Re: NASA's new mission: Building ties to Muslim world.
I studied in three Catholic Universities and later I was very surprised about how little most people know about the Muslim and Jewish contributions to Catholic philosophy and theology. Particularly Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Rabbi Moses Maimonides.
Ibn Sina could be said to have started the dialogue, his writings were studied, used and advanced by the other two and all their ideas and the ideas of others, including Plato and Aristotle were similarly used by St. Thomas Aquinas, whose "Summa Theologica" was made the basis of Catholic doctrine by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 in his Encyclica "On The Restoration of Christian Philosophy According to the Mind of St. Thomas Aquinas, The Angelic Doctor". Few know that his Proof of the Existance of God was based on the pioneering work by Rabbi Moses Maimonides.
My comment is limited to Ibn Sina, who read the Metaphysics of Aristotle 14 times before he claimed to understand it and later wrote "The Cannon of Medicine", the first textbook in all Medical Schools for 500 years. All medical knowledge can be traced to some school
established by the Arab Empire.
Another key contribution by followers of Islam were the Culture Centers established throughout the Arab Empire, including Europe, which welcomed officials of all religions to learn and participate in the work of explaining the writings of all religious and philosophical authors.
Sadly, other than fellow students, I have never met anyone even aware of any of this and their contributions to Ecumenical efforts seems totally ignored, with the exception of fellow students and teachers in the Catholic universities I attended.
Sadly, even my alma mater dropped the requirement of six semester of study of Philosophy and Theology for graduation but the world wide League of Thomistic Study survives -I hope.
NASA could focus is in the definition of Scientific Principles and Universals that are the basis of all science. All this work is based on writings that include key Greek, Muslim and Catholic
contributions. Newton claimed to have stood on the shoulders of giants and these are the giants, the forgotten giants in search of truth, or the search of God, who is The Truth.
Edith Stein aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, wrote: "Whoever seeks the truth, is seeking God, whether consciously or unconsciously" Other Jewish converts to Catholicism include Jaques Maritian and his wife Raissa. Dr. Maritain and Dr. Ettiene Gilson are considered by many the most important philosophical authors of the 20th Century. Everyone should read at least one of their many books to understand and truly appreciate Christian, Jewish and Muslim contributions to civilization, the basis of civility. We all strive and expect civility in ourselves and others.