History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The dubious claims for Islamic/African sources of the modern//How African Muslims Civilized Spain

April 11th, 2017 · No Comments

We commented on this yesterday: http://darwiniana.com/2017/04/10/an-islamic-pipedreamheres-how-black-muslims-lifted-europe-out-of-the-dark-ages-news-telesur-english/

I am glad Counterpunch reprinted this perspective which we commented on yesterday at another publication site.
The argument for the African origin of civilization and here a related argument as to Muslim Spain and modernity is a puzzling argument, and one that won’t stand up to the evidence.

Overall the evidence suggests higher civilization emerges from the Neolithic in the Sumerian and parallel Egyptian transitions (well clarified by our eonic model) after gestation in the the Natufian/early neolithic and pre-Sumerian phases of the Levant, Anatolia, and northern Mesopotamia. Other parallel starting points are not ruled out, as such, and our ‘eonic model’ is a warning about the complexity of the evidence of parallel/independent emergence: we don’t have the full evidence of the Neolithic but it would seem that the onset of that era occurred later in all regions adjacent to the Near Eastern source of later civilization, and that evidence suggests that the Neolithic is much later in Europe, India/China and Africa. The Neolithic is not the same as the discovery of agriculture, as such, and the latter’s possible multiple independent emergence in different areas is more than possible. But the Neolithic is a complex civilizational whole as a stage of historical development, witness the complex emergence of state religions in the temple complexes of northern Neolithic pre-Sumer. The influence of Egypt on Greece is clear from the record but this is much later, and quite in the wake of the onset of the ‘first’ phase of higher civilization (the real onset of near higher civilization might better be considered northern Sumer ca. 5500 BCE), e.g. well after 3000 BCE (Mycenean/Minoan phases), along with ‘Mesopotamian’/Near Eastern diffusion in the same era. But from the perspective of the eonic model the sudden take off of Greece in the Axial Age, parallel to those of the Israel/Persian and Indic/Chinese zones (in the wake of Sumerian diffusion of the previous era) is part of our strange macro sequence. If that is too controversial it nonetheless is clear that Greece in its flowering in the Axial Age was part of the diffusion of the original phase of higher civilization, and there is no evidence that this is ‘African’ unless, of course, we mean Dynastic Egypt from which a strong field of diffusion into Africa occurred. By the time of the Greek Axial Age the African subcontinent was just beginning to enter its Neolithic and this era was probably prior to, for example, Bantu diffusion, meaning that much of the southern sector zones of Africa were still in the range of Paleolithic (e.g San peoples). It was actually the contribution of western African peoples migrating to the full African sphere in the spread of its Neolithic that brought Africa to the first phase of (Neolithic) civilization. That Africa was a very difficult environment to master suggests the importance of this achievement (modern Europeans initially died in droves on entry into this complicated and dangerous environmental field).
These claims for African influences on Greece, or Islam/Spain are highly dubious and certainly don’t account for the rise of modernity (a similar set of claims are often proposed for Islam without any African connection).
It is important to see that higher civilization came very late to Europe and it is really the diffusion from the Roman Empire that gestates what is to come later.
One can only recommend a careful study of the ‘eonic effect’ to get a suggestion as to the sudden take off of certain sectors of Europe in the sixteenth century. Modernity is thus no more ‘European’ than the Axial Age is Greek, or Israelite, Indic, etc… And it is important to see that the modern transition springs from a subset of European cultures, in all cases frontier areas of the old Roman imperium: Spain, France, England, Holland, Germany. The only model that can account for this is the eonic effect interpretation, whatever its problems.
The reason the Eurocentric interpretation prevails springs from the confusions over ‘western civilization’, christian chauvinism, etc…A closer look shows the connection to a larger developmental sequence and here the ‘frontier effect’ of the eonic model can help to see how the European transition (what we call modernity) in the period of the ‘early modern’ is, bafflingly, an aspect of the so-called macrosequence. If that it still controversial the fact remains that Islamic influences in Spain are a poor candidate for explaining the rise of the modern.

Source: How African Muslims Civilized Spain

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