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Science In Islamic Countries

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the 700-years-of-not-much dept.

Education 1289

biohack sends us to Physics Today for a thought-provoking article on the status of and prospects for science in Islamic countries. The author, a Pakistani physicist, posits that 'Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.' The author makes a few strong conclusions, many of which are relevant to the general debate between science and religion. From the article: "Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or 'butterfly-collecting' activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked."

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1289 comments

I am Muhaaaaamaaaaddd! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826715)

I am made of everyTHIIING!!!!!!!

Unfortunately... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826739)

... the muzzies are sitting on all the oil. If it weren't for that, no one would give them the time of day.

Re:Unfortunately... (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827137)

Well, another thing is, the only physics they seem intent on studying, are those concerned with 'blowing things up'.

It is a limited field of study, and it seems most of the 'scientist' studying this phenomena are consumed along with their first experiment. Few papers are written post-experiment.

The Arab World... (1, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826757)

...was once the height of scientific enlightenment. Then along came Islam, and since then very little has progressed (without outside influence).

One can only imagine what civilizsation would be like today if religion (of all stripes, mind you) hadn't stifled scientific progress since man first walked upright.

Re:The Arab World... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826837)

Some of the greatest discoveries in the world have been made by religious people.

Re:The Arab World... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826871)

...and usually put on trial for heresy by their compatriots.

Re:The Arab World... (0)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826873)

Total crap. The Arab world was at its scientific height under Muslim rule and is the only reason the west has the science it has.

The scientific establishment need to recognize that it did ot arise separate from the rest of the world, the Islaamicc world was centuries aahead of the west for quite a long time.

Re:The Arab World... (0, Flamebait)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827021)

Total crap. The Arab world was at its scientific height under Muslim rule and is the only reason the west has the science it has.

The scientific establishment need to recognize that it did ot arise separate from the rest of the world, the Islaamicc world was centuries aahead of the west for quite a long time.


Us Chinese blame the Arabs for the rise of the west. They sacked our colony, took our printing technology and gave it to Europe. If not for printing Europe would still be a cultural and technological back water.

True - 1000 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827101)

And pretty irrelevant today.

:-P

Re:The Arab World... (4, Insightful)

drakaan (688386) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827241)

*total* crap?

I submit to you that Islam and Christianity both did plenty to stifle scientific progress simply because some scientific discovery was at odds with the religion in some way.

You're right, the scientific establishment has plenty of religion in its family tree (Copernicus, Georges Lemaître, and countless others were entrenched in both camps), but that's beside the point.

The fact that the Islamic world was ahead of the west for quite some time isn't a refutation of the original argument (that Islam ended up hampering scientific progress). Likewise, the argument that the Christian world is ahead of the east (man, I have writing that) isn't an affirmation of Christianity enabling scientific discovery.

What, pray tell, do you believe led to the decline of scientific progress in that part of the world, if not oppressive religion in the form of (in this case) Islam?

Re:The Arab World... (5, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826877)

Islam had it fair share of brilliant scholars, the problem was it had its fair share of fundamentalist religious types, and they won.

Did you know that there is a good deal of evidence that the western renaissance was started using Islamic knowledge taken from libraries in spain?

simplified yes, but basically true.

Re:The Arab World... (2, Informative)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826937)

I would not be surprised. However Spain was conquered only a short time after the founding of Islam, so one could argue that most (if not all) of the knowledge brought to Spain by the conquering Muslims was discovered before Muhammad's time.

Re:The Arab World... (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827017)

I would not be surprised. However Spain was conquered only a short time after the founding of Islam, so one could argue that most (if not all) of the knowledge brought to Spain by the conquering Muslims was discovered before Muhammad's time.

You are possibly right. I have but a laymans approach to the study of science history. I read on the subject for fun, and the work of the Islamic world fascinates me. When the knowledge first arose I don't know. After all, given that the ancient Egyptians were doing bowel resections and successfully removing brain tumors thousands of years ago, I take it as read that the exact origin of most fundamental knowledge is more or less unknowable.

The best we can do is not the significant applications and major figures in the use and development of methods.

Re:The Arab World... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826879)

Sounds exactly like the America's Jesusland, A.K.A. the south.

Check your data - there was definitely overlap (1)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826893)

(if not complete overlap). Avicenna, Averoes, al-Khwrizm (the "algorithm" guy) all were muslim.

Re:The Arab World... (1)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826897)

This is false Arabia was a simple society before Islam (1400 years ago). The author states "Islam's magnificent Golden Age in the 9th-13th".

Re:The Arab World... (3, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826899)

...was once the height of scientific enlightenment. Then along came Islam, and since then very little has progressed (without outside influence).
Quite the contrary. The Muslim Scientific Enlightenment began and declined after Islam came about. (I avoided saying Arab as many of the well known scientists, while living in the Middle East, were not Arab).

