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I’m writing you from Saudi, HELP!!! ;)
Posted: 19 November 2008 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello everybody,

This is not just the first time I join a CFI forum, it’s my 1st time to ever participate in any forum or blog. So here goes…

As you can see from the title, I’m writing you from a truly 100% theocratic country, experiencing religious oppression & superstitious stupidity on daily basis. It’s amazing to experience it, really. Some days I just sit home and read books on ‘reason’ that I’ve SMUGGLED in, watch scientific videos on youtube and read online articles about philosophy and other related topics. After that I leave the house to get something to eat and suddenly get shocked by realizing where I am. My stomach starts squeezing in and I get all disgusted. Woman around me all covered in black, barely seeing in front of them when walking. Looong beards with little respect for traffic lights and for any kind of order. I’m not saying that people are bad here, no, they’re actually very kind. It’s just all upsetting. Upsetting in a sense that a country with so much financial capability wasting all it’s oil resources on preserving a highly religious society. No scientific advancement at all!! why do they need it?! they’re all going to heaven at the end!!.... It’s all so sad, such a waste.

So, I’ve decided to leave this part of the world, but not for good!  I’ve applied for immigration to Canada and hopefully I’ll get accepted, but if I arrive there, I won’t continue in the same profession I am now in. I’m going to put all my strength into the advancement of science and reason, develop my self to be able to write in both languages, English & Arabic, and try to spread it more and more in the Arab & Islamic countries.

However if I may ask, what would be your thoughts on how to do that? Like is there a Masters of PhD (not online) in Ontario where I can begin in my new endeavor?! What else might be a good career move? Of course I’m not rich so I would have do it in a financially sustainable way.

Thanks for your thoughts
Ain Al-Aql

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“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men-above all for those upon whose smiles and well being, our own happiness depends. ”

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Posted: 19 November 2008 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome to the forum, Ain, it sounds like you have some interesting experiences and I’m glad you’re here. Unfortunately I don’t know a lot about opportunities in Canada, although we do have several forum members who are canadian. Another option for more information is to contact one of CFI’s local centers in Canada, and ask them for advice.

CFI Ontario webpage
CFI Montreal webpage
CFI Calgary webpage

They should all have contact info on the sites.

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Posted: 19 November 2008 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I can suggest a line of thought that you might be particularly interested in pursuing, if you choose to pursue something more academic. There was a critical moment in Islamic history when rationalism began to blossom. For several centuries, Islam was the most scientifically and mathematically advanced civilization on the planet; Islamic thinkers were really pushing the boundaries of rationalism. Reading the history of that time, it seems as if they really could have launched modernity centuries before Christendom began thinking about it. But, for a variety of complicated reasons, the experiment with rationalism faltered and failed. An Islamic thinker, whose name I forget, was the first to attempt to reconcile religion with Aristotle. A century later, a Jewish thinker made a similar attempt for Judaism; a century after that, Thomas Aquinas finally attempted for Christianity what the Islamic thinker had attempted for Islam centuries earlier. The difference is that the Islamic thinker’s efforts were ultimately rejected by Islam, whereas Aquinas’ writing laid the groundwork for continuing evolution of Western rationalism.

Why did Islamic civilization turn away from rationalism at just the moment when it had rationalism within its reach? What went wrong?

I’ve been studying the development of Western rationalism for some time and I have developed a long and complicated thesis as to how the West became rational. There were two crucial factors at work in that process: mercantilism and law. Yet Islam was a strongly mercantile society and devoted much effort to the development of law. It came so close. Perhaps you could explore this great historical “What if?”

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Posted: 19 November 2008 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Welcome to the forum Ain Al-Aql, and as a Canadian, I would like to wish you luck on your immigration bid.

My suggestion to you would be to discuss with the immigration officials what your options are if you get accepted into Canada. There are likely already programs in place to assist with integration, education etc. Ontario has many excellent colleges and universities. You can find a list with links here: Ontario Education.

Let me know if there is anything specific I can help you with.

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I’m just sayin’....

