Friday, October 05, 2007

Islam, the West, and Science

Fjordman has posted the conclusion of his excellent three-part essay “Islam, the West, and Science” over at Dhimmi Watch. Here are a few choice excerpts:

At least two conditions are necessary for the creation of a successful nation: The ability to produce talented individuals with great ideas, and the cultural and structural ability of society to recognize the full potential of these ideas and utilize them. The Islamic world, for a while, performed reasonably well at the former task, but failed miserably and consistently at the latter. Even if it could occasionally give birth to gifted individuals they tended to be unorthodox Muslims or, in the case of Rhazes, outright hostile to Islam. The frequency of thinkers of Avicenna’s and certainly Alhazen’s stature also steadily declined. This strongly indicates that “Islamic science” had little to do with Islam, but was the amalgam of pre-Islamic knowledge, Greek, Indian, Persian, Jewish, Assyrian Christian and other. As Muslims gradually became numerically dominant and Islamic orthodoxy more firmly established, this pre-Islamic heritage was slowly extinguished, hence science declined and never recovered. This failure was intimately linked to the Islam’s hostility towards innovation and freethinking. In contrast, the Christian and Jewish religions proved more receptive towards new ideas. At the very least they were not as aggressively hostile to logic as was Islam, and in certain situations even facilitated it.

Upon saying this, I must confess that I cannot say with a straight face that these are hallmarks of Europe today. We have always been told that there is a basic conflict between religion and reason, which would presumably mean that the less religious we become, the more rational we should become. Western Europe is currently less religious than we have ever been, yet I see no indication that we have become more reasonable because of this. We may not have a formal index of forbidden books, as did the Catholic Church for centuries, but we do have an informal index of forbidden topics which can be equally effective in suppressing free enquiry and stifling debate. This is now done in the name of tolerance and Multicultural diversity, not God, but the result is much the same. The end of religion, thus, didn’t herald an age of reason; it led to a new age of secular superstition and new forms of witch-hunts. Bad things can be said about medieval Europeans, but at least they didn’t import Muslims in large numbers and congratulate themselves for their tolerance. Secular Europeans do.

And one more:
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We are currently witnessing major global shifts in power. In a macrohistorical perspective, China was the leading civilization a millennium ago but was surpassed by Europe. I firmly believe free speech and political liberty have long-term effects, and I’m not convinced China can keep up her economic progress unless she undertakes reforms. I’m also not convinced Europe’s Islamization is inevitable, yet, but if present trends continue, maybe we will see a reversal of roles in the twenty-first century: China will prosper and Europe will disintegrate. In the meantime, however, when Muslims get their hands on Western technology and Europe’s accumulated wealth, the world from Britain to Thailand could be plunged into a new age of Jihad.

Go over to Dhimmi Watch and read the rest.


Charles Martel said...

Fjordman may well be the most prolific AND insightful commentator on Islam today. He never ceases to amaze me.

Saulius said...

Roughly it seems that by effectivity, the evolutional sequence mammals-apes-human corresponds to islamists-communists-postindustrial society w/o the bullshit we can see nowadays.

Islamism clearly declares and imposes the rules of VII century.

Communism (and derivations thereof, like aggressive socialism) has advanced further, dealing with elecreification and soviet government. Look at N.Korea and post-sovietic countries: people there are generally more sincere, but naive or forced to live in lies.

Quite close to preservation and evolution of a people and more efficiient than first two was national-socialism. Nevertheless, too dangerous path was taken, and the generally good ideas are in any possible way censored by communists (since they once lost heavily to that).

Cairistiona said...

So what is it that that ultimately caused the West to make its march to the future? What was the mindset that that got science and technology all revved up? Could it have been the Reformation?

The Reformation brought the novel idea that people should study the texts of their own religion in their own language. It brought the belief that people have a personal responsibility to learn what God says in the Bible. This could only be done by learning to read and learning to analyze ideas. Without the freedoms inherent in Christianity and without the blossoming of education that came with the Reformation, the West would never have achieved what it has technologically.

Yes, I know that not all great scientists have been Reformed Christians and that really is the point. Christianity and the Reformation have transformed society to the benefit of all people, not just Christians.

I just wish people could admit what really has caused the West to thrive while other societies with access to the same technology have stagnated.

Henrik said...

Just wondering: Why not post the entire article? Fjordman gives his explicit permission to do so.

BTW, I printed the lot and handed it to the Danish magazine "Illustreret Historie", who just wrote an article on the subject - so bad that I got calls about from people who don't know I'm working for that company!

There are many small ways to have influence :)

Robohobo said...

charles martel - yup, he is. i love reading his articles.

henrik - eyeballs is the motivation, driven by net click-thru revenue keep many of the sites alive and well. it is just good manners to first refer your readers over to the other, first posters site and then, if you have permission from the author, cross-post at your own, if you choose. as to your other question, the answer is mailing lists. refer people you know and wish to influence within your own circle via a link to the other persons site. that site then gets the mentioned clicks and possible click-thru revenue, if applicable. that is how i attampt to make a small difference.

great article and thanks for posting the links to it.

Profitsbeard said...

As always, estute and insightful food for continued contemplation.

If Islam is our noose, then it concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Kudos to Fjordman.