03 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 7, 1435

Ignorance and progress

Published Aug 12, 2013 03:24pm

Dawkins, for all his abrasive ways, has popularised the Darwinian evolutionary theory through his TV programmes and his books.
Dawkins, for all his abrasive ways, has popularised the Darwinian evolutionary theory through his TV programmes and his books.

For a Darwinian biologist, it is remarkable that Richard Dawkins has practically made a career out of atheism. Books like The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion have elevated him to the position of high priest of non-believers. Many who share his beliefs – or their lack – are put off by his strident advocacy of atheism, and his virulent attacks on religion.

Never far from controversy, Dawkins was at the heart of a Twitter-storm recently when he sent out this tweet to his 777,000 followers: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

Quoted by the Guardian, Owen Jones sent this tweet in response: “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism? You are now beyond an embarrassment.” Faisal Islam, Channel 4’s economics editor added: “I thought scientists were meant to upbraid journalists for use of spurious data points to ‘prove’ existing prejudgments.”

Just for the record, Trinity College at Cambridge has 32 Nobel Prizes, as against 10 for all Muslims. This number would go down to nine if, as many Pakistanis assert, our Dr Abdus Salam was not a Muslim because of his Ahmadiya belief. So, Dawkins was being quite factual in his tweet.

Defending himself against the charge of racism, Dawkins said: “Am I surprised (by the accusation)? Only at the number of people who seem to think Islam is a race, rather than a religion. I regard that view as racist. Anything you can convert to, or convert from, is NOT a race.”

In point of fact and belief, a Muslim cannot convert from Islam, although new converts to the faith are always welcome. But Dawkins does have a point: the Muslim ummah comprises around 1.5 billion people from virtually every nation and every continent. So comments questioning Muslim achievements should not, logically speaking, be ascribed to racism.

But then the first casualty in discussions about faith is usually logic. Muslims tend to be very touchy about even implied criticism of their economic and scientific backwardness. So when Dawkins pointed out, again quite accurately, that if we were to compare the number of Nobel prizes won by Jews with those awarded to Muslims, the contrast would be even more striking, the reaction was one of outrage.

Sadly, we are just not prepared to face reality. The reason Muslims have been left so far behind is their refusal to embrace modern education, and to cling to rote learning and dogma. By confusing Western thought and influence with rationality, we think we are better Muslims by rejecting modernity. As a prime example of this, consider the Ottoman refusal to install printing presses when they were first invented. The reason given was that this would result in the mass production of holy texts by machines instead of being calligraphed.

While this can be defended on aesthetic grounds, it set back learning and ultimately, weakened the Ottoman Empire. In Nigeria, Boko Haram, the extremist terrorist group, has been attacking schools and killing students because it opposes ‘Western’ education. Our own jihadis have been doing the same thing. When they were in power, the Afghan Taliban decreed that only ‘Islamic’ subjects could be taught in schools, and then only to boys.

With these attitudes still widely prevalent in the Muslim world, it should hardly surprise us that Muslims have won only 10 (or nine, depending on your level of tolerance) Nobel Prizes. Unfortunately, many Muslims do not understand that scientific knowledge is neither ‘Western’ nor ‘Islamic’, but is part of our collective inheritance, no matter what faith we follow. It is a steady accumulation of observations and theorising, and has nothing to do with religion.

Another factor impeding our progress is the patriarchal and authoritarian structure of most Muslim societies. Both in the classrooms and at home, young people are discouraged from asking questions and challenging the established order. And yet this sceptical attitude is at the heart of scientific progress. If mankind as a whole had accepted received wisdom as the immutable truth, we would not have made the progress we have. Dawkins, for all his abrasive ways, has popularised the Darwinian evolutionary theory through his TV programmes and his books. Partly as a result, this is now the accepted explanation for how life evolved on our planet, at least among rational, well-educated people.

