the lack of scientific advances in the Islamic world. Attached is a presentation by Neil Tyson given at the 2006 Beyond Belief Conference in which he explains exactly what happened to stifle scientific advances therein.

    http://www.spikedhumor.com/articles/96705/Neil_Tyson_Islamic_Science_9th_12th_Century.html

  95. #95 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Ian, ” … how do we effect (sic) change in the Muslim world?”

    Many of us would like to start with making a crumb of change both in Supernation and Israel. – stopping the ongoing murder and genocide in Iraq and Palestine.

    Forget it! – because there are powerful forces and interests who desire even more murder and mayhem on Muslims. We should not be surprised when we observe the unbridled use limitless lying, treachery, and manipulation to achieve their openly stated murderous ends.

    But we can’t even make a significant dent in our own present “government’s homocidial method based on outright fraud.”
    We are making change in the Muslim world alright – routinely and daily murdering the innocent Muslim civilian population by the thousands.

  96. #96 battletoads
    February 23, 2008

    @ #75

    But Battletoad, what does that mean in reality? It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.

    Chav, it means: I’ll do what I can to promote science and “real” hope, even, if 80% of the world needs to hear it. In NO way did my statement justify the war on terror, or incinerating people with bombs. That said, war should never be an option, but unfortunately mass movements are the most effective way to motivate change in large demographics; and war is usually one of the bi-products of a rapid movement. In Iraq, the rapid mass movement (not speaking of our wiping out the Saddam regime)of religion, which resulted in civil war, and the movements associated with the political void are at fault for the high number of deaths. Again, religion and politics are to blame for loss of life and suffering. I don’t condone this atmosphere of suffering, and that is why I want to change it through other means; mainly, to increase science and education in these poor regions. Please. Don’t equate my efforts to justification for war.

  97. #97 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    PZ, here is a very unpleasant picture to go with the “unpleasant picture” drawn by Taner Edis about Muslim creationism.

    As you say they are “not pleasant” pictures.

    http://poetryforpalestine.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!92AA638F9B6EA940!1628/?startingImageIndex=28&commentsExpand=1&addCommentExpand=0&addCommentFocus=0&pauseSlideshow=0

  98. #98 SteveF
    February 23, 2008

    Gerald,

    A recent study in the UK asserting the overwhelming anti-Muslim distortions prevalent in the UK media.

    This study wasn’t necessarily overly reliable, as 10 seconds on google will reveal. Your uncritical acceptance wouldn’t have anything to do with your deep ideological prejudices would it?

    http://www.nickcohen.net/?p=268

    http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2007/11/13/livingstone_islamophobia_report_finally_published.php

    These critics are war mongering zionists though, so you can dismiss them if you like.

  99. #99 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Battletoad, your statement at #64 that you may have to piss on lesser mortals for their lack of scientific enlightenment is a cardinal crime against the “objective science” that you claim to respect.

    Being an omniscient autocrat in the name of sacred science is a most egregious and glaring contradiction.

    Your correction is received, but I would suggest that you consider checking your metaphysics and pre-conceptions about what science is about.

    It is not a big jump from pissing on them to killing them, and it was very much in order to bring your “crypto imperialism” to the fore.

  100. #100 MAJeff
    February 23, 2008

    Damn, gerry, you are one incoherent motherfucker.

  101. #101 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    Since SLC apparently feels obliged to refer to me in the third person I will respond in kind.

    1. SLC cites Neil Tyson on the role of Al Ghazali in he decline of Islamic science. In doing so, he fails to explain why Al Ghazali was any more or less Islamic than Al Haytham et al.

    Al Ghazali cited Islamic justifications for his views. Lysenko cited atheism and scientific views for his.

    Tyson also neglects to mention the sack of Baghdad.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Baghdad_%281258%29

  102. #102 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Here is a good test of our “scientific objectivity.”

    Supernation has already cold bloodly murdered several hundred thousand innocent men, women, and children in Iraq.

    An Iraqi Muslim man concludes that the inhabitants of murdering Supernation are all bloodthirsty murderers.

    The devastated & enraged Muslim man “decides” to cut my throat and your throat for being a murdering militarist & mad dog guilty gringo from Supernation.

    He screams, “you murdered my wife and three children as he cuts my throat and your throat.”

