Thursday, April 12, 2007

A christian nation?

What's the basis of western civilization? A commenter here at Not PC suggested that religion, specifically christian religion is the foundation for western civilisation.

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

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76 Comments:

Blogger HORansome said...

Sadly, though, bigotry, ignorance, superstition and persecution were features of the Ancient world as well. Whilst it may well be a myth to say that Christianity is what made the West great it is also a myth to think that the world was a better place before Christianity. It wasn't any better or worse, just different.

4/12/2007 04:46:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Yeah sure. Pagan Classical Greece was nothing compared to the fun they were having in the christian Dark Ages, right?

4/12/2007 04:53:00 pm  
Anonymous angloamerican said...

I wonder if there have been other civilizations where religious influence has been minimal. It’s hard to think of any. Western civilization is rather unique. Red China and the USSR come to mind but they simply replaced the old religions with more horrendous new ones so I don’t think they count. The ancient Greeks were quite intolerant of atheists and were likely to sentence you to death if you claimed to be one. The Jews and Japanese are probably worth studying.

Generally religious or ideological beliefs should play no part in business or everyday decisions. Generally if someone wants to introduce a prayer or a little superstition into an everyday event they should be looked as if they were mad. Any society that does that is well on the way to success. Any society that tolerates or encourages it is staring into the abyss.

4/12/2007 05:25:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

Hoo, where to start!

First, Christianity is a product of Greek thought and Eastern revelation. The Jews give us revelation of God and the Greeks put the logic into the religion. Platonic thought is a crucial part of the Christianity that spread through the East and West. Put another way, Greek thought and philosophy entered the West through Christianity and was nourished by the religion for many centuries.

The New Testament was written in Greek, and can be considered a document written by the Greeks of whom you mentioned and has their philosophy through all of it, along with the spirituality of the East. Far from moving away from Greek thought and inquiry Christianity preserved it and embodied it.

You mention the Dark Ages as a period of ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution and say these were the fruits of Christianity.. yet the term was invented by an Italian to lament the fall of the Holy Roman Emperor and Rome and the continual invasions of the Barbarians and Muslims. For some, the Dark Ages meant these attacks on Christianity.
The term is now obsolete, mainly because modern scholars have discovered that it was thought "dark" simply because not much was known about the period.

You praise the US Founding Fathers for separating religion and State, yet you neglect to mention they got that idea from Christ and Christianity, and ignore the fact that science and Christianity have co-existed for centuries and that Americans seem perfectly capable of being innovative scientists and Christians without any problems.

You then go on to quote several of the Founding Fathers as if they weren't dedicated Christians. They did not set up America to be Pagan or not religious, quite the contrary, as they promoted religion through the 1st Amendment so that any man is free to worship whichever he likes.

And you quote James Madison's seeming diatribe against Christianity without understanding his meaning. Madison was a church going Episcopalian, and like several other Founding Fathers, a Deist. Diests believed that religion should be simple and not cluttered with clergy. They fervently believed that there was one Supreme Being, and that this could be proved by reason. If you had met Madison and said you were an Atheist, he would undoubtedly treated you politely.. but thought you an idiot for not being able to prove the existence of a Supreme Being or creative force through reason.
Madison, other Founding Fathers and several presidents started from an absolute certainty of a Supreme Being, but demanded that people be allowed to worship it through the religion of their choice.

To wrap up, Christianity is one of the Abrahamic religions, which is dominated by the revelation that there is only one God. But that small Jewish sect could never have survived without the bones and flesh of Hellenic logic and reason being grafted onto it. It is a religion of reason, as Madison and co believed and it's played an enormous role in the promotion and development of science. I only have to note that the Big Bang theory was developed by a Catholic priest to show that, but here's a more complete list of famous Christians in science.

http://tinyurl.com/3c2tas

JC

4/12/2007 05:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" it is also a myth to think that the world was a better place before Christianity. It wasn't any better or worse, just different."

You are joking, right?

Christianity was devastating to women's rights for starters.

In ancient cultures women often shared the same rights and status as men - at least theoretically. They were entitled to their own property and could divorce their husbands. Then christianity came down the pike.

4/12/2007 05:39:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

The Greeks didn't have science as we know it pc, that's quite a bit of nonsense there. And Newton? Not a Christian right? Faraday?

Science can only develop if you belief the universe is rational. If you believe that the gods are playing tricks with reality any time you blink, you're not really looking at an apple and think, hmmm, F = ma.

4/12/2007 07:18:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Ah, just saw pc's comment on the dark ages. That shows a lot of dark ignorance pc, please read up a bit on the inventions and improvements done in the dark ages before the black death.

After that read those terrible middle ages.

Bit surprised to read comments like this from you pc.

4/12/2007 07:22:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

anon, what cultures exactly?

And where in the Bible does it say that women cannot own property?

4/12/2007 07:22:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Berend...invite God down for a visit and remove all doubt will you....?

4/12/2007 07:39:00 pm  
Blogger HORansome said...

Oh, another thing, the Greeks weren't pagan; the pagans were country dwellers. It was a derogatory termed by both the Greeks and the Romans for people outside civilisation.

4/12/2007 08:52:00 pm  
Anonymous AngloAmerican said...

The Christian religion is undoubtedly 'a' foundation of western civilisation as is Judaism and Greek culture and pre-Christian culture. Romans were hugely influential too. But above all, bestriding Western civilization, like a colossus, is British culture. This is what gives it its present personality and its love of freedom. All mainland Europeans were a bunch of fascists up until the end of the Second World War when liberating AngloAmericans brought true freedom to Western civilization. The Germans, French, Italians, Austrians, Spanish were all Christians you know but the British and their off spring the Americans and the former colonies, well, it was the British heritage that made them great.

4/12/2007 09:42:00 pm  
Anonymous michael fasher said...

One of the greatest Greek philosophies that was developed over the helenistic period was that of atomism which later was developed into Epicurianism was explicitly atheistic and was probably the greatest threat to christianity and mysticism.
why do you think a christian mob burnt down the libary of Alexander

4/12/2007 10:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

AngloAmerican said...
the British heritage that made them great.

I had recognized this fact since the day I arrived in this country. I am surprised that some portions of the citizens of countries with British heritage are so anti-american. I bet that there isn't any of the likes of Keith Locke, John Minto, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, are happily living in countries such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Lybia, etc...

Perhaps, these western people with anti-western ideology would like to swap places with the desperate people in those repressive regimes. Let them feel of what is the meaning of un-westernised or un-americanism society is.

4/12/2007 10:10:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

"One of the greatest Greek philosophies that was developed over the helenistic period was that of atomism which later was developed into Epicurianism was explicitly atheistic and was probably the greatest threat to christianity and mysticism.
why do you think a christian mob burnt down the libary of Alexander"

Looks relatively minor to me. The fact it promoted eating and drinking modestly of only modest food, and abstaining from sex made sure of that.

JC

4/12/2007 10:49:00 pm  
Blogger HORansome said...

No one actually knows what really caused the destruction of the Library at Alexandria. Christians get blamed for it, Julius Ceasar gets blamed for it... It's a bit like the burning of Rome; was it Nero? Was it the Christians? Was it the firefighting unions? Was it just another accidental fire? Depending on who you read you wll get a whole host of contentious reasons to believe one theory over the other.

4/13/2007 07:45:00 am  
Blogger Eric Olthwaite said...

Natural Law in Judaism

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=3147

The interweb has, as it always seems to have done, had thoughts on this topic before...

4/13/2007 10:30:00 am  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

PC et al.
"Dark Age" is perjorative and silly.

You're rational people so please specify these "dark age" acts. What were the numbers? Are the numbers fair? What's your source? You're not just quoting popular wisdom, HIST 101, or some online ranter are you?

On the other hand, what do you expect to happen after fall of Rome? An age of honey and milk? Either way the adjective "dark" is jejune.

Anyway, who transmitted all that classical culture you love so much?
It wasn't the selfless secret society of Atlas Shruggers was it? It was the Catholic monks of many scriptoria.

4/13/2007 10:31:00 am  
Blogger Josh said...

Well yeah, because they were practically the only ones on the continent who could read and write...

And don't forget those pesky Muslims played a significant part, particularly regarding the works of Aristotle.

4/13/2007 11:07:00 am  
Blogger HORansome said...

Let's not forget Islam's role in the transmission of Greek (and Roman culture); whilst those monks were copying the texts the Muslim's were doing further research. What we have of Aristotle we stole back from the Muslims.

