One of the highlights – if not the highlight – of my ancient professional life was a half-hour meeting with the amazing Indian scientist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910–95), who subsequently was co-winner of the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics. Almost 40 years ago, I was brash enough to request a meeting with him to get his comments on how I had extended and applied one of the mathematical methods he had developed and published many years earlier. I recall his initial comment: “I did that so long ago it feels as though it were done by a different person.”
But he easily and quickly followed how (for my Ph.D. thesis, which took me years of hard work!) I had extended his analysis (for systems in thermodynamic equilibrium) to nonequilibrium cases. He then proceeded to show me that the essence of what I had done was really rather obvious. And I admit that, now, I know his feeling: it’s as if it were done by a different person. Yet, I still clearly recall how I felt when I first met him: his handshake was as gentle as a child’s; I doubt if he was much taller than 5' 2"; he might have weighed 110 pounds when he was soaking wet; I trembled in the presence of such a giant.
For contrast, consider the following excerpts from a public address, which aired on Peace TV on 22 April 2008, delivered by the Indian Muslim cleric Ashraf Mohamedy:
Another misconception among non-Muslim brothers and sisters is that Muslims are fundamentalists and terrorists. They say and allege that you are terrorists and fundamentalists.What astounding stupidity… or attempted deception. Although it’s easy to agree with Mohamedy’s (strained) description of “fundamentalist” (medical) doctors, scientists, mathematicians, and even robbers (by which he means that they should have learned fundamental knowledge in their fields), he misleads by drawing a parallel between such knowledge and knowledge of Islam (e.g., as given in its “holy book”, the Koran). What’s given in any “holy book” isn’t what sane people call “knowledge”!
Let’s analyze the meaning of fundamentalism. If a person wants to be a good doctor, then he should know, he should follow, and should practice the teachings of medicine. In other words, he should be a fundamentalist in the field of medicine.
If a person wants to be a very good scientist, he should know, he should follow, and he should practice the teachings of science. In other words, he should be a fundamentalist in the field of science.
Similarly, if a person wants to be a good mathematician, he should know, he should follow, and he should practice the teachings of mathematics. In other words, he should be fundamentalist in the field of mathematics.
We cannot paint all fundamentalists with the same brush, for a fundamentalist robber causes harm to the society, and that is highly disagreed upon. That is highly irresponsible. But at the same time, a fundamentalist doctor causes good in society. He cures and he heals, and he is much desired by society.
I am proud to be a fundamentalist Muslim, because I know, I follow, and I strive to practice the teachings of Islam. Every Muslim should be proud to be a fundamentalist Muslim. That is because none of the teachings of Islam causes any harm to society. On the contrary… it gives benefits to society…
Knowledge of the world exterior to our minds can be determined only by experience, by experiments, by trial and error, by what’s known as the scientific method: guess, test, and reassess. Even a competent thief, I presume, learns his “trade” by experience. It’s correct that mathematicians have concocted some elaborate theoretical systems based on only a few “fundamental” axioms, but their constructs are required to be logical [and logic is based on the experience that things exist (A ≡ A) and are distinct (A ≢ ¬A)], and if their axioms aren’t consistent with experience, their constructs will have no practical value. Certainly all science rests on the scientific method; medical knowledge was obtained similarly; as “the father of modern medicine”, Hippocrates (c.460–400 BCE), wrote:
There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter, ignorance.In contrast to the knowledge gained through experience, the opinions (the ignorance!) in all “holy books” contain a mishmash of speculations by savages, records of ranting by psychotics, and rehash of simple moral principles (e.g., be kind to one another) that social animals such as monkeys, dolphins, elephants, and people learned through eons of experience. As Richard Dawkins summarized:
What has ‘theology’ ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has ‘theology’ ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all?As a few examples of the many speculations of savages recorded in various “holy books” (in case their clerics are still clueless): the world isn’t a flat plate, humans weren’t made by any god, and people don’t die because the first humans ate from the tree of knowledge.
As for which statements in their “holy books” record the rantings of psychotics, it’s difficult to know for sure. Yet, the New Testament states that the mother of Jesus considered him “possessed” and a judge described “Saint” Paul as “mad” (probably an epileptic), the Koran states that Mohammad’s contemporaries described him as “a mad poet” (quite likely also an epileptic), and the brother (a medical doctor) of Sidney Rigdon (essentially certainly the author of the Book of Mormon) pointed out that after Sidney had been dragged by a horse (with his foot caught in a stirrup), “he still manifested great mental activity and power, but was to an equal degree inclined to run into wild and visionary views on almost every question…”
In sum, only fools and con artists (an apt description of “fundamentalist” clerics!) describe the opinions in their “holy books” as “knowledge”. Yet, Mohamedy claims: “none of the teachings of Islam causes any harm to society. On the contrary… it gives benefits to society.” Really? I wonder if he would then care to explain why Muslim societies are so backward? As for “benefit to society”, although I have no doubt that Islam is of great benefit to its clerics (forgoing their need to work for a living), what specific “benefits” does he mean?