Nice try, though.

Re:The USA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826909)

...was once the height of scientific enlightenment. Then along came fundamentalist Christianism, extreme patriotism, and since then very little has progressed (without outside influence).

One can only imagine what civilization would be like today if religion (of all stripes, mind you) hadn't stifled scientific progress since man first walked upright.

Re:The USA (0, Troll)

HebrewToYou (644998) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827005)

What a troll. At least have the balls to not post as AC.

Re:The Arab World... (4, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826947)

Wikipedia has information on . [wikipedia.org]


One reason for the scientific decline can be traced back to the 10th century, when the orthodox school of Ash'ari theology challenged the more rational school of Mu'tazili theology. Other reasons include conflicts between the Sunni and Shia Muslims, and invasions by Crusaders and Mongols on Islamic lands between the 11th and 13th centuries, especially the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. The Mongols destroyed Muslim libraries, observatories, hospitals, and universities, culminating in the destruction of Baghdad, the Abbasid capital and intellectual centre, in 1258, which marked end of the Islamic Golden Age.[20]


Re:The Arab World... (1)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826965)

Troll. The rise of the Arabs in science coincided with Islam, and was not stifled by it. Many advances in mathematics were developed by the Muslims. [wikipedia.org]

Not that I think any more highly of the current islamic fundamentalists than I do of the xtian fundies, but Islam was not an impediment.

ignorant bullshit - get your history straight (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826967)

the rise of science in the arab world came along side of islam, from 800 AD to 1500. Islam started in the 600s. in history books you'll find both the phrase "islamic science" and "arab science", referring to this golden age of science. Now Roman Catholic christianity is another matter, that *did* stagnate science and human development in the west.

Re:The Arab World... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826971)

Stupid mods. Mod some bullshit informative just because it's an early post that sounds authoritative. Idiots.

Re:The Arab World... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827009)

Wow... That is probably the most ignorant post I have ever read.

Re:The Arab World... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827031)

'Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.'

Don't worry, you've been linked on Slashdot. Prepare for plenty of non-Muslims with no knowledge of either history or religion to come along and tell you.

Re:The Arab World... (-1, Flamebait)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827113)

I could have said that there has been no visible evidence of scientific progress from the Middle East since 1500 years ago because Muslims have spent the majority of that time either invading other countries or killing each another. Either way, I'm sure my views make me some kind of racist, right?

Re:The Arab World... (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827247)

Just ignorant.

Re:The Arab World... (3, Insightful)

mr_e_cat (611996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827123)

"Then along came Islam, and since then very little has progressed"

I'm sorry, but you have your time line wrong. The scientific enlightenment came along as a consequence of Islam.

From Wikipedia:

"A number of modern scholars, notably Robert Briffault, Will Durant, Fielding H. Garrison, Alexander von Humboldt, Muhammad Iqbal, Abdus Salam, and Hossein Nasr, consider modern science to have begun from Muslim scientists, who were pioneers of the scientific method and introduced a modern empirical, experimental and quantitative approach to scientific inquiry."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_science/ [wikipedia.org] )

Obviously things have gone horribly wrong in the last thousand years. But then again we seem to be going in the same direction in the United States, with intelligent design etc. In fact in the article "Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world" sounds a lot like the United States, where over 50% of the population doesn't accept the theory of evolution (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml [cbsnews.com] ).

Re:The Arab World... (1, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827127)

The thing people who think in black and white terms about religion versus science don't get is that there are important lessons about humanity and what it really needs to survive buried in these religions.

These religions are so heinous, so terrible, that one looks at them and thinks, how could these be allowed to exist?

The problem comes up in that these religions are survival mechanisms, that have been subjected to evolutionary pressure just like the people that compose them, they are right in particular ways that we don't necessarily appreciate. They are right in such crucial ways that all the terribleness they bring is overcome by the survival capacities they bring with that terribleness.

When a civilization decides to just discard the lessons entirely and switch to an enlightened and free age of science and reason, they only survive a few generations before their decline and collapse. Happens over and over again through history.

Islam might have declined the Arab worlds capacity for science, but the Arab world is not weak because of it. We are. We are weaklings with clever tricks. We are few where we might have been many, we are soft and spoiled where we might have been hard and powerful, and we did it to ourselves.

It really pisses me off... the so-called reasonable people are making magic tricks with flammable powders for the delight of the peasants while Rome burns. Meanwhile, the people who have an insight into what the important lessons our religions have to bring us can't think critically enough to identify which are important and relevant, let alone think about why that is or convince anyone else.

Re:The Arab World... (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827213)

Disclaimer: this is just my opinion. I am not a theologist.

I think that religion began as a way to explain things that were (at whatever time) impossible to explain. As our knowledge of the world grew, the role of religious superstition gave way to scientific discovery.

