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Comment Re: Expats? (Score 1) 289

In fact, Islamic communities were once highly-regarded as scholarly and scientific types.

All of them? They actively were hostile to science since explaining the natural world went against Allah as blasphemy. Science arose only in Christian Europe because only medieval Europeans believed that science was possible and desirable. And the basis of their belief was their image of God and his Creation (see Theology, and Scholastics.) Christian Theology was essential for the rise of science, just as non-Christian thologies had stifled the scientific enterprise everywhere else. Explained at the Lowell Lectures at Harvard by Alfred North Whitehead, co-author of Principia Mathematica, he explained:

The greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement [was] the inexpungeable belief .. that there was a secret, a secret which can be unveiled. How has this conviction been so vividly implanted in the European mind? .... It must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of faith in rationality."

Rene Descartes justified his search for the "laws" of nature on the ground that such laws must exist because god is perfect and therefore "acts in a manner as constant and immutable as possible." That is, the universe functions according to rational rules of laws. Many early scientists felt morally obliged to pursue these secrets because god has given humans the power of reason it ought to be possible for us to discover the rules established by god.

In contrast, most religions outside the Judeo-Christian tradition do not posit creation at all. The universe is said to be ternal, without beginning or purpose, and never having been created, it had no creator. From this view, the universe is a supreme mystery, inconsistent, unpredictable and perhaps arbitrary. For those holding this view, the only paths to wisdom are meditation or inspiration - there being nothing to reason about. But if the universe was created in an accord with rational rules by a perfect, rational creator, then it ought to yield its secrets to reason and observation. Hence, the scientific truism that natur is a book meant to be read. Many of the Greeks considered the universe as eternal and uncreated - Aristotle condemned the idea "that the universe came into being at some point in time ... as unthinkable." Indeed none of the traditional Greek gods would have been capable of such a creation. But, worst of all, the Greeks insisted on turning the cosmos, and inanimate objects more generally, into living things. Consequently, they attributed many natural phenomena to motives, not to inanimate forces. Thus according to Aristotle, heavenly bodies moved in circles because of their affection for doing so, and objects fall to the ground "because of their innate love of for the centre of the world."

As for Islam. There is no suggestion in the Qur'an that Allah set his creation in motion and then let it run. Rather, it is assumed that he often intrudes into the world and changes things as it pleases him. Thus, through the centuries, many of the most influential Muslim scholars have held that all efforts to formulate natural laws are blasphemy in that they would seem to deny Allah's freedom to act. Thus did their images of God and the universe deflect scientific efforts in China, ancient Greece, and Islam.

It was only because Europeans believed in God as the Intelligent Designer of a rational universe that they pursued the secrets of creation. In the words of Johannes Kepler, "The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony imposed on it by God and which when he revealed to us in the language of mathematics."

Meanwhile, the Judeo-Christians brought about the Dark Ages.

Completely ignoring the rise of the University system, where history still taught. For several centuries that has been the fundamental organizing scheme for every textbook devoted to Western history, despite the fact that serious historians have known for decades that this scheme is a complete fraud—“an indestructible fossil of self-congratulatory Renaissance humanism.” It is appropriate to use the term “Renaissance” to identify a particular period in the arts when there was renewed interest in classical styles and to distinguish this period from the Gothic or the Baroque. But it is inappropriate to apply this term to identify the rebirth of intellectual progress following the Dark Ages because there never were any Dark Ages. Even the respectable encyclopedias now define the Dark Ages as a myth. The Columbia Encyclopedia rejects the term, noting that “medieval civilization is no longer thought to have been so dim.” Britannica disdains the term Dark Ages as “pejorative.” And Wikipedia defines the Dark Ages as “a supposed period of intellectual darkness after the fall of Rome.” As for the recovery of classical learning, to the extent it ever was lost, Church scholars accomplished the recovery long before the Renaissance. And if one wishes to identify an Age of Reason, it must be redated to have begun very early in the Christian era, for the Western faith in reason originated in Christian theology.

To assume that the sacking of the city of Rome in 410 by Alaric and his Gothic forces caused “the whole world to perish,” as Saint Jerome (347–420) lamented, is to assume that the only civilized people of that time lived in the city itself. But of course, true Romans lived all over the empire, and they didn’t suddenly become ignorant when the city fell. Indeed, at the time, Rome was not even still the capital of the empire; the emperor had moved to Ravenna. The fall of the city was, no doubt, of immense symbolic importance, but symbols should not be mistaken for reality. Of even greater importance, the Goths who conquered Rome were not barbarians, regardless of what the Romans called them. Alaric had served as a commander in the Roman army, and the majority of his troops were Roman army veterans. By the same token, the “barbarian north” had long since been fully “Romanized” and sustained sophisticated manufacturing centers with active trade routes even to the Far East. For example, as early at 250 CE, the island city of Helgö near Stockholm, Sweden, was a flourishing industrial center turning out “large quantities of iron tools and weapons, bronze jewelry, gold ornaments, and other products [including] locks and keys [and] glass beads.” Coins found at the site of Helgö show it was involved in a vast trade network, and so does the finding of a “bronze Buddha figure made in India.” Nor was Helgö an anomaly: there were numerous industrial centers like it all over northern Europe, home of the supposed barbarians.