Well, as if in response to such questions, Mohamedy gives an illustration of the “benefits” of Islam for Muslim women:
Allah has instructed us to follow the hijab, so that women can be saved from rape and molestation…What a distorted view of “women’s liberation” and, simultaneously, what an insult to Muslim women!
Western society, in the name of women’s liberalization, has exploited the body of the woman, has degraded her soul, and has deprived her of her honor. They have converted women into mistresses, concubines, and society butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of sex marketers and pleasure seekers…
If the Islamic shari’a is applied in America, if every man, whenever he sees a woman, would lower his gaze, if every woman is asked to cover herself completely, except for the face and hands up to the wrist, and if there is capital punishment for the rapist – will the rate of crime go up, remain the same, or come down in America? Of course it will come down! Islam gives dignity and protection to the women in Islam, and that is just the reason why Islam has prescribed the hijab…
Men, especially, should think about it. Think, first, about a successful western woman. Maybe she’s a successful scientist – and when she conveys her opinion about the possibility of a unified field theory, or the damage to the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbons, or the genetic structure of the AIDS virus, then you’d be well advised to pay attention to her opinion. Or maybe she’s an important business leader or politician – and when she conveys her opinion about the economic slowdown and consequent layoff, or new ways to combat Islamic supremacists, then you’d be well advised to pay attention to what she has to say. Or maybe she’s a dedicated teacher or homemaker – and when she conveys her opinion about the failures of school administrators or the quality of service industries, including education and medical care, then again you’d be wise to listen to her. And a word to the wise: no matter her appearance, you’d better not treat her as a sex object – unless, perhaps, she’s your wife (and even then, you’d be wise to take care).
Now, think about a Muslim girl, bundled up since puberty so her sex won’t distract all the sex-starved males. Many Muslim woman apparently willingly bundle up – because they’re brainwashed into believing that what they’re covering is their most valuable asset: their bodies; specifically, their reproductive organs. It’s not their brains or their potentials (as singers or scientists, as basketball players or business leaders, as production workers or politicians) that they must carefully guard; it’s their reproductive organs. They’re indoctrinated with the idea that, to bed them, some sex-starved man will pay good money to their parents – and then devote his life pampering her because of her sole asset, her sexuality. Pure and simple, Islam manipulates and maintains Muslim woman as mere sex objects.
To be sure, some woman in the West choose to become sex objects, maybe concluding that it’s the best way for them to achieve what they desire (be it fame, money, family, or whatever). So be it. It’s their choice. Other women in the West, however, choose other options (such as in science, health care, education, business, politics, whatever). I wish all of them well. Meanwhile, I pity the poor Muslim women who are given no choice: they’re enslaved by Islamic patriarchs and clerics (such as Mohamedy) because of their bodies.
Such enslavement of Muslim women leads, not incidentally, to sexual frustration of both them and young men. For some of the men, the frustration is so extreme that they become terrorists, possibly most intent on sexual satisfactions with the 72 virgins with which the damnable clerics lure them if they’ll die as “martyr’s for the Jihad” (protecting the clerics’ turf). To which, again as if on cue, Mohamedy adds:
I would stress that every Muslim should be a terrorist. I repeat: Every Muslim should be a terrorist. A terrorist is a person who terrifies others, who terrorizes others. That is precisely the reason we have the police. As soon as the robber sees the policeman, he is terrified, he is terrorized.Ah yes: social control not by cooperative consent of free individuals, but by good-old-fashioned terror. If it was good enough for Moses, Muhammad, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, then it’s good enough for Mohamedy. And of course it will be Mohamedy and his fellow Islamic supremacists, thank you very much, who will define the “anti-social elements”, such as those who dare to think for themselves. In reality, though, the “anti-social elements” of all societies are and have always been the damnable, fundamentalist ideologues, such as Mohamedy, who are certain they’re in possession of “the truth”.
Similarly, the Muslims should terrorize the anti-social elements in society. He should terrorize the robber, the decoy [dacoit], the rapist. I know that ‘terrorist’ is taken as a concept of a person who terrorizes the common man. But we Muslims should be terrorists for the anti-social elements in society.
Which leads me to an obvious conclusion. Thus, contrasting the mental giant Chandrasekhar to the mental pygmy Mohamedy, it’s obvious that, even if we’re so silly as to distinguish people by nationality, ethnic group, “race”, or similar, the variations within such superficial groupings obviously make such groupings even sillier.