How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years

How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years April 11, 2016

industrial revolutionIn the first century CE, Hero of Alexandria described the aeolipile (pronounced “ee-oh’-la-pile”), the device shown in the drawing above. A fire below heats water in a boiler. Steam from the boiler enters the hollow ball through the two horizontal pipes that form the ball’s axle. The steam exits the ball through two jets and makes it spin.

We have no evidence that this was more than a curiosity, which, when you think about it, is remarkable. The Roman Empire (of which Alexandria was one of its biggest cities) built roads, bridges, coliseums and temples, and aqueducts that weren’t surpassed for many centuries. If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?

The Industrial Revolution

That would seem possible since the Industrial Revolution began in England with a far more mundane invention, the flying shuttle (1733). This increased weaving speeds by a factor of four. The spinners who made the thread now became the bottleneck, but the invention of the spinning jenny a few decades later made them more productive. To spin a pound of cotton had taken five hundred hours by hand. Machines reduced this to twenty hours by 1780 and just three hours a few decades later.

The weavers in this arms race shot back with the water-powered loom in 1785 and later, steam-powered looms. Cotton suppliers became a bottleneck, and the cotton gin (1793) boosted their productivity. By 1830, England had perhaps ten million spindles for spinning thread and over 100,000 looms, most powered by steam. One worker had become as productive as several hundred with manual equipment. The mills in Lowell, Massachusetts at this time were producing a hundred miles of cloth per day.

Like the trickle over an earthen dam that becomes a torrent, the change spread and grew. The equipment that worked so well with cotton was applied to silk, flax, and wool. The Jacquard loom wove elaborate designs with punch cards.

The innovation spread to other industries. The manufacture of glass and pottery were automated. More demand for steam power meant more demand for coal, so coal mining ramped up in response. Tin, copper, and lead mining also expanded. Thousands of miles of canals, followed by tens of thousands of miles of railway as well as steamship routes, connected mines to factories to markets.

England had gone in a few generations from a country like every other to a country like no other.

(Much of this is taken from my book, Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change.)

A Roman Empire without labor-saving equipment

The problem for the Roman Empire was slavery. Labor-saving machinery was the last thing needed by a society built on slaves doing manual labor.

The article “An Apologia for Anarchism” points out the problems. There is no incentive to find a quicker way to complete a manual task—manual labor is a good thing, because idle slaves are a problem. Slaves aren’t consumers. And slaveholders will use their slaves first rather than hire workers, which creates a discouraged class of unemployed free men.

Enter Christianity

Would Christianity be the answer? Emperor Constantine decriminalized Christianity in 313, and it became the state religion in 380. Many Christian apologists today insist that not only does their religion hate slavery but that we have Christianity to thank for abolishing it in Europe and the United States the early 1800s. They also tell us that not only does Christianity embrace science but that the Old Testament contains clues to scientific truths that preceded modern science by millennia.

With the Christianization of the Empire in the fourth century, Christians seem to be saying that society was fertile ground for the labor-magnifying ideas of the Industrial Revolution. Christianity obviously can drive innovation as we see with the remarkable period of cathedral building beginning in the twelfth century and the commissioned artwork from the Renaissance. Was the aeolipile too distant to be an inspiration in fifth-century Christian Europe? Did the flying shuttle (or any other invention that might drive innovation in an industry) simply not occur to anyone?

Those are possibilities, but the bigger problem is that Christianity’s claims about slavery and science are false. While the Catholic Church did disavow slavery, that wasn’t until 1965. The Old Testament didn’t reject the institution but instead managed it by imposing rules. Old Testament slavery was basically identical to slavery in America. Similarly, the New Testament tells slaves to obey their masters.

Christian claims that the Bible anticipated modern scientific discoveries are also wrong. In fact, such claims are inept post-hoc attempts to imagine farsighted scientific observations in verses that said nothing of the kind, and the Bible makes plenty of false claims about science.

Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation. Yes, there was some during the medieval period (eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation, and others), but that was in spite of Christianity, not because of it.

Christianity has had a chance to improve the lot of its flock. It was largely in charge from the medieval period through the Renaissance, but there is little to show for it. Modern apologists struggle to point to fruits of Europe’s Christian period, like universities and hospitals, though these examples crumble on inspection. Christian Europe was ruled by superstition, not reason.

Science, not religion, has ushered in the health and prosperity that we have today. Keep that in mind during the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign.

See also:

If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow,
there would be no doctors but witch doctors,
no transport faster than horses,
no computers, no printed books,
no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming.
If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow,
would anyone notice the smallest difference?
— Richard Dawkins,
Free Inquiry, 2004 Feb./March. p. 11

Image credit: Wikimedia

"the Christian or the Poseidonist rejects the other gods because they believe theirs is the ..."

Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 ..."
"You don't know what happened to him, so your accusations as to why he left ..."

Christians: Why You Need an Atheist ..."
"You don't know what happened to him, so your accusations as to why he left ..."

Christians: Why You Need an Atheist ..."
"FYI, the scientific method and modern fields of science were founded by Christians.Try again. A ..."

Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • RichardSRussell

    The problem for the Roman Empire was slavery. Labor-saving machinery was the last thing needed by a society built on slaves doing manual labor.

    I play Dungeons & Dragons, and as the dungeon master (the person running the game) I get to create my own world in which the role-playing action occurs. Magic is endemic in the basic rules of D&D, but I get to apply my imagination to figuring out the consequences of having it in my world. If it were rare, or only achieved great heights with the frequency of a Beethoven or Mozart, that would’ve led down one path. But I imagined that it was fairly common at a low level, and so would’ve been employed by humans for such things as toilets without pipes (the waste matter is magicked away to the nearest field-fertilizer dump) or uncabled elevators for the (relatively rare) tall buildings.

    One of the consequences of this state of affairs is (I imagined) that the prevailing mindset is that there are 2 major ways of getting work done: muscle and magic. Oh, there are wheeled carts and wagons, sailboats, etc., but there’s essentially no incentive to explore steam power or electricity (let alone nuclear or geothermal energy sources), so they remain, like the aeolipile, Crookes radiometer, or Magdeburg hemispheres, a mere toy or curiosity.

    Another, darker consequence of such a world is its tendency toward conservatism, very long-term adherence to the status quo, because curiosity is so seldom rewarded. “Why is it like that?”, some little kid might ask. If the parent knows the answer (as in our own world), it’s quickly supplied. But, if not, the response is not likely to be “let’s look it up” or “let’s try it out” but rather a shrug and the dismissive “magic”. As with a different kind of imaginary world, in which a real deity dispensed miracles on a regular basis and the answer to such questions would be “god”, in this case the catch-all answer “magic” stifles further investigation. Thus I posit a society that’s been really stable (and consequently familiar for those living in it, almost to the point of “it’s this way because it has to be this way”) for nearly 100,000 years.

    That’s about to change. Should be fun.

    • busterggi

      I am thoroughly insulted that you thought you had to explain what a DM is. Bloody newcomer!

      • RichardSRussell

        The term means something entirely different to those from the S&M and Spanish Inquisition worlds, so I thot the distinction was worth making.

      • rascal barquecat

        Now, now, there may be mundanes around who would appreciate the explanation.

    • The comparison of the D&D world vs. ours is interesting and instructive.

      I’m not following your seeing the sea change in the short term. You’re saying that the hold religion has on society is crumbling and will continue to do so? That could be right, though religion is pretty tenacious.

      • RichardSRussell

        I was referring to the sea change getting set to happen in my game world, not the one which (unfortunately) is still a long way off in the real world.

    • Why couldn’t people simply use magic to do those things which machines would here? If waste can be teleported, then goods can be too, along with soldiers. That would flatten the world, it seems, and leave far less need for wagons or ships. If magic is that common and useful, I’d think they might be actually beyond us in terms of innovation. For one, magic might be able to do things which are impossible for us (so far as currently is known). It depends on the setting of course, but for me the fact that fantasy worlds stay in a medieval world is pretty unbelievable when cheap and useful magic exists abundantly.

      • RichardSRussell

        In my own D&D world, low-level magic is cheap and abundant. That’s why it’s used for the basic necessities of life, like sewage processing and indoor lighting. But it gets rarer and harder to come by pretty quickly as you ask more of it. At its best, it’s capable of amazing accomplishments (akin to building pyramids or powering a world’s fair), but only in the hands of a very mature, gifted, and practiced mage (akin to the world’s top athletes), and it takes a lot out of her or him and is occasionally prone to going disastrously wrong (think Fukushima Daiichi).

        Given these parameters, and the concomitant social conservatism resulting from absence of curiosity for discovering non-magical ways of accomplishing things, getting stuck in a medieval milieu isn’t all that far-fetched.

        But, of course, this is just the way I personally imagine it. Other DMs are free to extrapolate otherwise to their heart’s content.

        • That makes sense, though I wonder why there’s just such commitment to having a medieval world in fantasy.

        • RichardSRussell

          A lot of it is just tradition. The original D&D was based heavily on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien (orcs, dwarves, magic users, and all), and Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson had worked out a whole lot of the basic assumptions and the rules to make them work effectively in a gaming environment. That work had already been done, and it was popular. It would’ve taken a lot more work to gin up a different set of rules for a technologically advanced world, and most of the people inclined to do so were already having too much fun playing D&D.

          Nonetheless, a futuristic role-playing game had some appeal, leading to Metamorphosis Alpha (set on a generation ship and roughly contemporaneous with D&D) and a few imitators. But these, being futuristic, fell under the heading of science fiction rather than fantasy, for all that they were just as made up. For whatever reason, they never seemed to capture either the imagination or mindshare the way D&D did.

          But a trip to your local game store will show that there are indeed options out there other than fantasy. Indeed, Gygax and Arneson got their start as tabletop war gamers, and that tradition is still going strong. How should the American Civil War or Napoleon’s Russian campaign have played out? Give ’em a try and see!

        • Yeah, it seems like most fantasy is borrowing from Tolkien. However in his work magic was very rare and mostly in the background. The assumptions of that universe don’t seem to translate well into one where magic has been made abundant and easy.

          I wonder what is the separation between fantasy and science fiction. Would it be fantasy if you have a space ship that’s moved by magic? It seems like in a fantasy world the science might be using and studying magic.

        • RichardSRussell

          The distinction isn’t even remotely clear, and you are not the first person to ponder the question. For instance: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” (Arthur C. Clarke CBE, 1917-2008, science-fiction writer, Clarke’s 3rd Law)

          If you have a compact orb that communicates both audio and video, instantaneously, across great distances, with the specific person you want to talk to, and you’re in a fantasy universe, you call it a palantir. If you’re in an SF universe and have something that looks and functions exactly the same, you have an ansible. These terms were used by fantasy and SF authors decades before anyone ever heard of a smart phone.

          As a long-time SF fan, I usually explain the distinction with an analogy to card games. All fiction requires some suspension of disbelief, the question is how much is reasonable to expect. I liken each such voluntary averting of the critical faculties to inserting a wild card into the deck. I’ll let you get away with 1 or 2 jokers and still think of it as SF; anything more than that is fantasy.

          YMMV.

        • Oh yes, I know I’m hardly the first. I’ve heard the corollary of Clarke’s Law as being thus: “Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.” That is the implication of many fantasy settings that I’m thinking of here. Replace “technology” by “science” and it works equally well.

          Yes, it does seem to be simply pushing the limits. There are also well-established settings which mix them liberally-Star Wars comes to mind.

        • RichardSRussell

          In fact, many of the phenomena touted as impossibilities, miracles, and wonders by the ancients are utterly commonplace today, so Clarke’s 3rd Law is being lived out before our eyes.

        • That’s true.

    • TheNuszAbides

      one of my stronger motivations in devouring more history and science over the last ~6 years is because i want to take an Ars Magica campaign off of both the historical and the theological rails.

  • Raging Bee

    The problem for the Roman Empire was slavery. Labor-saving machinery was the last thing needed by a society built on slaves doing manual labor.

    Are you kidding? Give an employer or slaveowner a labor-saving machine that works, and they’d happily either replace their slaves or employees, or teach them how to work the machine, and thus get even more out of their labor force than before. I never heard about Southern slaveowners saying a big fat NO to the cotton-gin — have you?

    • jh

      But the slave master would have been worried about people who are sitting around and thinking. The slave master wants people too tired to actually think about certain things such as “Why am I a slave and why does the master have a right to own me?” Those would be dangerous thoughts to the people who benefited from slavery.

      The slave master would have accepted technological improvements but only if they didn’t ensure that the slaves had leisure time. What the cotton gin did was require slaves to work harder to keep up with the machine so that the slave master could profit from the slave and mechanical labor.

      • Raging Bee

        Bullshit. All a master has to do, machines or no, is make sure the slaves are kept busy, which is what employers and slaveowners do all the time anyway.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and supervisorsoverseers …

        • Greg G.

          That reminds me of an old joke that I can’t resist sharing.

          A group of cannibals worked in an office complex in Manhattan. One day, a manager asked if any of them had seen the custodian because his trash can needed to be emptied. They all said that they had not seen him.

          Afterward, the leader asked, “Which one of you ate him?”

          One of them sheepishly raised his hand.

          “You fool! We have had it good eating nothing but supervisors and middle management and nobody suspected anything. Then you had to go and eat the janitor!

      • MNb

        “The slave master wants people too tired”
        Ever worked in a factory?

      • Raging Bee

        Also, no master or boss wants tired workers, because tired workers are less productive and reliable workers.

    • MNb

      Or better still – combine slavery with those machines and increase production drastically. See above.

    • ohnugget001

      The cotton gin (nearly automated versions from early 1800s on) actually drove the rise and later retention of slavery in the South, not the reverse. Cotton would never have been the profitable export for America, specifically the South as the North focused more on textiles, were it not *for* the cotton gin. It’s the machine that provided the economic incentive to keep a large number of slaves picking, while a drastically reduced number of slaves worked the mills. Slavery would have likely disappeared in the South as it did in the North were it not for the cotton industry and the cotton industry wouldn’t have been supplying over half the world’s cotton demand were it not for the cotton gin.
      So, the Southern “employers” did precisely what you said they would do, replaced the slaves in the mills (barns) but *expanded* their land holdings and field slave populations to meet the increased export demand.
      In fact, part of the cause of the Civil War was Southern opposition to allowing future states to join the Union without state laws protecting slaver rights in them. In large part they wanted to expand their operations West and use slave labor in the existing cotton industry as well as cheap labor to reduce startup costs in other speculative ventures.

    • Michael Neville

      In the 1860s it was cheaper to ship cotton grown in India to England, have it made into cloth, and ship it back to India than it was to have Indian grown cotton made into cloth in India.

  • MNb

    “If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?”
    Yes and perhaps even more. One thing that hold them back was not inventing a positional number system (like the Arabian/Indian one we use) and a symbol for 0. This might be a more important factor than slavery. The Soviet-Union pulled off an industrial revolution with a form of slavery and Nazi-Germany prolonged their war the same way.

    “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation.”
    The best example is of course the successor state of the Roman Empire – Byzantium ie Roman Empire II. It had every interest in superior technology yet invented nothing but Greek Fire.

    • your example of the byzantine empire is interesting. It was Christian, too, of course, but I hadn’t heard that they were eager for new technology. If true, it would argue that conditions/fate/whatever might be the cause of sluggish science progress rather than western Christianity.

      Good point about positional notation and Arabic numerals.

    • Rick Yocom

      Why didn’t China have its own Industrial & Scientific Revolutions ? Could it be that advances in metallurgy/chemistry had to occur before machines could be built to allow steam engines/electricity/mass production ?

      • Interesting question but perhaps tangential. We know that Europe (or England) did develop the necessary ingredients through the 18th century to kick off the Industrial Revolution. With Christianity in charge for 1500 years of no Industrial Revolution, what excuse does it have? If there were a series of fundamentals that had to be in place before it happened, why didn’t Christianity (not completely in charge, but largely) encourage them to happen quicker? Was there a period of sluggish growth or apathy to new knowledge that can be pinned on Christianity?

        • John Jones

          Suppose you had a whole theory about how computers would work, but did not have the materials to make a computer. If Europe/China did not have the metallurgy and chemistry to carry out the Industrial Revolution would it really matter what theology they followed ?

        • The issue isn’t, What if they didn’t have the prerequisites? Rather it is, If they didn’t have the prerequisites, what organizational/governing structure would achieve them the quickest?

          The slow progress in Europe when Christianity was in charge suggests to me that “Christianity” isn’t the answer.

        • John Jones

          I would say Capitalism drove the Industrial Revolution. So when did money/cheques, in the old fashioned sense, start moving around the world so that a ‘better mousetrap’ proved quite worthy of inventing/improving ?

        • adam

          “what organizational/governing structure would achieve them the quickest?”

          Or at all.

          Look at the current Catholic position on condom use.

        • MNb

          What does your question have to do with your “suppose ….”?
          So I’m going to treat them separately.
          Charles Babbage had such a theory. He didn’t live long enough to see one in action.
          Yes. A theology – or rather philosophy – that not only promotes the usage of deduction but also of induction, ie understands the importance of empirical evidence, would have allowed the Romans and Chinese to develop said metallurgy and chemistry and possibly induced an industrial revolution many centuries earlier.
          If that would have been a good thing is another question.

      • MNb

        No idea.

  • kraut2

    “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation. Yes, there was some during the medieval period (eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation, and others)”

    Christian Europe nurtered almost none of the above innovations.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirrup
    “The stirrup was invented in China in the first few centuries C.E. and
    spread westward through the nomadic peoples of Central Eurasia”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gunpowder
    “It was invented during the Tang Dynasty (9th century), and the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song Dynasty (11th century). Knowledge of gunpowder spread throughout the Old World as a result of the Mongol conquests of the 13th century”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_firearm
    “The firearm was invented in China during the 13th century AD, after the Chinese invented black powder during the 9th century AD.[1][2][3] These inventions were later transmitted to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The direct ancestor of the firearm is the fire lance, the prototype of the gun. The fire lance was invented in China during the 10th century and is the predecessor of all firearms.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_rotation
    “Middle Eastern farmers practiced crop rotation in 6000 BC without
    understanding the chemistry, alternately planting legumes and cereals”

    “A four-field rotation was pioneered by farmers, namely in the region Waasland in the early 16th century and popularised by the British agriculturist Charles Townshend in the 18th century.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plough
    “The earliest ploughs with a detachable and replaceable share date from around 1000 BC in the Ancient Near East,[6][dubious – discuss] and the earliest iron ploughshares from ca. 500 BC in China.[7] E”

    “Mouldboards are known in Britain from the late 6th century[8] on.”

    http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/waterwheels/
    “The first description of a water wheel that can be definitely identified as vertical is from Vitruvius, an engineer of the Augustan Age (31 BC – 14 AD), who composed a 10 volume treatise on all aspects of Roman engineering. Vitruvius described an undershot wheel, but remarked that it was among the “machines which is rarely employed.” One of the reason hypothesized for its sparse application
    was the availability of cheap slave labor which prevented the Romans from developing alternative sources of power.One of the most remarkable Roman application of a waterwheel was at Barbegal, near Arles in southern France. Dating from the 4th Century AD, the factory was an immense flour mill which
    employed 16 overshot water wheels.”

    Considering that the middle ages began at about 500 CE, very few of those inventions had anything to do with Christianity or even with the middle ages.

    Eyeglasses are an exception, http://www.museumofvision.org/exhibitions/?key=44&subkey=4&relkey=35

    A simple historical timeline of eyeglasses starts with their invention, believed to be between 1268 and 1289 in Italy. The inventor is unknown. The earliest eyeglasses were worn by monks and scholars.

    The history of castles is also one of the few items on the list that unambiguously fall into the timeframe referred to:
    http://www.historvius.com/castles-world-castle-list/fr259
    “The castles that we know today really began appearing from around 800-1000AD in Europe.”

    • That’s a helpful analysis, thanks. I guess what I meant was that Christianity was in charge as those inventions were shepherded into society. But that just goes to underscore the point that few advances happened under Christianity’s watch.

      • Andy

        You ever heard of the Byzantine Empire, dumbass?

        • Greg G.

          What significant advances did the Byzantine Empire do in science and technology besides maintaining ancient Greek writings?

        • I have, but I apparently have forgotten all the advancements that the Byzantines added to Europe.

          Go.

  • JustinL

    The aeolipile must have been the Newton’s Cradle or Big Mouth Billy Bass of its time.

    • “Oh, dammit! This bar has one of those stupid aeolipiles, too. They’re so obnoxious–let’s go find another bar.”

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    Love Dawkins’ quote.

  • The problem for the Roman Empire was slavery. Labor-saving machinery was
    the last thing needed by a society built on slaves doing manual labor.

    I don’t buy this as an explanation. Slaves have a maintenance cost, since a slave owner has to provide food and housing for his slaves. It’s a lot cheaper to have one slave operating a machine than to have a hundred slaves working without one. More importantly, the explanation doesn’t make any historical sense; were Roman slaveowners turning down repeated offers of machinery to make their own slaves more efficient? Did ancient inventors refrain from publicising their ideas because of the potential economic implications? The Roman Empire didn’t make a choice between industrialisation and slavery; they were simply unaware of the option of industrialisation and the steps leading to it.

    I’m also not convinced that the desire to keep workers busy is any lower when hired workers are used rather than slaves; this idea is more-or-less disproven by the fact that those workers have occasionally resorted to literally smashing up labour-saving machines in order to remove the threat to their employment.

    While slavery in general wasn’t condemned for a long time by the church, the enslavement of Christians by other Christians was disapproved of, and as far as I know slavery wasn’t a major factor in the economy in medieval Europe. So where was the medieval industrialisation?

    Was the aeolipile too distant to be an inspiration in fifth-century
    Christian Europe? Did the flying shuttle (or any other invention that
    might drive innovation in an industry) simply not occur to anyone?

    Those are possibilities, but the bigger problem is that Christianity’s claims about slavery and science are false.

    The Greeks’ claims about science were equally false, and yet they invented the aeolipile. And what false scientific claim does Christianity make that is relevant to the operation of the flying shuttle?

    • kraut2

      They not only invented the aeolipile – they build this:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

      and do you think that serfdom was superior to slavery?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_medieval_Europe

      • and do you think that serfdom was superior to slavery?

        Fair point, but I’m not sure the life of an early industrial factory worker was much better.

    • I think the point my source was making was that saying, “Hey–how would you like to eliminate the need for your large labor force with my new machine?” isn’t what a slave owner, with a lot of capital tied up in his slaves and the status quo, is eager to hear. The argument could be made that (as with slavery and the cotton gin) the machines could expand the economy and find new jobs for the slaves, but that is still an uncomfortable transition period when the future is hard to see.

      • That sounds like exactly what a slave owner would want to hear. Maintaining a large labour force costs money. Increased productivity means a slave owner can sell a few slaves, save money on food costs, and still produce and sell more than he did before. Wouldn’t a slave owner, like any other business owner, be happy to have a method of increasing profit and reducing costs?

        • Herald Newman

          Why would any slave owner want to hear that the workforce they’ve purchased is now redundant, and that nobody else wants to buy them either?

        • Any slave owner who doesn’t like spending money on maintaining that workforce. The argument that nobody else will want to buy slaves only applies once industrialisation is already widespread; the early adopters won’t face this problem. The workforce isn’t necessarily redundant anyway, since the slave owner might choose to increase production using the same number of workers.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      I read an interesting piece about how the Romans didn’t WANT people thinking too much, and that’s one of the reasons there was a flatline on technological progress after Heron of Alexandria…

  • patrick.sele

    “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation.”

    In the following
    link, on pages 5 to 25, there is a contribution which argues for the opposite
    view:

    http://www.telenor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/T04_2.pdf

    • kraut2

      And when did this begin? after the reformation, after the stranglehold of Catholicism was defeated which ended the middle ages.

      Any science whose results seemed to contradict biblical explanations or the teachings of:

      Aristotle was revered as the greatest thinker of his time. Since
      neither Aristotle nor anyone else thought it good to test theories by
      experiment, his ideas persisted for nearly 2000 years. The early
      Christian Church incorporated this idea into its conception of a
      Creator and thus made Aristotelian physics part of its world view.
      Challenges to Aristotle were strongly discouraged by the Church
      throughout the middle ages, further establishing his ideas as
      “right.” When Galileo’s experiments led him to disagree with the
      Aristotelian view, he was tried as a heretic. Experimental results
      were not persuasive against Aristotle’s authority.

      http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/aristotle.html

      • patrick.sele

        kraut2: “And
        when did this begin? after the reformation, after the stranglehold of
        Catholicism was defeated which ended the middle ages.”

        Excerpt from the
        contribution mentioned in my first comment:

        “Any
        legacy of Europe may … be found in a belief
        in progress and a linear view of history. The world had a beginning, it had a solid reality, it was valuable and it would have a significant history before coming to a definite end. And man should strive to improve the present world, based on his graciously given reason and talent. One may argue that the center of any great civilization is its
        religion, and this religion
        animates and gives it a sense of purpose. Without denying negative aspects of
        church history it
        is possible to find in the break with earlier religions an explanation of the “European
        mutation” mentioned above. “[T]he victory of the Church in the 4th century was not, as so many modern
        critics would have us believe,
        the natural culmination of the religious
        evolution of the ancient world. It was, on the contrary, a violent interruption of that
        process which forced European
        civilization out of its own orbit
        …”. It was the work of the new philosophy, as represented above all by St. Thomas, for the
        first time to break with the old
        established tradition of oriental man
        back into the order of nature … He taught that human intelligence is not that of pure spirit,
        it … finds its natural activity in
        the sphere of the sensible and particular”.”

        kraut2: “Aristotle
        was revered as the greatest thinker of his time. Since
neither Aristotle nor
        anyone else thought it good to test theories by
experiment, his ideas persisted
        for nearly 2000 years. The early
Christian Church incorporated this idea into
        its conception of a
Creator and thus made Aristotelian physics part of its
        world view.
Challenges to Aristotle were strongly discouraged by the Church
throughout
        the middle ages, further establishing his ideas as
”right.” When
        Galileo’s experiments led him to disagree with the
Aristotelian view, he was
        tried as a heretic. Experimental results
were not persuasive against
        Aristotle’s authority.”

        Excerpt from the
        contribution mentioned in my first comment:

        “Also
        modern natural science has older roots; in the Islamic world, in the work of Abelard (1049–1142), and
        even more in the revolutionary natural philosophy
        of a Buridan and Oresme in Paris around 1300, who took the first major steps toward discarding
        Aristotle’s physics. This was to lead the way for the physics of Newton.”

        • Michael Neville

          TL:DR

        • Loren Petrich

          That text deserves MUCH better formatting.

          As to “linear time”, that does not necessarily mean progress. It can also mean continuous degeneration. In fact, I read somewhere that premodern overall histories could often be divided into three eras with no sharp dividing lines between them:
          1. Gods and creation
          2. Legendary heroes
          3. Ordinary people

          The earlier parts of the Bible fit very well, as does the early history of Christianity according to the New Testament and the Church Fathers.

          The idea of progress is a modern one, one that IMO was stimulated from seeing lots of progress all around.

        • TheNuszAbides

          exactly. stasis-mongers (at least) can always be trusted to bring the hype to “just how things are [meant to be]!”

    • There’s a lot there, but it looks interesting.

  • patrick.sele

    Two excerpts from
    the contribution mentioned in my previous comment:

    “In
    several cultures there have also been a negative view on discovering something new. In the later Graeco-Roman period intellectual labour was “increasingly directed less toward discovering
    new knowledge than toward
    preserving old knowledge. This
    state of affairs gave rise to generations of compilers and commentators” (McClellan
    III & Dorn, page 92).

    Negative
    attitudes towards manual labor did not make things better. As Xenophon presents Socrates saying, “What are called the mechanical arts carry a
    social stigma and are rightly
    dishonoured in our cities, for these
    arts damage the bodies of those who work in them or who act as overseers, by compelling them
    to a sedentary life and to
    an indoor life, and, in some cases,
    to spend the whole day by the fire. This physical degeneration results also in
    deterioration of the soul.
    Furthermore, the workers at these trades simply have not got the time to perform the offices of
    friendship or citizenship. Consequently they are looked upon as bad friends and bad patriots, and in
    some cities, especially the
    warlike ones, it is not legal for a citizen to ply a mechanical trade” (from
    Oeconomicus, quoted by Dahl, 1982, page 65).

    To
    Aristotle society had progressed so far that one was now liberated from the need for new technological
    inventions. “At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men, not only because there was something useful in the
    inventions, but because he was
    thought wise and superior to the rest.
    But as more arts were invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to
    recreation, the inventors of the
    latter were naturally always regarded
    as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of knowledge did not aim
    at utility. Hence when all
    such inventions were already established,
    the sciences which do not aim at giving pleasure or at the necessities of life were
    discovered, and first in the places
    where men first began to have leisure.
    This is why the mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly caste
    was allowed to be at
    leisure” (from Metaphysica).

    This
    is the attitude of someone who has put technology behind himself as something
    trivial. “However, one
    may perhaps rather realise that even if they had all the things necessary for material and
    spiritual growth, they were
    diverted by a very peculiar way of looking
    at the relationship between spiritual and physical work” (Dahl,
    page 67).

    It
    is no coincidence that to most Greeks science was about geometry, something which had to do with a world of thought, rather than about physical
    experiment, which had to do with nature and matter. When the Romans became rulers of
    the Mediterrean world, the
    situation grew even worse. Even if the Romans were among the greatest civil engineers ever,
    building high-quality roads and aqueducts, Roman science lagged. “There was a remarkable lack of
    interest in science and technology” (Van Doren, 1999).

    There was also no clear social role for science
    and careers in science, since
    there was little ideological or material
    basis of support for that field. It did not help that a dominant ideology was that natural
    knowledge should not
    be applied to practical ends, and the flourishing of anti-intellectual cults like
    Mithraism in Late Antiquity. “Historians
    of technology have asked why no industrial revolution developed in antiquity.
    The simple answer seems to be that there was no need, that contemporary modes of
    production and the slave-based economy of the day satisfactorily maintained the status quo. The
    capitalist idea of profit as a desirable end to pursue was completely foreign
    to the contemporary mentality. So, too, was the idea that technology on a large scale
    should be harnessed to those ends. An industrial revolution was literally unthinkable in antiquity” (McClellan III & Dorn, page 94).“

    “It
    has become clear that the technological and scientific leadership of Europe has
    far older roots than the “Industrial
    Revolution” of the 18th century or the “Scientific
    Revolution” of the 17th century. In fact, even these terms are no longer very useful and obscure what really happened. In reality the first industrial revolution – which was culturally more
    significant than what happened seven hundred years later – started at the latest around the year 1000.

    It
    was even perhaps “200 years earlier that the West began to apply water power to industrial
    processes other than milling
    grain. This was followed in the late 12th century by the harnessing of wind power.
    From simple beginnings, but
    with remarkable consistency of
    style, the West rapidly expanded its skills in the development of power machinery, labor-saving devices, and automation. Those who doubt should contemplate that most monumental achievement in the history of automation: the weight-driven
    mechanical clock, which appeared in two forms in the early 14th century. Not in craftsmanship but in basic technological capacity, the Latin West of the
    later Middle Ages far
    outstripped its elaborate, sophisticated, and esthetically magnificent sister
    cultures, Byzantium and Islam” (White,
    1969).”

    • Michael Neville

      I had a high school English teacher who kept telling us students: “If you write something that’s hard to read then people won’t read it.” Can you either clean up the formatting on your post or give us the TL:DR version?

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    Read “That Old Time Religion: The Story of Religious Foundations” by Maxwell, Tice, Snow and Massey. It illuminates the ridiculousness of the catholic church and its hand in “retarding history and technology” for 1,500 years.

    • I’m not following your point. What’s ridiculous–the idea that the church was against technology or the reverse?

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        Read the book. The church was against technology.

    • Pofarmer

      One that might go with it is Andrew Dickson White “on the war between religion and science.” Yes, he said a few things that were incorrect, but in the main I think he’s right on.

  • ningen

    It is too much of an oversimplification to lay either credit or blame on Christianity for scientific progress. To its credit, the Roman Catholic Church encouraged literacy and scholarship (at least for priests) and the establishment of universities grew largely out of Church efforts to create and maintain an educated clergy. This is why so many of the great figures in the history of science had religious educations or were themselves members of the priesthood. Many of them took their work to be a way of glorifying God.

    But at the same time, the Church often discouraged work that led in theologically or doctrinally dangerous directions. Thomas Aquinas had appropriated a broadly Aristotelian scientific framework that had few significant conflicts with major theological commitments of the Church. In fact, the Church happily embraced this scientific framework exactly because it made it relatively easy to argue that theological doctrines could be validated by natural reason as well as by special revelation. This was the “Scientific Creationism” of it’s day, allowing people to say, in effect, “Science proves God”.

    But as progress continued to be made in science, this comfortable fit between science and theology began to deteriorate. The Galileo affair is of course one prominent example of this deterioration, but there were plenty of others.

    I think there is a strong argument to be made that the Church’s greatest anti-scientific trend may have been its opposition to new techniques and concepts in mathematics. Galileo proved to be very largely right when he said that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. It seems odd that the Church would include certain mathematical innovations in the class of dangerous ideas, but this seems to have been the case.

    Here is one interesting discussion:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/04/13/christianitys_original_anti_science_crusade_the_religious_order_that_tried_to_crush_modernity/

    • Pofarmer

      I’ve seen Aquinas described as the greatest mind ever wasted.

    • Rick Yocom

      Isn’t much of the progress due to advances in Steam and Metallurgy plus the printing press and logarithms ?

  • Ol’ Hippy

    An interesting theory I’ve just discovered in a new book: Hyperobjects; by Timothy Morton is that the world ended in 1781 with the patenting of the steam engine by James Watt. I just started the book, so I’ll know more in a few days. Scientific discovery has accomplished many things except taught us how to live within our means. Religion also has failed in that respect too, contrary to what quite a few believe. These discussions have to be encouraged if humans are to survive another millennium. Progress can only do so much and religion even less.

    • Michael Neville

      Scientific discovery has accomplished many things except taught us how to live within our means.

      Capitalism, which was developed in the 17th and 18th Centuries, requires both expanding markets and unlimited resources. You can blame the economists, not the scientists, for the problem you mention.

      • RichardSRussell

        Actually, economists aren’t responsible for the economy per se, only for trying to explain how it works. Interestingly, virtually all of the Nobel Prizes in Economics awarded in the 21st Century have been for work that demonstrates how one or another of Adam Smith’s assumptions in Wealth of Nations was incorrect, leading to bad conclusions.

      • Ol’ Hippy

        Yes economic policy based on endless growth, big time trouble. However the steam engine started industrial revolution and growing population and then oil resulting in dangerous global warming. That book is next on my list. Currently reading: Collapse by Jarred Diamond. Things just don’t look good at all. Sorry.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Progress can only do so much

      this is about as content-free as many statements about ‘society’ and practically all statements about god[s]: way too vague. not that i’m complaining: it’s a pain in the ass to get meaningfully specific.

  • L.Long

    The reason for retarded society is two fold, and both folds is based on ignorance and wilful stupidity continued by various dogmas. Medical science was delayed by various ignorant superstitions about dead bodies which was continued by church beliefs. So local customs where continued by religions. And so many did not want to know any better!
    Then you have the real cause the 1%-ers!!! They have always existed….nobles, kings, slave owners! Then when people rise up and get rid of one type of 1%-ers (america and france) they purposely replace them with another type of 1%-ers, Congress, prez, CEOs, and there are still slave owners.
    Science did nothing evil! But various people (usually 1%-ers) used the fruits of science to do evil!!
    And anyone wish to name any age in the past that is worth going back to as an ordinary person!!!!????? As a person that pretends to be in the 12th century every few weeks, I can guarantee there aint NO WAY I want to really live there!!!

    • The 12th century where the burgers at lunch come from Costco and there is no smallpox might sound pretty good … if only for an afternoon.

  • My question is: what ended slavery in Europe? Yes, it was later extended into the European colonies, but that came later. By the 1500s, most European countries had long abolished slavery. If not due to Christian doctrine, what was it? This doesn’t mean the Christian view of slavery has been so universally negative, but it does seem most believed that at least fellow Christians could not be slaves. With the Christianization of Europe, slavery appears to have fallen accordingly. It’s got to be remembered that Christians often do not follow the Bible, so what it says (good and bad) is not always definitive. Particularly with Catholicism, which is far less literal about it, which held sway for most of Christian history.

    As for science, we should also ask why it happened at that point and not later. In any case, modern historians don’t agree with the idea of a Dark Ages which held progress back anymore. Only in the last few centuries have changes happened this rapidly. Perhaps science was partly due to Christian belief in the orderliness of the universe, as some people have suggested. Of course, Islamic science also made great strides before the Mongols ended their Golden Age. Both were inspired by Greeks like Aristotle. So more likely this came from many sources.

    It seems like sometimes that there is an extreme reluctance to give Christians credit for anything, no matter how small. This would not mean Christian doctrine was true, however. I do understand the reluctance given how very over-eagerly some Christians seem to claim credit for virtually anything.

    • Herald Newman

      “If not due to Christian doctrine, what was it?”

      And my question is why did it take so long? 1800 years for virtually all of Christians to accept that slavery was wrong tells me that it it wasn’t Christian doctrine that changed their minds!

      “It’s got to be remembered that Christians often do not follow the Bible”

      This says more than anything about slavery. I’d suggest that Christians started to adopt proto-humanist values, and then recognized that slavery is incongruent with those values.

      “It seems like sometimes that there is an extreme reluctance to give Christians credit for anything”

      Because Christianity, being the death cult that it is, only cares really cares about two things:
      1. Salvation: Getting people to believe their going to heaven
      2. Glorifying God
      If a real world problem doesn’t have at least one of those two criteria, then Christianity isn’t going to give a damn about it!

      • Well as I said, slavery was gone in most of Europe by the 1500s. This was when the last holdouts abolished it. By the 1000s, most had. Christian doctrine was specifically cited for this. It’s true that slavery was then allowed overseas from the 1400s, and Christian doctrine was also cited for this. So it was used both for and against slavery at different points. I’m not sure what that says, except to show Christian incoherence on the issue.

        On humanism, that raises the question why they adopted those values. When do you see that happening anyway?

        I’m not found of many Christian dogmas, but “death cult”? How about if glorifying God involves helping people? Would that not at least be useful?

        • adam

          “How about if glorifying God involves helping people? ”

          Why would anyone need an IMAGINARY ‘God’ to help people?

        • I’m not saying it’s the only reason any helps others. Yet it does appears to motivate many. As for why, it can be both a positive and negative thing. Positive: because of love which they see as being embodied with God (though yes, this also ignores many unloving parts of the Bible). Negative: because if you don’t, you’ll go to hell. There are verses in the Bible which condemn people to hell who didn’t care for others.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          I’m not saying it’s the only reason any helps others. Yet it does appears to motivate many.

          But you are still looking at kindness as compulsory and not so much motivated from within one’s self purely out of empathy. In Buddhism, kindness is advised because all things suffer. It is a recognition of empathy.

        • I agree, it isn’t ideal. Empathy does seem like enough to me, though obviously not others (imperfect as I am). I just don’t know enough of Buddhism to really comment though.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          I’m not a Buddhist nor an expert on Buddhism by any means, but I think there are many things within the practice that offer insight. Young children are very empathetic. To cultivate that is far more healthy than to guilt it into them by citing demands of antiquated gods.

          There are always going to be those who are unsympathetic, greedy, selfish or cruel. Some people are just that way. Avoid them when you can.

        • I definitely agree with cultivating empathy, and its growth has changed things for the better (hopefully this will still continue). That said, I do think Christianity can do this to a certain degree (whatever scriptures may say). It would be more the positive side, e.g. “love your neighbor as yourself”.

          Unfortunately, I’d say you’re right. However cultivating empathy can aid people who might otherwise not be.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Cultivating and making something compulsory are two different things. I think this is where the complaint against religious hypocrisy comes in. Religion dictates, it does nothing to expand awareness. If one is being charitable without any depth of awareness to that act, then what good is it? This is not to even suggest that all religious people have little or no awareness, but given the many issues with religion, past and present, there is a significant number who don’t and it becomes a problem for the greater collective.

        • I also disagree with the “do it or else” approach. I’m not sure it can’t expand awareness at all though, or that there’s none in religious charitable action. However as you say it seems unnecessary in the long run. I’ve been talking history here.

        • adam

          “I’m not sure it can’t expand awareness at all though,”

          But at it’s core it christianity is based on fear mongering and obedience to authority.

        • I’m not defending that, but not everyone works on this basis.

        • Michael Neville

          All too many do. I’ve been threatened with Hell many times because I don’t believe in Jesus. Some years ago my Catholic brother and I were talking to a Pentecostal and we were both informed we were going to Hell for the sin of not being Pentecostals.

        • Unfortunately yes.

        • adam

          Which is THE problem when claiming a divine basis for christianity.

        • I’m not defending that claim either.

        • Rick Yocom

          Read the article, thanks.
          Seems China is determined to eliminate Tibetan Buddhism.

        • Rick Yocom

          Why do all things suffer in Buddhism ?

        • Myna Alexanderson

          I don’t know as Buddhism holds any patent on the observation that all sentient beings experience pain, emotionally, physically and that pain is suffering, but the awareness of that suffering, understanding that it is universal, to therefore hold compassion, is essential to the teachings.

          I’m not a Buddhist, but here is a resource (I chose Tibetan Buddhism as a link) to answer any essential questions if you are curious about its practice: http://www.sakya.org/introtibetanbuddhism.html

        • adam

          “Yet it does appears to motivate many”

          Which IS the problem.

        • Why? Because it’s bad if that’s the only motive, is that what you mean? I’m not sure how the above memes relate to this.

        • adam

          If appears to have motivated people to OWN other people, and kill and ostracize people that it’s ‘god’ doesnt approve of.

        • In some cases yes. There’s certainly a negative side too.

        • adam

          ” There’s certainly a negative side too.”

          That points AWAY from any divinity.