Incredibly, not only was there no “fall” into “Dark Ages,” this was “one of the great innovative eras of mankind,” as technology was developed and put into use “on a scale no civilization had previously known” as the French historian Jean Gimpel put it. In fact, it was during the Dark Ages that Europe took the great technological leap forward that put it ahead of the rest of the world. How could historians have so misrepresented things? In part, the notion that Europe fell into the “Dark Ages” was a hoax perpetrated by very antireligious intellectuals such as Voltaire and Gibbon, who were determined to claim that theirs was the era of “Enlightenment.” Another factor was that intellectuals too often have no interest in anything but literary matters. It is quite true that after the fall of Rome, educated Europeans did not write nearly as elegant Latin as had the best Roman writers. For many, that was sufficient cause to regard this as a backward time. In addition, during this era, only limited attention was paid to classical thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, and that too was taken as proof of widespread ignorance.

Another component contributing to the myth of the Dark Ages was that in this era there were no longer large cities having hundreds of thousands of residents, as had ancient Rome and Alexandria. It seemed obvious that high culture could not have been sustained in the small communities of medieval Europe—in the year 1000 there were only 20,000 inhabitants in Paris, not many more in London, and Rome had shrunk to fewer than 30,000. But perhaps the most important factor in the myth of the Dark Ages was the inability of intellectuals intellectuals to value or even to notice the nuts and bolts of real life. Hence, revolutions in agriculture, weaponry and warfare, nonhuman power, transportation, manufacturing, and commerce went unappreciated. So too did remarkable moral progress. For example, at the fall of Rome there was slavery everywhere in Europe; by the time of the Renaissance it was long gone. But what is truly difficult to explain is how the creators of the Dark Ages myth could have overlooked what would seem to have been their chief interest: high culture. Nevertheless, they missed or dismissed the enormous progress that took place in music, art, literature, education, and science. Rodney Stark has written at length in How the West Won (2014) on what truly took place during the mythical era of the Dark Ages. Here a summary will suffice.

Technological Progress:

The Romans made little use of water or wind power—preferring manual labor performed by slaves. An inventory conducted in the ninth century found that one-third of the estates along the Seine River in the area around Paris had water mills, the majority of them on Church-owned properties. Several centuries later there was one mill every seventy feet along this stretch of the river!

Meanwhile, across the channel, the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086 as a forerunner of the modern census, reported that there were at least 5,624 water-powered mills already operating in England, or one for every fifty families, and this is known to be an undercount. Among many other things, mills such as these mechanized the manufacture of woolen cloth and soon enabled England to dominate the European market. Many dams also were constructed during the Dark Ages; one at Toulouse, built around 1120, was more than thirteen hundred feet across and was constructed by driving thousands of giant oak logs into the riverbed to form a front and rear palisade and then was filled with dirt and stone.

During this era, Europeans also harnessed the wind. They not only used windmills to power the same equipment as did water mills, they also used them to reclaim huge portions of what are now Belgium and the Netherlands by pumping out the sea—tens of thousands of windmills devoted to this task worked day and night throughout most of the Dark Ages. Indeed, by late in the twelfth century, Western Europe had become so crowded with windmills that owners began to file lawsuits against one another for blocking their wind (Europeans in this era sustained well-organized courts and a host of lawyers, although that may not have amounted to progress).

Meanwhile, agriculture was revolutionized. First came the shift to a three-field system wherein one-third of the productive land was left unplanted each year while continuing to be cultivated (to remove weeds) and fertilized. The result of this renewal of the land was far greater production. In addition, the invention of the heavy plow permitted far better cultivation of the wetter, denser soils north of Italy, and the introduction of the horse collar permitted the replacement of teams of slow oxen with teams of horses, thus at least doubling the speed of cultivation. Selective plant breeding also began in the monasteries, resulting in more productive and hardy crops. Altogether these Dark Ages achievements fed a larger population much better and provided sustenance for larger urban populations.

Also of immense importance was the invention of chimneys, which allowed buildings and homes to be heated without needing holes in the roof to let out smoke while letting in rain, snow, and cold air. Another revolutionary innovation was eyeglasses, which were invented in about 1280 and almost immediately went into mass production, thus allowing huge numbers of people to lead productive lives who otherwise could not have done so. In 1492, when Columbus set out on his first voyage west, eyeglasses still were known only in Europe.

Prior to the Dark Ages, there was no heavy cavalry. Mounted troops did not charge headlong at a gallop, putting the full weight of horse and rider behind a long lance. The reason was the lack of stirrups and a proper saddle. Without stirrups to brace against, a rider attempting to drive home a lance would be thrown off his horse. The ability of a rider to withstand sudden shocks was also greatly increased by a saddle with a very high pommel and cantle—the latter being curved to partly enclose the rider’s hips. It was not Rome or any other warlike empire that produced heavy cavalry: their mounted troops rode on light, almost flat, pad saddles, or even bareback, and they had no stirrups. stirrups. Consequently, these mounted warriors could only fire bows, throw spears, or swing swords. They could not bowl over their opponents. It was the “barbarous” Franks who, in 732, fielded the first armored knights astride massive horses and who slaughtered invading Muslim forces on the battlefield of Tours when they charged them behind long lances, secure in their high-backed Norman saddles and braced in their revolutionary stirrups. Nearly four centuries later, when the knights of Europe confronted Muslim armies in the Holy Land, nothing had changed. The Crusaders still were the only ones with stirrups and adequate saddles.

Roman sea power was based on galleys powered by oars and having only an auxiliary sail. Roman ships fought by ramming one another and then by engaging in hand-to-hand combat with swords and spears. But well before the end of the Dark Ages, Europeans had invented true sailing ships and armed them with cannons. That gunpowder was not invented in the West is immaterial. What matters is that within a decade of the arrival of gunpowder from China, church bell manufacturers all over Europe were casting effective cannons that were adopted by every army and navy, transforming the nature of war. In contrast, the Chinese built only a few, ineffective cannons, mostly being content to use gunpowder in fireworks.