And while many Muslims in the UK and elsewhere were upset by his comments on their scientific backwardness, the fact is that he has been attacking all religions for years. Christians in the UK are bitter about the fact that while his criticism has often been given a public platform by the BBC, issues relating to Muslims have been soft-pedalled.

I find it slightly odd that while so many Muslims reject modern education as being ‘Western’, East Asian countries like South Korea, Japan and China have made remarkable progress by embracing the same ‘Western’ education. I suppose if you believe that we need to focus on the after-life, our physical existence on this world is of secondary importance. This makes it acceptable to have a second-rate educational system that is somehow ‘Islamic’.

Today, we take our phenomenal scientific progress for granted. From medicine to engineering to astrophysics, we are truly blessed by the enormous possibilities opening up before us. As we pursue the quest for discovering the nature of the universe at the gigantic particle collider at Cern, or invent an instrument that will predict the length of our lives (as has just been announced), we are in the midst of a scientific revolution.

In such exciting times, it is a source of constant amazement that we should squander so much time and effort in debating – and fighting over – religious differences. And yet, as we in Pakistan know only too well, our killing fields are populated by zealots who use faith to justify their murderous ways. As long as they have public support, there can be no progress.


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Comments (60) (Closed)


Abbas Khan
Aug 12, 2013 03:55pm

Mr. Dawkins is mostly right though about Muslims. Why else would Jihaadi suicide bombers get shot in our very own mosques (like the Bara Kahu suicide bomber incident the other day) if our people weren't so misguided. And most of our top scholars and leadership is still split over whether to condemn these Jihaadi fighters or not.

Atleast atheists aren't blowing anybody up to pieces with suicide bombs. Neither are they shooting young school girls in the head (hint: Malala Yousafzai)

Like they in Urdu, even if it hurts, its the truth. Baat tou sach hai magar, baat hai ruswaayi ki.

Abdullah
Aug 12, 2013 04:06pm

Our's is a different story, one when the Holy Prophet was present among the people in Medina and one when he closed his eyes to cut off revelation to human kind, but that is another matter. Let Dawkins know that if Obama and Sharon can be recipients of the NOBEL prize, the prize has lost its' credibility anyway. Tell Dawkins to keep his prizes clutched.

Sarah-Yz
Aug 12, 2013 04:42pm

Muslims fear modern education as they know that faith (Islam or any other) can not stand next to logic and reason.

Hassan
Aug 12, 2013 04:52pm

This article is indeed a sheer act of bravey, displayed by both, the author and the editor of dawn. When "Richard Dawkins" caught my eye on a pakistani newspaper page, I literally couldn´t believe it. About the content, its all just simple plain truth and Muslims, all across the globe, just continue to refuse to admit it. The reason, I believe, is primarily an awareness among Muslims about the bigots, prejudices, dogmatic and senseless doctrine posed by Muslim scholars over the centuries, and a refrain from any intellectual activity aiming to discuss the matters of religion. But the severe punishments and hostility of the society leaves one thinking that it might be best to just show one`s support for religion and avoid any harm that can be inflicted, if one expressse a dissent. Any defense of Islam and its claims simply fails to impress due to the condition of countries with a Muslim majortiy population.

Muhammad Chughtai
Aug 12, 2013 05:01pm

I agree with almost all of what's written - save for this: "In point of fact and belief, a Muslim cannot convert from Islam, although new converts to the faith are always welcome."

That very well may be the writer's interpretation...unfortunately, it's not fact.

The rest (i.e. the number of Nobel prize winners, contemporary attitudes towards science and education, culture that inhibits questioning and critical thinking, etc) is spot on.

TAM
Aug 12, 2013 05:20pm

Superb article. I agree with you 100%.

No doubt you will across many cranks who will write saying the Muslims discovered algebra and we were pioneers of this and that including medicine. As if the job was done many centuries ago and henceforth we are exempt because we have done enough and now it is time for us to sit back, relax, scrounge and depend on others since Muslims are born a super community by command of God.