4/13/2007 11:13:00 am  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Some excellent points made here by Jc and horansome.
Objectivist atheism is perhaps the worst case of Ostrich-ism ever!
Firstly Atheism is a universal negative and so can never be proven…thus it is only held on the most gross superstitious grounds.
That atheism attempts to abduct science for it’s own is a fools game on so many levels it’s pathetic!
Science can never vindicate atheism…it is an un-provable position!
And repeating their mantra “Atheism is scientific” a million and one times will never make it true!
Next of course is how atheist’s must live under mushrooms not to acknowledge the indisputable fact that the bible is the greatest book of history!
It’s influence is un equaled.
The atheist ostrich is so bent in his hatred for God that he cannot even discern the glory of Christianity on the very ground beneath his feet!
The history of Christianity, ending Slavery, and the Missionaries who came to New Zealand and ended cannibalism and intertribal warfare are facts that the likes of P.C will never grasp.
That there is an old church on every corner of every old settlement, ought to be evidence enough to this truth!
And it was love of mankind that brought Christianity to New Zealand, not imperialism.
Atheism is completely impudent in civilizing savagery!
No atheist missionaries have ever out of love risked their lives to enlighten the Christless savage nations of Man!
No atheist has the courage of their convictions that “Religion is evil”, and goes to Iraq to spread ‘the atheist gospel of peace’!
They prefer to hang out in places where Protestantism has secured peace and safety already like here in NZ.
Atheist Materialism is A-moral, and In-human!
Atheists have no soul…nor any true convictions.
Evolution is a beastly religion!
The atheists are pessimists who fake a “passion about reason and humanity”.
Their ultimate premise is ‘Deadness’.
Life to them is simply a meaningless accident.
Thus it is not only indisputable that Christianity played the supreme role in western civilization including New Zealand, the statistics re suicide, murder, divorce etc show that as atheism encroaches upon our society, that the civilizing values that make peace and freedom possible are being corroded and we may fairly lay the blame on the decay of western civilization on atheism and hypocrites like Rand who escaped an atheist/ materialistic nation into a theistic one and then began to fill that nation with the very atheist nonsense that overran here native land.
Objectivism and Marxism are in the majority in agreement and the same thing!
The ultimate delusion of the Objectivist is that you can found Individualism upon the universal uniformity of dead matter!
Only Christianity that recognizes the absolute individual soul can found Individualism!
Rand simple took what she liked from Christendom and spent the rest of her days in sophistry creating a fake system to cover up her theft!
She never started from an atheist premise and reached the conclusion of Individual rights!
She start with rights and then made a crazy bull shit story as to how godless man has rights! It is a complete unhistorical fabrication!
Rand has not originated a single idea!
The atheist position is so childish and one eyed, it is equivalent to flat earth theory!
As for P.Cs referral to the Greeks and the enlightenment?
First of all most of the Greeks would have agreed with Christians about God and secondly the enlightenment was a Christian movement!
It is naive to think that atheists have a monopoly on logic or reason!
The fact that Aristotle was first to formulate the principles of logic does not mean he invented it!
People have always presented logical arguments both prior to Aristotle and in complete isolation from him!
Likewise in my own experience of learning philosophy and science.
My Christian beliefs and values have been strengthened and I am better able to express them in modern terms.
That does not discredit my archaic Christian terms nor the validity of the principles within them, but merely puts them in terms that are the norm for our society today.
My Christian truths are safe, and allow me to assimilate all truth!
Atheists simply cling to the idea that the Greeks founded civilization, as it suits their prejudice to ascribe civilization to anything but the bible and Judaism…because they hate them with fanatical zeal. That the Bible played by far the greatest part in civilization makes no difference to these one eyed morons!
Not to mention that it was the Muslims and Catholics, and protestants that rescued Greek philosophy from oblivion! One thing is for sure the contributions of atheism to science and progress in almost nil!
On the other thread atheists raise such things as Witch burning.
Lets delve a little deeper into this “witch burning” fetish.
Is not the chief premise of atheism that false religion is a great evil responsible for the murder and enslavement of millions?
Is it not Ironic that this too is the verdict of God Almighty who by right as supreme judge may pass a death sentence upon the practitioners of evil superstitions? And is it not Ironic that Atheists actually condemn God for passing the same judgment as they themselves hold to be true?!!!
Had God not judged witchcraft as evil, atheists would say God condones it!
Truly Atheism is the most foolish of all belief systems!
Don’t pretend to stand on the high ground you little atheist weasels!
And lets also consider how God would vindicate his revelation to mankind without containing internal evidence of it’s divine authorship such things as miracles and prophecy?
I make this point to expose the reality that if the Bible did not contain reference to the supernatural, that atheists would then use this as a proof it was not of Divine origin!
Thus I say atheist is just a bad joke! It is not a serious philosophy!

4/13/2007 11:39:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Note that those "pesky Muslims" captured 2/3 of Catholic territory over several hundred years, so had many scholars working for them that were NOT Muslim.

4/13/2007 11:42:00 am  
Blogger HORansome said...

Yes, but the primary sources for commentaries on the Ancient Greeks in the Muslim world, such as Ibn Sinna, et al, were Muslim, working within a particular Islamic tradition that had naught to do with Christianity.

Also, let me be the first to disassociate myself from much of Tim Wikiriwhi comment.

4/13/2007 12:09:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

" JC said... Hoo, where to start!

" First, Christianity is a product of Greek thought and Eastern revelation. The Jews give us revelation of God and the Greeks put the logic into the religion. Platonic thought is a crucial part of the Christianity that spread through the East and West. Put another way, Greek thought and philosophy entered the West through Christianity and was nourished by the religion for many centuries."

Fairly simplistic but not exactly correct. 1. Greek thought is Western and predates Christianity so how did it enter the West through Christianity? Second, it just stupid to ignore the fact that Rome was heavily influenced by Greek thinking and that Rome had conquered most of the West and ruled it bringing Greek thought with them. All that is prior to Christianity. Third, this silly analysis assumes one kind of Christianity which is wrong. There were several eras with different thoughts. The original Pauline version of Christianity was one that saw itself at odds with Greek thought in particular. Paul attacked Greek philosophy. This does not mean that Christianity was not later influenced by philosophy, it was. As it moved into the West the West introduced Greek philosophy to Christianity, the exact reverse of the claim made here.

Christianity took control of the West eventually and systematically worked to wipe out Greek philosophy. The history of that is told well in Freeman's book The Closing of the Western Mind. He covers how Christianity, when merged with the state, worked to destroy Greek philosophy. Aristotle's works still existed but he was forgotten in the West, though his work survived in some of the great Islamic libraries.

Fast forward to Aquinas and you have a man who was trying to defend Christianity against Islam. He couldn't claim revelation since they claimed revelation. He couldn't claim great civilization because the West was in the Dark Ages. So he decided to use Aristotle's system of logic as a defence of Christianity. So in that sense he re-exposed the West to Aristotle but remember Aristotle was Western before Christianity and Christianity stifled it. There is a brief period when Aristotle is being introduced again and then the Reformation comes along. The Reformationists were anxious to stifle reason in many areas. They basically started to destroy what Aquinas had built up preferring to return to a more Augustinian tradition.

So you had two strains of Christianity. Protestants were more anti-reason than Catholics since Aquinas was Catholic. But the concepts of reason were loose again in the West. And it slowly infiltrated back into Protestantism. See the book The Sovereignty of Reason by Beiser for the history of that. As reason started to infiltrate Protestant thinking there was a backlash against it lead by what became the Puritans, who again wanted to return to Augustianian thinking. So that created a third major division. You now have the puritanical branch which lives on today in fundamentalist Christianty, the mainstream liberal Protestants and the Catholics.


" The New Testament was written in Greek, and can be considered a document written by the Greeks of whom you mentioned and has their philosophy through all of it, along with the spirituality of the East. Far from moving away from Greek thought and inquiry Christianity preserved it and embodied it."

That is rubbish as Freeman's book demonstrates.


"You mention the Dark Ages as a period of ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution and say these were the fruits of Christianity.. yet the term was invented by an Italian to lament the fall of the Holy Roman Emperor and Rome and the continual invasions of the Barbarians and Muslims. For some, the Dark Ages meant these attacks on Christianity.
The term is now obsolete, mainly because modern scholars have discovered that it was thought "dark" simply because not much was known about the period."

Really I don't think anyone can speak of this without reading Freeman


" You praise the US Founding Fathers for separating religion and State, yet you neglect to mention they got that idea from Christ and Christianity, and ignore the fact that science and Christianity have co-existed for centuries and that Americans seem perfectly capable of being innovative scientists and Christians without any problems."

This is bullshit. The main architects of separation of church and state, Madison and Jefferson were the two who most resented the bloodshed of Christianity. They didn't get the idea there. The origins of this idea came out of a reaction to the violence of Christianity in Western history. It should be noted that after the Reformation, Christianity became more violent not less. Zagorin's How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West is a good place to start. But Zagorin mainly covers Europe and the struggle there.


" You then go on to quote several of the Founding Fathers as if they weren't dedicated Christians. They did not set up America to be Pagan or not religious, quite the contrary, as they promoted religion through the 1st Amendment so that any man is free to worship whichever he likes."

Why? Because Christianity was trying to monopolize worship and they thought that dangerous.
It is hysterical to read modern Christians (mostly fundie nutters) claiming the Founders for themselves when the fundies of the day hated these men for ruining their theocratic desires.


"And you quote James Madison's seeming diatribe against Christianity without understanding his meaning. Madison was a church going Episcopalian, and like several other Founding Fathers, a Deist. Diests believed that religion should be simple and not cluttered with clergy. They fervently believed that there was one Supreme Being, and that this could be proved by reason. If you had met Madison and said you were an Atheist, he would undoubtedly treated you politely.. but thought you an idiot for not being able to prove the existence of a Supreme Being or creative force through reason."

A stupid definition of deism. They also didn't want Christianity cluttered with bullshit like the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection, the trinity, the deity of Jesus, etc. They stripped Christianity of all doctrines that made it uniquely Christian. That is much more than wanting to have clergy out of the way. They wanted the supernatural out of the way."


Tim....sigh!Atheism is simply the LACK of a belief in a GOD....nothing more.As the party asserting the positive position that there is a god the onus is on you to prove your God exists.....not for us attempt the impossible and prove the negative.


Seriously....are you supposed to be on some medication...?

4/13/2007 12:25:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Enough myths in this thread to fill a Bible, if that book weren't already full of them.

My reply will be as almost long as the thread we've already started.

"...the adjective "dark" is jejune."