However, human nature got in the way of that because religion gave its leaders power. If religious leaders were to allow science to run its course, their power would be threatened.

I see evidence of that everywhere. It seems that our scientific knowledge has grown despite religion, not because of it. The two simply cannot peacefully co-exist.

Re:The Arab World... (4, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827157)

False. Islam was already well established when the arabic world was more advanced then the europeans. When the christians were burning roman and greek science (philosophy, medicine, etc) books, the muslims were preserving them in great libraries. Similarly for greek and roman art, the christians destroyed countless statues, the muslims decorated their palaces with them. They also created their own art, music, poetry, architecture, some of the most beautiful things ever created by man. They made advancedments in medicine, mathematics (we get our number system from them), philosophy, even early forms of robotics. Later, the ottomans were one of the most powerful and technologically advanced empires the world has ever seen, yet they allowed their people to keep their local customs and religions.

further reading [wikipedia.org]

BTW, I am a staunch supporter of atheism, and while I do think all religions in essence, are bullshit, it doesn't mean that great things can't come from them, or at the very least, despite them.

Re:The Arab World... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827169)

That's a fairly ignorant thing to imagine. I'm an atheist myself, but if we are to discuss science and religion and their interaction throughout the lifecycle of humanity, then lets try to be objective about it.

Religion and Science started butting heads less than 2000 years ago and we (I'm assuming you are also human here) started walking upright well before then. Early humans developed religions in an effort to explain the world around them... sort of like making a hypothesis. With cornerstones laid, the descendants of those early humans have been able to form new and (hypothecially) more accurate observations about the world around them.

In western civilization, when science came onto the scene, religion (as an institution) was already so ingrained and powerful that it instinctively struck out violently at science (which it saw as a potential threat vying for the same resources).

If I'm not making sense, try to imagine a pride of lions being lead by an old male. Now imagine a younger male moving in to the pride. The older lion has to take the younger male down or die trying.

As a passing note: To my knowledge only the religions of western civilization have vilified and/or attached science.

Islam is evil (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826803)

The 'prophet' of Islam was a mass murderer, multiple rapist, bigamist with 15 wives, and a PAEDOPHILE, who 'married' a NINE YEAR OLD GIRL when he was FIFTY FOUR. And he CHOSE her to be his 'bride' when she was only SIX.
www.prophetofdoom.net

Now tell me 'Islam is a religion of peace'.
And ask yourself why muslims have, for 1400 years, happily recorded the heinous crimes of their 'prophet', but strangely enough, they don't want their new hosts to know anything about them...
Taqiyya, anyone?

Tomorrow's headline... (0, Troll)

rhombic (140326) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826805)

"Pakistani physicist's head found 200 yards from body. 'Must have had an accident' says neighbors"

Re:Tomorrow's headline... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826979)

Second headline: Pakistani chemists responsible for yet another round of car bomb attacks...

Re:Tomorrow's headline... (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827327)

Yeah, but that's just applied chemistry. No new science going on there unless they are working on improving the brissance through new compound synthesis.

interesting (4, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826809)

Wow, for the first time ever, an article linked off a slashdot story that I find completely fascinating. As a scientist myself I find it utterly tragic that the past greatness of Islamic scholars is apparently largely forgotten outside of the work of science historians.

One can only hope that this current poverty of science in the islamic world is reversed.

I'm an entomologist... (5, Funny)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826815)

> In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or 'butterfly-collecting' activity. ...you insensitive clod.

Re:I'm an entomologist... (2, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826941)

I believe he is referring to the 17th and 18th century European pre Darwinian 'scientific' approach (there were of course no scientists then, the name didn't exist), which was to catalog and classify, but not to investigate how or why things were the way they were.

(dates may not be perfect).

Re:I'm an entomologist... (1)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827077)

Yes, yes, thanks for the clarification, but this is slashdot. I saw an opportunity for an "insensitive clod" joke and I took it. Just mod me into oblivion, since my comment is far less useful to the discussion than the millions of repetitive "ya, science and religion don't mix" and "ya, but fundamentalist Christians are doing the same thing in America" comments that continue to follow. Or, you could mod this to +5, mod everything else to -1 and close what I'm sure is turning out to be another riveting slashdot discussion.

Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Re:I'm an entomologist... (3, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827159)

Your dates are imperfect indeed, but simply because you're using an inferior number system. Had you written the dates in their original, true, and proper form, i.e. XVII and XVIII century they would be correct. Your post truly needs to be modded down to .

Now then, on to the discussion: Really, what has arab world contributed to the science world?

Re:I'm an entomologist... (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827331)

Now then, on to the discussion: Really, what has arab world contributed to the science world?

Uh, are you serious? Let's start with Algebra [wikipedia.org] . For other links I refer you to this very /. discussion, just scroll up.

Not just Islamic countries... (0, Flamebait)

heckler95 (1140369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826817)

It's no coincidence that many of the top US universities specializing in science and technology are located along the blue-state coasts.

