When Charlie Bolden was appointed chief of NASA, President Obama gave him 3 mandates (direct quotes from Mr. Bolden):

1. “He wanted me to re-inspire children to want to get into science and math.”

In my opinion, great.

2. “He wanted me to expand our international relationships.”

In my opinion, good (International Space Station).

3. “Third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

What!? Islam has been in the throes of scholarly and scientific darkness since the 13th century AD.

In Truth and Science, chapter 4, I mention Islam’s important yet limited contributions to science. I also point out that a Islamic religious backlash against scholarship during the Middle Ages resulted in the death of Muslim scholarly learning and progress.

Now, having made the previous point, I will say that Islamic scholars were indirectly responsible for the re-awakening of classical Greek science and learning in the West. Islamic scholars like Avicenna and Averroes (Latin names) preserved and commented on Aristotle’s works, and it was their writings that re-introduced the West to the lost teachings of Aristotle (i.e., rationalism, empiricism) around 1200 AD. The rediscovery of Aristotle's works helped bring the West out of the Dark Ages, but to associate this accomplishment with NASA is quite a stretch.

The President ought to leave recognition of Islam’s contributions to the history writers and let NASA concentrate on space science.

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