On the contrary, the adjective dark is wholly accurate in describing a millennia when western Europe was an ordure-strewn hemisphere of crosses and graves and misery. No amoung of revisinist religious history today can either change the the facts of what life was like, or the chief cause of the misery. As philosopher Leonard Peikoff explains, "The Dark Ages
were dark on principle. Augustine [whom the church chose to make a saint] fought against secular philosophy, science, art; he regarded all of it as an abomination to be swept aside; he cursed science in particular as "the lust of the eyes"."

That seems pretty clear.

The Dark Ages began with Rome's fall, and Rome fell because of the twin assaults of barbarism and religion. [See for example Edward Gibbon's 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' By religion he of course meant Christianity. ]

"Like a fasting man on a long walk, the Roman Empire tottered forward, but gradually grew weaker…After c. 150 AD, the imperial government raised taxes…Local governments incurred greater debt…A more ominous social trend began at this time: thousands of individuals fled from the world into monasteries and hermitages – two doorways to the supernatural world." [The Aristotle Adventure, Burgess Laughlin, p. 60]

"Around 250 AD, Plotinus developed ancient culture’s last philosophy. As formulated by Porphyry, Plotinus’ Neo-Platonist philosophy was indeed systematic, fundamental, and secular. But it was not primarily about this world. Though highly structured, it was not logical (a noncontradictory identification of this world). Supposedly, Plotinus’ philosophy was primarily an internal revelation, not a product of argumentation and reasoning. Thus, with Plotinus, philosophy took another step backward, to stone tools." [The Aristotle Adventure, Burgess Laughlin, p. 90-91]

Aristotelianism was on the edge of death, not to be rediscovered in the west for another nine-hunded years. With the death of Aristotelianism came too the loss of interest in the things of THIS world, with all that implied for the coming (sub)standard of living.

"There was a remarkable lack of interest in science and technology. Rumors persisted until our own day that certain Greek inventions were actually rejected by the later emperors. It is known, for instance, that a Greek name Hero of Alexandria invented a kind of steam engine in the first century AD. [I]t was apparently treated as an amusing toy." [A History of Knowledge
, Charles van Doren, p. 84]

What was left once Aristotelianism was wholly dead was .. that wasteland of crosses and graces so described by so many historians, and so well adumbrated by Augustine, that inveterate hypocrite and misanthropist whom the church chose to make a saint.

"The Dark Ages were dark on principle. As the barbarians were sacking the body of Rome, the Church was struggling to annul the last vestiges of its spirit, wrenching the West away from nature, astronomy, philosophy, nudity, pleasure, instilling in men's souls the adoration of Eternity, with all its temporal consequences." [The Duel Between Plato and Aristotle, Objectivism: The Philosophy Of Ayn Rand
, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, p. 453.]

Augustine makes clear the difference between the City of God (based upon faith) and the City of Man (based upon reason) – and makes concerns of life on Earth secondary. Man for Augustine was "crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous."

"Intellectually speaking, the period of the Middle Ages was the exact
opposite of classical Greece. Its leading philosophic spokesman, Augustine,
held that faith was the basis of man's entire mental life. "I do not know in
order to believe," he said, "I believe in order to know." In other words,
reason is nothing but a handmaiden of revelation; it is a mere adjunct of
faith, whose task is to clarify, as far as possible, the dogmas of religion.
What if a dogma cannot be clarified? So much the better, answered an earlier
Church father, Tertullian. The truly religious man, he said, delights in
thwarting his reason; that shows his commitment to faith. Thus, Tertullian's
famous answer, when asked about the dogma of God's self-sacrifice on the
cross: "Creo quia absurdum." ("I believe because it is absurd.")

"As to the realm of physical nature, the medievals characteristically
it as a semi-real haze, a transitory stage in the devine plan, and a
troublesome one at that, a delusion and a snare - a delusion because men
mistake it for reality, a snare because they are tempted by its lures to
jepordize their immortal souls. What tempts them is the prospect of earthly
pleasure.

"What kind of life, then, does the immortal soul require on earth? Self-
denial, asceticism, the resolute shunning of this temptation. But isn't unfair
to ask men to throw away their whole enjoyment of life? Augustine's answer is:
what else befits creatures befouled by original sin, creatures who are, as he
put it, "crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous"." [Religion vs America, Leonard Peikoff]

"God was the last of the three great medieval challenges [note: others being the “struggle for subsistence” and a “world of enemies”], and the most important. Human beings had always been interested in God and had attempted to understand his ways. But the Greeks, and especially the Romans, had kept this interest under control…In the early Middle Ages it overcame the best and the brightest among Europeans. It can almost be said that they became obsessed with God." [A History of Knowledge
, Charles van Doren, p. 100]

What were the practical results - in the ancient world, then in the
medieval - of this approach to life?

Dutch economic historian Angus Maddison points out that from 500 to 1500 AD, Europe suffered from zero percent economic growth, this in a period in which a slice of bread per day could be considered a good meal, and in which the average infant had a life expectancy of just 24 years -- IF that is they weren't of that third who died in their first year. [See Angus Maddison, 'Phases of Capitalist Development, pp 4-7, and Angus Maddison, 'The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective']

Says French historian Fernand Braudel of the pre-eighteenth century era, "Famine recurred so insistently for centuries on end that it became incorporated into ma's biological regime and built into his daily life..." [Fernand Braudel, 'The Structures of Everyday Life: Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Centuries,' pp 73-78]

Everything human took a dive, only re-emerging centuries later with either the Renaissance (qand the rediscovery of Aristotle) or the Enlightenment(and the application of Aristotelian reason to human life). Within the Dark Ages, sanitation collapsed, and disease rocketed; agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years; literacy and education plummeted; learning almot vanished; scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ; life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens ... and the ethic of faith, sacrifice and suffering oversaw it all. All that flousished in this time was the church, and its churchmen.

The result was not a flourishing of reason and a devotion to life on earth. Quite the opposite. For that we had to wait for the redicovery of Aristotle (for the west) in the Renaissance.

W.T. Jones, the 20th century's leading philosophical historian summarises: "Because of the indifference and downright hostility of the Christians ... almost the whole body of ancient literature and learnign was lost... This destruction was so great and the rate of recovery was so slow that even by the ninth century Europe was still immeasurably behind the classical world in every department of life... This, then, was truly a 'dark' age." [W.T. Jones, 'A History of Western Philosophy, vol. 2, The Medieval Mind,' pp141-142]

And so it was.

* * * * *

PS: The word used by pagan Greeks to describe foreigners was not "pagan," but "barbarian,' in emulation of the "ba-ba-ba" sounds their language made to the Greek ear.

To be a pagan Greek was something to be, something it took a millennia to rediscover -- something for which 300 Spartans fought so fiercely in the battle celebrated in the recent film '300.' When you realise why they were fighting, and the debt western civilisation owes to pagan Greece, you might realise why some historians call that battle the most important in western history/

4/13/2007 12:35:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Let's not forget Islam's role in the transmission of Greek (and Roman culture); whilst those monks were copying the texts the Muslim's were doing further research. What we have of Aristotle we stole back from the Muslims."

Absolutely one-hundred percent true. And thank goodness for it. :-)

4/13/2007 12:36:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Also, let me be the first to disassociate myself from much of Tim Wikiriwhi comment."

"Tim.... Seriously....are you supposed to be on some medication...? "

Sigh. When Tim talks politics, he can be hard as nails and sane as a hammer. But when he talks religion, he too frequently sounds like he's baying at the moon.

But he's not alone in that, is he?

4/13/2007 12:41:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

angloamerican: But above all, bestriding Western civilization, like a colossus, is British culture. This is what gives it its present personality and its love of freedom.

Indeed, good points!

4/13/2007 01:27:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

james: Berend...invite God down for a visit and remove all doubt will you....?

Would that really work James? Let's say God comes down and to prove he is God resurrects someone from the dead.

Perhaps you might believe then. I doubt that.

But your son probably won't. And your grandson would make the same remark as you did, don't you think so?

4/13/2007 01:29:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Really pc, Rome didn't collapse for religious reasons. The East continued quite happily for a thousand years after that, didn't it?

It collapsed for economic reasons, a book which you as a libertarian should have read.

And on the no inventions, etc. in the Dark Ages, you just don't have a clue what you're talking about. I'm not even going to argue this one, it is so devoid of sanity I would be a fool to respond.

4/13/2007 01:40:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Two quick points.

First, let me correct a spelling error in my long post above that changed 'graces' to 'graves.'

Here is how one of my linking sentences SHOULD read: "What was left once Aristotelianism was wholly dead was .. that wasteland of crosses and GRAVES so described by so many historians, and so well adumbrated by Augustine, that inveterate hypocrite and misanthropist whom the church chose to make a saint."

Second, Berend, you choose to ignore a welter of cultural evidence and attack instead a point that's made only in passing, and indeed attack a point that wasn't actually made. Charles van Doren's is apparently the claim to which you object: "There was a remarkable lack of interest in science and technology. Rumors persisted until our own day that certain Greek inventions were actually rejected by the later emperors. It is known, for instance, that a Greek name Hero of Alexandria invented a kind of steam engine in the first century AD. [I]t was apparently treated as an amusing toy."

If you have problems with that, then take it up with the eminent Mr van Doren rather than slinging around inaccurate characterisations of ignorance, and indeed inaccurate accounts of what's been said. It's hard enough to keep an unwieldy topic on track without detours made of misquotes.

4/13/2007 02:16:00 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

NZ is not a Christian Nation - HM has not decreed that it is.

