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Zoethe

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You are here - anyway [Jul. 16th, 2003|11:56 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |optimisticoptimistic]
[Current Music |Carol King - Tapestry]

I have been thinking for a number of days about an LJ post by my fellow sufferer in nighttime law school correspondguy (not the same school, but the same pain). He expresses a lot of the same irritation that I feel with regard to evangelical Christianity. He says it well, and to second his rant would be, for the most part, preaching to the choir.

The direction his words sent my thoughts, though, is a bit different. And that is into the question of what it means to be a “cultural Christian.” I would postulate that until the last 20 years everyone in the United States was a cultural Christian, regardless of religious stripe, and that even today we are all to one degree or another cultural Christians, because so much of what the country is built on are what are considered Christian values, born in the cradle of civilization, carried across Europe, sharpened and focused by the likes of Luther and Calvin, exported with the Pilgrims and those who came after, and hammered into what we call the Puritan work ethic by the likes of Cotton Mather. Separation of Church and State was for a very long time more of an ideal than a practice, a fact reflected by the prayers carved into the very stones of public buildings across the country. It was one nation under pretty much a single god. The Judeo-Christian version of how the world is supposed to work is responsible for the development of the Industrial Revolution, the patronage of rich Christians the impetus behind our greatest works of art and music, religious fervor the motivation behind our most beautiful architecture, here and in Europe.

Or is it?

There has been this assumption that a serious work ethic, a sense of duty to country and neighbor, ambition, are all things that arise out of our Christian culture. But what’s to say that we wouldn’t have accomplished just as much if our temples were built to Thor, Cerrunos, Woden, instead of to Christ? Certainly the evangelical fervor of Christianity carried its conquerors further, and more frequently, across the map than the conquering instincts of any other people. This led to more homogenization than a less ravening approach, but I’m wondering if it really was the main impetus behind the advances in science and culture credited to its existence.

I wonder where we would be if the messianic movement in the Middle East hadn’t culminated in the miracle mythology of Jesus of Nazareth. Would the Roman empire have marched northward under the banner of Zeus, building temples, commissioning statuary and art? Would the western world have still found itself under the ostensible banner of a different pantheon?

Whatever our religious life looked like, and however it might have changed art and architecture, I am no longer convinced that the work ethic and the developments that brought us industrialization could not have proceeded without the big stick of The Christian Church. The world would have evolved, and I would still be here typing on a computer, even in its absence. We don’t owe Christianity as much as its leaders would have us believe.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shawnj
2003-07-16 09:15 am (UTC)
I should point out, for the record, that many of the Founding Fathers of the US were Deists (The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation), not Christians.

But really, I agree with you, for different reasons. The Church can claim all they want about how the current times were a cause of them, but I'm not so sure that is a positive claim, what with the Dark Ages, Inquisition, Crusades, and such. I've long said that if it wasn't for the Chruch's influence, we probably would be about five hundred to six hundred years ahead of where we are now technologically. However, in the grand scheme of things, that past influence is insignificant except for the purposes of learning from it. (Not to mention that the Christian Work Ethic isn't really as strong as they would make you believe, comparatively to other cultures)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-16 10:23 am (UTC)
You make a good point about many of the Founding Fathers being Deists, and thank The Maker that they were, for without that influence the already shaky separation of church and state would probably never have come into existence.

Without the Christian church there would still have been dark times and despots, I have no doubt. Its existence didn't prohibit an utopian world. But the notion that this great country is only where it is today because of good Christian morals, as postulated by the likes of Pat Robertson, that is what I would delicately call ... crap.
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[User Picture]From: shawnj
2003-07-16 11:19 am (UTC)
But the notion that this great country is only where it is today because of good Christian morals, as postulated by the likes of Pat Robertson, that is what I would delicately call ... crap.

Absolutely. I often wonder who people could be buffaloed into believing such incorrect statements. America got to where it is today from a combination of luck, geography, sound leadership, and an abundance of natural resources.
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[User Picture]From: danodea
2003-07-16 09:53 am (UTC)
I would agree with shawni in regard to both the beliefs of the "founding fathers" and the work ethic. One of the things that I consider a serious sin is disinformation, and the concept that the USA was founded as a Christian nation is a prime example of the disinformation that has become embedded in modern USA culture.