Ash
Aug 12, 2013 05:43pm

I am happy to read this article, more so because it is published on a Pakistani media. The reasoning in Dawkin's books is quite strong. The language used by religious groups towards non-believers is thoroughly disgraceful in my opinion. He is perhaps the most vocal atheist. But then again, who will care about his ideas unless it is made noticeable.

Shafaq Sidha
Aug 12, 2013 05:48pm

May I correct you when you say that people are not allowed to convert from Islam? That's a very common misconception. As a student of comparative religion, let me tell you that you can, in point of fact, convert from Islam to another religion. :)

Mikal
Aug 12, 2013 06:44pm

What an article.

Hasan
Aug 12, 2013 10:18pm

Spot on! If I was the prime minister of Pakistan right now, one of my most critical decision (other than the broadening tax, power etc etc) would be to prioritise R&D. I would put every penny available into education, science and technology. And not just pump money into it, also actively follow it so that deserving people are running the institutions.

Islam is so compatible with science and when we have an educated population, they will themselves 'force' a change for the better. This is exactly what Islam actually says, the quest for knowledge is Jihad. Its sad beyond comprehension that 'mullahs' have distorted it to just having a beard!

BISWAJIT ROY
Aug 12, 2013 10:22pm

The author is very progressive in his writing and hope he is not declared heretic like Galileo once declared heretic by christian church.

Bilal
Aug 12, 2013 10:25pm

Cannot agree more.

Janil
Aug 12, 2013 11:04pm

Very well written. I am on Dawkins' side regardless of his moneymaking tactics. We as a nation are extremely intelligent, yet our progress is still hindered by bigotry, religion and intolerance in this technological age. Its a shame we still dont know how to harvest our intellectuals.

Red
Aug 12, 2013 11:19pm

Muslims CAN convert from Islam. Otherwise you wouldn't have so many ex-Muslims, for instance.

Khawaja Wahab
Aug 12, 2013 11:38pm

Pleasantly surprised that Dawn has the courage to print something like this.

Now if only our Urdu press was as brave...

Shenanigans
Aug 12, 2013 11:44pm

Well written. An appreciative effort on part of a rational n educated person to expose n make people realize what they are confusing in their bewilderment into the abstruse labyrinth ov ever unfathomable dogma; religion. An unrestricted, infinite n absolute faith! Having absolute faith in anything stops mental capabilities ov any person to think, ponder, analyze. And hence starts dogmatic beliefs n superstitions to flutter their wings n grasp all the progressive tendencies into their crafty, fanatic and formidable wings. What haunts Muslims is anything tagged with the 'West', not only West but an inkling or more precisely their allusion or perhaps 'hallucination' of anything belonging to West. Science n Technology is not something that West has 'produced' from its belly n thus has an inevitable n inseparable relation with n only with the West. History shows Muslims to be the ones who progressed in science n perpetuated it. In the 9th century, Baghdad, Damascus n Rome were the educational hub for the whole world. The world remembers that in good words n history mentions that in the good golden time. Today Muslims have abandoned themselves to get education n they're being mentioned the way they deserve. Why so much hullabaloo? As mentioned in this article too, Muslims are prevailing in almost every continent n every country of the world. These 1.5 billion 'Ummah' is good in frolicsomeness n in castigating every other thing or person outside its holy grail; the Ummah. Why, after all, this ever bulky Ummah couldn't give a single rubber band to the planet Earth? The reason being their negligence n repulsion in getting the modern education n to equipped them with the tools ov science n technology. The dogmatic, imperious, tyrannical n fanatical beliefs leads towards annihilation n decrepitude.
Now this fact is not being digested n feels like a bitter medicine to swallow to the Muslims that they've achieved only 9-10 Nobel Prizes in comparison to a single constituent college of the Cambridge. The thing is, fact wouldn't be changed via this hullabaloo n mishmash of unreasonable n nonfactual arguments. What can add an ornament to the long-jeweled tiara of this Ummah is to come out of their caves n get into a library or a science laboratory. To conclude, futurity can never be blossomed in good memoirs of the days gone by long ago. Things can be learnt from past but the allusion of the past being the custodian of the present n the future leads to dilapidation