NZ is a nation that has Christians, along with other religions and those who are of no religion.

Any attempt to say "Christian Values" should be the basis for any law in NZ is just mob rule by another name.

4/13/2007 02:40:00 pm  
Blogger HORansome said...

Anyhoo. The Greek word 'barbaroi' was used in relation to foreigners. 'Pagan' was used in regard to non-city dwellers, or rustics. The Ancient Greeks and Romans would be appalled to be called pagans.

4/13/2007 03:30:00 pm  
Blogger Eric Olthwaite said...

Hang on Peter, you want Berend to stop focussing on side issues and instead adress people's main points. You want him to stop providing "inaccurate characterisations", "inaccurate accounts of what's been said" and "detours made of misquotes"

You do realise that is Berend's whole method of operation. If you take that away from him there'll be nothing left.

P.S. I think I've found his online textbook...

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/creationism-evolution-animals.php

4/13/2007 03:40:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

James and PC,

This is getting too long, so I'll be brief.

We know well enough what happens when nations, regions and civilisations collapse.. there's chaos.

When the Roman Empire went down, there was just the Church left as some authority to prop up the Christian nations until they could rise as thriving nation states again, even Charles Freeman alludes to this:

"I did not depend on Gibbon. I do not agree with him that intellectual thought in the early Christian centuries was dead and I believe that the well established hierarchy of the church strengthened not undermined the empire. After all it was the church which survived the collapse of the western empire. Of course, Gibbon writes so eloquently that I could not resist quoting from him at times but my argument is developed independently of him and draws on both primary sources and recent scholarship."

And Braudel offers:

"He argued that "structures" - a word he uses to mean many kinds of organized behaviours, attitudes and conventions as well as literal structures and infrastructures - that were built up in Europe during the Middle Ages contributed to or were perhaps responsible for the success of European-based cultures up to the present day."

So the Church sustained Europe during a difficult time. One thing not mentioned here is that by the 13th or 14th centuries, Islam and it's intellectualism was dead in the water and Christianity was charging ahead with science, art and Aristotelian thought towards reformation and enlightenment.

At the beginning of this thread, one thing I noticed was a seeming blind spot from you.. it seemed that you had somehow skipped 60-80 generations in order to make points rather than accept that we are the product of all the generations that have gone before.. and in looking back at the Greek and Roman civilisations you miss the glaring point that they are dead and the great religions are alive and practiced in some form by over 90% of the peoples of the world. They have been going thousands of years and providing something that two great civilisations and a number of empires could not.
They may not have the guns, but they do seem able to sustain themselves by appealing to the spiritual side of man.

JC

4/13/2007 04:07:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

I did a bit of a search around for reviews of Freeman's book, and found one that doesn't grovel at his feet for disparaging Christianity:

It was only with Constantine and the Christianizing of the empire that classical reason disappeared. And this was not a natural process; reason was suppressed by Christianity, which is unique among the world religions in its intolerance and enforcement of a rigid orthodoxy.

If true, this is the kind of claim that would force any honest Christian to think seriously about yet another failure in Christian leadership, in this case primarily in a long line of bishops in the Greek East. But if you want to find out if it’s true, Freeman will not much help you. In fact, he seems to have set out assuming that the evidence would turn up, did not really find the smoking gun, and was forced—maybe by a publisher’s contract—to finish all the same.

The book’s structure reflects this difficulty: He spends more than 300 pages in a rambling survey of pagan and Christian history and only turns to his real subject in the last 40.

[...]

So in a way, his failure tends to support a different truth: Something happened to produce the fall off in cultural level from the fourth century until the medieval revival. Christianity may have played a role, but in his own telling not the “suppression” Freeman set out to prove, and he all but admits as much in conclusion: “Whether the explanations put forward in this book for the suppression are accepted or not, the reasons for the extinction of serious mathematical and scientific thinking in Europe for a thousand years surely deserve more attention.”

[...]

Every high school student is taught [...] that from 950 to 1250 Western Europe underwent an unprecedented population growth supported by technological innovations such as the heavy plow, the three-field-system, harnesses for horses, ingenious engineering to channel water and make milling more productive, and so forth. So if Western Christianity was weak in theoretical reasoning, it was stronger in some respects than Greece and Rome in practical reasoning. And even Freeman allows that by the high Middle Ages Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas honorably champion reason, though he doubts even they harmonized it with faith.

4/13/2007 04:35:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

pc, I objected in particular to: Within the Dark Ages, sanitation collapsed, and disease rocketed; agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years; literacy and education plummeted; learning almot vanished; scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ; life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens

That is such an absurd statement that calling anyone claiming that "eminent" is sheer mockery.

4/13/2007 04:44:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

pc, one more point on the steam engine. A steam engine is utterly useless when you don't mine coal.

What would one in the 18th century do with a nuclear power plant? No need for that much energy.

Up to the 18th century people had a good cheap energy source, i.e. wood. Only when access to that energy source diminished (most of the trees were cut), where more expensive alternatives explored. I.e. coal. With it came the need to pump water. And we get the need for a steam engine.

In the sparsely populated world of 1th century AD, there was simply no need for extremely expensive energy sources. It was indeed a toy.

There are a lot of simple economic explanations pc, I really don't know why you're so fond of mystical explanations if you look at history. Conspiracy theories, religious bigotry, you swallow it all.

It's the economy stupid as a well-known man once said.

4/13/2007 04:56:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

Pining for Greece is so much dreamy BS.

At least take the time, for a start, to read the middle chapters of Russell’s old "History of Western Philosophy". I note that book because it's a common work.

If the dark ages were so mindless then Russell would have nothing between Stoicism (circa pg 300) and Bacon (pg 525). In fact, book two is called 'Catholic Philosophy', which is the link between here and the classical world. And no, book two is not a litanty of "we hate this", "burn that", "crush this", "suppress them". That would be a Dan Brown fabrication.

Otherwise, on this particular matter you lack the usual substance and are unoriginal.
It reads like TVNZ news (worst possible insult).

4/13/2007 07:30:00 pm  
Anonymous michael fasher said...

The atomists were way ahead of anybody else it wasent just about seeking pleasure with moderation.
atoms
atoms vibrating is what heat is
all chemical interactions are temperary bonding of atoms
the atars are ather suns and the milky way is also made up of other suns which also may have planets orbiting them some possibly with life
Epicurus expained that there was no parralex measurement of the stars because of their collosal dsistance in defence of critism of aristarchus who believed that the earth orbited the sun.
evolution by natural selection
conservation principle in both the eternal existance of atoms(mass conservation)and the eternal motion of atoms(energy conservation)
even hero of alexandria who built a steam engine and wrote a book on pnuematics and robotics
all that and the seeking of pleasure sure beats the hell out of that weirdo murder/suicide cult of Jesus h Crist.
The atomists were right on the verge of the modern world and were hated by the christians because of their atheism
Just imagine how far advanced technology would be if that school of thought hade continued,but alas saint cyril had the Libary of Alexandria burnt down and later the Greek acadamies were shut.
That alone should condemm as utterly worthless christianity for destroying the potential for everyone here to be living in a world a thousand or more years ahead in tecnology and science

4/13/2007 09:33:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Beware of book reviews by Lucyna....;-)


From NZ CONservative..

Now I've been holding back on writing on this topic, for the reason being that I, like many people, feel that it's now not socially acceptable to publicly question and disapprove of "gay rights". I have been posting a bit, despite this sense of unease, but recently I came across a book called The Pink Swastika that has galvanised me to really get into this subject in a more aggressive way....

Oh dear did you really buy into that books bullshit Lucyna? Nazism was a gay organised and supported thing according to this long debunked fantasy.Thats right...Those damm gays are responsible for the Holocaust and WW2 it turns out.Tsk Tsk Lucyna...;-)

4/14/2007 01:30:00 am  
Anonymous Wicket said...

Jesus Christ was a homosexual. He had gay relationship with each one of his disciples. His favorite partner was Thomas, where Tom usually slept with Jesus for 2 or 3 nights a week.

4/14/2007 08:55:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

James, funny how you didn't put the link in for everyone to be able to read the book for themselves.

Here, let me help you.

The Pink Swastika is not a work of fiction. Ironically, the authors have discovered that truth is often stranger than fiction. The Pink Swastika is a response to the “gay political agenda” and its strategy of portraying homosexuals as victims of societal and Nazi persecution. Although some homosexuals, and many of those who were framed with trumped-up charges of homosexuality suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis, for gay apologists to portray themselves as historical victims of Nazi persecution, on par with the Jewish people, is a gross distortion of history, perhaps equal to denying the Holocaust itself. The Pink Swastika will show that there was far more brutality, rape, torture and murder committed against innocent people by Nazi deviants and homosexuals than there ever was against homosexuals.

As a Pole, whose parents and their families were directly affected by the Nazis, nothing you can say James, will scare me away from pursuing this subject.

4/14/2007 11:10:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

Throw out the bait and they bite....;-)

Lucyna's "boo hoo poor me Im Polish" sthick is getting older than Garth Georges "I was an alcoholic!" rantings...

4/14/2007 03:12:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Berend, you're changing horses again. You began by saying you objected to the historian who maintained there had been no invention done in the Dark Ages, to which I pointed out that I'd quoted no historian who said that. Now you say what you "objected in particular to" were these facts for which I provided quotes from historians of life in the Dark Ages, during which: * sanitation collapsed;
* disease rocketed;
* agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years;
*literacy and education plummeted;
* learning almost vanished;
* scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ;
* life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens.

None of these claims are in any way historically controversial, so please let us know clearly which of them you specifically object to, and why, and with what supporting evidence.

