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Islam &Science Johnson on 19 Feb 2009 12:45 am

The disaster known as Islam

Neil Tyson describes how scientifically advanced the Arabic world once was, and how that advancement was completely destroyed by Islam in the 12th century. It is an startling description:

Another reason why we MUST eliminate religion.

6 Responses to “The disaster known as Islam”

  1. on 19 Feb 2009 at 11:21 pm 1.walkie wawtmire said …

    Johnson = good blog, nay it is a great blog. Thanxx, Johnson. Hey, Moslems, why you so crazy?

    Oh, we are oppopa say Muslim—–that is a no-no, Moslems.

  2. on 20 Feb 2009 at 1:17 pm 2.Jonathon said …

    “Neil Tyson describes how scientifically advanced the Arabic world once was, and how that advancement was completely destroyed by Islam in the 12th century.”

    The advancement was not “completely destroyed by Islam”. That is absurd. Islam itself was no more responsible for the decline in scientific accomplishments in the Arab world than was Christianity itself responsible for the Dark Ages.

    In both cases, it was the CLERICS and the LEADERS in these communities who brought darkness down upon their civilizations. Oftentimes this was in complete violation of their own scriptures – and with Islam, this was certainly the case.

    There are numerous verses in the Qur’an that praise knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge. Muhammad himself is recorded as saying that Muslims should seek knowledge wherever they find it, even if it means going as far as China to find it.

    We must understand the difference between religion and the institutions created to promote a particular religious view. Religions themselves can’t “do” anything; rather it is the people who adhere to the religion (and distort it) that do things, and many times have committed atrocities in the name of their religion.

    Dr. Tyson mentions al-Ghazali but doesn’t really go in to what the consequences of al-Ghazali’s philosophies actually were. al-Ghazali led a movement that destroyed the idea of ijtihad – the use of independent reasoning and consequently abandonment of the Hellenistic influences that helped the Arabs catapult from being simply wandering Bedouins in the deep Arabian desert to being the leading civilization in the world at the time.

    Now, as to “walkie wawtmire” at #1, you need a lesson in Arabic linguistics (and basic manners). The proper word to refer to followers of Islam is “Muslim”. The prefix “mu-” in Arabic means “one who does”. The root of the words “Islam” and “Muslim” come from the root word “slm” which means “submission”. So, a Muslim is “one who submits [to God]“.

    After al-Ghazali closed the gates of ijtihad, the decline of science and civilization in the Muslim world was inevitable. It makes no sense to blame Islam for that decline without also recognizing that Islam actually made it possible for Arabs to develop their civilization from which al-Ghazali led it to fall.

    One question for you: Have you ever so much as picked up a Qur’an and read a single verse in it? Have you done any study whatsoever into the history of Islam, the life of Muhammad, the influence of Islam on Arab culture, etc.? Do you understand anything at all about Islam, other than the cultural prejudice that Westerners have against it? How can one possibly made a critique of something about which they have no knowledge?

    I used to be very anti-Muslim. After 9/11 I wanted to just nuke all of them. It took me a while to realize that I really had no idea what Muslims actually believed and what the Qur’an actually said and what Muhammad actually taught. Through study of the Qur’an and about the history of Islam I have come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the religion and the culture. That is not to say that I embrace it all unquestioningly, but rather I attempt to understand it and try to make sense of it. The more I study, the more I realize that what we think of as “Islam” in the West is informed more by the hate and frustrations of jihadists and terrorists than by the facts and the truth of the lives of a billion other Muslims. Islam is not monolithic. All Muslims do not believe in the same way that Osama bin Laden does. Not all Muslims are fanatical and fundamentalist in their interpretations of the Qur’an.

    Don’t be like the Christianists and jihadists and categorize a whole religion, culture, civilization, etc. based on the actions of a few people. Don’t be ignorant; we’re freethinkers, rationalists, scientists. We don’t “do” ignorance; we “do” research.

  3. on 20 Feb 2009 at 10:25 pm 3.Keri said …

    Can anyone recommend some books on this topic? I’d be very interested to read more about how advanced the Arabic world was before Islam.

  4. on 21 Feb 2009 at 12:34 am 4.Hermes said …

    Keri, offhand, no. I’ve read quite a few history books that discuss that time period but none that focus on only that time period and what happened (specifically) at the transition when Islam took hold.

  5. on 23 Feb 2009 at 5:27 pm 5.Jonathon said …

    Keri @ #3:

    The Arab civilization was not very advanced before Islam. They were involved in polytheism and idolatry, having as many as 360 different gods and idols to whom they prayed; a different idol for every day of the lunar calendar. Allah was part of this pantheon and played the same role as Zeus/Jupiter in the Greek and Roman pantheons.

    There was trade with the outside world, but there wasn’t much happening in terms of science or intellectual inquiry of any kind.

    I found something on Amazon.com that will probably fit the bill, but I have not read it yet myself so I can’t give you a review. However, it does seem to cover the subject matter:

    Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (Paperback)
    by Robert Hoyland
    Published in 2001
    ISBN-10: 0415195357
    Link: http://www.amazon.com/Arabia-Arabs-Bronze-Coming-Islam/dp/0415195357/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235417097&sr=8-8

    Hope it helps.

  6. on 26 Feb 2009 at 9:07 pm 6.DCKate said …

    That’s not quite the whole story. Actually, it’s the very very very abridged version. Remember that little incident known as the Crusades? Had a lot more to do with it than anything he mentions.

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