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Obama Flunks History at Cairo U

Almost every advance he attributed to the Muslims in his big speech should be credited to someone else.

by
Frank J. Tipler

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June 7, 2009 - 2:07 am
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In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, President Barack Obama claimed: “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar University — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing.”

Obama is not much of a “student of history” if he believes this. Almost every advance he attributes to the Muslims was due to someone else.

The non-Muslim Chinese invented the magnetic compass and printing (Gutenberg invented not printing, but movable type). The non-Muslim Hindu Indians invented algebra and the decimal numbering system. The non-Muslim European Christians invented the university.

I can’t address advances in medicine, but I have studied the history of astronomy and physics. The Muslims contributed nothing.

All modern physics descends from Galileo (1564 -1642); all modern astronomy from Copernicus (1473-1543).  If you study Galileo’s works carefully, as I have, you see that he started with the achievements of the Greek mathematical physicist Archimedes of Syracuse (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC).  If you study Copernicus’ works carefully, as I have, you will see that Copernicus’ great book On the Revolutions is essentially a heliocentric re-working of the geocentric astronomy textbook by the Greek Ptolemy (c. 90 AD – 168 AD). Copernicus mostly used even Ptolemy’s data for the positions of the planets.

Note the dates for Archimedes/Galileo and Ptolemy/Copernicus. It is as if the Muslim world never existed. As far as their fundamental contributions to physics and astronomy, it did not.

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