I have never accepted the proposition that science started with Galileo and Newton. Or that it grew out of Christianity. This just seems to be a Eurocentric and Christian chauvinist distortion of history.
The BBC documentary series Science and Islam will help to break down these misunderstandings. Jim Al-Khalili fronts the documentary. He is a physicist from the University of Surrey and author of the book Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed. Science and Islam is a 3-part series and in episode 1, “The Language of Science,” Jim Al-Khalili describes the “translation movement’ – the translation of Egyptian, Greek, Persian, Indian and Chinese scientific sources into Arabic. This helped preserve the ideas for later exploitation. But it is important to stress that this wasn’t passive. Islamic medieval societies also contributed to science – especially in areas of mathematics, medicine and map making.
In Episode 2 “The Empire of Reason” Al Khalili discusses the origins of chemistry, measurement of the circumference of the earth and the immense contribution of al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham – who he describes as the inventor of the scientific method. Fascinating!
Can we now look forward to a similar treatment of the history of science in Greek, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese societies?
My hat tip to Science & relgion News