These are only a few of the important technological innovations achieved during the Dark Ages. What is clear is that so much important technological progress occurred during these so-called Dark Ages that classical Greece and Rome had been left far behind. In fact, even though they did not yet possess cannons, the Crusader knights who marched off to the Holy Land in 1097 would have made short work of the Roman legions. Moral Progress:

All classical societies were slave societies. In fact, all known societies above the very primitive level have been slave societies—even many of the northwest Indian tribes had slaves long before Columbus’s voyage. Amid this universal slavery, only one civilization ever rejected human bondage: Christendom. And it did it twice!

But the very first time slavery was eliminated anywhere in the world was not during the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. It was during the Dark Ages. And it was accomplished by clever Church leaders who first extended the sacraments to all slaves, reserving only ordination into the priesthood. Initially, the implications of the Christianization of slaves went unnoticed, but soon the clergy began to argue that no true Christian (or Jew) should be enslaved. Since slaves were Christians, priests began to urge owners to free their slaves as an “infinitely commendable act” that helped ensure their own salvation. Many manumissions were recorded in surviving wills. Soon there was another factor: intermarriage. Despite being against the law in most of Europe, there is considerable evidence of mixed unions by the seventh century, usually involving free men and female slaves. The most celebrated of these unions took place in 649 when Clovis II, king of the Franks, married his British slave Bathilda. When Clovis died in 657, Bathilda ruled as regent until her eldest son came of age. Bathilda used her position to mount a campaign to halt the slave trade and to redeem those in slavery. Upon her death, the Church acknowledged Bathilda as a saint.

At the end of the eighth century, Charlemagne opposed slavery, while the pope and many other many powerful and effective clerical voices echoed Saint Bathilda. As the ninth century dawned, Bishop Agobard of Lyons thundered: “All men are brothers, all invoke one same Father, God: the slave and the master, the poor man and the rich man, the ignorant and the learned, the weak and the strong. None has been raised above the other. There is no slave or free, but in all things and always there is only Christ.” Soon, no one “doubted that slavery in itself was against divine law.” Indeed, during the eleventh century, both Saint Wulfstan and Saint Anselm successfully campaigned to remove the last vestiges of slavery in Christendom. The abolition of slavery was merely the most dramatic instance of moral progress during the Dark Ages.

High Culture:

Progress in High Culture Even if Voltaire, Gibbon, and other proponents of the supposed Enlightenment could be excused for being oblivious to engineering achievements and to innovations in agriculture or warfare, surely they must be judged severely for ignoring or dismissing the remarkable achievements in “high culture” accomplished by medieval Europeans in music, art, literature, education, and science.

Music:

The Romans and Greeks sang and played monophonic music: a single musical line sounded by all voices or instruments. It was medieval musicians who invented polyphony, the simultaneous sounding of two or more musical lines, hence harmonies. Just when this occurred is unknown, but “it was an established practice when it was described in Musica enchiriadis,” published around 900. And, in about the tenth century, an adequate system of musical notation was invented and popularized so that music could be accurately performed by musicians who had never heard it.

Art:

Unfortunately, the remarkable artistic era that emerged in eleventh-century Europe is known as “Romanesque,” despite the fact that it was quite different from anything done by the Romans. This name was imposed by nineteenth-century professors who “knew” that Europe only recovered from the Dark Ages by going back to Roman culture. Hence, this could only have been an era of poor imitations of things Roman. In fact, Romanesque architecture, sculpture, and painting were original and powerful in ways that “even the late Roman artists would never have understood.” Then, in the twelfth century, the Romanesque period was followed by the even more powerful Gothic era. It seems astonishing, but Gothic architecture and painting were scorned by critics during the Enlightenment for not conforming to “the standards of classical Greece and Rome: ‘May he who invented it be cursed.’” These same critics mistakenly thought the style originated with the “barbarous” Goths (hence the name) and, as anyone who has seen one of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals knows, the artistic judgment of these critics was no better than their history, to say nothing of their disregard for the architectural inventions, including the flying buttress, that made it possible for the first time to build very tall buildings with thin walls and large windows, thus prompting major achievements in stained glass. It also was thirteenth-century artists in northern Europe who were the first to use oil paint and to put their work on stretched canvass rather than on wood or plaster. This “allowed the painter to take his time, to use brushes of amazing delicacy, to achieve effects which seemed close to miracles.” Anyone who thinks that great painting began with the Italian Renaissance should examine the work of the Van Eycks. So much, then, for notions that the millennium following the collapse of Rome was an artistic blank or worse.

Literature:

Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in English, not Latin. Voltaire wrote exclusively in French, Cervantes in Spanish, and Machiavelli and Da Vinci in Italian. This was possible only because these languages had been given literary form by medieval giants such as Dante, Chaucer, the nameless authors of the chansons de geste, and the monks who, beginning in the ninth century, devoted themselves to writing the lives of saints—“the first known pages of French literature belong to this genre.” Thus, vernacular prose was formulated and popularized. So much for Dark Age illiteracy and ignorance.

Education:

The university was something new under the sun—an institution devoted exclusively to “higher learning.” This Christian invention was quite unlike Chinese academies for training Mandarins or a Zen master’s school. The new universities were not primarily concerned with imparting the received wisdom. wisdom. Rather, just as is the case today, faculty gained fame and invitations to join faculties elsewhere by innovation. Consequently, during the Dark Ages, university professors—now known as the Scholastics—gave their primary attention to the pursuit of knowledge. And they achieved many remarkable results.