SK
Aug 13, 2013 12:41am

True. Unfortunately true, not just about the Muslim faith but of the entire sub continent. We are too busy worrying about after life or worshiping our elders to make any real contributions to this world. How can we condone inquisitiveness and rationality when the very basis of our religion and culture is mindless faith and shrill hysteria of our past grandeur.

Aamir
Aug 13, 2013 12:56am

God bless you. Carry on with your good thought provoking articles/opinions. Thank you

Shoaib Khan
Aug 13, 2013 01:01am

Fantastic piece of writing , if one can understand . Sir , I salute your courage of intellect in this ocean of ignorance . BLESS such great minds .

Tariq K Sami
Aug 13, 2013 01:47am

The Noble Prize was instituted in 1901. True the Trinity College has won 32 times and University of Chicago has the highest number of Noble award winners. That all good and the West can boast about it. And as Muslims we can just nod and say that's all good and dandy but do you think time has come to a full stop. End of History. I do not think so. Let me ask the audience who do you think would have won the Noble prizes from the 6th Century the 7th Century the 8,9,10,11,12,13,14.15th. Mr Dawkins has no idea of how many Noble prize winners would have gone to the Islamic scholars. The numbers would be astonising and mind boggling. Even before the 6th Century certainly not the Europeans. It would have to be the Egyptians the Indians and the Chinese. Where did all the Noble Prizes go. ? Just keep going. History has not ended yet.

Tariq K Sami
Aug 13, 2013 01:47am

The Noble Prize was instituted in 1901. True the Trinity College has won 32 times and University of Chicago has the highest number of Noble award winners. That all good and the West can boast about it. And as Muslims we can just nod and say that's all good and dandy but do you think time has come to a full stop. End of History. I do not think so. Let me ask the audience who do you think would have won the Noble prizes from the 6th Century the 7th Century the 8,9,10,11,12,13,14.15th. Mr Dawkins has no idea of how many Noble prize winners would have gone to the Islamic scholars. The numbers would be astonising and mind boggling. Even before the 6th Century certainly not the Europeans. It would have to be the Egyptians the Indians and the Chinese. Where did all the Noble Prizes go. ? Just keep going. History has not ended yet.

Ammar Arif
Aug 13, 2013 04:34am

@Abdullah: I like ur writing style

furquan
Aug 13, 2013 11:28am

how could you all ignore the prejudices in awarding every award by the west world??????however the backwardness of Muslims in every field is also evident.

Richard
Aug 13, 2013 12:35pm

What a superbly written and well thought through piece. Congratulations

Interhacker
Aug 13, 2013 12:44pm

Excellent article and rational arguments. Glad to see a voice of reason in Pakistan.

Saad
Aug 13, 2013 01:30pm

It was Dawkins' manner which provoked the response. It was word play. He composed that tweet like a troll, someone trying to incite outrage. He could have stated the fact otherwise, using this analogy was not wise at all. Muslims have more Peace Nobel prizes than Trinity College, does that make them more peaceful? Scores of people died in the 2 world wars, started and fought by atheists and Christians. Should Dawkins portray them as a violent set of people? Atheists like Muslims are not limited to a single race or nation too. African and Asian nations were colonised by the Europeans. Why don't we call them slavers? (ignoring the fact that Colonialism is the single largest contributor to backwardness of these areas)

It was the blatant double standard and insensitivity that sparked the reaction.

Kumar
Aug 13, 2013 01:35pm

Congratulation to Dawn for publishing this very sober and thoughtful article from a very brave soul. May the author's mentality spread and flourish!