        • I agree-I’m an atheist.

        • Will Thompson

          God ain’t petty, we are! Jesus said “if any one follows Me, let Him deny himself.” So why aren’t many who want to enjoy fellowship in Christian circles doing this? God is love and offers salvation to all. You read the Bible only to justify your behavior calling it a civil right. Ironically using language from the Christian Minister led Civil Right’s movement. If you know God’s word, why can’t YOU interpret it properly. Don’t talk to me about right wing evangelicals and their religious or political views. What does the text say about YOU! Sin is sin whether it is wearing a sacred or secular robe and no one will escape God’s righteous judgment! Some say “God those evangelicals are homophobic and bigoted.” Okay NOW that we have dealt with that, where do you stand? That will be the issue. In the Bible there will be a judgment for those who did not put their trust in God’s salvation in Christ who have NO HOPE. They can march, filibuster, vote, go on talk shows of their position but they are only heaping upon themselves a recompense that is fitting. But for those who believe, love God, His Son, His Name is Jesus, the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life is assured. Those in sin write their epitaph daily, lest responding to the grace of God in Christ and the call for personal holiness which includes a shunning of sexual immorality. The choice is yours, sin or salvation, rebellion or trust. Believe the gospel!

        • Greg G.

          Luke also quotes Jesus saying:

          Luke 14:26-27If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

          Sin is an imaginary concept of the imaginary dislikes of an imaginary being. Hating your children is worse than worrying about the imaginary dislikes of your imaginary god.

        • Michael Neville

          “God ain’t petty existent, we are!” Fixed it for you.

          Before you start preaching your god at us, you have to give us reason to believe your god exists. Somehow this is the fail point for all of you Christians. We ask for evidence that your god is something more than a figment of the imagination and so far we’ve been given nothing. So it’s your turn in the barrel. Will, show us what you’ve got in the evidence locker.

        • adam

          “God ain’t petty, we are! ”

          Same thing

        • cwayneu

          Or the “Love me or I will hurt you.” message.

        • adam

          “God is love and offers salvation to all. ”

          Murdering gays and condoning slavery is NOT love.
          You have a VERY warped perspective.

        • Otto

          What exactly makes God’s judgement righteous? Because HE says it is?

          Sounds like a ‘might makes right’ argument.

        • katiehippie

          Cake or death is not much of a choice.

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry, we’re all out of cake and we aren’t Church of England.

        • MNb

          “God is love”
          Sorry. I have never been able to understand this short sentence.
          What do you mean with god?
          What do you mean with is? Are the two words synonyms? Then why not just stop talking about god and start loving each other?
          What does divine love mean given

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8RoB7FbU3A&ebc=ANyPxKom-zf-vp0SRHux6o46Ni8CNj_9meZDg6Pc61Yj1kV8sIGyrBPzcioZcRk6ckywrED7K4uEWbYNQ_ssouYhx2KJ-baxjA

        • cwayneu

          Yes, if a god did design this place, he obviously hates animals for some odd reason. 99% of all land and sea creatures live in a blood and guts world, where they must brutally kill and eat some other poor creature for their very survival. Hell, even simple plants can use nonviolent photosynthesis to absorb energy from the sun. Why not animals. This is some really sick and twisted design

        • Susan

          What does divine love mean

          As often as you’ve linked that video, I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch it.

          We aren’t just talking about predation in nature, either. We’re talking about famine, drought, floods, forest fires all as a part of the natural cycle. Also cancer, arthritis, gangrene, tooth decay, tumours, broken bones…

          I find this claim of a human-centred deity completely insane and cold-blooded. Hundreds of millions of years of mindless suffering and death that only benefits one little pinpoint in a continuum of life forms.

          “Free will” is a ridiculous response. It’s the only response they have when you bring up the horrors of life on this planet. It pretends that hundreds of millions of years of suffering and death (most of it underwater) is irrelevant.

          The christian deity is a monster. So are other human-obsessed deities.

        • MNb

          “I’ve never been able”
          Neither have I. My stomach can’t take it. Which is exactly why I link to it.
          The whole point is that theodicies sound plausible when kept abstract. Applied to concrete cases full of horror they immediately fall apart.
          The same for Free Will. Ask what free will meant for Elisabeth Fritzl in her basement and the answer is crickets. Even Herman Philipse, who in my favourite book for atheists kept the option open that christians might be able to construct a story that answers the question why god allows such evils, admitted that it’s nearly impossible to construct one that answers this real life horror.

        • Susan

          The whole point is that theodicies sound plausible when kept abstract. Applied to concrete cases full of horror they immediately fall apart.

          It was respectfully pressing this point that finally got me banned from that farce of a web site Strange Notions. And my comment (a thorough, unsnarky couple of paragraphs) was deleted.

          It was in response to an appalling article by Robert Spitzer that suggested that a vision problem gave people opportunities to help him and him the opportunity to be helped.

          That they can’t see how revolting these apologetics are is a serious problem for me. The message seems to be “As long as I benefit, then things are good.”

          That’s at the root of belief in salvation from a deity that created natural selection out of metaphysical nothing. As long as it works out for me, then it’s good.

          Even as a child, I knew something was terribly wrong with that. Terribly, terribly wrong.

          It takes tremendous persistence to even get them to acknowledge the problem and when you finally corner them, you’re met with cold-blooded rationalizations or hand-waving. Keep pushing and you get “mystery”.

          It makes me sick.

        • Susan

          Ask what free will meant for Elisabeth Fritzl in her basement and the answer is crickets.

          Maybe Will Thompson will finally provide a satisfactory answer.

          Crickets so far.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And Harlequin Babies…that’s some repugnant omni-benevolent God shit right there.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Your righteous gospels describe a rather capricious, vicious, self-adulating, bloodthirsty godhead and in quite graphic detail. With this in mind, it seems that you would do better to think less about the kingdom to come and pray now that you are wrong.

        • Max Doubt

          “God ain’t petty, we are!”

          I’m not petty. Take responsibility for your own self esteem problem.

          “Those in sin write their epitaph daily,…”

          I don’t sin. Never have. Never will. It’s one of the luxuries of not being in a subservient relationship with a figment of your imagination.

          “… lest responding to the grace of God in Christ and the call for personal holiness which includes a shunning of sexual immorality.”

          Sexual immorality according to who? You? Are you the person endowed with the power to interpret the rules of everyone else’s imaginary friends? Seems pretty fucking arrogant to me. How about you live by the rules of your own imaginary friend, and let everyone else whose playing let’s-pretend live by the rules of their imaginary friends? How about not being so arrogant as to assume anyone else in the world should consider your interpretation of figments of your imagination relevant to their lives?

          “The choice is yours, sin or salvation, rebellion or trust.”

          Remember, I don’t sin. And I don’t have any use for salvation either. I’m not rebelling. And I’m pretty sure I’d use the word trust in an entirely different way than you mean it.

          “Believe the gospel!”

          Trust The Wizard of Oz. It’s a better tale, better written, with more interesting characters, infinitely more consistent, and far more entertaining.

        • adam

          “There are verses in the Bible which condemn people to hell who didn’t care for others.”

          And even those who DO care for others… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bb5ade09ef82150b8b2a5dea4adb2392b435511c90fa9861e8ddc52f3a3d60bf.jpg

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Progressives opposed slavery for Enlightenment reasons, AFTER the rediscovery of Greek classics, while conservatives fought to maintain it.

      But xtianity doesn’t get to take credit for progress that MOST of the religion fought bitterly against.

      • I definitely credit progressives for opposing slavery as well. However, on what grounds do you say that “most” Christians fought against abolishing slavery? Some did, to be sure, and this has often been ignored by the “Christianity abolished slavery” crowd. Abolitionist sentiment was commonly Christian though and as I said, Christian Europe had long abolished slavery at home (its tragic revival in the overseas colonies notwithstanding).

    • I also want to give Christianity the credit it’s due (but no more). If slavery withered in Europe for other reasons, I don’t want to give Christianity any credit. If Christianity very slowly said, “Well, slavery isn’t really all that cool from God’s standpoint, so let’s minimize it,” first with fellow Christians and then with others, OK, that’s something. Not really the clear moral statement that you’d hope would come from a religion in tune with the omnibenevolent Creator’s wishes, though.

      • I’m open to good alternate explanations for why Europe abolished slavery. Thus far Christian opposition does seem to have been a part of it. I agree we should a far less equivocal statement than going from “slavery is okay within these conditions” to “treat your slaves nicely” to “having slaves is not really in keeping with the idea of Christian fellowship” to “slavery is an intrinsic moral evil”. The argument that society wasn’t ready for abolishing slavery is pretty lame and unbecoming for a religion which posits an all-powerful god I’d say.

        • Will Thompson

          Man this page is rough! In thinking about slavery and Christianity in the Roman Empire, I always go back to Paul’s words in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, In the KJV it says ” According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (3:10) and “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (11:12). It seems to me no one give Paul and Christianity a chance to survive in the light (or darkness) of our contemporary arguments! How dare they or whoever? With a Mack Truck a chance to defend Paul’s most simplest ideas are run over. Paul handled the slave issue with a wisdom, love and grace benefiting only those who have, what did Isaiah and later Jesus say? “Eyes to see and ears to hear.” Paul (again by the grace of God) took a Tiger by the tail and tamed it with an extension of grace to both Jew, Gentile, male, female, bond or free. And in the words of those involved in hip-hop of our day “cut the record down to the bone”

        • Michael Neville

          Man this page is rough!

          You’re not in the vicar’s parlor having tea. This place is a combination debating society and bikers’ bar.

          Paul (again by the grace of God) took a Tiger by the tail and tamed it with an extension of grace to both Jew, Gentile, male, female, bond or free.

          Paul was a misogynist, a homophobe and an all around jerk. You will not find many people here who hold Paul in high regard.

        • This place is a combination debating society and bikers’ bar.

          If I need a new slogan for the blog, I’ll be sure to consider this one. Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Hold on there. The Pastorals are forgeries and the misogynistic parts of 1 Corinthians are probably interpolations. As for the rest, you left out self-loathing and proud of it.

        • I’ve tried to make it a bit less rough, though I’m not sure what you’re saying in regards to Paul. On slavery, what he appears to have said is “treat your slaves nicely” (well, that’s summarized). This is good, but insufficient.

        • Paul handled the slave issue with a wisdom, love and grace

          If he ended up supporting slavery, doesn’t that call into question his wisdom, love, and grace?

        • Otto

          **”Thou shall not own other people as property”**

          Would that have been so hard?

        • TheNuszAbides

          Man this page is rough!

          you ain’t seen shit.

    • MNb

      “My question is: what ended slavery in Europe?”a
      1. When everybody was converted it was seen as unethical for christians to own christian slaves. According to christianity everybody is equal to god.
      2. Roman slave economy was gradually replaced by serfdom, which was introduced by Emperor Diocletianus to prevent depopulation.
      Note that serfdom in Russia persistet until well into the 19th Century. In western Europe it disappeared after the Black Plague of 1348 and 1349.

      Point 1 is confirmed by many examples of christian slaveholders in the colonies who opposed the work of missionaries.

      “we should also ask why it happened at that point and not later.”
      Or before. We know the answers for the second (Copernicus and co) and the third scientific revolution (around 1800 CE), but only partly for the first: why the Babylonians started to collect astronomical data. What exactly triggered the ancient Greeks is unknown.
      I have no idea about India and China.

      “In any case, modern historians don’t agree with the idea of a Dark Ages”
      Dark Ages is often ill-defined and used to objectify biases. The only definition that makes sense is an interimperiod without literary sources. Three examples are The Netherlands and England from 400 – 550 CE and Greece from 800 – 500 BCE.

      “which held progress back anymore”
      Progress is also an abused term. Europe in 1300 CE didn’t look like Europe in 600 CE at all. However we can say that European scientific knowledge and understanding in 1500 CE was about the same as it was in the Middle East in 200 BCE, largely fixed by Aristoteles. Copernicus’ revolutionary heliocentrism was also developed by Aristarchus of Samos. Math had developed, but like many technological innovations due to external ie non-christian influences.

      “an extreme reluctance to give Christians credit for anything, no matter how small”
      Not me. In Byzantium, like in the islamic world, scholars did an excellent job to maintain the knowledge and understanding present. In Western Europe, which in 400 CE was already backward anyway, scholars – mainly monks – did what they could, but failed due to continuous barbarian invasions – 600 frigging years! Christianity deserves all the credit for maintaining a structure that first after the conquest of Toledo in 1085 and much later after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, made an astonishing revival of intellectual life possible.
      However for the second scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th Century more was needed – the RCC losing its authority.
      The dispute is essentially this. Many christians recognize the unprecedented success of science, though some of them try to downplay it. Many want to increase the credibility of their belief system by taking undeserved credit for that success.
      In moral respect something similar happens. I’m totally OK with giving christianity credit for what it did in the first few centuries. It gave people a voice that hadn’t had a voice at all until then – the slaves and the have nots. They were nobodies; they became somebody. Just think of Auschwitz for understanding how important that is. It just doesn’t follow that christianity can take credit for everything we think better in the 21st Century compared to back then.

      • 1. That was my understanding.

        Why did slavery lead to depopulation? I’d actually heard it was Justinian who had transformed slavery into serfdom.

        Yes, there is much still unknown.

        Indeed, that is how historians use the term “Dark Ages” now-only as a reference to the lack of sources, not stagnation.

        Change certainly continued to happen.

        I appreciate you being different MNb.

        I agree, though Christians deserve credit for some things, many also do take too much.

        • MNb

          I did not write that slavery lead to depopulation. Diocletianus ruled at the end of the 3rd Century after many decades of a political, military and economical crises.
          Neither did I write that Diocletianus transformed slavery into serfdom. I wrote that Diocletianus took the first step introducing it.

        • Okay, I misread your comment about depopulation. Why was changing slavery thought to prevent it? Above when you said Diocletian introduced serfdom it wasn’t clear that just meant taking the first step.

        • MNb

          I don’t know if you misread it; I suspect that my formulations are a bit unclear. It doesn’t really matter. You still got the sequence wrong.
          Slavery wasn’t changed.
          Diocletianus immobilized landowners, both small and big ones. Farmers became tied to their land. He didn’t change anything about slavery. When the Germanic invaders took over they kept this law, enabling them to introduce the feudal system. That again made it possible to gradually abolish slavery without damaging the economy.

        • I’d heard that, but attributed to Justinian. This does sound like a change to slavery though, but in any case, why did it prevent depopulation? You mean because no one could leave the land? Were they having emigration?

        • MNb

          No, I checked it – it was Emperor Diocletianus. In the end it changed slavery of course because it became economically superfluous.
          If the measure actually prevented depopulation is questionable. The idea was that forcing people to stick to their land made them stay of course.

          “You mean because no one could leave the land?”
          In theory.

          “Were they having emigration?”
          What will you do when you can’t make a proper living from farming and run the risk of getting your farm destroyed by looting armies running over your land? During he Third Century especially western Europe suffered from both invading barbarians and civil war. It has been argued that the Roman Empire was doomed after

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ch%C3%A2lons_(274)

        • Okay, that makes sense.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Dark Ages is often ill-defined and used to objectify biases. … Progress is also an abused term.

        thanks (x2). vagueness and rhetoric demand more pushback, even in our heathen echo chamber.

    • Raging Bee

      What ended slavery in Europe? It probably had something to do with specific relationships of production: slave-labor was simply not appropriate to the way things were produced at that time and place.

      I wouldn’t credit Christianity here, since the same Christians were perfectly willing to use slave-labor in other places where it seemed most economical, i.e., the cotton plantations of the US South. (Also, slaveowners were expected to convert their slaves to Christianity, but not to free Christianized slaves.)

      • How were things produced in that time and place which changed this?

        It’s true Christians backed slavery in other places, but earlier many opposed slavery of their brethren. Hypocritical of course, a factor nonetheless. Their thinking appears to have changed later on this after economic incentives came up.

      • slaveowners were expected to convert their slaves to Christianity, but not to free Christianized slaves

        Now that’s weird. The church as a whole has an embarrassing record with respect to slavery, but at least the Catholic church officially said “no enslaving Christians” at some point (at least that’s what I remember–I can’t find any source to back that up now).

        I guess that’s all well and good only when it doesn’t inconvenience anyone.

    • TheNuszAbides

      By the 1500s, most European countries had long abolished slavery.

      are you counting the ones who only disallowed enslavement of Christians? in a ‘one nation, one unit of power’ framework this might be more telling; but weren’t the ‘hold-out’ minority busy with colonies/empires that dwarfed all of the slavery-abolishers combined?
      EDIT: i guess it makes more sense in the narrower window of ‘by the year 1500’ — before massive expansion had quite been realized and before there was so much ‘incentive’ for freshly brutal labor policy (i.e. not officially protected (local) ‘subjects’).

      • So far as I know, by the 1500s they had all outlawed it completely. This was only domestically-the same era then saw it start up again overseas unfortunately.

        • Pofarmer

          It may have been outlawed, but there was still defacto slavery in things like the Magdalene laundries.

        • Well yes, there were still many forms of servitude. However the Magdalene laundries started in the 1700s, well into the period of colonial European slavery.

  • Herald Newman

    “Similarly, Jesus affirmed it when he told slaves to obey their masters.”

    Pretty sure it was Paul (or at least somebody writing as Paul) that said this, not Jesus. According to the bible, Jesus never said anything about slavery.

    • Myna Alexanderson

      But Jesus did condone the practice and abuse by comparing master and slave in the warning of his return.
      Luke 12: 40-48

      • Rick Yocom

        Reading the passage seems to simply say that if a Master of the House goes away and finds out the servant he placed in charge has mistreated the other servants – woe be to him. Please explain how you conclude that ‘Jesus did condone the practice and abuse…”

        • Greg G.

          Read verse 48 in the passage. It does not say to instruct the slave who didn’t know what to do, it says to beat him anyway just not as hard.

        • adam

          Some people just need a picture:

        • John Jones

          It appears that we shall get what we deserve if we have not done what the Master expects. No excuses and no escapes.

        • Greg G.

          That is what the religion says but this is the 21st century. It’s time to drop religion. That verse is a good reason to do it.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          If you have one manifestation defending its own manifestation originating from an original, now a ghost, manifestation, wouldn’t that make it some kind of trinity?

        • Michael Neville

          You lost me at that second traffic light in Albuquerque.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          George in three persons, Watson, Jones and Yokom

        • Michael Neville
        • Myna Alexanderson

          I kind of rushed through that light…with a riddle in my pocket.

        • MR

          God creates fallible man, then punishes fallible man for being fallible. Not only punishes, but goes beyond punishment. One beats his fellow slaves and gets drunk and the punishment is being cut into pieces. That isn’t justice. That isn’t being Christ-like. These are clues the whole thing’s a farce.

        • John Jones

          Why, have we suddenly become moral paragons of virtue ?

        • Greg G.

          Religion is only about pretending to become moral and paragons of virtue. Maintaining biblical morality is understood to be immoral now.

        • Dys

          And thus the conclusion that the hypothetical Master cannot be perfectly just and perfectly merciful.

        • John Jones

          Dys,
          Do you know what perfect Justice is ?
          Do you know what perfect Mercy is ?
          Do you know that they cannot be the same ?

        • Dys

          By definition, perfect justice and perfect mercy are mutually exclusive. You’re welcome.

        • Susan

          It appears that we shall get what we deserve if we have not done what the Master expects.

          It appears that you are threatening us with an imaginary, tyrannical Master. Meh.

          No excuses and no escapes.

          Meh.

        • John Jones

          What appears to you is of your own making.
          I commented on the passage.

          What God will do with you is between you and your Creator.
          Yes, there is no escaping the due justice of God whether
          you like it or not.

        • Susan

          What appears to you is of your own making.

          Not exactly. So far, all you’ve done is threaten with people with something that you have done no work to distinguish from an imaginary tyrannical Master.

          What God will do with you is between you and your Creator.

          There you go again.

          Yes, there is no escaping the due justice of God whether you like it or not.

          And again.

          Somehow, it’s my fault that that’s all you’ve got?

        • cwayneu

          Maybe we should threaten John with Hanuman the Hindu monkey god, and see if he cowers in fear. He obviously expects people to cower over his god. It’s like one of those “My god is more powerful than your god.” contest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, he’ll be getting his comeuppance okay…it’ll be a whole different story when he is being trampled for eternity under the thunderous hooves of a stampeding herd of Space Ponies, while I sit proudly mounted astride a silver stallion, upon a diamond encrusted, golden saddle all the time looking down on his pain wrenched contorted face.

          So there, JJ had best get right with the program or else!

        • John Jones

          I have not threatened anyone.

          The passage speaks for itself.

          If you do not like it, you can take it up with the writer –
          if you ever meet them.

          Yes, in the final analysis, according to the passage,
          it is all your fault.

        • Greg G.

          I have not threatened anyone.

          Reciting a threatening Bible verse as a threat may be like threatening to throw a marshmallow at a battleship but it is a threat. You seem to think your marshmallow can penetrate the hull.

        • John Jones

          I did not recite the Bible passage.
          I commented on it.
          If there is a Creator and if that is what the Creator
          will do with those who fail to follow His will –
          you will have to take of any and all issues you have
          with the text – with your Creator.

        • Greg G.

          I did not recite the Bible passage.
          I commented on it.

          Ok, you cited a verse instead of recited a verse.

          If there is a Creator and if that is what the Creator
          will do with those who fail to follow His will –
          you will have to take of any and all issues you have
          with the text – with your Creator.

          If you keep making these threats, Santa Claus will only leave a lump of coal in your stocking.

        • John Jones

          I make no threats.
          I can’t do anything to you or Susan now, or after you die.
          You and she and all of us are in the Creator’s hands.

        • Greg G.

          You are threatening to sic your imaginary creator on us. You can’t do anything to us and neither can your imagination so why not imagine your threats and let it go at that instead of engaging your fingers on your keyboard.

          Impatient theists have been known to try to speed up the types of threats you are making. They used to kill those who didn’t buy their veiled threats of the afterlife. It makes you look like you have run out of persuasive arguments. When imaginary threats do not persuade, the theists sometimes go to machetes and burnings at the stake.

          If you are out of arguments, go away.

        • John Jones

          G,
          I made no threats.
          Whether you love the Creator or not is between you and your Creator.

        • Greg G.

          He’l is a threat Christianity stole from other religions and you, as a Christian, keep using using it.

        • Dys

          Nah…there’s probably no Creator, and eternal life is a pipe dream. In all likelihood, there is no “after we die” for us.

          But really, ducking behind “the bible says it, not me” is a coward’s defense. You expressed it, you believe it. Repeating a threat on someone else’s behalf doesn’t absolve you of responsibility for it.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          I did not repeat the threat.
          The Creator does not issue threats, He issues Commandments.
          I believe that whatever happens after you die is between God and you.

        • Dys

          Ah…you mistakenly think that a commandment cannot also be a threat.

          I don’t particularly care what you believe about any Creator, as you haven’t provided a good reason under either persona to suppose that your belief has any grounding in reality.

        • MNb

          “I command you to do X or …..” totally is a threat coming from the entity that issues the commandment. You repeated it on behalf of your imaginary Master Bully.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “The Creator does not issue threats”

          Your “creator” never issued threats, then?

        • John Jones

          G,
          I made no threat.
          Why do you see the Bible verse as threatening to you since you evidently don’t
          believe that God, if there is one, would do any such thing.

        • Greg G.

          Hell is a threat Christianity stole from other religions and you, as a Christian, keep using using it.

        • cwayneu

          It is like you are waving the religious gun around, claiming we will get what’s coming to us. You believe the religious gun has the power to harm us, yet we happen to know the gun only has blanks. We know we are not actually in danger, but you are making a threat all the same. It just pisses people off, which is probably your motive since we have tried to explain the treat is empty, and you just keep at it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s even dafter than that when we know that the gun he is holding looks like… http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/allthetropes/images/2/29/Finger-gun_mr-bean_9965.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140704095334

        • Michael Neville

          Yes you have threatened Susan and the rest of us. What’s worse, your threat is toothless since your “creator” is completely imaginary. It’s like threatening us with what Sauron or Valdemort will do to us.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,
          I made no threat.
          If there is a God, He will do what He sees fit with us.
          If there is not God, what have you to worry about.
          Since it appears that neither you, nor Susan believes in a Creator-God,
          what force is behind such a supposed threat.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s funny, everyone else see your threat as a threat except you. That tells me that you’re the one who’s most likely to be wrong on whether or not you made a threat. And in your last whine you brought up Pascal’s Wager. You’re really not as good at Christian apologetics as you think you are.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he’s never needed to be, judging by the personal echo-bubble he displays so smugly with every fucking post.

        • MNb

          This

          “Yes, there is no escaping the due justice of God whether
          you like it or not.”
          is a threat, no matter how often and how hard you deny it.

        • MR

          Not to mention that said “due justice of God” is infinitely opposite the justice we’ve been spoon fed to believe.

        • John Jones

          MNb,
          How is that a threat.
          Should you expect anything but due Justice from God, your Creator ?

        • Susan

          If you do not like it, you can take it up with the writer –
          if you ever meet them.

          That won’t happen. The writer has been dead a very long time.

          according to the passage, it is all your fault.

          Meh.

        • cwayneu

          Do you lose any sleep worrying that Hanuman the monkey god is the real god, and you are doomed, because chances are high that you are in the wrong club? No? Well, don’t expect us atheists to lose any sleep, worrying about your god either.

        • John Jones

          C.
          I don’t expect you to lose any sleep over anything I say.
          How you wish to understand the Bible and what that passage may mean is up to you.

        • cwayneu

          I (Wayne actually) am a x-Christian with a series of eureka moments that lead me to be an atheist. Best wishes on your journey, where ever it leads you.

          Here was my point. You keep throwing out statements about due justice from your god, as if we actually believe someone is keeping score, and we will surely be sorry. For people that do not believe in your version of a god, or no god at all, those kinds of threats are useless, no different than someone saying you will have to answer to Hanuman. It is completely ineffective, and comes off as a bit arrogant. If that is your motive, OK, but it will typically damage, not help communications.

        • MNb

          “Yes, there is no escaping the due justice of God whether
          you like it or not.”
          Thanks for confirming Susan’s

          “It appears that you are threatening us with an imaginary, tyrannical Master.”
          I am disappointed. You seemed smarter than this.

        • John Jones

          MNb,
          “It appears…”
          Frankly lots of things appear to Susan, and most of them, in terms of this site, from what
          I can tell, are her own feeble sophisms.

          I cannot threaten you with the Creator.
          He has no obligation to listen to me or anyone else.
          No threat was made.
          Just the simple observation that we cannot elude the Creator’s Justice.

    • Good point. It was Paul in Eph. 6:5 and Col. 3:22 who said that.

  • Pofarmer
    • Otto

      Catholics are not exactly a bastion of the exchange of ideas.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Catholics are not exactly a bastion of the exchange of ideas they can’t pretend came from other Catholics. or Plato.

        fixed.

    • primenumbers

      You know the score – they either turn off comments or block anyone who comments intelligently.

      • StevenK

        That happens too often, unfortunately.

      • cwayneu

        Yes, there was an article months back about the gay marriage SCOTUS ruling. There were several outright incorrect comments about how the law process actually works. I tried very politely to just state the facts, and the next morning the blog owner (some Catholic x-Arizona state representative as I recall) had deleted every single one of my comments.

    • Otto

      Funny I read the post that is titled “Atheist Christopher Hitchens was wrong about Mother Theresa, here’s why”…

      And then she drones on that Hitchens was wrong and never explains why, just that Mother Theresa was really good. She never once addresses an argument he made about her. At the bottom she even admits this after the fact. She does point out that she addressed that issue in another post which she links.

      In that post she gives such a cursory counter-argument to Hitchens take down of Mother Theresa that it is hardly worth reading. She never addresses large parts of Hitchens argument. Typical Catholic BS.

  • Clover and Boxer

    “They also tell us that not only does Christianity embrace science but that the Old Testament contains clues to scientific truths that preceded modern science by millennia.”

    Hey Bob, do you have an article specifically about circumcision? I was talking with a conservative Christian the other day who said that circumcision practiced by the Hebrews must have been by divine revelation since science now reveals the wonderful benefits of circumcision that the Hebrews couldn’t have known anything about (!).

    I found an article from an apologist that makes basically the same argument: http://www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/134.circumcision.html

    The section “Physical Aspects of Law of Circumcision” lists a bunch of wonderful benefits of circumcision (true?).

    I’d never seen this specific argument before, so I’d like to see other ideas about responses to it.

    • Otto

      The doctor I talked to regarding my son said if it was kept clean there really was no benefit.

      Maybe God should have given us the recipe for soap and then we wouldn’t need to cut off body parts.

      Or how about God create us without this piece in the first place if it is unnecessary? Their argument is nonsense.

    • I’ve heard that in modern civilization, it has no benefit. However, “There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%,” which is a pretty huge deal.

      http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/malecircumcision/en/

      Compared to FGM, I think the downsides are pretty trivial, though i realize that some get very exercised over this issue.

      To your point, that the Bible was clairvoyant in recognizing the health benefits of circumcision is bunk. It was just a way to sacrifice something (better that than your whole self) to Yahweh to show your allegiance. No health benefits are claimed in the OT.

      • Clover and Boxer

        “No health benefits are claimed in the OT.” Yeah, that was the biggest thing for me. There’s no reason to think it was nothing more than one of thousands of peculiar cultural practices. In some cultures men flay their penises (*cringe).

        Furthermore, the benefit of reducing HIV transmission in heterosexual men is peculiar since that benefit didn’t mean anything for thousands of years until HIV arose in humans in the 20th century.

  • Rick Yocom

    Mr. Seidensticker,

    Constantine promulgated the Edict of Milan in 313 which tolerated Christianity and then Emperor Theodosius I promulgated the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. You sentence in your opening remarks were a bit unclear on this.

    • I thought that’s exactly what I said. No?

      • Rick Yocom

        I don’t think you said which Emperor made Christianity the State Religion, so it read as if Constantine was still alive in 380.

        • Aram

          The subject of the sentence was Christianity, not Constantine, Hence your confusion.

  • davidt

    The Christians are also responsible for the wholesale slaughter of many archetypes’. This genocide to this day goes unreported and there should be a Public outcry!!! Why ck Chesterton himself admitted and admired that Pan had to die so as to give way to theology!! Why with Pan around living, theology had no chance. It’s believed that theologians built a net made from reasoning, caught Pan and cast him into hell, where he became the devil himself! This allowed of course the development eventually of the modern university oxford Cambridge bologna. etc!!! So it was PAN who was the real problem you see keeping us from creating the intellectual empire of the universities that run children into dept till they are middle aged. Reasoning is a magical thread for sure.

  • Tommykey69

    I think a big part of the problem is that the Christianization of the Roman Empire happened around the same time that the Empire faced a growing number of external threats to its power, such as increasing pressure by Germanic tribal coalitions, the Huns, and a resurgent Persian Empire under the Sassanids. These problems wouldn’t have just vanished if Rome had remained resolutely pagan.

    The Roman Empire was able to fund such massive public works because it was a large and powerful state with the wealth and means to initiate such projects. When the Empire came under increasing pressure and disintegrated in the West, there was no entity large enough to amass the funds to carry out similar projects on such a massive scale.

    The Romans were rather lucky in that for several centuries there was no external power that could threaten their existence, and for a fair chunk of that time period they had a stable system of succession to avoid civil war (the Five Good Emperors period).

    • MNb

      “such as increasing pressure by Germanic tribal coalitions”
      Oh, they were converted quick enough. In the time the Roman Empire was christianized the army was largely Germanic – and christian (aryan to be precise).

      “These problems wouldn’t have just vanished if Rome had remained resolutely pagan.”
      No, but that’s not the point. The point is rather that christianity did preciously little about those problems.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Ahem! Ahem! What’s all this England shite?

    The Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom and most of the important technological innovations were British.

    The stable political situation in Britain from around 1688, and British society’s greater receptiveness to change (compared with other European countries) can also be said to be factors favouring the Industrial Revolution.

    Just saying.

    • Michael Neville

      The English, the English, the English are best
      I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest.
      -Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

      • Ignorant Amos

        Well without the rest the English would have been banjaxed.

        The British Empire would have been a non starter.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re right. That’s why England conquered the rest of Britain, either militarily or economically.

        • Ignorant Amos

          To be fair, it’s a bit more technical than that.

        • Michael Neville

          You and your technicalities.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Technicalities, minutiae and detail can make all the difference ya know. }8O)~

        • Michael Neville

          Well, if you want to get technical about it, you might have a point. Maybe even two.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • John Jones

          The Welsh.

        • Michael Neville

          The Welshman’s dishonest, he cheats when he can,
          And little and dark, more like monkey than man,
          He works underground with a lamp in his hat,
          And he sings far too loud, far too often, and FLA-A-A-T.

        • John Jones

          Best singers in the world.

        • Michael Neville

          I thought that was the Italians.

        • Michael Neville

          The English are noble, the English are nice
          And worth any other at double the price

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nothing’s like the English and their Self Appreciation Society.

    • I have been known to get the UK, Britain, and England confused, though I thought I had it together when I wrote this bit. Didn’t the Industrial Revolution start in Manchester (England)? Or is your point that it quickly spread to the rest of the UK?

      • Michael Neville

        Here’s a simple guide:

        England, the biggest bit of the biggest island, is the important part.

        The biggest island is called either Britain or Great Britain, depending on whether one is putting on airs or not. There is no Less Britain, I’ve asked.

        The UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is ruled by Her Majesty Mrs. Brenda Windsor (originally Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, the name was changed for tax purposes). The UK consists of England and some unimportant bits like the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Scotland, etc.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom.

          The Scots, the Welsh and the Irish will tell you that without them, England and Britain wouldn’t be.

        • Michael Neville

          England would remain England without the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

          Spurred on by your correction I have conducted considerable research (i.e., read a couple of wikipedia articles) and discovered that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are “Crown Dependencies” and not part of the UK at all.

          You’re just jealous because you’re British but not English. There’s no shame in not being English. Billions of people live useful, productive lives without being English. With proper counseling and therapy you can get over not being English.

        • Ignorant Amos

          England would remain England without the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

          Tell that to the Scots, Welsh and Irish that fought and died to keep the French and Germans X 2 at bay.

          During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon planned to invade from the south-east. However this failed to manifest and the Napoleonic forces were defeated by the British at sea by Lord Nelson and on land by the Duke of Wellington. The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the Scots and Welsh.

          The Duke of Wellington was an Irishman btw.

          The Irish made up 40 per cent of Wellington’s army during the Peninsular war and 30 per cent of his troops at Waterloo. They were the ones who won the critical battle of the 19th century two centuries ago.

          You’re just jealous because you’re British but not English.

          I wouldn’t think so. I’ve had plenty of English comrades during my time in the British Army and along with my Scottish and Welsh comrades, I have remained friends until this day. That said, I have no desire to be English or Welsh. I am an Irishman from Ulster of Scottish heritage, which makes me a proud Ulster Scots Brit. A far deeper and better heritage than the average Englishman in my opinion.

          There’s no shame in not being English. Billions of people live useful, productive lives without being English. With proper counseling and therapy you can get over not being English.

          I don’t doubt it, but since your assumed diagnosis is erroneous, I wouldn’t know anything about it. I’ve more than enough to be proud of from within my own culture to be getting on with. No therapy required here…seems to be mainly something uncertain and insecure yanks rely on from what I can see.

        • Michael Neville

          The Duke of Wellington was an Irishman btw.

          Do members of the Ascendency count as Irish?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Seems to work for the British Royal Family okay.

        • We’re number one!

          Or perhaps that’s my insecurity speaking. (Have I mentioned that we’re number one?)

        • TheNuszAbides

          Tell that to the Scots, Welsh and Irish that fought and died to keep the French and Germans X 2 at bay.

          i’m guessing none of these were ever approached by smooth Axis operatives promising them that they would be treated less like shit if they turned on the Pommies? or if they were they knew better than to believe them for a split-second …

        • I hadn’t realized how complicated the relationships of these Crown Dependencies are. Not part of the UK but defended by it, not part of the EU but sort of.

        • Paul B. Lot
        • Very helpful. And confusing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This’ll make it easier for ya Bob….explained in 76 seconds…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACOlry6zgWg

        • Much, much clearer. Thanks.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Ya know me by now, I was being facetious. Things have slowed down a great deal around here lately so a thought a might be a wee bit controversial.

        If we are talking about the Flying Shuttle, it was invented by John Kay who lived in Bury, Lancashire, but it was first manufactured and used in Colchester, England.

        If we are talking about Hargreaves and the Spinning Jenny, then Blackburn, Lancashire, England.

        If we are talking about Samuel Compton’s improvements to the Spinning Jenny, then he was a Bolton lad, Lancashire.

        If we are talking about “the father of the Industrial Revolution”, Richard Arkwright and his Water Frame, he was born in Preston, Lancashire, but was involved in enterprise all over the north, including Scotland.

        Then there is Daniel Bourn and Lewis Paul’s invention, the Carding. Bourn having connections with Lancashire too.

        If we are talking about Watt’s Steam Engine, then that was Scotland.

        But the IR wasn’t one single event. It came about through a number of factors.

        The need for mass production as a result of an expanding empire and the raw materials and logistics available to supply such a demand.

        If a was going to be reductionist, Lancashire is the birth place of the Industrial Revolution.

        Lancashire was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, which in the space of a century, between 1750 and 1850, transformed the life of England and in turn the rest of the world.

        Lancashire’s Industrial Heritage is rich and colourful for it was here that drove the nation’s economy with the birth of the country’s cotton industry. The county spawned such great inventors and innovators. Richard Arkwright, the world’s first great industrialist was born in Preston, who together with John Kay produced a machine able to spin yarns at faster speeds before a twist was imparted.

        One might say “Necessity is the mother of invention”.

        Now, enough of my silly pedantic antic’s, I’m considering whether or not to reply that bilge Steven/Steve K threw at me last night. What do ya think?

        • That’s a helpful review of the Industrial Revolution, thanks.

          I’ve not seen Steve/Steven say anything for a day. Perhaps he’s finally buggered off. “Let sleeping dogs lie” comes to mind.

        • MNb

          Your hope is vain. See your Hagee article.

        • Darn! I’m burned by my own cleverness.

        • My bad. Looks like the dog has once again bestirred himself. I wonder how he enjoys my recrafting of his ideas.

        • Michael Neville

          You forgot to mention that Marmite was invented (discovered? disinterred? improvised? brought into being?) and is still manufactured (decanted? forged?) in Burton upon Trent. It’s one of the few times a use has been found for industrial waste.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Now that’s defo English and they can have it too!

        • TheNuszAbides

          Vegemite’s superior anyhow.

        • TheNuszAbides

          invented (discovered? disinterred? improvised? brought into being?)

          summoned.

          still manufactured (decanted? forged?)

          spawned.

      • MR

        You mean…, they’re not the same thing? I thought they were like the Trinity….

        (apologies to ia for the cheap shot)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anyone would think I had no sense of humour fer feck sake.

        • MR

          Just passionate about your beliefs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aren’t we all?

  • Loren Petrich

    Richard Carrier has argued that classical-era Greco-Roman science and technology had had some impressive achievements: Ancient Science, Richard Carrier Blogs: Books on Ancient Science, Richard Carrier on Ancient Science – YouTube

    Richard Carrier has proposed that the downfall of ancient science was due to the Crisis of the Third Century, half a century of strife and economic downturn and civil war. The Empire almost broke apart then, with a breakaway Empire of the Gauls and with Zenobia conquering the Middle Eastern part of the Empire.

    After that, the philosophers were mainly interested in mystical revelation, such as Neoplatonism. Science did not recover for a millennium, and it got restarted by the discovery of the works of a lot of ancient philosophers. But it only happened in the lands dominated by the Western Church, and not by the Eastern Church, and even then, it was slow going.

    • I suppose if one is being critical of Christianity’s rule within Europe, we could also critique conditions when Islam was driving the show.

      They were the repository of the Greek wisdom for about 500 years ending with the Mongol conquest in 1258 (if memory serves). On the other hand, perhaps they were on track to an early Industrial Revolution, with their work in chemistry, astronomy, and mathematics.

  • Ignorant Amos

    I nearly choked when a came upon this nonsense a moment ago…anyone recognise this loony tune geezer?

    http://vridar.org/2016/04/15/what-does-probably-mean-to-historians-and-forecasters/#comment-77506

    • Pofarmer

      I figure neil can handle it.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Of course…he isn’t that difficult after all.

    • Michael Neville

      Thanks for giving Neil some background on George.

      • Ignorant Amos

        It is only fair in order to prevent another group from going through the same hell we had to endure.

        Neil at Vridar is no where remotely as tolerant to fools such as Bob was here, but I see the cockwomble George has begun the Gish Galloping and is pissing the owner off already. He’ll begone soon enough, they are less tolerant of George type non arguments.

      • Ignorant Amos

        It didn’t take long, but Neil has already axed him and guess why? For committing the same crimes he committed here.

        http://vridar.org/2016/04/15/what-does-probably-mean-to-historians-and-forecasters/#comment-77555

        Logic teacher, my arse.

        • Pofarmer

          I didn’t reckon he would last over there.

  • Professor_Tertius

    The Richard Dawkins quotation made me wince. His ignorance of history and the role of philosopher-theologians in bringing about the Scientific Method and modern science is appalling. As much as I dislike centuries of so much that was done under the domination of religious hierarchies, the fact remains that “the achievement of scientists” is virtually the same list of famous names as “the achievement of theologians.” For centuries, what we know today as science was known as “natural philosophy” and scientific thought and theological thought often occupied the same brain. Do I need to list the theologian-philosophers who remain virtually synonymous with the rise of modern science?