I note too that I'm still waiting for your evidence that medieval man was troubled by dinosaurs, and for the paintings you say that prove that dinosaurs were about then.

4/14/2007 04:37:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

pc, in saying "no inventions etc." I didn't try to make an exact quote, but give a short gist of your main argument. I thought the "scientific research was non-existent" is very similar, but it seems you think these are very different things.

Yes, there were famines, etc. But there were not only famines etc.

Dark Ages is a term preferred by historians who want to pass judgement. Very helpful.

4/14/2007 08:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Had God not judged witchcraft as evil, atheists would say God condones it!"

You Sir are evil incarnate. This one extract from your long tirade of pure bile fiiled with loathing and scorn condemn you.
I will only pick this statement apart but the rest of your meally mouthed moanings blinkered by your beliefs is equally contemptible.
God judged witchcraft? How exactly did he do that? Oh thats right he had earthly minions who did his bidding who were equally as infallible as he.
Did you know that these so called holy monks who Christainised Europe, would set up their "Church" on land that was used by residents of an area for seasonal rituals such as harvest festival, celebrations centred around phases of ther moon. They were seasonal celebrations. The rest of the year it was left empty it was purely a communal meeting place. Then one day it has been claimed and a f***ing church apparently there.
However say the W word and you in your fevered imagination probably see pointy hats, and noses with warts on them, signs painted in blood and all manner of hollywood concoctions.

As for those supposedly convicted and condemned by God for witchcraft as often as not they were locals with a knowledge of local cures, the medicinal properties of plants. Not concocting potions from eye of newt, and bats wings.
Sometimes the witch hunts were a convenient way of getting rid of a rival. As just the accusation of witchry was considered enough to condemn a person.
And those infallible minions of God, well in order to curry favour with Rome and give the appearance of zealously pursuing their holy duties, they would often condemn anyone, for any reason regardless of right or wrong.
It was a numbers game to them, one which could land them a cushy little job around the pope.

Atheists would say god condones witchcraft? WTF
This a leap of crass, stupid and breathtakingly inane reasoning, I cant believe some one would actually come out and say it. An atheist is more likely to question the reasons why so many people were needlessly slaughtered, if the cause was so noble?

And s**t you know so little about your own culture I doubt you are truly of NZ descent.

4/15/2007 01:00:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

"Does that not then go for... burning bushes that talk,Seas parting,The entire earth flooding,All kinds of animals being taken onto a boat in pairs,a virgin birth followed by a return from the dead...etc...?

Cheery picking the Bible will get you very tangled JC...."

Only if I believed the Bible was inerrant, which I don't. But I still see it as an immensely important book that connects the Western and Eastern worlds to their past.

JC

--
Posted by jc to Not PC at 4/13/2007 09:04:35 AM

4/15/2007 09:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Eric Olthwaite said...

Natural Law in Judaism

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=3147

The interweb has, as it always seems to have done, had thoughts on this topic before...

--
Posted by Eric Olthwaite to Not PC at 4/13/2007 10:30:41 AM

4/15/2007 09:54:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Some excellent points made here by Jc and horansome.
Objectivist atheism is perhaps the worst case of Ostrich-ism ever!
Firstly Atheism is a universal negative and so can never be proven…thus it is only held on the most gross superstitious grounds.
That atheism attempts to abduct science for it’s own is a fools game on so many levels it’s pathetic!
Science can never vindicate atheism…it is an un-provable position!
And repeating their mantra “Atheism is scientific” a million and one times will never make it true!
Next of course is how atheist’s must live under mushrooms not to acknowledge the indisputable fact that the bible is the greatest book of history!
It’s influence is un equaled.
The atheist ostrich is so bent in his hatred for God that he cannot even discern the glory of Christianity on the very ground beneath his feet!
The history of Christianity, ending Slavery, and the Missionaries who came to New Zealand and ended cannibalism and intertribal warfare are facts that the likes of P.C will never grasp.
That there is an old church on every corner of every old settlement, ought to be evidence enough to this truth!
And it was love of mankind that brought Christianity to New Zealand, not imperialism.
Atheism is completely impudent in civilizing savagery!
No atheist missionaries have ever out of love risked their lives to enlighten the Christless savage nations of Man!
No atheist has the courage of their convictions that “Religion is evil”, and goes to Iraq to spread ‘the atheist gospel of peace’!
They prefer to hang out in places where Protestantism has secured peace and safety already like here in NZ.
Atheist Materialism is A-moral, and In-human!
Atheists have no soul…nor any true convictions.
Evolution is a beastly religion!
The atheists are pessimists who fake a “passion about reason and humanity”.
Their ultimate premise is ‘Deadness’.
Life to them is simply a meaningless accident.
Thus it is not only indisputable that Christianity played the supreme role in western civilization including New Zealand, the statistics re suicide, murder, divorce etc show that as atheism encroaches upon our society, that the civilizing values that make peace and freedom possible are being corroded and we may fairly lay the blame on the decay of western civilization on atheism and hypocrites like Rand who escaped an atheist/ materialistic nation into a theistic one and then began to fill that nation with the very atheist nonsense that overran here native land.
Objectivism and Marxism are in the majority in agreement and the same thing!
The ultimate delusion of the Objectivist is that you can found Individualism upon the universal uniformity of dead matter!
Only Christianity that recognizes the absolute individual soul can found Individualism!
Rand simple took what she liked from Christendom and spent the rest of her days in sophistry creating a fake system to cover up her theft!
She never started from an atheist premise and reached the conclusion of Individual rights!
She start with rights and then made a crazy bull shit story as to how godless man has rights! It is a complete unhistorical fabrication!
Rand has not originated a single idea!
The atheist position is so childish and one eyed, it is equivalent to flat earth theory!
As for P.Cs referral to the Greeks and the enlightenment?
First of all most of the Greeks would have agreed with Christians about God and secondly the enlightenment was a Christian movement!
It is naive to think that atheists have a monopoly on logic or reason!
The fact that Aristotle was first to formulate the principles of logic does not mean he invented it!
People have always presented logical arguments both prior to Aristotle and in complete isolation from him!
Likewise in my own experience of learning philosophy and science.
My Christian beliefs and values have been strengthened and I am better able to express them in modern terms.
That does not discredit my archaic Christian terms nor the validity of the principles within them, but merely puts them in terms that are the norm for our society today.
My Christian truths are safe, and allow me to assimilate all truth!
Atheists simply cling to the idea that the Greeks founded civilization, as it suits their prejudice to ascribe civilization to anything but the bible and Judaism…because they hate them with fanatical zeal. That the Bible played by far the greatest part in civilization makes no difference to these one eyed morons!
Not to mention that it was the Muslims and Catholics, and protestants that rescued Greek philosophy from oblivion! One thing is for sure the contributions of atheism to science and progress in almost nil!
On the other thread atheists raise such things as Witch burning.
Lets delve a little deeper into this “witch burning” fetish.
Is not the chief premise of atheism that false religion is a great evil responsible for the murder and enslavement of millions?
Is it not Ironic that this too is the verdict of God Almighty who by right as supreme judge may pass a death sentence upon the practitioners of evil superstitions? And is it not Ironic that Atheists actually condemn God for passing the same judgment as they themselves hold to be true?!!!
Had God not judged witchcraft as evil, atheists would say God condones it!
Truly Atheism is the most foolish of all belief systems!
Don’t pretend to stand on the high ground you little atheist weasels!
And lets also consider how God would vindicate his revelation to mankind without containing internal evidence of it’s divine authorship such things as miracles and prophecy?
I make this point to expose the reality that if the Bible did not contain reference to the supernatural, that atheists would then use this as a proof it was not of Divine origin!
Thus I say atheist is just a bad joke! It is not a serious philosophy!

--
Posted by Tim Wikiriwhi to Not PC at 4/13/2007 11:39:44 AM

4/15/2007 09:54:00 pm  
Anonymous Lucyna said...

Note that those "pesky Muslims" captured 2/3 of Catholic territory over several hundred years, so had many scholars working for them that were NOT Muslim.

--
Posted by Lucyna to Not PC at 4/13/2007 11:42:15 AM

4/15/2007 09:55:00 pm  
Anonymous HORansome said...

Yes, but the primary sources for commentaries on the Ancient Greeks in the Muslim world, such as Ibn Sinna, et al, were Muslim, working within a particular Islamic tradition that had naught to do with Christianity.

Also, let me be the first to disassociate myself from much of Tim Wikiriwhi comment.

--
Posted by HORansome to Not PC at 4/13/2007 12:09:56 PM

4/15/2007 09:55:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

" JC said... Hoo, where to start!

" First, Christianity is a product of Greek thought and Eastern revelation. The Jews give us revelation of God and the Greeks put the logic into the religion. Platonic thought is a crucial part of the Christianity that spread through the East and West. Put another way, Greek thought and philosophy entered the West through Christianity and was nourished by the religion for many centuries."

Fairly simplistic but not exactly correct. 1. Greek thought is Western and predates Christianity so how did it enter the West through Christianity? Second, it just stupid to ignore the fact that Rome was heavily influenced by Greek thinking and that Rome had conquered most of the West and ruled it bringing Greek thought with them. All that is prior to Christianity. Third, this silly analysis assumes one kind of Christianity which is wrong. There were several eras with different thoughts. The original Pauline version of Christianity was one that saw itself at odds with Greek thought in particular. Paul attacked Greek philosophy. This does not mean that Christianity was not later influenced by philosophy, it was. As it moved into the West the West introduced Greek philosophy to Christianity, the exact reverse of the claim made here.