Zafar
Aug 13, 2013 02:45pm

Well Mr Tariq, the 7th century is long gone. Being our ancestors good in 7th century doesn't help our condition now. Muslims need to wake up and accept the reality.

Anum
Aug 13, 2013 03:29pm

A bold attempt, referring to Richard Dawkins when stressing on such an important issue. But you were not thorough, you cannot judge the educational situation of Pakistan based on religious constraints alone.

Mike
Aug 13, 2013 03:39pm

@Tariq K Sami: I think that was the point Mr. Dawkins was trying to make when he referred to the "middle ages".

Lynton
Aug 13, 2013 04:33pm

@Red: From a scriptural point of view Apostasy is a death sentence

John
Aug 13, 2013 05:48pm

@Tariq K Sami:

Thats the thing. Basically since Muslims have embraced dogma for the last 400/500 years, nothing has progressed for them. Had they not embraced the dogma and been progressive as they were before then perhaps they would outnumber the western nobel winners. I agree they have done and built some amazing things. I have seen the great Moorish buildings in southern spain and they are simply outstanding! Arguably better then anything that the christian's built in Rome I would have to say.

Naureen
Aug 13, 2013 05:50pm

Nicely written!!... Thumbs up to DAWN!! Hope people learn something out of this!

Boratha
Aug 13, 2013 05:53pm

@Tariq K Sami: You are ignoring the fact that Dawkins is talking about the lack of scientific achievement by the Islamic community in modern times. Of course they led the way of science during the Middle Ages, but that is no excuse for the lack of it today.

Frystopher
Aug 13, 2013 05:54pm

Lovely article.

Ghayoor
Aug 13, 2013 06:30pm

After life or before life or purpose of life is out of Scope of Science and Technology at the moment. Science only depends on observation and experiments and logical deductions and conclusions. It cannot answer the mysterios questions and realties of the world. I am a science student and infact working in R&D centres and highly appreciate the kind of scientific work is being done here. I also accept Muslims are far backward these days in terms of science and Tech and we should work more on it but it does not mean we left our values behind and just follow west what so ever as they are more developed than us. The Bottomline is this that religion(Islam) is not a factor for the scientific backwordness of Muslim countries, infact it's a tough time for Muslims, they can loose faith easily by looking at the logical arguments of Athiest but there are limits of the answers for these logics and from that point religion start giving you answers. So, my suggestion is to work hard on Sci and Tech and keep your faith on Sayyadi(PBUH). Infact the real Jihad these days is to arm yourself with Sci&Tech developments but beaware that you shouldn't loose your faith in these times. The prophet(PBUH) has warned several times about this age where deception is everywhere and Dajjal is the Master mind of deception...Be very very careful on selecting your path my friends and very very few people will left with faith in the end of times. Infact there is a report that in 2041, there will be no religion in the world....where we are heading?

Martin UK
Aug 13, 2013 06:43pm

Irfan Husain,

A very good piece except for one sentence:

"In point of fact and belief, a Muslim cannot convert from Islam, although new converts to the faith are always welcome."

This shows that you cannot face up to the uncomfortable fact that religious pressure forces even you to make such guarded and silly statements.

Dawkin's point is absolutely correct. Race is dictated by the genes you inherit from your parents and you cannot change them however much you may want to. There are no genes for Islamic religion. Except for peer pressure there is no reason anyone can't convert any belief they have into another.

asad kizilbash
Aug 13, 2013 07:40pm

Religion like all other aspects of life should be open to query, confrontation, challenge and finally reformation as applicable. Denying questions suppresses the evolutionary intelligence of humans, currently unsurpassed based on tangible evidence. Discussions, arguments and education for improvement, denial or conformation of any belief system should be the vital part of learning and growing up.

Teachings or practices in religion that are contrary to the current accepted civilized norms should be reviewed and changed or deleted. No one would allow a father to sacrifice his son just because he saw God asking him to do so in a dream. If I am not mistaken my psychiatric colleagues would label him as a schizophrenic requiring observation and treatment.