The first two universities appeared in Paris (where both Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas taught) and Bologna in the middle of the twelfth century. Oxford and Cambridge were founded around 1200, and then came a flood of new institutions during the remainder of the thirteenth century. There is a widespread misconception that these were not really universities, but consisted of only three or four teachers and a few dozen students. To the contrary, early in the thirteenth century, Paris, Bologna, Oxford, and Toulouse probably enrolled one thousand to fifteen hundred students each—approximately five hundred new students enrolled at the University of Paris every year. Regardless of their enrollments, many “enlightened” recent historians mock these universities as intellectually “hopeless,” being “corrupted by scholastic and ecclesiastical overlays.” But it was in these “hopeless” early universities that science was born.

Science:

For generations, historians claimed that a “Scientific Revolution” began in the sixteenth century when Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a heliocentric model of the solar system. But recently, specialists in the history of science have concluded that what occurred was an evolution, not a revolution. Just as Copernicus simply took the next implicit step in the cosmology of his day, so too the flowering of science in that era was the culmination of the gradual progress that had been made over previous centuries.

This, then, was the era that the intellectual proponents of the Enlightenment described as a tragic decline into ignorance and superstition. Little wonder that many contemporary historians became incensed by use of the term “Dark Ages.” As the distinguished medievalist Warren Hollister (1930–97) put it in his presidential address to the Pacific Historical Association, “To my mind, anyone anyone who believes that the era that witnessed the building of Chartres Cathedral and the invention of parliament and the university was ‘dark’ must be mentally retarded—or at best, deeply, deeply, ignorant.” Or they could simply be diehard anti-Catholics.

The Myth of the Renaissance:

Obviously, if the Dark Ages are a ridiculous myth, so too must be the Renaissance, since it proposes that Europe was saved from ignorance when intellectuals in various northern Italian city-states broke sufficiently free from Church control to allow the “rebirth” of classical knowledge. Had that really been true, it would have created an era of cultural decline since Christian Europe had long since surpassed classical antiquity in nearly every way. Unfortunately, the creators of the Renaissance myth had no knowledge of the immense progress of the Dark Ages and seem to have based their entire assessment on the extent to which scholars were familiar with Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and other stalwarts of classical learning and literature. But even this legacy of classical culture was fully restored long before the Renaissance. The key development was the translation of these writers into Latin, since Greek was no longer the intellectual language of Christendom. And these translations were not made during the Renaissance but rather centuries earlier by pious monastic scholars. Indeed, “between 1125 and 1200, a veritable flood of translations into Latin, made Greek [writing] available, with more to come in the thirteenth century.” This is fully supported by surviving monastery library catalogues from as far back as the twelfth century, which reveal extensive holdings of classical authors.

As for the famous “Italian Renaissance,” it was not a rebirth of classical learning at all! It was a period of cultural emulation during which people of fashion copied the classical styles in manners, art, literature, and philosophy. Out of this passion for their own ancient days of glory, northern Italians recast history to stress “the achievements of modern Italy and their dislike and contempt for the barbarians of the north Thus, they imposed the Dark Ages between themselves and their past. But it wasn’t so. The Scholastics knew of, and often knew more than, the ancient Greek and Roman authors.

The Myth of Secular Enlightenment

The single most remarkable and ironic thing about the Enlightenment is that those who proclaimed it made little or no contribution to the accomplishments they hailed as a revolution in human knowledge, while those responsible for these advances stressed the continuity with the past. That is, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Gibbon, and the rest were literary men, while the primary revolution they hailed as the “Enlightenment” was scientific. Equally misleading is the fact that although the literary men who proclaimed the Enlightenment were irreligious, the central figures in the scientific achievements of the era were deeply religious, and as many of them were Catholics as were Protestants. So much then for the idea that suddenly in the sixteenth century, enlightened secular forces burst the chains of Catholic thought and set the foundation for modern times. What the proponents of Enlightenment actually initiated was the tradition of angry secular attacks on religion in the name of science—attacks like those of their modern counterparts such as Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. Presented as the latest word in sophistication, rationalism, and reason, these assaults are remarkably naïve and simplistic—both then and now. In truth, the rise of science was inseparable from Christian theology, for the latter gave direction and confidence to the former.

Theology, Reason, and Progress:

Claims concerning the revolutionary character of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were plausible because remarkable progress was made in these eras. But rather than being a revolutionary break with the past, these achievements were simply an extension of the accelerating curve of progress that began soon after the fall of Rome. Thus, the historian’s task is not to explain why so much progress has been made since the fifteenth century—that focus is much too late. The fundamental questions about the rise of the West are: What enabled Europeans to begin and maintain the extraordinary and enduring period of rapid progress that enabled them, by the end of the Dark Ages, to have far surpassed the rest of the world? Why was it that, although many civilizations have pursued alchemy, it led to chemistry only in Europe? Or, while many societies have made excellent observations of the heavens and have created sophisticated systems of astrology, why was this transformed into scientific astronomy only in Europe?

Several recent authors have discovered the secret to Western success in geography. But, that same geography long sustained European cultures that were well behind those of Asia. Others have traced the rise of the West to steel, or to guns and sailing ships, and still others have credited a more productive agriculture. The trouble is that these answers are part of what needs to be explained: Why did Europeans excel at metallurgy, shipbuilding, or farming? I have devoted a book to my answer: that the truly fundamental basis for the rise of the West was an extraordinary faith in reason and progress, and this faith originated in Christianity.

