The NY Times Magazine today has cover piece arguing that while the West may have figured out how to largely separate politics and religion, the rest of the world is unlikely to follow: "Countless millions still pursue the age-old quest to bring the whole of human life under God’s authority, and they have their reasons." If that's really true, we can expect that modern science will be a phenomenon largely confined to the West, with the rest of the world using science, pioneered elsewhere, to build more hi-tech weapons. Perhaps though, the case is overstated in the NY Times piece - Japan and Korea have relatively secular politics, and a correspondingly strong scientific infrastructure. Several modernizing nations, such as India and China, are working hard to build their scientific reputations; to do so requires some commitment by their respective goverments to separate ideology from the political decision making process. The young Chinese and Indian graduate students, coming in droves to the US for a scientific education, will inevitably make life better in their non-Western home countries when they return. The next step is to figure out how to get young Iraqis, Jordanians, Iranians, and Africans to come seeking a scientific education in the US.
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