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Jews, Muslims and Science – A Review of Accomplishments

June 16, 2011

Telling the truth in a way sure to provoke his critics, Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy said that Israel has almost twice as many scientists as all the 57 Muslim countries put together. Islam, with almost fifth of the world’s population, accounts for fewer than 1% of the world’s scientists. You can read more in Hoodbhoy’s 1991 book Islam and Science, Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality.

I decided to find out for myself by researching a hundred years of Nobel Prize winners, to see whether Professor Hoodbhoy’s statements about Jews and Muslims are accurate. You can see the survey results in medicine, chemistry, physics, and economics (The Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Literature Prize are not science prizes).

Dr. Hoodbhoy attributes the malaise of Muslim science to an increasing practice over the last millennium on rote learning based on the Qur’an. “The notion that all knowledge is in the Great Text is a great disincentive to learning,” he said. “It’s destructive if we want to create a thinking person, someone who can analyze, question and create.” We are very near the heartbeat of the problem of what went wrong in the Muslim world and the Arab world in particular. “If we want to create a thinking person, it must be someone who can analyze, question and create.”

That analysis, that questioning, that is the curiosity, is the basis of all discovery. I believe the impediment to science derives from the great theological problem of Islam. Dr. Bruno Guideroni, a Muslim who is an astrophysicist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, said, “Muslim fundamentalists criticize science simply because it is Western.”

One scientist who believes that the Qur’an is the source of every scientific discovery is Egyptian geologist, Zaghloul el-Naggar. Read about him here.[1] El-Naggar says, for instance, that Mohammad referred to “the seven earths”; so it was no surprise, El-Naggar claims, when geologists supposedly discovered that Earth’s crust consists of seven zones. Mohammad also said that there were 360 joints in the body, and other Islamic researchers claim that medical science backs up the figure.

Todd Pitock, who wrote a fine article in Discovery Magazine on this subject, comments, “Such knowledge, the thinking goes, could only have been given by Allah.Critics are quick to point out that Islamic scientists tend to use each other as sources, creating an illusion that the work has been validated by research. The existence of 360 joints, in fact, is not accepted in medical communities; rather, the number varies from person to person, with an average of 307. These days most geologists divide Earth’s crust into 15 major zones, or tectonic plates.”

Science that is not reasonable is simply not science. The obsession that many Muslims have, for example, with the notion that Neil Armstrong became a Muslim while he was on the moon is discussed here.[2] Click here[3] to hear about Armstrong’s supposed moon research that proved the center of the world to be Mecca, from which a radiating beam emanates up to heaven.

We are all indebted to Professor Pervez Hoodboy for making explaining the difference between free science, which he advocates, and Islamic science, which puts many unreasonable ideas into books and into peoples’ minds.


[1] http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/science-and-islam/article_print

[2] http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/skm/neil_armstrong.htm

[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixfk4LsKWnw&feature=related

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 1:41 pm

    Peter Medawar was a Muslim? What is your source on that?

    Also, I would push the question further in terms of trying to understand not only individual scientists, but the sort of cultures that can produce them. To wit, did any of these Muslims scientists receive their education in Islamic institutions? And to be fair, did any of the Jewish ones receive their education in an Islamic institution? I am guessing that the answer will indicate that while an individual Muslim scientist can come around from time to time, they are more the fruit of what remains of Christendom, and not Islamdom.

    Good post!

  2. saqib permalink
    July 31, 2012 7:13 am

    is dr hoodbhey is muslim?//

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