It has been conventional to date the Age of Reason as having begun in the seventeenth century. In truth, it really began late in the second century, launched by early Christian theologians. Sometimes described as “the science of faith,” theology consists of formal reasoning about God. The emphasis is on discovering God’s nature, intentions, and demands and on understanding how these define the relationship between human beings and God. And Christian thinkers have done this, not through meditation, new revelations, or inspiration, but through reason.

Indeed, it was not unusual for Christian theologians to reason their way to a new doctrine; from the earliest days Christian thinkers celebrated reason as the means to gain greater insight into divine intentions. As Quintus Tertullian (155–239) instructed in the second century: “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” In the same spirit, Clement of Alexandria (150–215) warned: “Do not think that we say that these things are only to be received by faith, but also that they are to be asserted by reason. For indeed it is not safe to commit these things to bare faith without reason, since assuredly truth cannot be without reason.”

Hence, Augustine (354–430) merely expressed the prevailing wisdom when he held that reason was indispensable to faith: “Heaven forbid that God should hate in us that by which he made us superior to the animals! Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not even believe if we did not possess rational souls.” Augustine acknowledged that “faith must precede reason and purify the heart and make it fit to receive and endure the great light of reason.” Then he added that although it is necessary “for faith to precede reason in certain matters of great moment that cannot yet be grasped, surely the very small portion of reason that persuades us of this must precede faith.” Christian theologians always have placed far greater faith in reason than most secular philosophers are willing to do today.

In addition, from very early days, Catholic theologians have assumed that the application of reason can yield an increasingly more accurate understanding of God’s will. Augustine noted that although there were “certain matters pertaining to the doctrine of salvation that we cannot yet grasp one day we shall be able to do so.” This universal faith in progress among Catholic theologians had immense impact on secular society as well. Thus, Augustine celebrated not only theological progress but earthly, material progress as well. Writing early in the fifth century, he exclaimed: “Has not the genius of man invented and applied countless astonishing arts, partly the result of necessity, partly the result of exuberant invention, so that this vigour of mind betokens an inexhaustible wealth in the nature which can invent, learn, or employ such arts. What wonderful—one might say stupefying—advances has human industry made in the arts of weaving and building, of agriculture and navigation!” He went on to admire the “skill [that] has been attained in measures and numbers! With what sagacity have the movements and connections of the stars been discovered!” All of this was due to the “unspeakable boon” that God conferred upon his creation, a “rational nature.”

Augustine’s optimism was typical among medieval intellectuals; progress beckoned. As Gilbert de Tournai wrote in the thirteenth century, “Never will we find truth if we content ourselves with what is already known. Those things that have been written before us are not laws but guides. The truth is open to all, for it is not yet totally possessed.” Especially typical were the words preached by Fra Giordano in Florence in 1306: “Not all the arts have been found; we shall never see an end to finding them. Every day one could discover a new art.” Compare this with the prevailing view in China at this same time, well expressed by Li Yen-chang, “If scholars are made to concentrate their attention solely on the classics and are prevented from slipping into study of the vulgar practices of later generations, then the empire will be fortunate indeed!”

It is widely believed, even by very secular scholars, that the “idea of progress” was crucial to the rise of Western civilization. Because Europeans believed progress was possible, desirable, and to some extent inevitable, they eagerly pursued new methods, ideas, and technologies. As it turned out, these efforts were self-confirming: faith in progress prompted efforts that repeatedly produced progress. The basis for the unique European belief in progress was not a triumph of secularity, but of religion. As John Macmurray put it: “That we think of progress at all shows the extent of the influence of Christianity upon us.” So much, then, for nonsense about the “triumph of barbarism and religion.” So too for silly claims that the Age of Reason dawned in about 1600. Perhaps the most utterly revealing aspect of this nonsense is the claim that it was René Descartes who led the way into and epitomized the Age of Reason. In fact, Descartes very explicitly modeled himself on his Scholastic predecessors as he attempted to reason his way from the most basic of axioms (“I think, therefore I am”) to the essentials of Christian faith. Various philosophers have subsequently attacked the validity of steps in his deductive chains, but what is important is that Descartes was not revolting against an Age of Faith, but instead was entirely comfortable extending the long tradition of Christian commitment to reason.

In contrast, the “age of reason” is a phrase that originated as the title of a book by Thomas Paine, written in 1793–94 while he was in prison during the French Revolution. Despite its title, this was not primarily a work of reason but one of invective in the name of reason, much of it devoted to militant attacks on the Bible and all religions as “fabulous inventions.”

Comment Re:Because the tech industry is soulless (Score 1) 181

I never said priests/clergy didn't contribute to science, just that it was disingenuous to attribute things like the Scientific Method to the church

Where did it originate, who taught it, where was it taught, and more importantly, why?

Your assertion that religion isn't afraid of science, hasn't always been the case, and in fact is only a very recent development out of need. Science has slowly been eroding god's domain over time,

Science is the result of people studying God's work, people like Einstein, ignorance of the origins of Western science such as the painting of Galileo as a heroic martyr to blind faith demonstrate that there are many old lies still being told throughout history. Just as a group of eighteenth-century philosophers invested the notion of the Dark Ages to discredit Christianity, they labeled their own era the Enlightenment on grounds that religious darkness had finally been dispelled by secular humanism. As Bertrand Russel (1872-1970) explained, the "Enlightenment was essentially a revaluation of independent intellectual activity, aimed quite literally at spreading light where hitherto darkness had prevailed." Thus did Voltaire, Rousseau, Lock, Hume, and others wrap themselves in the achievements of the "Scientific Revolution" as they celebrated the victory of secularism, eventuating in the Marquis Laplace's claim that God was now an unnecessary hypothesis. Of course, not one of these figures had played any part in the scientific enterprise.

