Albert Einstein was a master of understatement. “I don’t have any special talent,” the great physicist once said. “I’m just passionately curious.”
That seems not just humble, but downright banal for a man whose theory of relativity revolutionized science. Yet his statement is absolutely true. Curiosity is the prerequisite for science, for progress. Indeed, it is at the core of German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s observation: “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-imposed immaturity.”
It is precisely this concept that Islamist fundamentalists oppose. The search for new ideas and rigorous examination of what we believe to be true – without reference to any authority, even religious – are the most important building blocks for progress in Western democracies.