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Muslim Medical Students Boycott Darwin Lectures 1319

First time submitter Readycharged writes "The Daily Mail reports on a piece from The Sunday Times revealing that University College London have seen an increasing number of Muslim students boycotting lectures on Evolution due to clashes with the Koran. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics, says, 'I've had one or two slightly frisky discussions with kids who belonged to fundamentalist Christian churches, now it's Islamic overwhelmingly.' He adds, 'What they object to — and I don't really understand it, I am not religious — they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.' The article also reveals that Evolutionary Biologist and former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins also experienced Muslims walking out of such lectures."
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Muslim Medical Students Boycott Darwin Lectures

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  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:55AM (#38187238) Journal

    Chiefly among them the idea that randomness is not divine. How else would some being equal parts evil and good distribute his Will? In closely examining randomness we find what patterns we will, allowing us to imagine we grasp the whole until the patterns devolve until they're just a cloud.

    It's humor to keep a divine being amused for all time - to tease us with imagined understanding.

  • issues with this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal ( 534799 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:13AM (#38187334)
    Another aspect of this is that some of these people may well actually cause harm to society in this way: it is known that overprescribing antibiotics is causing evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. A doctor who does not believe in or agree with principles of evolution might then ignore the guidelines and thus add to emergence of new strains. (Overprescribing is also a problem in some countries where the medical practice is rather casual and antibiotics are too-commonly given out for viral diseases like colds or flu.)
  • Natural selection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maweki ( 999634 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:18AM (#38187354) Homepage
    As many said before me: just fail them and let natural selection take its course.
  • Re:So fail them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imroy ( 755 ) <> on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:27AM (#38187388) Homepage Journal
    Studying religion(s) doesn't necessarily mean you have to practise or believe it. In fact, studying religion is quite likely to result in you seeing religion as just mythology and not believing it.
  • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:31AM (#38187412)

    In the Netherlands there was a situation a couple of years ago where a muslim medical student refused to examine fellow male students (medical students practice on each other during their training). You don't want to have qualified doctors who refuse to help because the traffic casualty is of the opposite sex. I read recently a quote that the koran says that a prostitute went to heaven for giving a thirsty dog a drink (which she hauled from a well by climbing down, with the water in her shoe). So, helping a fellow (male) human being should be OK. Or she shouldn't be a doctor.


  • Re:Up to them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:31AM (#38187416) Homepage Journal

    Well, I suppose it's within their rights to up and leave a lecture because they don't like the topic

    Would be interesting to know if such students (on average) attend more lectures than their counterparts, perhaps due to not being at the pub/hungover etc quite so much!

  • by SecurityTheatre ( 2427858 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:32AM (#38187422)

    You have a lot to say about whether or not God has something to do with evolution.

    Why do you believe in God? Is there any evidence to his/its existence? Or is it simply dogmatic because you were raised that way?

    What do you say to someone who is of another faith, perhaps Hindu or Christian or Jane or Sikh or whatever? What of the tens of millions who lived before the founding of Islam?

    I'm somewhat baffled by religion in general. I don't intend to pick on a Muslim, your weirdly rational writing struck a profound cognitive dissonance within my head in contrast to the actual content of your writing.

  • by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:35AM (#38187436) Journal

    I, too, will pitch my hat in the ring to provide a Muslim perspective.

    I am from Pakistan, which is about as conservative and Muslim as you can get (okay, so KSA is even more so...but you get the gist)

    However, when I was taught biology in school, guess what, I was taught Darwin!

    It was simple, the text simply said, "Charles Darwin, a renowned Scientist hypothesized in his theory that..." and then followed by "However, we as Muslims, believe that [insert relevant verses here]"

    Simple as that!

    If these students were to come to a medical college in Pakistan (and we quite a few of International level) then, surprise surprise, there would be a chapter on Darwin.

    Look, we are Muslims, and I know the general trend of Slashdot is towards atheism/agnosticism, but I strictly believe in a right to believe your religion in peace. So I will not say that the very idea of Creationism is wrong, If I (and they) want to believe that, it is my(/our) right.

    However, if an eminent scholar presents forward a *theory*, there is no harm in at least reading what he is writing.

  • Diest response. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:37AM (#38187452)

    Evolution is the incarnation of the will of god/ Allah / Jane / whomever / the Universe. What's so hard about that ?

  • by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:43AM (#38187486)

    But what Marx really said, is that the drug allowed us to stand the pain of the illness, until we were able to find the cure...

  • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:48AM (#38187516)

    I don't get what the problem is. If you don't grasp the material, regardless of the reason, you fail the course.


    I sure as hell don't want to be treated by a doctor who doesn't understand evolution.

    To quote you, I don't get what the problem is. What does belief/disbelief in evolution have to do with medical treatment? A medical doctor needs to know how the body works right now, not how it got to that point. I'm a bit fuzzy on how a belief in evolution helps a doctor diagnose and fix a problem in the patient in front of them.