Christianity is LUCKY that the scientific community is rational and wouldn't think of treating Christians the same way that scientists have been treated at the hands of the Christian church, and would do well to remember that.

Science isn't moral. Eugenics was extremely progressive and scientific at the turn of the last century, look at modern munitions like chemical and atomic weapons, hell look at what Nazi scientists and Imperial Japanese did. Were they not scientists? 20th Century Soviet Union - a bastion of Science since religion was under the boot, persecuted and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of clergy up to the 1960s, which was disregarded by the JFK administration as fascist lies, and killed millions of their own people. I'm sure it's a relief to all those who perished that it wasn't because of some sky wizard. For example many perceptions about the Inquisition are hilariously false, rivaling many people's understanding of the Old West seemingly full of gun fights making modern day Chicago look tame.

Comment Re:Because the tech industry is soulless (Score 1) 181

Religion puts forth ideas (often blatantly wrong), not supported by any kind of evidence, and then chastises/persecutes you when you question those ideas.

Science arose only in Christian Europe because only medieval Europeans believed that science was possible and desirable. And the basis of their belief was their image of God and his Creation (see Theology, and Scholastics.) Christian Theology was essential for the rise of science, just as non-Christian thologies had stifled the scientific enterprise everywhere else. Explained at the Lowell Lectures at Harvard by Alfred North Whitehead, co-author of Principia Mathematica, he explained:

The greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement [was] the inexpungeable belief .. that there was a secret, a secret which can be unveiled. How has this conviction been so vividly implanted in the European mind? .... It must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of faith in rationality."

Rene Descartes justified his search for the "laws" of nature on the ground that such laws must exist because god is perfect and therefore "acts in a manner as constant and immutable as possible." That is, the universe functions according to rational rules of laws. Many early scientists felt morally obliged to pursue these secrets because god has given humans the power of reason it ought to be possible for us to discover the rules established by god.

In contrast, most religions outside the Judeo-Christian tradition do not posit creation at all. The universe is said to be ternal, without beginning or purpose, and never having been created, it had no creator. From this view, the universe is a supreme mystery, inconsistent, unpredictable and perhaps arbitrary. For those holding this view, the only paths to wisdom are meditation or inspiration - there being nothing to reason about. But if the universe was created in an accord with rational rules by a perfect, rational creator, then it ought to yield its secrets to reason and observation. Hence, the scientific truism that natur is a book meant to be read. Many of the Greeks considered the universe as eternal and uncreated - Aristotle condemned the idea "that the universe came into being at some point in time ... as unthinkable." Indeed none of the traditional Greek gods would have been capable of such a creation. But, worst of all, the Greeks insisted on turning the cosmos, and inanimate objects more generally, into living things. Consequently, they attributed many natural phenomena to motives, not to inanimate forces. Thus according to Aristotle, heavenly bodies moved in circles because of their affection for doing so, and objects fall to the ground "because of their innate love of for the centre of the world."

As for Islam. There is no suggestion in the Qur'an that Allah set his creation in motion and then let it run. Rather, it is assumed that he often intrudes into the world and changes things as it pleases him. Thus, through the centuries, many of the most influential Muslim scholars have held that all efforts to formulate natural laws are blasphemy in that they would seem to deny Allah's freedom to act. Thus did their images of God and the universe deflect scientific efforts in China, ancient Greece, and Islam.

It was only because Europeans believed in God as the Intelligent Designer of a rational universe that they pursued the secrets of creation. In the words of Johannes Kepler, "The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony imposed on it by God and which when he revealed to us in the language of mathematics."

As for the Scientific Method coming from the church, that is a stretch at best. Francis Bacon formalized what we know as the Scientific Method, inspired by the work of Roger Bacon and others (Copernicus and Galileo). Just because Roger Bacon was a friar doesn't mean that the Scientific Method came from the church, and considering the treatment that Galileo received from the church over heliocentrism, claiming that the Scientific Method has it's origins in the church is intellectually dishonest.

Galileo didn't really get into trouble for his books, or his scientific convictions, it was his arrogant duplicity. It's true he was called before the Roman Inquisition and charged with the heretical teaching that the earth moves- around the sun or otherwise. And he was forced to recant. But he was neither imprisoned nor tortured; he was seentenced to a comfortable house arrest during which he died at age 78.

Long before he became Pope Urban VIII (1623 to 1644), while still a cardinal, Maffeo Barberini knew and liked Galileo. In 1623 when he published Assayer, Galileo didcated the book to Barberini (the Barberini family crest appeared on the title page of the book), and the new pope was said to have been deslighted by the many nasty insults it directed against various Jesuit scholars. Assayer was mainly an attak on Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit mathematician, who had published a study that (correctly) treated comets as small heavenly bodies; Galileo ridiculed this claim, arguing wrongly that comets were but reflections on vapors arising from the earth. In any event, Assayer,p rompted Pope Urban VIII to write an adulatory poem on the glory of astronomy. So, what went wrong?

It is important to put the Galielo affair in historical context. At this time the Reformation stood defiant in northern Europe, the Thirty Year's War raged, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation was in full bloom. Partly in response to Protestant charges that the Catholic Church was not faithful to the Bible, the limits of acceptable theology were being narrowed, and this led to increasing Church interference in scholarly and scientific discussions. However, Urban VIII and other leading officials were not ready to clamp down on scientists, but instead proposed ways to avoid any conflicts between science and theology by separating their domains. Thus, Friar Marin Mersenne advised his network of leading scientific correspondents to defend their studies on grounds that God was free to place the earth anywhere he liked, and it was the duty of scientists to find out where he had put it. More cautious early scientists adopted the tactic of identifying scientific conclusions as hypothetical or mathematical, hence being without direct theological implications. And that was what the pope asked Galileo to do - to acknolwedge in his publications that "definintive conclusions could not be creached in the natural sciences. God in his imnipotence could produce a natural phnomenon in any number of ways and it therefore was presumptuous for any philsopher to claim that he had determined a unique solution.