Christianity took control of the West eventually and systematically worked to wipe out Greek philosophy. The history of that is told well in Freeman's book The Closing of the Western Mind. He covers how Christianity, when merged with the state, worked to destroy Greek philosophy. Aristotle's works still existed but he was forgotten in the West, though his work survived in some of the great Islamic libraries.

Fast forward to Aquinas and you have a man who was trying to defend Christianity against Islam. He couldn't claim revelation since they claimed revelation. He couldn't claim great civilization because the West was in the Dark Ages. So he decided to use Aristotle's system of logic as a defence of Christianity. So in that sense he re-exposed the West to Aristotle but remember Aristotle was Western before Christianity and Christianity stifled it. There is a brief period when Aristotle is being introduced again and then the Reformation comes along. The Reformationists were anxious to stifle reason in many areas. They basically started to destroy what Aquinas had built up preferring to return to a more Augustinian tradition.

So you had two strains of Christianity. Protestants were more anti-reason than Catholics since Aquinas was Catholic. But the concepts of reason were loose again in the West. And it slowly infiltrated back into Protestantism. See the book The Sovereignty of Reason by Beiser for the history of that. As reason started to infiltrate Protestant thinking there was a backlash against it lead by what became the Puritans, who again wanted to return to Augustianian thinking. So that created a third major division. You now have the puritanical branch which lives on today in fundamentalist Christianty, the mainstream liberal Protestants and the Catholics.


" The New Testament was written in Greek, and can be considered a document written by the Greeks of whom you mentioned and has their philosophy through all of it, along with the spirituality of the East. Far from moving away from Greek thought and inquiry Christianity preserved it and embodied it."

That is rubbish as Freeman's book demonstrates.


"You mention the Dark Ages as a period of ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution and say these were the fruits of Christianity.. yet the term was invented by an Italian to lament the fall of the Holy Roman Emperor and Rome and the continual invasions of the Barbarians and Muslims. For some, the Dark Ages meant these attacks on Christianity.
The term is now obsolete, mainly because modern scholars have discovered that it was thought "dark" simply because not much was known about the period."

Really I don't think anyone can speak of this without reading Freeman


" You praise the US Founding Fathers for separating religion and State, yet you neglect to mention they got that idea from Christ and Christianity, and ignore the fact that science and Christianity have co-existed for centuries and that Americans seem perfectly capable of being innovative scientists and Christians without any problems."

This is bullshit. The main architects of separation of church and state, Madison and Jefferson were the two who most resented the bloodshed of Christianity. They didn't get the idea there. The origins of this idea came out of a reaction to the violence of Christianity in Western history. It should be noted that after the Reformation, Christianity became more violent not less. Zagorin's How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West is a good place to start. But Zagorin mainly covers Europe and the struggle there.


" You then go on to quote several of the Founding Fathers as if they weren't dedicated Christians. They did not set up America to be Pagan or not religious, quite the contrary, as they promoted religion through the 1st Amendment so that any man is free to worship whichever he likes."

Why? Because Christianity was trying to monopolize worship and they thought that dangerous.
It is hysterical to read modern Christians (mostly fundie nutters) claiming the Founders for themselves when the fundies of the day hated these men for ruining their theocratic desires.


"And you quote James Madison's seeming diatribe against Christianity without understanding his meaning. Madison was a church going Episcopalian, and like several other Founding Fathers, a Deist. Diests believed that religion should be simple and not cluttered with clergy. They fervently believed that there was one Supreme Being, and that this could be proved by reason. If you had met Madison and said you were an Atheist, he would undoubtedly treated you politely.. but thought you an idiot for not being able to prove the existence of a Supreme Being or creative force through reason."

A stupid definition of deism. They also didn't want Christianity cluttered with bullshit like the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection, the trinity, the deity of Jesus, etc. They stripped Christianity of all doctrines that made it uniquely Christian. That is much more than wanting to have clergy out of the way. They wanted the supernatural out of the way."


Tim....sigh!Atheism is simply the LACK of a belief in a GOD....nothing more.As the party asserting the positive position that there is a god the onus is on you to prove your God exists.....not for us attempt the impossible and prove the negative.


Seriously....are you supposed to be on some medication...?

--
Posted by James to Not PC at 4/13/2007 12:25:09 PM

4/15/2007 09:56:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Enough myths in this thread to fill a Bible, if that book weren't already full of them.

My reply will be as almost long as the thread we've already started.

"...the adjective "dark" is jejune."

On the contrary, the adjective dark is wholly accurate in describing a millennia when western Europe was an ordure-strewn hemisphere of crosses and graves and misery. No amoung of revisinist religious history today can either change the the facts of what life was like, or the chief cause of the misery. As philosopher Leonard Peikoff explains, "The Dark Ages
were dark on principle. Augustine [whom the church chose to make a saint] fought against secular philosophy, science, art; he regarded all of it as an abomination to be swept aside; he cursed science in particular as "the lust of the eyes"."

That seems pretty clear.

The Dark Ages began with Rome's fall, and Rome fell because of the twin assaults of barbarism and religion. [See for example Edward Gibbon's 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' By religion he of course meant Christianity. ]

"Like a fasting man on a long walk, the Roman Empire tottered forward, but gradually grew weaker…After c. 150 AD, the imperial government raised taxes…Local governments incurred greater debt…A more ominous social trend began at this time: thousands of individuals fled from the world into monasteries and hermitages – two doorways to the supernatural world." [The Aristotle Adventure, Burgess Laughlin, p. 60]

"Around 250 AD, Plotinus developed ancient culture’s last philosophy. As formulated by Porphyry, Plotinus’ Neo-Platonist philosophy was indeed systematic, fundamental, and secular. But it was not primarily about this world. Though highly structured, it was not logical (a noncontradictory identification of this world). Supposedly, Plotinus’ philosophy was primarily an internal revelation, not a product of argumentation and reasoning. Thus, with Plotinus, philosophy took another step backward, to stone tools." [The Aristotle Adventure, Burgess Laughlin, p. 90-91]

Aristotelianism was on the edge of death, not to be rediscovered in the west for another nine-hunded years. With the death of Aristotelianism came too the loss of interest in the things of THIS world, with all that implied for the coming (sub)standard of living.

"There was a remarkable lack of interest in science and technology. Rumors persisted until our own day that certain Greek inventions were actually rejected by the later emperors. It is known, for instance, that a Greek name Hero of Alexandria invented a kind of steam engine in the first century AD. [I]t was apparently treated as an amusing toy." [A History of Knowledge
, Charles van Doren, p. 84]

What was left once Aristotelianism was wholly dead was .. that wasteland of crosses and graces so described by so many historians, and so well adumbrated by Augustine, that inveterate hypocrite and misanthropist whom the church chose to make a saint.

"The Dark Ages were dark on principle. As the barbarians were sacking the body of Rome, the Church was struggling to annul the last vestiges of its spirit, wrenching the West away from nature, astronomy, philosophy, nudity, pleasure, instilling in men's souls the adoration of Eternity, with all its temporal consequences." [The Duel Between Plato and Aristotle, Objectivism: The Philosophy Of Ayn Rand
, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, p. 453.]

Augustine makes clear the difference between the City of God (based upon faith) and the City of Man (based upon reason) – and makes concerns of life on Earth secondary. Man for Augustine was "crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous."

"Intellectually speaking, the period of the Middle Ages was the exact
opposite of classical Greece. Its leading philosophic spokesman, Augustine,
held that faith was the basis of man's entire mental life. "I do not know in
order to believe," he said, "I believe in order to know." In other words,
reason is nothing but a handmaiden of revelation; it is a mere adjunct of
faith, whose task is to clarify, as far as possible, the dogmas of religion.
What if a dogma cannot be clarified? So much the better, answered an earlier
Church father, Tertullian. The truly religious man, he said, delights in
thwarting his reason; that shows his commitment to faith. Thus, Tertullian's
famous answer, when asked about the dogma of God's self-sacrifice on the
cross: "Creo quia absurdum." ("I believe because it is absurd.")

"As to the realm of physical nature, the medievals characteristically
it as a semi-real haze, a transitory stage in the devine plan, and a
troublesome one at that, a delusion and a snare - a delusion because men
mistake it for reality, a snare because they are tempted by its lures to
jepordize their immortal souls. What tempts them is the prospect of earthly
pleasure.

"What kind of life, then, does the immortal soul require on earth? Self-
denial, asceticism, the resolute shunning of this temptation. But isn't unfair
to ask men to throw away their whole enjoyment of life? Augustine's answer is:
what else befits creatures befouled by original sin, creatures who are, as he
put it, "crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous"." [Religion vs America, Leonard Peikoff]

"God was the last of the three great medieval challenges [note: others being the “struggle for subsistence” and a “world of enemies”], and the most important. Human beings had always been interested in God and had attempted to understand his ways. But the Greeks, and especially the Romans, had kept this interest under control…In the early Middle Ages it overcame the best and the brightest among Europeans. It can almost be said that they became obsessed with God." [A History of Knowledge
, Charles van Doren, p. 100]

What were the practical results - in the ancient world, then in the
medieval - of this approach to life?

