Unfortunately the author of this article doesn’t know anything about relativity. He is simply taking the popular misunderstanding of relativity and playing with words. His argument is the equivalent of somebody saying that the ancient Hindu who developed decimal notation has been overlooked as the discoverer of calculus. Not to disparage al-Kindi (which I would say that the author of this piece is doing by using his name in a false argument), he was a major figure, but to claim that he foreshadowed relativity is simply trying do the old Russian trick of claiming that a Russian invented it first. Jack, if you are going to criticize people in this forum for having little or no knowledge of Islam, don’t go posting things on aspects of science from people who have little or no knowledge of science.
Well said. It’s funny though, that the author whose book you are reading, Lost History, which you said here - http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/10112/ - is a good book, makes the same suggestion as the writers of the article in the link I posted (i.e. Al Kindi put forth an unproven theory of relativity 1100 years before Einstein).
But perhaps Morgan needs to check his knowledge of science too.
He does. Just because it is written, doesn’t mean it’s true; and it’s being a mistake, it doesn’t mean that the entire book is no good. (I am getting a very good appreciation of the multiple threads going into the intellectual and political history of the times!) The quote given from al-Kindi seems to me more like his musings on Aristotle (for whom motion meant any sort of change whatever). The quote “motion is time and time is motion…” for example, makes the valid psychological observation that our notion of time arises from our experiences of motion (and memory), but is not a form of “relativity” as in the modern theory. Actually, relativity is a poor choice of words for the theory—general relativity is the most deterministic and least relative (in an absolute sense) theory around. What is relative are the perceptions of different observers, and that is something that has been pointed out almost forever.