    A Merican psychologist or typical anti-Muslim blogger explains that the Muslim murderer of the two of us clearly suffers from anti-Gringoism & mental illness.

    Yabut, a surviving blogger says. “they were completely innocent of any part of the murder.”

    True enough and very dead just like the Muslim’s wife & children.!

  103. #103 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    So as PZ advises in the title of this post, it could get worse.

    And the probabilty is that “it” (the continual murdering in the name of all kinds of the most phantasmagoricial justifications) will get worse – much worse.

    As scientists, what would be our best attempt to stop or limit the murdering?

    First of all, it would be mandatory to investigate objectively and discover who is doing what to whom.

    If we continually throw pepper in each other’s eyes, our chances of success will surely diminish to zero, and we are plenty close enough now.

  104. #104 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    Al Ghazali cited Islamic justifications for his views. Lysenko cited atheism and scientific views for his.

    Lysenko cited Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism for his. “Mendelism-Morganism-Weissmanism” (as he called the science of genetics) had to be wrong because, he said, it was incompatible with communism.

    In other words, both of them cited religious justifications for their views.

  105. #105 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    Al Ghazali cited Islamic justifications for his views. Lysenko cited atheism and scientific views for his.

    Lysenko cited Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism for his. “Mendelism-Morganism-Weissmanism” (as he called the science of genetics) had to be wrong because, he said, it was incompatible with communism.

    In other words, both of them cited religious justifications for their views.

  106. #106 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    From comment 92:

    ” … how do we effect (sic) change in the Muslim world?”

    No, no, “effect” is correct here. The idea is not to affect a change that’s already happening, but to produce change, to put change into effect — to effect change.

  107. #107 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    From comment 92:

    ” … how do we effect (sic) change in the Muslim world?”

    No, no, “effect” is correct here. The idea is not to affect a change that’s already happening, but to produce change, to put change into effect — to effect change.

  108. #108 windy
    February 23, 2008

    Anyone want to argue that as a Catholic and a believer in such ideas as the virgin birth, the resurrection and transubstantiation, Enrico Fermi was “not a thinker”?

    I’ll argue that we shouldn’t accept unsourced claims on Wikipedia just like that…

    There’s a book on Fermi available online. It quotes his wife saying that Fermi “took an agnostic view of all phenomena…” and other interesting stuff.

  109. #109 poke
    February 23, 2008

    Ian Gould, the historian attributes the status “father of x” for any mention of x, regardless of how ambiguous or correct (or influential). I haven’t studied al-Haytham in particular but I’ve studied Medieval science and the evidence is unconvincing. Even in the list of things you gave they basically argued that he recognized light is involved in vision and thereby attributed to him optics, psychology, the experimental method and so on. He also apparently “speculated” on a great many things.

  110. #110 mmghosh
    February 23, 2008

    Jake,

    60% of my neighbours are Muslim. None of them think deeply about the subject of evolution. Most, if asked, have some dim idea of creationism, and that’s about it. Very few Muslims examine their beliefs in the light of reason.

    Nadia,

    If you have gone to a subcontinental school then you have never had to be taught creationism because that was not a part of the syllabus laid down by the Brits. It wasn’t a well thought out policy by educationists. And you were probably lucky not to have been educated in a madrasa anyway.

    Here, in India, evolution is the only viewpoint that is taught in schools at any level. Creationism is not even discussed, far less considered as any form of an “alternative”. Fortunately, evolution is very complementary to Hinduism, so it has not been a problem to Hindus at all – rather it vindicates their world-view.

  111. #111 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    mmghosh, would you consider giving us some more specific commentary about your statement; “evolution is very complementary to Hinduism so it has not been a problem to Hindus at all.”

    As you may have noticed, there is an ongoing industry hereabouts concerning the ramifications of the evolution/religion controversy.

  112. #112 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re gerald spezio

    I don’t want to hijack this thread by starting a discussion of the Israel/Palestinian problem but Mr. spezio brought up the subject so I feel compelled to respond to his rant. Mr. spezio charges that the Government of Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.

    1. Apparently, the homicide bombings and qassem attacks by the Palestinians against Israel don’t count in his delusional world.