3-2-1 (1, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826823)

Que the Jihad. Poor scientist... Beheaded before his time.

Seriously: What is everything open to criticism except Islam. Islam has some major issues because the entire religion is controlled by very corrupt demagogues. Criticize it and some random clerics asks that you be killed and some person with mental problems does it. I really can't think of any rational non-oppressive solution except to have everyone openly criticize it. They can't kill all of us.

Re:3-2-1 (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826955)

Islam today suffers from the same problems that Christianity suffered from through much of the Middle Ages. It's not so much a problem with the religion itself as it is the organization. The common factor: there's power in the hands of the people in charge of the religious establishment that goes beyond the bounds of religion. With Christianity, it was the Pope, archbishops, etc., vying with kings for political and military power (e.g., the Crusades). Today, Islam has the same problem, with secular political leaders being subject to the whims of religious leaders under the pain of death now and who-knows-what after that.

Re:3-2-1 (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827189)

I know it's poor form to reply to one's own post, but I thought I'd share an explanation of the first Crusade.

The Pope wanted to maintain political and military control (as I mentioned above), so he made it a holy duty for knights and armies to go take the Holy Land from the Muslims, much to the consternation of the European kings who found themselves without the military support necessary to increase their own power.

King Montgomery Burns I: Noble knights! Get out there and win me some land! Sally for... er... knights? Where are those blasted knights?
Smithers: Uh, the Holy Land, sir.
Burns: What in blazes are they doing there?
Smithers: Pope Quimby XXXVIII sent them, sir.
Burns: Confound that Pope! Well, at least I have you.
Smithers: You certainly do, sir.
Burns: ..........Well? Don't just stand there! Get out there and win me some land!
Smithers: (chuckles) Oh, sir, I'd be much more useful to you here. Perhaps you could send some of your many peasants.
Burns: Capital idea! Hmm.... Who's that fat lummox there? We'll just send him and call it good enough.
Smithers: That's... Homer J. Simpson, sir.

Re:3-2-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827085)

Maybe you just haven't been paying attention. People can and do criticize Islamic culture without being threatened. No fanatic is going to bother this guy. The fatwas come out when someone disses Allah or Mohammad. Not that that is ok either. But you sound like you get your Islam info from the movies and Fox.

Re:3-2-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827203)

I wish you were right. However, the GP is wrong for one terrible reason; they do plan to kill or convert all of the infidels. They're around year 20 of a 100 year plan. If we loose the war on terror, our granddaughters will be slaves.

Re:3-2-1 (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827297)

Maybe you just haven't been paying attention. People can and do criticize Islamic culture without being threatened. No fanatic is going to bother this guy. The fatwas come out when someone disses Allah or Mohammad. Not that that is ok either. But you sound like you get your Islam info from the movies and Fox.

I get my news for a myriad of sources, from CBC Canada to Xin Hua news service to NY times as well. There are many well documented cases of threats to silence critics. From Theo Van Gough to Salman Rushdie to the incident with the "Fuck Islam" facebook thread. Islam does not take criticism well.

I was told this in College: (3, Informative)

beckerist (985855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826833)

While Charlemagne, [wikipedia.org] an illiterate barbarian was converting the masses to Christianity (and brutally, I might add,) Middle Eastern doctors were actually successfully performing neurosurgery. [globalcomment.com] Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents...at least I learned something for the student loans I still owe!

Re:I was told this in College: (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827147)

Hippocrates was "successfully performing neurosurgery" a thousand years before that. And Cro-Magnons long before that, although they probably only "succeeded" in the sense of some patients surviving.

In general, the scientific sophistication of ancient peoples in deeply underrated.

Re:I was told this in College: (1)

apdyck (1010443) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827325)

If you really want to get into it, the ancient Sumerians were practicing sciences long before Islam, Christianity, and any other religious group was recognized. It stands to reason that we need to look back at the Sumerians (who, it is theorized, used more than the 10% of our brains that we use today, via chemical enhancements) for the true origins of science. The Sumerians were even more scientifically advanced than most of the world today. I have a great deal of respect for the scientific knowledge contributed by the various groups throughout history. That being said, we need to look at the fact that the Germans, during World War II, performed experiments to help them understand medical science that the modern world considers to be crimes against humanity (and I'm not saying that they weren't, by any means!), but we reject the discoveries made because of the circumstances they were made under. A true scientific approach would be to take all of the information available to us and make decisions based on that. Instead we live in a world that picks and chooses which parts of science we want to recognize because of certain geographic or religious stereotypes and prejudices.

Re:I was told this in College: (2, Informative)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827151)

And Charlemagne lived when? And the article is talking about when? (Hint: 20th and 21st what?).