That seemed an eas yevasion. And, given Galileo's propensity to claim false credit for inventions made by others, such as the telescope, and to have conducted empirical research he probably did not really perform, such as dropping weights from the Leaning TOwer of Pisa, it would not seem to have stretched his ethical standards to have gone along with the pope. But to defy the pope in a rather offensive way was quite consistent with Galileo's ego.

In 1632, Galileo published his awaited Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Although the ostensible purpose of the books was to present and explanation of tidal phenomena, the two systems involved were Ptolemy's, in which the sun circles the earth, and Copernicus's wherein the earth circles the sun. The dialog involves three speakers, two of them philsophers and the tird a layman. It is the layman, Simplicio, who presents the traditional views in support of Ptolemy - the resemblance of the name to "simpleton" was obvious to all. This allowed Galileo to exploit the traditional "straw man" technique to ridicule his opponents. Although Galileo did include the disclaimer suggested by the popoe, he put it in the mouth of Simplicio, thereby disowning it.

The book caused an immense stir and, understandably, the pope felt betrayed - although Galileo never seemed ot have grasped that fact and continued to blaime the Jesuits and university professors for his troubles. Despite that, the pope used his power to protect Galileo from any serious punishment. Unfortunately, Galileo's defiant action stimulated a general crackdown by the Counter-Reformation Church on the intellectual freedom that otherwise may never have occurred. Ironically, much that Galileo presented in the book as correct science was not; his theory of the tides, for example, was nonsense, as Albert Einstein pointed out in his foreword to a 1953 translation of Galileo's notorious book. Equally ironic is the fact that the judgment against Galileo was party motivated by efforts on the part of the Church leaders to suppress astrologers - some theologians mistakenly equating the claim that the earth moved with the doctricts that fate was ruled by the motion of heavenly bodies. This demonstrates that powerful groups and organizations often will abuse their power to impose their beliefs, a shortcoming that certainly is not limited to religious organizations - the Communist regime in the Soviet Union outlawed Mendelian genetics on grounds that all characteristics are caused by the environment. But it also shows that Galileo was not some naive shcolar who fell victim to a bunch of ignorant bigots - these same "bigots" ignored dozens of other prominent scientists, many of them resident in Italy. For all his posturing Galileo remained deeply religious. Had he been any less devout he would have refused to go to Rome when summoned by the Inquisition; Venice offered him asylum.

Roger Bacon, requested by Pope Clement IV, to write for him. He wrote the Opus Majus in one year, also available in a modern edition (1996 pages) covers all aspects of natural science. Covering knowledge of many different fields: mathematics; the size and position of heavenly bodies; the physiology of eyesight; optics, including refraction, mirrors, and lenses, the magnifying glass, and spectacles; recipe for gunpowder, calendar reform etc. The Opus Majus was filled with remarkable predictions about future inventions including microscopes, telescopes, and flying machines.

Bacon stressed empiricism as opposed to authority. "Authority has no savior, unless reason for it is given, and it does not give understanding, but belief. For we believe on the strength of authority, but we do not understand through it. Nor can we distinguish between sophism and demonstration, unless we know to test the conclusion by works, as I will show later in the experimental sciences." Theories must be put to a test for them to be valid. which was a departure from the Greeks as well as from early Christian thinkers who all believed in the superiority of ideas and abstract forms to empirical reality and concluded that reason, not observation, was always the true test of any philosophical claim. It followed that to make an experimental or observational test of an idea was to accept the superiority of the imperfect to the perfect. That was the powerful tradition that proponents of experimentalism had to overcome. Only because Bacon, Grosseteste, and other Scholastics fought and won the battle for empiricism was it possible for the rise of science to occur.

Copernicus. All of the prior theorizing was well known to Copernicus since it was taught at all three of the Italian universities he attended. So what did Copernicus contribute? He put the sun in the middle of the solar system and had the earth circling it as one of the planets. What gave such special luster to his work was that he expressed it all in mathematics and worked out the geometry of his system so as to permit the calculation of future positions of the bodies involved, which was essential for setting the dates of Easter, the solstices, and the like. However, these calculations were no more accurate or any easier to alculate than those based on the prior Ptolemaic system dating from the second century CE, because Copernicus failed to realize that the orbits in the solar system were elliptical, not circular. Therefore, to make his system work, Copernicus had to postulate that there were loops in the orbits of the heavenly bodies that delayed them sufficiently so they did not complete their obits too soon - it would not do for the earth to circle the sun in only three hundred days. However, these loops lacked any observational support; had they existed, a heavenly body should have been observed looping. Consequently, everything in Copernicus's famous book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, is wrong, other than the placement of the sun in the center. It was nearly a century later that Johannes Kepler, a German Protestant, got things right by substituting ellipses for Copernicus's circles. Now each heavenly body was always where it was supposed to be, was on time, and required no loops.

