Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ordained and Tenured Apes of God and Science

Dr. Sanity has a fascinating post this morning on the obstacles to Islamic science, entitled Scientific Progress Goes Boink! It contains excerpts of an interview with an Egyptian scientist:

Dr. 'Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: The centrality [of Mecca] has been proven scientifically. How? When they traveled to outer space and took pictures of the earth, they saw that it is a dark, hanging sphere. The man said, "Earth is a dark hanging sphere -- who hung it?"

Interviewer: Who said that?

Dr. 'Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: [Neil] Armstrong. Armstrong was basically trying to say: Allah is the one who hung it. They discovered that Earth emits radiation, and they wrote about this on the web. They left the item there for 21 days, and then they made it disappear.

Interviewer: Why did they make it disappear?

Dr. 'Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: There was intent there…

Just read the whole thing and come back. (What follows contains some old and new reflections.)

Although the Islamic world can ape science, it could never have developed it indigenously, since it cannot tolerate the structural prerequisites of science. They can only steal and imitate science, just as they can only imitate and ape democracy, liberty and equality. For science developed only in one time and place on earth, because a precondition of science was the Judeo-Christian ideal of liberty -- something like 99.98 percent of all scientific inventions and discoveries have occurred in Western Christendom.

Science is the exact opposite of a topdown enterprise: all of the hundreds and thousands of little discoveries that made space flight possible could only have been made by hundreds and thousands of scientists freely investigating reality -- pure and unfettered curiosity about the way the world works. People argue that science emerged in the Islamic world, but that is my whole point. It emerged once upon a time, but was then snuffed out by the religious authorities. In the meantime, they have gone from A to C, but will not tolerate the kind of society that allows B -- truly free scientific research -- to take place. They merely steal third base from us, but think they have hit a triple.

If human beings are not free to discover truth, then neither freedom nor truth can exist. These two categories are fundamentally intertwined, and any diminution of one leads to a diminution of the other. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a philosophy such as leftism, which does not value liberty, should be permeated with so many lies. And it is not just as if these lies represent bad or faulty information. Rather, these are vital lies which one is compelled to believe. In other words, one is not free to believe otherwise.

Imagine funding a philosophy department with the mission that they must elaborate and defend this or that position, instead of freely exploring wherever truth leads. It sounds absurd, but this attitude already prevails in our illiberal leftist universities, where, for example, "diversity" must be achieved. This represents death to thought because it is death to the freedom without which thought cannot function.

Any time thought is in the service of something other than Truth, then it is no longer thought. I don't think we have a word for what it is, but it certainly should not be associated with the beautiful word "liberalism," because it is essentially servile. The typical leftist wackademic is hardly a proponent of the "liberal arts." Rather, no matter how "intelligent," he is a drone practicing the servile arts, since his conclusions are preordained. He might as well be flipping burgers, except that at least no child is harmed in the process of burger flipping.

Don't believe me? Here's a typical example from my own field, published in the July 2007 Clinical Psychiatry News:

Suicide bombers are completely normal: "There is no real psychopathology for these people. They are not mentally sick.... They are a heterogeneous population that can be from any race or nationality" "Although many Americans associate suicide bombers with Islamic fundamentalism [ya' think?], suicide bombers come from virtually every religious group." Indeed, "for some, it is a practical choice; they see no alternative that will correct injustice... these people are rational; terrorist groups would reject as unreliable anyone who appears mentally ill [!]." [This is bad news -- it means that mainstream Muslims are even crazier than the terrorists, since the terrorists carefully screen for mental health.]

Nor are religious beliefs a "driving force." These are not "irrational fanatics," but simply regular folks who "have concluded that suicide bombing is the best way to coerce the occupier [Jew, I mean, who, might that be?] to leave their nation [what nation?]." "Except for the level of violence [?!] suicide bombers are not very different from their more moderate neighbors..."

Right. Reminds me of Charlie Manson. Overlook the psychotic bloodlust, and he's pretty much the same as everyone else.

This piece was not published in politically oppressed Saudi Arabia but in politically correct America -- which leads to the oppression of thought. Murderers are normal, suicide is rational, terrorist groups are careful about screening out crazy fanatics, terrorists are not motivated by religion, and all religions have suicide bombers -- Mormons, Lutherans, Scientologists.... then again, Tom Cruise seems to be committing career suicide with a few of his recent bombs....


