In a guest editorial published in the 8/8/08 issue of Science, the magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Director of Egypt’s Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, states:
“Throughout the Muslim world we are witnessing an increasingly intolerant social milieu that is driven by self-appointed guardians of religious correctness, who inject their narrow interpretation of religion in all public debate. Rejecting rationality or evidentiary approaches, they increasingly force dissenting voices into silence and into conformity with what they would consider accepted behavior and speech. Of course, Muslim zealots are not the only ones who try to challenge the scientific enterprise, and in the US, the battles over evolution and creationism continue to rage.”
Serageldin, an international scholar who has published over 50 books and monographs and over 200 papers on a variety of topics including biotechnology, rural development, sustainability, and the value of science to society, notes that while Europe trudged though its thousand-year-long Dark Ages, Muslim scholars developed and maintained the empirical approach we know as the scientific method. In his editorial, he pleads for “rationality, creativity, the search for truth, adherence to codes of behavior and a certain constructive subversiveness.”
[I have always felt that “constructive subversiveness” is the sine qua non of creativity in any field.]
“Scientists practicing in the Muslim world are a part of the international scientific community, which increasingly is a truly global cultural force,” Serageldin writes. “They…[require] liberating the mind from the tyranny of intolerance, bigotry and fear, and opening the doors to free inquiry, tolerance and imagination.”
Serageldin’s editorial was previously published on the Free Muslims Coalition website. It is worth reading in its entirety.
Imagine if some of the dollars spent in the International War on Terror were redirected to an International Cooperation on Technological Advancement.