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Hatred of science. This law of the one book, total and all-inclusive, coupled with the unfortunate habit of believing that "everything" can be contained within a single text, means that there is no recourse to nonreligious (which is not to say atheistic) books, such as scientific works. Monotheism does not really like the rational work of scientists. Clearly Islam embraces astronomy, algebra, mathematics, geometry, optics, but only to calculate the direction of Mecca more accurately by means of the stars, to establish religious calendars, to decree prayer hours. Clearly Islam values geography, but only to facilitate the convergence on the Kaaba when pilgrims from all over the world flock to Mecca. Clearly it prizes medicine, but only to avoid the impurity that mars one's relation with Allah. Clearly it esteems grammar, philosophy, and law, but only to enrich commentary on the Koran and the Hadith.This religious instrumentalization of science subjects reason to domestic and theocratic uses. In Islamic lands, science is not pursued for its own sake today but for the improvement of religious practice. Centuries of Muslim culture produced inventions, research, and important discoveries in the area of secular science, such as algebra and astronomy, as well as being responsible for the preservation of classical texts. One hadith indeed celebrates the quest for scientific knowledge as far afield as China, but always in the logic of its instrumentalization via religion, never for the human and immanent ideal of social progress.

Christianity too considers that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for the effective functioning of the church. For centuries the Bible inhibited all research that scrutinized and questioned its contents (without ever contradicting its claims). Faithful to the lessons of Genesis (knowledge is not desirable, science distances us from the essential — God), the Catholic religion impeded the forward march of Western civilization, inflicting on it incalculable damage.

From Christianity's earliest days, in the beginning of the second century of the common era, paganism in all its aspects was condemned. Everything it produced was rejected, tied to false gods, polytheism, magic, and error. Euclidean mathematics? Ptolemy's maps? Eratosthenes' geography? Aristotle's natural sciences? Aristarchus's astronomy? Hippocrates' medicine? Hero-philus's anatomy? They were simply not Christian enough!

The discoveries made by Greek geniuses — Aristarchus's heliocentrism, to take just one example — were obviously applicable independently of the gods and the religious systems of the day. What did the existence of Zeus and his kin matter when one had to determine the laws of hydrostatics, calculate the length of a meridian, invent latitude and longitude, measure the distance between us and the sun, argue for the revolution of the earth around the sun, perfect the theory of epicycles, elaborate the map of the heavens, establish the length of a solar year, link tides and lunar attraction, discover the nervous system, offer theories on the circulation of the blood, all of them truths of no interests to the denizens of heaven?

Turning one's back on the results of such research, acting as though these discoveries had never taken place, starting everything again from scratch is at best stagnation, evidence of a dangerous hostility to change. But at worst it means speeding blindly backward—while others forge ahead — to the darkness from which every civilization, by its nature and by definition, strives to free itself in order to be. Refusal of the Enlightenment characterizes the monotheist religions: they prefer mental night for the nurturing of their fables.

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