    Surely you’ve read articles about the rise of Empiricism and the various theologian-philosophers who gave us the scientific method and who pioneered entire fields of modern science. (You probably have, though Richard Dawkins clearly hasn’t or he wouldn’t make such foolish statementw.) Today we tend to simply call them “scientists” but they were theologian-philosophers who made western Europe the eventual leader in scientific research worldwide. Many even made their living as paid theologian-clergy: Nicolaus Copernicus, Roger Bacon, William of Ockham (ever hear of Ockham’s Razor?), Albertus Magnus, Francesco Grimaldi, and many more. For that matter, many centuries of countless Jesuits were driven by their pursuits as theologian-philosophers to develop much of the science which Dawkins utilizes without any awareness of its source and the reasons behind their achievements! Of course, in more recent centuries I could also point to clergymen like Joseph Priestley, Gregor Mendel, and even George Lemaitre. Rene Descartes and Anton Lavoisier spring to mind as well. To pretend that science emerged independently of theology-philosopher boggles the mind.

    Of course, theologians also preserved literacy, higher education, and government bureaucracy after the fall of the Roman Empire, and thereby preserved civilization itself—a necessary “achievement” without which science could not be fostered. And it was the theologian-monks whose collaborations with the eastern empire and Islamic scholars copied and preserved the knowledge of the ancient world and the foundations of science. Dawkins is so intent on vilifying anything related to religion that he concocts fallacious dichotomies every bit as silly as those of Young Earth Creationists.

    As we would expect, some of those theologian-scholars certainly produced much better science than theology. Isaac Newton published all sorts of bizarre stuff in addition to what we now call Newtonian physics—alchemy included—but he definitely prided himself on being a theologian, even writing a commentary on the Book of Revelation. But to divide “the achievements of theologians” from “the achievements of scientists” betrays an appalling ignorance of history and how science developed: in the minds of individual theologians. For many centuries, the theologian-philosopher-scientist was usually one and the same person!

    Out of ignorance, Richard Dawkins probably thinks that science arose independently of everything else, rather than as a specific academic subfield within the theologian-philosopher academy. You see, natural philosophy (which became modern science) began when theologian-philosophers realized that there was a subset of questions within philosophy, especially those involving the natural world, which could be more easily answered than the others. Why? They noticed that some philosophical questions could be pursued NOT just by the usual panoply of philosophical approaches (such as logic and mathematics) but by entirely new empirical methodologies. They began to pursue experiments, but only because theologian-philosophers had already organized the ground work of logic and reason which makes such science possible.

    Have you ever wondered why Christian Europe embraced, fostered, and continued to develop modern science while various other civilizations had relatively brief rise and falls of empirical science? (Of course, many civilizations hardly got started in Science at all.) What was it about Europe which saw the science academy flourish and grow exponentially while ancient Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto civilizations did not? Like it or not, Christian philosophy fostered various kinds of science-friendly thinking which samsara-based religions like Hinduism did not. (If a culture’s predominant philosophies convince everyone that life is chaotic and one’s place within it cannot be improved because being passive and powerless is actually VIRTUOUS, science is unlikely to develop. Indeed, samsaric cultures continue to struggle even today, even when the advantages of science are offered and financed by the outside world.)

    Now before anyone assumes I’m following fundamentalist apologetics—in fact, they are by far my biggest critics—I generally loathe the overgeneralizations which try to reduce complex historical and cultural developments to single factors. I’ve generalized above only to resist the generalizations of Dawkins and his anti-theist friends. Just as fundamentalist Christians often overstate the role of Christian philosophy in the ascendence of empiricism in Europe, we see similar errors in naive anti-theists who blame Islam for the decline in science after the Arabic Golden Age. (Neil Degrasse Tyson often promotes that silly myth and even replays many of Carl Sagan’s favorite pseudo-historical factoids. Just like the rest of us, scientists should be careful when pontificating outside of their fields of training and specialization. As much as I dislike Islam, I’d rate religion as no more than fourth place in the ranking of factors which ended the Arabic Golden Age—because I trust the scholarship of my academic colleagues who specialize in Near Eastern history.)

    Likewise, the characteristics of Christian philosophy were among MULTIPLE societal factors which gave Christian Europe enormous advantages in fostering the rise of the Scientific Age. To pretend that Christian philosophy played no part in the rise of science is a protest from the ignorant. Dawkins should stick to evolutionary biology where he actually knows what he’s talking about.

    The title of your blog article caught my eye because the rise of western civilization is such a fascinating and complex academic discipline. Unfortunately, approaching the topic of whether or not Christianity “retarded” the progress of European societies based upon the “pop apologetics” of amateur Christian fundamentalists is bound to take you in a lot of unproductive directions. It’s an easy starting point but one loaded with distractions and unproductive tangents. Moreover, to ask “Would Christianity be the answer?” usually tends to assume the wrong kinds of questions. But that is another big topic which I shouldn’t try to tackle in an already lengthy Patheos comment. However, I will at least say that when I read “Christianity… was largely in charge from the medieval period through the Renaissance”, I want to pound my forehead against my desk. It sounds like an ignorance of history and culture very similar to Dawkins.

    I don’t want to be overly harsh because it is a very common misunderstanding of a very complex topic. Yet, whenever ideological goals drives our “scholarship” rather than an academic weighing of the available evidence, we all have a tendency to find ourselves taking a well-travelled road: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    I really like your blog. The titles are often intriguing but the prose which follows sometimes ignores those titles. With this article, I felt like I was reading “Here’s how much I dislike Christianity” instead of explaining how Christianity delayed modern society by 1500 years. I absolutely loved the intriguing title but nothing substantive in the article explained why, without Christianity, today’s society would have been achieved in 500 C.E. (In fact, the title seemed to hint at the popular myth of Sagan et al which assumed that the obsolete “The Dark Ages” referred to “religious darkness” rather than its actual meaning: the centuries which, until relatively recently scholars, had very limited evidence to examine. The term referred to the lack of the “illuminating light of historical documentation” allowing us to view and understand what happened, not some kind of oppressive darkness brought by evil forces.)

    In other words, to imply that Christianity was more hindrance than help to the development of European civilization is certainly intriguing. But even if your allegations against Christianity are in some ways valid, you presented a very cherry-picked and one-sided Post hoc, ergo propter hoc analysis. It is closer to “Let’s hate Christianity” than supporting the thesis statement of the title. It’s not among your better essays, which I often enjoy.

    • Professor_Tertius

      P.S. I’m in a hospital ward, post-op, and have insomnia from the medications. Your blog has been a nice distraction from a series of unpleasantries. Great topic.

      • Greg G.

        I hope your recovery goes well.

        Don’t listen to those who say they are praying for you. The Templeton Foundation’s study on intercessory prayer divided patients into three groups and those who were told they were being prayed for fared the worst, as determined by double-blind evaluations.

        EDIT: Un-autocorrected a word.

        • TheNuszAbides

          EDIT: Un-autocorrected a word.

          as long as you are sure that the net effect is saving you time … 😛

        • Greg G.

          I have to admit that it corrects more typos than changing a correctly typed word to something else. Inputting an acronym can be a challenge, though. When I fat finger a number, it should consider whether the letter below makes a common word.

      • MNb

        Hi, Third Prof! How are you doing? I hope you’re doing well for three reasons:
        1. for your own sake;
        2. the guys over at the Sensuous Curdmudgeon are missing you;
        3. I still have a beef with you regarding a certain nuclear wasteland. But that will only be fun if you’re recovered enough, so it’s up to you.

      • John Jones

        Hope you are feeling better.

      • John Jones

        Nice to know you are doing better.

      • I’m sorry to hear that. Best wishes for your recovery. I’m glad the blog has provided a distraction.

    • Michael Neville

      . Do I need to list the theologian-philosophers who remain virtually synonymous with the rise of modern science?

      Yes you do because I can’t think of a single scientist who was a theologian. Well, except for Isaac Newton but his “controversial” ideas about religion hardly count as theology except in the widest definition of the word.

      • John Jones

        Mr. Neville,
        Do you consider Leibniz a scientist and theologian ?
        Do you consider Boscovich a scientist and theologian ?
        Do you consider Aristotle a scientist and a theologian ?
        Do you consider Maxwell a scientist and a theologian ?

        • Michael Neville

          No, no, fuck no and no. Any other silly questions?

          EDIT: Stop conflating philosopher with theologian. Philosophy is a genuine field of study. Theology is guessing about the thoughts of an imaginary being, also known as “making shit up.”

          Liebnitz was a first class philosopher, he wasn’t a theologian.

          Boscovich was a philosopher of religion which is not the same thing as a theologian (again something you thought I wouldn’t know).

          Aristotle was a decent philosopher but his science consisted of him guessing about things. For instance he thought women had fewer teeth than men, it never occurred to him to have Mrs. Aristotle open her mouth so he could get a count.

          Maxwell wasn’t a philosopher or theologian. He was a devote Presbyterian but that’s not being a theologian and none of his papers were on any theological subject.

        • John Jones

          Why not ?

        • Michael Neville

          Because you keep conflating philosophy, a genuine field of study, with theology, a field of make-believe.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          Then why did Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz and Kant insist on studying both Philosophy and Theology and made Philosophical statements about Theology and Theological statements about Philosophy ?

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t know, why don’t you tell me, George?

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,
          Plato and Aristotle were both Theologians and Philosophers and would have been quite surprised by your considering them to be a conflation.

          Leibniz was a theologian of the first order, how much of his writings have you read ?

          Boscovich was: A Mathematician, Theologian, Philosopher,
          Physicists of the highest order and a Jesuit.

          Aristotle was one of the three greatest philosophers in the West. Some of Aristotle’s works were probably not written by him and he certainly would have asked a women to open her mouth and let him count if need be. Aristotle was also a
          Theologian of the first rank.

          Maxwell was a philosopher and through his personal witness to Christ, a lay theologian.

          You must simply stop relying on Wiki for most, if not all
          of your information. When you say you “know” do you
          mean through years of study or just via Wiki ?

        • Susan

          Plato and Aristotle were both Theologians and Philosophers and would have been quite surprised by your considering them to be a conflation.

          You have no idea what would surprise either one of them.

          Please define “philosopher” and “theologian” as we are having a discussion in the 21st century. You don’t just get to tell us how Plato and Aristotle would be surprised and expect us to accept your conflation.

          That most philosophy is carried on without any concern for theology means you can’t just put a slash mark between the two terms and expect that to pass unnoticed.

          Liebniz was a theologian of the first order.

          Theology has a first order? By what standards?

          Some of Aristotle’s works were probably not written by him and he certainly would have asked a women to open her mouth and let him count if need be.

          Then, he must have certainly done it. When did he do that? Are you suggesting that he didn’t write that bit about women’s teeth? It’s possible. Please explain. Just asserting things doesn’t make an argument, George.

          You must simply stop relying on Wiki for most, if not all of your information.

          I don’t rely on Wiki for most of my information, nor does the person who linked it.

          You have provided zero citations. Should we rely on what you pluck from your rectum instead? Your arguments consist of assertions and hand waving.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          I will answer all of your questions with citations galore
          if you answer mine first:

          How much have you read of Plato and Aristotle ?
          Just name the works you have read, and if they are not
          held to be written by Aristotle but perhaps one of his
          students that is fine.

          How pettifoggery of you to question what a Theologian of
          the First Order it, rest assured, Leibniz was one.
          By the way how much have you read of Leibniz,
          please list them for me.

          Aristotle did not control what became of his writings
          and who know what may have slipped in. Certainly he had the common sense to look into the “teeth” number.

          Wiki seems to be the main source of information for most
          commentators on this site.

          Why so base ?

          No, my arguments do not consist of assertions and hand waving, as they are true, whereas yours are mainly
          feeble sophisms.

        • Susan

          George,

          No, my arguments do not consist of assertions and hand waving, as they are true, whereas yours are mainly
          feeble sophisms.

          This didn’t work the first couple of hundred times you tried it, George.

          You know your church considers wanking to be a sin, don’t you?

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          You have not answered my questions about how much of Plato,
          Aristotle and Leibniz.

          Please do.

        • Dys

          No, my arguments do not consist of assertions and hand waving

          Well, it’s nice to see you’re not above lying George, as your previous persona frequently engaged in this exact behavior.

        • Susan

          your previous persona frequently engaged in this exact behavior.

          As does his present persona, or I wouldn’t have brought it up.

          A new slate’s fine. A sock puppet dedicated to the same weasel strategies is not.

        • Dys

          George just couldn’t handle being deprived of offering us his “expertise”, I guess.

        • MR

          It’s rather pathetic to keep visiting sites you’ve been banned from.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the visiting i wouldn’t begrudge, if he only had the sense to keep his pathetic trap shut.

        • TheNuszAbides

          rest assured,

          apparently you are only proficient at communicating with people who are accustomed to either ignoring or mindlessly accepting anything you say–you have earned no social or intellectual capital here with which to make any assurance (figure of speech or otherwise) and certainly not when it’s as flippant or smug as the rest of your blather.

          my arguments do not consist of assertions and hand waving, as they are true,

          even if that claim could be verified (which thus far would be no thanks to your lack of either effort or cognitive capacity), then you are concealing them entirely behind assertions and handwaving, or are so thoroughly lacking in sense as to actually believe that your assertions and handwaving are adequate code for the arguments themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Plato and Aristotle were both Theologians and Philosophers and would have been quite surprised by your considering them to be a conflation.

          Where did they sit their master’s?

          Like most Christian’s like to do with word’s, you are abusing the definition of the word Theologian here in order to contort it to suit your position.

          Those two are theologians in the same way as this lot…

          http://hinduonline.co/HinduReligion/AllAboutHinduism7.html

        • John Jones

          Ignorant Amos

          No claim was made that they were Christians Theologians.
          They did believe in God.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nor did I say you made such a claim. There’s that fucked up reading comprehension you exert so well. It doesn’t aide your, or their, position in that you all are deluded cretins for such beliefs. Those two had half an excuse, you not so much.

          They did believe in God a god.

          FTFY

          Edited to add a bit of clarity.

        • Michael Neville

          I see. Because you want these people to be theologians you declare they were theologians because you say so. That’s a convincing argument if you desire to be convinced, if you don’t then it falls flat.

          I never said that Aristotle wasn’t a theologian, I said he wasn’t a scientist. I gave an example of how he guessed at something and you hand wave it away with “he certainly would have asked a women to open her mouth and let him count if need be.” You must be stupid to say that because he quite obviously didn’t have any woman open her mouth. It appears that like many Christian apologists you forsake reality when it’s inconvenient for your arguments.

          Maxwell was neither a philosopher nor a theologian. For you to say so means you’re pulling that information straight out of your rectum. Sorry but you’re wrong, as usual for a reality-denying Christian.

          Why is it so many Christians keep denying reality? Does truth hurt you so much that you have to make up stories? The real world, while somewhat frightening, is actually quite interesting. Maybe when you grow up you’ll realize this. But I doubt it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why is it so many Christians keep denying reality? Does truth hurt you so much that you have to make up stories? The real world, while somewhat frightening, is actually quite interesting. Maybe when you grow up you’ll realize this. But I doubt it.

          Definitely.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          Do you think logic is a part of mathematics or is mathematics a part of logic ?

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          besides L < M and M < L there may be other possibilities. the latter is called logicism, apparently.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re neglecting a more pertinent question, why should I answer any of your questions? Why should I give a stupid (and yes, you are an idiot, despite your large vocabulary) sockpuppet the time of day?

        • MR

          you shouldn’t

        • MNb

          “Boscovich was: A ….. Physicist of the highest order ”
          Boscovic’ (he was a Croatian hence the h is unappropriate) theology had exactly zero relevance for his work on physics, like his discovery that the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere.

    • Greg G.

      There is nothing that keeps a theologian from doing science and nothing that keeps a scientist from doing theology. If one does both at the same time, the theology tends to be improved more than the science – creationism, for example.

      Isaac Newton is best known for explaining physics through mathematics and leaving God out of the equations. He is also known for identifying a New Testament interpolation or two. Which of those has impacted our society more?

      • StevenK

        >> If one does both at the same time, the theology tends to be improved more than the science – creationism, for example.

        You later said theology doesn’t advance and that is incorrect. What you said here is correct.

        • Greg G.

          Yuoo leter seeed zeeulugy duesn’t edfunce-a und thet is incurrect. Vhet yuoo seeed here-a is currect. Bork Bork Bork!

          Theology is only improved by subtraction. Astronomy added to creationism removes the creation of the world mythology. Paleontology and biology eliminate the creation of man, plants, and animals mythology. Geology eliminates the Flood mythology. Archaeology shows that Abraham and Moses theology is mythology.The study of reality shows that theology based only on the Bible is wrong, so it can only be improved by deleting parts of that are nothing but mythology.

          When all theology has been eliminated, you reach Nirvana and become one with the universe. (Just an example of how the addition of theology only detracts.)

        • John Jones

          G

          Archeology shows that Abraham and Moses theology is
          mythology.

          Could you please explain.

        • MNb

          Google Israel Finkelstein The Bible Unearthed.

        • TheNuszAbides

          even if he bothers, countdown to his pompous umpteenth-sockpuppet return with a ‘review’ merely claiming that all he found was incorrect and/or non-compelling.

        • Greg G.

          First Tommy Thompson came to that conclusion in the early 1970s through the study of ancient literature.

          Egyptian archaeology has not found evidence of a large population of Hebrews in Egypt nor a sudden departure. Egypt was a world power at the time, before, during, and after the time the Exodus was supposed to have occurred but they maintained their power which would be remarkable if a third of their population and their workforce walked away.

          Israeli archaeologists have diligently searched for evidence of the Exodus, which should exist in the desert, but have found none. That shows that the Exodus theory is wrong and Moses is a myth.

          That should be enough to throw out the rest of the history of the Bible when you lose a crucial link to Abraham. But there is more.

          They have found evidence of sites with almost identical cultures except that some had pig bones and some did not. How could and why would a horde annihilate a culture, then adopt the same culture except for one food?

          So that shows that the Exodus didn’t happen and neither did Abraham bring a new culture to the area. It indicates that the Hebrews developed out of the Canaanite culture.

          They used to call archaeology in that area “Bible archaeology” but the term fell out of favor as archaeology doesn’t support all that much of the Bible.

        • John Jones

          G.

          As for Tommy Thompson, can you cite a link for me ?

          What date are using for the dating of Exodus in terms
          of the status of Egypt ?

          If the Children of Israel did wander through the Sinai,
          not something I would want to do for forty years,
          should we expect stone structures/brick structures that would stand the test of sand and wind for 35 centuries ?

          Not sure I fully understand the pig bones and non-pig bones, I am assuming the non-pig bones are supposed to be sites where Jews lived.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for Tommy Thompson, can you cite a link for me ?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Historicity_of_the_Patriarchal_Narratives

          What date are using for the dating of Exodus in terms of the status of Egypt ?

          Any date ya like…there is nothing in the historical record of Egypt for an Exodus as per the biblical myth. Period.

          If the Children of Israel did wander through the Sinai, not something I would want to do for forty years, should we expect stone structures/brick structures that would stand the test of sand and wind for 35 centuries ?

          Just shows ya know fuck all about archaeology in the same way ya know fuck all about everything else ya talk about.

          Not sure I fully understand the pig bones and non-pig bones, I am assuming the non-pig bones are supposed to be sites where Jews lived.

          Canaan in the Late Bronze Age was a shadow of what it had been centuries earlier: many cities were abandoned, others shrank in size, and the total settled population was probably not much more than a hundred thousand. Settlement was concentrated in cities along the coastal plain and along major communication routes; the central and northern hill country which would later become the biblical kingdom of Israel was only sparsely inhabited although letters from the Egyptian archives indicate that Jerusalem was already a Canaanite city-state recognising Egyptian overlordship. Politically and culturally it was dominated by Egypt, each city under its own ruler, constantly at odds with its neighbours, and appealing to the Egyptians to adjudicate their differences.

          The Canaanite city-state system broke down at the end of the Late Bronze period, and Canaanite culture was then gradually absorbed into that of the Philistines, Phoenicians and Israelites. The process was gradual, rather than swift, and a strong Egyptian presence continued into the 12th century BCE, and, while some Canaanite cities were destroyed, others continued to exist in Iron Age I.

          In The Bible Unearthed, Finkelstein and Silberman summarised recent studies. They described how, up until 1967, the Israelite heartland in the highlands of western Palestine was virtually an archaeological terra incognita. Since then, the traditional territories of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh have been covered by intensive surveys. These surveys have revealed the sudden emergence of a new culture contrasting with the Philistine and Canaanite societies existing in the Land of Israel earlier during Iron Age I. This new culture is characterised by the lack of pork remains (whereas pork formed 20% of the Philistine diet in places), an abandonment of the Philistines/Canaanite custom of having highly decorated pottery, and the practice of circumcision. The Israelite ethnic identity had been created, not from the Exodus and a subsequent conquest, but from a transformation of the existing Canaanite-Philistine cultures.

          These surveys revolutionized the study of early Israel. The discovery of the remains of a dense network of highland villages — all apparently established within the span of few generations — indicated that a dramatic social transformation had taken place in the central hill country of Canaan around 1200 BCE. There was no sign of violent invasion or even the infiltration of a clearly defined ethnic group. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. In the formerly sparsely populated highlands from the Judean hills in the south to the hills of Samaria in the north, far from the Canaanite cities that were in the process of collapse and disintegration, about two-hundred fifty hilltop communities suddenly sprang up. Here were the first Israelites.

          From then on, over a period of hundreds of years until after the return of the exiles from Babylon, the Canaanites were gradually absorbed by the Israelites and other tribes until after the period of Ezra (~450 BCE) whereafter there is no more biblical record of them. Hebrew (see Hebrew language), a dialect of Canaanite, became the language of the hill country and later the valleys and plains.

          Modern scholars therefore see Israel arising peacefully and internally from existing people in the highlands of Canaan.

          http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ik5oi_the-bible-s-buried-secrets-ep-2-did-god-have-a-wife_tech

          Time stamp 48 minutes if ya don’t want to watch the whole thing.

        • The Bronze Age Collapse of around 1200 BCE is a fascinating and mysterious event. There was lots of change in the Mediterranean besides just the collapse of the Ugaritic civilization and the rise of the Canaanites. You might find that subject interesting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I do find it an interesting subject. I must look about for some sources on the topic.

    • MNb

      “what we know today as science was known as “natural philosophy” and scientific thought and theological thought often occupied the same brain.”
      Nope. What we know today as science also rests on empirical evidence. Natural philosophy largely ignored that on behalf of Plato and Aristoteles. The idea that observations can decide between competing hypotheses stems from the 16th Century – notably Tycho Brahe, Simon Stevin and Galileo Galilei. None of them were theologians or natural philosophers.
      Nicolaus Copernicus was a theorist – a mathematician to be precise, Roger Bacon developed some unsystematical thoughts about observations and was largely ignored by his contemporaries. William of Ockham never was interested in observation and experiment. These examples actually confirm that medieval “natural philosophy” was far from what we know today as science. This mistake of yours though does explain your also mistaken nuclear wasteland analogy. You seem to not appreciate enough what the empirical approach means for science since 200+ years ago – something you ironically would have in common with creationists.

      “many centuries of countless Jesuits were driven by their pursuits as theologian-philosophers to develop much of the science”
      They developed exactly zilch for physics. Until Stevin and Galilei – who were not Jesuits either – they got everything wrong about physics, chemistry and I suspect about biology as well. That includes Copernicus, whose heliocentric model was replaced by Johannes Keppler (thanks to Brahe).
      I’m not saying that christianity was a hindrance for the development of science. Like you write it’s quite a complex topic. But as a teacher physics I can tell you that for physics as we know it today the Ancient Greeks, the Babylonian and Arabian astronomers are still relevant, but literally no single christian thinker up to 1600 CE, except Ockham and then only seriously modified. Experiments were totally absent. That is consistent with another well known historical fact: almost all technological innovations during the Middle Ages were imported.
      While I don’t buy the “Galilei was a victim of the RCC” idea the two trials did represent the conflict between medieval “science” (it hardly deserves that name) – relying on authority and deduction – and pre-modern science which demanded a much bigger role for observation and experiment. The Italian Jesuit who refused to look through Galilei’s telescope with the famous words (from memory, so I probably got it partly wrong) “it should not be true, hence it cannot be true, hence it isn’t true” embodies the unscientific medieval attitude of natural philosophers.

      • Michael Neville

        It was Cardinal Robert Bellarmine who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. A confirmed geocentrist, his mind was made up and he didn’t want to be confused by mere facts and logic. Bellarmine ordered Galileo not to follow Copernican helocentrism because it “went against the consensus of the Holy Fathers as promulgated at the Council of Trent”. Aristotle was a geocentrist and that was proof for the Council and for Bellarmine that heliocentrism was not only wrong but heretical. Why the opinion of a pagan should dictate Christian orthodoxy is one of those unsolvable theist mysteries like the Trinity.

        Yet another example of how Christianity and science are not compatible.

        • MNb

          Ah thanks! As so often now I read it I recognize the name.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          I am afraid that you may have misrepresented Cardinal Bellarmine by saying he refused to look through the telescope.If you have a source, could you please cite it.
          My sources say the possible candidates are:
          Cremonini, Libri and Clavius.

          Bellarmine correctly pointed out that while Galileo’s observation of the moons of Jupiter seem to show that there
          are at least moons that do not directly revolve around the Earth, it does not directly show that they must revolve around the Sun, though it is highly likely they do.

        • MNb

          While the story might be apocryphal this

          http://galileo.rice.edu/chr/bellarmine.html

          makes clear Bellarmino represented medieval “science” in the controversy.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bellarmine

          But you might be right. Cremonini

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Cremonini_(philosopher)

          might have been the guy as well.
          Whomever, what I wrote above

          embodies the unscientific medieval attitude of natural philosophers”
          is simply correct. Third Prof was wrong.

      • John Jones

        MNb,
        Are you willing to state unequivocally that not a single Jesuit
        did anything for Physics in the 17th-18th centuries ?

        • MNb

          Can you mention one single Jesuit who did?
          Can you mention one single “natural philosopher” before Copernicus who made a lasting contribution to physics?

        • Michael Neville

          For that matter Copernicus was a Third Order (Lay) Dominican who was never ordained. He worked for his uncle, Lucas Watzenrode, the Prince-Bishop of Warmia, as a canon lawyer and his astronomical work was basically a hobby.

        • MNb

          You answered my first question underneath: Boscovic.
          Thanks for not answering my second question. It suggests that you can’t. I am happy to repeat it:

          Can you mention one single “natural philosopher” before Copernicus who made a lasting contribution to physics?

          Copernicus was essentially a transitional figure. His model is largely the same as the one developed by Aristarchos of Samos. He might even have taken it over during the four years he studied in Italy.

          “his astronomical work was basically a hobby.”
          Yes and so what? The fact remains that he got famous due to his hobby. What exactly does that have to do with your baseless assertion that (his) theology contributed/was essential/whatever for (his) scientific work?
          Nothing of course.
          Your questions are irrelevant for my statement that theology has contributed exactly nothing to science since the Babylonian astronomers began to observe the sky. Unlike you suggested above Third Prof was dead wrong. That’s unsurprising as he is a biblical scholar while I’m a teacher physics who has done a course on the history of physics.
          Theology hasn’t played any role since many, many centuries.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think you blended M.Neville and George Twatson there. the latter had already disappeared again, the former was adding to your side of the argument.

    • John Jones

      Having read through the comments on this site, I must say I agree with
      Professor Tertius.

      The following Jesuits were active in Mathematics/Science in the
      17th/18th Centuries:

      Calvius, d’Aquialn, de Dominis, Biancani, Zupi, Cysal, Tacquet, Grimaldi,
      Zuachi, Riciali, de Bily, Kircher, Casati, Kino, Saccheri, Ceva, Riccati
      and Boscovich – one of the great minds.

      The notion that Plato/Aristotle ignored all scientific evidence or failed to
      carry out experiments is patently false. Sadly much of what is asserted on this site, is, as you point out just repeating what was written by non – scholars from an Anti-Catholic Protestant view that has long been refuted.

      The misunderstanding that Philosophy/Theology has nothing to offer
      Science – sorry Stephen Hawkings and others – is rather illuminating.

      As for Isaac Newton, he took more pride in his Theology than in his
      Physics. His dating of the Crucifixion was far ahead of his time.

      Galileo was a natural philosopher, as was Newton Descartes,
      Copernicus had a doctorate in Canon Law and was a 3rd order Dominican.
      Kepler was a student of Philosophy and Theology in addition to Mathematics, and held to the Heliocentric theory for both astronomical and theological reasons. His early attempts to deduce a theory as to why the planets orbits were where they were followed Plato’s Five solids, Kepler
      thought he had discovered God’s plan for the Universe in his work:
      “Mysterium Cosmographicum”. Kepler kept his Lutheran faith even though
      he worked in Catholic lands. Kepler worked on dating the Star of Bethlehem,” Harmonices Mundi”is about how wonderful and understandable God has made the Universe.

      Yes, Professor you have stirred the hornet’s nest here and it will be interesting to see if they actually understand what you have written or resort
      to quickly dismissing your views through the use of shallow and refuted
      “evidence”.

      • Greg G.

        The Trinitarian of the day would have blacklisted Isaac Newton if the had known he was a Unitarian. His theology is worthless but his physics and his math are very useful. His theology messed up his values apparently. So Dawkins quote still stands.

        • John Jones

          Greg,
          Not clear that Newton was what we would call a Unitarian.
          Newton certainly thought God created the Universe and the
          wonder that is the Universe demonstrated the powers of the
          Creator.

        • Greg G.

          From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton#Religious_views

          By 1672 he had started to record his theological researches in notebooks which he showed to no one and which have only recently been examined. They demonstrate an extensive knowledge of early church writings and show that in the conflict between Athanasius and Arius which defined the Creed, he took the side of Arius, the loser, who rejected the conventional view of the Trinity. Newton “recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him.”[115] He was especially interested in prophecy, but for him, “the great apostasy was trinitarianism.”[116]

          In Newton’s eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin.[118] Historian Stephen D. Snobelen says of Newton, “Isaac Newton was a heretic. But … he never made a public declaration of his private faith—which the orthodox would have deemed extremely radical. He hid his faith so well that scholars are still unravelling his personal beliefs.”[7]

        • Michael Neville

          Newton was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. In the 17th Century one had to profess orthodox Anglicism to be a fellow or professor at Cambridge. Newton lied through his teeth when he took the religious oath.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          I believe you should have done your research.
          Charles II government gave Newton an exception from taking the religious oath.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Newton lied through his teeth when he took the religious oath

          Just a note of correction, my friend. The king granted an exception to Newton because the scientists in the
          Royal Society supported his work and one thing about Charles II, he respected a good argument. Because Newton refused ordination after the 7 year requirement at Trinity by what he expressed as, “a matter of conscience,” and wanted only to teach mathematics and science, was backed by other scientists in the RS, Charles allowed an exception. Newton’s life had never been easy, so whether he might have chosen to be ordained with private anxiety, if it came down to teaching or nothing at all, is anybody’s guess.

          Newton ran into difficulties with the exception granted by Charles II once James II sat on the throne, because James II was an insane religious fanatic, just like George aka John Jones.

        • John Jones

          Ms. Alexanderson,

          Did Newton take a religious oath or not ?

          James II was insane, really, where do you get that from ?

          Who is this George you say is insane ?

          And why do you say I am, have you a psychiatrist report
          to back up your assertion ?

        • Susan

          have you a psychiatrist report
          to back up your assertion?

          Who are you to say what is or is not evidence?

          Are you saying people can’t just make stuff up and assert it?

          Is a psychiatrist’s report evidence?

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          She made an assertion that is personal about me.
          Fine.
          Let her prove her assertion.

        • Susan

          She made an assertion that is personal about me.
          Fine.
          Let her prove her assertion.

          I see. You can make countless assertions about (among others) Churchland, Hawking, Liebniz, Plato, Aristotle and Newton.

          But if it’s about you, it’s serious business.

          Go away George.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Again this obsession about George whom you utterly dismiss, did he touch a sensitive nerve ?

          I have not asserted that Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz
          were insane.

          I only asserted what any scholar of them will tell you:

          They were superb Philosophers and Theologians.

          Have I misquoted Newton ?
          If so, please show me.

          As for Churchland, she is well out of her league.

          As for Hawking, let him stick to Cosmology, his
          remarks on Philosophy are naive.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Fuck off, George, John and Yocom. I’ll not engage with you or your dishonest, mad ramblings, no matter the guise. And do not presume to enlighten me on anything with regard to the Stuarts, because I guaran-damn-tee you I will win.

        • John Jones

          Ms. Alexanderson,

          Poor George, he must have stepped on a lot of toes.
          Not hard to see why.

          Glad you are a expert on the Stuarts.

          Please provide information as to why James II as insane.
          They did not teach that to us when I was a boy in Wales.

        • Dys

          Not hard to see why.

          Yes…he was a bit of an egomaniac.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          And from what I have read, you are not, also ?

        • TheNuszAbides

          relative to your displays, not even close. enough with the hollow tu quoque and relativistic-only-when-it-suits-you, creep.

        • Michael Neville

          Thank you for the correction. I didn’t know that.

        • John Jones

          G,
          Nice quote from Wiki but you should have read more.
          Historians do not get to declare people Heretics unless they
          are Bishops.

          In the end Newton believed that God’s hand created and guides the Universe.

        • Greg G.

          The point is that Newton was not a Trinitarian.

          What he thought about God has led to no advance in knowledge. It is unfortunate that he was not a None-itarian.

        • John Jones

          G.
          He believed that God created the Universe.

        • Susan

          The article suggests that Newton believed that his unevidenced deity created the universe, not yours.

          He believed a lot of things no one takes seriously now.

          You are quite happy to dismiss Stephen Hawking’s philosophical positions but willing to embrace Newton’s to the extent that you can shape shift them by using the word “God” to fit your own.

          Please provide a citation that Newton believed that Jesus was “God” if you want to claim that he believed in the same “God” you are talking about.

          Neither you nor Newton have shown that you have anything but belief on the subject.

          This is much different than Newton’s work on gravity. There is good reason to take his claims seriously on that subject and no good reason to take either of your claims seriously on the subject of your very different “creator” models.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          What article would that be ?

          When you say his un-evidenced deity, who are you to judge what is evidence and what is not ? If it convinced Newton,
          who are you to say that what convinced him is not evidence
          to him ?

          He may have explored many areas that modern science has
          advanced beyond, but were not un-reasonable at his time.
          What do you believe – that might be outdated in 300 years ?

          Hawking know his cosmology, he knows very little about
          Philosophy or Theology.

          “Newton recognised Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the God who created Him.” Good enough for me, how about you ?

          So you have the knowledge/wisdom/acuity to say that Newton was wrong about his strong belief that because the
          Universe was well ordered there must be a Creator, but you
          are happy to accept his work on Gravity’s effects upon
          the Universe.

          And what do you do with Newton saying:

          “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot
          explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all
          things all that is or can be done.”

        • Dys

          And what do you do with Newton saying:

          “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot
          explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all
          things all that is or can be done.”

          Newton resorted to a god of the gaps argument when he didn’t have a scientific answer. And it begs the question besides, assuming a “who” was required in the first place.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          Given that Newton filled in more gaps than anyone else,
          what an odd accusation that he resorted to a ‘god of the gaps” argument.

          Respect Newton, he was far more intelligent than you or anyone you have ever met.

        • Susan

          Respect Newton, he was far more intelligent than you or anyone you have ever met.

          His work on gravity was stunning. His work on deities is useless.

          Are you suggesting that because he was intelligent that he must have been right about everything? He didn’t have to show his work?

          Jesus wasn’t “God”, then.

          It’s settled. Whatever Newton thought about everything must have been correct.

          Go away, George.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Why this obsession with George ?

          Do you have something against George Washington,
          George Foreman, King George I, II, III, IV, V, VIth ?

          How easily you dismiss Newton and his writings on
          the Creator ? Why do you suppose yourself so much
          more wiser than Newton ?

          Jesus was the deified mediator between God and men
          according to Newton. Does that make you divine ?
          You will have to ask Newton.

          Goodnight, Susan.

        • Dys

          George, kindly pull your head out of your ass and realize that I’ve said multiple times now that the man was a genius. That doesn’t exclude him from making simple mistakes or believing nonsense. For as much as you think of yourself, your reading comprehension is laughable.

          It’s not odd at all – it’s what he did.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          What simple mistake did Newton make ?

        • Dys

          Assuming that a God was necessary to set the planets in motion, or was required to tinker with the orbits of planets seem like a pretty big ones to me.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          And you can prove that God was not necessary for the existence of the Universe ?

          I would not say it was a mistake on Newton’s part to
          suppose that God might have to tinker with the Universe,
          it is God’s universe as Newton believed.

        • Dys

          Can you prove he was? No? Then it’s an unneeded assumption.

        • MNb

          Depending on what you mean with proof indeed, I can.

          I would not say it was a mistake.”
          Fortunately what you would or would not say is irrelevant. The fact remains that Newton filled gaps with his god which were later filled with natural explanations.
          Like the deviations in the orbits of the planets in our Solar System. Had he understood Hume (who unfortunately for Newton wrote his stuff many years later) he would have postulated a few (back then) unobserved heavenly bodies. He had the skills and the mathematical tools Alas his theology prevented him to do so.
          That’s all theology has to offer science – leading you astray.

        • MNb

          Yup, JJ, you’re definitely as stupid as George. The point is not how many gaps Newton filled. The point is that he filled the ones remaining with his god. That has exactly zero to do with respect and intelligence.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Newton resorted to a god of the gaps argument when he didn’t have a scientific answer.

          And that’s just it. Newton, as a scientist, as a man of his time, went with the implanted assumption of the Christian god when an answer eluded him. The first glimmers of what would become the Enlightenment and the dissolution of Europe’s theocracy began to stir in the 17th century. Had he been born a 100 years later, he likely would have embraced Deism.

        • John Jones

          Ms. Alexanderson,

          Can you be a Deistic Christian or a Deistic Socian ?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apparently ya can be any kind of Christian that ya can think to be. There are 45,000+ flavours and counting.

          There are even atheist Christians and Christian atheists of a variety of stripes.

          http://www.atheists-for-jesus.com/

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

        • John Jones

          Ignorant Amos,

          Well invite them on the site.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you don’t want to tangle with R.M.Price (a self-identified, if tongue-in-cheek, Christian atheist). you’ll never catch up with his reading list, either.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Socian

          are you inventing terms in the hope that we waste time wondering wtf you mean, are you just not proofreading your comments, or can you simply not make the effort to spell out Socinian?

        • MNb

          And that’s exactly why I postulate a third scientific revolution, instigated by Hume. Around 1800 CE the majority of scientists got rid of that habit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Newton recognised Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the God who created Him.” Good enough for me, how about you ?

          So Newton described Jesus as an angel?

          That isn’t what Christian’s believe though is it?

          And you are happy enough for Jesus to be demoted to the rank of angel?

          There is some pretzelmania going on in this discourse that’s for sure.

        • John Jones

          Ignorant Amos

          Are you saying the vast majority of Christians believe(d)
          that Jesus was an angel ?

          Are you saying that Newton believed Jesus was an angel ?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whhhhhhhaaaaaa?

          It is your assertion that…

          “Newton recognised Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the God who created Him.” Good enough for me, how about you ?

          That is NOT what trinitarian Christians believe ya ignorant moron. You just described an angel and the lowest level of angel at that.

          The “angels” or malakhim, i.e. the “plain” angels (ἄγγελοι, pl. of ἄγγελος, angelos, i.e. messenger or envoy), are the lowest order of the angels, and the most recognized. They are the ones most concerned with the affairs of living things. Within the category of the angels, there are many different kinds, with different functions. The angels are sent as messengers to humanity. Personal guardian angels come from this class.

          Trinitarian’s believe…

          In Trinitarian doctrine, God exists as three persons or hypostases, but is one being, having a single divine nature. The members of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal without beginning. “The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” are not names for different parts of God, but one name for God because three persons exist in God as one entity. They cannot be separate from one another. Each person is understood as having the identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.

          Now either you are fucking dumbass moron who doesn’t know the Christian doctrines…very possible. Or you are fucking dumbass moron that is treating the rest of us here as dumbasses, which makes you an even bigger dumbass moron cockwomble…more probable.

          Logic teacher, my arse.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, and he thought God had to meddle because he didn’t do it right at creation. That has nothing to do with whether he was a Unitarian or a Trinitarian.

        • John Jones

          G,
          If God created the Universe, He can do with it as He sees
          fit, an He not. Perhaps God likes tinkering with the Universe, like Train Collectors like to tinker with their sets.

        • MNb

          If.

        • MR

          Therein lies the crux that he can’t address.

        • Greg G.

          Just because prescientific people couldn’t come up with a decent explanation for the universe doesn’t mean godidit. Why accept their ideas? Of all the different theories of gods based on zero evidence, why choose one of them above the others? It’s really a very silly notion in the 21st century.

        • adam

          “He believed that God created the Universe.”

          As a ‘god of the gaps’

        • John Jones

          Adam,

          No, not as a “God of the Gaps”, though MNb has pointed
          out above, Newton entertained the idea that we did not understand why the Solar system did not eventually need
          God to intervene to keep it going.

          Rather, Newton was so impressed by the Universe that
          he thought there must be a Creator.

        • adam

          Exactly as a ‘god’ of the gaps.

          His IGNORANCE made him THINK that…

        • John Jones

          Adam

          What ignorance, please be precise.

        • adam

          Ignorance of stellar mechanism, quantum mechanics, the universe in general.

        • John Jones

          Adam,

          Ignorance of those would necessitate that Newton not believe in the Creator anymore ?

        • MNb

          Irrelevant question. The question should have been: ignorance of those would necessitate that Newton would not infer his god anymore to correct for the deviations of his planetary model?
          The answer is yes and it’s a prime example why the god of the gaps sucks. There are theologians who understand this:

          “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”
          Dietrich Bonhöffer, letter 1944.
          This applies to the origin of our Universe as well.

        • adam

          No it wouldnt, it was ignorance of those that he used his god of the gaps to explain what he didnt understand.

        • MNb

          Newton didn’t know all planets in our Solar System. Pluto was discovered (by astronomers who unlike Newton did not use god as a patch) in 1930 and Neptunus in 1846 (the same).