    2. Far from being genocidal, the Israeli response had been far too mild. The Palestinians are fortunate that the late and unlamented dictator of Syria, Hafaz Assad is not the Prime Minister of Israel. When subjected to similar actions by Islamic extremists emanating from the Syrian city of Hama, Assad, in 1982, had the town surrounded by several hundred artillery pieces and proceeded to bombard it for 48 hours, killing some 20,000 inhabitants. Brutal but effective; those extremists haven’t caused any trouble in Syria since that time. The New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman gave this action the sobriquet Hama Rules.

    Re Ian Gould

    Mr. Gould is obviously an apologist for Islamic fundamentalism. At the same conference, there was also a commentary on the same issue raised by Dr. Tyson by Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg (I was not able to find a snippet of the part of Prof. Weinbergs’ presentation relevant to the issue; however, his entire presentation is available over at Google video) . But I guess, to Chamberlainists like Mr. Gould, neither Dr. Tyson or Prof. Weinberg know what they are talking about.

  113. #113 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    David, mea culpa. Only a blockhead gringo would foolishly try to correct a real native English speaker.

    I have been infected with “affecting things” but not change since the stern grammar lady in junior high school.

  114. #114 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    MAJeff, is your tasteless accusation that anybody who ignores you is therefore a “motherfucker” a childish and desperate plea for attention or just a demonstration of your lack of ability and content?

    Perhaps you are demonstrating both?

    When you hear iyama sociologist, run for cover.

  115. #115 tyrone slothrop
    February 23, 2008

    Tom Friedman, not really a scholar.

  116. #116 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Yessir SLC, not only have the Israelis herded almost two million Gaza Palestinians into a concentration camp for starvation & genocide, the kindly and benevolent Israelis are murdering them on a daily basis with weapons bought by more than four billion in US foreign aid – the largest foreign aid to any country.

    Yessir, not only is this true, the unlimited open checkbook Israeli propaganda machine is working round the clock to make sure that most Mericans don’t even know it.
    The insidious Israeli anti-Muslim framing too is supported by the 4 billion in US foreign aid to suffering Israel.

    Grazie for bringing it to our attention.
    It is so horribly gruesome and cruel that it is difficult to keep in one’s awareness.

  117. #117 tyrone slothrop
    February 23, 2008

    “Homicide bombings”, interesting turn of phrase, which clearly has an indexical stance associated with it as well. Didn’t Fox News promote the use of “homicide bombings?” Ditto the reference to “Chamberlain.” A clear indexical linkage there as well.

    None of this, of course, changes the fact that sweeping generalizations and essentializing claims about Muslims are not based on serious scholarship and are not empirically tested. There are scholars who study contemporary Muslim societies. Scholars who have shown the diversity among and in Muslim societies. Idiotic books that claim to explain how Muslims believe, while profitable, often operate on a variety of conflations.

  118. #118 tyrone slothrop
    February 23, 2008

    …explain how ALL Muslims believe…

  119. #119 Ichthyic
    February 23, 2008

    When you hear iyama sociologist, run for cover.

    BS.

    I call you on that one.

    I call you on including yourself as a scientist.

    put up or shut up.

    I can cite a paper I’ve published in a journal.

    you?

  120. #120 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Here is a Israeli website selling Tom Freidman selling “freedom from Arab oil.”

    Click the viddy and check out both James Woolsey and Tom Freidman, journalist whore from the NY Times, spouting the anti-Muslim anti-Arab hype.

    Truly a test one one’s ability to grasp the abject treachery and the heart & soul of framing behavior in it all.

  121. #121 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Here is Tom Freidman on video giving us an “objective account” or “our problems” and telling us what to do in order to save ourselves from filthy Arab oil.
    http://setamericafree.org/

  122. #122 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Okay Slothrop, you must be some kind of an anti-framing crackpot, eh?

    Framing is in, Man, you can even write papers about it!

  123. #123 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re gerald spezio

    Mr. spezio obviously gets his information from such web sites as stormfront and David Duke.

    1. Mr. spezio claims that Israel is behaving in a beastly manner towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. One might have some sympathy for them if they ceased firing qassems into Sderot and sending homicide bombers to blow up pizza parlors. But then of course to the spezios of the world, killing Jews is perfectly OK. I seem to recall a certain Austrian painter warbling the same tune. Probably one of Mr. spezios’ heroes.

