onsdag 25. februar 2009

New Scientist denies the fossil record

It is a rare treat these days to see a scientific journal that openly denies the fossil record. It takes a lot of courage and conviction.

So praise then to Jo Marchant in New Scientist for showing that freedom of speech is so cherished that deniers still are allowed to publish in serious magazines even in the Darwin Bicentennial year.

The fossils that comes into play here are of course the strata of sources and eye witnesses from the times in question. One cannot make serious historical claims while ignoring written material and real historians. It is worse than bad science, it is bad manners.

Two examples will suffice.
WHEN Roman civilisation fell in the early centuries AD, the light of scholarship was extinguished. It was close to a thousand years before civilisation recovered, thanks to European scholars who rediscovered classical Greek learning and ushered in the new dawn of the Renaissance.

At least, this is how history is taught. Now two books argue that this view ignores the crucial role of Islamic scholars.
That a long range of books by professional historians like Edward Grant and David Lindberg for decades have shown that the whole outline of history on this "fall" and "recovery" is a myth, is beyond New Scientist.

After this start it is not surprising than New Scientist even denies the dinosaur in the room. The Flat Earth Myth is present in all it's gore.
While the Islamic world was enjoying astronomy, philosophy and medicine, those in Europe could not tell the hours of the day, thought the Earth was flat, and saw disease as punishment from God, says Jonathan Lyons in "The House of Wisdom".
So much the worse for Jonathan Lyons. That a modern scientific magazine perpetuates the myth that European scholars in the middle ages believed to earth to be flat is nothing short than a miracle.

The only hope is to prescribe the normal antidotes, by Russell and Garwood.

Even if it always has been hard to argue against fossil deniers, it may provide some enlightenment.

Though one has some doubts after reading revealing passages like the following.
By the late 12th century, though, the Islamic world was increasingly under threat from Christian armies, and Muslim leaders responded with a return to fundamental religious values. The battle between scientists and theologians was ultimately settled in favour of God. But in Europe, the genie was out of the bottle. The rationalist approach bequeathed by the Arabs "changed forever the landscape of Western thought", says Lyons, and led directly to the scientific revolution.
The reviewer doesn't even begin to get suspicious about the much maligned European society. Why not ask a simple control question on why science in Europe, though allegedly in the clutches of The Church and the Clergy for still many a century, was able to set roots, and have the reasons and resources to grow into modern science?

Not the least as the Arab and Ottoman world had a lot more money and manpower, at least til the 17th century. And the Europeans definitely lost the crusades in precisely the late 12th.

Well, fossils deniers always have had their own peculiar logic.