Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Did Islamic Science Stop In The 13th Century?

Scientific American reminds an America full of bitter, clinging Islamophobes that
without the flourishing of science in Muslim lands of the past, the modern world might not have algorithms or algebra....

Of course, somebody else would have came up with them - mathematics is an art of discovery, not invention - if the Arabs did not. But what is interesting about the Sci-American piece is the six slides they present as evidence of a great Muslim past; they seem to start in the 800's and end in the year 1260. Louis Manger at Ricochet refers to A New Dark Age as he asks:

Are there no more recent examples? If so, why? Certainly, a belief in Islam did not impede the immensely influential scientific contributions of Muslims in Medieval times. Yet, it appears that such intellectual development has been stagnant in the modern Muslim world.

If I recollect, the Dark Ages as referred to in Europe reflected a time up until the 13th century, when light was shone via the Renaissance. It appears as if the Muslim lands had a Renaissance, which were then followed by a Dark Ages. One they are still in to this day, some seven centuries later.

Many theories abound - a society that did not have the concept of wealth transfer and "corporations" squandered human potential, slave labor led to a lack of necessity to create work-saving devices, Islam as a whole was more resistant to modernity than Catholicism, and most interestingly, the fact that religious study was the way to personal and social advancement, rather than hard sciences.

Maybe. But I think one line, oft repeated in the Arab world, can sum up quite succinctly their woes:

"We love death more than you love life"

...and their culture supports this, making heroes of those who die while killing innocents, while having no value placed upon what few intellectuals still remain within their society.

It's a prescription for a permanent Dark Age. And don't be fooled - they are trying desperately to drag us down with them. Do you think the Iranians, laboriously building a nuclear weapon, are not now fantasizing about whose head to drop it on?

When their society changes, the Muslim world will again rise to prominence. But while tied to an inflexible brand of Islam and ruled over by cruel leaders who need to exploit increasingly ignorant subjects to stay in power, there will be no growth.

So I really could not be bothered about what magic Muslims did a millennium ago. I'd rather worry about what space-age weapons can do when put into the hands of Dark Age despots the day after tomorrow...

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