    Now if you want to say certain avenues of medical research should probably be closed then I'd agree.

  • Re:So fail them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AtomicAdam ( 959649 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:49AM (#38187520)

    Doesn't matter what your degree is in, if you think your magic book has all the answers you are delusional and not degree-worthy material.

    So you're saying being religious means you're not worthy of a degree? Wow... just I'm guessing this is a troll

    Tell them the only way they'll get a degree from a respected institution is to not be an idiot. Doesn't matter what your degree is in..

    So according to you having an opinion/belief makes you an idiot. I think the only idiot doesn't seek knowledge from many avenues. Academic truth always changes far be it for you to declare what is true or not. However back to the topic: More power to them. However if they fail the test that the professor has outlined, it's their problem. I don't agree with a lot of professors but I sit through their lectures because I want to get good marks on the tests and because of academic courtesy.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:52AM (#38187530) Homepage

    Religion is getting nuttier.

    Today, evolution is an engineering technology. Watching vruses and bacteria evolve from generation to generation is routine medical research. Genetic engineering and some kinds of drug discovery are forced evolutionary systems. Most of the mechanics of the process are understood. It isn't mysterious any more.

    At this point, denying that evolution is real is on a par with claiming the earth is flat. Yet religious denial of evolution has increased.

    More religions are anti-education than 50 years ago. Some branches of Islam are explicitly anti-education. Now that's infected Judaism, too. [] Which is strange, after centuries of a strong drive in the Jewish community to achieve a good education.

  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:54AM (#38187536) Homepage

    Indeed. From Wikipedia: "A 2005 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica found that the non-religious made up about 11.9% of the world's population, and atheists about 2.3%. This figure did not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists." Here's the link. []

  • by gregrah ( 1605707 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:57AM (#38187556)
    While I find radical religious fundamentalism just as distasteful as any other atheist, I would also hesitate to launch into Muslim bashing just because one professor has noticed "an increasing number" of Muslim students boycotting his lectures. For all we know, it may be a small number of students boycotting that do not represent a larger trend, and there may be more to the story than reported here (what if, for example, the professor made offensive remarks about Islam and its followers during a lecture, a la Richard Dawkins).

    In regards to whether or not these students should be allowed to graduate and become doctors, I'm a little torn. On the one hand, I don't see how someone's stance on evolution is going to have any demonstrable impact on their ability to perform surgery, for example. On the other hand, if a doctor doesn't believe in evolution, they might also not believe that over-prescribing antibiotics can bread new strains of drug resistant bacteria, which could lead to genuine threat to public health.

    I guess I'd say that if evolutionary biology is a requirement for the major, then they should be required to pass the course in order to graduate. They don't need to attend the lectures, and they don't need to believe that it's true - but in the same way that we force future doctors to suffer through organic chemistry (often against their will), these students should be required to pass the final exam in order to demonstrate that they are at least capable of understanding the material.
  • by bedouin ( 248624 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:10AM (#38187644)

    Too many Muslims have gotten caught up in Christain dogma instead of reading and thinking about the book they believe in. There's nothing inherently contradictory about evolution and Islam. The Quran doesn't specifically say days in Arabic regarding creation, it uses a word that really means periods of time.

    Allegory is used to explain many subjects because describing something like quantum physics to 6th century bedouins wasn't really feasible. Hell, it's something most 21st century Americans can't understand.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:27AM (#38187732)

    The answer is simple they either attend and pay attention to the lectures or it is kiss the qualifications on the BUTT and go home NOW ...

  • Re:So fail them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bertok ( 226922 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:33AM (#38187768)

    The problem is that in the social 'sciences', this is often treated as a 'everybody is right' instead of the approach of the physical sciences: "I'm right, and if you don't believe me, go do the experiment yourself".

    That's a monumental difference that a lot of people just fail to grasp, even in serious fields of study. Just read this essay [] by Richard Feynman where he explains what it means to be properly scientific.

    Nonetheless, students questioning their professors is not seen as a problem even in the physical sciences. For example, I had a very vocal disagreement with one of my Physics professors once. I simply refused to believe that what he was saying was possible. He was so impressed that he offered me a research position based on that one interaction.

    Of course, this comes with a huge caveat -- I didn't 'just' disagree.

    What had happened was that we were studying solid-state lasers, like the type you get in your DVD player or a laser pointer. They are made from crystals of semiconductors, like silicon, germanium, arsenic, etc... He was specifically discussing silicon lasers emitting light at about 650nm. I sat straight up and thought that's crazy -- I've held pure silicon in my hand before, and it looks like metal. Sure, it's a bit dark, but I just couldn't imagine how light that's "just barely infra-red" could go straight through the thing with nearly 0% loss, which is what a laser requires to operate. I argued with him -- surely it's very heavily doped and it's actually a compound of silicon that transmits the light? No. Maybe it's just a very thin surface layer, like transparent gold leaf? No.

