Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The anti-scientific mind

Diana West does a nice job summarizing the very non-scientific, anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian excuses many Muslim clerics are making to explain away the Tsunami. (Check out my January 7 post, below, which links to those same excuses.) West goes further than I did, though. She offers information explaining why, in our modern age, these ideas would have any credibility:

Even allowing for the tender ministrations of clerics to their flocks, none of the above explanations leave an opening for a scientific explanation of December's disaster -- not even Sheik Al-Munajjid's somewhat hilarious invocation of the Richter scale. This would seem to be in keeping with Islamic tradition. In a fascinating book called "For the Glory of God" (Princeton University Press, 2003), comparative religion professor Rodney Stark reveals why science developed in the Christian West, not the Muslim East. I think his theory offers an important insight into the cultural attitudes on display in the tsunami's wake. Historically, according to Mr. Stark, it came down to completely different visions of an Almighty. "Allah is not presented as a lawful creator but has been conceived of as an extremely active God who intrudes on the world as he deems it appropriate," Mr. Stark writes. As a result, human efforts to understand natural law have always been considered nothing short of blasphemous because "they denied Allah's freedom to act." He continues: "Islam did not fully embrace the notion that the universe ran on fundamental principles laid down by God at the Creation, but assumed that the world was sustained by his will on a continuing basis." By direct contrast, Mr. Stark writes, Christianity did indeed fully embrace the notion that the universe ran on fundamental principles laid down by God at the Creation. "Christianity depicted God as a rational, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful stable structure awaiting human comprehension." The intellectually inquisitive European scientists of the 16th and 17th centuries, Mr. Stark writes, saw themselves "as in pursuit of the secrets of Creation." Most of these secrets remain -- including many secrets of December's tsunami. To this day, the cultures of the West and East regard them in a completely different light. This is something elemental to consider. For just as Islam hides its face from the facts of modernity, we must not hide our face from the facts of Islam.