Of course even with Kepler's additions, there was still no explanation of why the solar system functioned as it did, or of why, for example, bodies remained n their obits rather than flying off into space. The achievement of such an explanation awaited Isaac Newton, who famously remarked, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." But over several prior centuries, many essential pieces of such a theory had been assembled: that the universe was a vacuum; that no pushers were needed because once in motion, the heavenly bodies would continue in motion; that the earth turned; that the sun was the center of the solar system; that the orbits were elliptical. The record of systematic progress is why the distinguished historian of science, I. Bernard Cohen (1914-2003) noted that "the idea that a Copernican revolution in science occured goes counter to the evidence ... and is the invention of later historians." Most of Cohen's ophisticated colleagues agree. Copernicus added a small step forward in a long process of normal science. It should be noted that the scholars involved in this long process were not rebel secularists. Not only were they devout Christians, they were priests or monks, and four of them were bishops and one was a cardinal. Science did not suddenly erupt in a great intellectual revolution during Newton's time, this era of superb achievements was the culmination of centuries of sustained, normal scientific progress. The Scientific Revolution was invented to discredit the medieval Church by claiming that science burst forth in full bloom (thus owing no debts to prior Scholastic scholars) only when a weakened Christianity no longer could suppress it.

The great scientific achievements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were produced by a group of scholars notable for their piety, who were based in Christian universities, and whose brilliant achievements were carefully built upon an invaluable legacy of centuries of brilliant Scholastic Scholarship. Since the start of the so-called Scientific Revolution is usually attributed to Nicolaus Copernicus, it is appropriate to examine his intellectual predecessors to demonstrate that this was a work of normal science. He wasn't some obscure Pole, he received a superb education at the best Italian universities of the time: Bologna, Padua, and Ferrara. The idea that the earth circled the sun did not come to him out of the blue; he was taught the essential fundamentals leading to the heliocentric model of the solar system by his Scholastic professors. What Copernicus added was not a leap but was the implicit next step in a long line of discovery and innovation stretching back for centuries. Robert Grosseteste (1168-1253), Albertus Magnus (1200-1280) (so celebrated during his time his colleagues, including Roger Bacon, began to add the title "Magnus" (the great) to their names, Roger Bacon (1214-94), William of Ockham (1295-1349), Nicole D'Orseme (1325-82), Nicolas of Cusa (1401-64), Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), there are more but these are sufficient to research further.

Ideas about separation of church and state have been around since before Christianity, so saying that it is a Christian thing is just plain wrong. I'll give you the University system though.

What about in practice? Prior to Christianity religion and governance were typically one in the same with the head of state typically being a deity, for example take a look at Rome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... which empires are you referring to?

Comment Re:Because the tech industry is soulless (Score 1) 181

Western Society owes a lot to the Church. Science explains the how, religion is more about the why. Modern science, as in the scientific method, has its origins in the Church via Roger Bacon. Separation of Church and State is a Christian thing, as well as the whole scholastic and theology schools of thought enabled by the wildly popular University system.

Comment Re:More like "not any more in America". (Score 1) 126

The sheer size of the US (we're the third most populous country in the world) means we aren't going to go away. But we do face the question of whether we want to hit above our weight, as Germany does and we did in the past, or below our weight, as India does.

There are many factors in play, India is slowly developing and is rife with growing pains from infrastructure to social issues, which no country is immune. German used to be the language of science at the turn of the last century. California pupils used to perform very well then prop 13 passes and funding declines among other things times and people change.

Germany is worth looking into. It has about 1% of population of the Earth, but that 1% has a massively oversized tech footprint. Perhaps because it has almost 10% of the top 200 universities in the world. Which cost about a hundred bucks a semester to attend. These facts are very likely NOT unrelated.

University isn't a right to attend, unlike higher education in the US where all that's required is a pulse you must test in otherwise you're off to a vocational school. The US also has more top ranking universities and is home to many tech giants, why is that? BTW your parent post is fantastic.

Comment Re:You gave Trump's plan (Score 1) 164

Upon inspection it appears half of those don't even have decent civil liberties. Other useful considerations include stable systems and institutions, reasonable means of holding elected officials accountable and redress, minorities having reasonable access to economic, educational and health resources. Freedom of the press and separation of church and state would be worthy considerations too. Iran is a theocracy with an elected president. Morocco is a monarchy. Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh were left out. Uzbekistan had a president for over 45 years. Bangladesh has had 8 coups over the last 45 years, Afghanistan is still super new, so it looks like Indonesia is the best poster child. Indonesia was ruled by two men Sukarno and Suharto for 40 years between 1959 to 1998. Suharto was overthrown and since 1998 it's a functioning multi-party democracy which follows Sharia law presently allows stoning. Thanks for compiling the list of these extremely desirable places to live.

Comment Re:You gave Trump's plan (Score 1) 164

Or ask yourself if you still have the right to remain in your country if you ask such questions from immigrants.

Hah, we can't even secure our borders you silly man. Fear not! Germany is slowly catching up to America, once you quadruple the immigrants in your country you can proudly lecture others. I'm looking forward to the New Years event and the press suppressions of the mass gropings.

Comment Re:You gave Trump's plan (Score 2, Informative) 164

Here's a story from the anointed Huffington Post claiming 80% of migrants are raped coming to the US. That's a pretty alarming figure. Here's another story on it by Fusion. Here's an Amnesty international story citing health care professionals claiming 6 out of 10 are abused.

There already is legal precedent: 8 U.S. Code 1182 - Inadmissible aliens clause f Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President. If you don't believe in western values don't come to the west. Show us a democratic country that is majority Muslim. Islam is more than a religion, what should be addressed upon entry is a question about supporting Sharia law. It's incompatible with western values. How do other religions work in Muslim majority countries? How do they treat women or gays? Why do you feel it is superior to the US present stance?

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