    2. Mr. spezio seems to believe that the International Zionist Conspiracy controls the worlds news media. That will come as something of a revelation to the BBC and the Guardian.

    3. Mr. spezio seems to believe that the Israelis are something less then kind and benevolent towards the Palestinians. Compared to who, Hafaz Assad?

  124. #124 Ichthyic
    February 23, 2008

    Man, you can even write papers about it!

    speaking of papers people have written…

  125. #125 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Ichthyic, mea culpa. A Bayesian correction – as a result of more data coming in.

    Run – as fast as you can.

    Life is precious, and a good brain is too.

    What is your major?

  126. #126 Manish Ghosh
    February 23, 2008

    Gerald

    Hinduism is not a canonical faith in the sense that it doesn’t have a single text or set of texts that is regarded as infallible.

    Also, Hinduism has a cosmogony that is a modification of the Steady State Theory – Hindu cosmogony has no beginning and no end, simply an endless cycle of creation and destruction.

    Also, the whole creation process is one in which there is no philosophical objection to evolution in fact, as I said, the very reverse being the case. Two of the six classical schools of Hindu doctrine are explicitly atheist schools – the Sankhya and the Nyaya-Vaisheshika school which latter propounded an atomic theory of the world, completely rejecting the notion of a creator.

    Chandogya Upanishad Chap 6.2 Where it is explained that creation happened when “one only without a second” went on to covert itself, first to energy, and then to matter in its three states – ether (gas), liquid and solid, and then into a multiplicity of forms of combination of these – which is pretty compatible with both modern cosmogony and with evolution.

    Even in popular, less philosophical forms of Hinduism, i.e. that of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, where there are many gods and goddesses and creation and destruction myths, the underlying message of cyclical creation and destruction has remained. The other feature is the time-scale, all forms of Hinduism follow the principles of measuring time in Kalpa (about 4.5 billion years), so for Hindus there is no conflict in accepting multibillion year scales.

    Since independence in 1947, Indian school curricula do not mention any form of creationism or intelligent design in science courses; religion studies reflect almost exclusively on moral issues in religions and do not discuss cosmogonies.

    Perhaps that is a reason why Indian science students take on modern technology concepts easily, rather than other aspects of modern sciences e.g. social sciences – I’m just guessing here.

    Regards

    Manish Ghosh

    Regards

  127. #127 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Manish, what a powerful lesson.

    I am humbled by your clear & concise explanation of Hindu creation metaphysics.
    A mandatory lesson for all non-Hindus.

    Showing how it simply & succinctly correlates a long forgotten modern Western cosmology – the oscillating universe of American physicist, R. C. Tolman, blows me away.

    More than fifty years ago Tolman put his scientific arse on the line.
    He advanced an oscillating universe hypothesis – expanding & contracting at a finite rate and therefore being reversible. A universe that could conceivably avoid the ultimate “heat death” of the arrow of time.

    You Sir, have made my week, and I thank you.
    You delivered more than I could have hoped for.
    Please come back often.

  128. #128 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re gerald spezio

    So Mr. spezio doesn’t think it would be a good idea to free the US from dependence on Middle East oil. Actually, if the US were not dependent on Middle East oil, we wouldn’t be in Iraq now nor would we be bent out of shape by events in Iran. If it were not for the dependence of the world on Middle East oil, the Israeli/Palestinian problem would have been solved a long time ago.

    By the way, Tom Friedman hardly qualifies as a creature of AIPAC and the Likud. In fact, when he was invited to address a symposium on the occasion of an anniversary of Israels independence several years ago, there was pressure put on the organizers of the symposium to exclude him on the basis that he was pro-Arab.

  129. #129 Ichthyic
    February 23, 2008

    What is your major?

    zoology. graduate degree from UCB in 1991.

    1st paper published in Pacific Science, 1993.

    as i thought… you aren’t a sociologist, and you aren’t a scientist.

    now kindly, stfu you blathering idiot.

    seriously, you really should learn that flapping your gums continually is NOT making you look good, and lying about being a sociologist or a scientists makes you look even worse.

  130. #130 tyrone slothrop
    February 23, 2008

    I am neither pro nor anti framing.