As Schuon writes, a proper human being is one who “knows how to think." Conversely, "whoever does not know how to think, whatever his gifts may be, is not authentically a man; that is, he is not a man in the ideal sense of the term. Too many men display intelligence as long as their thought runs in the grooves of their desires, interests and prejudices; but the moment the truth is contrary to what pleases them, their faculty of thought becomes blurred or vanishes; which is at once inhuman and 'all too human.'”

One of the reasons Islam is so irrational is that it denies the horizontal. A while back at American Thinker there were a pair of excellent articles about this, one entitled What is Islamic Philosophy, the other Islam and the Problem of Rationality. I don’t have a lot of time this morning, but if you read these articles, you will see that the fundamental problem with Islamic thinking is that it is wholly vertical and devalues or completely disregards the horizontal.

Poole cites their belief in "volunteerism,” which maintains “that rather than created objects having inherent existence, Allah [vertically] constantly recreates each atom anew at every moment according to his arbitrary will. This, of course, undermines the basis for what Westerners understand as natural laws.” Furthermore, there is the belief in “occasionalism,” a doctrine maintaining that “in the natural world, what is perceived as [horizontal] cause and effect between objects is mere appearance, not reality. Instead, only Allah truly acts with real effect; all seemingly natural observances of causation are merely manifestations of Allah's habits, for Allah simultaneously creates both the cause and the effect according to his arbitrary will.”

Carson notes what amounts to the same thing, that “[horizontal] causes and effects are inadmissible... because causes limit the absolute [vertical] freedom of Allah to bring about whatever events he wills. Effects are brought about, not by causes, but by the direct will of Allah.” Obviously, “Without a notion of cause and effect, science is impossible, and “If the true cause of events is the will of Allah, and if the will of Allah is inscrutable, then the causes of events are inscrutable and science a vain pursuit. The issue is ultimately whether the universe and its creator are in any way intelligible. The West, with its traditions of natural law and natural theology, agrees for the most part that the universe is astonishingly intelligible and God somewhat so. Islam, at least at its most rigorous, denies any intelligibility whatsoever to either.”

Now, bear in mind those last three sentences. What they clearly highlight is that the development of science in the West was characterized by a unique appreciation of both the horizontal and the vertical, which intersect in natural theology and in natural law -- in a greater (capital R) Reason. One could also say that they intersect in the whole Judeo-Christian worldview, which regards the world as intelligible to intelligence precisely because both are a reflection of the same divine logos that infuses all of reality, both vertical and horizontal, which together constitute Being. In Islam, Allah is so radically transcendent that he cannot be known, while in the West, one may know God in a multitude of ways both horizontal and vertical, for example, by mapping the human genome, by enunciating relativity theory, or by simply becoming more virtuous -- since humans, in their vertically ascended state, are a mirror and image of the divine.

Now all forms of leftism, secularism, or materialism are every bit as logically incoherent as Islam, and will sooner or later lead to tyranny over the mind, spirit, and body (which history demonstrates time and again). Since these philosophies deny the vertical a priori, they actually run counter to that which makes us human: our access to the realm of vertical values that illuminate and give meaning to our humanness.

What is political correctness but an assault on the ability of people to arrive at certain unwanted conclusions? What is deconstruction but a frontal attack on any meaning that places western civilization in a positive light? There are no conservative deconstructionists, because what is specifically being deconstructed -- that is, attacked -- is the truism that America is a good and decent nation, that western civilization is a uniquely precious gift, that America is not a racist-sexist-homophobic society, etc. None of these conclusions are permissible on the left.


River Cocytus said...

Ah, science is about the doing. Islam sees the results (or said Scholars do, rather) and like the authority and strength they convey. So they ape the process so they may take hold of the result. In this case it seems he is falsely attributing observations to Armstrong, and making unusual and unsubstantiated (or able to even be substantiated) claims about the Ka'ba.