In my humble opinion the fall of our civilization is due to the lack of debate on pertinent issues, not limited to religion but to economics, security, foreign and domestic policies etc. Brought up as parrots by our parents, education system and society at large, our capacity to question has been mitigated and anything to the contrary makes us and others like us quite uncomfortable. This results in intolerance, bigotry and hypocrisy, quite evident as portrayed by our society's abysmal state, in all affairs of life.

Although anxiety provoking change is inevitable and those not prepared for it will surely perish.

HurstLlama
Aug 13, 2013 09:27pm

Thank you for an interesting article. Perhaps this is a place when I can ask a question that has been nagging at me for years.

For centuries, during what we in the west call the Dark Ages, intellectual advances took place in the world of Islam. In medicine, optics, astronomy, architecture, engineering and mathematics it was Islamic scholars that made the running and they were far in advance of their counterparts (as such they were) in Western Europe. Yet it seems that somewhere around 1200 or 1300 CE all that intellectual exploration and advance just stopped, almost as if a switch had been thrown. Why?

I ask, in all respect, what happened that caused a civilisation, that for centuries had produced nearly all the advances in scientific knowledge, to seemingly shut down its curiosity?

Cloudism
Aug 13, 2013 10:39pm

@Saad:

Dawksins said:

“All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

He didn't draw any conclusions from that... "That's why [something]"

Like you did in your example ("That's why they are more peaceful"):

Muslims have more Peace Nobel prizes than Trinity College, does that make them more peaceful?

So, he didn't call anyone anything. He just stated a fact. I do understand it can be taken negatively, but that doesn't change anything: He just said a fact (no conclusions). And the reader made the negative conclusion.

I know that many took this as an insult to "Muslim intelligence", but as we know.. There is no such thing as Western having superior intelligence. Like this article said well, it is just lack of wide scientific education (as you can guess: The more emphasis on scientific education and development, the more scientific prizes a nation is likely to get -- And the vice versa).

--

And as there have been arguments the sort of "how could you all ignore the prejudices in awarding every award by the west world??????"

Which refers to the idea that both Western and the rest of the world have done equally (or at least the gap isn't that big as the gap between scientific Nobel prizes implies) great scientific achievements during the past 100 years -

-> And Western achievement have been chosen only because they are Western, I'd like you to give examples of such cases: Some non-Western discoveries which haven't won the Nobel prize in their field while a inferior Western discovery has won.

(Here is a link to list of how many Nobel prize winners each country has: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ListofcountriesbyNobellaureatesper_capita )

Alan
Aug 14, 2013 07:25am

@Tariq K Sami: You are completely missing the point. Muslims as a whole are living in the past and are denying the present and the future. Yes a massive intellectual debt is owed to the Muslims of the middle ages, but as a whole you/they stagnated to a halt centuries ago. As mentioned in the article: "The reason Muslims have been left so far behind is their refusal to embrace modern education, and to cling to rote learning and dogma. By confusing Western thought and influence with rationality, we think we are better Muslims by rejecting modernity." Basically, if you don't make massive fundamental changes to your attitude and approach to education, especially for women, this will only get worse.

I wholly applaud the author of this article.

GordonHide
Aug 14, 2013 10:24am

@Saad: " Muslims have more Peace Nobel prizes than Trinity College, does that make them more peaceful?"

No. It probably means we should be downgrading any value we ever assigned to peace prizes.

Richard
Aug 14, 2013 11:38am

You mention there are 1.5 billion Muslims as an extra indicator of how few Noble Prizes Muslims have won, compared to their world mass, I get that, you go on to highlight how other nations such as China have embraced 'modern' education. Here are some facts you may like to consider.

China has 6 billion people 4 times as many as Muslims and yet they have only won 8 Noble Prizes and yet somehow Muslims are stoopid creationists and the Chinese are deft modernists?