    The day after that, I was in the lab, and there was a piece of silicon there -- scrap from the chip lab. I took an incandescent lamp that I knew put out most of it's heat energy in the right infra-red range, put my hand in front of it, and then I waved the silicon wafer back and forth between my hand and the light. It's like it wasn't even there -- it blocked none of the IR light. There was no visible light going through, but I could feel the heat on my hand. I compared it to glass and various thicknesses of paper and plastic sheets. Only silicon transmitted all of the IR heat energy. It was like it was made of smoke. Sure, it was a primitive experiment, but very convincing in a I-can-feel-it-with-my-own-hands kind of way.

    The next day, we were back in the lecture hall, continuing the topic of silicon lasers, and the lecturer jokingly asked me if I still had problems believing that silicon was transparent to infra-red light. I said no, I tried passing IR light through a piece of silicon in the lab. It doesn't look like it should, but it does.

    That change in my position is the very essence of science -- not that disagreeing is bad, but there ought to be a method by which we can all become convinced of the truth and agree on it.

    Sadly, the scientific method is not followed rigorously in many fields. Psychology and some areas of medicine come to mind. Just read: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False [] for an idea of just how far it's possible to stray from the truth because of only small errors in the application of the scientific method.

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:38AM (#38187804)

    It was simple, the text simply said, "Charles Darwin, a renowned Scientist hypothesized in his theory that..." and then followed by "However, we as Muslims, believe that [insert relevant verses here]"

    Let me get this straight: you were taught evolution in school, but it was with the caveat that it was "his theory" - as in the layman's definition of theory (i.e. a wild guess)? And what appeared in the [insert relevant verses here] section? From the way you setup the sentence, you're really making it sound like Darwinism is presented in school, but it's Darwin's "wild guess" and Muslims are instructed to believe something different. In the past, I've heard this same thing about evolution being taught in Islamic countries - i.e. evolution is "just a theory" but if you want to be a good muslim and believe what God says, then you'll believe something different. Could you clarify?

    I strictly believe in a right to believe your religion in peace.

    That depends on the belief. If (theoretically) your religion says germ theory of disease is bunk, all disease is caused by demons (Saint Augustine*) or is an illusion (Christian Scientist Church), then, we're not going to let you believe whatever you want. The facts are not negotiable.

    * Saint Augustine taught that all diseases were caused by demons: "All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guiltless, newborn infants."

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:41AM (#38187822) Journal

    Don't remember his name but he commanded a small carrier in the Atlantic during WW2. He said that if a soldier prays before going into battle he is going into battle with the wrong mind set. A soldier should take charge, not leave it up the fate/beard in the sky.

    He has a point. In Islam, the idea of "It is the will of god" is very strong, stronger then in most faiths. It is a fatalist attitude. Whatever happens has been pre-determined and it is useless to go against it.

    It is kinda funny to see then Muslims use it when they go into war. Since Muslims always loose unless they fight each other (which is another kind of loosing), obviously the loosing is the will of god. Notice how the phrase "if Allah wants it" is rarely used AFTER the lost battle.

    But are Christians and Jews really that different? Yes. A lot of the advancement in the west has been due to religion taking a back seat. Take Einstein, religious but doesn't let it control him. The west still has various religions but the advances were strongest when church and state or at least science and culture were separated.

    Not that this has nothing to do with the faiths themselves. Fatalism is determined by environment. In Europe, the environment allows people to take charge. There are flooded areas but they are small and so you can build small raised areas to build your house on. And now your house doesn't flood away every year, you can start building dyke's. You can influence the environment in small ways, allowing you to build up to big ways. There is a reason the greatest land reclaimers are the dutch where doing it with primitive tools was relatively easy AND rewarding.

    Fatalism is a survival strategy when your entire dependence is on a river that may or may not flood and which you can do nothing about. When a dry spell doesn't mean a lesser harvest but mass starvation. when all your work is wiped out in front of your eyes, it helps to think that it is all part of some divine plan. Raising your hands in anger at the gods... doesn't work for to long before you die of a heart attack. Just accept it, bury the death and move on.

    And when YOU do that, when you have given up, it becomes VERY hard to accept someone else can move on. That is why in ghetto's there is enormous peer pressure NOT to succeed but to fail. Because if someone else CAN make it, then you are a bigger failure.

    And that is another aspect of Islam. The world moved on and in general they can't move on. Look at Turkey, flexing its wings because it thinks that massive growth when you came from nothing has meaning it KNOWS it is completely at the mercy of the west. Every time a Turk answers his cell phone, uses his computer, powers a light, it is western tech. And despite billions invested from oil rich nations, this hasn't really changed.

    Why? Because Islam never had a renascence. They never had an enlightenment. Individuals have moved on and learned to seperate faith from daily live but as a group, in general, it hasn't. And it is causing massive culture conflict.

    Note the huge problems Israel is having because by its nature it has to be friendly to ultra-orthodox Jews.