Science is in this way like manhood; this is why 'The Secret' is utterly useless; you can tell yourself you are a success all you want, but until you're actually being successful your attitude will not magically make it happen. For a man to truly be intimidating he must truly be fierce; to be venerable he must be great, and so forth. Aping the final result only gets you so far, and most certainly is not going to actually make it so.

I'm recalling 'n habits of highly successful people'. It's like, say I'm one of them. I work out every day, and I do 60 pushups, 170-ish crunches and a bit of Pilates. This approach states that my success must somehow have come from those behaviors - thus if I do them (much like waving crystals or chanting to 'summon' good fortune) I will be successful.

The Secret tries to go a step deeper and says, "Well, successful people have positive attitudes. It must be the positive attitude that makes them successful." Again, wrong.

Rather, you succeed by doing, if you have the right attitude it will not prevent you from doing so, and from it you will develop particular activities that are part of your purpose. Neither aping your attitude or idioms will make success appear.

So my advice would be, if you want to sound authoritative, do things worth doing, hold yourself to a standard of excellence, practice virtue and honesty, and don't sell yourself short. Then, you will have the substance of authority from which the commonly-seen form of authority is molded.

Those who don't have that substance we call 'empty suits'.

These Islambies are 'empty labcoats'... All the findings without the process, or even the attitude, much less the virtues of liberty and free inquiry, or even deeper the wonder and purpose to discover all that is knowable.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another good article at American Thinker today: a review of Robert Spencer's Religion of Peace? -- Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't.

Gagdad Bob said...

From the piece:

"In opposition to the Judeo-Christian conception of God as a God of reason, the Koran makes clear that Allah's hand is unfettered -- he was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws -- which has had profound implications for the (arrested) development of the natural sciences in Islamic societies, and Islamic ethics.

"Spencer cites Professor Rodney Stark's observation that Islam lacks 'a conception of God appropriate to underwrite the rise of science...Allah is not presented as a lawful creator, but is conceived of as an extremely active God who intrudes in the world as he deems it appropriate. This prompted the formation of a major theological bloc within Islam that condemns all efforts to formulate natural laws as blasphemy in that they deny Allah's freedom to act.' Not surprisingly leading historians and sociologists of science have concluded ' is indisputable' that modern science -- an organized, empirically directed effort to explain natural phenomena through theory construction and testing -- that modern science 'emerged in the seventeenth century in Western Europe and nowhere else.'"

juliec said...

"Causes and effects are inadmissible, according to al-Ghazali, because causes limit the absolute freedom of Allah to bring about whatever events he wills. Effects are brought about, not by causes, but by the direct will of Allah." (From "What Islamic Science and Philosophy?"

The bitter irony here, to me, lies in the fact that devout Islamists believe that everything happens by the will of Allah. This mindset, followed to its proper conclusion, should lead muslims to think that it is the will of Allah that there are other faiths, and infidels live happily by the millions with nobody to blow them up, and no punishing hand of Allah to destroy them (for surely, a God who knows, controls, and indeed is all things could deal handily with the Great Satan, without requiring the true believers to exist in a constant state of war and wretchedness). It is the will of Allah that Western Civilization is successful. It is the will of Allah that the Jews have returned to Israel and have established a shining jewel of a nation in the midst of barren desert with no oil reserves. Further, it is by the will of Allah that men are endowed with curiosity and a desire to know and understand how the universe works. I could go on, but surely the point is made.

The only conclusion to be drawn is that Islam is a religion of insanity, with a few nuggets of good advice, wisdom or even some truth tossed in to make it appear to be True.

Alan said...

Yay River, Julie, and Gagdad...

Whatever we see as the ultimate influences everything we think, perceive, and do.

I think Gagdad had said that laws imply an ultimate (or god)...

hence, "religion" is not only allowable in the public/political sphere ... but necessary.

How can I vote for you if I don't know what you hold to be "ultimate" and how that plays in your decision-making.

Eliminating "religion" from the public sphere is frankly un-American, in the truest sense of the ideal of America.

There are a range of "religions" that can comfortably support the "ultimate" at the foundations of the US... however there are some (leftism, radicalism) that are inimical to it.

If that is correct, what are we to do?

Susannah said...

"In opposition to the Judeo-Christian conception of God as a God of reason, the Koran makes clear that Allah's hand is unfettered -- he was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws -- which has had profound implications for the (arrested) development of the natural sciences in Islamic societies, and Islamic ethics."