Re:I was told this in College: (0, Troll)

beckerist (985855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827335)

No need to be an asshat, I stated a fact. I backed it up with 2 articles. In fact, your statement was completely unrelated and irrelevant... So far, you've posted 6 times on the same article without any sources or real material. Come back when you have something interesting or useful to say.

--beckerist

Oh they still do that (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827299)

They just moved lower down the head, and use a much larger knife now.

No surprise (0, Troll)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826841)

Of course Islam has trouble with science. It's no different than any other religion. Once you start with the preconception that "X is automatically right (because it's in a specific book)" you've rejected the scientific method utterly.

It's the exact same thing that's going on in America. The Jesus freaks utterly reject anything that might come into conflict with their preconception of GOD MADE THE EARTH IN SEVEN DAYS AND IF YOU SAY OTHERWISE YOU'RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER. The "moderates" may be able to advance scientific despite their unscientific premises, but that only happens when the science is not in conflict with their religion, or when they ignore that conflict.

I see differences (4, Insightful)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826911)

"It's the exact same thing that's going on in America. The Jesus freaks utterly reject anything that might come into conflict with their preconception of GOD MADE THE EARTH IN SEVEN DAYS AND IF YOU SAY OTHERWISE YOU'RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER."

While the muslims do the same but actually set you on fire. In the street. Right now.

So no, it's not the exact same thing that's going on in America. Others will chime in with their opinions of why it is, but they'll have a hard time finding comparable behavior amongst religiosos in the US.

Re:I see differences (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827179)

While the muslims do the same but actually set you on fire. In the street. Right now.
Oh - right. So that's what all the oil's for.

Given that evolution is taught in most of those countries, and as per your comment, there are mass burnings in the street every year, it's hard to understand why some of those countries still have such a large rate of population increase.

Re:No surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826985)

Six days... He rested on the seventh (Genesis 1:31 - 2:3) ;)

I am a self-proclaimed Jesus-freak and I have no problem with science. What I do take exception to is "science" constantly striving to tell us that there is no God... God is bigger and more fantastic than anyone can comprehend.

Re:No surprise (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827087)

"God is bigger and more fantastic than anyone can comprehend."

God is a fairy tale.

Seems like I comprehend it just fine, you on the other hand seem to have some difficulty separating fact from fiction.

And it's not science that tells you there's no god, it's people who understand science. You see, once you understand the science, then the lies of religion seem obvious and primitive.

And just so you know, the need for religion is most definitely a primitive stress reaction. How does it feel to know your belief in god stems from your failure to evolve?

Seems kind of pathetic when you realize what it's really all about, people running around buying in to stories because they failed to advance intellectually.

un-scientific post from a troll (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827311)

"God is a fairy tale."

Prove it.

Scientists can't make scientific claims about things they have no evidence of or relating to; you seem to mis-understand that. Anything else is an opinion, not a fact, and thusly -- there is a god and there is no god are un-scientific statements based on *drumroll* faith or lack thereof.

"And it's not science that tells you there's no god, it's people who understand science."

Then it is outside of and not part of the set. An opinion. Funny you don't understand a basic maxim of correlation does not imply causation.

"Seems kind of pathetic when you realize what it's really all about, people running around buying in to stories because they failed to advance intellectually."

And an advanced intellect means you don't or can't prove your position, right?

Go back to the kiddie pool.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827239)

If you can't comprehend it, then how do you know? And why be anonymous? Aren't you proud of the invisible man in the sky that's gonna take real good care of you when you turn to dust?

freedom of speech (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826845)

Freedom of speech and science are directly related. Both islamic and stalinist countries violently suppress free speech, consequently having almost no scientific breakthrough.

The best scientific advancements come when someone declares "everything we know about this is wrong" and formulates, tests, and publishes some bold new idea. The tendency to question established "knowledge"--which is often backed by the church or the government--is never encouraged in non-free states.

If you want a great example of this in western history, look at Galileo.

Re:freedom of speech (2, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827055)

Both islamic and stalinist countries violently suppress free speech, consequently having almost no scientific breakthrough.

I was about to give a counterexample, but you did it for me. The Soviet Union -- a Stalinist society, had several significant scientific breathroughs: independent discovery of the atom bomb, first orbital probe, first pictures of the far side of the moon, etc.

Anti-free speech societies can have technological progress, as long as they "cut it out, when the truth starts to matter"[1]. The Soviet Union gives an excellect contrast for "selective rationality": while the public could be kept from revolting, even with Lysenko-driven [wikipedia.org] agriculture, getting the a-bomb and into space was "too important" to let adherence to Marxist ideas about quantum theory or the superiority of communist organizational methods get in the way.

(Great discussion of this in the recent release, The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan, btw.)

[1]This is great advice too: "What do you believe, when being wrong has consequences? Why don't you believe that now?"

Re:freedom of speech (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827209)

Well, the example I was thinking of was China. They are trying hard to gain scientific importance, but are failing.