I don't believe that everyone living in the US was a cultural Christian until 20 years ago. (btw, I love that term.) I do think that such was the mode. I would point out that some First Nations peoples still followed ancestral beliefs, although it is perhaps questionable how to count that, as some of those are technically independent nations that happen to be located within the borders of the USA.

Given the Roman Empire's history of allowing local religious practice to remain, I think that NW Europe might have been a quite different place if Christianity hadn't spread there.

The Roman Catholic church certainly did act in some cases to restrain excesses by rulers (Pope Innocent III comes to mind, a mistitled pope if ever there was one), so NW Europe might have seen more war and more excesses, but how could one know?

Likewise, without Christianity as an excuse/reason, would the crusades have happened? It was the absence of King Richard that allowed the Magna Carta to be forced onto Prince John, and that document is the basis of much of modern common law in Britain and in the US (except for Louisiana common law, which is based on the Napoleonic code).

For that matter, would "Liberte, Fraternite, et Egalite" have been the rallying cry/slogan of the Napoleonic Empire? That empire was based on the feudal system, which flourished under Christianity and Mother Church. The extent of that empire's boders for a long time was largely continguous with the borders of the Iron curtain - it marked where those values had become so integrated into society that a western style culture flourished.

So much might have been different. Who can say?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-16 10:15 am (UTC)
When I used the term cultural Christian (and thanks; it came to me while I was brushing my teeth this morning, giving a center to the ideas that had been kicking around in my head), I am not talking as much about religious practice as about being affected by the Christian mentality. In that, I would submit that the First Nations peoples were some of the most adversely impacted by the force of cultural Christianity. They were stripped of their land and the very center of their own existence, and what remained of their culture as of 20 years ago was a flimsy echo of the deep spirituality with which they began.

The influx of immigrants into this country who are unwilling to simply become part of the melting pot have been a positive force for diversity and that diversity has helped to revive customs of the native peoples - simply having pride in who one is makes a huge difference. But they have been irrevocably affected.

It is interesting to speculate what the driving forces of change would have been in a world absented of Christianity, though we can never know. I believe, though, that the evolution of individualism and the rise of the merchant classes would still have occurred and eventually we would have gotten to a point reasonably close to where we are now. Whether it would have been more or less bloody, no one can say. The centers of conflict certainly would have shifted.
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[User Picture]From: danodea
2003-07-16 10:38 am (UTC)
Ah. I had thought that you meant those who had non-consciously adopted more-or-less Christianized values. I do agree that First Nations peoples' spiritual practices, and cultures in general, were drastically affected.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-17 03:45 am (UTC)
The adoption of Christianized views is certainly a large part of this, and even among the First Nations peoples there has been a level of adoption of those views. But even people who don't adopt them are affected by them, hence my use of the word "everybody."
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-07-16 10:33 am (UTC)
I don't think so, if only because there would have been a lot more fighting. As has been mentioned before by you, the brilliance of the Catholic Church is its ability to sweep up local Gods and Hoover them into a sorta-Catholic, sorta-Pagan version that was acceptable to the local people.

Other religions have not been as flexible. Islam certainly hasn't, and Judaism wasn't as powerful. Buddhism has remained inflexible. Given my gut says that eventually, you'd have warring pantheons betwen Thor and Generic Other Guy With A Hammer, I think there might have actually been MORE conflict - politics AND mini-Children's Crusades in Europe.

Still, it would require a lot more knowledge on the period than I say. The Catholic Church's Ten Commandments and fear for people's afterlives did have an effect - not entirely, but it helped shape a rough morality that wasn't otherwise present at the time. For someone like ShawnJ to say that without religion, we'd be 500 years ahead puts a little bit too much faith in humanity, and downplays humanity's need to be led.

Also, not all of the Founding Fathers were Deists. Franklin and Jefferson, the poster boys for anti-Godness, were, but others - like Washington - were not. However, Franklin and Jefferson were the smartest of the bunch, so thank God for that.