        • MNb

          He also believed that his god was responsible for the deviations of his planetary model.

        • John Jones

          MNb,

          Are you making reference to the notion that Newton entertained that God might need to ‘dust up’ the Universe
          everyone once in a while. Didn’t Laplace show that would not necessary ?

        • MNb

          I don’t know who did.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think he was clumsily referring to Laplace’s “i have no need of that hypothesis” when asked why he hadn’t mentioned SkyPappy in his work.

        • Dys

          He also had some ideas regarding alchemy. Not everything Newton thought had merit.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          He actually wondered if energy and matter were equatable.
          Sounds rather full of merit.

        • Dys

          And I’m sure you’ve put plenty of stock into his quest for the discovery or invention of a philosopher’s stone as well. Newton studied alchemy past the point where it was discredited as pseudo-science.

        • John Jones

          Dys,
          Who are you to tell a genius like Newton what he should and what he should not study and to what degree ?

        • Dys

          I’m sorry I deflated your hero worship John/George. The fact remains as I stated – not everything Newton thought had merit. I’m sorry you’re unable to handle that. As for a brief analysis of your comment…

          Who are you to tell a genius like Newton what he should and what he should not study and to what degree ?

          This is a non-sequitur, and inane besides. You should know better. Firstly, the guy’s dead, so talking about him in the present tense is simply wrong. And secondly, Newton, despite being a genius, bought into some nonsensical things. Considering the time period he lived during, which often had an unfortunate blend of science, superstition, and pseudoscience, this is hardly surprising.

        • John Jones

          Dys,
          Don’t be jealous of Newton.
          As for your other reference…

        • Dys

          George, you were already banned once. Does the sock-puppetry help your bruised, over-inflated ego?

          Where did you get the notion that I’m jealous of Newton? I dealt with your silly criticism. That you don’t like it is completely irrelevant. Newton bought into pseudoscience – that’s the reality. The man was still a genius despite it.

        • John Jones

          Who is George,

          What is pseudoscience and what is not at any given time is a difficult question to
          answer at the time of the explorations. One could say every set of experiments that
          fail to prove the theory being tested, either indicates the theory is a pseudoscience
          or the experiment is poorly set up, which indicates a lack of scientific understanding
          on the part of the experimenters – rather difficult to say which is worse, save that
          an set of experiments proves a false theory…

        • Dys

          Yes…I’m sure you have no idea who George is. You’re not fooling anyone, but I understand the need to avoid getting this new account of yours banned.

          It’s funny that you’re trying to prop up such a nonsensical position. Newton was a genius, yes, but it does not automatically follow that everything he thought therefore had merit. You’re engaging in fallacious logic. I’d think you’d know better.

        • John Jones

          Dys,
          Yes, Newton made have made mistakes, but you act like
          if you are capable of judging his efforts in Alchemy and
          Theology, which I question.

        • Dys

          You’re the one acting like Newton was infallible in the areas he expressed interest George. If I’m not capable of judging Newton’s efforts, than neither are you, and you should stop trying to use them to prop up your lame argument forthwith. The act of judging goes both ways…it’s funny how often Christians forget that.

        • John Jones

          Dys,
          Who is George ?

          You have no idea if I can judge Newton’s efforts.
          Thank you for admitting you cannot judge them.

          Newton believe in a Creator.
          The evidence was convincing to him.

          Why begrudge him if you choose to not believe ?

        • Dys

          You have no idea if I can judge Newton’s efforts.

          Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea on whether or not you’re qualified. I think we both agree that Newton was a genius. Clearly, you’re not. Ergo, just as I’m not capable of judging Newton’s efforts, you’re not either. Unless you can prove me wrong?

          Or is your ego so out of proportion that you’re going to declare you’re at the same level as Newton?

          Why begrudge him if you choose to not believe ?

          Beliefs aren’t choices. And you’ve once again you’ve gone off on a silly tangent to avoid the issue. I’m not begrudging Newton. I’m saying relying on God to answer questions he didn’t have scientific answers to was a mistake.

        • MNb

          Why do you keep on asking who George is if you have read through his comments and like them a lot?

          Are you just stupid, are you dishonest, are you both or are you stupid dishonest George?
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/how-christianity-retarded-modern-society-by-1500-years/#comment-2627878681
          You might want to answer this serious question, George John Watson Jones, because I am very tempted to back Susan’s request to ban you, whoever you are.
          Because this kind of reaction was typical for George.

        • MR

          He’s liking his own comments!!!!!? Ha-hah-hah!!!! P-a-t-h-e-t-i-c. I was thinking it was really SteveK, but now I’m thinking it’s Greg, unless they’re both the same. Just. Sad.

        • Susan

          I was thinking it was really SteveK, but now I’m thinking it’s Greg, unless they’re both the same.

          I don’t think it’s SteveK. I really doubt it’s Greg.

          But I do know it’s George.

        • TheNuszAbides

          SteveK has the smarmy, evasive and smug aspects down at most times, but i’ve never seen him be as simultaneously pompous and oblivious–he’s far ‘better’ at burying his inanity under a few rambling veils. allegedlawyerGreg … ugh. well, either of them could be taking on a persona and tweaking style to throw off the scent … but without knowledge of any background/facility for such theatrics (on their part), i’m inclined to doubt either is that skillful.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’d think you’d know better.

          … only if you were still so charitable as to believe that this clown was ever a [competent] teacher of logic. if there is an academic background worthy of respect buried under his shenanigans, then whatever happened to bring him to his currently displayed state of mind is truly a shame. all i’ve seen him mention, though, is that he’s starting to go deaf.

        • MNb

          The demarcation problem is a serious one, but much easier than many people think.
          A theory is pseudoscience if
          1) it neglects relevant empirical data;
          2) it doesn’t use deduction properly;
          3) is incoherent;
          4) is inconsistent.
          Amongst others – there might be more conditions.
          Alchemy totally qualifies. Maybe it didn’t yet in Newton’s time, but anyhow it shows that Newton produced nonsense while being a genius.

        • John Jones

          MNb,

          Good points for trying to draw a line.
          Some discoveries that seem, at the time, impossible
          in Scientific realms, have surprised us.

        • MNb

          The point is rather that there isn’t a sharp line, silly.
          It’s a spectrum.

        • TheNuszAbides

          this hits upon some ‘hallmarks’ of typically attempted defense of pseudoscience as well: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/9141

        • MNb

          Wow, you came across as a sensible guy, but this reaction is so void of content that I begin to suspect Dys is right.
          Why would anyone be jealous of Newton writing down nonsense like alchemy?

        • MNb

          No.
          But his study of alchemy still wasn’t science.

        • John Jones

          MNb,

          What would you call it ?

        • MNb

          Pseudoscience.

        • John Jones

          Thank you

        • Susan

          Historians do not get to declare people Heretics unless they are Bishops.

          If Newton had explicitly stated that ” worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin”, they wouldn’t have considered it heresy?

          In the end Newton believed that God’s hand created and guides the Universe.

          Newton’s deity didn’t seem to include Jesus.

        • John Jones

          Susan,
          You are not a heretic until formally declared to be one.
          You are quoting a Wiki article based on a historians viewpoint concerning Newton’s Theological writings which
          are far from well understood.

          Newton believe in a Creator of the Universe.

        • Susan

          George,

          You are not a heretic until formally declared to be one.

          You didn’t answer my question.

          You are quoting a Wiki article based on a historian’s viewpoint concerning Newton’s Theological writings which are far from well understood.

          And you are hand waving.

          Newton believe in a creator of the Universe.

          You asked Greg about Newton’s unitarian position, one which is no better demonstrated than yours.

          A creator that is not Jesus is not your “God” nor would it be considered non-heretical by the bishops of his day.

        • John Jones

          Who is George.

          Newton was not a Unitarian.
          God the Father created the Universe for Christians, not Jesus.
          So no heresy there.

        • Susan

          Who is George.

          See above.

          Newton was not a Unitarian.
          God the Father created the Universe for Christians, not Jesus.
          So no heresy there.

          And that.

        • John Jones

          Who is George

          Newton believe that Jesus was the divine mediator between
          humans and God. So God the Father created the Universe.
          Where is the Heresy ?

        • Greg G.

          Newton was not a Unitarian.

          From the private writings of Isaac Newton that were not released to the public until the 20th century.

          1. The word God is nowhere in the scriptures used to signify more than one of the three persons at once.

          2. The word God put absolutely without restriction to the Son or Holy Ghost doth always signify the Father from one end of the scriptures to the other.

          3. Whenever it is said in the scriptures that there is but one God, it is meant the Father.

          4. When, after some heretics had taken Christ for a mere man and others for the supreme God, St John in his Gospel endeavoured to state his nature so that men might have from thence a right apprehension of him and avoid those heresies and to that end calls him the word or logos: we must suppose that he intended that term in the sense that it was taken in the world before he used it when in like manner applied to an intelligent being. For if the Apostles had not used words as they found them how could they expect to have been rightly understood. Now the term logos before St John wrote, was generally used in the sense of the Platonists, when applied to an intelligent being and the Arians understood it in the same sense, and therefore theirs is the true sense of St John.

          5. The Son in several places confesseth his dependence on the will of the Father.

          6. The Son confesseth the Father greater, then calls him his God etc.

          7. The Son acknowledgeth the original prescience of all future things to be in the Father only.

          8. There is nowhere mention of a human soul in our Saviour besides the word, by the meditation of which the word should be incarnate. But the word itself was made flesh and took upon him the form of a servant.

          9. It was the son of God which He sent into the world and not a human soul that suffered for us. If there had been such a human soul in our Saviour, it would have been a thing of too great consequence to have been wholly omitted by the Apostles.

          10. It is a proper epithet of the Father to be called almighty. For by God almighty we always understand the Father. Yet this is not to limit the power of the Son. For he doth whatsoever he seeth the Father do; but to acknowledge that all power is originally in the Father and that the Son hath power in him but what he derives from the Father, for he professes that of himself he can do nothing.

          11. The Son in all things submits his will to the will of the Father, which could be unreasonable if he were equal to the Father.

          12. The union between him and the Father he interprets to be like that of the saints with one another. That is in agreement of will and counsel.

          13. [numbered but left blank by Newton]

          Numbers 5, 6, and 11 show Newton pointing out that Jesus was subordinate to God, which is anti-Trinitarian. Number 3 shows he was a Unitarian.

          God the Father created the Universe for Christians, not Jesus.

          That makes you a Unitarian.

          So no heresy there.

          Trinitarians have defined that as heresy.

        • John Jones

          G,

          Nothing presented there contradicts that Jesus is the
          divine mediator between God and Humans as Newton
          held.

          If Jesus is divine, whether as the Trinitarians hold, or
          through God’s infusion of grace, Jesus is divine which is
          not Unitarianism.

        • Greg G.

          If God is supreme as Newton argues, then he was not a
          Trinitarian. If Jesus is divine, then you can toss out monotheism, too.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Jesus was the divine mediator between man and God.

        • Michael Neville

          So you’re denying the divinity of Jesus? That’s heretical. You better confess your heresy or else you’ll be anathema, which means don’t bother to pack an overcoat for the afterlife.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          Newton held that Jesus was the divine mediator between man and God.

        • Michael Neville

          Which means Jesus wasn’t god, which means that Newton wasn’t a Christian, which is what people have been trying to tell you but you’re too stupid to understand. You’re nowhere near as intelligent as you think you are, George.

      • Michael Neville

        The following Jesuits were active in Mathematics/Science in the 17th/18th Centuries:

        Being a priest does not equate to being a theologian.

        The misunderstanding that Philosophy/Theology has nothing to offer Science – sorry Stephen Hawkings and others – is rather illuminating.

        Philosophy can and does support science. Theology, the study of the thoughts of an imaginary being, does zip point shit to promote any kind of intellectual endeavor, let alone science.

        Yes, Professor you have stirred the hornet’s nest here and it will be interesting to see if they actually understand what you have written or resort to quickly dismissing your views through the use of shallow and refuted “evidence”.

        You can always tell when a religious apologist is writing, they make a point of sneering at the evidence they so pointedly lack and pretend this lack is the fault of atheists.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,
          Every Jesuit Priest would have earned at least a Master’s in Theology, if not a doctorate. Thus they are theologians.
          The simple point is that they were priests and mathematicians and scientists and they advanced the studies in both areas.

        • Greg G.

          If they advanced math or science they did something useful. There is no advancement in theology.

        • John Jones

          G.
          Please provide some contextual evidence for your claim.

        • Greg G.

          Theology doesn’t advance because it just making stuff up that has nothing to do with reality. If it went anywhere, it would be called science.

        • John Jones

          G.
          And how do you know Theology just makes up “stuff” ?

        • Susan

          George,

          And how do you know Theology just makes up “stuff”?

          I’m assuming Greg G. is making a provisional claim that is so far a reliable one.

          Can you give us an example where it demonstrates that it doesn’t?

        • John Jones

          Who is George.

          Theologians in mainstream Christianity believe all humans are sinners.
          Have you any proof that there is no one who has not sinned ?

        • Susan

          Who is George.

          George was a guy who would continually make assertions, claimed he was someone he wasn’t, made claims about works he showed no evidence of reading, made grotesque errors in logic, deflected away from calls for evidence when confronted and made grand assertion after grand assertion with no support and who endlessly shifted something as fundamental as the burden of proof and ignored every call to define his terms. .

          Have you any proof that there is no one who has not sinned?

          Like that.

        • John Jones

          Susan,
          Great minds think alike.

          And so I will ask again:
          Have you met anyone who is not a sinner ?

        • Susan

          Great minds think alike.

          You consider what I described above an example of a great mind?

          I flagged your last couple of comments. Something I haven’t done in years. Can someone around here give me an appropriate method of alerting the moderator that we have a sock puppet troll on our hands? I’m not sure flagging two comments does the trick.

          It is as insulting to sincere and thoughtful theists as it is to atheists to let this sort of person jam up the discussion.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Having gone back and read some of George’s comments
          he seems the most patient person posting here during the time he was attacked, mocked, insulted, dismissed and
          from what I can gather “banned” from the site.

          If he was wrong, why did you and others not just show where he was mistaken instead of writing derogatories
          to and about him.

          Seems to have “spiced up” the site from what I can tell.

        • Susan

          Having gone back and read some of George’s comments he seems the most patient person posting here during the time he was attacked, mocked, insulted, dismissed and
          from what I can gather “banned” from the site.

          Yes. But you’re a sock puppet of George and Myna already explained that you were insane.

          You certainly can’t ask for evidence to that effect because who are you George to decide what is and isn’t evidence?

          Go away George.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          I deleted my comment because I did what I swore I would not do, and that was to get pulled into that insane troll’s unholy trinity of identity. I apologize for the blow up.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Who is George.

          And by what justification does Myna assert he is insane.

        • MNb

          If you don’t know who George is why do you ask Dys where he/she has proven him wrong?

        • Dys

          George had the unfortunate tendency to think himself an expert, and therefore capable of making assertions that he didn’t bother defending. The problem there is that he’s not considered an expert here, and thus his condescension was rebuffed.

          Oh, and you’re not fooling anyone George. For someone that has a thing against lying, this charade of yours is highly hypocritical.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          And where have you proved him wrong ?

        • Dys

          Where did you ever substantiate his assertions in your previous persona? Sorry George, but you’re still as big a blowhard as ever.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          Have you proved him wrong ?

        • Dys

          Ah…so unless you were proved wrong, you don’t have to support your assertions? That’s a fairly stupid methodology you’ve got there George.

        • John Jones

          Dys,

          Have you proved him wrong ?

          Do you still follow Popper on “unfalsifiability” ?

        • Dys

          Already answered. Stop trying to shift the burden of proof.

        • MNb

          Why do you ask this question if you don’t know who George is?
          If you do know who George is why do you keep on asking “who is George?”

        • John Jones

          MNb

          People keep bringing him up and saying we are the same
          person and then denounce me through him.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Having gone back and read some of George’s comments he seems the most patient person posting here during the time he was attacked, mocked, insulted, dismissed and from what I can gather “banned” from the site.
          If he was wrong, why did you and others not just show where he was mistaken instead of writing derogatories to and about him.”

          Georgie boy had a bad habit of saying stupid things, responding illogically when pressed initially, and then simply running away when pressed more strongly.

          George was an idiot and a coward.

          I am glad you are not George, that you will not be repeating the behaviors he displayed.

        • Susan

          that you will not be repeating the behaviors he displayed.

          Too late. He’s already done exactly that.

        • John Jones

          Susan,

          Why do you grind your axe long into the night.

          What have I ever done to you ?

        • Bye

        • TheNuszAbides

          he wore out his welcome, more than once, by failing to back up his claims on dozens of occasions. the mockery, insults and dismissal were entirely functions of the audience’s frustration over his unwarranted attitude in the face of these failures.

        • Greg G.

          Great minds think alike.

          Only George Watson would say George has a great mind. Great minds don’t have the same writing styles.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not a sinner. Sin is offenses against the gods, who are figment of the imagination. Since gods don’t exist, they cannot be sinned against, which means sin doesn’t exist.

          A decent argument can be made that Esmeralda Weatherwax’s definition of sin is also reasonable:

          And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is. –Terry Pratchett Carpe Jugulum

        • Greg G.

          Dang it, and Pterry quotes deserve extra up arrows.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          You quote below seems to indicate that people can sin
          against other people, Is that what you mean to imply ?

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not implying anything, dumb shit. I’ve stated it baldly and unequivocally.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,

          So you do hold that people do sin against each other.

        • 90Lew90

          Of course they do you fucking prick! Watch the news! More pertinently, the point is that false doctrine is often to be found at the bottom of people doing harm (I prefer the term ‘harm’ to ‘sin’, at least it means something) to one another. It’s such a self-evident, moronic assertion to make that people ‘sin against’ or ‘harm’ one another that only religious thinkers could be stupid enough to take it as some sort of buttress to their nonsense. “Oh look! People go out and kill every day. Therefore, [my own particular] God!” Fuck off you fool.

        • cwayneu

          Of course not. “Sin” is related to breaking some rule of some imaginary deity. So for atheists, there is no sin period, under that definition. There is good and bad to follow for a society to survive and prosper. For most of us atheists, it is simply based on empathy.

          a) Doing something on purpose that harms someone else (physically, financially, emotionally) is bad.
          b) Doing something with no expectations, that helps someone else (physically, financially, emotionally) is good.

          It is really that simple. That is all society needs to function well, and it obviously does not require an ancient ambiguous book to figure things out. That also means the vast majority of forbidden silliness from the Bible (like the big 76 in Leviticus – tattoos, ear piercings, gays, witches, cursing, at al) are of absolutely no value to a society.

        • Michael Neville

          Why should I answer this question? I’ve been making declarative statements, why don’t you, George-John?

        • MNb

          “Great minds think alike.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Einstein didn’t exactly think like Aristoteles. Not like Bohr either btw.
          I am not a sinner either. Because there is no god.

        • TheNuszAbides

          having only ever used the saying in trivially tongue-in-cheek ways (we both brought beer–great minds think alike!), i hadn’t even noticed how specious it is in the context of demonstrably great minds. well put.

        • Michael Neville

          We all know who George is, sockpuppet. We recognize your style and form of argument. We’re not as stupid as you think we are.

        • MR

          He doesn’t think you’re stupid, it’s just part of the game.

        • John Jones

          George = Sockpuppet – and what is a sockpuppet ?

        • Michael Neville

          As I told you before, we’re nowhere near as stupid as you think we are, you stupid sockpuppet.

        • John Jones

          Who is George.

          If these theological statements are meaningful for some
          people, why do you say they are not real to them ?

        • Greg G.

          When you write “Who is George” punctuated with a period, it is a tell.

        • John Jones

          G.

          The problem of induction leading to correct deduction,
          ala Hume, takes a seat at the table.

        • Greg G.

          An idea pops into a person’s head and there is no method to evaluate whether it is true in reality. The best they can do is check to see if it conforms to ideas that have popped into other people’s heads. From this, they develop a false sense of certainty. Voila, theology!

          It works for other tho logins just the same but with a different set of presuppositions.

        • John Jones

          G,
          If these theological statements are meaningful for some people how are they not real ?

        • Greg G.

          When we played whiffle ball when I was a kid, sometimes we played with three players on a team. When a team had the bases loaded, we used an invisible runner who advanced as fast as the runner behind. The defense could get a force-out at home by touching home plate before the runner got to third base. The run counted if when the runner behind reached third base. The invisible runner was meaningful but it was still an imaginary runner, not a real player.

          Children sometimes have invisible friends. A guy at work used to talk to somebody all the time, even would buy his friend Jack a cup of coffee on break. (They couldn’t fire him because he did the work of two men.) These invisible friends are meaningful but not real. Imaginary things can be meaningful but not real.

          How desperate are you for an argument that you are resorting to such silly things?

        • MNb

          I still talk to invisible people, like my deceased parents. I don’t fool myself by thinking they talk back.

        • MR

          Oh, MNb, you are human after all. 🙂

        • John Jones

          G.

          Highly illustrative that people can have vivid imaginations.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          look up fictionalism.

        • John Jones

          Hello Martin,

          Agreed that people can be moved by fiction more than
          history, which might be a good argument for teaching history and literature in one class in the secondary schools.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          interesting what you get out of “look up fictionalism”. i said nothing about what people are more moved by, or what this implies (or not) for teaching literature/history.

        • cwayneu

          The Heaven’s Gate cult comes to mind. Their belief was meaningful to them to the extreme, but it is very doubtful they are all just fine as passengers on a spaceship, following comets around the cosmos (not real).

        • MNb

          Because theology doesn’t have a method to decide between two conflicting hypotheses.
          Like “christians have the right to keep slaves”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobus_Capitein

          vs. “christians should oppose slaves.”

        • John Jones

          MNb,

          Good point.

          I would imagine the only test is how continually charitable
          the person is to those around them, how do they love others as Christ loves them.

        • Michael Neville

          Every Jesuit Priest would have earned at least a Master’s in Theology, if not a doctorate.

          Back then getting a Masters degree meant one was a seminary graduate. It wasn’t the same thing as a modern MA. But you knew that and hoped that I didn’t.

        • John Jones

          Mr. Neville,
          Yes, they would have graduated from a theological college
          or a seminary, and they would have had a MA in the Theology which makes them Theologians – they had to be
          able to explain and defend the faith.

        • Michael Neville

          You really like the argument from “it’s true because I say so.” How about some (here’s the word you Christians really hate) evidence to support your bullshit?

      • MNb

        “The following Jesuits were active in Mathematics/Science in the
        17th/18th Centuries.”
        Well after the second scientific revolution started by Copernicus and Brahe, so that doesn’t lend any support to Third Prof’s statement that “science (did not) emerge independently of theology-philosophers”. The point is exactly that no single theology-philosopher from 300 CE (when christianity took over) until say 1500 CE contributed anything substantial to science. Plus Third Prof, who may be an excellent bibilical scholar, but not exactly an excellent historian, conveniently forgot to mention science in India and China, which did pretty well without any theology-philosopher.

        “The misunderstanding that Philosophy/Theology has nothing to offer Science – sorry Stephen Hawkings and others – is rather illuminating.”
        You can stick your dishonest sorry into the darkest hole of your body. Instead you should offer one simple example of something theology has to offer to science.

        “The notion that Plato/Aristotle ignored all scientific evidence or failed to carry out experiments is patently false.”
        You should also offer one single example of those two guys carrying out an experiment to decide between two conflicting hypotheses.

        “Galileo was a natural philosopher, as was Newton Descartes.”
        Descartes was, yes. Galileo and Newton weren’t exactly because they understood the importance of experiments and observations for scientific theories. They uses both induction and deduction. Descarted only used deduction. So did Copernicus, who actually was a transitional figure and typically produced a theory that already had been developed 17 Centuries before by Aristarchos of Samos.
        You don’t know what you’re talking about.

        “His early attempts to deduce a theory”
        Keppler threw them into the dustbin as soon as he met Tycho Brahe and only then he was able to formulate his formulas. Theology had exactly nothing to do with it.

        “Yes, Professor you have stirred the hornet’s nest here.”
        BWAHAHAHAHA!
        If you thought Third Prof’s mistake were new to me you couldn’t be more mistaken.

        • John Jones

          MNb,

          You might benefit by reading up on John Philoponus before you assert that no Theologian/Philosopher contributed anything substantial to science – roughly 300 – 1500 AD.

          Yes, the Chinese/Arabs and Indians did contribute during that time period.

          It is a Theological belief arising out of Greek Philosophers/Theologians that the Universe is ordered by
          the Hand of God and that the human mind/soul has been created in such a way that humans can understand the workings of the Universe.

          If you read the Meno you will see Plato doing Mathematics in a most modern way. The whole notion of dialectic is the foundation of scientific knowledge – dividing up questions concerning nature via their natural kinds.

          As for Aristotle – he is usually considered the first Biologist –
          genera/species in the West, investigated Logical forms, Hydrology, his Physics are the beginning of what will blossom into Modern Science.

          I believe Descartes did examine corpses to see how the nerves and muscles went. And in his Optics he speaks about
          looking through the dissected eyeballs of animals to see what images were projected by them. The title of Descartes’
          Discourse on Method is in full:

          “Discourse for Rightly Directing One’s Reason and Searching for the Truth in the Sciences.”

          Does that mean Descartes fully embraced what you call the
          “Scientific Method” or did he have high aspirations for finding a way to deduce the truths of science from as few
          suppositions as possible, once those suppositions had been drawn out of examining the natural world.

          As such it may be overextending to say that Descartes only used deduction. Correct me if I am wrong but were there
          not significant discoveries in 20th century physics that were
          deduced first from theory which then pointed the experimentalists in the “right direction”.

          Where does it say that Kepler through all his previous theories in the “dustbin” once he had full access to
          Brahe’s data and calculations ?

          Did not Brahe allow Kepler more access to his data because he was impressed with the astronomical ideas expressed in Kepler’s: Mysterium Cosmographicum, which leads me to doubt your “dustbin” theory as being wholly accurate.
          [ I am not saying you are incorrect, you may have access to a letter or document of Kepler where he says he did what you claimed, I am just saying that I am unaware. ]

          Given in Harmonices Mundi, Kepler writes: …geometrical things have provided the Creator with a model for decorating the whole world” ala Plato, is it rather doubtful, is it not, you descendant of Simon Stevin, that Kepler changed his opinion that the Creator made the world so that we might understand.

          Might I suggest you read Apelt’s and Koyre’s work on
          Kepler to balance the Enlightenment histories.

        • TheNuszAbides

          abundant evidence you won’t actually read or can’t actually understand what you pretend to respond to. start over.

        • John Brooke

          How much you comment given how little you know.

        • TheNuszAbides

          alas, your illuminations are too elegant for my puny mind. please, spell out my errors.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Accept yer ad hom attack like an adult why don’t ya? }8O0~

        • TheNuszAbides

          adultiness is over-rated.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Especially among the males of the species.

      • TheNuszAbides

        to see if they actually understand what you have written or resort to quickly dismissing your views through the use of shallow and refuted “evidence”.

        adding another idiotically false dichotomy to your pile? fantasy-logician, pat thyself on the back!

    • cwayneu

      Here is an example I heard from a Neil deGrasse Tyson lecture, of how destructive religion can be on science.

      History shows the Arabic communities were the scientific giants of the world from 800 to 1100 AD, leaders in astronomy and mathematics (they invented Algebra). Then the Islamic philosopher al-Ghazali, late in that period, came along and concluded that the Quran indicated that mathematics could deceive and misguide ones mind (another whacked out religious belief). Virtually no new scientific or mathematics discoveries have come out of the major Arabic communities since (zip, zero, none).

      So yes, teaching religious based unverified beliefs, can completely destroy scientific progress for an entire culture.

      • Michael Neville

        Please fix the formatting of your post.

        • cwayneu

          Already done. Tks.

    • Next time, I suggest shorter essays. I’ll likely skip over anything even close to this long from you in the future.

      The Richard Dawkins quotation made me wince.

      Hitting a little close to home was it?

      His ignorance of history and the role of philosopher-theologians in bringing about the Scientific Method and modern science is appalling

      Then make clear precisely what mistake he made and tell us the correct view.

      “the achievement of scientists” is virtually the same list of famous names as “the achievement of theologians.”

      I’m pretty sure that Newton didn’t have his theology hat on when he was writing Principia Mathematica or Opticks.

      Do I need to list the theologian-philosophers who remain virtually synonymous with the rise of modern science?

      What’s that? You say that most educated Europeans were Christians centuries ago? Yeah, I think we knew that already.

      theologians also preserved literacy, higher education, and government bureaucracy after the fall of the Roman Empire, and thereby preserved civilization itself

      Then respond to my thesis: Christianity had a poor track record of progress when it was at the helm.

      Isaac Newton published all sorts of bizarre stuff in addition to what we now call Newtonian physics—alchemy included—but he definitely prided himself on being a theologian, even writing a commentary on the Book of Revelation.

      He wrote more words on theology than science. But consider what has been his lasting contribution to society.

      What a waste. Maybe we can blame the mercury.

      Of course, many civilizations hardly got started in Science at all.

      I think Islam did a decent job when it was in the ascendant.

      What was it about Europe which saw the science academy flourish and grow exponentially while ancient Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto civilizations did not?

      Translation: “OK, Christianity does have an abysmal track record, I’ll admit … but so do other countries!”

      we see similar errors in naive anti-theists who blame Islam for the decline in science after the Arabic Golden Age.

      That seems an odd lesson. The fact is that they contributed quite a bit to learning when they were in charge. This is a great example of how religion can affect scientific research, either encouraging it or discouraging it.

      Neil Degrasse Tyson often promotes that silly myth and even replays many of Carl Sagan’s favorite pseudo-historical factoids

      Oooh—you’ve got lots of powerful enemies, don’t you?

      As much as I dislike Islam, I’d rate religion as no more than fourth place in the ranking of factors which ended the Arabic Golden Age

      Well, there were the Mongols. That’ll always rain on your parade. But a science-friendly Islam after that point would’ve continued Islam’s track record.

      • Picard Alpha

        “I think Islam did a decent job when it was in the ascendant.”

        Incorrect. In fact, Islam supressed scientific advancement through its entire history, and wherever Islam came to dominate, scientific advancement was stopped dead in its tracks within few decades. I’m in no mood to type so I’m just going to quote a passage of an article I’m currently writing:

        “All Muslim “advances” during Dark Ages, touted as a proof of Islamic advantage, were nothing of sorts. Most of their knowledge came to them by plundery of Roman libraries in the cities they conquered, containing works of Greek and Roman scholars. Then they forced Christians and Jews to translate those books on Arabic. Scientific advances that Muslims “made” during that period were simply taken from others: concept of zero was taken from Indians, as were “Arab numerals” themselves. Even “domestic” Muslim advances were not made by Muslims, but rather by the conquered populations until the same got converted to Islam by the threat of dhimmitude. Those few genuine scientists that Muslims produced were typically considered heretics – such as Persian scientist and philosopher al-Razi. While an astronomer Taqi ad-Din constructed a great observatory in the freshly consquered Istanbul in 1577., Muslim clerics convinced the sultan do demolish it in 1580. Only modern Muslim scientific accomplishments are limited to turning cellphones and cars into instruments of mass murder – and even in that, they got outstripped by Christianity (first car bomb ever was the one used in an assassination attempt on Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, by Christian Armenian separatists).”

        Structured religion and scientific advancement do not mix very well, but unlike Islam, Christianity came to being, and developed, within boundaries of secular Roman Empire. Islam did not have that benefit, and so it remained a violently murderous, anti-science and anti-human system of dogmas, whereas Christianity was tamed (only partly, but it was).

        What ended the Arabic Golden Age was the end of expansion. Muslim civilizations have historically supported themselves, and their scientific advancement, through expansion and absorbing foreign scientific achievments. Once that ended, and they could no longer plunder foreign libraries, they had nothing to fall back on.

        • MNb

          “Islam supressed scientific advancement through its entire history, and wherever Islam came to dominate, scientific advancement was stopped dead in its tracks within few decades.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_scientists_and_scholars

          “touted as a proof of Islamic advantage, were nothing of sorts. Most of their knowledge came to them by plundery of Roman libraries”
          Nice contradiction of the quote before.

          “Scientific advances that Muslims “made” during that period were simply taken from others.”
          And another contradiction.

          “Even “domestic” Muslim advances were not made by Muslims.”
          And another one.

          1. John killed Peter.
          2. If John didn’t kill Peter he tried.
          3. If John didn’t try to kill Peter he forced Alex to do so.
          4. If John didn’t force Alex to try to kill Peter then Bill asked him to do so.

          I don’t think I’m going to read your article.

        • TheNuszAbides

          yep. it stank strongly of “axe to grind” quite early on.

        • The Arab Golden Age ended in 1258, so your later dates are off topic. Algebra, astronomy, chemistry, and more were nurtured during this period.

        • Picard Alpha

          As I said, it largely depended on conquest, and advances were made in spite of Islam, not because of it. “Islamic” rulers often used rather violent means to suppress any literal interpretations of Qur’an because they knew where it would lead. Saladin for example outlawed literal reading of Qur’an; if I remember it correctly, literal interpretation of Qur’an was punishable by death.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if the Ages you refer to were actually Dark you would have no basis to argue whether advances could be traced to them, nor whether they could be “touted as a proof of Islamic advantage”. (and neither would anyone else).

        • Picard Alpha

          You have no idea what the term “Dark Ages” actually means, do you? It is Europe-centric term for a period of time during which much of Ancient literature etc. was lost and unknown, and was thus named as such by Antiqophillic “historians” of the Renaissance, who believed that anything not Greco-Roman was worthless. As such, losing Roman cultural identity was enough to name them “dark”. In reality, culture, literature, art and even science prospered in the Western Europe up until the expansion of Islam in 7th and 8th centuries severed links to East. Here I used it merely to denote a period of time. And yes, records of that period are scarce compared to what came later – but far from nonexistent.

        • Greg G.

          So what technological advances were made during that period? The reason that Greco-Roman literature was valued is because it led to advances over the previous centuries once it became available during the Crusades. It has been said that it took until the 18th century to reach the level of technology that the Romans had.

        • Picard Alpha

          Wrong. Roman technological level and social organization was more-or-less maintained – except in Britain – by the barbarian tribes that came into the Empire. Merovingian Franks had schools, hospitals, state administration up until Muslim advance cut off the papyrus supply from Egypt, after which that level could no longer be maintained, and science and education withdrew exclusively to the domain of monasteries. So the real Dark Ages started in 7th-8th century, NOT after the fall of the Western Roman Empire as commonly held. And even then it was exclusive to the Western Europe, as Roman Empire in the East survived, and inherited a lot from the Roman Empire of antiquity, as did Arab empire. As for technological *advances*, even Roman Empire was not really big on them. Most advances were made in the Greek world, including the Eastern Roman Empire (especially after the fall of the Western one), as well as the ERE areas conquered by the Caliphate. Nearly everything that Romans did not steal from the Greeks they stole from the Celts, Spanish (e.g. gladius), Etruscans (e.g. aqueduct, arch), and other peoples they came into contact with. Original Roman advances were next-to-none.

        • MNb

          “Merovingian Franks had schools, hospitals, state administration up until …”
          Ah – that was the reason Charlemagne started campaigns to open schools and hospitals – because they already were there.

          “NOT after the fall of the Western Roman Empire”
          The Western Roman Empire did not fall. It slowly disintegrated, a process with a different pace in different territories. You are as poor at defining Dark Ages as about everyone.
          Again: about Britain and The Lowlands (the two former provinces Germania) there are exactly zero written sources for 150-200 years (ok, Britain one with precious little information). The Lowlands were likely to be uninhabited. If that weren’t Dark Ages (both well before the 7th Century) than nothing is.
          You two, three guys make exactly the same big mistake: you keep on treating Western Europe from 400 CE on as one entity. The whole point of the Barbaric invasions is that it ceased to be one.

        • Picard Alpha

          “Ah – that was the reason Charlemagne started campaigns to open schools and hospitals – because they already were there.”

          Schools and hospitals disappeared after the Muslim conquests because
          education could not be continued without papyrus, and without educated
          people you can have neither schools nor hospitals. They did not
          disappear immediately after the dissolution of the WRE. Egypt fell to Islam in 642., and Charlemagne came to power in 768. You think that schools and educated class in general can survive for 140 years with basically nothing to write on? Gold also disappeared from circulation gradually after Muslim conquests, and Frankish Empire had to use silver money.

          “The Western Roman Empire did not fall. It slowly disintegrated, a
          process with a different pace in different territories. You are as poor
          at defining Dark Ages as about everyone.”

          “Fall” can also be gradual. People who want a single point typically take 476., when Romulus Augustulus was deposed, but the fall of the Western Roman Empire was indeed a gradual process, to the point that nobody really noticed when Augustulus was deposed and later murdered. But de iure even this did not mean much, as barbarian rulers in the West continued to accept the legal supremacy of Constantinople at least until Justinian’s campaigns of reconquest; they merely exchanged Emperor in the West for one in the East, and in practice neither of them meant much.

          “Again: about Britain and The Lowlands (the two former provinces
          Germania) there are exactly zero written sources for 150-200 years (ok,
          Britain one with precious little information). The Lowlands were likely
          to be uninhabited. If that weren’t Dark Ages (both well before the 7th
          Century) than nothing is.”

          Precisely. Dark Ages are named as such because of the lack of sources, but seeing how many sources were later destroyed or written over (parchment in particular was often reused, but today it is possible to read even text that was erased – scratched – from the parchment), this does not mean much. What sources do exist show that Ancient civilization continued more or less uninterrupted until the Muslim invasions. Reduced and mutilated yes, but still extant. Merovingian state was fully secular, public education continued, legal system was Roman, exchange was still done primarily in gold money, as was taxation, and long range trade with the East was still ongoing. All of that only stopped with Muslim invasions. And even then, the actual Roman Empire (the so-called “Byzantine Empire”) continued to do rather well.

        • MNb

          “Schools and hospitals disappeared after the Muslim conquests”
          When exactly where Ireland, Britain, the Low Lands, France (minus Languedoc-Rousillon) and Italy (minus Sicily) conquered by muslims?
          Never? Then these muslim conquests didn’t make schools and hospitals disappear in the largest part of Western Europe.
          After this howler of yours I didn’t care to read any further. In my experience a comment begun like this only can get worse.

        • Picard Alpha

          Don’t ask irrelevant questions. You cannot have schools without something to write on and without educated people, and thanks to Muslims cutting off import of papyrus, it became completely impractical to maintain large-scale education. But if you cannot understand something as complex (?) as this, maybe we better stop.

        • MNb

          The questions are relevant for your foolish hypothesis that the rise of islam made schools and hospitals disappear in Western Europe.

          “You cannot have schools without something to write on”
          If you think they used expensive papyrus in schools you’re even a bigger fool than I already thought after disproving yourself that the connection with Byzantium was severed.

          http://quatr.us/romans/people/school.htm

          “To practice their writing, they scratched with wooden sticks on wooden boards covered with wax, or sometimes they scratched with a metal stick on old broken pieces of pottery.”

          http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/ancient-rome/roman-education/

          “Lessons were simply learned by heart.”
          “Lessons were also simply dictated as there were no books as they were simply too expensive.”
          “They were not allowed to write on what we would consider to be paper as it was very expensive. Boys first practised on a wax tablet.”

          “it became completely impractical to maintain large-scale education.”
          There never was large-scale education anywhere in the Roman Empire. Only boys with rich parents were educated.
          Indeed, if you cannot accept simple historical facts like these, you better stop (embarrassing yourself).

        • Picard Alpha

          “The questions are relevant for your foolish hypothesis that the rise of islam made schools and hospitals disappear in Western Europe.”

          That it made STATE ADMINISTRATION disappear. Papyrus was used predominantly by state administration as parchment was far too expensive for the purpose. And you are also wrong about papyrus not being used by the schools. Wax tablets and such were only used for the basic education. For more advanced education, papyrus was used. You CANNOT have administration with just a Roman equivalent of a four-grade primary school. And most Romans were not home-schooled. There was even an equivalent of a high school, though not many attended it.

          So better educate yourself before continuing this, i’m sick of correcting your mistakes:
          http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/ancient-rome/roman-education/

          “Only when they had shown that they could write well, were they allowed to write on paper – which was made on the Ancient Egyptian method of papyrus reeds.”

          http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/whic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?zid=efaaa015a59a8100d7dbd9b883e527c0&action=2&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CCX2897200159&userGroupName=lith7757&jsid=f4237bcbb01d6f58d58021c6d948bf46

          “By the middle of the first century B.C., education based on family and tradition was no longer considered appropriate. Rome had become a leading political and military power. The Romans had defeated CARTHAGE in the PUNIC WARS and had conquered much of the Mediterranean world. Children of the leading families in the conquered territories were often taken to Italy to be educated, returning afterwards to become local leaders. They often returned more Roman than provincial* . The education of Roman children changed as well. As the Roman Empire expanded, Roman fathers were often away from home in the army or in colonial administration, and upper-class mothers became more involved in social concerns and were less inclined to teach their children.”

          “Pupils sat on stools with wooden tablets on their knees, and they copied passages of literature onto papyrus* sheets. They then memorized and recited them.”

          —-

          “If you think they used expensive papyrus in schools you’re even a bigger fool than I already thought after disproving yourself that the
          connection with Byzantium was severed.”

          Disproven above, I sincerely hope you are capable of learning, but it seems that you cannot as you *still* cannot differentiate between economic connections and pilgrims.

          “There never was large-scale education anywhere in the Roman Empire. Only boys with rich parents were educated.
          Indeed, if you cannot accept simple historical facts like these, you better stop (embarrassing yourself).”

          Wrong. Boys in rich families were home-educated by private tutors, whereas formal schools were intended for the boys of middle class. The poor, of course, did not undergo education except inside their families for whatever work their parents did.
          Learn a bit:

          http://www.localhistories.org/education.html

          “In rich Roman families children were educated at home by a tutor. Other boys and girls went to a primary school called a ludus at the age of 7 to learn to read and write and do simple arithmetic. Boys went to secondary school where they would learn geometry, history, literature and oratory (the art of public speaking).”

          http://www.knowtheromans.co.uk/Categories/RomanEducation/

          “At the height of the Roman Republic formal schools were starting to be assembled. However they wouldn’t have been free to attend and they were targeted at the middle to higher classes of society. Both boys and girls could have received an education, but it is likely that they would have been educated separately.”

          http://www.crystalinks.com/romeducation.html

          “As Rome grew in size and in power, following the Punic Wars, the
          importance of the family as the central unit within Roman society began to deteriorate. With this declined the old Roman system of education carried out by the paterfamilias. The new educational system began to center more on the one encountered by the Romans with the Hellenistic Greeks and prominent centers of learning such as Alexandria later on. It was becoming a literary educational system.”

          So, to cite yourself, you better stop embarrassing yourself.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming that you’re too stupid and/or too dishonest to admit your own mistakes (you showed yourself with your example of pilgrims travelling by land that the connection with Constantinople was not severed) nor to recognize relevant historical facts.

          Just one more thing: around 500 CE Rome had more than a million inhabitants. After the Byzantine-Ostrogoth wars, half a century later, about 20 000 were left. If you maintain that that didn’t effect education and administration (well before the rise of islam) you’re both stupid and dishonest.

          “they were targeted at the middle to higher classes of society”
          If you think the endless wars from 400 CE on (ie well before the rise of islam) didn’t impoverish or even make disappear those middle to higher classes of society you’re both stupid and dishonest.

          “As Rome grew in size and in power, following the Punic Wars”
          Exactly. And what happened from 400 CE on, ie well before the rise of islam? The Western Roman Empire declined in size and in power until it totally disappeared. What happened to the successor kingdoms in Italy (the Ostrogoths) and Africa (the Vandals)? They declined in power until they totally disappeared.
          What happened to the successor kingdom in Iberia? It declined in power, but was relatively peaceful until the muslims came. Sure enough they maintained an intellectual centre (with the aid of christian and jewish scholars) in Toledo that was superior to anything Western Europe had until the end of the 11th Century. Cause: relatively few wars and political stability.
          What happened to the successor kingdom in Gaul? It declined in power, but was left alone, so that every time a king died his sons (both legitimate and illegitimate) could happily fight a civil war, in the meantime destroying the educational system and the bureaucracy. If the king was a weakling (and more often than not he was) he was busy fighting off his rebellious nobility, with exactly the same result. If he was a failure (and quite often he was) he only ruled Ile-de-France, allowing his nobility to enjoy continuous infight. With exactly the same result – destroying the educational system and the bureaucracy.
          And these are only the big four successor kingdoms. I now neglect he kingdoms Burgundia, Alemannia and the many others that all had to be conquered – resulting in the destruction of the educational system and the bureaucracy.
          Then came the Lombards, who failed to unite Italy, resulting in many more endless wars for many centuries to come.
          As the Germanic elite in these kingdoms were a warrior elite it didn’t care much about education (with the notable exception of Charlemagne). That’s why medieval society is called feudal. The descendants of the educated Romanic people, who had become second class, gradually disappeared as a result.
          Plus you keep on neglecting that Ireland, a country that did not receive papyrus anymore than France, Britain and Italy, managed to produce the intellectual giant (relatively) John Scotus Eriugenis.
          No matter how often you repeat it, the rise of islam had nothing to do with it. None of your links makes that claim. How embarrassing for you.
          You’re simply wrong and too stupid and too dishonest to admit it.
          As you again bring up several points that actually confirm what I write and don’t recognize it yourself you’re obviously capable of learning something new. As I have written all there is to be written this is my last comment regarding this topic. You may have the last word; I won’t read it.
          Thanks for the entertainment.

        • Picard Alpha

          “Thanks for confirming that you’re too stupid and/or too dishonest to admit your own mistakes (you showed yourself with your example of pilgrims travelling by land that the connection with Constantinople was not severed) nor to recognize relevant historical facts.”

          No, it is simply that you are either too stupid or too stone-set to even try to understand what I’m saying. You believe that pilgrims equate trade routes, that is way beyond stupid, or simply you don’t want to understand the difference because you know it would go against what you want to believe.

          “Just one more thing: around 500 CE Rome had more than a million inhabitants. After the Byzantine-Ostrogoth wars, half a century later, about 20 000 were left. If you maintain that that didn’t effect education and administration (well before the rise of islam) you’re both stupid and dishonest.”

          Population of Rome itself has no relevance to continuation of Roman administration across the entire area of the former Western Empire. Rome was the largest, but was not the only population center in the Roman Empire, and neither France, Spain (except the south) or Britannia were affected by the Roman-Ostrogoth Wars. And it is clear that Roman-style administration and education continued at least up until said wars; barbaric migration did not affect them. Yes, Rome was degraded into a village rather quckly. But that has no relevance for any areas outside Italy. Rome was taken and retaken five times in the course of the wars due to its significance, so you cannot extrapolate situation fo Rome even to the rest of the Ostrogothic kingdom, let alone the former Western Empire as a whole. Other urban areas declined as well, but that does not mean they were incapable of continuing previous practices. Most cities, especially in the south, remained nearly unchanged. Milan, in 200 AD, had a populace of 40.000; it rose to 100.000 while it was a capital of the Western Roman Empire (late 3rd, early 4th century), and during Theodoric – late 5th, early 6th century – it has a populace of 30.000 (and that after a rather vicious three-year war). Cities in the north were smaller, and got even smaller; but all of them remained.

          “If you think the endless wars from 400 CE on (ie well before the rise of islam) didn’t impoverish or even make disappear those middle to higher classes of society you’re both stupid and dishonest.”

          Wars affected them, yes. Destroyed, no, because barbarians did not have interest in destroying Roman culture or society. Roman upper classes were often mixed, or even completely displaced, by upper classes of barbarian tribes. But said barbarian upper classes were by that time so thoroughly Romanized that it made no difference at all. Roman administrative and social traditions continued, and German landowners were indistinguishable from Roman landowner caste that they became a part of. Germans did want to destroy Roman society because they had nothing to replace it; in 488.-493., when Ostrogoths conquered Italy, they were settled on the Roman lands according to the old principle of “tertia” – one third of owner’s home and goods would be used for maintaining the soldier(s) that came to his home. Clearly, Roman legal practices continued – and that required educated clerks. All barbarian rulers – de iure at least, if not de facto – accepted the primacy of Constantinople and sovereignity of the Roman Emperor over the entirety of Roman lands; up until Charlemagne, not one even attempted to take the title of the Emperor, but Charlemagne is a product of Islam and Muslim expansion. Only Anglo-Saxons up in Britannia ignore the Constantinople and discontinue Roman practices, as do Langobards who had conquered Italy in 6th century. But outside Britan and Italy, hardly anything changed from the Roman practices up until Muslim invasions; Spain, France and Africa remained Romanized.

          “Exactly. And what happened from 400 CE on, ie well before the rise of islam? The Western Roman Empire declined in size and in power until it totally disappeared. What happened to the successor kingdoms in Italy (the Ostrogoths) and Africa (the Vandals)? They declined in power until they totally disappeared.”

          Vandals and Ostrogoths were both conquered by the Eastern Roman Empire. Western Roman Empire disappeared, but its practices continued.

          “What happened to the successor kingdom in Gaul? It declined in power, but was left alone, so that every time a king died his sons (both legitimate and illegitimate) could happily fight a civil war, in the meantime destroying the educational system and the bureaucracy. If the king was a weakling (and more often than not he was) he was busy fighting off his rebellious nobility, with exactly the same result. If he was a failure (and quite often he was) he only ruled Ile-de-France, allowing his nobility to enjoy continuous infight. With exactly the same result – destroying the educational system and the bureaucracy.”

          This is no different than the Roman Empire itself. Later Roman Emperors were all too happy to fight civil wars, yet culture and administration continued. And even Frankish wars were intermittent, not continuous; there was time between them for the country to recover. Later kings were indeed often failures, but trade continued, society continued, administration continued. Trade was done in gold money, not in nature as was often later the case. Roman taxes and telonium are the primary sources of power of Merovingian kings, who only remained in the north around Ile-de-France to better repulse other Germanic tribes.

          “As the Germanic elite in these kingdoms were a warrior elite it didn’t care much about education (with the notable exception of Charlemagne). That’s why medieval society is called feudal. The descendants of the educated Romanic people, who had become second class, gradually disappeared as a result. That process was done before the rise of islam. By then the intellectual heritage was maintained in monasteries, which regulary were threatened by destruction due to wars.”

          No, they did not. But up until the Islamic expansion, there remained Roman intellectual elite, from whom people were drawn for the state bureocracy. What you describe, maintenance of knowledge in the monasteries, only happened once maintenance of knowledge and education by the state became impossible thanks to Islamic expansion. Roman Gaul had 20 to 40 million inhabitants, Franks were not much more than 100.000-200.000.

          “Plus you keep on neglecting that Ireland, a country that did not receive papyrus anymore than France, Britain and Italy, managed to produce the intellectual giant (relatively) John Scotus Eriugenis.”

          Testis unus, testis nullus. Unless you know exact circumstances of how he achieved it, it hardly matters. There are always exceptions to the rule, but they do not disprove the rule.

          “No matter how often you repeat it, the rise of islam had nothing to do with it. None of your links makes that claim. How embarrassing for you.”

          They were not meant to, but again such things are beyond your understanding. I could easily give you literature which proves or reinforces my claims in that area, but I doubt you would read it. Reading implies understanding, and you refuse to understand (read) even my relatively short arguments, or what little reading I did give you. As far as I can see, there is little chance that you would read actual books, and even less chance that you would understand them, so there is no point in giving you the titles.

          “As you again bring up several points that actually confirm what I write and don’t recognize it yourself you’re obviously incapable of learning something new. As I have written all there is to be written this is my last comment regarding this topic. You may have the last word; I won’t read it.”

          My links show precisely what I claim them to show, it is not my problem that you refuse to think or learn. You are free to continue to delude yourself; whether you want to continue this debate or not, makes no difference to me (except the time I spend on it, but for now, I still have some to spare).

        • Greg G.

          When I referred to the Romans, it applies to the Roman Empire, not just the city of Rome. The Romans took the advances and spread them around. The Estrucans still had aqueducts but they also got Greek science and medicine and the Greeks got aqueducts. The Romans built roads and aqueducts in Europe that were used for centuries. I read within the last 15 years or so that a city got a new back-up water supply and retired the Roman aqueduct they had been using up to then.

          But when the Empire collapsed, there was nobody to fund the projects using the technology and the knowledge was lost by the end of the generation. Maintaining a library was a luxury they couldn’t afford.

          The people in the Dark Ages were no dumber or smarter than their predecessors, they simply lost knowledge that had been available. They made some progress but it didn’t spread widely so the advances weren’t accumulating.

          When they acquired Greek texts with knowledge from over a thousand years earlier, it seemed futuristic to them. That’s how much they lost.

        • Picard Alpha

          “When I referred to the Romans, it applies to the Roman Empire, not just the city of Rome.”

          I am very well aware of that.

          “But when the Empire collapsed, there was nobody to fund the projects using the technology and the knowledge was lost by the end of the generation. Maintaining a library was a luxury they couldn’t afford.”

          Merovingian Frankish state still provided public education, maintained infrastructure etc. Infrastructure did somewhat decline, but all the Roman social and administrative institutions survived, including the monetary and economic system as well as state administration. And regarding infrastructure, decline started long before the Western Empire started dissolving, and “barbarian” rulers undertook some significant building projects (e.g. Theodoric). And the Empire did not fall, it dissolved into a number of barbarian states that continued to accept the primacy of the Constantinople.

          “The people in the Dark Ages were no dumber or smarter than their predecessors, they simply lost knowledge that had been available. They made some progress but it didn’t spread widely so the advances weren’t accumulating.”

          True, but as I said, it was strictly limited to the Western Europe from 7th century onwards. Barbarians quickly Romanized; it was Muslim expansion which caused the Dark Ages. Anything between the 5th century barbarian migrations and 7th century expansion of Islam is only “dark” because there is relative lack of sources, not because the society declined.

        • Greg G.

          Anything between the 5th century barbarian migrations and 7th century expansion of Islam is only “dark” because there is relative lack of sources, not because the society declined.

          The loss of resources led to a decline in society which led to the failure to maintain knowledge which led to the inability to take advantage of the existing resources.

          Yesterday, under another article, somebody linked to God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam. The page touts Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa as “Medieval scientists” and Christians often tout them as “Christian scientists”. All of them were born in the 13th and 14th centuries in France and England, after Greek writings from the Crusades became available to them. They weren’t producing new knowledge so much as learning Aristotle. They seem smart compared to the previous centuries because they acquired knowledge that was 15 centuries old.

          The acquistion of 1500 year old knowledge made them look brilliant because the backdrop of the previous centuries was so dark. That makes “The Dark Ages” an appropriate label for the era.

        • Picard Alpha

          As far as general society goes, Dark Ages only started after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 7th century. As far as science goes, decline happened before the political Western Roman Empire ceased to exist. And that “reproducing Aristotle” schtick also started in the late-Antiquity Roman Empire as I recall, though it is true that it only became significant in the Middle Ages (especially Renaissance).

        • Myna A.

          I’ve always been interested in how climate activity affected events (ie: the rise of the Mongol empire).

          For the so-referred Dark Ages:

          http://phys.org/news/2016-04-volcanoes-trigger-crises-late-antiquity.html

        • Even if Romans invented nothing new (hard to accept, but I haven’t studied this much), the magnitude of their projects is notable. The Roman Pantheon, the Pont du Gard aqueduct, and so on are pretty remarkable.

        • Picard Alpha
        • MNb

          “It has been said ….”
          How do you conclude that the Notre Dame (early 14th Century) demanded a lower level of technology than the Romans had?

        • Greg G.

          How do you conclude that the Notre Dame (early 14th Century) demanded a lower level of technology than the Romans had?

          It has been said, and I have repeated it before, that the flying buttress may have been the greatest technological achievement of the Dark Ages.

          Ironically this happened particularly in the 12th Century after the conquest of Toledo – something you try to argue against.

          Recently, perhaps in this comment section, someone was touting the science done by early Christians, pointing out some from the 12th and 13th centuries. I looked them up and found that they all got their advances from reading ancient Greek texts, acquired from the Crusades. That happened after the conquest of Toledo. Did that conquest provide some of the Greek science and medical texts? I have no idea which texts they were reading or where the texts came from.

        • MNb

          “they all got their advances from reading ancient Greek texts”
          Thanks, I didn’t know that this applied to architecture as well. Of course I am not surprised at all. As you very likely will know I have never accepted that christianity was the source or even the inspiration of scientific and technological progress. However I don’t accept that “Christianity retarded society” either.
          As for the conquest of Toledo the influence was at least twofold. It inspired founding the University of Bologna (only three years later – which hence is not the first European university). European scholars got access to translations of mainly Aristoteles (translated from Arab and as a result rather incomplete and inaccurate). That inspired scholasticism. You undoubtedly know that Thomas of Aquino successfully advocated replacing (Neo-)Platonism with his adaption of Aristotelean philosophy. He couldn’t have done that without those translations from Greek via Arab to Latin. What trickled through of Greek science and medicine was mainly a byproduct, though your information about architecture urges me to adjust my view. The scholastics received more from the Crusades indeed, but the conquest of Toledo was the first and strongest trigger until the Renaissance. Alas I don’t know if the texts about architecture came from Toledo, from Constantinople or from the Levant.
          I suspect the islamic influence always has been downplayed because it embarrasses christians in particular and western culture in general to admit that the revival of intellectual life in Western Europe began with stealing from muslims. While I think “Dark Ages” mainly a meaningless term it’s clear that until the 12th Century Western Europe was very backward compared to Byzantium and the islamic states. That’s why apologists always stress the 12th and 13th Century. No matter how remarkable and admirable, it’s still only 20% of the entire Middle Ages. We shouldn’t neglect or downplay it, but neither should we neglect the other 80%.

        • Greg G.

          That’s very interesting. Our World History high school course left out a lot of that information. I knew a little about Toledo from a travel show on TV.

          Somebody left a link to God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam. I got curious about the names in this paragraph:

          By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists – like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa – and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents have usually run away to hide and scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.

          They were all born in the 13th and 14th centuries and the Wikipedia articles for nearly every one showed they were standing on Aristotle’s shoulders. Jean Buridan came up with the concept of impetus in a way that contradicted Aristotle, who said an object in motion naturally slows down.

          Buriden said that an object in motion would stay in motion unless acted on by another force. He also figured that a greater velocity meant more impetus. If he had worked the mass of the object into it and that the impetus was linearly proportional to the velocity and the mass, he would have come up with momentum. If you’ve ever heard the free will argument called Buriden’s ass, this is the guy it is named for but it is not found in his writings. But then Aristotle came up with that argument though he didn’t apply it to free will.

        • MNb

          Jean Buridan is a typical example of apologetic dishonesty. Don’t fall for it.

          “Buridan said that an object in motion would stay in motion unless acted on by another force.”
          Nope. He wrote

          “after leaving the arm of the thrower, the projectile would be moved by an impetus given to it by the thrower and would continue to be moved as long as the impetus remained stronger than the resistance.”

          Underlined by me.
          This is totally Aristotelean and totally wrong.

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/buridan/#Nat

          Scholastics were capable of modifying the views of Aristoteles, but not of challenging its fundamentals. They all maintained that a net force/impetus was necessary to maintain movement, ie keep velocity constant. No single one thought of force/impetus causes a change of velocity.

          The first one to give the modern definition of momentum was John Wallis.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wallis

          Wallis was also involved in formulating Newton’s First Law:

          “When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a net force”

          This totally different from what Buridan said according to Stanford.

          Jean Buridan did not contribute to the foundation of Modern Science. The only one who more or less did is Roger Bacon and he was at best neglected by his contemporaries for it.

          I am familiar with a couple of the others, but not all of them.

        • epeeist

          Jean Buridan is a typical example of apologetic dishonesty

          Yep, a complete ass.

        • Greg G.

          Scholastics were capable of modifying the views of Aristoteles, but not of challenging its fundamentals.

          That means they were standing on the toes of Aristotle.

        • MNb

          Yup. It’s hard to underestimate the genius of this great Greek. It’s also hard to underestimate how disastrous his influence was for the development of science due to the respect people had for his authority.

        • epeeist

          for nearly every one showed they were standing on Aristotle’s shoulders

          Indirectly yes, but they were largely reliant on the material preserved and extended by Islamic and other scholars in Syria and Persia.

          As for James Hannam’s book, I think it rather over-eggs the pudding. He seems to miss the fact that while modern science was developed by Christians it was difficult to be anything but Christian in the societies of the time. On top of that rapid periods of development seem to occur when the churches were weak.

          Personally I prefer something like Edward Grant’s A History of Natural Philosophy and Steven Weinbergs To Explain the World, neither seem to have an axe to grind unlike Hannam.

        • MNb

          I bet Hannam also missed two other facts:
          1. except for the invention of Greek Fire the very christian Byzantine Empire contributed nothing new to science;
          2. in Western Europe christianity had been in charge for 12 centuries before Copernicus and Brahe started their scientific revolution.

        • Picard Alpha

          Romans themselves did not make many scientific advances, that was Greek area, so that question is irrelevant. But point was that not much was lost.

        • Greg G.

          But the Roman era had the technology and engineering. The Romans had medicine that was lost. The knowledge was lost, setting large tracts of Europe back a thousand years. If it wasn’t lost, the Greeks still would have originated it but it would have been available. Europe began to prosper after that Greek knowledge became available to them centuries later.

          Why does it it matter to you who developed it? Do you have an ax to grind against the Romans?

        • MNb

          Another point is that in the western part of the Roman Empire there never had been much that could get lost, except for Ireland. Irish culture got destroyed by the Normands, something you carefully continue to neglect.

        • Picard Alpha

          Actually, there was a lot that could be lost. Primarily infrastructure, organized administration and education. As for Ireland, we were discussing impact of Islam on Europe, so Ireland hardly enters the picture.

        • MNb

          I was talking intellectual things, not infrastructure and organized administration.
          Education in Western Roman Empire always was on a much lower level than in the east. That’s exactly the point, silly. All the intellectual centra were in the east: Athena, Constantinople, Alexandria.
          If Ireland hardly enters the picture due to the impact of islam then Britain, The Low Lands, the biggest parts of France and of Italy don’t either. They weren’t any more conquered by muslims than Ireland.
          You have ceased to make sense and don’t even try anymore.

        • Picard Alpha

          These things are connected. You cannot have organized education without infrastructure and administration, except on a very low level. And without education, everything intellectual is very limited. As far as “intellectual things” go, West was never big on that. Most of it happened in the Hellenic world. And that was true before, during and after the Dark Ages, up until the Renaissance. There was however literature and other “intellectual things” (if we don’t take the “intellectual to mean “science”) even after the invasions, up until the Muslim expansion. You only have to take a look at what Ostrogthic kingdom in Italy did- Codex Argenteus and so on. Granted, Ostrogothic architecture, art, literature was Latin, Roman – but it survived and prospered. Merovingian France produced art (mostly small-scale metalwork), stone and marble sculpture, and manuscripts. Merovingian craftsmen were brought to England to reintroduce glass craftswork, and to build churches.

        • adam

          ” You cannot have organized education without infrastructure and administration, except on a very low level. ”

          You mean like Home Schooling?

        • MNb

          “You cannot have organized education without infrastructure and administration.”
          You can have infrastructure and administration without organized education though as exactly the Roman Empire showed. What’s more, solid infrastructure like the Roman one survives very long without both organized education and administration as exactly the Middle Ages demonstrated.
          And of course after 400 CE no new infrastructure and administration was created in Italy, France and Britain.

          “As far as “intellectual things” go, West was never big on that.”
          Excellent! Exactly like I have claimed from the beginning.

          “what Ostrogthic kingdom in Italy did”
          Brilliant! That kingdom ended not due to the rise of islam, but due to exhausting wars with Byzantium and the invasion of the Lombards. Exactly like I have claimed from the beginning. After that the only intellectual from Western Europe from a long time was Pope Gregorius the Great – who was born before the Lombards ended. After him: for 500 years nothing except John Scotus Eriugenes in the 9th Century. He was from Ireland and intellectually superior to all Western Europeans. How come? Ireland didn’t receive papyrus anymore than Italy, France, the Low Lands and Britain. Let guess. Think, think, think a bit harder. Eureka! The rise of islam didn’t make the difference. The endless wars in Western Europe from 400 CE on did. Exactly what I claimed from the beginning.
          Man, are you a fool. Now you’re trying to contradict me by confirming exactly what I wrote.

        • Picard Alpha

          “You can have infrastructure and administration without organized education though as exactly the Roman Empire showed. What’s more, solid infrastructure like the Roman one survives very long without both organized education and administration as exactly the Middle Ages demonstrated.”

          But even that requires something to write on, which means papyrus or parchment. And parchment is too expensive to be afforded by anyone but the very rich, and even then not in quantities necessary for the state administration (individual education of very few very rich people yes, but not what the administration requires).

          Not to mention that Rome did have organized education.

          http://www.localhistories.org/education.html

          “In rich Roman families children were educated at home by a tutor. Other boys and girls went to a primary school called a ludus at the age of 7 to learn to read and write and do simple arithmetic. Boys went to secondary school where they would learn geometry, history, literature and oratory (the art of public speaking).”

          http://www.knowtheromans.co.uk/Categories/RomanEducation/

          “At the height of the Roman Republic formal schools were starting to be assembled. However they wouldn’t have been free to attend and they were targeted at the middle to higher classes of society. Both boys and girls could have received an education, but it is likely that they would have been educated separately.”

          http://www.crystalinks.com/romeducation.html

          “As Rome grew in size and in power, following the Punic Wars, the importance of the family as the central unit within Roman society began to deteriorate. With this declined the old Roman system of education carried out by the paterfamilias. The new educational system began to center more on the one encountered by the Romans with the Hellenistic Greeks and prominent centers of learning such as Alexandria later on. It was becoming a literary educational system.”

          “Brilliant! That kingdom ended not due to the rise of islam, but due to exhausting wars with Byzantium and the invasion of the Lombards. Exactly like I have claimed from the beginning.”

          You have claimed no such thing. What you have claimed was that barbarian invasions brought about the end of the Antiquitiy and state organization, which is false. And even had you claimed that, fact remains that Merovingian France *also* continued administration etc., up until Islam came around, and it was never attacked by the Romans.

          “The rise of islam didn’t make the difference. The endless wars in Western Europe from 400 CE on did. Exactly what I claimed from the beginning.”

          And you’d be wrong. Ireland was heavily influenced by the Roman Empire, and by the Christianity. But the fact that *one person* from Ireland (who did not even remain there) achieved something makes no difference to my point that it was Islamic invasions which destroyed organized state system of the antiquity and created feudal monarchies of the Middle Ages. Unless you know details of his education etc., that example is worthless.

          “Man, are you a fool.”

          …says an idiot.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You have no idea what the term “Dark Ages” actually means, do you?

          i have, i suspect, an unusually large (among the pool of humans subjected to the term as a matter of course in mandatory schooling) number of ideas regarding the controversy and vagueness of the term as shorthand for not only your leisurely clarification but a small variety of other definitions as well. perhaps the most pertinent answer to the question (whether or not you actually expected or intended to receive one) is “probably too many ideas for a brief discussion, but apparently 1+ more than you’re ready to give credit for”.

          Here I used it merely to denote a period of time.

          well, good thing you weren’t that clear the first time? oh, that’s right, you were in no mood to type. funny how that works.

          And yes, records of that period are scarce compared to what came later –

          it appears you did correctly guess my usage, which makes your opening ‘question’ even more snide.

          In reality, culture, literature, art and even science prospered in the Western Europe up until the expansion of Islam in 7th and 8th centuries severed links to East.

          so 5th & 6th century Western Europe was prosperous with regard to art and science? relative to what, exactly?

        • Picard Alpha

          ” so 5th & 6th century Western Europe was prosperous with regard to art and science? relative to what, exactly?”

          Relative to what came after that.

        • Greg G.

          Relative to what came after that.

          The Darker Ages?

        • MNb

          And very, very poor relative to what had been before – regarding the Low Lands and Britain even non-existing.

        • MNb

          “literature, art and science prospered in the Western Europe”
          In 400 CE Western Europe did not have any scientific centra at all; what intellectual centra there were (precious few, as Western Europe always had been backward compared to the eastern part of the Empire) were continuously threatened by the ongoing immigrations, that basically lasted until 1000 CE.
          The same for literature and art. The last great writers were St. Benedictus and Pope Gregorius the Great, both from Italy, hence not really Western Europe and closest to Byzantium. There wrote exactly nothing about science.
          The link with the remnant of the Roman Empire (what we call Byzantium) was never severed. Crossing the Ionic Sea, which always had been the most important route, totally remained possible.
          The muslims had exactly nothing to do with it.
          The big exception (remarkable that you don’t mention it) was Ireland up to the 9th Century. That country had been saved from barbarian invasions up to then and their culture was destroyed by Nordic raids.
          While I agree with you that Dark Ages is a meaningless term (except for Britain and The Low Lands from 400 CE until about 550 CE) you get so many historical facts wrong that you have put this conclusion in a bad light.

        • Picard Alpha

          Merovingian dynasty of the Frankish kingdom had a lot of achievements when it comes to art, as well as literature. Of course, ancient cultural and intellectual tradition declined, but it continued to exist. Besides, the decline started in 3rd century, long before the dissolution of the Western Empire. Barbarian, not just Merovingian, kings in the WRE areas surrounded themselves with orators, poets, translators etc. Boetius, Venantius Fortunatus, st. Parthenius, Dracontius, Florentius, Flavius Felix, Luxorius… science did decline, but the Western portion of Roman Empire was never big on science anyway; most significant developments in that area happened in the Hellenic Eastern portion of the Empire.

          And yes, the link with the Eastern Empire was indeed severed. There is limited link between the Roman Empire and Italy, thanks to which popes had access to papyrus and other Oriental luxuries up until the second half of 11th century, but the link between areas to the west of Rome itself and the Roman Empire was nonexistent. Pilgrims go by the land instead by the sea. There is no papyrus, no pepper, no cloves… none of the products that were imported from the Orient – Egypt, Persia, India or China – appear in the Western Europe any more, even though – as far as I’m aware – Roman Empire itself still had access to them.

        • MNb

          “Merovingian dynasty of the Frankish kingdom had a lot of achievements when it comes to art, as well as literature.”
          And none to science and philosophy.

          “the link with the Eastern Empire was indeed severed.”
          Merely repeating the error does nothing to remedy it. Crossing the Ionic Sea always remained possible – I think it was from Bari to Otranto.

          “Pilgrims go by the land”
          and hence traveled through Byzantium, so now you’re contradicting yourself – you just admitted that the link remained open.
          Forgotten: up to the 11th Century parts of Italy remained under Byzantine control. The Exarchate of Ravenna disappeared in 752 CE. Reggio in Calabria became Arab in 918 CE. The Byzantines left Bari only in 1071 CE, less than 30 years before the First Crusade.
          You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Start recognizing historical facts first before you try to write nonsense again.

        • Picard Alpha

          “And none to science and philosophy.”

          Even during the Roman Empire of antiquity, most advances in both science and philosophy happened in the Greek East, especially during the barbarian migrations. You can’t ask for a continuation of something which barely existed anyway.

          “Merely repeating the error does nothing to remedy it. Crossing the Ionic Sea always remained possible – I think the most common route was from Bari to Otranto.”

          Yes, between the Roman cities in southern Italy and Greece. But that does not mean that there was any link with today’s France. Land routes, especially those across the Alps, were dangerous, unreliable and insufficient to maintain any kind of significant (or even barely sufficient) economic and cultural connections with the East; maritime routes meanwhile had been cut by the Muslims. Remember, there were no trucks and asphalt roads back then. Fact that a pilgrim here and there would go from France to Constantinople or Jerusalem does not show anything about economic and social links; and even the pilgrims would go by land from Britan, Germany or France to southern Italy or Constantinople, and only from there on would they take a ship under the protection of the Roman Navy. There is some trade in luxury items thanks to Jews (who were tolerated by both Christians and Muslims), but there is no high-volume trade of more common goods.

          To just give few examples, papyrus was last used by Frankish administration cca. 677. In Rome, last use of the papyrus was in 1057. This clearly shows how insufficient land routes were. Rome could be maintained somewhat, due to its relative proximity to cities held by the Roman Empire, where the trade continued under the protection of the Roman Navy; but anything outside Italy had no regular economic link with the East. Pilgrims don’t count, and neither do luxury items, as these were of low volume and expensive enough that there would always be some adventurer willing to risk it. High-volume trade of common goods, ones actually necessary for maintenance of a highly developed civilization (e.g. papyrus), was nonexistent. Even the import of gold was cut, excepting a trinket here and there, so post-invasion Frankish state had to cease minting gold coins and shifted to silver coinage from Peppin onwards, and even in 8th century Merovingian golden coinage a gradual increase in silver content can be observed. Import of exotic spices likewise disappears from records after 716. Wine and oil are locally produced; there is no wine from Gaza or oil from Africa any more.

          Italy north of Bari and the entire southern France are a battleground, especially after Charlemagne’s death. In 838. Brindisi and Taranto were burnt, and Bari conquered. In 841., Ancona and the whole coast of Dalmatia were ravaged. In 846., Ostia, Porto and Rome were attacked. Roman Empire is too busy on Sicily and in the Aegean Sea to do anything about these attacks, despite Pope’s pleas. How do you, then, expect it to keep open maritime links with the Frankish state, when even those with southern Italy were only barely held open?

          “and hence traveled through Byzantium, so now you’re contradicting yourself – you just admitted that the link remained open.”

          I am not contradicting myself. Religious pilgrimage does not equate economic links.

          “up to the 11th Century parts of Italy remained under Byzantine control.
          The Exarchate of Ravenna disappeared in 752 CE. Reggio in Calabria
          became Arab in 918 CE. The Byzantines left Bari only in 1071 CE, less
          than 30 years before the First Crusade. And Bari was conquered not by muslims but by Normands.”

          That has absolutely no relation to whether links with the Western Europe remained open. Land routes were insufficient for any significant economic activity except on very short distances (say, to Rome). And Bari was held by Muslims for well over two decades.; check the “Emirate of Bari”.

          “You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Start recognizing historical facts first before you try to write nonsense again.”

          I do know what I am talking about. You, on the other hand, have a knowledge of few disconnected facts and no understanding whatsoever, so you make up facts that fit your view instead of researching and trying to understand what was actually happening. Other facts you get completely wrong (e.g. you did not know that Muslims had conquered Bari, and that’s just tip of the iceberg).

    • TheNuszAbides

      It’s an easy starting point but one loaded with distractions and unproductive tangents.

      agreed. cries out for applied expertise.

  • Susan

    Bob,

    This might not be the appropriate protocol but I’ve poked around and don’t know what is.

    Please check John Jones comment history. He is George Watson who you already banned for good reason.

    • Greg G.

      Under the ABOUT tab, you will find an instruction for feedback about the blog.

      • Susan

        Thanks Greg. I reported it.

    • MR

      I think Bob needs to do an article on Christian internet trolls.

    • John Jones

      Susan,

      Have I done anything to deserve being banned ?

      Have I insulted anyone ?

      I disagree with your views, call you on the spot when you are incorrect,
      which you are often and correct the views/claims of others.
      There are free to do likewise to me.

      Is this site only for those who agree with each other ?
      I could see that if you all had some belief system that could not stand scrutiny.
      But I thought the whole point of this site was to investigate and see what truths,
      if any, reason might reveal.

      • MNb

        If you’re George Watson yes, yes, no.
        If you’re not no, no, no.

      • Dys

        Considering that lying in order to remain on a website you’re not welcome on would be a sin in your worldview (or at least it should be), are you willing to swear that you’re not the person who previously posted as George Watson here?

      • MNb

        However, given the fact that this comment

        “Having gone back and read some of George’s comments”

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/how-christianity-retarded-modern-society-by-1500-years/#comment-2627878681

        was written 13 hours before this one
        “Who is George”

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/how-christianity-retarded-modern-society-by-1500-years/#comment-2628827805

        makes me suspect that you are George indeed. That kind of dishonesty is typical for him.
        But perhaps it’s just something christian you two have in common.

      • cwayneu

        John, as a Christian defender on an atheists blog, common sense should tell you:
        1. Never quote scripture. We all know scripture, have seen them hundreds of times, they add zero value, and it just pisses people off.
        2. Never use the “You will have to answer to the creator some day” types of threats. Again, it is meaningless, and just pisses people off.
        3. When you respond, avoid deflection, circular arguments, straw-men, etc., and just address the points with references when possible.
        4. Don’t just keep repeating the same thing over and over.
        5. Never insult someone personally (intelligence, education, etc.), but simply address the points.

        I would hope these would be good rules for everyone to follow at all times, if we really want a productive, fruitful debate.

        Even that is no guarantee. As an atheist, I tried to correct some misinformation regarding how our laws work, on a Catholic blog concerning the SCOTUS gay marriage decision. I had made 5 simple posts about state versus federal laws, and the next morning the blog owner had deleted every single post I had made. I stopped posting there, to leave them with their incorrect law understandings.

        Personally I enjoy the debate, but am not familiar with George. I did run into a Frank a few times that was quite belligerent and arrogant. He has been banned from at least “Godless In Dixie”, because it was obvious he just wanted to fight.

        • Michael Neville

          I try to be polite to people if I think they’re arguing in good faith. It’s when it becomes obvious they’re just trolling, like Frank or George-John, that I stop being Mr. Nice.

        • Greg G.

          I try to be polite, too. I was polite to George but when I was not so polite with John. I was polite with SteveK until he came back a third time after hitting the reset button on the same tired arguments. I don’t mind trolls all that much if it generates some interesting conversation. But when a person is bounced and can’t take a firm hint, I lose my patience.

        • MR

          if… they’re arguing in good faith.

          Nope, they need tactics. Because good faith doesn’t work when they’re talking about their own faith.

        • MR

          He has been banned from at least “Godless In Dixie”, because it was obvious he just wanted to fight.

          Oh, we enjoy a good fight, too. But an honest, sincere fight is not the same thing as simply using tactics–which is the m.o. of John/George/SteveK/Greg.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Frank has no clue what a good fight is. he’s at least as smug as George, but to his credit (which isn’t saying much at all), he’s much more succinct, i.e. easier to ignore.

        • John Jones

          Thank You

    • Dys

      I’m not sure, but I think disqus allows Bob to see the IP addresses of the users, so he might be able to verify if they’re truly one and the same (although there’s very little doubt in my mind that they are).

      • Susan

        How hard is it to switch IP addresses?

        (there’s very little doubt in my mind that they are.)

        The same writing style, the same addressing commenters by name as a header to most comments. The same habit of making assertions he can’t support, the same demand for evidence from others but unwillingness to provide any himself. The same “can you disprove it?” bullshit. He even said “Good night Susan.” exactly as George did. There’s no question it’s George the troll.

        Some good advice from MR’s link is:

        1. These trolls are some truly difficult people.

        2. It is your suffering that brings them pleasure, so the best thing you can do is ignore them.

        • MNb

          The habit of asking “Who is George” while hours before having read his comments is also a strong indication.
          The conclusion doesn’t follow. My strategy is making sure that I don’t suffer but have pleasure with them.

        • Susan

          My strategy is making sure that I don’t suffer but have pleasure with them.

          Even as I typed that advice, I thought of you. He causes me pain so I won’t respond any more. I know it’s different for you and you will deal with him as you see fit.

          The best thing would be to get rid of him.

        • MNb

          I am still OK with getting him banned, for two reasons:
          1. the repeated “Who is George.”
          2. his habit to ask questions just for the sake of questions.

        • MR

          his habit to ask questions just for the sake of questions.

          A form of Gish Gallop

        • TheNuszAbides

          The best thing would be to get rid of him.

          the best thing would be to mindwipe him.

        • MR

          Well, part of this is our own fault, isn’t it? In the absence of Bob taking action, we just can’t resist responding, can we?

        • Susan

          In the absence of Bob taking action, we just can’t resist responding, can we?

          I respect the decisions by others here to respond as they see fit. I decided a while back to stop responding as I was only feeding the troll.

          MNb and Greg G. might have strategies for responding that don’t feed the troll.

        • Michael Neville
        • Paul B. Lot

          FYI, that link doesn’t work for me.

        • I believe it’s fixed now.

        • MNb

          Dunno. I have never thought much of the “don’t feed the troll” advise. It looks way too much like promoting abstinence.
          For one thing I’ve yet to meet the first troll who leaves due to neglect. Mano Singham’s blog comes close, but he doesn’t have many commenters, let alone vivid discussions. And it took even him quite a long time before a troll-like commenter quit.
          The strategy of neglecting a troll might make discussions stale; I’ve seen that happen on MS’ blog as well.
          Then I think calling someone a troll an oversimplification. It usually is just one aspect.
          So I rather recommend two other points.
          1. Make sure you don’t get annoyed; when you do don’t reply.
          2. Solidarity. Don’t let the troll get us into a quarrel with each other.
          Personally I try to track the weaknesses of the troll himself and press them as hard as I can. Nasty me likes the sight of an annoyed troll.

        • Michael Neville

          Nasty me likes the sight of an annoyed troll.

          Moi aussi! (That’s furrin for me too.)

        • TheNuszAbides

          He even said “Good night Susan.”

          and added another boneheaded quip somewhere upthread about the hours you were keeping.

      • Greg G.

        There are several obvious tells in style and content. I won’t be specific so as not to tip him off just in case it is not intentional.

        • Michael Neville

          It took me a while to realize that John was George but once I did then it became quite obvious they were the same person using the same style and form of argument.

    • He’s gone.

      • Susan

        He’s gone.

        Thank you for looking into it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He wasn’t even that good at covering himself…same terminology and that annoying trait of carriage return, the fuckin’ moron.

          Logic, epistemology and philosophy teacher, my arse!

      • MR

        Thanks, Bob.

  • Myna A.

    In the spirit of preventing future religious retardation of society, I saw this today at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/04/dalai-lama-change-comes-through-education-not-prayer-or-religious-teaching/?ref_widget=trending&ref_blog=crossexamined&ref_post=a-simple-thought-experiment-defeats-claim-that-bible-is-accurate

    While I admit to liking the Dalai Lama, it is nice, aside from that, to hear a person with some measure of influence speak sensibly.

  • Nickums

    I add two important points; the early christians didn’t care about improving life – they believed the world was about to end, shut down the wonderful university of Alexandria (lynching a maths professor (Hypatia), thanks St Cyril), and preferred to live in filth (the ascetics). Those wonderful Greeks also had other steam-powered devices – for opening temple doors when a fire was lit.

    • What a coincidence! Not caring about improving life and an apocalyptic worldview are shared with Christians today.

      Yes, I’m familiar with the steam-powered doors, but like the aeolipile, they were just toys. They never caught on as tools.

      • Andy

        You seem like an out-and-proud bigot.

        • adam

          HI Tim, how are you doing?

        • Andy

          “Anyone who disagrees with me is a troll”

        • Greg G.

          You seem to be projecting.

        • A bigot against … Christians? I don’t think so.

          Rereading my comment, I see that I should’ve said that not caring about improving life and an apocalyptic worldview are shared with some Christians today.

    • Dave Burke

      >>
      shut down the wonderful university of Alexandria
      >>

      Nope. It had been destroyed long before the 4th century: http://goo.gl/JMDg8I

      >>
      (lynching a maths professor (Hypatia)
      >>

      She wasn’t a maths professor. She was a neo-Platonist, and highly regarded by many Christians (a lot of whom were also neo-Platonists by this time). Cyril’s grudge against her was purely political: http://goo.gl/2KqmYV

      >>
      and preferred to live in filth (the ascetics)
      >>

      The ascetics represented a tiny minority, and an exception to the general Christian rule of careful hygiene practices (which they had largely inherited from the Jews). Early Christians tended to live longer than pagans for that very reason.

      • Ignorant Amos

        She wasn’t a maths professor. She was a neo-Platonist, and highly regarded by many Christians (a lot of whom were also neo-Platonists by this time). Cyril’s grudge against her was purely political: http://goo.gl/2KqmYV

        Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 370 CE – March 415 CE) was a female philosopher and mathematician, born in Alexandria, Egypt possibly in 370 CE (although some scholars cite her birth as c. 350 CE). She was the daughter of the mathematician Theon, the last Professor at the University of Alexandria, who tutored her in math, astronomy, and the philosophy of the day which, in modern times, would be considered science. Nothing is known of her mother and there is little information about her life. As the historian Deakin writes, “The most detailed accounts we have of Hypatia’s life are the records of her death. We learn more about her death from the primary sources than we do about any other aspect of her life” (49). She was murdered in 415 CE by a Christian mob who attacked her on the streets of Alexandria. The primary sources, even those Christian writers who were hostile to her and claimed she was a witch, portray her as a woman who was widely known for her generosity, love of learning, and expertise in teaching in the subjects of Neo-Platonism, mathematics, science, and philosophy in general.

        http://www.ancient.eu/Hypatia_of_Alexandria/

      • MNb

        “She wasn’t a maths professor.”

        She totally was. The evidence is in letters from Synesios of Cyrene that have survived.

        http://www.livius.org/sources/content/synesius/synesius-letter-015/?

        I had the honour to write the note.

        “Cyril’s grudge against her was purely political”
        Irrelevant distinction. All organized religion is political by definition and in that time and area almost all politics was connected to religion. Christianity can have the credit for regarding Hypatia highly; then it also must bear the blame for lynching her. You can have the cake if you want – but then have to eat it as well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even O’Neill’s source outlines such in her book, “Hypatia of Alexandria”, Maria Dzielska.

          “Cyril must be held to account for a great deal, even if we assume that the murder was contrived and executed by the parabolans, without his knowledge.

          For there is no doubt that he was a chief instigator of the campaign of defamation against Hypatia, fomenting prejudice and animosity against the woman philosopher, rousing fear about the consequences of her alleged black-magic spells on the prefect, the faithful of the Christian community, and indeed the whole city.

          In March AD 415, a Christian mob murdered Hypatia, the renowned Lady Philosopher of Alexandria. The vicious act shocked the city and shamed the early Church. Socrates Scholasticus tells the story in his Historia Ecclesiastica:

          “…Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time…For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more. Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her with tiles. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them. This affair brought not the least opprobrium, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church. And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort. This happened in the month of March during Lent, in the fourth year of Cyril’s episcopate, under the tenth consulate of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius.”

        • Pofarmer

          It’s almost as if all the .
          “Martrydom” written about by the early church was just cover for all the shit heel stuff they’d done.

        • Ignorant Amos

          At the link, O’Neill’s blog, he sets about slating the historical accuracy of the movie “Agora” which is about Hypatia of Alexandria. O’Neill admitted he hadn’t even seen the movie, but sure why would that matter to a critique?

          He uses the work of an historian in his argument. Nothing wrong with that, the work is scholarly and for the most part reasonable from what I’ve seen. But still makes a lot of assumptions as historians have to do.

          Except O’Neill fucks up. The historian he relies on wants to place Hypatia being born 20 years before the scholarly consensus, mostly because she can’t concieve that a twenty year old female could be educated and know enough to be teaching the young males of the aristocracy at the time. Even though Hypatia had grown up being schooled by her philosopher father. An historically renowned philosopher and mathematician.

          So one of the complaints wankstain O’Neill makes about the historical accuracy of the movie he hadn’t seen is the casting of Rachel Weiss in the lead role based on one historians hypothesis that there is a 20 year age gap, as in birthdate of 350 CE as oppossed to 370 CE because a twenty year old couldn’t conceivably be a teacher. Weiss is too young and beautiful looking an actor, ergo an historical flaw in the film. Weiss was 39 when she played the 45 year old Hypatia, unless you go with O’Neill and his source that she had to be 65 years old, because, well, misogyny. But I mean, what ta fuck?

          O’Neill makes other fuck ups, but that struck me as the most amateurish.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Nope. It had been destroyed long before the 4th century: http://goo.gl/JMDg8I

        Try using more than one source for your information, particularly when the one source is an untrustworthy blogger.

        In 391 CE, as part of his attempt to wipe out paganism, Emperor Theodosius I officially sanctioned the destruction of the Serapeum, or Temple of Serapis at Alexandria. The destruction of the Temple was carried out under Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, and afterwards a Christian church was built on the site. It has been hypothesised that the daughter library of the Museum, located close to the Temple, and the Royal Library were also razed to the ground at this time. However, whilst it is plausible that manuscripts from the Serapeum library may have been destroyed during this purge, there is no evidence that the Royal Library still existed at the end the 4th century. No ancient sources mention the destruction of any library at this time, though 18th century English historian Edward Gibbon mistakenly attributes it to bishop Theophilus.

        http://www.ancient.eu/article/207/

  • Dave Burke

    Just gonna leave this here: http://goo.gl/N2p9dI

    • Ignorant Amos

      Not that wanker Tim O’Neil again ffs…perhaps you’d like to make a relevant point to the debate from that lying tossers article, so that we can agree or disagree, then debate said point.

      • “[T]hat wanker Tim O’Neill …. that lying tosser …. an untrustworthy blogger …. wankstain O’Neill etc.”

        My, such powerful, well-researched and scholarly arguments from the aptly-named Mr Ignorant. Tell me, Ignorant, is this guy a “wankstain” and a “lying tosser” as well?

        “Hannam has written a splendid book and fully supported his claim that the Middle Ages laid the foundations of modern science. He has admirably met another of his goals, namely that of acquainting a large non-academic audience about the way science and various aspects of natural philosophy functioned in medieval society and laid the foundation for modern science. Readers will also learn much about medicine, magic, alchemy, astrology, and especially technology. And they will learn about these important matters in the history of science against the broad background of the life and times of medieval and early modern societies.” (Edward Grant,”Review of God’s Philosophers, Metascience, September 2010)

        And many other historians of science agreed with the Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University and 1992 Sarton Medal winner. Like the selection committees for the the Royal Society Science Book Prize in 2010 and the British Society for the History of Science Dingle Prize in 2011, both of which shortlisted Hannam’s book. I guess they must all be “wankers” and “lying tossers” as well. Luckily we have ranting nobodies on the internet like Mr Ignorant to show us the sunlit uplands of truth …

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha ha….the plastic Irishman has arrived.

          “[T]hat wanker Tim O’Neill …. that lying tosser …. an untrustworthy blogger …. wankstain O’Neill etc.”

          Yep…that all seems to be in order, demonstrably so, what’s the problem?

          My, such powerful, well-researched and scholarly arguments from the aptly-named Mr Ignorant. Tell me, Ignorant, is this guy a “wankstain” and a “lying tosser” as well?

          You seem to have me confused with someone else. My gripe is with DB citing you as a reliable source when lots of others have demonstrated that you are not. Citing your review of the book he is relying on rather than the book itself infers to me that DB hasn’t read it. That you are not to be a trusted source I have researched.

          I guess they must all be “wankers” and “lying tossers” as well.

          I wouldn’t know about that, but you seem to think that every historian that agrees with you is never mistaken about anything for some inexplicable reason. Which is ironic when it can be shown how much stuff you eem to fuck up. Historians get stuff wrong…quite often.

          Luckily we have ranting nobodies on the internet like Mr Ignorant to show us the sunlit uplands of truth …

          Spoiiinnng!

          I don’t blog as an authority on anything, so yawn. You on the other hand do, so it is incumbent upon you not to mislead folk, is it not?

          You are only a somebody because of your infamy at being a ranting internet nobody that is known for his sarcasm and scorn [meaning, if he continues with his past form, personal insults and abuse along with plenty of factual and logical fallacies]…so pah!

        • “That you are not to be a trusted source I have researched.”

          Ah, well that must settle that then. Mr Ignorant has sorted it all out.

          “you seem to think that every historian that agrees with you is never mistaken about anything for some inexplicable reason.”

          On this subject, they all happen to agree with me.

          “Historians get stuff wrong…quite often.”

          Which is a bit like Creationists saying the same thing about scientists. So we should just ignore the scholarly consensus in both and just make up whatever we like? That must be so much easier than doing all that reading and stuff.

          Go away Mr Ignorant.

        • MNb

          “the foundations of modern science”
          A remarkable claim given the fact that Modern Science (I assume you let it begin with Copernicus, Brahe, Stevin and Galilei, though that’s technically not entirely correct either) made progress by refuting every single idea produced by medieval “scientists”. As you seem to like glasses so very much – until the Dutchies did some research in the 17th Century nobody had a clue how they worked, including your beloved medieval “scientists”.
          So sorry, I don’t buy it, no matter the medals your hero has won.

          Almost forgotten: essential for science is using empirical data to decide between two conflicting hypotheses. The first one to do that was Tycho Brahe. It’s not a coincidence at all that neither he nor Johannes Kepler cared about the religion of their patrons. They were both equally happy to work for a catholic sovereign as for a protestant one.
          This rejection of religious authority is a necessary condition for science and was totally lacking during the Middle Ages.

        • “A remarkable claim given the fact that Modern Science (I assume you let it begin with Copernicus, Brahe, Stevin and Galilei, though that’s technically not entirely correct either) made progress by refuting every single idea produced by medieval “scientists”. “

          Wrong, actually. Try actually reading Grant’s book before commenting on things you don’t understand. I know it’s not J.B. Bury and you seem to have an aversion to anything published in the last 100 years, but give it a go.

          “until the Dutchies did some research in the 17th Century nobody had a clue how they worked, including your beloved medieval “scientists”.

          More gibberish. Their invention was the direct result of the medieval obsession with the theory of optics.

          “This rejection of religious authority is a necessary condition for science”

          And we get the magical retardant effects of this ill-defined “religious authority” thing again. Luckily it had “disappeared” completely in the fourteenth century.

    • MNb

      Nice false dilemma – either you accept that the Medieval World laid the Foundations of Modern Science (it didn’t – it more or less maintained a structure from Antiquity that enabled Modern Science to take root quickly, which already is a huge achievement, but not exactly a necessary condition given science in India and China) or you accept the Conflict Thesis. I do neither. Nothing in “medieval science” has any relevance for the understanding of Modern Science. That includes that nice list from Albertus Magnus to Nicholas Cusa, with one notable exception: Roger Bacon, who wasn’t take seriously by his contemporaries. Nothing here evidence for a fundamental conflict; but it falsifies MWltFoMS just fine.

      Also nice is the historical blunder

      “survived the catastrophic collapse of the Western Roman Empire”

      1. The Western Roman Empire didn’t collapse. It gradually disintegrated, a process that lasted about 150 years and was finished with the Lombard invasion of Italy.
      2. Clement and Augustinus did not work in the Western Roman Empire, hence its disintegration didn’t affect the survival of their works.
      3. Boetius was striking exactly because he was such a huge exception – he was rather the exception to the rule. Hence for centuries to come nobody dared to criticize him.
      4. And of course the Western Roman Empire always has been backward compared to the eastern part – it never produced much that needed to survive.

      It’s correct that ancient learning flooded back in the 12th Century. What is omitted is the event that triggered this flood: the conquest of Toledo in 1085 CE, with the muslim library kept intact. This proves exactly the opposite – namely that medieval christian scholars weren’t capable of doing it on their own. Plus this first flood resulted in scholasticism, not in science.

      “the physics and astronomy of Jean Buridan and Nicholas Oresme were radical and profound”
      Nonsense. It was nothing but a variation on Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaean astronomy. Both were radically and profoundly wrong.
      Premodern science (another error – Modern Science only began at the end of the 18th Century, when methodological naturalism was developed) had to fight every single (and always small) step of progress on exactly the “science” as formulated by folks like Buridan and Oresme. The only point the article got right is that several religious authorities encouraged this progress. That’s why I reject the Conflict Thesis.
      On average christianity was totally irrelevant for the development of western science. It had stagnated about 200 years before Jesus was born (Archimedes and Euclides being the last representants); every single step (and it always was a small one) since then was triggered by external, non-christian influences and only got going again when Brahe got the revolutionary idea of deciding between theories by making observations. In the second half of the 16th Century.
      Indeed the level of scientific understanding in Western Europe around 1500 CE was about the same as 1700 years before. Copernicus’ famous model is about the same as the model of Aristarchos of Samos.
      The article typically doesn’t specify which medieval mathematicians developed logarithms. Sure there were predecessors. Some of them lived in Babylonia 1600 BCE. The Indian mathematician Virasena understood 2-based logarithms in the first half of the 9th Century.

    • (That’s a review of “God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science” by James Hannam)

  • What a strange article. It was entitled “How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years”, but I read through it trying to find the part that substantiated the title. First it talks about Hero of Alexandria’s little toy, but admits that it amounted to nothing much. Then it attributes this dead end to slavery, rather than Christianity. Which makes sense given that Hero’s toy was a good three hundred years before Christianity was in a position to “retard” technology in any way.

    The article then meanders around for a few more paragraphs before we finally get this odd series of statements:

    “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation. Yes, there was some during the medieval period (eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation, and others), but that was in spite of Christianity, not because of it.”

    We could actually add quite a few more items to that list, including vertical windmills, a vast expansion of water-powered mechanisation, tidal mills, mechanical trip hammers, blast furnaces, stern rudders, weight driven clocks of remarkable sophistication, metal rolling mills, tredle-operated vertical looms, stell span crossbows and the not-insigificant invention of the printing press. Not bad for any pre-modern age.

    But how exactly was all this innovation happening “despite Christianity”? The article doesn’t explain. Except the bald assertion that “Christian Europe was ruled by superstition, not reason.” Really? They seem to have done a lot of innovating for people ruled purely by superstion. And they spent a hell of a lot of time learning about logic in those medieval universities (you know, the ones that went on to dominate learning and research down to the present day) for people who rejected reason.

    Finally, if everything from the eye-glasses people use to this day to gunpowder weapons and clocks, which are the ancestors of our computing technology, were all developed in the Middle Ages “despite Christianity”, why are there no examples of Christianity trying to stifle all this innovation?

    So, nice title, but the argument is simply not there. Mainly because the writer has no knowledge of the relevant history of technology, science or, indeed, reason.

    • What a strange comment. I tried to sympathize with the author’s concerns–trying to find where the blog post was confusing or incomplete or convoluted or something–but I didn’t see it. Since my responses would simply parrot the post, the only remedy that comes to mind is to suggest that he read the post. Assuming he’s done that, I’m not sure where to go from here.

      • Well, I’ve re-read the post and the only things I can find in it that has anything to do with the title are the lines I noted above – the one that claims (the short and oddly incomplete) list of medieval innovations were “in spite of Christianity, not because of it” and the one that claimed “Christian Europe was ruled by superstition, not reason.” Yet it managed to come up with some of the most significant and revolutionary of all pre-modern inventions, including the clock, corned gunpowder, eye-glasses and the printing press.

        So the title is not born out by the rambling article and those two lines are asserted without argument, let alone substantiating evidence. And contradicted by the facts of the history of pre-modern technology.

        So what did I miss, exactly?

        • If the post was unclear, I’m not sure where the problem is. But I’ll paraphrase. Maybe that will help.

          The last 200 years since the Industrial Revolution got underway has been a period of remarkable growth. That’s progress. But when we look at the previous 1500 years–y’know, the time when Christianity was largely in charge–we see the merest trickle of scientific and technological progress.

          Admittedly, there are exceptions–the two I singled out are cathedrals and the art/architecture from the Renaissance. Clearly, when the Church was motivated, it could make the dust fly.

          So what does the Church have to show for it being in charge for so long? Lots of glorification of itself–like the church was playing the whore from Ezekiel 16. But we had to wait until after the church lost power to learn about germ theory and chemistry. It wasn’t the church or church-sponsored science that gave us technology for making food and medicine. We can’t thank God or Christianity for our healthy and productive society but man.

          Conclusion: Christianity retarded modern society by 1500 years.

        • MR

          Oh, who needs an industrial revolution and germ theory when you have tredle-operated vertical looms!

        • So why didn’t the Romans come up with either? They had centuries to do so, yet … zip on both fronts. The “slaves held back mechanisation” idea is too simplistic to explain things, as the slave based economy was already beginning to break down by the late second century anyway. Yet they still didn’t even manage that flying shuttle that Bob seems to think was so revolutionary. Of course, you need a tredble-operated verticle loom for that, and the Romans didn’t manage to invent those either.

        • MR

          Hmmm, maybe you’ve never been to Europe. In spite of being a little busy building their empire they did, in fact, contribute greatly in advancing the world in technologies, engineering, arts, yadda, yadda, before the Great Stagnation under Christianity cast all that into ruins. I realize engineering feats like massive aqueducts, roads and bridges connecting and unifying three continents pales in comparison to your looms, but still. They laid a mighty groundwork that came to a grinding halt under Christian hegemony. The Romans set Western civilization up for great things, and under Christianity it appears it stumbled and dropped the ball.

        • Read my reply to Bob above. That halt was due to the political disintegraton and the total economic collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire. As it was always the poorer and least developed half, propped up by the far richer and more advanced eastern provinces, that collapse took centuries to recover from.

          When it did recover, however, it quickly surpassed Rome in technical achievement, by a long way. Thanks to medieval agrarian developments, western Europe went from being mainly forest and swamp to some of the most productive land in the world by the fifteenth century. And medieval gothic cathedrals were the tallest buildings in Europe in most cities until well into the nineteenth century. They were beyond the technical ability of the Romans. Late medieval soldiers went into battle wearing case-hardened, compound curved steel armour that the best Roman smith could barely dream of. Then there are all the other medieval inventions and developments that you keep ignoring while you sneer the word “looms” as though that covers your near total ignorance of this subject, made even more stupid by your wall-eyed biases.

          And you still haven’t explained what prevented the wonderful Romans from coming up with germ theory. It can’t have been the Church, so what was it? Please don’t say “slavery”.

          You’d be wise to back out of this now and leave me to kick poor Bob’s ignorant arse. You’re so far out of your depth you’re drowning.

        • MR

          Oh, sure, there were advancements, not saying that, but when we talk about achievements of civilizations, we’re still marveling today about the Greeks and Romans, and then that Christian era gets kind of boring except for a few cathedrals and what not, we kind of skip over that part in school, don’t we, maybe because it really wasn’t that great a period, and then the really interesting stuff begins to happen when science truly takes off. Sure there were some great thinkers and advancements during the Great Stagnation, but it’s kind of hard not to notice that it was a long time of not much really going on compared to what went on before and after. I’m sure a student in medieval agrarian societies would find the period fascinating, but let’s not pretend it interests anyone else. And let’s not forget that the collapse of the Roman Empire happened under the watch of Christianity.

        • “we’re still marveling today about the Greeks and Romans, and then that Christian era gets kind of boring except for a few cathedrals and what not”

          Most people are simply profoundly ignorant of the Middle Ages, largely due to the fact they get their history from popular culture. Most of the popular culture version of the Middle Ages is nonsense and the stuff that is actually interesting gets ignored. How many experiments with manned flight were there in Greece and Rome? None. In the Middle Ages? Two. Why does no-one know that? How about a “clock” that was an automatic weight driven astronomical computer that took eight and half years to cycle through all of its inter-related calculations? Ever heard of that one? Or the mechanical automatons which entertained the courts of medieval kings? Not heard of those either? Perhaps the problem is that you only know about “a few cathedrals” because you don’t really have much of a grasp of history.

          “, but it’s kind of hard not to notice that it was a long time of not much really going on compared to what went on before and after’

          That’s just wrong. As I said, we see more (and more advanced) technical innovation in the last two centuries of the medieval period alone than in the whole 2000 years of Classical civilisation. You are just ignorant of it.

          “And let’s not forget that the collapse of the Roman Empire happened under the watch of Christianity.”

          Nonsense. How the hell was Christianity supposed to somehow fix centuries of western Roman economic weakness and a failing system of Imperial succession and administration? This stuff was beyond everyone’s conception at the time and not under any kind of control by the Church. And why didn’t the Eastern Empire collapse if Christianity was somehow the culprit?

          You have a cartoon-level grasp of history.

        • MR

          You must be one of those students of mediaeval agrarian societies, because your examples really aren’t all that. But, here’s the thing, you’re absolutely right, there were advancements and some great thinkers and all that, and they did the best with what they had and yes, it was hard to overcome economic weaknesses and failing systems, yadda, yadda, because they were, after all just plain humans without any divine help to push then to great achievements.

          This is the point.

          Under divine inspiration, things like germ theory should have come along sooner. Under Christianity, when you have the bad-assest, Master of the Frickin’ Universe behind you, agrarian advancements and looms just ring kind of hollow. Yeah, they done good with what they had and under the circumstances, and I’m not giving them enough credit as humans, but these are humans who were supposed to be guided by The Architect of Life, the Universe and Everything, and, frankly, they put in a lackluster performance.

        • “You must be one of those students of mediaeval agrarian societies, because your examples really aren’t all that.”

          So if I’ve got this straight, we’re fine to “marvel” at Greece and Rome because of roads, aqueducts, some nice temples and a tiny steam toy. But an automatic astronomical computer, clockwork automatons and the first working glider in human history, “really aren’t all that”? You can’t be serious.

          “Under divine inspiration, things like germ theory should have come along sooner.”

          I’m an atheist. Your move genius.

        • MR

          Ah, well, then we’re just talking past each other. No, I get it on a human scale. Yeah, those are cool advancements and all. Still a dirth of excitement, though, sorry. If you want to argue that advancements were made by humans during the period, that’s one thing, but the point of the argument are the religious implications and the lackluster performance when we should expect to see great things if God is in charge and his people are in control. If you didn’t get the religious implications behind Bob’s post, genius, well I don’t know what to tell you. Christianity neither saved the civilization from collapse nor did it jettison it into great heights. People achieved what they could under the circumstances, but it was only people. It was not what you would expect to see if they were acting out the will of God.

        • “If you didn’t get the religious implications behind Bob’s post, genius, well I don’t know what to tell you.”

          Given that I’m an atheist, I don’t care about any such religious implications. But no, actually, I can’t see that Bob was saying anything like that. He was making a common but incorrect claim that, historically, Christianity stifled technical development. It didn’t. I’ve been studying the history of pre-modern science and technology for 35 years and I don’t know of a single historian who would agree with him. So that is what I’m objecting to, because it’s horseshit.

        • MR

          Well, genius, given that religious implications are what this entire blog is about, it sounds to me like you’re missing the whole point and just want to fuss that he hasn’t given the period enough credit.

          M’eh, given the examples you provided, over the course of 1500 years (give or take) that just doesn’t seem like much. We could throw your advancements in with “eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation, and others,” and I don’t see that it changes his argument substantially. Or are you arguing (you don’t seem to be) that Christianity did, in fact, nurture innovation, or that religion, not science, ushered in the health and prosperity we have today?

          I realize you want your doctorate in medieval agrarian societies to seem relevant, but this is, after all, a blog about religion.

        • “given that religious implications are what this entire blog is about”

          The idea that they form any part of his argument in this particular article on this blog is entirely in your imagination.

          “over the course of 1500 years (give or take) that just doesn’t seem like much. “

          Given they had to spend over 1000 of that 1500 years recovering from the total collapse of western civilisation, the fact that they overtook the Classical world in technical innovation within a couple of centuries is rather less than “meh”. To anyone without a weird, crippling bias that is.

          ” I don’t see that it changes his argument substantially.”

          It shows his argument is utter bullshit. Which is why there isn’t a professional historian in the field who would touch it with a bargepole.

          “Or are you arguing (you don’t seem to be) that Christianity did, in fact, nurture innovation”

          At times and in some ways, it clearly did. People who have more than a ten year old child’s grasp of history know that nothing is or can be monocausal.

          “I realize you want your doctorate in medieval agrarian societies to seem relevant, but this is, after all, a blog about religion.”

          Then if you don’t want people to expose your total ignorance of history, perhaps you and this Bob the software developer guy should stick to kicking modern religion’s easier target and not stray onto subjects you know nothing about.

        • MR

          Sorry, genius, I’m just not buying it. I mean here you’ve had the chance to totally give us a greater appreciation for those 1500 years, and, I dunno, you give us out of your top ten, , looms; yet somehow I get blamed. Yeah, I’m wondering who has the bias, here. Hey, I’m with you that we don’t have a good enough appreciation of period, and as someone descended from a long line of weavers, I really should have a better appreciation for looms, but come on. The really interesting shit is from the Roman times, and the Christian period is just kind of m’eh, and except for maybe the evolution of architecture (and even that’s kind of boring for most people), Christianity doesn’t appear to be much of an impetus for innovation and advancement. Can you give me some better examples? Besides the real advances happen later under science, and have little if nothing to do with Christianity. Yeah, sure there was some progress, but just look at the examples you gave us for that 1500 year stretch. Shrug.

          And, really, you don’t get that this entire blog is about religion? Dude, you need to take your beef to the history channel. If you’re going to ignore the religious aspects–which is the entire point–so you can push your historical agenda, well, you’re just yankin’ chains as far as I can see.

        • “I mean here you’ve had the chance to totally give us a greater appreciation for those 1500 years, and, I dunno, you give us out of your top ten, , looms; yet somehow I get blamed. “

          You still haven’t explained why we should marvel at aqueducts, fine as they are, but sneer at the first recorded manned flight, the first automatic astronomical computer and the printing press which revolutionised the world. You can keep repeating “looms” (did you read Bob’s paragraph about weaving technology by the way?), but silly bluster won’t take away the fact your irrational biases are making you say things that don’t make much sense.

          “The really interesting shit is from the Roman times, and the Christian period is just kind of m’eh, and except for maybe the evolution of architecture”

          Know anyone who wears glasses? Do you wear them? How would your life be without them? How would the lives of half the people you know be without them. But that’s just “meh”, according to you. Ditto the first working glider. And you call this pathetic, childish sneering rational?

          “Christianity doesn’t appear to be much of an impetus for innovation and advancement. “

          Did you not understand the argument of the article above? It was not simply that Christianity wasn’t an impetus, it was that it was retardant. Try to follow what’s being discussed.

          “And, really, you don’t get that this entire blog is about religion? “

          The article above is about history. I responded to the article above. The fact that you can’t seem to follow the discussion is your problem, not mine. You seem too emotionally biased to be able to focus. Try rationality.

        • MNb

          “Know anyone who wears glasses?”
          From the 14th Century, when the authority of the RCC already had disappeared. Coincidence? Perhaps.

        • “From the 14th Century, when the authority of the RCC already had disappeared. “

          Disappeared! Yes, the whole fourteenth century was free of any Church influence whatsoever and was a perfectly atheistic secular humanist paradise. What are you smoking, seriously?

        • Pofarmer

          “and the printing press which revolutionised the world”

          WHich the Church immediately tried to squash.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well the printing press was gonna let the cat outta the bag big time.

          And where did Gutenberg’s inspiration for the printing press come from?

          The screw press was a Roman invention from the first century CE for starters. Movable type was a Chinese invention.

        • “The screw press was a Roman invention from the first century CE for starters.”

          Yes. So? What’s with this weird idea that unless every element of an invention is wholly original it somehow isn’t an invention? The wooden joinery used in the printing press probably came from ancient Sumer, so do we attribute printing them as a result? Try to make sense.

          “Movable type was a Chinese invention.”

          Except there it was a technical dead end, which is why western style printing presses were adopted by China soon after they were introduced there. Medieval printing with moveable type was invented independently of China, so I have no idea what point you’re trying to make here anyway.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes. So? What’s with this weird idea that unless every element of an invention is wholly original it somehow isn’t an invention?

          For my part, it is the fact that a lot of the inventions of the late Middle Ages seem to rely on the inventions of a civilisation from 1000 years previous. During which time, very little happened in the largely Christian controlled west.

        • “a lot of the inventions of the late Middle Ages seem to rely on the inventions of a civilisation from 1000 years previous.”

          All inventions rely on earlier inventions, so this is stupid.

          “During which time, very little happened in the largely Christian controlled west.”

          Very little was happening before 300 AD either. And then we actually get quite a bit happening starting from the eleventh century, in the very period when the Church was at the height of its power, influence and authority. But that doesn’t fit your silly, childish cartoon view of history – one not actually shared by any professional historians.

          But thankfully we have internet New Atheists to show us where those stupid old experts in the field have got it all wrong. Go away Ignorant – you’re a moron.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All inventions rely on earlier inventions, so this is stupid.

          And you are calling me the moron.

          Go away Ignorant – you’re a moron.

          Fortunately it is not up to you to decide, if ya don’t like it, you can fuck away off ya lousy cunt.

        • Andy

          “A lot of the inventions of the late middle ages seem to rely on the inventions of a civilisation from 100 years previous.” Are you kidding me? That’s like saying that the jet plane doesn’t count as a new invention because it used already-existing aviation technology as its basis. Don’t be ridiculous.

        • Greg G.

          Whoosh… The point went way over your head.

          European advancement began to happen in the 12th century when they gained access to the writings from the Greeks from more than a 1000 years ago (you dropped a zero when you quoted the text). The greatest advancements relied on information that the ancient Greeks had, not what the Europeans developed over the previous centuries.

        • Andy

          Yeah, those Europeans are clearly idiots because they didn’t reinvent the wheel and instead learned from prior discoveries.

        • Greg G.

          They had regressed in science and technology so much that when they received ancient Greek literature that brought them up to that level, science and technology improved greatly. It’s not that they were stupid, it’s just that they were looking to religion for knowledge instead of reality.

        • epeeist

          Yeah, those Europeans are clearly idiots because they didn’t reinvent the wheel and instead learned from prior discoveries.

          But first they had to rediscover those prior discoveries, which they didn’t do until material began to be translated from the Greek and Arabic from the 12th century onwards, hence the phrase “Poverty of the Latins”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You missed a bit…

          During which time, very little happened in the largely Christian controlled west.

          If certain innovations pick up where they were previously abandoned centuries earlier…for whatever reason, then absolutely.

          But lets take your fuckwittery on as it is…

          That’s like saying that the jet plane doesn’t count as a new invention because it used already-existing aviation technology as its basis. Don’t be ridiculous.

          The aeroplane used glider technology.

          The Jet plane was less the “new” invention than the jet engine was.

          Invent a million jet engines, but with no heavier than air flying machine to put it in, no jet plane unfortunately.

          This was my point about the glider and one of Timbo’s excuses as to why it was a dead end. The people who invented the jet engine had an invention available to put it in already. The Wright brothers didn’t invent the airplane, they invented the three-axis control and used it in conjunction with the inventions of others to achieve their aim.

          Capitalizing on the national bicycle craze (spurred by the invention of the safety bicycle and its substantial advantages over the penny-farthing design), in December 1892 the brothers opened a repair and sales shop (the Wright Cycle Exchange, later the Wright Cycle Company) and in 1896 began manufacturing their own brand. They used this endeavor to fund their growing interest in flight. In the early or mid-1890s they saw newspaper or magazine articles and probably photographs of the dramatic glides by Otto Lilienthal in Germany. 1896 brought three important aeronautical events. In May, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley successfully flew an unmanned steam-powered fixed-wing model aircraft. In mid-year, Chicago engineer and aviation authority Octave Chanute brought together several men who tested various types of gliders over the sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. In August, Lilienthal was killed in the plunge of his glider. These events lodged in the consciousness of the brothers. In May 1899 Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institution requesting information and publications about aeronautics. Drawing on the work of Sir George Cayley, Chanute, Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci, and Langley, they began their mechanical aeronautical experimentation that year.

          The Wright brothers spent years developing previous glider and aviation technology…ya know, that dead end, go nowhere stuff that Ailmer of Malmesbury was alleged to have been developing only to give it up as a useless endeavour, or was it because he was given a dressing down by the Abbot, just when he was on the cusp of a major breakthrough. That’s pioneers for ya. Fickle bastards…except they are not.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers

          The jet engine was being independently developed in a number of locations. It was then put onto an existing invention and it was by no means plain sailing, but that’s another story.

          The plane was an existing invention already. Frank Whittle didn’t invent the jet plane, he invented a version of the jet engine, and it was put into an existing invention called an airplane, which made it the jet airplane.

          That’s not strictly true, the aeolipile in Bob’s article was the first jet engine invented on record, but I’ll try not to be facetious.

          Anyway…lots of inventions were reliant on the technology of previous inventions…some were not…so pah!

        • Michael Neville

          The Wright brothers didn’t invent the airplane, they invented the three-axis control and used it in conjunction with the inventions of others to achieve their aim.

          The other thing the Wright brothers invented was an engine with a low enough weight to horsepower ratio to be able to get a glider off the ground. The Wrights had been building successful gliders for years, they just stuck their engine on their best glider.

          The Wright Aeronautical Company is still in business. It hasn’t made aircraft since about 1912, it makes aircraft engines.

          During World War II the original P-51 Mustang fighter was a mediocre aircraft when powered by an Alison engine. Some Mustangs were given to the British and one RAF engineer fitted a Roll-Royce Merlin engine, the engine which powered the Spitfire, into a Mustang. That turned the Mustang into a highly successful airplane.

          And remember, two wrongs don’t make a right but two Wrights make an airplane.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The other thing the Wright brothers invented was an engine with a low enough weight to horsepower ratio to be able to get a glider off the ground.

          Indeed…using existing innovations. After a bit of a heads up from a pal.

          An acquaintance at the nearby Buckeye Irons and Brass Works advised them that they could save weight if they cast the engine block from aluminum.

          http://www.wright-brothers.org/Information_Desk/Just_the_Facts/Engines_&_Props/1903_Engine.htm

          Still, not too shabby for a couple of guys that started out making bicycles and using basic tooling facilities.

        • Aluminum would’ve still been pretty expensive back then. Below is the production curve.

          I wonder if their engine was indeed cast from aluminum.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/96/Aluminium_-_world_production_trend.svg/180px-Aluminium_-_world_production_trend.svg.png

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aluminum would’ve still been pretty expensive back then.

          Indeed it was, aluminum was considered a precious metal, more expensive than gold, silver or platinum until 1886

          There’s an example of the engine in the Smithsonian apparently.

          https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/fly/1903/engine.cfm

          That the success of the experiment rested upon the spec’s of the engine, seems to be pivotal, so I see no reason to discount the record such that it is.

          From an earlier article I linked to I read that it wasn’t even the Wright Brothers engine, it was designed and built by an unsung hero and without him, the Kitty Hawk wouldn’t have got off the ground.

          http://www.science20.com/recreational_number_theory/history_of_internal_combustion_engine_design

          Regardless of cost, “must-do” is a great master.

          Edit: to add link.

        • I’ve read that capping the top of the Washington Monument is a small pyramid of pure aluminum. That sounds pretty mundane today, with aluminum being a very plentiful element, but at the time the purification process involved potassium or sodium (to bind with whatever was bound to the aluminum, I suppose), so the resulting pure aluminum was very expensive.

          And now we have the electric refining process, so aluminum is very cheap. The Wright brothers are in the middle somewhere. I guess it was expensive but accessible. Maybe like titanium today.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve read that capping the top of the Washington Monument is a small pyramid of pure aluminum.

          I didn’t know that and it piqued my interest to go have a look. Wiki has a comprehensive write up about it, complete with references, a photo and table of inscriptions.

          https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aluminum_apex_Repaired_1934.png

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument#Aluminum_apex

          Thanks for the heads up.

        • Andy

          Before I go on, have you even heard of the Byzantine Empire? You’d have to be an absolute retard to think that Christianity was the problem when the very Christian Byzantines had a hugely successful empire that lasted far beyond the Dark Ages.

          I think you lost sight of the point with your incredibly obnoxious pedantry. What a long-winded way to defend your obvious bias. “Technological developments don’t count for shit unless they meet my personal standards of what constitutes being an invention. That’s to say that they have to have been created by people I’m not prejudiced against!” It’s like arguing with a five-year-old.

        • “WHich the Church immediately tried to squash.”

          Gutenberg’s first commissions were a papal letter, two indulgences and a folio Bible. Yes, they really tried to squash the guy, the bastards.

        • MR

          Omg, are you still trying to make that period sound interesting? It just isn’t, hon, I’m sorry. People flock to Europe to see aqueducts and to marvel at the feats of the Romans, not go to obscure museums to look at mechanical trip hammers and blast furnaces.

          Besides, I told you, I’m already with you that a lot of that stuff was important and we don’t appreciate it enough, but we’re still talking about 1500 years of one big m’eh. Don’t blame me it’s just not all that. I know you get a hard on over vertical windmills and all, but it’s still a hard sell.

          Anyway, I’ll concede that Bob’s title, “How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years” might be an overreach if you take it in the sense of Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years and Here’s Proof. I don’t think he’s making that kind of a case. I read the article in the vein of Christianity Likely Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years and Here’s Why I Think So. And I think he makes a fair case, in spite of your added examples. Not least because we have concrete examples like Alexandria, Galileo, Bruni, of them actively doing just that, and because Christianity is still around we can see it squashing advancement right before our very eyes.

          I see a three-sided coin to this retardation, there’s active quashing like the examples I mentioned, there’s a kind of passive retardation in that Christianity just doesn’t foster that kind of advancement. When your focus is on the afterlife, the present takes a hit. Some of the best minds of the period were sucked into religious matters. I wonder where we would be if the great thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Erasmus and others had applied their formidably thought to practical matters.

          And then there’s the part that we’re really interested about on this blog, if God existed, why isn’t there an explosion of innovation? A nation under God with countless prophets to lead the world forward…, oh, yeah, a land shattered into myriad kingdoms constantly infighting. It just doesn’t make sense.

          You can keep harping on how much you love that period, but you’ll notice that the subtitle of this blog is “Clear Thinking About Christianity” and that is the focus. I’d love to hear you make the opposite case for how Christianity was a champion of science, technology and how the church was the impetus and was at the forefront of all your marvels from that period.

        • Ignorant Amos

          … but sneer at the first recorded manned flight,…

          Ahem…that isn’t the first recorded manned flight, the ones by Armen Firman and Eilmer of Malmesbury in the Christian medieval period I mean, Tim.

          That was tower jumping and there are earlier examples…much, much, earlier examples.

          You are the one struggling with bias methinks.

        • “That was tower jumping”

          Followed by gliding. Which is flight.
          “there are earlier examples…much, much, earlier examples.”

          Unfortunately all the “earlier examples” tend to be highly legendary and rather dubious. And none of them are Roman or Greek, which was kind of the point.

          Keep trying, Howler Monkey.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unfortunately all the “earlier examples” tend to be highly legendary and rather dubious.

          And yours of course are not. Because some guys in the Middle Ages discovered how to fly, then did what? Bury it? Didn’t rush to the nearest royal palace and declare such a development.

          Isn’t this the epitome of the argument being made? A monk, let’s call him Eilmer of Malmesbury, discovered he could attach wings to his feet and hands, jump of a church and fly…quite a distance by all accounts.

          He was a man learned for those times, of ripe old age, and in his early youth had hazarded a deed of remarkable boldness. He had by some means, I scarcely know what, fastened wings to his hands and feet so that, mistaking fable for truth, he might fly like Daedalus, and, collecting the breeze upon the summit of a tower, flew for more than a furlong [201 metres]. But agitated by the violence of the wind and the swirling of air, as well as by the awareness of his rash attempt, he fell, broke both his legs and was lame ever after. He used to relate as the cause of his failure, his forgetting to provide himself a tail. ~ William of Malmesbury.

          Then buried the idea because…???

          Perhaps it was because it was un-Christianly to fly?

          As a monk located in Malmesbury Abbey in the eleventh century, he would not have been ignorant of the need to guard and stabilize the soul for its flight in the afterlife; the differences between angelic and human bodies; the weight of sin and the unnaturalness of ascending mortal flesh.

          Seems to me had Elmers endeavours been pursued, the advance in aviation would have been all the better for it. That’s if the story isn’t a loada ballix that is, eh Tim?

          And none of them are Roman or Greek, which was kind of the point.

          Really….???

          From the earliest times there have been legends of men mounting flying devices or strapping birdlike wings, stiffened cloaks or other devices to themselves and attempting to fly, typically by jumping off a tower. The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus is one of the earliest to come down to us. According to Ovid, Daedalus tied feathers together to mimic the wings of a bird. Other ancient legends include the Indian Vimana flying palace or chariot, Ezekiel’s Chariot, various stories about Magic carpets, and mythical British King Bladud, who conjured up flying wings.

          Anyway, legend has it a Muslim beat the Christian by a couple of centuries.

          Tower jumping as flying is another bit of contrivance on your part Tim.

          But keep at it, this howler monkey is starting to pish himself laughing at your expertise in medieval history and how you want to milk some nonsense or another.

        • And yours of course are not.

          Ibn Firnas’ is possibly dubious, but Ailmer’s is recorded by a monk of the same abbey around 90 years later. That’s unlikely to be a legend. So, no.

          “Then buried the idea because…???”

          It didn’t get any further because it had no practical use. Gliding was only ever a hobby until combustion engines made actual powered flight practical.

          “As a monk located in Malmesbury Abbey in the eleventh century, he would not have been ignorant of the need to guard and stabilize the soul for its flight in the afterlife; the differences between angelic and human bodies; the weight of sin and the unnaturalness of ascending mortal flesh.”

          Pity that is just some speculation by a modern writer and not something found in the actual source. Ailmer’s abbot seems to have been understandably more concerned about silly young monks throwing themselves off the church roof and injuring themselves.

          “From the earliest times there have been legends of men mounting flying devices or strapping birdlike wings, stiffened cloaks or other devices to themselves and attempting to fl”

          Yes, legends. Maybe there were actual Greek or Roman Ailmers. There just isn’t any solid evidence there were.

          “lTower jumping as flying is another bit of contrivance on your part Tim.”

          If you jump from a tower, you fall. Try it if you don’t believe me. Gliding is something else and, yes, it is flying.

          The real question here is exactly how childlessly petty your feeble and failed nitpicking can get.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ibn Firnas’ is possibly dubious, but Ailmer’s is recorded by a monk of the same abbey around 90 years later. That’s unlikely to be a legend. So, no.

          Ha…”possibly”, “unlikely”, so maybe. And Muslim scholars might disagree with you too.

          It didn’t get any further because it had no practical use. Gliding was only ever a hobby until combustion engines made actual powered flight practical.

          Hmmm…gliding has no practical use? Military applications notwithstanding, the thing is, if these geniuses had pursued these alleged flights further, who knows what direction they might have went. But I’ll concede their uselessness for now, which didn’t seem to be your point in raising the “first recorded manned flight” trope in the first place.

          Yes, legends. Maybe there were actual Greek or Roman Ailmers.

          But Ailmers inspiration was Daedalus, myth or not, Ailmers idea came from pre-Christian Greeks.

          There just isn’t any solid evidence there were.

          No solid evidence that anyone actually flew ya mean?But there are accounts that the exercise was being investigated and possibly attempted. I don’t see how the account of Ailmers flight is solid evidence that he did, in fact, fly the length of a couple of football fields, but that’ll be the skeptic in me.

          But why restrict the scope to Greeks or Romans?

          We have the account of a Muslim Moroccan historian. We have the Book of Han that the Chinese were a guy flew 100m around 100 CE. The Zizhi Tongjian records that in 559 CE a tower jumper flew 2.5 km.

          Pity that is just some speculation by a modern writer and not something found in the actual source.

          Because speculation is something the great Tin O’Neill would never do…then….

          Ailmer’s abbot seems to have been understandably more concerned about silly young monks throwing themselves off the church roof and injuring themselves.

          Speculation? But here’s the rub…set aside the hyperbole for a wee moment and that would be an example of the Church impeding scientific advancement.

          If you jump from a tower, you fall. Try it if you don’t believe me. Gliding is something else and, yes, it is flying.

          Now who is being the moron? What Ailmer was doing was called Tower Jumping. Kids are still doing it today, but now it’s called base jumping.

          In medieval Europe, the earliest recorded tower jump dates from 852 AD, when Armen Firman made a jump in Cordoba, Spain, reportedly covering his body with vulture feathers and attaching two wings to his arms. Eilmer of Malmesbury soon followed and many others have continued to do so over the centuries. As late as 1811, Albrecht Berblinger constructed an ornithopter and jumped into the Danube at Ulm.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aviation#Tower_jumping

          The real question here is exactly how childlessly petty your feeble and failed nitpicking can get.

          Nitpicking annoying you is it? Then I’ve succeeded, but will continue until bored. As for it being feeble and failed, I will let others be the judge of that one Timbo.

          You threw in a couple of medieval Christian innovations that you thought no one had heard of, regardless that you think they had no useful purpose so were abandoned, they were not even medieval innovations. But that doesn’t seem to really fit though, does it?

        • “That was tower jumping”

          Followed by gliding. Which is flight.

          Which went nowhere. And that’s your standard, isn’t it? Or at least it was a few comments ago.

        • “Which went nowhere. And that’s your standard, isn’t it? Or at least it was a few comments ago.”

          Yes, that one did go nowhere because, before an system of motive power, there was nowhere for it to go. But if you track the comments back, I was not claiming it was an innovation that went anywhere – I simply gave it as an example of how the common conception of the medieval period as a period in which there was no innovation is incorrect. Some (gliders, automata) went nowhere. Others (clocks, corned powder, eye glasses, the printing press) gave rise to far more remarkable technology and innovation. That’s the nature of innovation.

          The point being made is that the idea this was an age ” ruled by superstition, not reason” is nonsense. Ailmer looked at gliding birds and used reason to make his glider. Monks read their works on optics and used reason to create eye glasses. Ditto for all the other innovations mentioned. And the Church didn’t stifle any of them – quite the opposite.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, that one did go nowhere because, before an system of motive power, there was nowhere for it to go.

          Is that a modern day speculation? Or was it due to…

          He set about rectifying this shortcoming, and was making plans for a second flight when his abbot placed an embargo on any further attempts, and that was that.

          http://www.eilmer.co.uk/

          Glider flying is NOT reliant on a “system of motive power” so that argument is moot.

          But if you track the comments back, I was not claiming it was an innovation that went anywhere – I simply gave it as an example of how the common conception of the medieval period as a period in which there was no innovation is incorrect.

          That is one of the strawmen you are battering. That is not an assertion I’ve seen being made.

          As for it being an example, it’s not a very well thought out example, is it?

          The innovation in this particular case, is not a medieval Christian innovation.The idea predates Ailmer and the medieval period.

        • “Glider flying is NOT reliant on a “system of motive power” so that argument is moot.”

          The point is that gliders don’t have many practical uses other than recreation precisely because they can’t be reliably powered by the flyer. And no, they don’t have military uses for precisely this reason – which is why we have centuries of intermittent experiments in gliding without gliders being used in warfare until … they could be towed by planes.

          “The innovation in this particular case, is not a medieval Christian innovation.”

          What the fuck is a “Christian innovation”? One that goes to Mass regularly? More gibberish.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You refuse to be beaten on this point, don’t ya?

          The point is that gliders don’t have many practical uses other than recreation precisely because they can’t be reliably powered by the flyer.

          So you’ve moved from “NO” practical uses to, “DON’T HAVE MANY” practical uses out side recreational I see.What’s wrong with recreational btw?But so what? You answer is it ain’t worth the effort. Just as well nobody agrees with that.

          The reason that modern day gliders main use is recreational is because we have powered flight, not in spite of it. Are you suggesting that if all we had was glider flight it would only be used for recreational purposes? Get a grip Timbo.

          The point is, if yer man Ailmer really did fly a furlong and had been allowed to develop and refine his “innovation”, the avionics in place when a suitable power unit became available. Ya see, other folk didn’t see the idea of glider flight as a dead end because of the reasons you give. So your excuse is, as I say, moot.

          The first heavier-than-air (i.e. non-balloon) man-carrying aircraft that were based on published scientific principles were Sir George Cayley’s series of gliders which achieved brief wing-borne hops from around 1849. Thereafter gliders were built by pioneers such as Jean Marie Le Bris, John J. Montgomery, Otto Lilienthal, Percy Pilcher, Octave Chanute and Augustus Moore Herring to develop aviation. Lilienthal was the first to make repeated successful flights (eventually totaling over 2,000) and was the first to use rising air to prolong his flight. Using a Montgomery tandem-wing glider, Daniel Maloney was the first to demonstrate high-altitude controlled flight using a balloon-launched glider launched from 4,000 feet in 1905.

          The Wright Brothers developed a series of three manned gliders after preliminary tests with a kite as they worked towards achieving powered flight. They returned to glider testing in 1911 by removing the motor from one of their later designs.

          Your guy doesn’t even get a mention in the New World Encyclopaedia.

          http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Glider

          And no, they don’t have military uses for precisely this reason – which is why we have centuries of intermittent experiments in gliding without gliders being used in warfare until … they could be towed by planes.

          Oh fer feck sake. You really can’t see the Forrest for the trees can ya?

          If glider technology had been allowed to develop in Ailmers day at a comparable rate to which it did when it really get going, gliders would’ve been advanced enough to have been useful to the military. That you can’t think of any useful military application for a reasonably reliable glider is not my problem. Troop carrying ain’t the only use.

          Your problem is you are seeing a 200 yd failed flight, if it even was that and concluding that it was halted because it was a useless enterprise. My point, and the point of the OP, is that had the experiments been allowed to continue, heavier than air manned flight, or unmanned for that matter, may very well have been at a point within a few hundred years where gliders would be flying higher and longer, with more stability so that they would be useful for all sorts of applications.

          It’s telling that you are allowed to speculate that the Abbot put the kyboosh on further experiments because it is your assertion he was concerned with the well being of his monks, yet the other reason, let’s call it the “if God had wanted you to fly he’d have given you wings” hypothesis, you hand wave away as just a modern speculation.

          What the fuck is a “Christian innovation”? One that goes to Mass regularly? More gibberish.

          Nice quote mine and way to avoid the point. Which was….

          In China, kites rather than gliders were used for military reconnaissance. However the Extensive Records of the Taiping Era (978) suggests that a true glider was designed in the fifth century B.C.E. by Lu Ban, a contemporary of Confucius. There is also a report that Yuan Huangtou, Ye made a successful glider flight taking off from a tower in 559.

          Abbas Ibn Firnas is also claimed as the inventor the first manned glider in 875 by fixing feathers to a wooden frame fitted to his arms or back. Written accounts at the time suggest that he made a ten minute flight although this is almost certainly an exaggeration of the flight’s duration. Because his aircraft lacked a ‘tail’, he could neither steer nor land properly, and he was seriously injured in the resulting crash.

          Of course it is your opinion that those are all legends, but because of your hardon for medieval literature, Ailmer is the first.

          I said “medieval Christian innovation” and if this is the level of your rebuttal at this point, it is you that is the moron.

          Everyone here understands the term as written. An innovation by a Christian during the medieval period. As opposed to a Muslim one, or Chinese one, or an Indian one. But play your semantics all you like, your card is marked.

        • MNb

          “recovering from the total collapse of western civilization”
          Given that hardly a historian defends this silly idea anymore since the end of the frigging 19th Century (you are really not aware of JB Bury, are you?) this claim

          “I’ve been studying the history of pre-modern science and technology for 35 years and I don’t know of a single historian who would agree with him.”
          and the connected accusations become quite funny.

        • “you are really not aware of JB Bury, are you?”

          Your devotion to a venerable but outdated historian of a century ago is touching if amusing.

        • And Merry Christmas to you, too.

          Given they had to spend over 1000 of that 1500 years recovering from the total collapse of western civilisation,

          Uh huh. You’re simply agreeing with me.

          Civilization always has bumps in the road. You want to single out Europe and say that since shit happened, they get a pass? Life’s a bitch sometimes.

          If Europe sat around with its metaphorical thumb up its ass for a millennium, can we look at the governing structure? Maybe something there was happy with stasis and didn’t care about improving society for the masses. And maybe it’s appropriate to saddle that with some blame for missing opportunities for improvement.

          It shows his argument is utter bullshit.

          Except that you have to date always mischaracterized it. May I suggest that the problem is yours?

        • “If Europe sat around with its metaphorical thumb up its ass for a millennium, can we look at the governing structure?”

          Sure. Firstly, the Church was not the “governing structure” in any conception of the period outside that of a ignorant Protestant Sunday School kid. Secondly, what exactly were the actual, secular, governing structures supposed to be doing, minus the benefits of our 100-100 years of hindsight?

          “Maybe something there was happy with stasis and didn’t care about improving society for the masses. “

          A hopeful “maybe” undermined by that pesky stuff called “all the evidence”. If this was the case, why do we see the most medieval technical innovation in precisely the period when the Church was at the height of its power and influence – the centuries of High and Late Middle Ages? Your simplistic, bigoted thesis makes no sense. At least not to anyone with any grasp of history.

        • MR

          And technology, science, innovation…, those are the kinds of things that help societies pull out of dark times. If your society’s taking a millennium to recover, well you’re probably not fostering what you need to.

        • Really? Is there some objective yardstick by which we can measure how long it should take a society to recover after its civilisation has collapsed? Especially when its wracked by internal wars while also under attack from invaders from all sides for centuries on end? Do tell.

        • MR

          No, I get it. A lot of factors go into these things, and that I can see, this is a likely factor. You haven’t shown us otherwise.

        • “that I can see, this is a likely factor. “

          What is a likely factor in what?

          “You haven’t shown us otherwise.”

          If you think something is a likely factor in something or other, it’s up to you to provide evidence for that. Whatever it is you’re talking about.

          What are you talking about?

        • MR

          Bob’s post about Christianity. You’re not always the sharpest cheddar on the cracker, are you?’

        • I’ve responded to 43 replies from about five different people in the space of a few hours. Yours above was apparently a response to my question about “some objective yardstick by which we can measure how long it should take a society to recover after its civilisation has collapsed”. As such, it doesn’t make much sense. But yes, since I actually am pretty smart, I figured that was what you were blundering towards, but it’s good to check. And to clarify, so I can respond clearly.

          So, again, what is a likely factor in what? Are you saying that this mysterious force that “Church authority” somehow exerts to retard technical development kept the recovery from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in check? If so, you have two problems:

          (i) You need to explain HOW it did so. Bob the Software Person has been asked this several times but he seems very shy about giving an answer. Perhaps you can try.

          (ii) Then you need to explain why, when Church power, authority and influence was at its pinnacle from the late twelfth to the mid fourteenth centuries, we see a massive acceleration in technical development.

          Please try to make sense this time.

        • MR

          Eh? I believe that Bob has already pointed out that you’re mischaracterizing his argument, so maybe you need to backtrack and address his points, because I just don’t see that you’ve addressed much at all. You seem more interested in defending a period you’re passionate about. I mean, I get it. 35 years and people’s eyes glaze over the moment you try to defend it, that’s got to suck. But you simply haven’t convinced me that those innovations were all that compared to what happened before and after, and you haven’t shown that Bob is incorrect. He has some good points that make sense and are worth pondering. You just seem to be butt hurt over what seems to me a reasonable portrayal of a terribly uninteresting period of history (at least in the areas we’ve been discussing).

        • “I believe that Bob has already pointed out that you’re mischaracterizing his argument, so maybe you need to backtrack and address his points, because I just don’t see that you’ve addressed much at all. ”

          He claims I’ve mischaracterised his argument but fails to show how. He then repeated the same points that I’ve already addressed and I addressed them again. So please tell me what points you need me to address.

          ” You seem more interested in defending a period you’re passionate about. “

          I’m passionate about many periods of history and historical subjects. I’m also passionate about correcting ideologically motivated bigots who distort history to fit an agenda. People like fundamentalist Christians, Holocaust deniers and the kind of gaggle of ignorant New Atheist pseudo historian bloviators we see here.

          “But you simply haven’t convinced me that those innovations were all that compared to what happened before and after.”

          You still haven’t explained why we should marvel at an aqueduct but not an automatic mechanical computer that takes eight and half years to run through its calculations. Or why a tiny steam powered toy is amazing but a successful glider flight isn’t. It seems this is because you can’t and so simply closing your eyes and saying “well, I just ain’t impressed, so there!” is anything other than pig-headed, bigoted, deliberate stupidity and obstinate.

          “You just seem to be butt hurt over what seems to me a reasonable portrayal of a terribly uninteresting period of history”

          What “interests” people is a matter of taste. Bullshit pseudo historical arguments that make no sense are not – they are a matter of evidence, facts and logic. Bob the Software Guy’s incoherent thesis above is short on all three. And his feeble and remarkably shy attempts to shore it up since are no better.

          So how about you tell me how I’m “mischaracterising” his shit argument and then what “points” of his I need to address. Or just run along.

        • MR

          My take away from Bob is that Christianity was a likely factor in the dearth of scientific and technological advancement for some 1500 years. I haven’t seen you contradict that.

          My take away from you is that the same period did in fact have some advancements.

          I agree, but you’re not talking about the same things.

          The discussion between you and I took off because you got all but hurt that I wasn’t overly impressed by your list of achievements from the area. I don’t deny those are achievements, nor that some of them are impressive and important. But, when I compare the list to the explosion of achievements under the Greeks, and then built upon by the Romans, well, when we go into this relatively uneventful period for a millennium and a half, I remain unimpressed. [edit to add: And then followed by a veritable explosion in advancements!]

          It’s not simply about aqueducts or comparing this invention with that invention. It’s sheer volume and momentum. Go back to Bob’s challenge to compare blocks of time and technological progress. I mean, in spite of all your studies, no one is calling this era The Great Scientific and Technological Explosion of Medieval Christendom. Not even the scholars who are passionate about the period. Achievements? Yes. Important? Yes. Earth-Shattering? No. Fecund? No. Pertinent to the theme of this blog? Not really. You’ve got a bone to chew that isn’t Bob’s.

        • “My take away from Bob is that Christianity was a likely factor in the dearth of scientific and technological advancement for some 1500 years. I haven’t seen you contradict that.”

          Then you must be reading with your eyes closed. Again, there was a period from the fifth to the eleventh centuries where there was considerable technical loss, but this was caused by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Even before then things had actually been pretty stagnant for several centuries, but in this period they went backwards. I’ve challenged Bob the Software Guy to show how this was not due to the catastrophic collapse of civilisation and the economic framework that had sustained technology to that point. He’s failed to do so. I’ve also challenged him to explain exactly how “the Church” caused this collapse it it (somehow) wasn’t the fall of the Empire that caused it. He’s failed to do that either.

          Maybe you can help him. Though given your past form, I’m going to guess you’ll just stick your fingers in your ears and keep repeating that I haven’t answered Bob’s points and that his points remain valid. I have and I don’t. His argument is shit. Hilariously so.

          “My take away from you is that the same period did in fact have some advancements.”

          It did. And many of them were actually thanks to sponsorship and propagation by the Church. They also accelerate in precisely the period of the High Middle Ages when the Church had most power, which also shows that Bob’s half-bake pseudo thesis is shit. He was challenged to explain that as well. He failed. He keeps failing. Because he doesn’t have a clue.

          ” I remain unimpressed. “

          So you keep repeating like a squarking parrot. You still haven’t explained why a period that saw MORE technical innovation in its last 200 years alone than the entire 200 years of the Classical Era prior to 300 AD is so “unimpressive”. Because you are no longer even trying to make any sense. Like most bigots, if you just parrot what you want to believe with your fingers in your ears perhaps the nasty man with all the books and the scholars and the inconvenient facts and evidence will go away and leave you alone.

        • MR

          Er…, have you shown that Christianity was not a factor? Then your point is moot.

          Bob’s argument is plausible and worth considering. His argument doesn’t claim that the Church stifled all innovation nor that it wasn’t responsible for some. Again, that’s just strawmanning his argument. Nor does he claim it was the only factor.

          We know for a fact of instances when the church did stifle science, and we know that the church is not in the business of promoting science and technologies. We know that for hundreds and hundreds of years we saw a relative paucity of advancement during Christian hegemony, and it’s a topic worth exploring. (And please don’t strawman to say that we’re saying no advancement.) We see the church today actively attempting to stifle science and technologies! I don’t see how you can say his argument isn’t worth considering. It’s certainly something I’ve been able to see with my own two eyes in my lifetime.

          If I’m unimpressed with your accomplishments list, it’s your own list that is wanting. Keep in mind, I’m not bringing Christianity into it here and I’m not saying they aren’t achievements, but they aren’t exactly advancements that are going to make the greatest achievements of mankind list.

          Facts and evidence? You haven’t shown any! Prove to me that Christianity didn’t stifle progress. As I noted, we can point to examples of them doing just that, and we can point to examples of them doing that today! Hand waving doesn’t negate his argument. Until you can show that it’s wrong, it’s worth considering.

          Gee, were there some greater advancements in the Christian era you didn’t mention? Maybe those last two hundred years you were talking about? Great, let’s hear about them, but again, I don’t see that they negate his point. I’m curious, though, were these marvelous advancements church sanctioned or did they happen in spite of the church?

        • “Er…, have you shown that Christianity was not a factor? Then your point is moot.”

          Logic isn’t your strong suit I see. I’m afraid I can’t prove a negative and the onus of proof is on the claimant. What I can do is what I’ve done: (i) explained the retardant effect on technical development was actually the collapse of the Western Empire and its economic framework and then the centuries of fragmentation and chaos that followed and (ii) shown that when we do see a rapid and remarkable rise in technical development, it’s when the Church’s power and authority was actually at its highest point.

          “Bob’s argument is plausible and worth considering.”

          I’ve considered it and rejected it for the reasons I’ve explained above. And which I’ve explained about five times now. Are you simply stupid or have you stopped listening?

          “His argument doesn’t claim that the Church stifled all innovation nor that it wasn’t responsible for some. Again, that’s just strawmanning his argument. Nor does he claim it was the only factor.”

          Irrelevant. And I didn’t say they were his arguments anyway. I have dealt with his arguments, as I explain above. There’s also the not inconsiderable point that absolutely no professional historians agree with him. Are they all idiots?

          “We know for a fact of instances when the church did stifle science”

          Bullshit. The medieval church did no such thing. Try giving me just one example. I’ve been over this hundreds of times with people like you so it will be amusing to watch you fail.

          “we know that the church is not in the business of promoting science and technologies”

          In the Middle Ages,m it actually was. So, wrong again.

          “We know that for hundreds and hundreds of years we saw a relative paucity of advancement during Christian hegemony”

          Yes, because of the collapse of the Roman Empire and the centuries of chaos that followed. How many more times do I have to explain this to you. Look up the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

          “We see the church today actively attempting to stifle science and technologies! I don’t see how you can say his argument isn’t worth considering. It’s certainly something I’ve been able to see with my own two eyes in my lifetime.”

          Unless you can give actual examples of the Church doing this in the period in question, what a much, much later form of the Church does in a completely different historical context is not relevant. Try to think things through more rationally – it’s getting really boring having to hold your hand and lead you through the tangled logical flaws in your dumb comments.

          “If I’m unimpressed with your accomplishments list, it’s your own list that is wanting.”

          Another illogical pronouncement. That doesn’t actually follow necessarily at all. Someone with no knowledge of cubist art can be “unimpressed” with Picasso, but that doesn’t mean Picasso is insignificant. A bored and sullen teenager in the Louvre can say they are “unimpressed” with the Mona Lisa because they had a fight with their parents that day, but doesn’t mean it’s a bad painting. You really aren’t very good at logic.

          ” they aren’t exactly advancements that are going to make the greatest achievements of mankind list.”

          *Chuckle* In 2000 several such lists were published. Eye glasses, clocks, gunpowder weapons and the printing press were in the top ten on many of them. So wrong again. You’re really bad at this.

          “Facts and evidence? You haven’t shown any! rove to me that Christianity didn’t stifle progress.”

          Logic fail, again.

          “Great, let’s hear about them, but again, I don’t see that they negate his point. “

          They do. If the Church was supposedly (somehow) retarding technical progress with its magical technology suppressing powers, we should see the least technical development in the period in which it had the most power. We see the opposite. I’m sure even a logic-free zone like yourself should be able to grasp the reasoning there.

          “I’m curious, though, were these marvelous advancements church sanctioned or did they happen in spite of the church?”

          In spite of the Church doing fucking what, for fuck’s sake? HOW were they supposedly suppressing technology? Was the Inquisition going around confiscating vertical looms, banning arteisian drilling and smashing trip hammers? What the fuck are you talking about?

        • MR

          I can’t prove a negative

          That was my point, genius. You asked Bob to prove a negative.

          What I can do is what I’ve done: (i) explained…. (ii) shown….

          Can you show that these were the only causes and that Christianity wasn’t also a factor? Then you failed. Bob’s argument is still plausible and worth considering.

          I have dealt with his arguments, as I explain above.

          Not that I see.

          absolutely no professional historians agree with him.

          They don’t agree with the strawman you’ve been presenting or…? I have no way to judge this.

          Try giving me just one example.

          Galileo. I gave you three. Throwing people in jail and burning people at the stake isn’t exactly healthy for promoting science.

          In the Middle Ages,m it actually was. So, wrong again.

          Cathedral building and? Again, short periods of achievements do not mean there wasn’t a general negative influence.

          Yes, because of the collapse of the Roman Empire….

          You haven’t shown that this is the sole cause, nor that it would last a millennium and a half.

          Unless you can give actual examples

          (v.s.)

          Eye glasses, clocks, gunpowder weapons and the printing press were in the top ten on many of them.

          Two of those were on Bob’s list. I’m referring to your list of looms and mills, though I’ll grant you the printing press.

          Logic fail, again.

          Not going for logic there, just showing you haven’t proven anything. (Equally, I’m not saying that Bob has proven anything.)

          If the Church was supposedly (somehow) retarding technical progress with its magical technology suppressing powers… [to the end]

          Strawmanning again. Is that the best you can do?

        • adam

          So what is the point?

          Christianity is STILL trying to retard modern society.
          A third of Americans STILL believe in creationism over evolution

          Many want creationism taught in school as factual.

          It is OBVIOUS that christianity attempts to retard modern society, and has been doing such since they came into their own.

        • “It is OBVIOUS that christianity attempts to retard modern society, and has been doing such since they came into their own.”

          To support the argument in the article above, you’ll need to provide examples of them retarding technology in the Middle Ages. That’s c. 500 -1500 AD. Other, later examples are irrelevant here, especially recent modern ones. See if you can come up with any relevant examples.

          Good luck.

        • adam

          And some examples have already been given.

        • Really? Where? Show me these examples.

        • “That was my point, genius. You asked Bob to prove a negative.”

          Utter gibberish. Bob the Software Guy is the one making a claim. The onus of proof is on the claimant. It’s not up to me to “prove” what he claims didn’t happen. And I have NOT asked him to prove a negative.

          “Can you show that these were the only causes and that Christianity wasn’t also a factor? “

          How the fuck would I do this. What part of “You can’t prove a negative” can’t you fucking grasp, you moron?

          “Not that I see.”

          Then counter the arguments I’ve given you five times already. Claiming you can’t “see” them is simply pathetic.

          “They don’t agree with the strawman you’ve been presenting or…?”

          Stop that feeble “ooh strawman!” bullshit as well. They don’t agree with the argument he does make and I’ve been arguing against all along: that the “stagnation” of the medieval period was substantially due to “the Church” (somehow) despite “some developments”.

          “Galileo”

          Not medieval. Try again. This time stick to the relevant period: 500 – 1500 AD. Good luck.

          “Cathedral building and?”

          Are you even reading this thread? Even Bob the Non-historian granted eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation. And I added vertical windmills, a vast expansion of water-powered mechanisation, tidal mills, mechanical trip hammers, blast furnaces, stern rudders, weight driven clocks, metal rolling mills, tredle-operated vertical looms, steel span crossbows and the printing press. To which we could also add artesian drilling, chimneys, treadmill cranes, harbour cranes, floating cranes, mast cranes, oil paints, the hourglass, the compound crank, waterpowered paper mills, the dry compass, the astronomical compass, the nocturnal, the albion and the altitudinal dial. But let me guess – you still “aren’t impressed”, but still “marvel” at Roman aqueducts.

          “You haven’t shown that this is the sole cause, nor that it would last a millennium and a half.”

          Again, I can’t prove a negative. If someone thinks there was some other cause or it shouldn’t have lasted until the late eleventh century (which isn’t “a millennium and a half”) it’s up to them to make that case.

          “Strawmanning again.”

          No, just mocking. Neither you nor that Bob guy have explained exactly HOW the Church suppressed technology. I’ve asked him to do so at least twice. I’ve asked you to at least once. But you’ve produced nothing.

        • MR

          And I have NOT asked him to prove a negative.

          Sigh….

          You can’t prove a negative….

          I’m well aware.

          Then counter the arguments I’ve given you five times already.

          I haven’t seen any real arguments because…

          Stop that feeble “ooh strawman bullshit as well.

          Then stop using strawman arguments.

          Galileo

          No, I’m good with Galileo. That seems to fall within Bob’s time period and I think it illustrates well the mentality of the church even if it is on the fringe.

          Cathedral building…. Are you even reading this thread? Even Bob the Non-historian granted….

          Er, no he didn’t. Are you saying the church actively promoted those things, or you just got lost in what we were talking about?

          Again, I can’t prove a negative.

          No, but you made a positive claim that it was the fall of the empire. Unless you can show that it was solely the fall of the empire and there were no other factors, well…, I think even you can see the flaw in your argument.

          or it shouldn’t have lasted until the late eleventh century

          You’re all over the place.

          No, just mocking.

          You walked in here mocking, what’s new? (Guilty, too)

          So, bottom line remains the same as far as I can see. Bob has a hypothesis. You find the argument weak. Many of us find it plausible. You claim he IS wrong, but haven’t really articulated where exactly he is wrong, choosing instead to knock down strawman versions of his theory. So I really haven’t learned anything on that front. You’ve made a positive claim that the reason for the lack of innovation was the fall of the empire, but haven’t provided evidence that it was the sole reason, nor any reason to believe it was the reason advancement was stagnant for 1500 years. Most of your rant has been that there were technological innovations, there really were. And we agree on that front. Maybe not on the degree or scale. You’re not interested in a key component of the argument which is, “If God existed…,” which to my mind the only really interesting part of the argument. So, unless you have something concrete that disproves Bob’s theory or is more interesting than looms…?

        • “Sigh….”

          “Sigh”? Isn’t this where you’re supposed to quote me asking Bob to prove a negative? What seems to be the problem?

          “I’m well aware.”

          Says the idiot who keeps saying “so prove to us the Church WASN’T involved”. It seems you don’t understand the concept of not being able to prove a negative at all.

          “Then stop using strawman arguments.”

          Stop claiming I am and then failing to demonstrate it.

          “No, I’m good with Galileo. That seems to fall within Bob’s time period and I think it illustrates well the mentality of the church even if it is on the fringe.”

          So if it “illustrates well the mentality of the church” in the medieval Church in the medieval period, why is the only example you’re able to give … not in the medieval period? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd? Where are the medieval examples?

          ” Are you saying the church actively promoted those things?”

          Most of them, yes. Anyone with more than a high school level grasp of this stuff knows that they did actively promote and use eyeglasses, water wheels, improved plows, crop rotation and much more besides.

          “you made a positive claim that it was the fall of the empire. Unless you can show that it was solely the fall of the empire and there were no other factor”

          Still not grasping the “can’t prove a negative” thing are you genius. That the fall of the Empire caused a massive decline across western Europe is both common knowledge and common sense. But proving that something else didn’t contribute is PROVING A NEGATIVE. Try to jackhammer this through your skull. The person who claims it was the “suppression” by the Church instead of, more than or as well as the collapse of the WRE is the one who has the onus of proof that it DID happen. How many more times does this need to be explained to you?

          “You claim he IS wrong, but haven’t really articulated where exactly he is wrong, choosing instead to knock down strawman versions of his theory.”

          Garbage. I have taken his exact words, explained to him how they are wrong and challenged him to answer several points implied by his exact argument. He’s failed to do so. He’s failed to explain exactly HOW the Church did this supposed suppressing. And he’s failed to explain why the examples of innovations that he grudgingly admits (and the dozens of others he seems unaware of) mainly happened at the end of the medieval period; in other words, when the impact of the collapse of Rome was over but the power, influence and authority of the Church was at its highest. This is the exact opposite of what we’d expect if his argument were correct. He’s failed there as well.

          “You’re not interested in a key component of the argument which is, “If God existed…,” which to my mind the only really interesting part of the argumen”

          That isn’t even IN his argument, you idiot. Are you actually trying to make the commenters on this blog look dumb? If so, you’re doing a spectacular job.

        • MR

          Yes, sigh, not worth pursuing.

          Yes, I am well aware and I’m not asking you to prove the negative, I’m pointing out the fact that you can’t, which leaves open the possibility. Something you take great pains to avoid admitting. I have no problem admitting that Bob could be wrong; that you can’t admit that he could be right exposes your own bias.

          Stop claiming I am and then failing to demonstrate it.

          I have demonstrated, but you’re not the sharpest cheddar on the cracker and it’s not worth pursuing. There’s nothing more to learn there.

          Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd?

          No, not at all. Besides, is Galileo an embarrassment that you can’t even address it? Shrug.

          [the Church] did actively promote….

          Yes, in the sense of promoting advances they deemed beneficial (and no doubt were non-threatening to church hegemony), and that is a good thing, but I’m referring to promoting “science and technology,” as in, being the impetus behind it it. The church was not in the business of technological and scientific innovation. Give them a loom, and maybe they’ll circulate the idea, but the church wasn’t a source for this stuff. Their business was religion, they weren’t the Ministry of Science and Technology.

          That the fall of the Empire caused a massive decline across western Europe is both common knowledge

          But you can’t show that the fall of the empire was the sole reason it was stagnant for 1500 years. Yes, I know you can’t prove a negative. I’m not asking you to. I’m pointing out that you simply can’t make that claim. And, frankly, it seems highly implausible to me that one event would so set back a people for a millennium and a half, especially when other cultures around were making advances. Seems perfectly likely that something was impeding the culture that probably didn’t have to do with something hundreds and a thousand years in the past. Regardless, you can’t show it so you can’t make the claim. Shrug.

          I have taken his exact words, explained to him how they are wrong and challenged him to answer several points implied by his exact argument.

          Strawman points or actual points? You haven’t earned a whole lot of credibility in this regard, so forgive my doubts; I haven’t seen any concrete examples myself. I have seen your strawmen, for example, one of ridiculing the church having a magic power, or whatever your snark was, to retard innovation, which none of us believe, and Bob responded, but like a dog to its vomit you return to your same strawman. So, yeah, when I see an actual example, I’ll consider it.

          And, no, he doesn’t have to prove exactly how. It’s not difficult to figure out how the suppression of ideas can happen, and he’s not presenting that kind of case, anyway. Is it plausible, is it possible? yes. Is it probable? The only question is to what degree. He’s provided some compelling ideas. You reject it. I leave the question open.

          the examples of innovations that he freely admits

          when the impact of the collapse of Rome was over but the power, influence and authority of the Church was at its highest. This is the exact opposite of what we’d expect if his argument were correct. He’s failed there as well.

          Er, no. Nothing in his theory suggests there can’t be spikes of innovation. As if you didn’t know that. Another strawman.

          That isn’t even IN his argument, you idiot.

          I state clearly, genius, that it is my interest. I’m not tied to Bob.

          So basically, you still haven’t demolished his argument, and I still haven’t learned anything from you.

          [I take that back. I did learn a little about the history of looms.]

        • “Yes, sigh, not worth pursuing.”

          Indeed. Your muddle-headed meanderings are a waste of time.

        • MR

          Your muddle-headed meanderings are a waste of time.

          Maybe if you had something other than strawman arguments and looms.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed. Your muddle-headed meanderings are a waste of time.

          And yet here you are, wasting that most valuable of your commodities…time.

          After all, didn’t you once say?…

          You and the other contrarian fanatics are beyond help and I just don’t need to waste my time which is, unlike yours, in fairly short supply.

        • I’d agree. With luck, Tim will correct us.

        • “With luck, Tim will correct us.”

          Gladly. Firstly, this stupid comment above is based on the assumption that no-one was harnessing technology and innovation in those dark times. Except they were. New technologies were developed, old ones were put to greater use and others were developed. These were largely in the area of agrarian technology, but when the problem you’re trying to get out of is depopulation, the collapse of long distance trade and a need for greatly increased production with less labour, that’s exactly the technology you need.

          And the Church was at the forefront of its development and its propagation. Monasteries needed to sustain themselves, often in isolated and previously uncultivated areas, so they developed many of these technologies and spread them throughout Europe.

          It was the greater production, higher yeilds and the return of long distance trade and commerce by the eleventh century that helped stabilise western Europe, hugely increased the population and gave people time to do other things. Like seek out lost Greek science texts in far off Muslim Spain and Sicily and start the first universities. Or begin trading voyages that stimulated maritime and navigation technology and began the Age of Discovery. Or make those complex astronomical clocks or those eye glasses or the printing press which all went on to revolutionise the world.

          And while this was going on the Church did NOTHING to “retard” any of it and was actually instrumental in most of it. Clear enough for you Bob?

          Do you ever get tired of getting history wrong Bob?

        • You should go into teaching! You have a winning way of expressing yourself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We could throw your advancements in with “eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation, and others,”

          Eyeglasses? Granted…monks and scribes needed them for the reading and writing of scripture.

          Water wheels? Nope…Egyptian and at least 400 BCE.

          The stirrup? Nope…India and at least 200 BCE.

          Gunpowder weapons? Nope…not a medieval Christian invention. Chinese, 13th century.

          Castles? Nope…According to historian Charles Coulson the accumulation of wealth and resources, such as food, led to the need for defensive structures. The earliest fortifications originated in the Fertile Crescent, the Indus Valley, Egypt, and China where settlements were protected by large walls. Northern Europe was slower than the East to develop defensive structures and it was not until the Bronze Age that hill forts developed and began to spread across Europe. In the medieval period castles were influenced by earlier forms of elite architecture, contributing to regional variations. Importantly, while castles had military aspects, they contained a recognisable household structure within their walls, reflecting the multi-functional use of these buildings.

          Metal armour? Nope…Partial plate armour, which protected the chest and the lower limbs, was used by the ancient Greeks (muscle cuirass) and Romans (lorica segmentata), but it fell into disuse after the collapse of the Roman Empire because of the cost and work involved in producing a piece of metal plate or cuirass.

          Improved plows? Seriously? Nope… Really, nope.

          There was little attempt to change the design of the plough until the mid 1600’s with the Dutch being among the first in improving its shape. This change in shape was soon discovered in Northern England and Scotland with Joseph Foljambe from Rotherham building and patented a plough having what was described as, the perfect implement then in use.

          http://www.ploughmen.co.uk/about-us/history-of-the-plough

          Crop rotation? Nope…Eastern farmers practised crop rotation in 6000 BC.

        • MNb

          He’s talking about

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-field_system

          His entire argument can be summed up as
          1. the Romans weren’t as awesome as you think (most of us don’t think that at all, though BobS seems to overestimate them now and then);
          2. the smart people from the Middle Ages were far more awesome than you think, examples here, here and here (almost all of them exaggerations);
          3. hence christianity is awesome and founded Modern Science.
          4. whenever there was decline christianity is not to blame (which is actually correct – it’s to blame for ongoing stagnation mainly due to an unhealthy respect for authorities from the past) but invading non-christians who turned western Europe in the equivalence of a nuclear wasteland (which is totally incorrect in many respects).

          Tim himself has referred to the intellectual heights of the 12th and 13th Century. Last two days I realized we should compare the mindset of those people with the mindset of the first modern scientists – Copernicus, Brahe, Stevin, Kepler and Galilei. The difference is revealing. For the first it was religion first, natural philosophy second. For those five guys it was science first, religion second. The historical evidence is unambiguous.

        • Tim likes to excuse Europe because of barbarian invasions. He could’ve listed plagues, too, I suppose, because Europe had some of them. But he pretends that ups and downs didn’t affect other civilizations as well.

        • MNb

          What’s really sad is that this approach overshadows what christianity did accomplish. In the first place there all the copiists who preserved ancient texts century after century after century, both in Western Europe and Constantinople. In the first place, after the conquest of Toledo, intellectual life in Western Europe began to flourish in such a fast pace that within a few decades the new founded universities had surpassed Byzantine scholarship. That never could have happened in for instance pagan Scandinavia of the 9th Century. That’s simply amazing, even if it didn’t result in any substantial scientific development (natural philosophy remained strictly Aristotelean).

        • “Tim likes to excuse Europe because of barbarian invasions. He could’ve listed plagues, too, I suppose, because Europe had some of them. “

          Tim actually referred to the whole collapse of western civilisation and the attendant decline of technology in the wake of the fall of the Western Empire. Unlike those who think technology is like a game of <i.Civilization I’m well aware that history is not monocausal. So no, actually, I don’t simply talk about the barbarian invasions. On the contrary, I argue that the invasions were a symptom of the Empire’s collapse, not its cause.

          But thanks for demonstrating, yet again, that you really have no grasp of these things.

        • Michael Neville

          I was about to say that the most important medieval European invention was the horse collar, which allowed horses to be used efficiently as draft and plow animals. But upon research I discovered that the Chinese invented the horse collar in the 3rd Century BCE.

        • Ummm, you realise you’re attacking the list that Bob originally gave in his article, don’t you? Try to keep up Ignorant.

          (Wow, you guys are dumb).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Does it matter who give the list if it is erroneous Timbo?

        • It does matter if you’re trying to respond to me, you bumbling clown. I wouldn’t have included half the things on BOB’S list and the other half would have had qualifications. But bumble on, Clown Boy.

        • Wow, you guys are dumb

          But just imagine the genius whose life is so shallow that he hangs around the dumb people here. Pathetic. You should leave, simply to preserve your reputation if for no other reason.

        • He was making a common but incorrect claim that, historically, Christianity stifled technical development. It didn’t. I’ve been studying the history of pre-modern science and technology for 35 years and I don’t know of a single historian who would agree with him. So that is what I’m objecting to, because it’s horseshit.

          Don’t read so good? Not what I said in the post and not what I said in several comments to coax you along. I’m not saying that Christianity actively stifled technology; I’m saying that it had the chance to stimulate it and failed to do so.

          What does it look like when power encourages development (either by providing conducive conditions or actively paying for it)? Look around at Western society in the 21st century.

        • “I’m saying that it had the chance to stimulate it and fa iled to do so.”

          And you’re wrong. (i) Technology did advance quite rapidly in the medieval period once they recovered from the effects of the collapse of Roman civilisation and (ii) some of that advance was directly as a result of its adoption or sponsorship by the Church. You’re flatly and completely wrong.

        • an automatic astronomical computer, clockwork automatons

          Can you say, “Antikithera mechanism”?

        • I can. Your point would be … ? Firstly, it was a technical dead end. Mechanical orrerys like it are mentioned by Cicero and attributed to Posidonius, but he calls such an instrument a “sphere of Archimedes”. Whoever first came up with them, the Romans had them for a long time and they led to … nothing. By comparison, medieval clocks go from mainframe to desktop within a century and were vastly more complex than the small orrerys of the Roman period, as nice as those were. The medieval devices were also automatic, not hand-cranked. And they led directly to a succession of calculating machines which led in turn to your computer. Whereas the Antikythera device led … nowhere.

        • Your point would be … ?

          Sure! I’ve got nothing better to do than go over stuff several times.

          The point would be that the Antikithera mechanism was built 100-200 BCE while the first mechanical clocks in Europe date to 1300. But a smart boy like you with several earned doctorates in medieval studies probably already knew that.

          Give the Greco-Roman world those 1500 years to develop it further and who knows what might’ve happened.

        • “The point would be that the Antikithera mechanism was built 100-200 BCE while the first mechanical clocks in Europe date to 1300 … Give the Greco-Roman world those 1500 years to develop it further and who knows what might’ve happened.”

