Friday, 9 August 2013

Dawkins's tweet, Malik's Eid

Dawkins's tweet, Malik's Eid

I guess Malik shouldn't log on to Twitter during Eid if it can be so easily “interrupted”. Especially when she's already aware of Twitter not being a particularly “nice place”; a place where "good will" is "unfamiliar".
Sure, Dawkins tweet was a bit churlish and attention seeking (Malik of course rewarding it by writing this article). And sure, the tweet was simplistic. But simplistic is, I'm afraid, the nature of a tweet. One can't expect a nuanced discourse on 140 characters. It does, however, bear with it a significant discourse. One of which Dawkins is aware, as is any A-level student, and I'm sure Malik too.

The question that must be posed is of course, from where does it stem, this “socioeconomic development of the north” in contrast to the Muslim “south”? Well, it might actually have something to do with the West being scientifically far ahead, in turn a consequence of its society and academia having increasingly de-attached itself from religion, supported by the encouragement of critical thinking, a development arguably initiated by the Renaissance (made possible of course by the enlightened Muslim world reminding the dark West of its great classical thinkers, who would thereafter underpin much of the West's scientific development).
Dawkins's intention is not to single out Islam as being a particularly "stupid religion". By stating that the Muslim civilization accomplished much in the Middle Ages, he's obviously not of the opinion that it incorporates an "inherent cultural-religious deficiency". The tweet can be viewed as a lamentation over what could have been if the Muslim civilization had taken a different path. Cause in the Middle ages it was ahead of the Christian West with regard to science (maths, medicine, philosophy, etc). But then something happened, and it started taking retrograde steps. Historians are still debating why, just as they're debating why the Chinese civilization retreated into darkness despite having the capacity of becoming the world's scientific spearhead. Instead it was the West that led the way. From the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment and further on, cultural, scientific and political developments reinforced each other (of course much more complicated than in a simple, deterministic, straight line).
And it’s not fair of Malik to equate Dawkins's factually based tweet – from which she extrapolates Dawkins's “agenda” – with a cleric from Cloud cuckoo land. Dawkins is hardly a vile troll. He's not exactly spouting rapist threats, but declaring a fact that encapsulates a historical conundrum. This equation of Malik’s amounts to a false analogy – why, almost an “obvious fallacy”.
(Finally, regarding Malik's claims, I should think there've been more than 32 lefthanded Nobel laureates? Just to name a few: Linus Pauling, James Watson, Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman, (arguably) Albert Einstein. And that’s just the most famous ones. And only scientists ([for example, Obama is a south-paw too].)