All increases in human welfare can ultimately be ascribed to ingenuity and innovation. In early societies, after the development of agriculture, religions may have had some positive social function in bringing people together. In general, however, religions seek to prevent or delay the development of knowledge that might threaten belief in the religion’s dogma. Thus religions bear an untold cost in human welfare due to their inhibition of technical progress that would otherwise have occurred sooner. So the overall historical contribution of religion to human welfare has been negative. This is particularly the case with Islam.
The historical legacy
After the Romans adopted Christianity, the Greek schools of learning were closed down. Following that, Rome fell, and the Dark Ages ensued in Europe. The knowledge of the Greeks, however, was maintained and developed by the Arabs. The Arabic numbering system, derived from India and including the number zero, was a…
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