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Posted: 19 November 2008 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Welcome Ain Al-Aql.  Sorry you are having such a hard time and I do hope you get to immigrate to Canada.  No, I’m not from Canada, but I suspect you will be happier there. Good luck with that and glad to have you here on CFI.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 20 November 2008 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Chris Crawford - 19 November 2008 01:18 PM

Perhaps you could explore this great historical “What if?”

Chris,

This is an interesting way for tackling the problem in the Islamic world, I think you were referring to Ibn Rushd or Ibn Sina. An Academic approach is a great way for understanding how things are and how they should be. I believe the best way is to undertake a masters or PhD in Religion, specializing in Islamic studies. Of course the end purpose for these studies is to try and change the current status in the world.

Do you think there is another major or minor study that could also assist in this goal? Something to make this knowledge acquired practicably integrated into a effective change strategy?

I hope my question is clear.

Thanks
Ain Al-Aql

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Posted: 20 November 2008 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Shawn - 19 November 2008 01:30 PM

Let me know if there is anything specific I can help you with.

Shawn,

Thanks for the link, it will help a lot in some decisions.

If I may also ask, how could someone practically seek to advance science and reason? I mean is there something or somewhere you can apply for to work on it?

I’m sorry if the question sounds naive, but what the hell… It’s because I’m so far away, I think this limits my imagination of what opportunities there could be.

Thanks,
Ain Al-Aql

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Posted: 20 November 2008 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Ain Al-Aql - 20 November 2008 10:10 AM

If I may also ask, how could someone practically seek to advance science and reason?

Probably becoming a scientist. Not everybody, though, needs to become a scientist to be able to promote science. Matt Ridley for example, who is a journalist, not a scientist, has written many excellent books on science.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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George - 20 November 2008 11:44 AM

Probably becoming a scientist.

Well ya, you’re right. However what I’m interested to find out is, how can you influence a society to adopt the principles of reason and making it peruse scientific method to reach the truth.

Is there a profession for that?

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Posted: 20 November 2008 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hmm, for that you probably need a certain talent and luck.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Ain Al-Aql - 20 November 2008 12:23 PM

... what I’m interested to find out is, how can you influence a society to adopt the principles of reason and making it peruse scientific method to reach the truth.

Is there a profession for that?

You’re asking the right question, and there isn’t one correct answer. You could go into law, into politics, into journalism, into science as George suggests ... there are a million different ways to attack the problem. But I think a great start would be to look into higher education. At the very least it will clarify your options and give you links with people.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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However what I’m interested to find out is, how can you influence a society to adopt the principles of reason and making it peruse scientific method to reach the truth.

That’s a difficult problem, especially for Islamic civilization. You can’t simply hit the problem head-on—all you’ll do is antagonize people. What you want to do is approach the problem from a direction that makes rationalism appealing to people without ever actually saying that you want to change their civilization.

One way to do this would be to write great science books in Arabic. I don’t know just how good science books are in Islam, or how popular they are, but they could start changing people.

Start with the young. Don’t bother trying to change adults, because the kind of change you want is just too big for most people. Here are a few suggestions:

First, perhaps it would be best to translate some of the best Western science books into Arabic. Again, I don’t know how many such books have already been translated, but there are some real possibilities here. If you concentrate on books with lots of colorful illustrations, you’ll have a lot of appeal to children. Also, you can’t lose with dinosaurs. Kids love dinosaurs. All you need is material that mentions the ages of dinosaurs—millions and millions of years—and you’ve started undermining the blind acceptance of Creation.

Your biggest problem here is that the publishers own the rights to the books, and they won’t pay to have a book translated unless they think there’s a market for it—and if they do think that there’s a market for it, then they would have already done the translation.

Here’s another possibility: set up your own publishing house. It really doesn’t take a lot of capital to set up a publishing house. Your biggest problem is setting up distribution channels in the Arab-speaking world. Then you search high and low in the Western world for science books that you think will sell. You approach the publishers and purchase the Arab-language rights. Many publishers like arrangements such as this because it simplifies their life.