    The influences in that post were Roman Jakobson and Joseph Greenberg. Jakobson for the poetic function, the axis of selection (pardigmatic) on the axis of distribution (syntagmatic), and Greenberg on markedness theory (though Greenberg did not originate markedness theory, I have always found his writing on this quite interesting). On indexicality, Michael Silverstein and Asif Agha. Though, of course, frame analysis is also important, especially by way of Erving Goffman.

    I simply find the choices of linguistic tokens to be interesting in relation to stance. That is, in the creation of types.

  131. #131 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Manish, too good to leave out.
    Although you stated as much when you showed Hinduism’s cosmology as being compatible with its western scientific counterpart, I only wish to be more specific.

    Simply stated; Hindu cosmogony, as you delineate it, is compatible with both the first & second laws of thermodynamics, and was surely advanced long before both of those Western pillars of modern science.

    Ludwig Boltzman smiles and laughs at his critics from science heaven (science heaven is where the first and second laws are proved to be eternal).

    Some literary type could easily work this pregnant baby into a dissertation and tenure.

  132. #132 MAJeff
    February 23, 2008

    I’m sorry gerry, is pig-fucker better?

  133. #133 windy
    February 23, 2008

    Mr. spezio claims that Israel is behaving in a beastly manner towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. One might have some sympathy for them if they ceased firing qassems into Sderot and sending homicide bombers to blow up pizza parlors.

    Spezio may be out there, but does that justify advocating the other extreme? If all Palestinians deserve to suffer because some of them commit terrorist attacks, I guess all Americans deserve to suffer because of the Iraq war?

  134. #134 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    SLC: “Re Ian Gould

    Mr. Gould is obviously an apologist for Islamic fundamentalism. ”

    Re S:KC, as noted previously SLC continues to have problems with English grammar and normal standards of polite discourse.

    He also apparently believes that arguing that Islamic fundamentalism is not only nonsensical and absurd but inconsistent with Islamic law, constitutes support for Islamic fundamentalism.

  135. #135 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    David Marjanovic: “Lysenko cited Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism for his. “Mendelism-Morganism-Weissmanism” (as he called the science of genetics) had to be wrong because, he said, it was incompatible with communism.

    In other words, both of them cited religious justifications for their views.”

    Well I guess redefining an explicitly atheist political philosophy as a religion is one way to support the “All religions are evil” proposition.

    Can I define Telemarketers as a religion? Because they annoy the fuck out of me.

  136. #136 Rey Fox
    February 23, 2008

    I think anyone who uses the phrase “homicide bombings” can be safely ignored. And I mean like, one-strike-you’re-out.

  137. #137 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    SLC “Far from being genocidal, the Israeli response had been far too mild.”

    This from the man who accuses others of supportign fundamentalism.

    I guess in SLC’s world anyone who doesn’t support immediate nuclear strikes all major Muslim cities is a supporter of Islamic fundamentalism.

    Maybe SLC would like to nominate a number for us as to the minimal number of dead Palestinians he’d like to see before deciding Israel’s policy was no longer too weak-kneed for him.

  138. #138 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Ian Gould, the historian attributes the status “father of x” for any mention of x, regardless of how ambiguous or correct (or influential). I haven’t studied al-Haytham in particular but I’ve studied Medieval science and the evidence is unconvincing. Even in the list of things you gave they basically argued that he recognized light is involved in vision and thereby attributed to him optics, psychology, the experimental method and so on. He also apparently “speculated” on a great many things.”

    Poke, Al Haytham didn’t just “recognize light is involved in vision”. He discovered centuries before Newton the spectrum of white light; he either invented or described for the first time the camera obscura. He described based on experiments with lens and mirrors the laws of optics,

    His writings on the scientific method were referenced by Roger Bacon generally regarded as the founder of western experimental science.

  139. #139 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    SLC: “Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg (I was not able to find a snippet of the part of Prof. Weinbergs’ presentation relevant to the issue; however, his entire presentation is available over at Google video) . But I guess, to Chamberlainists like Mr. Gould, neither Dr. Tyson or Prof. Weinberg know what they are talking about.”

    SLC is to be thanked here for providing a perfect illustration of the argument from authority logical fallacy.

    Weinberg is a prominent physicist therefore he’s an authority on the history of science in the Islamic world.

    It’s kind of like citing Yogi Bera as an authority of 18th century French architecture.