Dutch economic historian Angus Maddison points out that from 500 to 1500 AD, Europe suffered from zero percent economic growth, this in a period in which a slice of bread per day could be considered a good meal, and in which the average infant had a life expectancy of just 24 years -- IF that is they weren't of that third who died in their first year. [See Angus Maddison, 'Phases of Capitalist Development, pp 4-7, and Angus Maddison, 'The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective']

Says French historian Fernand Braudel of the pre-eighteenth century era, "Famine recurred so insistently for centuries on end that it became incorporated into ma's biological regime and built into his daily life..." [Fernand Braudel, 'The Structures of Everyday Life: Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Centuries,' pp 73-78]

Everything human took a dive, only re-emerging centuries later with either the Renaissance (qand the rediscovery of Aristotle) or the Enlightenment(and the application of Aristotelian reason to human life). Within the Dark Ages, sanitation collapsed, and disease rocketed; agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years; literacy and education plummeted; learning almot vanished; scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ; life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens ... and the ethic of faith, sacrifice and suffering oversaw it all. All that flousished in this time was the church, and its churchmen.

The result was not a flourishing of reason and a devotion to life on earth. Quite the opposite. For that we had to wait for the redicovery of Aristotle (for the west) in the Renaissance.

W.T. Jones, the 20th century's leading philosophical historian summarises: "Because of the indifference and downright hostility of the Christians ... almost the whole body of ancient literature and learnign was lost... This destruction was so great and the rate of recovery was so slow that even by the ninth century Europe was still immeasurably behind the classical world in every department of life... This, then, was truly a 'dark' age." [W.T. Jones, 'A History of Western Philosophy, vol. 2, The Medieval Mind,' pp141-142]

And so it was.

* * * * *

PS: The word used by pagan Greeks to describe foreigners was not "pagan," but "barbarian,' in emulation of the "ba-ba-ba" sounds their language made to the Greek ear.

To be a pagan Greek was something to be, something it took a millennia to rediscover -- something for which 300 Spartans fought so fiercely in the battle celebrated in the recent film '300.' When you realise why they were fighting, and the debt western civilisation owes to pagan Greece, you might realise why some historians call that battle the most important in western history/

--
Posted by PC to Not PC at 4/13/2007 12:35:30 PM

4/15/2007 09:57:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Let's not forget Islam's role in the transmission of Greek (and Roman culture); whilst those monks were copying the texts the Muslim's were doing further research. What we have of Aristotle we stole back from the Muslims."

Absolutely one-hundred percent true. And thank goodness for it. :-)

--
Posted by PC to Not PC at 4/13/2007 12:36:57 PM

4/15/2007 09:57:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Also, let me be the first to disassociate myself from much of Tim Wikiriwhi comment."

"Tim.... Seriously....are you supposed to be on some medication...? "

Sigh. When Tim talks politics, he can be hard as nails and sane as a hammer. But when he talks religion, he too frequently sounds like he's baying at the moon.

But he's not alone in that, is he?

--
Posted by PC to Not PC at 4/13/2007 12:41:23 PM

4/15/2007 09:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

angloamerican: But above all, bestriding Western civilization, like a colossus, is British culture. This is what gives it its present personality and its love of freedom.

Indeed, good points!

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/13/2007 01:27:29 PM

4/15/2007 09:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

james: Berend...invite God down for a visit and remove all doubt will you....?

Would that really work James? Let's say God comes down and to prove he is God resurrects someone from the dead.

Perhaps you might believe then. I doubt that.

But your son probably won't. And your grandson would make the same remark as you did, don't you think so?

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/13/2007 01:29:02 PM

4/15/2007 09:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

Really pc, Rome didn't collapse for religious reasons. The East continued quite happily for a thousand years after that, didn't it?

It collapsed for economic reasons, a book which you as a libertarian should have read.

And on the no inventions, etc. in the Dark Ages, you just don't have a clue what you're talking about. I'm not even going to argue this one, it is so devoid of sanity I would be a fool to respond.

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/13/2007 01:40:46 PM

4/15/2007 09:59:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Two quick points.

First, let me correct a spelling error in my long post above that changed 'graces' to 'graves.'

Here is how one of my linking sentences SHOULD read: "What was left once Aristotelianism was wholly dead was .. that wasteland of crosses and GRAVES so described by so many historians, and so well adumbrated by Augustine, that inveterate hypocrite and misanthropist whom the church chose to make a saint."

Second, Berend, you choose to ignore a welter of cultural evidence and attack instead a point that's made only in passing, and indeed attack a point that wasn't actually made. Charles van Doren's is apparently the claim to which you object: "There was a remarkable lack of interest in science and technology. Rumors persisted until our own day that certain Greek inventions were actually rejected by the later emperors. It is known, for instance, that a Greek name Hero of Alexandria invented a kind of steam engine in the first century AD. [I]t was apparently treated as an amusing toy."

If you have problems with that, then take it up with the eminent Mr van Doren rather than slinging around inaccurate characterisations of ignorance, and indeed inaccurate accounts of what's been said. It's hard enough to keep an unwieldy topic on track without detours made of misquotes.

--
Posted by PC to Not PC at 4/13/2007 02:16:08 PM

4/15/2007 10:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Michael said...

NZ is not a Christian Nation - HM has not decreed that it is.

NZ is a nation that has Christians, along with other religions and those who are of no religion.

Any attempt to say "Christian Values" should be the basis for any law in NZ is just mob rule by another name.

--
Posted by Michael to Not PC at 4/13/2007 02:40:21 PM

4/15/2007 10:00:00 pm  
Anonymous HORansome said...

Anyhoo. The Greek word 'barbaroi' was used in relation to foreigners. 'Pagan' was used in regard to non-city dwellers, or rustics. The Ancient Greeks and Romans would be appalled to be called pagans.

--
Posted by HORansome to Not PC at 4/13/2007 03:30:36 PM

4/15/2007 10:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Eric Olthwaite said...

Hang on Peter, you want Berend to stop focussing on side issues and instead adress people's main points. You want him to stop providing "inaccurate characterisations", "inaccurate accounts of what's been said" and "detours made of misquotes"

You do realise that is Berend's whole method of operation. If you take that away from him there'll be nothing left.

P.S. I think I've found his online textbook...

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/creationism-evolution-animals.php

--
Posted by Eric Olthwaite to Not PC at 4/13/2007 03:40:46 PM

4/15/2007 10:01:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

James and PC,

This is getting too long, so I'll be brief.

We know well enough what happens when nations, regions and civilisations collapse.. there's chaos.

When the Roman Empire went down, there was just the Church left as some authority to prop up the Christian nations until they could rise as thriving nation states again, even Charles Freeman alludes to this:

"I did not depend on Gibbon. I do not agree with him that intellectual thought in the early Christian centuries was dead and I believe that the well established hierarchy of the church strengthened not undermined the empire. After all it was the church which survived the collapse of the western empire. Of course, Gibbon writes so eloquently that I could not resist quoting from him at times but my argument is developed independently of him and draws on both primary sources and recent scholarship."

And Braudel offers:

"He argued that "structures" - a word he uses to mean many kinds of organized behaviours, attitudes and conventions as well as literal structures and infrastructures - that were built up in Europe during the Middle Ages contributed to or were perhaps responsible for the success of European-based cultures up to the present day."

So the Church sustained Europe during a difficult time. One thing not mentioned here is that by the 13th or 14th centuries, Islam and it's intellectualism was dead in the water and Christianity was charging ahead with science, art and Aristotelian thought towards reformation and enlightenment.

At the beginning of this thread, one thing I noticed was a seeming blind spot from you.. it seemed that you had somehow skipped 60-80 generations in order to make points rather than accept that we are the product of all the generations that have gone before.. and in looking back at the Greek and Roman civilisations you miss the glaring point that they are dead and the great religions are alive and practiced in some form by over 90% of the peoples of the world. They have been going thousands of years and providing something that two great civilisations and a number of empires could not.
They may not have the guns, but they do seem able to sustain themselves by appealing to the spiritual side of man.

JC

--
Posted by JC to Not PC at 4/13/2007 04:07:17 PM

4/15/2007 10:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Lucyna said...

I did a bit of a search around for reviews of Freeman's book, and found one that doesn't grovel at his feet for disparaging Christianity:http://www.crisismagazine.com/april2004/seeing.htm

It was only with Constantine and the Christianizing of the empire that classical reason disappeared. And this was not a natural process; reason was suppressed by Christianity, which is unique among the world religions in its intolerance and enforcement of a rigid orthodoxy.

If true, this is the kind of claim that would force any honest Christian to think seriously about yet another failure in Christian leadership, in this case primarily in a long line of bishops in the Greek East. But if you want to find out if it’s true, Freeman will not much help you. In fact, he seems to have set out assuming that the evidence would turn up, did not really find the smoking gun, and was forced—maybe by a publisher’s contract—to finish all the same.

The book’s structure reflects this difficulty: He spends more than 300 pages in a rambling survey of pagan and Christian history and only turns to his real subject in the last 40.

[...]

So in a way, his failure tends to support a different truth: Something happened to produce the fall off in cultural level from the fourth century until the medieval revival. Christianity may have played a role, but in his own telling not the “suppression” Freeman set out to prove, and he all but admits as much in conclusion: “Whether the explanations put forward in this book for the suppression are accepted or not, the reasons for the extinction of serious mathematical and scientific thinking in Europe for a thousand years surely deserve more attention.”

[...]

Every high school student is taught [...] that from 950 to 1250 Western Europe underwent an unprecedented population growth supported by technological innovations such as the heavy plow, the three-field-system, harnesses for horses, ingenious engineering to channel water and make milling more productive, and so forth. So if Western Christianity was weak in theoretical reasoning, it was stronger in some respects than Greece and Rome in practical reasoning. And even Freeman allows that by the high Middle Ages Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas honorably champion reason, though he doubts even they harmonized it with faith.

