Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Debunking Christianity: Were the "Dark Ages" Really Dark?

John Loftus posted the following article regarding a picture he posted. My comments are in bold. I've got to admit that the graphic is not new, I've seen it before on the Internet. It's not offensive just fails to take historical fact into account.

I'm being taken to task for publishing a graph depicting the Medieval Ages as the "Dark Ages" leaving a huge gaping hole in Western history, which can be seen here. What some people failed to realize is the title to the post in which Augustinian Platonism shares a large part of the blame (no, it is not totally to blame). Augustine like Plato before him placed a much greater value on the heavenly world (the realm of the eternal "forms" or ideas) over the empirical earthly world.

Sure, that makes just as much sense as assuming that the material reality that we experience is all there is.

Christians in earlier centuries therefore destroyed many ancient manuscripts--science manuscripts--which were preserved by the Muslims. Who needs earthly wisdom? Paul basically said it was worthless. When people like Aquinas re-discovered these ancient texts it brought on a new awareness of what the ancients taught and helped bring in the Enlightenment.

Paul was not saying that earthly wisdom that was worthless is the same as science. He was talking about the kind of wisdom that says there is no God and that we are the standard or reality. Or you know the "wisdom" that says that we don't need God to explain the world? Yup, that kind of "wisdom". I'd like to know where does Paul say that science is worthless? Easy Answer: He didn't.

I remember visiting The Art Institute of Chicago and seeing a dramatic change in the art of the 1500's. Artists were now painting pictures of real people, and even ("aghast*) a bowl of fruit on a table! This came after they had thrown off the shackles of Augustinianism. This is undeniable.

Since when should Augustine (even great as he was) be considered a higher authority than the Bible. He didn't have things completely right. Who does? No one is perfect but Jesus and that is why we should follow him and no one else.

And yes, it was mainly the French philosophes who labeled these centuries the "Dark Ages." That was probably due to several reasons. Of Sir Isaac Newton it was said by Alexander Pope:
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in Night;
God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.
Prior to Newton the previous centuries were considered the "Dark Ages" by comparison, and that too is undeniable.

Do you know what else is undeniable. Newton was a Bible-believing Christian who loved Jesus and served him. Hmmmmmm. Curious. It was the fact that he believed there was a creator who made an understandable universe that lead him to his discoveries in Mathematics and Physics. Same thing with Galileo and Copernicus.

The French philosophes also thought the atrocities committed by the church in the previous centuries, like the Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch-hunts, were a very dark period in Western history, and I agree. Superstition like that reigned. If I was being brought into the light with a new awareness of the writings of the ancients, which helped Newton to write his Principia, I would describe it that way too, for all the same legitimate reasons.

The Bible can't be blamed for the atrocities and evil perpetrated by the Church. Those thing happened because people didn't follow the Bible.

I do understand that the church made many strides during that period of history in science, literature, and so forth. And so the huge drop-off represented by the graph is not indicative of that period of time. But I have been persuaded that it was a dark period of history, even if not completely dark.

And here we have Loftus backing away from slightly from the unfounded assumption he and the image makes. That during the Middle Ages in Europe they would have been further along had they not been Christian. According to this logic, why not embrace Islam if you think the Muslims made more scientific discoveries and were more advanced? Very flawed. Loftus wouldn't want to make such an equivocation. It's silly but we must ask why would you not if you think Christianity was the problem with Europe in the Middle Ages? It had way more to do with politics than what the Bible says. That was the problem.

Of course, anyone who thinks otherwise can volunteer to go back in time to that period and see what you think. Good luck with that! I'll stay in my own century thank you. ;-)

For further reading on the origins of science there is no better place to look than Richard Carrier's chapter in The Christian Delusion.

I'm not sure why anyone would think that to believe the Bible means turning your back on science. I agree that people do that, but it's not by necessity. If that is what you think that is what being a Christian is, you are doing it wrong and you have nothing in the Bible to stand on in doing it.

Debunking Christianity: Were the "Dark Ages" Really Dark?
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