Edward Grant in 'God and Reason' [see here;], identifies an interminable list of medieval Christian-European inventions. Mechanical clocks and eyeglasses, both of which were invented in Europe in the second half of the thirteenth century AD are just 2 examples of hundreds. These inventions had no counterparts in any other civilization and were important for later scientific and technological advances, which often benefited from more accurate timekeeping. The creation of microscopes and telescopes was to some degree an extension of the invention of eyeglasses and the use of glass lenses.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Edward Grant and the poverty of the Islamic church merged with the state
Moslems do not understand the separation of powers
by Ferdinand III
The Muslim theologian al-Ghazali (1058-1111) and his fanatics effectively shut the door to Moslem 'science', which had never existed [no methods, no experimentation, no innovation]; and Islam was preordained to failure. Al-Ghazali regarded theology and natural philosophy as dangerous to the Islamic faith and was skeptical of the concept of mathematical proof.
As Edward Grant continues, page 238:
"[Al-Ghazali] included the mathematical sciences within the class of philosophical sciences (i.e., mathematics, logic, natural science, theology or metaphysics, politics, and ethics) and concluded that a student who studied these sciences would be 'infected with the evil and corruption of the philosophers. Few there are who devote themselves to this study without being stripped of religion and having the bridle of godly fear removed from their heads' (Watt 1953, 34).
Medieval Europe was alight with inquiry and science, especially after the political-economy improved after 900 AD. Here is Edward Grant in Science and Religion, page 239:
“In his great philosophical work, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazali attacks ancient philosophy, especially the views of Aristotle. He does so by describing and criticizing the ideas of al-Farabi and Avicenna, two of the most important Islamic philosophical commentators on Aristotle. After criticizing their opinions on twenty philosophical problems, including the eternality of the world, that God knows only universals and not particulars, and that bodies will not be resurrected after death, al-Ghazali declares: 'All these three theories are in violent opposition to Islam. To believe in them is to accuse the prophets of falsehood, and to consider their teachings as a hypocritical misrepresentation designed to appeal to the masses. And this is blatant blasphemy to which no Muslim sect would subscribe' (al-Ghazali 1963, 249)."
“This situation was radically different in the Latin West. There was sporadic opposition to the use of reason and one attempt to ban the works of Aristotle at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century, but this was of brief duration and eventually failed. There were no later attempts to ban the use of logic and natural philosophy per se, although there could of course be criticism against specific interpretations. "After the 1240s and for the rest of the Middle Ages, attacks on reason would have been regarded as bizarre and unacceptable."
In contrast, Islam is in principle a theocracy in which religion and state form a single entity. Islamic schools, or madrasas, generally taught "Islamic science," that is theology, Arabic grammar, the Koran and the hadith etc. Greek and other non-Muslim philosophy was called "foreign sciences" and was never integrated into the core curriculum.
Grant again, page 243:
"[The madrasas] had as their primary mission the teaching of the Islamic religion, and paid little attention to the foreign sciences, which, as we saw, were comprised of the science and natural philosophy derived ultimately from the Greeks. The analytical subjects derived from the Greeks certainly did not have equal status with religious and theological subjects. Indeed, the foreign sciences played a rather marginal role in the madrasas, which formed the core of Islamic higher education. Only those subjects that illuminated the Qur'an or the religious law were taught. One such subject was logic, which was found useful not only in semantics but was also regarded as helpful in avoiding simple errors of inference. The primary function of the madrasas, however, was 'to preserve learning and defend orthodoxy' (Mottahedeh 1985, 91). In Islam, most theologians did not regard natural philosophy as a subject helpful to a better understanding of religion. On the contrary, it was usually viewed as a subject capable of subverting the Islamic religion and, therefore, as potentially dangerous to the faith. Natural philosophy always remained a peripheral discipline in the lands of Islam and was never institutionalized within the educational system, as it was in Latin Christendom."
Greek natural philosophy, however, became fully integrated into the university curriculum in Europe. As Grant explains, page 244-245:
"..medieval theologians can be equated with the best of the secular natural philosophers, such as John Buridan and Albert of Saxony. Some theologians, such as Albertus Magnus and Nicole Oresme, were clearly superior to them. By their actions, theologians in the West were full participants in the development and dissemination of natural philosophy. They made it possible for the institutionalization of natural philosophy in the universities of the late Middle Ages, and therefore its extensive dissemination. Nothing like this occurred in the Byzantine Empire or in Islam."
By the 11th century, Islam was ossified, insular, impoverished and in a state of decline. Learning and science forbidden. Koranic fundamentalist theology; the church merged with the state; and a latent hatred of the untermensch, made it obvious that the Moslem world was both rotten and diseased.