The USSR was great at engineering, but did they develop any fundamental changes to scientific theory? Did they independently develop atomic theory to the point of developing the first atomic weapon? Or did they acquire much of that knowledge through espionage?

The USSRs rejection of religion no doubt had scientific advantages, too. And, like you said, the scientific elite in the USSR were mostly immune to the culture of conformist obedience forced on the rest of the citizenry.

I still argue that freedom of speech is essential to science, even if my examples were not perfect (in that, in one case, the scientists actually had freedom of speech).

Re:freedom of speech (4, Informative)

cartman (18204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827215)

independent discovery of the atom bomb, first orbital probe, first pictures of the far side of the moon, etc.

Although the Soviet Union had many important scientific discoveries, the independent discovery of the atom bomb wasn't among them. The soviets made their first atom bomb by stealing US designs through espionage. The earliest soviet bombs closely resembled early US bombs.

Re:freedom of speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827131)

Ummm, I guess the research that lead to the atom bomb and the internet don't count then since they were both funded by the government.

Re:freedom of speech (5, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827155)

Really? Stalin's Soviet Union launched the first satellite, and put the first man in space. Under Stalin's rule, Cerenkov and Tamm won the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physics, as did Landau in 1962 for work carried out under Stalin, and Basov and Prokhorov in 1964.

Stalin was an evil murdering bastard, but to suggest that Soviet physical scientists were prevented from doing good work under his reign is just claptrap. Even under Stalin, scientific free thought was encouraged, it was economic and political free thought that was curtailed. You'll notice they didn't win many Nobel prizes for Economics over that time, and their most notable literary laureate (Pasternak) turned it down out of fear of his government.

Communists have dogma that infringes artistic and economic thought, but it requires a fundamentalist theist to have dogma that infringes scientific thought.

Too bad the trolls will have a feeding frenzy... (2, Insightful)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826853)

...on this story This should be a cautionary tale for any society that allows fundamentalism to rule public discourse and science.
(This coming from someone living in Kansas USA, where many would like creationism in the schools)

Economics (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826859)

You don't need to be Einstein to understand that scientific advances are proportional to the economical status of the land. And I'm not talking about the economical status of the elite of the country but about the MEDIUM economical status of the population. Good economics is almost always equal to good education, good universities, quality investigations, cooperation projects, etc. I don't see any direct connection between ideology or religion and science.Many good scientific have been religious in some form ot believe in god: Newton, Einstein, Bohr, etc.

Re:Economics (3, Informative)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826895)

> Many good scientific have been religious in some form ot believe in god: Newton, Einstein, Bohr, etc.

Newton also believed in alchemy. Newton was a freaky little nut.

Einstein was a pantheist, and specifically rejected the idea of an anthropomorphic god that intervenes directly in the universe.

No idea about Bohr.

Re:Economics (4, Informative)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827107)

Yes, but if you actually read the article, the author dispels the "lack of resources" argument. To address your specific point, the average person in the oil rich countries is well enough off to afford a good education. Yet those countries' output pales in comparison to much poorer places around the world.

Frankly, I think the author is tackling too much at once. Life in Malaysia is very different from that in Pakistan, which is very different from that in Iran, which is very different from that in Saudi Arabia, which is very different from that in Turkey. It'll be hard to find unifying reasons that apply well to all those countries. Each country has different reasons for their lack of scientific output.

Applies to more than Islam. (3, Insightful)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826881)

"If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or 'butterfly-collecting' activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked."
For a minute there I though he was talking about Global Warming.

Re:Applies to more than Islam. (1)

HebrewToYou (644998) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827063)

Mod this up. Too right ErikTheRed is.

Not To Worry (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826883)

The NeoCons and their fools, the Evangelical Sheeple, will hold our science back enough that the rest of the world can catch us. it must be another one of nature's beautiful control mechanisms - the self-stupidifying human. go flat earth!

Re:Not To Worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827043)

"Sheeple" is Angsty Teenager for "I have nothing worthwhile to say".

Slight hypocrisy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826921)

It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked.

Just like the Holocaust issue in the western world.

Re:Slight hypocrisy (1)

HebrewToYou (644998) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827105)

Why post this as an AC? If you truly believe that genuine inquiry is still needed to understand the holocaust, I've a bridge to Coronado to sell you.

the question is lost the moment it is posed (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826939)

the problem is the question itself because the question involves islam. if the question had involved christianity or judaism or buddhism the problem would be the same. the problem being, to think that science and religion have anything to do with each other at all, in a negative or positive way. they are simply oil and water, science and religion. they don't mix. at all

this in fact is not a call to abandon religion to embrace science, nor is it an assertion that there is a conflict between religion and science. they merely have nothing to do with each other. there can be no conflict between two systems that don't speak the same language or investigate the same phenomena. one has to do with fact based inquiries, the other has to do with transcendental thought. the aspect of scientific knowledge simply cannot involve, touch, comment on or otherwise involve the aspect of religious knowledge. and visa versa

once you realize this, all of the "problems" involving science and religion disappear. problems only appear when, mistakenly, someone tries to comment on science from the point of view of religion, or someone tries to comment on religion from the point of view of science. this represents instant failure of an ability to understand the subject matter you are concerning yourself with

Only in a secular society (0, Troll)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827227)

In the Islamic world, the answer to all questions that begin with 'Why' is "Because it is the will of Allah". Apples do not fall to the ground because of gravity, they fall because "it is the will of Allah".