Or thank Not-A-God for that.
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[User Picture]From: shawnj
2003-07-16 10:56 am (UTC)
For someone like ShawnJ to say that without religion, we'd be 500 years ahead puts a little bit too much faith in humanity, and downplays humanity's need to be led.

Not at all. Without the luddite Church going around destroying and neglecting Roman technology, we would have been in a much different place right now. And despite that, the people would still be led by their Kings and Aristocracies. They just wouldn't have had hundreds of years of scientific oppression to deal with.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-07-16 11:16 am (UTC)
Not at all. Without the luddite Church going around destroying and neglecting Roman technology, we would have been in a much different place right now. And despite that, the people would still be led by their Kings and Aristocracies. They just wouldn't have had hundreds of years of scientific oppression to deal with.

Here's where you and I differ:

You think that if we removed the Catholic Church, nothing worse would have sprung up in its wake. That people would have abandoned religion and turned, inexorably, to the New Age, where all things scientific would be found.

I think that there would be a lot of superstition and worry, particularly from the Emperors themselves. Kings and Tyrants have had a long tradition of suppressing science for themselves, particularly if they even the playing field; Japan wasn't notably religious, but guns got outlawed, as did a few other inventions.

The Church may have held back some technology, but others would have done it, too. The Church was the expression of the stupidity of the people, not some alien external force that held everyone down despite their continual horror.

A lot of people like stupid things, and abhor scary facts. Look to the President.
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[User Picture]From: shawnj
2003-07-16 11:29 am (UTC)
You think that if we removed the Catholic Church, nothing worse would have sprung up in its wake. That people would have abandoned religion and turned, inexorably, to the New Age, where all things scientific would be found.

I don't make that claim at all. The claim I make is that due to the influence that Christianity had on the fall of the Roman Empire, coupled with the brutal oppression of the scientist class, that progress was halted for centuries, and much technology had to be relearned.

I think you're assuming that I'm talking about abandoning religion when it was already a powerful force in Europe, which is not the case at all.

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[User Picture]From: shawnj
2003-07-16 11:16 am (UTC)
I think there might have actually been MORE conflict - politics AND mini-Children's Crusades in Europe

You say this assuming that the Roman Empire would have folded anyway, of which I am not certain of. Constantine wouldn't have split the empire, there wouldn't have been the bloody persecutions by Nero, ect. In other words, the Romans may still have been in power well into the last milennium if it wasn't for Christianity.

Assuming that the Roman Empire would have fell at the exact moment that it did in our timeline, I would tend to agree with you on this point, somewhat. For one, there's no telling what kind of society would have been established. Hell, we could all be speaking Arabic at this point, because they wouldn't have had as much opposition to their spread. And as history has shown, the Islamic states were quite advanced for the time period.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-16 11:18 am (UTC)
I think you are crediting the evolution of thought and idea and culture far too much to the church and far too little to the people themselves. I am not saying that there would not have been any holy wars, but by and large the pagan peoples were more about assimilating other gods than about conquering them (that is the handy part of polytheism - much less "my way or the highway").

And they aren't the Catholic Church's Ten Commandments. There were these Jewish guys wandering around in the desert for a long time with those handy rules for living. Who were also not all that interested in converting people, only in being left alone.

I am not saying that there is no good message in Christianity (the Golden Rule), only speculating that this message was one of enlightenment that people might well have gotten without the brutal monotheism of an evangelical religion with the central tenent of "everybody's burning but us." I'm saying that the Golden Rule could have spread without this.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-07-16 11:28 am (UTC)
And they aren't the Catholic Church's Ten Commandments. There were these Jewish guys wandering around in the desert for a long time with those handy rules for living. Who were also not all that interested in converting people, only in being left alone.

...and were hideously oppressed at every turn, ably documented across the millennia. It's only when they began to become zealots under the new Messiah that they began to gain power and start imposing their morals on others.

I'm saying that the Golden Rule could have spread without this.

It could have; I don't know what the priests of Zeus really taught in their day. Perhaps it was all beauty, which got erased by the Catholic Church, and then they rebuilt it.

Or not.

