Leaving Islam



 Let me explain. When our ancestors invented the wheel, the benefits were immediate. It could help them transport things with less effort. Such inventions were the "easy" ones. As time went on, all or most of the "easy" inventions were made. New inventions require more research and thus more investment of time and resources. The discovery of new scientific principles often do not have any immediate practical use. This body of scientific knowledge must be kept unused for a long time before it can be combined with recently discovered knowledge and put to some practical use. For example, billions are spent to gather knowledge about the planet Mars but it could be centuries before that knowledge can benefit mankind.

This explains why all, except Christian civilization, stagnated after showing much progress in its early years. Roman civilization lasted 1,000 years and did not made the scientific revolution. Neither did the Egyptian nor Chinese nor Indian civilizations which have been around for even longer time than did the Romans. All stagnated after making impressive initial gains in scientific knowledge. This is because the natural human tendency is to want immediate results. If the research does not yield reasonably quick benefits, interest wanes. You need a critical mass of accumulated scientific knowledge before the Scientific Revolution could be ignited.

Why did the scientific revolution began in Christiandom or what the west was once called? Its because of Christianity. Firstly, the Bible commanded mankind to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living creature. (7)To subdue the environment, you need to understand how things work. But that is not all. The Christian faith has always portrayed God as a rational being who made the universe work according to rational laws, which await human understanding. (8)

Christian philosopher and theologian, St Augustine (354-430AD) said:
"Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not even believe if we did not possess rational souls."

An even earlier Christian theologian, Tertullian (160 - 225 AD) taught that "reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason - nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason."

Thus you can see that church leaders from its earliest times view reason as being from God. This position was comparable to the Mu'atazilites who, if they had triumphed against the fundamentalists might have saved the Muslim world from backwardness. But Islam is too fatalistic a religion for the Mu'atazilites to triumph. God is believed to determine everything. If the trajectory of an arrow is determined by God there is no need to discover the principles of gravity, velocity and momentum.

Not only does Christianity give space to human reason, it actually encourages a duty to understand God's creation, the better to marvel at it. St Bonaventure (1221 - 1274) said that the purpose of science was to honor God. Since God's laws are immutable, it remains for us to discover them. Because God is perfect than the laws that govern the universe must also be immutable.

This kind of beliefs permeated the thinking of scientists during the Age of Enlightenment. For example, Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691) in his last will and testament urged his colleagues at the Royal Society of London that "they and all other Searchers into Physical Truths may thereby add to the Glory of God and to the Comfort of Mankind."

Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650) said that rational laws must exist because God is perfect and therefore acts in a manner as constant and immutable as possible except for miracles which occur rarely. (8)

Other scientists during the Age of Enlightenment that also shared this view of a rational Creator God who created the universe according to rational laws were Newton , Kepler and even Galileo. (8) Of these, Newton appears to be the most devout. He left copious quantities of writings on his ideas about God. In his much acclaimed work, the Principia, a whole section was devoted to God, which did not always coincide with the official opinion of the Anglican church. It is obvious Newton gave much thought speculating on the nature of God.

Thus you have a group of people eager to discover what these scientific laws are in order to glorify God even though they may not yield any immediate benefits. Thus scientific discoveries can accumulate for years, decades and even centuries without any practical use for them. Eventually, of course these scientific discoveries yielded new inventions and other benefits. This permitted the eventual breakthrough which became the Scientific Revolution. Today, science has a momentum of its own and does not need religious motivation to sustain research.

But that is why scientific revolution took place in Christiandom and not elsewhere. The breakthrough was made possible by Christian scientists who pursued what they thought of as their religious duty.

Besides Science, Christianity was among the first to produce an Abolitionist movement. Slaves have been part of all human societies since ancient times. In the 19th century, it was the churches, beginning with the Quakers that took aim at slavery. This is because Christianity teaches respect for human life and that all are equal before God. You can still see this concern for human life even today as Christian groups still oppose abortion and stem cell research.

This is also why Christianity initially appealed to the lowest classes of Roman society such as slaves. It is still true today. In India , most Indian Christians come from the Dalit caste. Antislavery doctrines first appeared not long after the fall of Rome and slavery soon disappeared in most of Europe .

When it was revived to served the interests of plantation owners in the New World , the Pope strongly opposed it. When Papal opposition failed, the Catholic church tried to soften the effects of slavery. As a result, slave conditions were much better in the lands colonized by the French and Spaniards than by the British. The abolitionist movement sparked of a bloody Civil War in America and the British paid a huge sum of money to compensate plantation owners in order to end slavery. Religious people are often prepared to make sacrifices in order to do the right thing in this world in order to please God. This respect for human life not only led to the abolition of slavery but also developed into the concept of human rights.

Such people are more willing to make sacrifices provided they can be convinced that what they are doing is good. That is why the more religious red state people supported Bush in his war on terrorism. Secularism creates hedonistic, value
neutral people who do not want to make sacrifices for the long term good.

But the problem with all monotheisms is that its believers tend to see the world in black and white terms. There is God and the devil, good and evil and nothing in between. As a result, monotheistic people have strong convictions of good and evil even though they may not always be right.

For the most devout, this can produce either Mother Theresas or Mohammed Attas depending on what the devout believes his God expects of him or her. Such people are the easiest to motivate in times of war or difficulty.

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