Lastly, you could write your own science books in Arabic. This would be worthwhile if you know a good publisher for Arabic language books and can convince them to publish such a book. You would need to team up with a good illustrator to draw the pretty pictures so necessary to making the book appealing to children.

But the basic strategy is simple: introduce children to the wonders of the world. Dinosaurs, space, volcanoes—there are lots of subjects that kids find fascinating. If you can get them interested in these topics, then they’ll start to walk down the path to reason.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Here, let me show you what I mean by good books for children:

http://www.amazon.com/Big-Dinosaur-Book-Board-Books/dp/0312493282/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227212962&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Big-Book-Dinosaurs-Books/dp/0751352268/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213040&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Dinosaurs-Paul-Barrett/dp/0792282248/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213066&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Jump-into-Science-Volcano-Into/dp/1426300913/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213127&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Volcanoes-Wonders-World-Neil-Morris/dp/0865058385/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213158&sr=1-7

http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Introduction-Night-Sky-Constellations/dp/157912366X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213197&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Kids-Book-Night-Sky-Family/dp/1553371283/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227213218&sr=1-6

By the way, it might be really interesting to do a night sky book for Arabic speakers, using some of the old Arabic constellations. There are a great many stars that have Arabic names (although some have been corrupted by Westerners): Altair, Aldebaran, Denebola, and my favorite, Zubenelgenubi. This last name, I am told, means “the southern claw” in Arabic, so I named one of my cats after the star.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Chris,

Aren’t you a computer game designer? What about a cool video game where reason wins and where blind faith is the enemy? What I believe needs to be done is make rationalism popular, kind of like what Mr. Spock represented in Star Treck.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 01:28 PM

One way to do this would be to write great science books in Arabic. I don’t know just how good science books are in Islam, or how popular they are, but they could start changing people.

People don’t read books here Chris, well maybe some do but the vast majority don’t. I’m not trying to be negative or exaggerate, everybody is hooked to the T.V., which actually might be another way to start influencing. I think controversial movies on youtube in Arabic might have a bigger influence than books these days!! Shameful isn’t it?

Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 01:28 PM

Start with the young…

This I think is a keeper. How wonderful it would be to have science summer camps for thousands of children in the Arab world. Wow…

Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 01:28 PM

Kids love dinosaurs. All you need is material that mentions the ages of dinosaurs—millions and millions of years—and you’ve started undermining the blind acceptance of Creation.

I think this point has more impact on the biblical teachings than in the Quran. To my knowledge, there is no time estimate for creation in the Quran and god could have put Adam & Eve on the planet millions of years after creating earth. At least I’m sure that’s how it’s going to be rationalized. I know that some even go as far as saying that god created dinosaurs to show us humans that this life is finite and can be easily wiped out, that’s why we should always strive to the infinite after life!!! The sad thing is that the percentage of people who believe in this bull is staggering, I would go as far as saying 95% of the Arab world, if not more.

[ Edited: 20 November 2008 03:05 PM by Ain Al-Aql ]
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Posted: 20 November 2008 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Aren’t you a computer game designer?

Well, sort of. I used to be a big shot in the games biz, but I walked away from all that about 15 years ago and I’ve been developing technology for interactive storytelling ever since.

People don’t read books here Chris, well maybe some do but the vast majority don’t

Wow, am *I* out of it! I was under the impression that reading the Quran is so central to Islam that everybody is literate. Apparently that doesn’t extend outside of the Quran.

How wonderful it would be to have science summer camps for thousands of children in the Arab world.

Wouldn’t there be a problem with people demanding that you teach only theologically acceptable science? I suppose that you don’t really need to teach evolution; just doing dinosaurs, volcanos, and stars would be enough. Indeed, you might be able to get the kids to do some simple astronomy. For example, it’s not difficult to calculate the height of a satellite with some simple observations. Well, hmm… it does require at least high school physics… maybe not.

You could get a telescope and use it to show kids the nighttime sky. It really isn’t hard to learn how to use a telescope (although it does take a lot of practice to get smooth and quick with it.) If you do decide to pursue the astronomy science camp, I can give you a lot of ideas. But wouldn’t that leave you in Saudi Arabia? I thought it was your desire to leave.

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