  140. #140 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re windy

    I wonder what Mr. windys’ attitude would be if somebody was firing qassems into his back yard. I suspect that he would be down at his local cop shop demanding that the gendarmes put a stop to the activity forthwith.

    Re Ian Gould

    Would Mr. Gould care to comment on whether he thinks that Hafaz Assad was being beastly to the inhabitants of Hama? Let’s look at the record. So far, an estimated 4000 Palestinians have died in the intifada which has been raging since 2000, some 8 years. Hafaz Assad killed in excess of 20,000 people in two days in the city of Hama. Now who is being beastly?

    Re gerald spezio

    I see no need to be nice to an antisemitic Israel bashing lying SOB like Mr. spezio. He is cordially invited to take his comments and put ‘em where the sun don’t shine. I agree with Mr. MAJeff, Mr. spezio is the posterior of an equine.

    Re Rey Fox

    If Mr. Fox doesn’t like the phrase homicide bomber, tough noogies.

  141. #141 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Would Mr. Gould care to comment on whether he thinks that Hafaz Assad was being beastly to the inhabitants of Hama?”

    Would SLC like to pull his head out of his arse long enough to consider that just as one can condemn both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism one can condemn both Syrian and Israeli human rights violations.

    SLC should also be thanked for a classic example of clinical monomania.

    “Ian Gould doesn’t think Islam is innately irrational therefore Ian Gould supports HAMAS.”

    SLC is a jackass.

    Ian Gould is a nonobservant Jew.

  142. #142 windy
    February 23, 2008

    I wonder what Mr. windys’ attitude would be if somebody was firing qassems into his back yard.

    As long as we are trolling: I’d probably be so mad that I’d go bulldoze some houses. Heck, maybe I’d even bomb some UN soldiers for the heck of it.

    Seriously, anyone who says that a whole nation deserves no sympathy because of acts of war or terrorism by members of that nation, is despicable.

  143. #143 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    Come on , Windy, don;t you remember the anti-Scots pogroms after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklhoma City.

    I’m sure SLC sees that as definitive proof of the innately irrational nature of all celts.

  144. #144 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re Ian Gould

    Apparently, Mr. Gould considers that 20,000 killed in 2 days equals 4000 killed in 8 years in terms of human rights violations. Well, to each his own.

    The claim that the Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel constitute a pogrom is a god damn lie. Apparently, Mr. Gould believes that the State of Israel should give the Palestinian terrorists a sporting chance by letting then get in the first shot. I suppose that Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt should have given Hitler a sporting chance by letting him bomb British cities without retaliation, according to Mr. Goulds’ cockeyed logic.

    Re windy

    Unfortunately, the Palestinian population condones the terrorists acts. Let’s put it this way. Does Mr. windy think that the German civilians killed in the 2nd World War by British and American strategic bombers were being unfairly hit as a consequence of targeting Nazi industrial production?

  145. #145 windy
    February 23, 2008

    SLC: It’s Ms.

    And I think you have misunderstood my comment. I wasn’t questioning your judgment of the Palestinian acts, but your resultant lack of sympathy for all Palestinians.

    As for the German civilians, are you aware that some of the Allied acts like the bombing of Dresden have been heavily questioned? But even if all collateral damage had been strictly unavoidable and all Germans from toddlers to grannies were raving Nazis, we could still feel *sympathy* towards them. Otherwise we end up in the endless cycle you and Spezio so well demonstrate.

  146. #146 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    One of the easiest ways to pick a troll is the way they’ll hijack a discussion to whatever their particular mania is.

    So, for example, we had the recent example of “Steve” who felt obliged to trun a discussion on Darwin into a discussion about his singularly half-witted views on American history.

    Similarly, we have SLC hijacking a discussion about Muslim creationism to expound on his thoery of middle east peace through killing more Palestinians.

    Having committed the cardinal sin of feeding the troll, I will ignore the grammatically challenged gentleman in question in future.

  147. #147 Moody834
    February 24, 2008

    May I suggest this article from the Telegraph?

