Monday, September 14, 2015

The Myth of Christianity Founding Modern Science and Medicine

In checking out some blogs that are daily reads, I found the image above and a post on that debunks the myth that Christianity has fostered knowledge, science and medical advances.  The sad truth is that more often that not, Christianity has been the enemy of knowledge, science and medical advances.  The Dark Ages that swept over Europe and other areas where Christianity flourished derive in large part from Christianity's rise and the concerted effort to wipe out and destroy anything that challenged religious dogma.  It's a phenomenon we see today fueled by those who want to teach creationism as science and in cretins like Kim Davis in Kentucky.  We see parallel events in the Middle East where ISIS has adopted tactics akin to those once utilized by Christianity. These are some relevant quotes from the post:

From its very beginning, the Church has served as a stumbling block against scientific progress. By the time Theodosius proclaimed Nicene Christianity a state religion in 380 CE, progressive science had already stopped. Richard Carrier (through personal correspondence) puts it this way: "Even pagans, though cherishing their scientific heritage (unlike Christians who generally did not), and applying that heritage more avidly than their Christian peers, appear to have given up on advancing science. And then pagans slowly died out, leaving only Christians who were even less interested in such advancement or how to achieve it." Up until this time, Greek and Roman science and medicine stood at the pinnacle of reasoned thought. Although the Christians conserved their own biblical and religious exegesis, they did little to conserve pagan scientific writings to the same degree. The little that the Christians did save just barely survived. As Kenneth Clark wrote, "What with prejudice and destruction, it's surprising that the literature of pre-Christian antiquity was preserved at all. And in fact it only just squeaked through. In so far as we are the heirs of Greece and Rome, we got through by the skin of our teeth." We owe the real foundations of science to the ancient Greeks and Romans, not to the Christians.

A Christian mob murdered the mathematician and philosophy teacher, Hypatia, in 415 CE. I use this date to mark the beginning of the scientific Dark Ages, and its end at the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century because of the almost total lack of progressive science done during this period (most scholars today refer to the Dark Ages as the Early Middle Ages. See notes below). Hypatia's death serves as a convenient marking point, not because she died as the last pagan (pagan persecution lasted for centuries after) but because she lived as the last non-Christian of any merit that would teach science in the Western Christian world. Moreover, around this time, the Western Empire had begun to die. The Renaissance marks the approximate time when science began its catch-up with the ancient pagans.

It came from scientific and enlightenment minds that influenced religion to bend its ways to concede to science, not the other way around. The Renaissance and the period of the Enlightenment came as a result from people beginning to reject certain religious beliefs. Renaissance means 'rebirth' and represented a cultural movement based on humanism to regain ancient classical sources that the Church had long suppressed or ignored. Moreover, the Renaissance inspired new ways of thinking about, not only science, but literature, philosophy, art, politics, and religion. The Age of Enlightenment (beginning approximately around the 18th century) represented the time when reason trumped religion as the primary source for thought. It resulted in the first concepts of secularism and the blasphemous idea that one does not need religion at all for workable investigations into nature.

The graph(†) above represents an approximate graph of the advancement of science through time. For critics, please see a further explanation of the graph: click here

The Christian Dark Ages represents a time in the history of Europe where scientific advancement not only halted but went backwards. The hole left by the Dark Ages bears the imprint of scientific ignorance that lasted longer than the Roman Empire. Imagine where scientific advancement would stand today if not for the scars left by Christianity.

1 comment:

BJohnM said...

Mathematics and much of early scientific thought come out of the Muslim countries.