Jonathan David Carson in The American Thinker (thanks to Hugh Fitzgerald) unmasks some dhimmitude in Science magazine about the historical role of Islam in scientific development. I also discuss this in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) claims for its journal Science
“the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.”
Thus when it publishes a politically correct history of the relationship between science and Islam, as filled with errors as a garbage can left too long in the sun is filled with maggots, its falsehoods enter credulous and influential minds on every continent, including Antarctica.
“Science in the Arab World: Vision of Glories Beyond” by Wasim Maziak in the June 3, 2005, issue of Science, cites as its sole source for Islamic history “the historian James Burke.” Burke has written that the invention of lens-grinding lathes led to hairdressing, that Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro brought about the development of the stealth fighter jet, and that the Boston Tea Party caused the invention of contact lenses. One can easily and quickly verify that Mr. Burke is no historian, but a television star, by pulling up information about him on Amazon.com, where even his admirers admit to his “snarkiness.”
Rather than refuting all of the snarky errors in this snarky history, I will focus on a single snarky paragraph:
Of equal importance to the Arab-Islamic scientific discoveries on the European Renaissance was the reintroduction of ancient Greece’s natural philosophy by way of translations by Islamic scholars. The historian James Burke identifies several knowledge shocks that ignited the Renaissance. One was delivered by Ibn-Sina (Avicenna, 980 to 1037), whose Kitab Al-Shifa (“The Book of Healing”) introduced medieval Europe to the principles of logic and their use to gain knowledge and understanding of the universe. Another major shock was delivered by Ibn-Rushd (Averroes, 1126 to 1198), whose writings and commentaries reintroduced to medieval Europe the Aristotelian approach to studying nature by observation and reasoning.
The “Islamic scholars” who translated “ancient Greece’s natural philosophy” were a curious group of Muslims, since all or almost all of the translators from Greek to Arabic were Christians or Jews, as were the translators from Arabic to Latin. Consider the astonishing statement of Bernard Lewis in The Muslim Discovery of Europe:
We know of no Muslim scholar or man of letters before the eighteenth century who sought to learn a western language, still less of any attempt to produce grammars, dictionaries, or other language tools. Translations are few and far between. Those that are known are works chosen for practical purposes [philosophy being considered a practical discipline] and the translations are made by converts [who knew western languages before conversion] or non-Muslims.
According to Franz Rosenthal in The Classical Heritage in Islam,
“Almost all of the translators [from Greek into Syriac or Hebrew or from Greek, Syriac, or Hebrew into Arabic] were Christians.”
One possible exception is Masarjawaih, who may have been a Jew. Another is Thabit b. Qurrah (ca. 834-901 A.D.), a “heathen” Sabian from Harran.
Similarly, “Aristoteles latinus” by Bernard Dod, a chapter of The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, provides a comprehensive list of medieval translations of Aristotle from Arabic into Latin, none by Islamic scholars””unless by “Islamic” one means “Christian or Jewish.”
But if Islamic scholars did not actually translate ancient Greece’s natural philosophy from Greek into Arabic and from Arabic into Latin, didn’t they at least preserve these works? Didn’t they rescue Plato and Aristotle from oblivion? They “ignited the Renaissance.” Didn’t they?
No, they did not. Plato did not make the long journey from Greek to Syriac or Hebrew to Arabic to Latin, and Western Europeans preferred [surprise!] translations of Aristotle directly from the Greek, which were not only superior but also more readily available.
Read it all.