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Published on Mar 27, 2007
Synopsis: Christians today threaten to send us back into the dark ages by rejecting and even actively fighting against naturalistic science, like what happened with Islam from the 12th Century and onward, after a period of huge leaps in scientific research with Baghdad as the intellectual centre of the world.
This video from Beyond Belief 2006 features Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing Islam's Age of Enlightenment from 800-1100, and the fall from enlightenment from which the religion has never recovered. He draws a parallell to Christianity in the 21st Century and fundamental religious movements that work against naturalistic sciences (such as evolution).
During Islam's Age of Enlightenment, Baghdad was the intellectual centre of the world. Christians, Jews, Muslims and others were freely exchanging ideas, and huge advances in mathematics and science were made during this period. For example, Arab scientists and mathematicians discovered things like the number zero, algebra, and mathematical algorithms (note how both "algebra" and "algorithm" are Arabic words).
During these 300 years, Islam was at the forefront of naturalistic science.
But in the 12th Century, disaster struck. Imam Hamid al-Ghazali declared that mathematics was the work of the devil, and he rejected rationalism and naturalism as valid ways to understand the world.
Revelation replaced investigation.
The intellectual foundation of Islam collapsed due to al-Ghazali's rejection of science, and it has not recovered since.
Today, Christian fundamentalists (with great help from moderate Christians who don't know better) are actively working to undermine science and replace it with religious dogma and superstition. One example is the Creationist/Intelligent Design movement and the Wedge Strategy:
Christians who accept things like Intelligent Design (or the God of the Gaps) and reject naturalist sciences such as evolution are helping to do the same damage to our scientific progress that al-Ghazali did to Islam.