    In most of the west, the religious freaks have isolated themselves and good riddance. There is no Amish TV channel trying to win heart and minds. More or less, the US can ignore them. Good luck doing that with Islamic extremist. Note how the revolutions so far have not yet lead to a progressive government. Moderate muslims is about as good as it gets and moderate is a very inaccurate term. It completely depends on how extreme the non-moderates are.

    Mind you, nothing of this is new. We had Darwin on trial. It is just annoying to have to fight the same battle over and over again. And last time we didn't insist on importing Hillbilly's by the truck load.

    Culture clash sounds so harmless but it is the root at many of the worst moment in human history.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:53AM (#38187914) Journal

    Islam was actually less anti-evolutionist than Christianity in the early years of the theory - Qu'ran is kinda vague on its whole creation account, and there's much stronger tradition to taking it as allegorical (I guess it would be because Islam didn't get its Protestant Reformation, which had a tendency towards literalism in extremes). "Divinely guided" evolution is consistent with all Islamic tenets, and widely believed in, same as for Catholics.

    Islamic creationism is a relatively recent thing, roughly from 1970s on, and most of it has, ironically, originated in Turkey - the most secular Islamic majority state on the Earth. They also tend to use a lot of American Christian sources, such as those of Institute for Intelligent Design etc - so you could say that it is largely a "gift" from American creationists to the rest of the world that took on its own life.

  • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vell0cet ( 1055494 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:55AM (#38187926)
    Indeed. If I drop rocks a 1000 times and then drop a coin 1000 times and then something else over and over again. I might conclude that dropping ANYTHING will make it fall to the ground.

    But that is not a fact, dropping a helium balloon will not drop to the ground. So my theory that dropping anything will make it fall to the ground is wrong. That's exactly why it's a theory. That's why we explore it further instead of throwing the whole thing away and then discover things like atmospheric pressure and density.

    If we drop rocks into the water and they always sink to the bottom. We might conclude that all rocks sink in water... but that would also be wrong. We need to redefine what a rock is (yes, there are rocks that can float).

    My point is, we take it on faith that things will work out based on our theory. It is entirely possible (in the case of evolution, the new arsenic based life form) that something will come along and show us that our theory is incomplete. Unfortunately, many people tend to take that to mean that "it is wrong".
  • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:15AM (#38188056)

    To quote you, I don't get what the problem is. What does belief/disbelief in evolution have to do with medical treatment?

    Presumably such a doctor would have no qualms about handing out antibiotics like candy - after all, it's not as if the bacteria might adapt to it. And how do they explain where all these new diseases come from anyway?

    The most fundamentalist folk I've talked to that mentally shut down when you use the word "evolution" have no problem with the concept of individual organisms having varying levels of resistance and that the repeated use of some compound will lead to a population dominated by the most resistant. "Survival of the fittest" is something that the most fundamentalist will accept in a short term context yielding small changes.

    Try it out for yourself. Talk to a fundamentalist, do not use the word "evolution", discuss the drug resistant organisms, the moths that changed color pre/post industrialization, etc. Use phrases like "survival of the fittest", "change over time", etc and you will have no problem. Utter the word "evolution" and then its like a switch flips. These people have no problem with the concept of drug resistant organisms, they just don't want to use the word "evolution" for this. To them "evolution" is exclusively apes became man type of stuff.

  • by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:17AM (#38188070)

    Actually there's nothing random given the multiverse theory. Every time there's what we perceive as a random quantum event it is simply the branching of the multiverse. As we cannot predict which branch we'll perceive as following, we see it as random. In reality our consciousness branches as well, and each part sees a different outcome.

    The Earth is an impressive thing, but even more impressive is the complete universe, especially if it is indefinitely branched into a multiverse infinity. Why can't religious people see this as a much, much greater feat of creation, resulting in God being infinitely more omnipotent?

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:30AM (#38188148) Homepage

    Oh, you're not under the impression that this will wash them out of med school are you?

    I certainly hope it does. They should not be allowed to just pick and choose what classes they object to and get a free pass. Everyone has to take classes and listen to things they don't necessarily agree with, it's just part of a balanced education. If they don't want to learn about Darwin, well, that's fine... but it's still a required part of the Biology class. I certainly hope they don't get a passing grade on the material they refused to participate in. If they can salvage a grade out of the class, great, but if not... Thanks for the tuition money, good luck finishing your degree in some Islamic country, I guess?

    (Of course, the article suggests this is the influence of Islam's own version of Jerry Fallwell, "Haruan Yahya" [] who is, of course, an anti-Semitic nutjob who thinks he's the next messiah and who specifically based his new brand of nuttery on the American Fundies...)

    Of course, I'm a crazy old jerk who thinks those jackass pharmacists who refuse the morning after pill to rape victims (cause they were asking for it, or cause it was god's will, or somesuch random asshattery) should be legally enjoined from working those kind of jobs...

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:36AM (#38188180)
    Doing science implies a belief that there is order in the universe and that it is discoverable. Science involves inductive logic, which assumes regularity. You could call this a "philosophical" belief, but as the core assumption is unprovable it is really religious.

