Monday, January 3, 2011

Islamic Science a Casualty of Islam's Flight From Reason

The Canadian Islamic Congress and others (including no less a personage than Barack Hussein Obama) love to go on (and on) about the enormous debt the West owes to Islam, especially in the area of scientific achievement. In Canada, we are "blessed" with an annual official month devoted to shoving such "history" down our throats whether we like it or not (me: not). And over in New York City, the New York Hall of Science is currently home to a exhibit called "1001 Inventions" which spotlights the products of Islam's "Golden Age."

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Robert Sibley comments on that epoch and explains what stopped it dead in its tracks lo those many, many centuries ago:
Blame the imams. In the 11th century, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, a brilliant if tormented theologian, published The Incoherence of the Philosophers, effectively bringing to conclusion centuries of debate in the Muslim world about the primacy of reason versus that of revelation. Reason makes us question things, makes us doubtful and uncertain, al-Ghazali argued. He attacked philosophers who thought that humans could know the world by means of rational thought. Reason, he said, leads to despair. Only divine revelation, the word of God as revealed in the Koran, provides certain knowledge of how best to live. Human reason must submit to Allah's will.

A century later, another Muslim philosopher challenged al-Ghazali's views. In The Incoherence of the Incoherence, Ibn Rushd -- better known in the West as Averroes -- argued that reason was God's gift to mankind and was to be used for the betterment of society. Ignorant theologians should not intrude on areas they don't understand. It was too late. The imams carried the day. Averroes' books were burned and he fled into exile. The voice of reason fell silent in courts of the caliphs and Muslim culture gradually ossified.

Some scholars argue that Islamist terrorism can be traced to this eclipse of reason...
Sounds about right to me.

No comments: