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They used to be world-leaders, even in the West. Until about 1300 A.D. Today, though they have eleven Nobel Prize winners (seven of them for Peace; Jews have a total of 850), they are, by their own admission, still stuck in the Dark Ages.

OK, I haven’t read the book, just a review. But it is printed in “Science et Avenir” (no.820, June 2015), which is not the sort of publication you pick up at the supermarket check-out. The book, in French, is “Islam, Big-Bang et Darwin” (who said you can’t read French ?). But it is not some journo’s – or worse, blogger’s (!) – rant. Its author, Nidal Quessoum, an astrophysicist, is the Vice-Rector of the American University at Chardja (United Arab Emirates), who presents not just his own opinions but those of the Muslim professors on his staff. The stats are stunning :

– 70% believe in miracles

– 62% reject the “theory” of evolution

– 80% consider that “the Koran contains explicit declarations now known as scientific

– between 54% and 72% have no idea of the age of the Universe, the Sun, the Earth
or of humanity.

The Vice-Rector’s cautious conclusion : “The way Science is treated in Arabic Muslim countries must be reformed”, and even more importantly, “Muslims find it almost impossible to put aside their religious education … when they are dealing with scientific ideas.”

If Muslims had a Galileo, they would not let him off the hook with a false admission of error. They would lop his heretical head off.

All this must be embarrassing for the “moderate” Muslims who are our fellow-residents if not citizens. But it should also give pause to non-Muslim scientists who also believe in miracles, though they have had to admit that evolution is not just a theory, that their Bible does not teach accurate science, and that they know that the world is not 6000 years old but nearly 14 billion. A few centuries ago, as Christians and as scientists, they would have agreed with their present-day Muslim colleagues. Why do they still cling to miracles ? Face it, fellows, you know that wafer of “consecrated” bread is still bread. Not just in appearance, in its “form”, but non obstante “transubstantiation”, in its “substance”. We all know what’s holding you back.