    When we talk about scientists being atheistic or irreligious, we tend to mean that they don't accept ideas which are regarded as pretty silly by most of the people in serious university theology departments - and no, I don't mean "Bible colleges".

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:49AM (#38188264) Homepage Journal

    I had a physics lecturer who insisted that the second law of thermodynamics proves that evolution is impossible. It didn't seem to bother him that it is inconsistent with the existence of god.

  • by JAlexoi ( 1085785 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:12AM (#38188338) Homepage

    But are Christians and Jews really that different? Yes. A lot of the advancement in the west has been due to religion taking a back seat. Take Einstein, religious but doesn't let it control him. The west still has various religions but the advances were strongest when church and state or at least science and culture were separated.

    There is a big difference between the 3 religions. Although all 3 stem from a single one, all three have been influenced by different cultures and their goals. Judaism and Islam are religions of rules and laws, while Christianity is a religion of philosophy mostly influenced by the Greeks. Judaism and Islam were created to cover a need of laws and power of laws, Christianity was a result of "the search for inner peace" in a system where laws were in place. As a result, the religions differ massively on a lot of issues.

  • by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:18AM (#38188360) Journal

    I apologise, but I can't exactly remember *what* biology books said, since it was oh so long ago, and I dropped biology afterwards. Also, due to flaws in our education system, we have had multiple varieties of textbooks (in all subject) due to changes in curriculum every few years, so frankly I am not even sure now which class biology *is* taught!

    But I remember the gist of it, it was about the evolution of biological research, how scientist discovered plants needed needed air(oxygen) not just water as earlier hypothesized etc... You get the idea, among those discoveries was Charles Darwin's discovery too, that I definitely remember.

    However, I reflecting back, I am not exactly sure whether the verses were there to refute Darwin (or any other scientist for that matter) in particular. There was just a chapter on the Quranic version, where it said how Allah created man from a clot of blood etc. You can search on the internet.

    So I guess my setup of the sentence was perhaps wrong, but I think I maybe attributing what my teacher said to what was in the text book.

    My apologies, I will try to track down a school level biology book if I can, but I won't be surprised if the entire chapter on research was deleted, not due to Darwin, mind you, but simply because one of the many curriculum changes might have deleted this entire section for something he thought was more appropriate and *up-to-date*, like the discovery cells in wood cork etc.

    In fact, I distinctly remember a friend complaining his brother's biology book had the chapter on the verses missing too ("Dude! our education system is being taken over by the Infidels!11!")

    AS for the part about beliefs, I am not going to mess over that. Islam insist you take treatment for ills, that whole "prayers alone will save me" shit doesn't fly in our religion, you *must* take action, and pray too, basically the motto is "Do your best, and *then* leave the rest to God", if you won't take medicine or preventative measure, that means you are not doing your part.

    However, if a Christian friend were to refuse medicine...well I am not sure. That's a bridge I will cross when I come to it.

  • by teadrop ( 1151099 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:29AM (#38188414)
    That's not entirely true. Einstein spent his later part of his life trying to disproved Quantum Physics, in doing so he inadvertently helped to confirm it. In other words, his disbelieve in Quantum Physics was a great contribution in proving Quantum Physics. "God does not play dice." has often been misquoted. Einstein is not religious (not in the traditional sense). In his private letter to Eric Gutkind, he called the Bible "childish". Publicly, he also published an essay in New York time regarding his religious belief (he was neither Christian nor Judaic). When Einstein said "God does not play dice" he meant the uncertainty principle of Heisenberg. Later by his own experiments, Einstein proved that "God did play dice." Einstein use of the word "God" is as religious as the "God" in "God damn it!", a phrase commonly used by many atheists. You can't blame Einstein in doubting the uncertain principle, any good scientist will be upset. The only people who don't doubt it are those who don't understand it (the majority) or those who completely understand it (minority).
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:59AM (#38188574) Homepage Journal

    I stuck my hand up and pointed out that the increase in entropy on the sun more than offsets any decrease in entropy on the earth, and if the sun went out, life in earth would die and entropy would go on as expected. He agreed with me and said it depends on what you believe. He knew he was talking crap but he had to do it for some reason. He was otherwise a very smart guy.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:40AM (#38188778) Homepage Journal

    And there is this: []

    tl;dr version: Einstein said that "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:53AM (#38188868) Journal

    It's almost as if religious folks -know- that they're wrong. Thus to preserve their wrongheadedness, it's requires to not even learn about the alternatives. (presumably, learning would risk realising that the alternative theories are correct.)

    I strongly disagree. If I had to go back in time to Nazi Germany, and listen to lectures about the evils of the Jews, I would not have the stomach to sit there and listen to it. It's not because I secretly fear that the Jews are indeed responsible for the world's suffering, just that I could only tolerate so much hatemongering bullshit before realising that I had better things to do with my time.

