Religious fanaticism, Islamic or otherwise, does not coexist well with scientific inquiry and innovation. From Denis MacEoin at gatestoneinstitute.org:
- Recently, Chinese, Japanese and other educators have found that rote learning and endless drills produce high achievers without creativity, originality, or the ability to think for themselves. Western academic standards of rationality and objectivity have been behind most of the West’s achievements.
- “The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics.” — Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, commenting on Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, the second-best university among the 57 Muslim states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
- The very thought that “Islamic science” has to be different from “Western science” suggests the need for a radically different way of thinking. Scientific method is scientific method and rationality is rationality, regardless of the religion practiced by individual scientists.
In April this year, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh ‘Ali Gomaa, told an interviewer what he meant as a flat statement of fact: that there are no female heart surgeons, as such work required strength and other capabilities that no woman possesses. He put it this way:
“You may have noticed that there is not a single female heart surgeon in the world… It’s amazing. It’s peculiar. Why do you think that there are none? Because it requires great physical effort — beyond what a woman is capable of. That’s in general. Along comes a woman who challenges this, and she succeeds in becoming a surgeon. But she is one woman among several million male surgeons.”
Now even a child could have carried out a simple Google search and realized that there are countless female surgeons and many female heart surgeons. It would not have taken long to find, for example, the US Association of Women Surgeons, which includes heart surgeons — and that would have settled his hash. But apparently deep-seated, pre-formed judgements about women’s abilities prevented Gomaa from using whatever powers of reasoning and intelligence he may possess.
Sadly, there often seems a profound absence of scientific probing within the Muslim world.
It seems reasonable to assume that levels of intelligence are pretty well the same around the world, regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. As human beings, we share the same brainpower, just as we share all other physical functions. Mercifully, earlier views of racial inequality have in most places been replaced by a more fact-based understanding of human characteristics. Today, theories put forward in the last two centuries of a supposed “racial supremacy” of white people have been happily discarded. In democratic societies, white supremacists are universally loathed.
To continue reading: What Might be Missing in the Muslim World?