The only time that something is not because of "the will of Allah" is when it is the fault of "the Great Satan".

Re:Only in a secular society (2, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827271)

Yet another person who apparently has not met a Muslim, let alone live in the "Islamic" world.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827231)

If I had mod points, you surely would be modded up by me.

Plus, you just described the religion/science equivalent of Godwin's law.

Re:the question is lost the moment it is posed (1)

PoJo01 (872751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827315)

How can you say science and religion are entirely unrelated? Almost everything is related somehow, at some level - it just depends how hard you are willing to look. I think scientists have to question EVERYTHING - that is the only way they can ensure their hypotheses are correct. This stands directly in opposition to the concept of 'faith'. By allowing yourself to believe anything without justification you are basically throwing the concept of 'proof' out the window.

There is no shortage of Islamic scientists. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826973)

At my school, there is no shortage of Islamic scientists and engineers. As far as I can tell, they are as competent as anyone else.

The problem seems to be the country the scientist is operating in rather than the religion of the individual scientists. In that respect, most other countries don't do as well as the US of A. So, the fact that Islamic countries don't do as well as us doesn't make them different than most other countries. We could just as well ask: Why don't the European countries produce the quantity and quality of research that America does?

PS. I am in no way trying to defend certain countries that are way beyond defending. I have no axe to grind and am merely making an observation. Some of my best friends are Muslim, etc. etc.

The world is flat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826977)

In "The World is Flat", Thomas Friedman makes a similar point, comparing the number of patent applications originating from various parts of the world (as is mentioned in TFA).

It's a real shame when a small extremist class are able to hold the rest of a society hostage, but I also want to point out that this kind of thing is *not* limited to religious extremists ... other ideological extremes are just as damaging, if not to the scientific establishment then in other ways.

The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countries (4, Insightful)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826983)

The following sentence from the article troubles me greatly: "The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countries is also not an especially important reason for slow scientific development. "

It should be clear to any human being in this world that democracy (and the rule of secular law), though not perfect by any means, leads to a populace who have a moral investment in the country in which they live - and this leads them to think of greater things, such as science, and not the day-to-day issues like how to not be killed for wearing the wrong clothes.

Religion and science have nothing to do with each other and anyone who even suggests that is making a grave mistake and fool out him/herself and the science s/he studies.

Re:The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countri (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827145)

The following sentence from the article troubles me greatly: "The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countries is also not an especially important reason for slow scientific development. "

It should be clear to any human being in this world that democracy (and the rule of secular law), though not perfect by any means, leads to a populace who have a moral investment in the country in which they live - and this leads them to think of greater things, such as science, and not the day-to-day issues like how to not be killed for wearing the wrong clothes.

Religion and science have nothing to do with each other and anyone who even suggests that is making a grave mistake and fool out him/herself and the science s/he studies.


It's because it's true. Nazi-Germany, Russia and China have done a lot of science without any real democracy. There doesn't seem to be a very strong link. Dictatorships/oligarchies do not have any intrinsic qualities that would preclude science. But it does depend on both implementation and leadership. The great leap forward in China was a immense leap backwards for industry and science but then again "No child left behind" and "intelligent Design" does the same damage within a democracy.

Re:The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countri (2, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827217)

Perhaps you should read his rationale behind the statement.

Simply put: Countries with dictators still at times do better than the countries mentioned. It's not that big a factor unless they actually shut down the universities. Few dictators actually prevent papers from being published - it's not their concern. Heck, just yesterday I was reading a research paper in my field that came from a Cuban university.

Some of these countries, BTW, have democracies. Their scientific output still sucks.

treewise - Science/Dogma beats Islam/Christ (1)

pg--az (650777) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826997)

What a nice perspective - so I could probably find a lot of common ground with one of those Mutazilites, relative even to say a dogmatic Christian, although a Scientific-Method-Christian would still be best-match. The battle between Science and Dogma is in other words the deeper battle, in our classification-tree of belief-systems.

Al-Ghazali is the reason Islam lost it's lead (4, Informative)

SengirV (203400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827045)

Yeah, yeah, I know. But this is the most concise summary. FACTS can be found elsewhere - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ghazali [wikipedia.org]

The Incoherence also marked a turning point in Islamic philosophy in its vehement rejections of Aristotle and Plato. The book took aim at the falasifa, a loosely defined group of Islamic philosophers from the 8th through the 11th centuries (most notable among them Avicenna and Al-Farabi) who drew intellectually upon the Ancient Greeks. Ghazali bitterly denounced Aristotle, Socrates and other Greek writers as non-believers and labeled those who employed their methods and ideas as corrupters of the Islamic faith.


Thanks to Al-Ghazali, REAL science has been anathema to Islam for almost a thousand years.

An error in the article (5, Informative)

aneeshm (862723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827079)

When the author mentions the "extreme Hindu group", he misquotes its name as the "Vishnu Hindu Parishad". It's correct name is the "Vishwa Hindu Parishad".

Also, as far as I am aware, it has not asked for the ethnic cleansing of anybody, though many of its members are of a very extreme bent, and may well hold such opinions.

Thirdly, they have also not, to my knowledge, ever acted to block any piece of scientific research. It's an organisation concerned mostly with the social aspects of religion, and they don't bother with what goes on in the laboratories.

Probably the only thing they care about in regard to science and research is that we have bigger and better nukes than the Pakistanis.

Why Islamic countries are not progressing (4, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827093)

Islamic societies are horribly backward in terms of economic and scientific development. It doesn't require a genius to figure out why:
  • A society that takes away rights from 50% of its population cannot prosper. Societies that oppress women are invariably under-developed, strife-riven and backward.
  • Any system that proclaims a monopoly on truth and mandates severe punishments for those who question the system cannot produce scientific progress.
  • Any society that produces riots in response to satirical cartoons cannot progress in the modern world.
  • Any society that always blames outsiders for its troubles will forever wallow in its own backwardness.

Re:Why Islamic countries are not progressing (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827229)

Political correctness at its worst... parent was marked as Troll.

I guess the truth hurts.

Deja vu all over again! (1, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827117)

"Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate."

This seems to apply pretty well to the Bush administration.

How much does oil factor into the equation (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827135)

(and a disclaimer, yes I know not every muslim country has vast amounts of oil, but many do and have an inordinate influence)

Oil rich countries can buy massive amounts of technology(including advanced weaponry) without having to ever invent any of it, somewhat rare if not totally unique in the modern world. Thus for many governments, there seems to be very little need to develop technology indigenously. This seems especially true in the case of the Saudis whose legitimacy in the eyes of many in the muslim world(they oversee the holiest places in Islam) seems to be largely dependent on their hardline Islamic views which means Madrassas and knowledge of Islam, not science, is th e most important thing to them. They can defend themselves from any threats(mostly Iran) without developing the know-how to engineer weapons themselves. Very few other civilizations in history could ever get away with that....

Belief in afterlife is the worship of death (1)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827139)

It is easy to mock the adversary's nest when your own is soiled rotten..

Christian dogmas have slowed down science throughtout history beginning from Heliocentrism and Galileo to Darwin. During modern days christian religion plagues issues like contraception and family planning to help the population problem. Its ideas oppose concepts like environmental destruction and climate change for man should be the master on earth. From this we can draw a rough timeline of opposition to first the astronomical and geological facts of science, then biological and now today the facts of ecology and sustainability. This series of scientific discoveries has diminished man to an oridinary creature bound by laws of physics, not laws of god. It is christian dogma, which is keeping humanity from moving on from industrial civilization to a sustainable scientific way of life.

Indeed as Revelations sais: "..Those who love the world are strangers to the eyes of my father.."

Translation: whiny hypocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827195)

"Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or 'butterfly-collecting' activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked."

Translation: Science is god and the scientific method infallible.

Reality: Replacing one faith based system with another (i.e. the big "sweeping" theories taken as laws). Just the same argument as Christianity vs. Islam vs whatever only with the "you're all ignorant" caveat. Same old boring nonsense. Really, now when is the last time bold hypotheses were "checked"? Disagree with the stream and you are burned at the stake. Sound familiar? Yeah, that's right it's human nature and has nothing to do with religion or intelligence. ...waiting for the knee jerk troll responses...

Well, I think its an easy answer (1)

valkabo (840034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827225)

1. Religon 2. Science 3. ???? 4. War. War == Profit. Questions?

Bernard Lewis (3, Informative)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827251)

Bernard Lewis wrote a book "What Went Wrong?" which described precisely (in his opinion) how Islam became the backward group when during the Dark Ages they were the advanced group and Europeans were the backwards ones.

After the Muslims started to lose battles to Vienna, one of the caliphates ordered his advisors to come up with a report on why they were losing. The two reasons given were (1) The Mullahs refused to allow "new" science to be researched, Muslim science was pretty much based on Greek science and they considered all the major problems solved and (2) not using 50% of their resources (women).
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