[ExI] Islamic culture (current) was Religions and violence
darren shawn greer
dgreer_68 at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 31 11:31:12 UTC 2010
In China, well, I have a problem to
> say. They had been very advanced
already before Christ and were doing
> quite well for a thousand years
(gas pipelines, naval rockets, maybe
> even pregnancy tests, wow). They
continued to invent as long as to 17th
> century, gradually slowing down and
I think somewhere after that they
Peter Watson in "A Terrible Beauty"
suggests it has something to do with the decline of Confucianism as the central
organizing principle of their society.
I was quite surprised when I have
learned about advanced social
> organisms of North American Indians
and Amazonians. They had cities too,
> but abandoned them
The best book I have read on this
subject is Ronald White's "Stolen Continents." He estimates that the
total population of the pre-Columbian Americas, both North and South, was 54
million. By the end of the 16th century this was reduced by 80 percent due to
disease and colonial wars.
> I don't know what are Dr Clark's
claims, but I would be far from
> suggesting that Western Europe was
the first place that experienced the
> phenomenons of increased
European recorded history as a whole
makes no mention of the super-nova of 1054, which was visible in the night sky
for over two years. Practically every other northern hemisphere culture recorded the event,
including the North American indigenous population and Arab culture
(albeit briefly.) Current theories suggest that the church suppressed the
information, for whatever reason. In his novel "Space" James Michener
says that it is not that the times are dark, but that people aren't looking at
> But I am no expert at all (and I have lots to learn)
I'm no expert on Islamic culture either
(especially apparent after reading some of the posts by people who are far more
versed in the subject than I will likely ever be.) But I do know that it is a
mistake to confuse Arabic culture with Islamic culture too much. As has been
frequently mentioned here, Arabic culture was in full flower for a thousand
years before Islam arrived on the scene. It is possible that Islam is the main
reason for the decline of Arab culture and learning, just as the cult of
Christianity contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire. As far as I'm
concerned, both Islam and Christianity are personality cults gone viral, and need
to suppress learning and knowledge, or at least try, in order to enforce the
dogma that theirs is the one true God and their prophets absolutely correct in
Religions that don’t have this feature,
(and that have a blood-bond, or are welded together in their beliefs by some
ethnic, regional or historic commonality that discourages or is ambivalent to conversion) are less
violent and fervent.
The only bright side to Islamic and
Christian fundamentalism that I can see is that growing extremism seems to
indicate cultural decline. Another is that no ayatollah has issued a fatwa
against Jeff Dunham and his hilarious puppet Ahkmed, the dead terrorist,
"Silence! I kill you!"
> Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2010 04:36:15 +0200
> From: rtomek at ceti.pl
> To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> CC: rtomek at ceti.pl
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Islamic culture (current) was Religions and violence
> On Thu, 29 Jul 2010, Keith Henson wrote:
>> As you point out, Islamic culture was more advanced than western
>> culture at one time. The question is not so much about Muslims being
>> held back but why western culture (Jews included) shot ahead. Clark
>> calls this the great divergence and it is the major characteristic of
>> the world since the industrial revolution.
> Funny, I ask myself this question from time to time. Maybe I will find the
> answer in "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared
> Diamond (when I find some time for it). What he seems to suggest, is that
> both China and Islamic states underwent stagnation at some point.
> Myself, I was trying to understand this. Islamic golden age seemingly ends
> with Mongol Invasions (13th century). In China, well, I have a problem to
> say. They had been very advanced already before Christ and were doing
> quite well for a thousand years (gas pipelines, naval rockets, maybe
> even pregnancy tests, wow). They continued to invent as long as to 17th
> century, gradually slowing down and I think somewhere after that they
> stagnated. Coincidentally, this was the time of the Qing Dynasty, the last
> before the establishment of the Republic in 1912. Last years of Qing were
> marked by extreme corruption, which I think must have started long before.
> During Qing, those were also the times of growing pressure from quickly
> developing world powers (England, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, USA).
> I guess (since I have yet to read it) Jared Diamond suggests that
> geographic expansion and strong rivalisation between European states came
> at the right time and coincided with development of strong governments,
> supported with trade and growing industry. It also helped a lot, that
> first discoverers served as biological weapons, wiping out native social
> structures (in Americas) before they could try to adapt to technology and
> new ideas. I was quite surprised when I have learned about advanced social
> organisms of North American Indians and Amazonians. They had cities too,
> but abandonded them when their cultures disintegrated after massive deaths
> caused by diseases.
> Obviously, nobody could have stopped us. And so we succeeded...
>>>> I could not agree with you more, although the same ideas could be
>>>> expressed more concisely as "Islamic culture sucks".
>>> As has been already stated, Islamic culture saved a lot of ancient (in a
>>> sense of ancient Greece and Rome) wisdom for us. True, there was also
>>> flying apparatus on occassion. In their finest years, Islamic scientists
>>> and thinkers did whatever one would expect from any other enlightened
>> So what caused the divergence that left them in the dust?