    Science: Islam’s forgotten geniuses

    Of course, the word “forgotten” is key. But perhaps it would serve us to remember where Islam has been (in terms of its understanding). Look:

    In the Book of Animals, abu Uthman al-Jahith (781-869), an intellectual of East African descent, was the first to speculate on the influence of the environment on species. He wrote: “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

    The problem is not so much the religion as it is a) the people who would represent it and b) the people who follow those representatives. I don’t care if someone is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Jainist, Buddhist, or whatever flavor of any of them. What I care about is how they behave in the world I inhabit with them. I don’t know their gods or have any reason to believe in their metaphysical postulations. What I see is how people live, interact with each other and the world, and affect others.

    Fundamentalists are crazy people. Religious moderates who don’t speak out against them are irresponsible people. Non-believers (like me) who can’t stand craziness and irresponsibility are — fairly or not — stuck with learning what believers won’t, the better to argue against the intrusive nonsense. This does not necessarily mean reading a bunch of their theological hoo-ha, but I think it can be argued that it does mean having a fair grasp of their religion’s historical development, including not only its egregious errors and ugly faults but also its good contributions to the world as we know it today.

    Islam has contributed to science. Better to acknowledge that fact so as to strengthen one’s attack on what some would have Islam be today. Same for Judaism and Christianity, each in light of its history. I am perfectly happy to rant against the delusions, the insanity, the cruelty, etc., of whatever religion. But I want, too, to take a step back and point out the secular benefits of its universally worthwhile successes.

    Anyway… Just my two cents.

  148. #148 Manish Ghosh
    February 24, 2008

    Gerald

    There are many hundreds of strands of Hinduism, so it is unfair of me to give you the idea that there is a single monolithic form of Hinduism compatible in every respect with modern science. There are many beliefs in many of the other forms of Hinduism which which are not compatible.

    However, my point is that because of its protean nature, Hinduism can reflect many viewpoints. As I pointed out, for example, it is perfectly possible to be and atheist and yet remain a Hindu, quoting many hundreds of pages of classical texts to support one’s position. It is equally possible to worship one god, or literally millions of gods and find as many or more texts in favour of that position.

    The first and second laws of thermodynamics are indeed fundamental to Hindu cosmogony, although they did not receive that kind of explication in the classical texts. You should also understand that Hinduism is, like other major religions, pre-modern and its texts (in many cases hundreds or thousands of years old) need considerable exegesis before they can be made to agree with modern science. In many of the books, the original texts are mixed up with superstitions and interpolations which makes it difficult to understand what the original writers were getting at.

    Regards

  149. #149 SLC
    February 24, 2008

    Re Ian Gould

    1. Mr. Gould apparently hasn’t been reading Mr. Spezios’ comments or he would have realized that it was Mr. Spezio who hijacked this thread by bringing up the Israel/Palestinian issue. As proof, I refer him to comment 92. My response to Mr. Spezio came in comment 107. Any time Mr. Gould, Ms. windy, and Mr. Spezio wish to stop responding to my responses to their comments, I will be more then happy to cease and desist.

    2. In comment 134, Mr. Gould denigrates Steven Weinbergs’ knowledge of Islamic scientific history. Just for the information of Mr. Gould, Prof. Weinberg was a good friend of the only Muslim ever to win a Nobel Prize in physics, Abdus Salam. Most of his information about the history of Islamic science was obtained from the late Prof. Salam who in addition to being a first rate physicist was also a student of the history of Islamic science. But of course, I guess Mr. Gould probably thinks that Prof. Salam didn’t know what he was talking about either. Only Mr. Gould knows anything about the subject apparently.

    Re windy

    Surprisingly enough, I am also a critic of the Dresden bombing, although more on the grounds of military effectiveness rather then humanitarianism. As for feeling sympathy for Palestinian and German civilians, I have no objection to that. Unfortunately, as General Sherman once said, war is hell and butchery and can’t be civilized. The object of fighting a war, especially one started by the other side, is victory. If Roosevelt and Churchill had not authorized a strategic bombing campaign against Germany for fear of collateral damage, it is entirely possible that Mr. Hitlers legions would have been conducting triumphal marches through the streets of London, New York, Washington, D.C. etc. as they conducted a triumphal march through the streets of Paris.

  150. #150 Brian Macker
    February 25, 2008

    ” … that the US and her most sycophantic allies are guilty of killing in the order of a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children”

    “Israelis herded almost two million Gaza Palestinians into a concentration camp for starvation & genocide”

    ” It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.”

    What a load. Someones been sucking on the propaganda pipe.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.