I am an atheist.
I do not believe in God.
I do not believe in the “afterworld”.
I do not believe any sort of imaginary force, being or energy controls or created the universe.
I don’t KNOW how the universe was created and neither does anybody else. That information will be discovered soon enough, and until then, I am not compelled to make up a story to fill in the knowledge gap.
Richard Dawkins, perhaps the most famous atheist in the world, found himself in the midst of a Twitter tsunami when he tweeted “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”
Oh dear. Cue the shitstorm. Dawkins takes down his critics beautifully in a post on his own blog, which you can find here:
The relevant passages are:
1. “There are 1.6 billion Muslims, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, and we are growing fast.” There is even, sometimes, a hint of menace added. In the words of Houari Boumediene, President of Algeria, “Le ventre de nos femmes nous donnera la victoire” (the belly of our women will give us the victory).
2. “Islamic science deserves enormous respect.” There are two versions of this second claim, ranging from the pathetic desperation of “the Qu’ran anticipated modern science” (the embryo develops from a blob, mountains have roots that hold the earth in place, salt and fresh water don’t mix) to what is arguably quite a good historical point: “Muslim scholars kept the flame of Greek learning alight while Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages.”
Putting these two claims together, you almost can’t help wondering something like this: “If you are so numerous, and if your science is so great, shouldn’t you be able to point to some pretty spectacular achievements emanating from among those vast numbers? If you can’t today but once could, what has gone wrong for the past 500 years? Whatever it is, is there something to be done about it?”
Dawkins targets early childhood education as a principal defect in Muslim culture: they are not educating their children for scientific achievement, and appear to be incredibly successful at achieving nothing scientifically.
I don’t think skin colour has the slightest bearing on ability to win Nobel Prizes, whereas it is highly probable that childhood education in a particular religion does. Educational systems that teach boys only memorisation of one particular book, and teach girls nothing at all, are not calculated to breed success in science.
Has something gone wrong with education in the Islamic world, and is it a problem that Muslims themselves might wish to consider? Just to throw in a separate piece of information, colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution. And I have myself interviewed, for television, pupils and teachers at one of Britain’s leading Islamic secondary schools – one with impeccable Ofsted ratings – where I was informed by a teacher that literally all the pupils reject evolution.
Just as an aside, do you know that Noah’s Café in the Creation Museum offers gluten-free meals?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah! Oh, I’m sorry. Do you lack the genetic variation necessary to digest wheat? Has an over reliance on wheat based foods for the past ten thousand years created a sensitivity? Is your digestive tract still adapting to this novel food item?
ARE YOU EVOLVING*?????????
Professor David Sanders, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and University of Sheffield, says, “Only for the past ten thousand years have we had wheat-based foods in our diets, which in evolutionary terms makes wheat almost a novel food. If you put that in context to the 2.5 millions years that mankind has been on earth, it makes sense that our bodies are still adapting to this food, and more specifically, the gluten that it contains.”
Who wants to bet they caution people to use the handsanitizer, too? Use anti-bacterial soap in the kitchens and bathrooms? Gotta watch out for those superbugs! Pretty nasty flu virus going around this season. Can’t be too careful.
Can’t be too stupid either, by the looks of it.
*Yes, I understand that evolution happens over countless generations and not just one person. It’s still an example of extreme cognitive dissonance to believe you can’t digest a plant because you lack the necessary genes and deny evolution at the same time. Is there genetic variation across human populations that responds to environmental stimuli or is there not? Pick one, for fuck’s sake.
Okay, so Dawkins is wondering if the lack of scientific achievement in the modern Muslim world can be linked to faulty education. Perfectly valid question, and he’s probably right that YEP! The scientific method, which is the basis of all discovery CAN be discovered by accident, but it’s better to teach it systematically, especially to children.
But Muslims are not the ONLY group who are A) numerous, and B) boastful about their supposed abilities, and C) devoid of any actual achievements.
Women have fewer Nobel Prizes in scientific achievement than Trinity College, too.
Women have been awarded 44 prizes (Marie Curie was honored twice, so only 43 women have won), but when you ditch Literature, Peace and Economics, the number collapses to 16. Trinity College claims 32 prizes. 31 prizes in scientific achievement. One college beats Muslims, and women hands down.
Now why might that be?
Can we blame the educational system? Are women being socialized as young children to ignore science, to discredit irrefutable theories like evolution and gravity while boys are not? Is the school system rigged to make sure boys direct their attention and energy towards all the really hard thinky subjects like math and engineering and biomechanics, leaving the girls to study literature and home economics?
Hmmm. Doesn’t look like it. In California, women now outnumber men in high school math and science courses.
At the high school level, female enrollment exceeds male enrollment in every core subject area except computer science, where females lag males substantially (p7).
But it makes no difference. Girls get all the same training as boys, but do NOT translate that into even low level achievement.
The results of the analysis indicate that high school boys lag girls in English, foreign language, and social science but that girls are 10 percent less likely than boys to take physics and 43 percent less likely to take college-preparatory computer science classes. These last two areas of study prepare students for some of the highest-paying jobs in today’s labor market. Girls also lag boys in Advanced Placement (AP) course enrollment in calculus, chemistry, physics, and computer science.
Girls take all the core subjects, but not at high levels and not to prepare to do advanced work in those subject areas.
There is no flaw in the education system.
But you won’t hear that reported anywhere in the media. Girls outperform boys in math and science around the world, except in Canada, the United States and Britain. But they do not translate that outperformance into achievement.
Because patriarchy, obviously.
The US Department of Education has found that girls “who have a strong self-concept regarding their abilities in math or science are more likely to choose and perform well in elective math and science courses and to select math and science-related college majors and careers”.
The department emphasizes that: “improving girls’ beliefs about their abilities could alter their choices and performance … particularly as they move out of elementary school and into middle and high school.”
Oh wait. You mean girls who are actually interested in math and science tend to pursue math and science? Wow! What an incredible insight. People do things that interest them. Genius! I’m glad we cleared that up.
Most girls aren’t interested in math or science.
But don’t you dare suggest that the girls are making a conscious choice that reflects those interests, or lack thereof! Larry Summer’s did, and he was crucified! How hilarious that he was run out of Harvard for speaking truth. Harvard’s motto, of course, is VERITAS.
Which is Latin for “shove your truth up your ass, you sexist prick”.
Unlike Muslims, who did in fact have some glory days back in the Middle Ages, women have NEVER contributed very much to the world scientifically. Well, except in one way.
They gave birth to great scientists.
Lots of love,