View Full Version : Why Islam Wins: From Toynbee

James Brody
February 12th, 2007, 12:43 PM
"In Graeco-Roman history, surveyed from beginning to end, unity is the dominant note; and, when once I had heard this great symphony, I was no longer in danger of being hypnotized by the lone and outlandish music of the parochial history of my own country, which had once enthralled me when I listened to my mother telling it to me in installments, night by night, as she put me to bed." Toynbee, 1958, p 17.

Toynbee's Civilization on Trial and The World and the West were written before 1948 and 1953, respectively, when the Oxford editions were published. According to Wikipedia, Toynbee lost some of his audience because of his endorsement of religion as a decisive player in the history and destiny of nineteen of twenty civilizations. (We are the twentieth and this is one game that will always have more time on the clock.) Toynbee's model (more later) fits well with what Barabasi told us about emergent networks and with what Wilson & Holldobler, Sober & Wilson, and even Francis Galton told us of the value of swarms.

His quote from Civilization on Trial is rich.

First, it might be a clue to self-chosen, nonshared environments. That is, a child retains and nourishes, as he meets them, the environments that suit his nature. Second, Western mothers not longer tell their children of our mythology. "Adorable Dora," to our loss and Mexico's gain and written by contemporary liberals, replaced stories of American heroes. Third, and finally for the moment, I imagine that Islam's mothers tell stories about prophets and wars against nonbelievers.



Albert, Reka & Barabasi, A-L (2002) Statistical mechanics of complex networks. Reviews of Modern Physics 74: 47-97. Early publication in June 2001 at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cond-mat/pdf/0106/0106096.pdf
Barabási, A-L (2002) Linked: The New Science of Networks. NY: Perseus.
Galton, Francis. (1907/1911) Inquiries into Human Faculty. Dutton: NY.
Sober, E. & Wilson, D.S. (1998) Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Toynbee A (1958) Civilization on Trial and The World and the West. NY: Meridian.
Wilson, E.O. & Hölldobler, B. (2005) Eusociality: Origin and consequences. Proceedings National Academy of Science, September 20, 102(38), 13367-13371. Published online before print September 12, 2005, 10.1073/pnas.0505858102.

James Brody
February 12th, 2007, 12:46 PM
"Darwin Day is the anniversary of the birthday of Charles Darwin on February 12, 1809. Darwin provided the first coherent theory of evolution by means of natural selection. His theory has had far-reaching implications in almost all disciplines and has rocked the very foundation of our knowledge base. Human civilization has been deeply affected by Darwin's work, with over 200 years of evidence supporting his initial findings with modification and refinement continuing to this day. For his contributions to humanity and his commitment to scientific methodology, Charles Robert Darwin is celebrated globally. The date that is recognized by most is that of February 12th, the date of his birth....In the United States, the first event using the name "Darwin Day" (also renamed to "Darwin Festival") was held at Salem College in Massachusetts, in 1980 and continues today." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_Day

So much for the myths that bind. No one ever drew a sword on behalf of natural selection, the concept, indeed, irritates our instincts.


James Brody
March 11th, 2007, 03:39 PM
Toynbee saw religion as a key in the vitality of civilizations. This anecdotte makes the case. It also hints of K Selection in human affairs.

"Hume told his friend Mure of Caldwell of an incident which occasioned his conversion to Christianity. Passing across the recently drained Nor' Loch to the New Town of Edinburgh to supervise the masons building his new house, soon to become No 1 St David Street, he slipped and fell into the mire. Hume, being then of great bulk, could not regain his feet. Some passing Newhaven fishwives seeing his plight, but recognising him as the well-known atheist, refused to rescue him until he became a Christian and had recited The Lords Prayer and the Creed. This he did and was rewarded by being set again on his feet by these brawny women. Hume asserted thereafter that Edinburgh fishwives were the 'most acute theologians he had ever met'" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume, 3/11/07

Couldn't resist sharing it!