    Of course, that's not to say that evolution is akin to Nazi propaganda, just that refusing to listen != you know you're wrong.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:59AM (#38188900) Homepage Journal

    The problem isn't so much that Islam is irrational (Christianity is just as irrational), the problem is that Islam works much harder to consume the individual with learning the contents of the Koran, leaving much less time for learning how the world actually works. Then, to any degree that Islam clashes with science, Islam *must* win; that's not irrational, that's a good design feature designed to ensure Islam's continuance. What's irrational is the nonsense content in the book, and there, the bible and the Koran stand shoulder to shoulder.

  • by am 2k ( 217885 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:18AM (#38188988) Homepage

    He knew he was talking crap but he had to do it for some reason. He was otherwise a very smart guy.

    Maybe a conflict between what was indoctrinated at a young age and what he learned later? Orwell called that phenomenon "doublethink".

  • Re:So fail them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:22AM (#38189014)

    Congratulations for disagreeing with your professor. However, I find it extremely unlikely your professor was correct about Si lasers at 650nm. This is primarily because lasing *typically* (for type-I quantum-well or double-heterostructure) happens in semiconductor lasers near the bandgap (the bandgap of silicon is ~1100nm). Moreover, silicon is an indirect bandgap, therefore if a band-to-band recombination occurs, it is accompanied by a strong phonon interaction, which would be too inefficient to create.

    Si lasers are a rather new area of research and typically fall into one of three categories:

    Hybrid silicon laser: grow or bond a more traditional optically-emitting semiconductor (GaAs- or InP-based heterostructure) to a silicon wafer (First done in ~2005)
    Raman-shifted pump: using a second pump laser to seed oscillation at a Raman shifted wavelength (this shift is nominally 100nm). First done in ~2005.
    S-Ge growth: Er doped Si-Ge, or some other rare-earth grown/deposited on top of silicon (~2005, I think?)

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:41AM (#38189112) Homepage Journal

    Sanity is defined by the norm. Most people don't believe in unicorns and there is no compelling evidence to suggest that they exist, so anyone who does genuinely believe they are real is deemed less than totally sane.

    On the other hand a lot of people believe in God, despite there being no compelling evidence to suggest that he exists, so because it is a common delusion it is accepted as a sane, if not rational, point of view.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:49AM (#38189148) Journal

    The courts themselves aren't secret. Rabbinical Courts exist in the U.K. [] as well as other places around the world.

    A more apt term would be "private" as opposed to "secret".

    To the best of my knowledge, both Rabbinical and Sharia Courts operate in secular nations under the rule of Binding Arbitration as opposed to being criminal courts.

  • by rgbatduke ( 1231380 ) <rgb@ph y . d u k> on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:56AM (#38189184) Homepage
    Of course, a really good physics lecturer would have pointed out that the entropy of a closed system is constant. He or she might then go on to point out that -- in both classical and quantum mechanics -- the time evolution from any given initial condition is completely deterministic. Since entropy is the natural log of the missing information, and in a closed physical system that evolves in time according the solution to what amounts to a four-dimensional boundary value problem there is no missing information, not only is the entropy constant the entropy is zero.

    A really great physics lecturer would then go on to point out that if one takes said closed Universe and partitions it (mentally) into a (sub) "system" and its complement (everything else), the "bath", defines Nakajima-Zwanzig projection valued operators and performs a ritual incantation involving several pages of very difficult algebra and calculus, one arrives at a set of non-Markovian integrodifferential equations that describe the still-deterministic time evolution of the subsystem in contact with the bath, from the full set of initial conditions of the whole thing (including all phases in quantum theory). This lecturer could then talk about making Markov approximations to get rid of the integro- part of the solution, about the impossibility of our obtaining sufficiently complete knowledge of the bath and hence the necessity of diagonalizing it (taking the trace in QM) and thereby describing it classically and statistically, and perhaps even discuss the Langevin equation as a solvable stochastic ODE that can model the system in contact with the bath and THEN note that under these conditions, the "entropy" of the system must increase as its initial information diffuses into the basically unknown state of the bath.

    He/she might title the lecture "The Generalized Master Equation and open systems in quantum mechanics", and stick it in close to the end of a good stat mech course, and perhaps direct the reader to some of the lovely review literature, e.g. an article by Breuer at arXiv:0707.0172v1.

    Sadly, even in most physics departments there are still far too many faculty who are teaching what they were taught by rote -- that quantum mechanics is somehow "fundamentally non-deterministic". Not so, as the equations of motion of quantum theory themselves quite clearly demonstrate (being well-defined systems of differential equations for any closed system). It's only when one considers measurement that stochastic descriptions come into play, and the consistently derived reason is precisely that outlined above. We cannot describe the measurement apparatus itself as part of the quantum system with a definitely known state so we treat it classically and statistically via e.g. traces and random phase approximations and the like (or just treat it as a classical stochastic filter).