I was just thinking through the Islamic conception of God the other day, and could only conclude that theirs is not the same God I worship. God may not be fully fathomable by my finite mind, but He is unquestionably good, merciful and just, "the same yesterday and today and forever"--not arbitrary and harsh, demanding sacrifice and ritual rather than obedient, loving hearts.

Islam is not "just another path to God," in other words. Especially if learning the truth about His creation is off-limits.

BTW, I love the C&H reference. :)

Daffy Duck said...

God is completely unreasonable. He/she creates, tsunamis (which kill 300,000 people) earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, exploding supernovas etc etc.

At the biological level on earth existence is a relentless eating or death machine. How many biological organisms get eaten by other organisms in every moment. Besides which all biological forms die in one way or another. Where is the "reasonable" God in all of that?

The Hindu Goddess Kali offers a far more accurate picture of how the cosmos works. She, the Goddess "creates" all of her forms and then eats them all for breakfast. She also sooner or later devours entire cultures and civilizations.

She is a blood-thirsty bitch---completely and utterly unreasonable. She confounds and laughs at all "reason".

The god of "reason" is an attempt to both deny and control that relentless process. And perhaps paradoxically,the more one tries to control things using both science and reason the more chaos is inevitably generated.

Which is not to deny that human beings should not be consciously and "creatively" involved in the paradoxical processes of manifest existence. Quite the contrary in fact.

Is there any bad weather in "heaven"?

Nobody messes with this duck!

maineman said...

"This mindset, followed to its proper conclusion, should lead muslims to think that it is the will of Allah that there are other faiths, and infidels live happily by the millions with nobody to blow them up . . ."

Unfortunately not, I think. The problem is that this Allah is a capricious, unpredictable force, which makes it/him an ambiguity upon which any old mind parasite can be projected. There may be plenty of less primitive Muslims who don't feel the need to behead their abusive fathers or mothers, but we need essentially all Muslims to be that way. And since they aren't, it's really either us or them.

Say what you will about the Left in this country, they don't often let their paganism lead to the externalization of murderous rage -- not that that will be out of the question if they lose another presidential election.

But the Islamic god we seem to be talking about here is just a megaversion of something the Greeks might have come up with had they decided that their cosmology was getting too confusing. It's pure, pagan horizontalism, a narcissistic assumption that whatever goes on in my head determines everything around me.

The reason we can see God as merciful, loving, and reliable, it seems to me, is that we see the beating of our own hearts as an essential manifestation of Him. Whereas for pagans, which Muslims are regrettably proving themselves to be, it is precisely the opposite.

maineman said...

"Nobody messes with this duck!"

Suddenly, it's all so clear! The progenitor of boomer secular-humanist nihilism is finally exposed.

juliec said...

I see your point Maineman, though perhaps you mistook mine. I was pointing out what might be the case if muslim thought about Allah was actually based on Reason. Clearly, that is not the case in reality.

ximeze said...

Duckster, daffy indeed.

wv: arfax

cousin dupree said...

Daffy has a vague and muddled understanding of Hindu metaphysics, but like the free market, you cannot have Shiva the destroyer without Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver in order to engender progress.

maineman said...


Not intending to sound critical of your point. I was just musing about why what seems like it should logically follow doesn't.

Daffy Duck said...

Daffy again.

Speaking of metaphysics the usual western metaphysics has never really taken the overwhelming reality of death into account---the third aspect or "person" of the trinity. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the Sustainer and Siva the destroyer of transformer.
Western theology doesnt even begin to take death into account.The usual Jesus story is a joke in the face of Kali. Jesus wont help you when you are dying, even is you are lucky enough to die peacefully in bed.

All cultures are essentially collective immortality projects, all of which inevitably fail and disappear sooner or later. Kali gets them every time.

The west, in particular bases its immortality project through complicated structures of reason on the "inside" and the production of control and controlling technologies on the outside. Such technologies are obviously necessary and useful up to a point. Unless their is a Wisdom Culture based on deep profundity the external structures inevitably become a deadly trap.