>> I don't know if it was a cause or an effect, but the Islamic world was
>> very slow to accept printing.
>> "In the Islamic community--seat of scientific progress from 750 to
>> 1100 AD--great Islamic empires arose about the time of the printing
>> press and effectively suppressed that technology until the nineteenth
>> century, when it did transform the culture. Robinson speculates that
>> printing threatened the fundamental oral transmission of the Quran,
>> delaying introduction of the printing press into Islamic culture for
>> four centuries.
>>  Francis Robinson, "Technology and Religious Change: Islam and the
>> Impact of Print," Modern Asian Studies (1993), Vol. 27, No. 1, pp.
>> And even when they did, the number of books printed was a very small
>> fraction of the massive output of western culture.
> Wow, fascinating.
> I have found this:
> "The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of martyrs"
> [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age ]
> and this:
> "The oldest surviving Qur'an printed with movable type was produced in
> Venice in 1537/1538. It seems to have been prepared for sale in the
> Ottoman empire, where all movable type printing using Arabic characters
> had been forbidden in 1485. This decree was reversed in 1588, but there
> remained strong resistance to adopting movable type printing for any
> subjects, let alone the Qur'an, until the late 19th century. This seems to
> have been partly from opposition by the large profession of copyists, and
> for aesthetic reasons, and fear of mistakes in the text.Catherine the
> Great of Russia sponsored a printing of the Qur'an in 1787. This was
> followed by editions from Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul
> [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur'an ]
> So, it seems they would rather copy a book than print it. But it should be
> noted that their reaction to printing took place long after the fall of
> Baghdad [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Baghdad_(1258) ] which
> marks the fall of the whole culture. The Gutenberg Revolution started
> around 1450. I think it was easier for us, because our fonts only had 26
> or so pieces, while Chinese had thousands... Perhaps Arabs could adapt the
> movable type technique, but by the time it started to get out of China,
> their cultural centres were wiped out. In such situation, they were more
> interested in traditional way, perhaps not really for traditions sake but
> more because of economic interests of some groups.
> On this page [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age ], they
> "By the 10th century, Cordoba had 700 mosques, 60,000 palaces, and 70
> libraries, the largest of which had 600,000 books. In the whole
> al-Andalus, 60,000 treatises, poems, polemics and compilations were
> published each year. The library of Cairo had two million books,
> while the library of Tripoli is said to have had as many as three million
> books before it was destroyed by Crusaders."
> So the number of printed books may have something to do with this overall
> demise of theirs. They had a lot of titles that had been lost (read:
> destroyed by Mongols and other such cultural bandits). Seems like they
> were unable to recover. Ottomans, who took over from Arabs, well they had
> been different folk. I think the climate for cultural and scientific
> growth slowly worsened as Turks engaged in more and more lost wars (like,
> rivalry with growing Russia) and their elites lost interest of external
> world. They could have sent few ships to Labrador once, but after that -
> not guts and no glory. Ironically, I think their best period was just
> around conquest of Byzantium.
> But I am no expert at all (and I have lots to learn). So this is just what
> seems plausible to me (in this particular moment).
>> Gregory Clark would (I think) make a case that the
>> Malthusian/Darwinian selection process with downward social mobility
>> caused the psychological traits behind literacy/numeracy to become the
>> population norms in large areas of Europe where they did not in the
>> huge swath of Islamic culture (or any other culture in the world I
>> should add). Why I don't know. It would be worth while (if there are
>> records) to do a study similar to the one Dr. Clark did with English
>> records to see if some segments of the Arab/Islamic population did
>> better genetically.
> I think some clues can be gained from abovementioned page on Golden Age.
> It says:
> "The early Islamic Empire also had the highest literacy rates among
> pre-modern societies, alongside the city of classical Athens in the 4th
> century BC, and later, China after the introduction of printing from
> the 10th century."
> It also says, that Islamic scholars as a group had life expectancy as
> high as 75 years while the mean was somewhere above 35 years. If you are
> interested, you can read about their educational system of maktab and
> madrasah schools. Impressing. I am somehow prone to believe that every
> Muslim is expected to at least know how to read his Qur'an book, so this
> affects literacy rate if I am right.
> Putting Muslims aside, I've heard once that in former Tibet every male
> child was to go to monastery for some period of time. During this time, as
> a monk novice, boy was learning prayers and also reading and writing. I am
> not sure about girls.
> I don't know what are Dr Clark's claims, but I would be far from
> suggesting that Western Europe was the first place that experienced the
> phenomenons of increased literacy...
>> Of course it is even more of a question why the Chinese did so poorly
>> for so long after being considerably ahead of western culture. And
>> why are they doing so well now?
> Why, it seems to me they did ok for remarkably long time:
> [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_inventions ]
> However, I am a bit reluctant to accept their current success as such.
> While economically it is looking great, I have the impression of their
> looming internal problems of many kinds. Once again, I'm no expert.
> Tomasz Rola
> ** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature. **
> ** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home **
> ** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened... **
> ** **
> ** Tomasz Rola mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com **
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