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:07AM (#38189288)
    I could actually apply your argument to that idiot who keeps forecasting the end of the world. If he gets the date wrong maybe he didn't dig deep enough. He predicts the end of the world because he expects it to happen (and interprets everything that goes right in his life as a sign from God). He believes that the Bible is the only approach to understanding the Universe. If one revelation fails, he will wait for another.

    Your arguments are analogical or circular, and then you resort to announcing that "believe" means different things according to context. From the point of view of a sociologist of religion, you are using religious thinking.

    Please don't get me wrong. I am not a relativist. I just believe that "religious" thinking is part of the way our brains cope with reality, because what we perceive as reality is actually a lot of analogies. Any scientist who thinks that he or she is 100% free of religious modes of thinking and completely objective is slightly deluded. Accepting that science involves a small kernel of unprovable and untestable assumptions is, in fact, just being objective.

  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:08AM (#38189298)

    "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."

    "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

    "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views."

    "I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."

    "I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."

    "I do not believe in a God who maliciously or arbitrarily interferes in the personal affairs of mankind. My religion consists of an humble admiration for the vast power which manifests itself in that small part of the universe which our poor, weak minds can grasp!"

    "Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it."

    "The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events — provided, of course, that he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:12AM (#38189330)
    I could be mistaken, but after the rise of the Abbasid Empire in what is called nowadays Iraq, science flourished a period of time, and as well with the Ottoman empire. I think the reason is more of that Muslims have this sense they were supposed to be the last and best of what God sent, and for a period of time they were, they controlled large parts of the ancient world, they were the place to go where people wanted to study, they were the most advanced civilization for a long period of time. However with the demise of the Ottoman empire, and the way all modern science/technology came from what they see as "the inferior Christian west", I think they can't comprehend why! Why it's not them who is advanced and not doing all this might things. Now I do agree with you, and I see religion as detrimental to scientific progress. But that's not the way they see it. Advanced is evil if it's not a created from the Islamic culture.
  • by Patersmith ( 512340 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:40AM (#38189648)

    Why can't religious people see this as a much, much greater feat of creation, resulting in God being infinitely more omnipotent?

    Theologians have been deeply pondering this point for hundreds, if not thousands of years: Whether or not God made a linear story in which we have an unwilling part, predestination, or if we have free will. Both are hinted at in the Bible. In predestination, God is the author of sin, which is distasteful to some. But if free will is truly free, God doesn't know the outcome of decisions that haven't been made yet, and that limits God's omniscience.

    One way to reconcile the apparent paradox is to say that, while we as humans can only perceive one branch, God has awareness of every possible branch from the beginning of time to the end. A being that could create a system like that and maintain an awareness of it would be massively omnipotent to the point of being impossible to completely comprehend with the human mind.

    Polarization is recognizable when each side can only conceive a charicature of the other. "Religious people" don't conform to one way of thinking any more than "science people" do, nor are the two mutually exclusive.

  • by JerkBoB ( 7130 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:44AM (#38189696)

    Why can't religious people see this as a much, much greater feat of creation, resulting in God being infinitely more omnipotent?

    My theory, having been raised fundamentalist Pentecostal and losing the scales over my eyes in my late teens: Religious people fall into one of three categories:

    1. Completely incurious and uninterested in anything which contradicts or otherwise isn't addressed by a literal interpretation of their scripture (never mind that the scripture often contradicts itself!).
    2. Recognize that religious belief is not necessarily completely logical but are OK with that and don't try too hard to reconcile religion and science beyond a weak "god of the gaps" approach.
    3. Some combination of the two, usually moving in the direction of 1 -> 2... In my experience, this is the dangerous time for religious belief, as a person with enough curiosity and/or intelligence will begin to recognize how completely illogical (and perhaps damaging) fundamentalist belief is, and may well become completely disillusioned with the whole thing. An individual starting on the 2 side of things may not feel that religious belief is as pernicious as one moving from 1 -> 2 and may be more comfortable with keeping it as part of their cultural identity.

    So to more directly answer your question, most religious people aren't interested in trying to develop a more nuanced form of belief, because it requires a LOT of work! If A is actually possible, then maybe B is too, and well let's think about C too, oh, and then there's D..Q, etc. etc. I suspect that this mental shuffling is why personal-belief style religions (e.g. evangelical christianity) tend to attract more rigid people than hierarchical and paternalistic religions (e.g. catholicism, eastern orthodox, islam, etc), where the thinking is done by a select few who get a lot of reinforcement from their peers (other clerics) and the predigested Deep Thoughts are passed down to the faithful who happily believe without taking responsibility for forming the basis of their belief.

  • by Karellen ( 104380 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @10:00AM (#38189870) Homepage

    Since the modern scientific method was invented approximately 400 years ago, not one single repeatable experiment has ever been devised, by anyone, anywhere, anywhen, which has been able to show an "irregularity" (truly random processes such as radioactive decay, quantum weirdness, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle notwithstanding)

    Occam's razor. Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.