However, I do believe that to spread morality, which is a viral meme, it needs to have a carrier - and given what I see of the Pagan religions, which don't really unite people under one banner aside from a sort of village-level happiness, it would be difficult to spread the word. Every meme needs an evangelist, especially in a media-free world... And in a world where power was everything, where even the Knights who supposedly followed tradition gutted peasants and the renunciation of religion led to French massacres, my gut says that the meme of the Ten Commandments (or any "Stop harming people just 'cause you can") would have needed something a little stronger than just "Hey, play nice! Play nice, man!"

I could be wrong, but neither of us can know. However, remember last night's discussion: I don't think that human nature is in any way innately benevolent.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-07-16 11:49 am (UTC)
One more interesting take, and then I'm off.

So we have, for the sake of a better term, "passive religions" - nonevangelical religions that teach you to live in harmony with yourself, and that other religions aren't necessarily evil. Buddhism, Paganism, and the like.

And we have "proactive religions" - religions that believe that other religions are evil, and that people must be saved from them.

(Where the Roman Empire's religion fell on this scale is unknowable at this point, insofar as I know. I could be wrong; this is me operating out of my depth, and I'd be curious to see Jeffie's take.)

Now, even though the passive religions would seem to be the hotspots for rationality and science, that hasn't really been born out. "Famous Buddhist Scientific Advances" is a fairly small book, if I recall correctly. Why? Because those religions have two things going against them:

1) They don't evangelize. Therefore, if there is a scientific advance, the advance stays there; they don't really travel beyond their own needs.
2) The religion itself teaches you to be okay with things. Paganism isn't about external change; it's about inner change. Therefore, the impetus to get out there and start doing big stuff is blunted.
3) The religion does not sway those in power to take over other countries, meaning that advances in warfare also get lost.

Now, as anti-science as the Catholic Church is (and Islam is currently), they may (or may not) have had the following inadvertently pro-scientific principles:

1) They needed to impress people, and therefore wanted to build large-scale monuments to them. Islam and the Catholic Church are almost unilaterally responsible for a lot of architectural advances.
2) They wanted to take over a lot of people, and therefore fought a lot. Warfare, sadly, breeds scientific progress in castle building, smithing, horsebreeding, and occasionally farming.
3) Because they travelled a lot to bring the word as far as they could, the scientific data travelled a lot more, causing an inadvertent scientific progress. Also, missionaries had something to bring the people... And frequently, the carrot they offered was the little science they had. (A lot of times, admittedly, it was the stick of "Convert or die, heathen," which wasn't so progressy.)

That's my theory. The question remains: We have peaceful, pagan religions that were small (or conducted war on microfronts) that have achieved, in many cases, jack - the African traditions, Buddhism, and Paganism (though I'll admit that some of Paganism's traditions may well have been snarfed up and stamped down by the Catholic Church). Democracy has NOT done well in non-Western religions, except in Japan. Why?
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2003-07-16 01:40 pm (UTC)

OO this has been neat to read

Very generalized, but neat--so I got to make wee nit picks. :)

First off--let's distinguish between Neopaganism and the Roman religions, etc. :) Neither are the same nor as idyllic as has been portrayed. (*grin* Some of us heathens have teeth and believe in a good smite or two ourselves.) The new deal is very hippiecentric--and not at all like the early religions, which, as records show, were just as concerned with blood, success in warfare, smiting thine enemies and all, as any that could be said of some factions of modern day Christianity.

In fact, Christianity itself provided a difference that, at least I belive, it's Roman counterpart knew nothing off--care for you fellow man. The whole sermon on the mount stuff--this was seriously western though. It really enouraged you to look outside yourself and your religion as a this-benefits-only-me/success reaction to something more humanitarian.

It preached forgiveness. Peace. It said that all these lists of rules were not the most important thing. And that's why a lot of folk went for it. (WHen you can't even get cleansed in the temple for being sick/unclean--and therefore are worthy of rotting in the dirt--Jesus had a really good take.)

Oh, and Ferrett--for you--the Roman religion/assililation was largely a state centered phenomena, as I recall. They weren't so much for mass conversion in their conquered people--but they did demand obedience to Ceasar as deity. Hence, the problem with early Christians: "What? They refuse to make offerings to Cesear?! Are they atheists?" was a lot of the general attitude--in fact, there's a lot of mocking exchanges of philosphy in the early letters/Christian writings. It's fun. I do love to note the evolution of the religion itself.

