July 27, 2016

THE DARK AGES WERE THE ENLIGHTENMENT:

A Baptist Scholar Debunks Anti-Catholic Historical Hogwash : a review of Bearing False Witness by Rodney Stark (ANN CORKERY July 25, 2016 2:06, National Review)

That is, the so-called Dark Ages, for Stark is at his best in showing how an era or age came by its name and how the vast historical evidence belies the easy -- or intentionally hostile -- handle. Enter the Dark Ages, which is said to have "fallen" over Europe following the collapse of Rome in a.d. 300 and lasted to at least 1300, a benighted millennium hostile to progress and knowledge, thanks to orthodox Christendom. Even the most educated will be forgiven for accepting this view, which writers from Petrarch to Voltaire, Rousseau to Gibbon advanced for their own purposes. Yet, as Stark points out, "serious scholars" have known for decades that this organizing scheme for Western history is a "complete fraud" and, as Warren Hollister wrote, "an indestructible fossil of self-congratulatory Renaissance humanism." 

The Romans may have called the conquering Goths "barbarians," but their chieftain (Alaric) had been a Roman commander, and many of the soldiers had served in the Roman army. It's also the case that the "barbarian North" had been under the rule of Rome. While intellectuals have not been able to appreciate the technological, commercial, and moral progress that took place in the small communities of medieval Europe, that doesn't mean the advances did not take place. On the contrary, revolutions in agriculture, weaponry, nonhuman power (water and wind power), transportation, manufacturing, education (the first universities in Paris and Bologna), and morals (the fall of slavery) occurred. Scholars have concluded that the flowering of science that followed during the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century was "an evolution, not a revolution." As Stark writes: "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." 

All this progress didn't happen in spite of the Catholic Church or get started only in the fourth century or the 17th century. According to Stark, the rise of the West began late in the second century because of an "extraordinary faith in reason and progress" that originated in Christianity, which held that human reason could unlock God's creation.



Posted by at July 27, 2016 7:34 PM

  

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