The Australian Aborigines have a profound immortality project which is called by us the "dreamtime". A term or word which is or was quite dismissive of its profundity. It used to be presumed that the so called "aborigines" had no culture or religion. It is now common knowledge that the "aborigines" have, or did have, an extraordinarily sophisticated understanding of their place in the world and the various interlocking orders or dimensions of existence.

It wasnt really explainable using the white mans reductionist "reason", and besides which we were incapable of even listening. They were (are) primitive who were destined to be destroyed by "progress".
That was the case wherever the white man went with his s
"superior" reason. Including of course the USA and its Indian "problem". The real problem of course being that the usual white man was incapable of even beginning to try to understand the Indian---the other. The only good Indian being a dead Indian. Manifest destiny made brutally concrete.

It is completely fluid with "past", present, and "future" being present and accessable right now, and now. They didnt have any external advanced technology but they survived for 40,000 years or more. Until the whitey's came to "civilize" them.

Reason as it commonly used is used to cover up a fundamental fear of death and even of any fundamental change itself. It is even actively opposed to any fundamental depth level change---real depth level change being a kind of conscious dying or letting go, a conscious sacrifice of ones limits.

Yes reason likes superficial change as per the latest more advanced bigger and more fancy consumer product.

Reason is an amazing tool and capacity of human beings, but the question is what is the real depth of self understanding that informs the person, each and every one, who uses reason. And by self understanding I do not mean abstract and abstracting left brained verbal self descriptions.

The character structure that makes much of the use of conventional reason is usually quite rigid. Such rigidity is written all over their bodies. Quite literally structured into the flesh of their bodies.

And they are usually, very "reasonably" quite fond of guns. There basic communication to the world is dont mess with me.

Which is of course the primary communication in both attitude and action of the USA in particular, but of all countries too to one degree or another.The USA is a country in which much is made of reason. It is also a country which is armed to the teeth and yet still feels threatened.It also wants to extend its "protection" into the heavens or sky via star wars projects.

Dont mess with us being the fundamental communication of the USA to the rest of the world.

Never mind that The USA presumes the right to mess with everyone else whenever it chooses to do so.

cousin dupree said...

Wakey wakey -- you're having another one of those crazy dreams.

juliec said...

Maineman, I know you didn't mean to sound critical; if I came across as touchy I didn't intend (and up pops an intention again...) to, I simply thought there was a bit of miscommunication. It's possible I misunderstood you.

You made an excellent point; again followed to its logical conclusion, if the will of Allah controls everything then it follows that it is Allah's will when a man beats his wife, and simultaneously Allah's will when the wife misbehaves in a way to "cause" her husband to beat her. Frankly, it all becomes rather dizzying if you think about it too much, but ultimately, however you look at it, it is still an insane doctrine.

juliec said...

Daffy, why are you here, exactly? I only ask because clearly you know so much more than the rest of us, we lowly capitalist Christianist pro-American pigs simply aren't brilliant enough to recognize your superior belief system. Has it not occurred to you that your talent is wasted here, among the unappreciative unwashed masses who are incapable of comprehending the supremacy of Eastern and Tribal metaphysics over our silly Jesus? It's obvious, at least, that we have nothing to teach you.

I suspect you would earn the widespread acclaim you so richly deserve, if only you were to start your own blog...

Van said...

It's interesting to note that both the West and the east had their confrontation with a cultural decision to proceed upwards towards capital "R" Reason, or descend into the ease of shadowy irrationality.

It occurred at roughly the same point in time (plus or minus a century of the 1100's) and took the field in the form of a colision with rediscovered or revived texts of Aristotle.

Each culture put forward a champion to battle with "To Think, or not to Think, that is the question...", fortunately the West had Thomas Aquinas, and thank God for it.

Sadly for the east, and us all, their champion was Al-Ghazali, and though Averoes fought a good fight, he lost to mohammed and al-ghastly.

The consequences are visible all around us.

Of course it could be argued that in the West, we've kicked the 'R' of Reason down to an 'r' over the last century, but better that than not to Reason at all. We can still recover - the east has to start from scratch.

Let's hope the scratch isn't radioactive.

Van said...

Still Daffy, after all these jears....