But Roman religion, I think, had a heavy tie in keeping the government/society running more than Christianity, which, in the later Middle age (YES BIG JUMP HERE) was concerned with the concept of salavation. (OH, early Christianity was a very "prince of peace"/prepare for the next world kind of deal. Concerns for fellow man were high, how to get to heaven, etc. The Anglo-Saxons would start seeing the image of Christ as a warrior-king, drawings often picturing him mounted on a horse--cause, that peace stuff didn't go over well in the meadhall. ;))

The interesting thing about Christianity, to me, was it's evolution to fill a need of society. Yes, it perpetuated things like the Crusades--but remember that the Crusades are also a social phenomena, having a large part to do in the fact that land and resources for those 2nd and 3rd sons were pretty damn scarce, and hey--some Turks just attacked some good Christian folk-so, go ye and be soldiers of Christ and let's kill two birds with one stone. I also wouldn't blame it entirely as the conquerer of the world and all 'bad' pagan religions--we knew how to do that since Roman conquest, at least, as did other cultures. It's a mix of things.

It's a complicated mess, and there are many many ways to look at it. I don't think Christianity is any worse than many pagan religiosn--in fact, I think it is better than most that were out there, in terms of rallying folks together and creating change. I think looking at Christianity as a big Western Devil is not necessarily a good idea at all--there are way too many points and layers in the tapestry to make such a generalization, depending on when and where you look. (Very much YES to your 2nd #3)

Not always the best, not always the worst--but filling a needed hole. Another step into how folks find God.

Jeffie will know way more on this than I--and probably smite me. This is just a rehash of some thoughts that have arisen from my medievalist days. :) (and my damn immersion into the medieval Church). So--that all may not have made sense for the conversation, but...it was what I was inspired to babble about. :)


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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2003-07-16 01:44 pm (UTC)

Re: OO this has been neat to read

Good LORD that was full of errors! *ack sorry*

Wanted to note initial distinctions should be made between "old time" paganism (Roman religion, etc.) and it's modern counterparts.
Sermon on the mount was seriously NEW thought, far as I knew.
The temple reference refers to Judaism of the period at the time of Christ.


er and more errors--I really did pound this out in a few minutes off the top of my head. Sorry it reads rather illogical--ask me if you care in person, sometime. I ramble MUCH better live. :)
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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2003-07-16 08:37 pm (UTC)

Re: OO this has been neat to read

Worse than athiests, to my knowledge. Traitors. The Roman idea, as I understand it, was that you could worship any god you wanted, so long as you also bent a knee in the direction of the god that embodied the Roman state (Roma, if memory serves - it's been years since HY 101), so anyone who refused to acknowledge such a divinity and ALSO refused to serve in the army could be a traitor. Remember, as polytheists, and not real observant ones, the Romans assumed that people would have their own, strange gods. The idea of one single God was like trying to explain snow to a 12th Century Arab. People that self-centered couldn't be trusted.
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2003-07-16 08:46 pm (UTC)

Re: OO this has been neat to read

Yes, exactly--the could not be trusted because they were, in effect, enemies of the state.

Gee...now that draws some scary parallels, doesn't it?


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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2003-07-16 08:54 pm (UTC)

Re: OO this has been neat to read

*High Five* Amen, Sister.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-16 06:36 pm (UTC)
My point is not Christian-bashing, but that the climate of socio-economic growth and change could have been as much or more of a factor than which religion exactly was in charge. That the ideals of Christology were ripe in the people - a la "The Tipping Point" - and that it wasn't necessarily divine influence ut excellent timing that led to the seachange of thought.

This all comes out of my distaste for the amount of credit evangelical Christians take for our moral code, and how the Bush administration and that level of conservatism threatens diversity. The 50s didn't have it all right, and the Cleavers are not necessarily the ideal we should all seek - I mean, look at what they were eating!
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2003-07-16 08:54 pm (UTC)

ah

Not familiar with what you mean by "Tipping Point"..but I do get you...and I am not sure. Takes more cultural theory than I have, and knowledge of that era, but I do believe that Christianity WAS the shifting point, because I don't know of a theology at that time, in that area, that preached such a doctrine.

