Now we know: the earth doesn’t move.

Take that headline with about a metric ton of salt.

Once upon a time, Islamic scholars made significant contributions to science, mathematics (algebra is an Arabic word), philosophy, medicine, and other fields.

Today? I’ll let you judge for yourself. Saudi preacher Bandar Al-Khaybari demonstrates that the earth does not revolve around itself, using deeply flawed logic, the absence of scientific understanding, and the Qur’an. Oh, and astronauts never landed on the moon, either.

If you don’t want to take the time to watch the video, here’s the transcript:

Someone is asking whether the Earth moves or whether it is fixed in place. Does it move or remain fixed? The Truth, as described by our scholars Imam Ibn Baz and Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, is that the Earth is fixed and does not move. This is in keeping with the Quranic text, and it makes sense as well. […]

There is ample Quranic evidence that it is the sun that revolves around the Earth. As for evidence based on reason… The (Westerners) present all kinds of theories, but we Muslims also have theories and brains.

First, let’s say that we go from here to Sharjah Airport and take a plane to China. Are you with me? Concentrate now. Let’s say that this is the Earth, and let’s assume that it is turning… If we take an international flight from Sharjah to China… You say that the Earth is turning, right? If the plane stopped in mid-air, wouldn’t China come to it? Am I right or not? If the Earth really does turn – China should come to the plane. Now, let’s assume that the Earth revolves the other way – the plane will never catch up with China no matter how long it flies. Since China is also revolving, you will never get there. Secondly, Allah talked about the (celestial) house frequented (by angels). This house is located in the seventh heaven. The Prophet Muhammad said that if it fell from the sky, it would fall on the Kaaba. But if the Earth revolves, it would not fall on the Kaaba. It would fall in the ocean or somewhere on dry land. This proves that the Earth is fixed in place.  […]

The (Americans) say that they landed on the moon, but they never set foot or laid their eyes on it. They produced it all in Hollywood or I don’t know where. They said that they had gone to the moon and we just took their word for it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Muslims in general are stupid or scientifically ignorant, or that nothing good comes out of the middle east. But what we have here is the equivalent of letting Mike Huckabee or Pat Robertson teach K-12 science. This guy wears the robes of authority, he gets on television, he spouts this phenomenally ignorant nonsense, and millions of people believe him. This is not good for humanity.

To give equal time to another brand of fanaticism, I refer you to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, a $27 million facility devoted to the concept of an earth that’s younger than 10,000 years old, and which contradicts science at every turn.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – science and faith don’t mix. I’m not against faith; I have a spiritual walk of my own. But I keep those beliefs separate and apart from the empirical evidence of the universe around me. We get in trouble when we try to make observable facts conform to religious belief, or vice-versa. You can’t shove one into the other’s box.

For myself, I liken our perception and knowledge of the universe around us to an Ames room:

O4 Ames Room with Birgit and Ingrid Brill 1

O4 Ames Room with Ingrid and Birgit Brill 2

In this common illusion, two people who change places in a room appear to change size drastically. Looking at them through a peephole destroys our sense of depth perception and allows the illusion to work:

Fig12-FigurativeArt

The room is actually severely distorted.

Fig13-FigurativeArt

For all we know from empirical observation about our environment – and we have learned a lot – I’m entirely convinced that we know next to nothing, and that we’re looking at our universe through a peephole. Were we to be able to see the “big picture,” a lot more things would make sense.

In the meantime, denying scientific reality makes a body look like a gibbering loon. Don’t do it. As for me, I do my best to live a good and productive life according to principles which I hold sacred and which inform my life, and gaze in wonder at the awesomeness and complexity of the world around me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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One response to “Now we know: the earth doesn’t move.

  1. I’ve been told (by Muslims and Westerners alike) that one does not have the right to criticize modern day Muslims fundamentalists (like the one above) for being backward, because they once had the greatest scientists in the world, and one/some of the world’s most advanced and civilized cultures.

    Why, then, if they were once so great, are they trying to work themselves, and the rest of the world, back into the pre-stone age? How does having once been great, count as an excuse for aspiring to backwardness? To think that it is in any way kosher to say, “I was once very clever, so I demand respect for acting like a complete idiot today” — I would think it worked the opposite direction.

    They don’t believe in Evolution, simply because they favour de-evolution.

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