Van said...

daffy said "...Siva the destroyer of transformer"

I thought that was MegaTron?

dilys said...

River's early comment identifies the "cargo cult" component of envious tribal societies, most absurd in the complaint that "we don't get enough Nobel Prizes." As though contributions to science have no causal relationship to Nobel Prizes. Or science and technological reach to plenty and emergent accomplishment. It's all an incredible sibling rivalry. Daddy or big brother gave you one and not me. At heart a bitter wail against A---h.

The Thirteen-Petalled Rose, a short work on Judaism referred to by DL recently, is particularly satisfying in its chapter on "worlds" about the order and beneficence of the Judaeo-Christian cosmos model (explicit in Jewish mysticism, radiantly implicit in Christian scriptures, see, e.g. The Lord's Prayer). Not only ideas have consequences, beneficent actions and influences are always within our grasp. No need to strap a bomb to affect our world. Or to gain Divine approval. Or raisins.

walt said...

I, too, recently read The Thirteen Petalled Rose, after Bob's reference to it. I didn't understand every bit of it, but there were whole sections that rang clear as a bell! So, I'll second and third Dily's and Bob's recommendation of that book.

Susannah said...

Van, you are on a roll. :D

Daffy's apparently working on the assumption that death is unreasonable.

Robin, I've been enjoying your blog. The butterfly took my breath away.

Gagdad Bob said...

For an easygoing introduction to the world of Rabbi Steinsaltz, I can recommend On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters, and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom. He's a truly remarkable man. I just ordered his commentary on Genesis, which I hope will provide fruit for many future posts.

daffy duck said...

You ask why I don't have my own blog? Isn't the answer obvious?
It's because I am a BIG L ....LOSER!

das philosoph said...

Daffy's vision is pretty dark. Some of what (s)he says is valid,I think.

"Kali" the destroyer does eventually recycle everything. However, why see this as bad? Souls reincarnate, life springs anew. The huge "death factory" that DD speaks of is simply one half of the wheel.

Jesus can't help us on our deathbed--again, true. We have to help ourselves. We have to aspire for God at the time of departure ourselves. No force, not even Jesus, can do that for us.

It doesn't follow that death is hopeless, as DD implies.

The duck's philosophy can be seen as one that always sees the glass half empty, it would seem. It is a willful attempt to feel miserable and is intentional.

People like misery, because it makes them feel important.

das philosoph said...

Daffy raises another point about aboriginal consciousness which is valid.

Sometimes the aborigine (of any contintent) becomes deeply involved with silence and it is certain that from out of the silence comes interesting artifacts of conciousness.

But what does the "dreamtime" eventually yield? It is not translateable into matter as science is, and is possibly not of much use for the evolving soul.

It is essentially a temporary escape from timespace, a visit to death before death occurs.

Aborigines can predict events, they can heal certain things, they can become very solid, very centered, and very wise. The path deserves study.

It is adjunctive but not a replacement for evolution via reason and science.

The duck is off base on the politics as well. Aggression is a virtue at this stage of social evolution; that is how it is.

dilys said...

Das P. notes: "Sometimes the aborigine (of any continent) becomes deeply involved with silence and it is certain that from out of the silence comes interesting artifacts of conciousness."

Anyone who meditates occasionally finds a "bursting meaningful nugget" dropped into consciousness.

Problems arise when I start incorporating that "nugget" and teaching it to other people (often, even trying to reduce it to words to communicate to others).

This is the realm of Private Revelation, which may enhance the understanding or practice of the individual or small unit that receives it. The Church is very wise, and prohibits incorporation of Private Revelations into the public teaching {Magisterium] without, usually, centuries of testing and reflection.

This the distinction at hand. Dreamtime artifacts of silence may be iteratively useful, but such nuggets are only the beginning not the fruit of science, which is an ordered investigation and application, for the most part replicable by others not in the same Dreamtime.

Aspirin is perhaps a good example of something that straddles both, but the prescription for poor Daffy might read Take 2 and postpone further argument until Morning.

Magnus Itland said...

Well, if primitive people cannot win Nobel Prizes in physics, they can always win the Peace Prize... O_o

Biker Lady said...

Daffy Duck said, "Nobody messes with this duck"
Daffy is a Quack!