Heh, I don't rank Bush and many of the Right with a lot of the ideals of Christianity--but then, I am a horrible Catholic, I worship Mary, Saints, pray to priests, so...what can you expect from me? ;)

I think people do--and should--out grow their myths. (and this is part of the point of ALL religions, in my view--it gives you the mythos to connect you to your place in relation with the universe, and then, to God). Certainly, the Cleavers are their own form of myth, too, and that definitely WASN'T upheld in most homes, in eras where things like spouse and child abuse just...simply wasn't talked about. Let them take credit for a myth all they like--the construction of history shows a different reality.

Heh, and I so understand your distast for folks shoving their own history, myth, and religions down your throat. I couldn't agree more. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-17 03:42 am (UTC)

Re: ah

The Tipping Point is a fascinating book that examines why societal changes seem to happen quite suddenly and what the underlying small changes are that proceed a major shift, that there is a catalyst event, but that by examining the minute history leading up to the event, one can see the seeds of change being sown. That's sort of what I'm getting at here: that the Christ mythos was a catalyst, but the seeds had been sown, an that it likely could have come from elsewhere.

I'm not bashing on the actual teachings of Christ - there is some radical stuff in that there book [g] - just wishing that his followers weren't quite so self-important. The notion that the law as laid down 2000 years ago should be unevolving and static, and that they have all answers for all eternity is the one that irks me.
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2003-07-17 07:18 am (UTC)

Re: ah

To be even clearer--I don't belive you were Xtian bashing.

I am, however, still, just not certain there was anything like that that COULD have filled that gap, in existance at the time, and I guess I think the "what if" without a concrete suggestion for a substitute/theory is rough for me to handle. Heh, I'd be interested in hearing possibilities conjectured.

That better?

Lys--who may not be coherant for a long time and feels dumb for heading to grad school. (i.e., all of you write wonderfully!)
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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2003-07-16 08:54 pm (UTC)

Two suggestions.

Um, it seems to me that the impetus to create the printing press, and its near cousin, literacy, is a direct outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation, which is a reaction to established Xianity. And yes, the Chinese invented the printing press, but stopped developing new stuff. I have no idea why this is - "Guns, Germs and Steel" is sitting on my bookshelf mocking me as I type this - but it's so.

Also, I'd argue that liberal capitalism, and it's close cousin, liberal democracy, is an outgrowth of the idea that all people are created equal. (Just 'cause it's so beautiful: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.")

Despite the Roman rule of law (and the Roman Empire really fell at Byzantium, not Rome (though others, more learned than I have pointed this out)), there's never been a non-culturally Christian groups that really got this and applied it. In "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" Thomas(?) Friedman calls the capitalist system "the Golden Straitjacket." Basically, in liberal capitalism, you HAVE to respect the rights of the individual, or it don't work.

Steven Jay Gould, raised a point about this question (okay, not this exact question, but a line of reasoning that seems good here), in an essay called "Human Equality is a Contingent Fact of History." He points out that while life doesn't have to be the way it is, it turned out that way. Rewind the tape, and the sun expands into a red giant with the highest form of life being an algae mat. If the Neandethals don't die out, we have a race of our own species who are objectively inferior in terms of intelligence. Xianity seems, oddly enough, to have produced philosophical progeny that leads to systems that work, that protect the rule of law and the rights of individuals more effectively than any other. Not perfectly, mind, just better.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-07-17 03:35 am (UTC)

Re: Two suggestions.

A good point, and valid. But the unanswerable question will continue to be the "chicken and egg" one: were these Christian ideals the result of "God," or were there triggering mechanisms in place that would have resulted in these ideals proliferating under almost any philosophical regime. Was there something unique in the European theatre that was pushing philosophical thought in this direction? I tend to think that there was, that the notions of individualism have seeds in the writings of Aristotle. Whether they would have flourished in a less heirarchical world is the question. Certainly the Christian church lost as concerns the primacy of the individual for centuries in the Middle Ages, and many of the advances that brought us into the Renaissance were decried as far too secular by the church of Rome and the upstarts as well. I'm not convinced that people weren't headed in that direction as part of their evolution anyway.
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