Now that's a widespread view to be sure, and one that is totally wrong.
As I said in response on that thread, "I suspect the Classical Greeks might raise some objections to the proposition, as might several historians of both the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment" -- and I do intend to follow up those points sometime very soon. I'll just say briefly now that if the basis of western civilisation can be described as a focus on reason, individualism and happiness on this earth -- ideas that were a product not of theologians but of Classical Greeks, ideas which were fortunately rediscovered for the west in the Renaissance -- then far from being any sort of foundation for these ideas, christian religion is at odds with all of them. More below.
Now, my commenter suggested that as partial proof of his thesis the praiseworthy observation that the US,
a heavily Christian country ... produced 173,771 patents in 2006. Check all Islamic countries since 1700 and you might get 1000.While this certainly reveals something, I'm afraid it doesn't prove anything like what my interlocutor would like it to prove. It's certainly true that theocracy -- any theocracy -- is bad for free-wheeling scientific research, and it's equally true that religion -- any religion -- is a hindrance rather than a help to scientific research. (Faith and mysticism are not handmaidens to truth, but they are the twin handmaidens of religion, so-called shortcuts to knowledge that are nothing but short-circuits destroying the mind, and destroying science if we would let them.)
The reason for the disparity in those quoted figures is not because there are different religions in the US and in Islamic countries, it is because the influence of religion is far less and far less all-pervasive in the US than it is in the Islamic theocracies. The separation of religion and state was well done by America's Founders.
It might be argued here that in fact the US was founded as a christian country. Well, it wasn't. The Founding Fathers never intended that. John Adams himself declared,
The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.You can't get too much more of a blunt declaration than that. America's revolution was founded upon a declaration of human freedom, a declaration of rights, and as Thomas Jefferson explained (and he would know)"
Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than on our opinions in physics and geometry....So declared Thomas Jefferson. The US was not a nation founded on religion, it was a Nation of the Enlightenment, that proud era in human affairs that represented an overthrow of religion and a renaissance of reason. [More quotes in this vein here, courtesy of the Ayn Rand Institute] If religion is anything to America, argues philosopher Leonard Peikoff, it is a threat, not a foundation.
What did religion bring to history? Founding Father James Madison has the summary:
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise....During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.Ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution. They do not describe western civilisation, but they do describe the Dark Ages to a 'T', those centuries over which the christian church so dolefully presided -- and they describe too the present-day Islamic theocracies -- but of western civilisation those words are at odds; the leitmotifs of western civilisation are not ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution, but their polar opposites: reason, freedom and individualism.
We got these beneficient ideas from the Greeks. But we had to shake off centuries of religion to rediscover them.
LINKS: Murdering tall poppies - that's what Easter is all about - Not PC
The Founding Fathers on religion - Ayn Rand Institute
Religion vs. America - Leonard Peikoff
RELATED: Religion, Ethics, History