--
Posted by Lucyna to Not PC at 4/13/2007 04:35:17 PM

4/15/2007 10:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

pc, I objected in particular to: Within the Dark Ages, sanitation collapsed, and disease rocketed; agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years; literacy and education plummeted; learning almot vanished; scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ; life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens

That is such an absurd statement that calling anyone claiming that "eminent" is sheer mockery.

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/13/2007 04:44:40 PM

4/15/2007 10:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

pc, one more point on the steam engine. A steam engine is utterly useless when you don't mine coal.

What would one in the 18th century do with a nuclear power plant? No need for that much energy.

Up to the 18th century people had a good cheap energy source, i.e. wood. Only when access to that energy source diminished (most of the trees were cut), where more expensive alternatives explored. I.e. coal. With it came the need to pump water. And we get the need for a steam engine.

In the sparsely populated world of 1th century AD, there was simply no need for extremely expensive energy sources. It was indeed a toy.

There are a lot of simple economic explanations pc, I really don't know why you're so fond of mystical explanations if you look at history. Conspiracy theories, religious bigotry, you swallow it all.

It's the economy stupid as a well-known man once said.

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/13/2007 04:56:00 PM

4/15/2007 10:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Greg Bourke said...

Pining for Greece is so much dreamy BS.

At least take the time, for a start, to read the middle chapters of Russell’s old "History of Western Philosophy". I note that book because it's a common work.

If the dark ages were so mindless then Russell would have nothing between Stoicism (circa pg 300) and Bacon (pg 525). In fact, book two is called 'Catholic Philosophy', which is the link between here and the classical world. And no, book two is not a litanty of "we hate this", "burn that", "crush this", "suppress them". That would be a Dan Brown fabrication.

Otherwise, on this particular matter you lack the usual substance and are unoriginal.
It reads like TVNZ news (worst possible insult).

--
Posted by Greg Bourke to Not PC at 4/13/2007 07:30:05 PM

4/15/2007 10:03:00 pm  
Anonymous michael fasher said...

The atomists were way ahead of anybody else it wasent just about seeking pleasure with moderation.
atoms
atoms vibrating is what heat is
all chemical interactions are temperary bonding of atoms
the atars are ather suns and the milky way is also made up of other suns which also may have planets orbiting them some possibly with life
Epicurus expained that there was no parralex measurement of the stars because of their collosal dsistance in defence of critism of aristarchus who believed that the earth orbited the sun.
evolution by natural selection
conservation principle in both the eternal existance of atoms(mass conservation)and the eternal motion of atoms(energy conservation)
even hero of alexandria who built a steam engine and wrote a book on pnuematics and robotics
all that and the seeking of pleasure sure beats the hell out of that weirdo murder/suicide cult of Jesus h Crist.
The atomists were right on the verge of the modern world and were hated by the christians because of their atheism
Just imagine how far advanced technology would be if that school of thought hade continued,but alas saint cyril had the Libary of Alexandria burnt down and later the Greek acadamies were shut.
That alone should condemm as utterly worthless christianity for destroying the potential for everyone here to be living in a world a thousand or more years ahead in tecnology and science

--
Posted by michael fasher to Not PC at 4/13/2007 09:33:14 PM

4/15/2007 10:04:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Beware of book reviews by Lucyna....;-)


From NZ CONservative..

Now I've been holding back on writing on this topic, for the reason being that I, like many people, feel that it's now not socially acceptable to publicly question and disapprove of "gay rights". I have been posting a bit, despite this sense of unease, but recently I came across a book called The Pink Swastika that has galvanised me to really get into this subject in a more aggressive way....

Oh dear did you really buy into that books bullshit Lucyna? Nazism was a gay organised and supported thing according to this long debunked fantasy.Thats right...Those damm gays are responsible for the Holocaust and WW2 it turns out.Tsk Tsk Lucyna...;-)

--
Posted by James to Not PC at 4/14/2007 01:30:59 AM

4/15/2007 10:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Lucyna said...

James, funny how you didn't put the link in for everyone to be able to read the book for themselves.

Here, let me help you.
http://www.abidingtruth.com/pfrc/books/pinkswastika/html/the_pinkswastika_4th_edition_-_final.htm

The Pink Swastika is not a work of fiction. Ironically, the authors have discovered that truth is often stranger than fiction. The Pink Swastika is a response to the “gay political agenda” and its strategy of portraying homosexuals as victims of societal and Nazi persecution. Although some homosexuals, and many of those who were framed with trumped-up charges of homosexuality suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis, for gay apologists to portray themselves as historical victims of Nazi persecution, on par with the Jewish people, is a gross distortion of history, perhaps equal to denying the Holocaust itself. The Pink Swastika will show that there was far more brutality, rape, torture and murder committed against innocent people by Nazi deviants and homosexuals than there ever was against homosexuals.

As a Pole, whose parents and their families were directly affected by the Nazis, nothing you can say James, will scare me away from pursuing this subject.

--
Posted by Lucyna to Not PC at 4/14/2007 11:10:50 AM

4/15/2007 10:06:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Throw out the bait and they bite....;-)

Lucyna's "boo hoo poor me Im Polish" sthick is getting older than Garth Georges "I was an alcoholic!" rantings...

--
Posted by James to Not PC at 4/14/2007 03:12:06 PM

4/15/2007 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Berend, you're changing horses again. You began by saying you objected to the historian who maintained there had been no invention done in the Dark Ages, to which I pointed out that I'd quoted no historian who said that. Now you say what you "objected in particular to" were these facts for which I provided quotes from historians of life in the Dark Ages, during which: * sanitation collapsed;
* disease rocketed;
* agriculture barely fed those who worked the fieds, and that in good years;
*literacy and education plummeted;
* learning almost vanished;
* scientific research was non-existent, replaced instead by arcane theological explorations into the nature of the supernatural ;
* life expectancy as we've said was just barely above the teens.

None of these claims are in any way historically controversial, so please let us know clearly which of them you specifically object to, and why, and with what supporting evidence.

I note too that I'm still waiting for your evidence that medieval man was troubled by dinosaurs, and for the paintings you say that prove that dinosaurs were about then.

--
Posted by PC to Not PC at 4/14/2007 04:37:24 PM

4/15/2007 10:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Berend de Boer said...

pc, in saying "no inventions etc." I didn't try to make an exact quote, but give a short gist of your main argument. I thought the "scientific research was non-existent" is very similar, but it seems you think these are very different things.

Yes, there were famines, etc. But there were not only famines etc.

Dark Ages is a term preferred by historians who want to pass judgement. Very helpful.

--
Posted by Berend de Boer to Not PC at 4/14/2007 08:39:40 PM

4/15/2007 10:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Had God not judged witchcraft as evil, atheists would say God condones it!"

You Sir are evil incarnate. This one extract from your long tirade of pure bile fiiled with loathing and scorn condemn you.
I will only pick this statement apart but the rest of your meally mouthed moanings blinkered by your beliefs is equally contemptible.
God judged witchcraft? How exactly did he do that? Oh thats right he had earthly minions who did his bidding who were equally as infallible as he.
Did you know that these so called holy monks who Christainised Europe, would set up their "Church" on land that was used by residents of an area for seasonal rituals such as harvest festival, celebrations centred around phases of ther moon. They were seasonal celebrations. The rest of the year it was left empty it was purely a communal meeting place. Then one day it has been claimed and a f***ing church apparently there.
However say the W word and you in your fevered imagination probably see pointy hats, and noses with warts on them, signs painted in blood and all manner of hollywood concoctions.

As for those supposedly convicted and condemned by God for witchcraft as often as not they were locals with a knowledge of local cures, the medicinal properties of plants. Not concocting potions from eye of newt, and bats wings.
Sometimes the witch hunts were a convenient way of getting rid of a rival. As just the accusation of witchry was considered enough to condemn a person.
And those infallible minions of God, well in order to curry favour with Rome and give the appearance of zealously pursuing their holy duties, they would often condemn anyone, for any reason regardless of right or wrong.
It was a numbers game to them, one which could land them a cushy little job around the pope.

Atheists would say god condones witchcraft? WTF
This a leap of crass, stupid and breathtakingly inane reasoning, I cant believe some one would actually come out and say it. An atheist is more likely to question the reasons why so many people were needlessly slaughtered, if the cause was so noble?

And s**t you know so little about your own culture I doubt you are truly of NZ descent.

--
Posted by Anonymous to Not PC at 4/15/2007 01:00:12 PM

4/15/2007 10:12:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

What is the point of all the "what if" counterfactual conjectures about history??

There are gross simplifications and biases appearing on this thread.

1.
On one hand you blame bully-boy christians for burning the great library and blame weak christians for allowing the Empire to fall to the barbarians (Gibbon's theory). Bully or weakling? Which is it? Both eh?

2.
Successful Greek states weren't just rolled by bully-boy Christians. They were killing each other and being invaded by neighbours such as Persia well before christianity. Hello, Iliad?!

3.
An odd clay jar does not make a theory of electrodynamics any more than a spinning sphere makes a theory of thermodynamics.

4.
It's clear no-one bothers to read books outside their bias. You do a disservice to characterise the period as obsessed with only theology.
It's clear people cherry-pick evidence. For example, you want the clean modern aspects of the Greeks but you don't want the astrology and slavery. Gee why not?

This greek fetish is romantic poppycock. Find a forum and buy a slave why don't you?

4/16/2007 01:31:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Greg, if someone wants to sell himself as a slave, he should be free to do so. That is liberty.

4/16/2007 03:44:00 pm  

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