July 14, 2007

"The whole purpose of science for some Islamists is using it to reinforce faith; it really has nothing to do with science itself."

The conundrum of the terrorist doctors:
Muslim scientists are among the most politicized groups in the region, and the Muslim approach to the scientific method, in the most extreme cases, can squelch the freewheeling curiosity at the heart of scientific discovery.

“Fundamentalist-type attitudes are relatively common among people in applied science in the Muslim world,” [said Taner Edis, author of “An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam.”' “The conception has been that modern science is developed outside, and we need to bring it into our societies without it corrupting our culture.”...

For Islamists like Zaghloul el-Naggar in Cairo, the host of a popular television show about the Koran’s scientific teachings, all science can be discovered within the Muslim holy text, from the cause of earthquakes to genetics. Such direct links between science and religion ultimately hamper the scientific method by making some questions taboo, analysts say.

“You have the emergence of a new kind of religious figure who is not a cleric, and all of his authority is as a scientist,” said Todd Pitock, who profiles Mr. Naggar in an article about Islam and science in the July issue of the magazine Discover. “The whole purpose of science for some Islamists is using it to reinforce faith; it really has nothing to do with science itself.”

Medicine and engineering have long been the most prestigious professions in the Arab world, and many of its most illustrious writers, thinkers and politicians have risen through engineering and medical schools....

“Wherever you go in the Muslim world, those who are most violent and most extremist are the ones who have the most scientific tendencies,” Mr. Abu Hanieh said. “One could even argue that sciences might contribute to increasing one’s radical thinking if the radical finds justifications to his philosophy through science.”
Key phrase: "applied science." The dedication is not to pure science but to using science to do things. Many individuals become doctors to gain prestige and power. They don't love science; they love what they can get by knowing it. It's not surprising, then, that some of those who learn medicine in a severely religious culture are drawn into meshing their science with religion.


jimbino said...

Just more support for the proposition that fundamentalists of all religions are equally superstitious and obscurantist. Religion poisons everything.

Tim said...


Sure, as that is your prejudice, this would support that.

Regardless, I notice a contradiction between "... fundamentalists of all religions are equally superstitious and obscurantist." and "Religion poisons everything." The last statement is unqualified, indicating, at root, you believe even non-fundamentalist believers are also superstitious and obscurantist, thereby contracting the emphasis of your former statement.

Anyway, I'm also terribly impressed by your undoubtedly deeply researched conclusion that "... fundamentalists of all religions are equally superstitious and obscurantist." Can you explain your methods and your equation to determine "equally"?

And, back on topic, yes, the key distinction is "applied science." One could argue these folks are less "scientists" and more "engineers," with all due apologies to engineers. But that they are amongst the best educated, wealthiest and presumably brightest in their nations would suggest that one traditional Leftist notion of root causes (poverty) does not apply here at all.

Mike said...

Many western scientists profess to also believe in religion. It can be done, but it requires compartmentalizing the two, something which is at odds with fundamentalism. For myself, my study of science has lead to my atheism.

With respect to medicine and engineering. Neither require you to be a scientist to excel.

Cedarford said...

When one goes past doctors in the ranks of prominent Muslim terrorists, one finds academics, engineers, repressed homosexuals with advanced degrees:

The engineering lineage is notable, with bin Laden, Khalid Sheik Mohammed the 9/11 Mastermind, Yassir Arafat all engineers. The Muslim Brotherhood was started by engineers.

Sayyid Qutb (Godfather of Al Qaeda), Mohammed Atta, Yassir Arafat are all suspected of being repressed homosexuals - that found extreme religious practices & terrorism a cover for their effeminate natures.

Other terrorist movements have like communist ones, anarchist groups, and militant Zionism, have favored more lawyers as leaders, it seems, than the Islamists have.


In the same article Althouse quoted, it finishes with this REuters release:

WASHINGTON, July 13 (Reuters) — The Senate voted Friday to double the bounty on Osama bin Laden, to $50 million, and to require President Bush to refocus on capturing him.

By a vote of 87 to 1, the Senate set the higher reward for Mr. bin Laden’s killing or capture, or information leading to his capture

The "everybody has their price" America - like the corrupt last days of the Ottomans or squalid African kleptocracies is one of the last places on Earth to get the truth of this, but in honor cultures, raising the reward just raises the Honor, raises the consequences to any family that betrays their People's honor.

If the High Priests of Jerusalem had offered 6,000 pieces of silver to Judas instead of 60, he would have been less likely to betray Christ, because his disgrace and loss of tribal honor would have been 100 times greater..When the frustrated sheriff of Nottingham angrily doubles or triples the reward on outlaw Robin Hood in the movies, we are supposed to chuckle because we know that will only raise Robin Hood's reputation as a champion of the People, and make the good, honorable people of Sherwood Forest and surrounding towns LESS LIKELY to betray him and his merry band of men..

Generally, when someone offers you money for something you won't do because it is offensive, and doubles down the offer, it raises the offense. Or the collective offense of a movement or people that some think their honor can be bought away by a bribe that is clearly so high it is not traditional baksheesh - but payment for loss of all individual, family, and kinfolk honor.

The Senate was dumb. They would have been better advised to LOWER the reward on bin Laden to 15 million and declare he was just a common criminal and a lose end, with the reward planned to drop to only 5 million by the end of 2008.

Not elevate his status and the risks of betraying him as the all-important Holy Warrior to All Muslim Peoples the American Senate thinks he is (if they are not just pandering to the morons in America that think Binnie is the Moby Dick of our times - heh!)

jimbino said...

Religion is the antithesis of science--"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

A scientist cannot believe in believing, let alone believe in prayer and all those imaginary malevolent beings.

As for those "scientists" who are religious, Houdini, Randi, Penn & Teller and I would like to put their prayer and other bullhsit to some simple tests.

Zach said...

The interesting question is how and why the Western image of the scientist is so different. It's not just religion that gets compartmentalized; talking politics is considered kind of gauche in anything like a professional context.

Science in the West has its roots in gentlemens' pastimes. Think of the Royal Society, or the Royal Geographical Society -- the key word is society, a group of friends with a shared hobby. Like a lot of things, the professionals eventually edged out the amateurs, but the shape persists after you take the mold away.

The Western scientist is supposed to act like a gentleman in professional circles. Methods should be published along with results. You're supposed to point out your own flaws and drawbacks. You're supposed to review the work of peers and rivals fairly.

Isn't it odd how persistent the idea of the English gentleman has been in modern life?

blake said...

Religion does not require faith in the sense you are using it, jimbino. Indeed, if you look at definition 6 of "faith" here, you can see that it applies to science as well.

There are religions without dogma (another definition of "faith"); it is really only dogma that is unscientific, as it does not allow for change or challenge.

rhhardin said...

James Thurber had a cartoon in ``The Conscious vs. The Unconscious'' (in _Let Your Mind Alone!_), a man pausing with one hand holding a still-distant telephone, captioned ``Psychiatrist about to phone his wife.''

A scientist who knows his limitations.

joe said...

These Muslim scientists don't deserve to be called scientists. But some Western scientists use science to bolster their politics - think the whole global warming hoax - the way the Muslims use it to bolster their religion.