Of the 853 Noble Prizes that have been awarded only 43 have been awarded to women, is there something wrong with women too or is there something wrong with the system?

Maybe having privileged access over the 100 years of the Nobel Prize existence (and the centertries preluding this) to 'modern' education, the trillions of dollars spent on education, the trillions of dollars spent on scientific research might have something to do with the fact that the majority of Noble prize winners are MALE and WHITE.

I believe the only reason there is imbalance in the background of Noble Prize winners is because of 2 things, first the institution itself but mainly because of the distribution of the worlds wealth, if a people is kept within a cycle of poverty, oppression and war then of course a medieval fanatical understanding of life and the place religion has in it is going to remain.

If you distribute the wealth correctly you'd have less fanatics and more scientists from all backgrounds.

Going back to Dawkins, he knew it was EID and he was trolling, no doubt, so I'll finish by putting Dawkins tone (for me) into perspective;

"Only 15 black people have won the Noble Prize. Thats 17 less than Trinity College alone, although they do make some fine music."

Minimum it was intentionally provocative at worse it was prejudice.

Jim Harrison
Aug 14, 2013 12:19pm

There’s an old joke that seems to capture the logic or illogic of the situation: a guy explains “I’m glad I don’t like asparagus because if I liked it, I’d eat it; and I can’t stand it.”

And here’s the application. Several Muslims have quoted the Koranic verse to me about how there is no compulsion in religion, and yet apostasy is forbidden and, indeed, punishable by death on some interpretation of religious law. You must recognize that no outsider is ever going to credit Muslim claims to be a tolerant religion if you won’t even allow anybody to leave it in peace.

Islamic tolerance is rather like an election in the old Soviet Union. One is completely free except there is really only one permissible choice. Obviously many Muslims are not in favor of this sort of thing and say so, though the fact they seem more comfortable writing about it in English than in their own vernacular is telling.

The absence of practical freedom of debate surely has something to do with the relatively bad performance of the sciences in Islamic countries. You still encounter invocations of the past glories of Islamic science, yet even relatively secular Muslim states like Turkey suppress theories like evolution because they are thought to conflict with religion. Of course there are plenty of Christian fundamentalists who are hostile to Darwinism, but they aren’t in charge and haven’t been for a long time, which is one of the reason that modern biology developed in the West. I’m not sure that Richard Dawkins is tremendously useful in Northern California, but maybe the Middle East needs to develop some homegrown version.

Joe
Aug 14, 2013 12:52pm

Brilliant article.

Joe
Aug 14, 2013 12:57pm

@Richard :

If you read Dawkins response he completely invalidates all your points (especially the wealth one) so get off your high horse. Also, you fail to take into account the difference of being Ethnic Chinese and having a PRC passport -eg the Chinese diaspora. So that's just another poor analogy.

Adam
Aug 14, 2013 01:00pm

@Richard : China does not have 6 billion people... The work only has about 7 billion. China has a population of about 1.4bn Where did you find these "facts"??

AK
Aug 14, 2013 01:03pm

@Richard : China has 6 billion people??? Lol...That pretty much summarizes ur knowledge.....The entire population of earth is 7 billion

Amber
Aug 14, 2013 01:08pm

@TAM: I think that was Richard Dawkins' point in the first place.

mark
Aug 14, 2013 01:16pm

@Richard : China does not have 6 Billion people.

it has around 1.6 Billion.

Tim
Aug 14, 2013 02:00pm

@Richard : China 6 Billion? No.

Nobel Prizes correlate with top research universities per capita. Look up countries/regions with top unis 30-50 years ago and you ll find the most likely recipients of Nobel Prizes. Same thing regarding gender. Look up how many men/women chose a career as a reasearch scientist 30-50 years ago. Obviously that was and is subject to dramatic changes the last 20 years , so the next 20-30 years there will probably be more Chinese and more women winning a Nobel Prize.

Your music allegory is wrong. He mentioned that muslims once were the top researchers, now they re not. Meaning it s not the people per se but the historical circumstances. You write People A are bad at X now, but look they re good at Y. One is a historical fact, the other just plain bigotry.

Rebel
Aug 14, 2013 03:10pm

@Martin UK: Dude, i know the person. He himself does not believe it. He is being ironic and sarcastic.

Epistemologist
Aug 14, 2013 03:23pm

@Tariq K Sami:

Hello, let me introduce my self. I am a Philosophy student and my specialty is Epistemology ( How do we know what we know, how we come to knowledge )

Tariq, No "time machine" arguments allowed in a rational discussion. What could have been in the past or what will be in the future is not allowed !

Tarik you have brought a logical fallacy known as Hypothesis Contrary to Fact or Historian's Fallacy

Please read more on this and other fallacies before responding

sources: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/rgass/fallacy3211.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historian'sfallacy http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Logicalfallacy

robin
Aug 14, 2013 03:39pm

"scientific knowledge is neither ‘Western’ nor ‘Islamic’, but is part of our collective inheritance, no matter what faith we follow. It is a steady accumulation of observations and theorising, and has nothing to do with religion."

Succinct and an excellent summation. 'Racism' is a meaningless label in the context of religious faith.

Purna
Aug 14, 2013 05:04pm

What a great debate ! But from an advocate of evolution, I would expect from Richard Dawkins some thing more than this. Belonging any religion or belief is something but being rational is another thing. The rationality of human thinking shouldn't be defined by the Nobel Prize. Can we find how many of the Nobel Laureates believed in god. Nobel Prize is provided based on the inventions, deeper worthwhile studies. Even a person with strong belief in god can do a remarkable work but winning or not winning the prize is different thing. Yes, of course in the course of time, the world will be more rational and will get better in the future. The time when the human beings didn't know that the Earth moved and they thought the Sun moved. Now, whether an atheist or a creationist, accept the fact that Earth moves not the Sun. The time will prove all will agree that everything evolved and evolving day by day. The belief system will change ( in fact compared to a long history of evolution, this belief in god is very short). Let's engage ourselves, the rationalists, in more constructive debates and positive attraction not poking fingers at each other which will not help us to change the belief of the believers into atheism. I salute Richard for all the great works, the good books- The God Delusion, The Ancestor's Tale, The Greatest Show on Earth, so on and so forth. But at least, I would expect something different statement from my idol rationalist, Richard Dawkins. Thanks and happy debating !

Peyman
Aug 14, 2013 05:37pm

@HurstLlama: That's a very good point , and as you ponder that question and wonder what could be the cause you might also think what if it happened again. This time in the so called West. What if we fail to know the answer soon enough. What if it's already too late.

Here
Aug 15, 2013 12:01am

@HurstLlama: Right there before the advances 'suddenly' disappeared, a reformation and consolidation happened in Islam. The most influential figure of this process was Al-Ghazali, who basically unified islamic philosophy and proposed 180 degree turn from natural science to faith. His doctrine includes horrific stuff like demonization of usage of numbers. In a century, advance stopped.

john
Aug 15, 2013 12:03am

@Martin UK: actually, I think you are overreacting. The author agrees with Dawkins and is trying to persuade Muslims that punishment for apostasy is a lousy way to demonstrate tolerance.

Howard
Aug 15, 2013 12:09am

@Tim: It is not clear what point you are trying to make but .... "Your music allegory is wrong. He mentioned that muslims once were the top researchers, now they re not. Meaning it s not the people per se but the historical circumstances."

Wong - his point is that it is not the people but the religion. Not the circumstances.

Howard
Aug 15, 2013 12:11am

@Martin UK:"Except for peer pressure there is no reason anyone can't convert any belief they have into another."

That ... and the small matter of a death sentence.