    When Newton discovered his laws of motion, he was right to accept them. When the scientists who followed him for the next 300-odd years accepted them, they were right to do so. Even though he was eventually shown to be wrong by Einstein, until that point, no-one had any good reason not to accept those laws. However, as soon as Einsten came up with new data, came up with new theories, came up with new experiments, came up with new evidence and proved Newton wrong, then scientists changed how they saw motion.

    Yes, scientists should always be aware that their theories might not be correct, that there may be an edge case they've not seen yet. But until someone's actually found it, the best you can do is go with what you've got. If an experiment ever comes along to show that the universe isn't regular, science will use that to show how the universe is not regular. Anyone who refuses to accept the new evidence will not be, to all intents and purposes, a scientist. And science might have to do a lot of work to probe the boundaries (if any) of that irregularity and work out how much it affects the millions of experiments and observations that have been done over the last few centuries.

    But until that time comes along, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the universe is regular. Because that's what every experiement ever done has ever shown.

    Your black swan argument could just as well be a 10-headed sheep argument. So what if no-one's seen them? No-one's proven that there aren't 10-headed sheep. So it's an absurdity to say they don't exist!


    If you show me a 10-headed sheep, I'll believe you. Until then, it is so mind-bogglingly unlikely that such thing exists that they are not worth considering in any reasonable model of the universe, and you're just engaging in philosophical wankery, not science.

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @10:04AM (#38189902) Journal

    Yeah, they and the religious laws they enforce are also incredibly, unbelievably sexist. Notice not just the really creepy arguments used, but also how a man can divorce his wife without her agreement but not vice-versa. It's actually worse than the article implies; women that ignore religious law and remarry are meant to be treated as tainted, along with their children and their children's children and so on forever. (I don't think this example of sexism actually has any Islamic counterpart.) Also, while the religious courts are nominally voluntary, there's a huge amount of religious and social pressure to use them; it's part of the reason why there's so much objection to the creation of sharia courts.

  • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @10:16AM (#38190054) Journal

    Actually the problem seems to be a sorting order, I heard. Instead of gathering everything in chronological order (which isn't that easy of course) and thus giving a chance to know what commands where made obsolete by newer ones, they sorted everything from shortest sentence to longest.

    No they did not sort it by sentence length. They sorted it by the chronological order in which these sayings were found after the death of Mohammad. Mohammad was illeterate (some Muslims dispute that assertion) and his sayings were transcribed by Abu Bucr, the scribe, when Mohammad was in a trance communicating with Archangel Gabriel. Abu Bucr was also the Confirmer of Truth, also the father of Mohammad's most beloved wife A'yisha, and he wrote them on whatever was available at that time. Abu Bucr was the second Caliph is buried close to Mohammad in Medina. (There is an empty grave for Jesus there to buried after the Second coming. Details are a little murky) After the death of Mohammad, the third Caliph wanted to collect all the sayings and compile it into a Book. There were objections to that even at that time, "Should we do which the Prophet himself did not do in his life time, and did not leave instructions for it, and did not consider the transcriptions to be important when he was alive" were the counter arguments.

    But the Caliph collected as many of the sayings as possible, from various sources and numbered and listed them all in one official version. So there are no organizing themes to the chapters. You will get one surah about inheritance rules, the next one might prohibit usury, then jump to Jesus, then back to dietary rules etc. The Caliph also ruled that any further sayings found after the first compilation were all either duplicates or false. Thus was born Q`ran. But most Muslims believe that Q`ran existed before it was compiled, it was merely revealed to Mohamad by Gabriel and Q`ran predates the formation of the universe too.

  • by Afell001 ( 961697 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @10:51AM (#38190440)
    Ask yourself this:

    In a one-dimensional existence, if you were a line, what would a square look like to you as it passed through your existence over time? Another line, right?

    In a two-dimensional existence, if you were a square, what would a cube look like to you as it passed through your existence over time? Another square, right?

    In a three-dimensional existence, if you were a cube, what would a tesseract look like to you as it passed through your existence over time? Another cube...

    Time is the common element here. It defines the passage of an object through its plane of existence. A fourth-dimensional object contains all the aspects of its three-dimensional representations over time. If you try to define that fourth-dimensional object at a specific frame in time in three-dimensional existence, it becomes a three dimensional representation of the fourth dimensional object.

    Now, what if what we refer to as "God' has an unmitigated perspective on our fourth-dimensional objects? God is able to observe all our aspects and the choices we make throughout our three-dimensional existence. This isn't as much predestination as it is omniscience. We still have free will to make the choice, but God knows the choice we make.

    It does make me curious, though. What does a fourth-dimensional human actually looks like?
  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:51PM (#38193850)
    more Muslims a place has? The more violent it becomes.

    You're apparently unaware that the most populous Muslim country is Indonesia, and pretty much all of the violence there has been capitalism-based, not religion-based. (Well, unless you consider capitalism a religion, which some people seem to.) Even the infamous bombing in Bali was aimed at rich westerners, not the poor.

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