          Except the Greco-Roman world had a whole c. 700 years to “develop” it and did … nothing. Then we had the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and all knowledge of it or anything like it was lost. The medievals started with nothing, got the whole idea of a geared mechanism to model the heavens, came up with a much more sophisticated version that was weight-driven and automatic and then went on to make huge and vastly more complex versions as well as small desk-top devices. And paved the way for … every single calculation device ever since. All in less than 150 years.

          So, you were saying?

          Do you ever get tired of at failing at history Bob?

        • MNb

          “Ever heard of that one?”
          Yes. Thank the Chinese civilization for it, not christianity.

          “we see more (and more advanced) technical innovation in the last two centuries of the medieval period than ….”
          How remarkable! That coincides with the decline of churchly authority. From 1309 CE on the French kings had the popes under their secular thumbs.
          You just confirmed the point: christian authority hampers scientific and technological progress.

          “And why didn’t the Eastern Empire collapse if Christianity was somehow the culprit?”
          And how much scientific and technological progress came from there again between 400 CE and 1453 CE?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Tim is a condescending prick that thinks he knows more than he really does…or is it that he thinks the rest of us all know diddly squat?…the Dunning-Kruger is rampant in him.

          Example…

          How about a “clock” that was an automatic weight driven astronomical computer that took eight and half years to cycle through all of its inter-related calculations? Ever heard of that one?

          Eight and a half years…Pah!

          Well yes, like you say, the Chinese…or the ancient Greeks?

          Generally referred to as the first known analogue computer, the quality and complexity of the mechanism’s manufacture suggests it has undiscovered predecessors made during the Hellenistic period. Its construction relied upon theories of astronomy and mathematics developed by Greek astronomers, and is estimated to have been created around the late second century BC.

          After the knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity, technological artefacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

          Ever heard of that one Tim?

        • “the Dunning-Kruger is rampant in him.”

          Oh, the irony. Especailly after the torrent of bungled pseudo history in this little exchange with the swarm of half-educated bunglers that is now gathering here. Google must be going into meltdown as you guys frantically scrabble for anything to hurl at me like a pack of enraged but not terribly bright monkeys.

          “Ever heard of that one Tim?”

          *chuckle* Ah yes, the inevitable Antikythera orrery – I’m amazed it wasn’t trotted out two dozen comments ago. It usually is when I have this boring and entirely predictable exchange with other howler monkey packs. Yes, it was a nifty little device, though (unlike medieval clocks) it was a technical dead end. And those medieval clocks were not only vastly more complex in their calculations, they were also automatic – not hand-cranked like that little thing.

          But keep trying, Howler Monkey. It’s funny to watch.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha…now you want to be hyper specific on clock mechanisms.

          Mechanical clocks are not a Christian Middle Age invention.

          Your now specifically defined verge escapement mechanism clock is…so there ya go.

          Before that, there were other mechanisms, and as soon as the pendulum and anchor escapement mechanisms were invented after the Middle Ages, clock making moved right along. Such contrivances, eh Tim.

        • “Mechanical clocks are not a Christian Middle Age invention.”

          Ones with weight-driven verge escapements are. And they are the ones that led to all other calculating and measuring machines since. The Chinese attempts led nowhere.

          “Your now specifically defined verge escapement mechanism clock is”

          Yes. The ones that led to everything else in that area, instead of the cumbersome building-sized Chinese efforts led nowhere.

          “as soon as the pendulum and anchor escapement mechanisms were invented after the Middle Ages, clock making moved right along.”

          Yes, thanks to that medieval breakthrough. As I said, the medieval invention led from there to the computer you’re using today. The earlier efforts didn’t.

          Try to understand before we all die of old age.

        • “Thank the Chinese civilization for it, not christianity.”

          Garbage. Chinese clockmaking was a dead end. European clocks arose independently thanks to the foliot escapement. No connection with China. More “alternative history” from you.

          “That coincides with the decline of churchly authority.”

          More nonsense. The revival of Greek learning and the rise of natural philosophy in western Europe happened in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when Papal authority was at its absolute height. Not that you, Bob or any of the other fanantics here have been able to explain exactly HOW “Churchly authority” has this amazing retardant effect on technology.

          “From 1309 CE on the French kings had the popes under their secular thumbs.”

          And so technical innovators suddenly said, “Hooray, the psychic oppression of the Church has lifted, let’s start inventing things!” And everyone lived happily ever after.

          “And how much scientific and technological progress came from there again between 400 CE and 1453 CE?”

          About as much as from scientifically stagnant and technologically conservative pre-Christian Rome. Seeing a pattern here yet?

        • MNb

          “And so technical innovators suddenly said ….”
          Yup. Having to obey to religious authority doesn’t stimulate independent thinking, you see.

          “About as much as from scientifically stagnant and technologically conservative pre-Christian Rome.”
          And where again did I contradict that? Above I even mentioned two specific years – when Archimedes and Euclides died. You just show that you yourself are the bigot with your premature assumptions about me.
          That’s the conclusion I argue for, Mr. silly pants who already had read so much stuff when I was still in my diapers but still isn’t capable to get rid of his beloved dichotomy. Christianity had a net influence on scientific and technological progress that was zero. Nil. Nada. Nothing. It maintained what it could, allowed imported new ideas (like the decimal system) and technologies. As a result knowledge and understanding in Europe in the 15th Century was about the same as 1500 years before.

          “Seeing a pattern here yet?”
          A pattern that began to change 1200 years after christianity became a state religion in a time churchly authority had seriously declined. To what conclusion does this evidence point?
          Not christianity founded Modern Science.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or the mechanical automatons which entertained the courts of medieval kings? Not heard of those either?

          But where did those things come from Tim? You forgot to mention where they come from and what those medieval folk at the time made of them.

          Automatons date back to ancient Greek times.

          Robots came to Europe before the dawn of the mechanical age. To a medieval world, they were indistinguishable from magic

          Preternatural machines

          In 807 the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, Harun al-Rashid, sent Charlemagne a gift the like of which had never been seen in the Christian empire: a brass water clock. It chimed the hours by dropping small metal balls into a bowl. Instead of a numbered dial, the clock displayed the time with 12 mechanical horsemen that popped out of small windows, rather like an Advent calendar. It was a thing of beauty and ingenuity, and the Frankish chronicler who recorded the gift marvelled how it had been ‘wondrously wrought by mechanical art’. But given the earliness of the date, what’s not clear is quite what he might have meant by that.

          In fact, despite the existence of working models such as Harun al-Rashid’s gift, it was another 500 years before similar contraptions started to emerge in Europe.

          But technological ages rarely have neat boundaries. Throughout the Latin Middle Ages we find references to many apparent anachronisms, many confounding examples of mechanical art. Musical fountains. Robotic servants. Mechanical beasts and artificial songbirds. Most were designed and built beyond the boundaries of Latin Christendom, in the cosmopolitan courts of Baghdad, Damascus, Constantinople and Karakorum. Such automata came to medieval Europe as gifts from foreign rulers, or were reported in texts by travellers to these faraway places.

          Instead, they talked about what they knew: the hidden powers of Nature, the fundamental sympathies between celestial bodies and earthly things, and the certainty that demons existed and intervened in human affairs. Arthur C Clarke’s dictum that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic was rarely more apposite. Yet the very blurriness of that boundary made it fertile territory for the medieval Christian mind. In time, the mechanical age might have disenchanted the world – but its eventual victory was much slower than the clock craze might suggest. And in the meantime, there were centuries of magical machines.

          In the medieval Latin world, Nature could – and often did – act predictably. But some phenomena were sufficiently weird and rare that they could not be considered of a piece with the rest of the natural world. They therefore were classified as preternatural: literally, praeter naturalis or ‘beyond nature’.

          Nevertheless, as mechanical technology spread throughout Europe, mechanical explanations of automata (and machines in general) gradually prevailed over magical alternatives. By the end of the 17th century, the realm of the preternatural had largely vanished. Technological marvels were understood to operate within the boundaries of natural laws rather than at the margins of them. Nature went from being a powerful, even capricious entity to an abstract noun denoted with a lower-case ‘n’: predictable, regular, and subject to unvarying law, like the movements of a mechanical clock.

          Why? Why is it ya think that no one has heard of these innovations? Or perhaps they have, and they are not relevant until the science behind them became useful for something other than entertainment.

          Not a good example at all Tim.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaton

        • “But where did those things come from Tim?”

          I’m well aware of where they came from. The point I was making to MR is that you never hear about them when people talk about the Medieval period. Most people are amazed that people could create such things in “the dark ages”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Most people would be amazed that people could create such things in the “dark ages”? Who are the “most people”?

          Most people don’t give a flying fuck either way, because it is not important.

          Some people would be amazed that such things could be produced even today. What’s your point?

          The things were not medieval Christian inventions, so pah!

        • “Who are the “most people”?”

          Pretty much everyone I’ve mentioned them to over the last 35 years. The ones who aren’t medievalists anyway.

          “What’s your point?”

          The common conception of the Middle Ages as a technical wasteland is bullshit. Try to keep up.

        • MR

          The common conception of the Middle Ages as a technical wasteland is bullshit. Try to keep up.

          Still trying to keep that strawman alive?

        • What “strawman”? You kept trying to claim that all we have in the Middle Ages is some cathedral building and not much else. I gave you several examples that are much more than some cathedral building and a bit more impressive than aqueducts, which you think are such “marvels”.

          Face it – you have a bigot’s dislike of a whole 1000 years of history because you can’t get past its association with Christianity. Which is about as dumb as most bigotry. This is not rational. Try being less emotional.

        • MR

          Sorry, genius, but it’s your bias that won’t let you see that no one is claiming the Middle Ages was a technical wasteland. Bob even listed some technologies that came out of the period. He is saying that it pales in comparison to other eras. Something you seem to agree to, if not the causes.

        • “no one is claiming the Middle Ages was a technical wasteland. “

          Many people do. Others grudgingly admit some technical developments, but downplay them because it doesn’t fit their agenda. Like Bob the Software Guy.

          “Bob even listed some technologies that came out of the period.”

          Yes – a few. See above.

          “He is saying that it pales in comparison to other eras.”

          Not compared to earlier eras, actually. And Bob the Software Guy can’t explain why the period BEFORE Christianity was so retarded yet the period when the Church was at its height saw greater technical development than the entire Classical Era. Because Bob is a biased bigot without the faintest clue about history.

        • MR

          Many people do.

          And yet Bob never did. Again, your bone to chew doesn’t appear to be with Bob.

          Not compared to earlier eras,

          Not the Greek and Roman eras? The period before Christianity was the Roman era. In fact, Christianity overlapped the Roman era. Give some dates here so we can be a little clearer. And you keep ignoring the period after Christian hegemony when science and technology really took off. Not to mention ignoring the obvious examples where the church did in fact stifle science, quash free-thinkers, etc.

          Regardless, there are many reasons why technologies, etc., might decline or peak over a short period of time. Bob’s questioning why it declined under a millennium and a half that happens to coincide largely with Christianity hegemony. If there were some shining moments, that doesn’t rule out a general drag on advancements because of the church. When you take that long term view, it leaves you scratching your head.

          Can you definitively say Christianity didn’t contribute to a general decline? Please provide evidence if so. You act like Bob has claimed definitively that Christianity is a sole cause, and I don’t think any of us believe that; but I just don’t see how you can escape the conclusion that it was a likely factor, or at least consider the possibility that it was.

        • “And yet Bob never did. Again, your bone to chew doesn’t appear to be with Bob.”

          And I didn’t say he did make that particular claim. Try to keep up – looking at things in context tends to help.

          “Not the Greek and Roman eras?”

          Correct. We see a great deal more such innovation in the later medieval period. Bob the Software Guy even had to come up with an excuse to explain this (because he couldn’t blame Christianity), so he blamed slavery instead.

          “Give some dates here so we can be a little clearer. “

          Prior to 312 AD.

          “Bob’s questioning why it declined under a millennium and a half that happens to coincide largely with Christianity hegemony.”

          And I gave him the answer any historians would give him if he bothered to crack open a book on the subject. It was the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

          “When you take that long term view, it leaves you scratching your head.”

          *Chuckle* Speak for yourself on that one, genius.

          “Can you definitively say Christianity didn’t contribute to a general decline? “

          This is like trying to teach a pig to sing. Do I have to explain the onus of proof to you again? Do you seriously not grasp that you can’t prove a negative?

          “You act like Bob has claimed definitively that Christianity is a sole cause,”

          No I don’t. But what Bob the Software Guy IS claiming IS still wrong.

          ” I just don’t see how you can escape the conclusion that it was a likely factor, or at least consider the possibility that it was.”

          Consider it considered and rejected. For the reasons I’ve explained to you, what, six times now? Are you truly this thick?

        • MR

          innovation in the later medieval period

          Finally after hundreds of years? Convincing.

          Prior to 312 AD.

          Ha! Your bias is showing!

          It was the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

          For 1500 years….

          Do you seriously not grasp that you can’t prove a negative?

          Precisely. And Bob isn’t providing proof. Which is why I don’t say Bob is right and you’re wrong. It’s simply a theory that counters a theory that there is an active God working in the world. Not your argument I know, but it is central to his. Is this the kind of world we expect if there is an active God? Fine, you and I one day may come to agree that Christianity wasn’t the drag Bob implies, but more importantly we’re not seeing a progress friendly God pulling the strings in the background.

          But what Bob the Software Guy IS claiming IS still wrong.

          What he’s actually claiming or the strawman you keep putting forth?

          Consider it considered and rejected.

          Oh, I know you reject it. And?

        • MNb

          “Can you definitively say Christianity didn’t contribute to a general decline? Please provide evidence if so.”
          You already did yourself with “some shining moments”. Don’t fall for the false dichotomy Tim presents. It’s not either “christianity contributed to a decline” or “christianity caused progress”. That’s what apologists and atheist cultural narcissists (oh we Europeans are so awesome and that includes christiianity) want you to believe.
          The net influence was about zero. Christianity maintained what it could, allowed imported technologies and mathematical concepts, but otherwise the level of knowledge and understanding in the 15th Century was the same as 1500 years before. Even Copernicus didn’t change that (he did nothing Aristarchos of Samos hadn’t done before). Tycho Brahe, Steven Stevin, Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei deserve to be credited.

        • MR

          Well, as you point out below, it’s not an either/or. Did Christianity have a negative effect over all? I think it’s an intriguing question. We can’t really know for sure since we can’t turn back the clock. And not that we would want to, because we’d no longer exist–but then, that’s me being selfish, again.

          I mentioned elsewhere that many of the brilliant thinkers were siphoned off by religious matters, and I wonder what their contributions would have been had not Christianity been their focus. How many brilliant thinkers never bubbled to the surface because religious belief edged them out?

          All pure speculation, of course, but an interesting thing to ponder. The Greeks made huge advances, the Romans built on that, then we have a relatively lackluster performance for 1500 years under the Christian era, and coincidentally [?] as they lose governing control we enter an era of huge advances once again? We didn’t have innovative thinkers for a millennium and a half able to build on what had been there? Something changed in human DNA? Seems to me that something was going on. But cause and effect are funny things. I don’t see how we can deny, though, that Christianity had some effect; for me the question is to what degree.

          I mentioned earlier that I saw three sides to the issue. Active quashing of science and advancements, which we do have some examples of, passive quashing where you just don’t have a fostering environment, and then of course, the question of, if God existed, why this relative lull? If his church existed and he’s in control, it’s like having Trump in the White House and a Republican congress. I mean, what’s to stop you from transforming the world?

        • MNb

          “Many people do.”
          No one here. Which you implicitly admit by refusing to name one person and provide on quote.
          Can we already call you a liar?

          “the period when the Church was at its height saw greater technical development than the entire Classical Era.”
          Almost all imported – the exception is glasses, which the medieval people didn’t understand anyway. That had to wait to the early 17th Century.

        • I have a vague memory (can’t find a source) about a Greek or Roman machine of this sort. You started a fire in the fireplace outside the temple and shortly afterwards, the massive doors opened by themselves. Must’ve been miraculous to the populace.

        • MNb

          See my answer above. There was no collapse in the western half. It was a gradual transition. Roman political authority was replaced by Germanic one, which a) took over the Roman bureaucracy and b) quickly became christian. Plus in the east the Roman Empire just continued, while scientifically stagnating and technologically not progressing any faster than the former western half. Just like BobS attributes too much to christianity you attribute too much to hose political and economic changes.

        • kraut2

          “There was no collapse in the western half. It was a gradual transition”
          That is one thing that cannot be stressed enough. Substantial parts of the imperial administration continued, and in the western provinces, parts of Spain, France, live continued for quite some time in the “Roman Fashion”.

        • MNb

          Which historians have known since JB Bury’s excellent book I linked to above, which makes Tim credentials rather funny.

        • Which historians have known since JB Bury’s excellent book I linked to above, which makes Tim credentials rather funny.

          Says the guy who doesn’t seem to have read a book on the subject published since 1889 …

        • MNb

          What seems to you and actually is a fact are far from always the same.

        • MNb

          “the slave based economy was already beginning to break down by the late second century anyway”
          Evidence?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Power technology…

          The Hierapolis sawmill was a Roman water-powered stone saw mill at Hierapolis, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Dating to the second half of the 3rd century AD, the sawmill is the earliest known machine to combine a crank with a connecting rod.

        • Pofarmer

          One of Tim’s favorites, Richard Carrier, talks about the Roman science that was lost as the empire collapsed. For example, calculating spring rates. They used large springs in some of their weapons, so needed to be able to calculate the forces they would impart. This was lost, along with the ability to make springs. Concrete. The largest concrete structures in the world were built in ancient Rome. How the fuck do you lose the ability to make concrete? But, lose it we did, until the 18th or 19th century. It’s thought that the Romans may have had a basic understanding of anesthesia, etc, etc. And those Cathedrals Tim is going on about are just adaptations of the Roman Arch. The Parthenon was much bigger. To quantify what was gained, we have to understand what was lost, and that’s pretty hard to do.

        • “One of Tim’s favorites, Richard Carrier …”

          I was wondering how long before the failed academic and serial sexual harasser would be invoked.

          This was lost, along with the ability to make springs.”

          Yes. This kind of thing tends to happen when your civilisation collapses and the massively rich central government authority that can draw on the wealth of half the known world falls apart.

          ” How the fuck do you lose the ability to make concrete? “

          When your civilisation collapses and monumental building ceases for a century or two in a society when this sort of technical skill is passed down from artisan to artisan, this happens very easily. Or do you think it was the occult influence of “Church authority” that suddenly made everyone forgetful?

          “And those Cathedrals Tim is going on about are just adaptations of the Roman Arch.”

          Yes, and your car is “just” an adaptation of a horse-drawn carriage and thus no big deal technically.

          “The Parthenon was much bigger.”

          Much bigger than … what? And I think you mean the Pantheon, given that the Parthenon is actually rather small.

        • MNb

          Building cathedrals doesn’t require any more understanding of Statics (mechanics) than temples and aquaducts. Building a car does require a lot more understanding of physics and chemistry than building horse-drawn carriage though.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye, Carrier really gets on O’Neill’s wick for sure.

        • MNb

          “those Cathedrals Tim is going on about are just adaptations of the Roman Arch.”
          Which they began to build after conquering Toledo and its vast library. Coincidence? I think not.
          So what Tim has shown is that medieval christians up to the very end were only capable of processing imported information. That’s admirable, but hardly supports what he’s arguing for.

        • Andy

          You seem to be forgetting the very many inventions that occurred in medieval Europe’s “Dark ages.”

        • Greg G.

          You seem to be forgetting the very many inventions that occurred in medieval Europe’s “Dark ages.”

          The “many inventions” during that 1000 year period don’t hold a candle to the many inventions of the last century, let alone the past three hundred years.

        • Educate us. Show us that the innovation in Christian Europe during this period compares favorably with other civilizations’ growth periods.

        • Andy

          You can’t quantify that kind of thing, smartass.

          But plenty of technological developments happened around that time. Printing press, stirrups, eyeglasses, buttons, windmills, mechanical clocks, chimneys, heavy ploughs.

          Are you educated enough on how much those eeeevil Christians did nothing to advance society, which surely played a hand in why no Christian nation has ever been successful in history?

        • Greg G.

          But plenty of technological developments happened around that time. Printing press, stirrups, eyeglasses, buttons, windmills, mechanical clocks, chimneys, heavy ploughs.

          Most of those things came about after Western Europe got a hold of the ancient Greek literature and advanced from there. A thousand years of Christianity had left them far behind the ancient Greeks.

          Science and technology really took off a couple of centuries later when people realized that God didn’t need to be accounted for!

        • Respond to the opening post. Your arguments miss the point.

        • Yes. And? Where did I say the Romans didn’t use mechanical power? I’ve pointed out several times that they did, often on a large scale. Which makes the “oh, they would have had an industrial revolution but didn’t because slaves” argument collapse.

          Keep trying though, Ignorant – it’s funny to watch.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which makes the “oh, they would have had an industrial revolution but didn’t because slaves” argument collapse.

          Well it sorta does. The Romans had the technology but had no need to fully exploit it, because, ya know, slaves. Why do you think they didn’t utilise such technology further that they did?

        • “But when we look at the previous 1500 years–y’know, the time when Christianity was largely in charge–we see the merest trickle of scientific and technological progress.”

          Oh, right: post hoc ergo propter hoc. Two problems here. Firstly, it ignores the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the centuries of invasion, disintegration and economic decline that followed in its wake. It took western Europe, which had always been a backwater in Roman times, until at least the eleventh century to recover from that and begin to get back to late Roman levels of economic activity. To wave your hands around and claim that, somehow, “it was the Church, it was the Church” isn’t even making an stupid argument, it’s not making a historical argument at all.

          Secondly, you downplay the many technical innovations that we actually do see in this period (partly stimulated by the fragmentation of authority and the decline in population) and ignore most of the remarkable innovations we see from the twelfth century onward, once medieval Europe had begun to by far surpass Roman economic output. While at the same time you exaggerate the achievements in technology of the Greco-Roman world, which were actually pretty modest by comparison.

          “there are exceptions–the two I singled out are cathedrals and the art/architecture from the Renaissance”

          Which is a bone-headed distortion of history. You also grudgingly granted eyeglasses, water wheels, the stirrup, metal armor, gunpowder weapons, castles, improved plows, crop rotation. To which I added vertical windmills, a vast expansion of water-powered mechanisation, tidal mills, mechanical trip hammers, blast furnaces, stern rudders, weight driven clocks, metal rolling mills, tredle-operated vertical looms, steel span crossbows and the printing press. And I could add about a dozen more without even trying. For a period in which somehow (how exactly? – you never say) the Church was using psychic powers to prevent people from inventing and discovering things, they sure as hell did a lot of inventing and discovering of things.

          And the only pathetic example you’re able to come up with for the fantasy idea that the Romans were somehow on the brink of an industrial revolution was Hero’s little toy?

          “But we had to wait until after the church lost power to learn about germ theory and chemistry.”

          So what was keeping the frigging Romans from discovering germ theory and chemistry? They had centuries to do so, with no Church to hold them back, so what was the problem if it was all so easy? Did this amazing occult technology-retardant power of the medieval Church also travel back through time and act retrospectively as well? This bungle-headed thesis of yours is the most incoherent gibberish I’ve read in months.

          Perhaps you should avoid historical topics altogether. You’re really, really bad at them.

        • Two problems here. Firstly, it ignores the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the centuries of invasion, disintegration and economic decline that followed in its wake.

          So there were no European wars after 1800? No ebb and flow of people fleeing bad conditions?

          Britain kicked Napoleon’s ass and nurtured the Industrial Revolution.

          It took western Europe, which had always been a backwater in Roman times, until at least the eleventh century to recover from that and begin to get back to late Roman levels of economic activity.

          I think you’re making my point for me.

          you downplay the many technical innovations that we actually do see in this period (partly stimulated by the fragmentation of authority and the decline in population) and ignore most of the remarkable innovations we see from the twelfth century onward, once medieval Europe had begun to by far surpass Roman economic output. While at the same time you exaggerate the achievements in technology of the Greco-Roman world, which were actually pretty modest by comparison.

          Compare them then. Greco-Roman roads, buildings, bridges, aqueducts, art, and so on vs. whatever Christian Europe did in a comparable amount of time.

          Which is a bone-headed distortion of history.

          But luckily we have you to straighten us out.

          Take a block of time since 1800—fifty years, a century, whatever. Find a period from 300 to 1800 where a similar amount of technological progress was made.

          For a period in which somehow (how exactly? – you never say) the Church was using psychic powers to prevent people from inventing and discovering things, they sure as hell did a lot of inventing and discovering of things.

          I’m eager to have you quantify this claim, as asked above.

          Who’s talking about psychic powers? I’m still surprised that the point is so obtuse to you, but here it is yet again: the Church had lots of power. What the hell did it do with it? It was in charge for 1500 years, and what does it have to show for it?

          God may have his own wacky ideas of the good that science and technology can do for people, but I’d say that vaccines, anesthesia, artificial fertilizer, transportation, and so on benefit society. The church sponsored/encouraged none of this.

          You’re bragging that the church’s attitude was benign neglect. It did indeed neglect opportunities to help society advance, though I’m not sure what there is to brag about.

          And the only pathetic example you’re able to come up with for the fantasy idea that the Romans were somehow on the brink of an industrial revolution was Hero’s little toy?

          What’s the more impressive germ—Hero’s steam turbine or the flying shuttle?

          Hero’s aeolipile is just an example. Ignore it if it makes you anxious. The point is that the Romans were good with technology. Where could they have gone if not burdened by the institution of slavery? And that problem was gone by 400 when Christianity was in power. Christianity hates slavery, remember?

          So what was keeping the frigging Romans from discovering germ theory and chemistry?

          1500 years? Or is this a trick question?

          This bungle-headed thesis of yours is the most incoherent gibberish I’ve read in months.
          Perhaps you should avoid historical topics altogether. You’re really, really bad at them.

          Nice conclusion. That really sharpens your thesis.

        • The stumbling and bumbling of the historical illiterate continues.

          “So there were no European wars after 1800? No ebb and flow of people fleeing bad conditions?”

          We aren’t talking about some wars or some people fleeing short term bad conditions. We are talking about the total collapse of civilisation. An entire political and economic system which had been in place for centuries on end and which had no alternative and no Plan B, fell apart completely. And this was followed by the smaller, weaker and economically rudimentary powers that survived the ruin of this civilisation then being attacked, repeatedly, and literally from all sides – for centuries. Show me anything equivalent in the period since. You won’t be able to.

          “I think you’re making my point for me.”

          How? Christianity didn’t bring about the fall of the Western Empire and if anything it provided one of the few uniting elements in the west for centuries. And it preserved all of the fragments of Greco-Roman learning we have today. So what the hell are you talking about?

          Greco-Roman roads, buildings, bridges, aqueducts, art, and so on vs. whatever Christian Europe did in a comparable amount of time.

          Within a century or two of getting back on its economic feet western Christian Europe was surpassing the Romans technically in all those areas. Roman forts were squat little affairs compared to most medieval castles. Medieval cathedrals were technically beyond anything the Romans could build.

          Find a period from 300 to 1800 where a similar amount of technological progress was made.

          More pertinently, find a period up to 312 AD where a similar amount was made. You won’t be able to. So what was keeping the Romans and Greeks held back before the Church came to any kind of power? The simplistic “it was slavery” doesn’t quite cut it I’m afraid – technology and slavery can actually work hand in hand quite nicely.

          “Church had lots of power. What the hell did it do with it? It was in charge for 1500 years”

          More comic book level history. No, it was not “in charge”. Most of the medieval period actually sees a long struggle on the part of the Church to free itself from domination by secular powers. Though the period where we see the Church with the most freedom, the most power and the most authority was the later medieval period. The very period in which we see most of the technical innovations I list above. So how does that fit with your confused pseudo theory Bob?

          “I’d say that vaccines, anesthesia, artificial fertilizer, transportation, and so on benefit society. The church sponsored/encouraged none of this.”

          So before the Church we see the Romans fail to come up with this stuff because … ? And the Church didn’t “sponsor” most of these things when they did arise because they had nothing much to do with the Church’s concerns. However in the early Middle Ages, when Church communities had to be self-sufficient (due to that chaos mentioned above), the Church did sponsor agricultural and technical innovation. It was at the forefront of what is referred to as the Medieval Agrarian Revolution, as you’d know if you had even an undergraduate level grasp of this stuff.

          “It did indeed neglect opportunities to help society advance”

          Gibberish. And wrong anyway – see above.

          Hero’s aeolipile is just an example. Ignore it if it makes you anxious.

          I’ll ignore it because it’s a dead end. The Romans simply didn’t have the metallurgy, the precision tooling or the mathematics to make steam do anything more than move little toys.

          “The point is that the Romans were good with technology. Where could they have gone if not burdened by the institution of slavery? ‘

          More simplistic nonsense. Slavery was more economical than machines in some circumstances and at some points and not in others or at other times. The Romans did use large scale industrialisation when it was useful – look up the mill complex at Barbegal for one example. As with mechanisation in the Antebellum South, slaves can feed machines if its economical to do so. And slaves don’t explain why the Romans never discovered printing. Or the stern rudder. Or artesian drilling. Or chimneys. Or a dozen other things that somehow managed to emerge in medieval Europe despite the Church (somehow – you still haven’t explained how) being around to stifle technology.

          “1500 years? Or is this a trick question?”

          Is this a trick answer? Again, the Romans had centuries to discover germ theory. They failed to. If it was somehow Christianity that kept anyone from doing so from 300 to 1800, what was keeping the Romans from doing so before 300? Try an answer that makes some kind of sense this time.

          “Nice conclusion.”

          I’m barely getting started on you. The further you go with this the more you demonstrate you are completely out of your depth on history.

        • epeeist

          The stumbling and bumbling of the historical illiterate continues.

          As does the stumbling and bumbling of those who use an idiosyncratic view of science and technology in order to argue a particular agenda.

        • “Idiosyncratic” how, exactly? I’ve barely mentioned “science” at all, though prior to the modern period it is best referred to as “proto-science” or just “natural philosophy”. Most historians still use “science” as a shorthand.

          But I fail to see anything “idiosyncratic” about what I’ve said about technology. Again, it’s standard, well-known stuff among anyone with even an undergraduate grasp of the discipline of the history of the subject.

          So what on earth are you talking about?

        • MNb

          “We are talking about the total collapse of civilisation.”
          Which didn’t happen.
          Look, those Germanic tribes that took over political power in the 5th Century consisted of a few 10 000s people at the max and that included women, old geezers and children. As they were illiterate and didn’t have a clue how to rule such vast areas they largely kept the Roman bureaucracy intact. Plus they either already were christians (mainly Aryans) or converted on short term. Clovis – ie Louis I – converted in 508 CE, just 22 years after he established his Frankish kingdom. His wife Clotilde was baptized at her birth and Clovis’ court had been christian all the time. Christianity remained just in charge.
          You’re the historically illiterate one. Read JB Bury’s book to decrease.
          Yeah – the endless war hampered progress. Unfortunately most of those wars were conducted by …. christians. And during the intervals of peace and rest the christian intellectuals weren’t capable of making any scientific progress. What progress was made was imported, mainly via the islamic world (though also Marco Polo took some innovations with him) and hence cannot be credited to christianity. What did christian intellectuals do after the conquest of Toledo, which inspired them to found universities? Develop scholastics, so that they could contemplate the divine world some more. Any scientific thinking was merely a byproduct plus never surpassed Aristoteles, who had been dead for quite a few centuries.
          It is too strong to say that “christianity retarded society”, but it did nothing to advance it either. At best it did not get in the way.

        • kraut2

          I recommend Hodgkin’s: “The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire” for really in depth knowledge…only 8 volumes :-)…never got around to reading yet.

        • Look, those Germanic tribes that took over political power in the 5th Century consisted of a few 10 000s people at the max and that included women, old geezers and children.

          Tens of thousands of warriors, but they numbered in the hundreds of thousands when you add the women, old geezers and children. Not that it matters – I’m well aware that the barbarians were a symptom of the collapse, not its cause. It’s something else I know vastly more about that you, I can assure you.

          “As they were illiterate and didn’t have a clue how to rule such vast areas they largely kept the Roman bureaucracy intact.”

          They did, in some places. Not, for example, in Britain, where things really collapsed. Ditto northern Gaul. And in Italy and north Africa things continued more or less intact but impoverished until the sixth century, when the Vandalic and Ostrogothic Wars and subsequent invasions really wrecked things. More up-to-date reading for you: James J. O’Donnell, The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History (2008).

          “You’re the historically illiterate one. Read JB Bury’s book to decrease.”

          I suspect I read Bury when you were in short pants. The idea that the Western Roman Empire didn’t collapse catastrophically, that the cities didn’t decline often to the point of almost total depopulation, that long distance trade didn’t fall apart and that technology wasn’t lost in this process of decline and disintergration is total and complete fantasy. Again, read Ward-Perkins, Christie, Goldsworthy, Heather and O’Donnell. Or any recent work on the subject.

        • MNb

          “Ditto northern Gaul.”
          Not exactly the intellectual centre of the Roman Empire during the four, five centuries before, so totally irrelevant for your argument. Same for Brittannia.

          “The idea that the Western Roman Empire didn’t collapse catastrophically”
          You confirmed that above, so shrug.
          Cities already began to depopulize long before, to be precise since Diocletianus. Again: this was a gradual transition, not a product of a catastrophical collapse.
          Plus other cities were build. Rome was depopulated, Venice was founded (by refugees from the Lombards, if I’m not mistaken).
          To demonstrate your point that barbaric invasions ruined intellectual life in the Western European Empire you need to ignore that there was little of it in the first place, you bring up irrelevant evidence (depopulated Low Lands), you deny that it was a gradual transition, you exaggerate the disasters and you ignore that the Eastern Half, where all the intellectual centra were situated (Athens, Constantinople, Damascus, Alexandria) remained safe. You may have read your stuff when I was still in my diapers (that would mean you’re over 70), you haven’t been capable of extracting the relevant facts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Roman forts were squat little affairs compared to most medieval castles.

          “Necessity is the mother of invention”… https://www.historyanswers.co.uk/inventions/archimedes-screw/

          Medieval cathedrals were technically beyond anything the Romans could build.

          Poppy-cock.

          The buildings and architecture of Ancient Rome were impressive even by modern standards.

          If you are referring to the invention of the “flying buttress”, just remember on which giants shoulders those architectural innovations stood upon.

          Combining features of ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings and other local traditions, Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, thick walls, round arches, sturdy pillars, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms, frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan; the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials.

          Romanesque architecture was the first distinctive style to spread across Europe since the Roman Empire. With the decline of Rome, Roman building methods survived to an extent in Western Europe, where successive Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian architects continued to build large stone buildings such as monastery churches and palaces. In the more northern countries Roman building styles and techniques had never been adopted except for official buildings, while in Scandinavia they were unknown. Although the round arch continued in use, the engineering skills required to vault large spaces and build large domes were lost. There was a loss of stylistic continuity, particularly apparent in the decline of the formal vocabulary of the Classical Orders. In Rome several great Constantinian basilicas continued in use as an inspiration to later builders. Some traditions of Roman architecture also survived in Byzantine architecture with the 6th-century octagonal Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna being the inspiration for the greatest building of the Dark Ages in Europe, the Emperor Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel, Aachen, Germany, built around the year AD 800.

          At a time when the remaining architectural structures of the Roman Empire were falling into decay and much of its learning and technology lost, the building of masonry domes and the carving of decorative architectural details continued unabated, though greatly evolved in style since the fall of Rome, in the enduring Byzantine Empire.

        • “”Necessity is the mother of invention”… “

          Translation: “Ooops, I can’t refute that.”

          “If you are referring to the invention of the “flying buttress”, just remember on which giants shoulders those architectural innovations stood upon.”

          So? The fact remains that any Roman architect would be technically incapable of building the spire of Lincoln Cathedral and would be astounded that anyone could do so.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The fact remains that any Roman architect would be technically incapable of building the spire of Lincoln Cathedral and would be astounded that anyone could do so.

          Lincoln Cathedral is indeed an impressive building for its age. The spire blew down in the 16th century, but we’ll not hold that against its impressiveness.

          But it’s hard to say how a Roman architect might be astounded given a 1000 years or so intermission.

          Could it be said of medieval engineer’s were astounded at the ability of the Romans to construct a dome on the scale of The Pantheon as Pofarmer mentions?

          The dome was the largest in the world for 1300 years and until today it remains the largest unsupported dome in the world!

          That to me is impressive, therefore I guess so.

        • “But it’s har d to say how a Roman architect might be astounded given a 1000 years or so intermission.”

          It’s not “hard to say” given that the Romans never came remotely close to building anything that was 103 metres tall. It would have blown a Roman architect’s mind.

          “Could it be said of medieval engineer’s were astounded at the ability of the Romans to construct a dome on the scale of The Pantheon as Pofarmer mentions?”

          We’re astounded by the Pantheon today, so probably. But the next time a western European tried to build a dome, he surpassed it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not “hard to say” given that the Romans never came remotely close to building anything that was 103 metres tall. It would have blown a Roman architect’s mind.

          A somewhat anachronistic attitude. What need did the Romans have of such construction? The Romans already knew of taller buildings, ones that we marvel at to this day. To what purpose is a Cathedrals height? But how you know what would or wouldn’t “blow the mind” of a Roman architect has me curious…any support for such fuckwittery?

          We’re astounded by the Pantheon today, so probably. But the next time a western European tried to build a dome, he surpassed it.

          Err…nope, he didn’t. The dome that surpassed it didn’t get built until the end of the middle ages and it ain’t the same kind of dome.

          The commitment to reject traditional Gothic buttresses had been made when Neri di Fioravanti’s model was chosen over a competing one by Giovanni di Lapo Ghini. That architectural choice, in 1367, was one of the first events of the Italian Renaissance, marking a break with the Medieval Gothic style and a return to the classic Mediterranean dome. Italian architects regarded Gothic flying buttresses as ugly makeshifts. Furthermore, the use of buttresses was forbidden in Florence, as the style was favored by central Italy’s traditional enemies to the north. Neri’s model depicted a massive inner dome, open at the top to admit light, like Rome’s Pantheon, but enclosed in a thinner outer shell, partly supported by the inner dome, to keep out the weather. It was to stand on an unbuttressed octagonal drum. Neri’s dome would need an internal defense against spreading (hoop stress), but none had yet been designed.

          The building of such a masonry dome posed many technical problems. Brunelleschi looked to the great dome of the Pantheon in Rome for solutions. The dome of the Pantheon is a single shell of concrete, the formula for which had long since been forgotten. Soil filled with silver coins had held the Pantheon dome aloft while its concrete set. This could not be the solution in the case of a dome this size and would put the church out of use. For the height and breadth of the dome designed by Neri, starting 52 metres (171 ft) above the floor and spanning 44 meters (144 ft), there was not enough timber in Tuscany to build the scaffolding and forms. Brunelleschi chose to follow such design and employed a double shell, made of sandstone and marble. Brunelleschi would have to build the dome out of brick, due to its light weight compared to stone and being easier to form, and with nothing under it during construction. To illustrate his proposed structural plan, he constructed a wooden and brick model with the help of Donatello and Nanni di Banco, a model which is still displayed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The model served as a guide for the craftsmen, but was intentionally incomplete, so as to ensure Brunelleschi’s control over the construction.

          Ever here of De architectura and what impact its rediscovery had?

          The rediscovery of Vitruvius’ work had a profound influence on architects of the Renaissance, prompting the rebirth of Classical architecture in subsequent centuries. Renaissance architects, such as Niccoli, Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti, found in De architectura their rationale for raising their branch of knowledge to a scientific discipline as well as emphasising the skills of the artisan. Leonardo da Vinci’s best known drawing, the Vitruvian man, is based on the concepts of proportion developed by Vitruvius.

          The English architect Inigo Jones and the Frenchman Salomon de Caus were among the first to re-evaluate and implement those disciplines that Vitruvius considered a necessary element of architecture: arts and sciences based upon number and proportion (architecture). The 16th-century architect Palladio considered Vitruvius his master and guide, and made some drawings based on Vitruvius’ work before conceiving his own architectural precepts.

          Pantheon, 43.45 m, Santa Maria del Fiore, 42.5 m…45.52 m across diagonally, since it is an octagonal dome, but a shan’t quibble.

          The Pantheon is still the largest free standing dome in the world.

        • “What need did the Romans have of such construction? “

          Then try some comparisons of the heights of Roman basilicae and gothic cathedrals on for size. And this is the same non-argument as your “they only needed squat little forts”. Big deal – the fact remains that those spires were beyond their technical capability.

          “The dome that surpassed it didn’t get built until the end of the middle ages and it ain’t the same kind of dome.”

          I’m well aware of what it was and when it was built. The fact remains that as soon as someone in Europe, with the benefits of all that medieval technical expertise (“shoulders of giants”, remember?) chose to build a dome again they knocked one up quite happily.

          All of which is rather beside the point. The fact remains that medieval architectural innovation came along in leaps and bounds, especially in the period from the twelfth century (again – after the political stabilisation and economic recovery). And not only was this not somehow strangled by the Church (via Bob the Software Guy’s unexmplained magical forces of technical retardation), but they were the sponsors and drivers of much of it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Translation: “Ooops, I can’t refute that.”

          When all one needs is a “squat little affair”, anything else is a waste of resources.

          I’m an ex-military engineer. When a fence is sufficient, there is no need to build a wall.

        • “When all one needs is a “squat little affair”, anything else is a waste of resources.”

          No argument there. The fact remains that Krak de Chevaliers is vastly more technically sophisticated than Housesteads.

        • MNb

          “Firstly, it ignores the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the centuries of invasion, disintegration and economic decline that followed in its wake.”
          Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the eastern half – and progress there was even slower, mainly because the western half had to come from that far. Worse – intellectual life during Antiquity was always concentrated in the eastern half; the western half was always backward, so in the 5th Century there wasn’t much to collapse. Interestingly enough you make the same mistake as BobS does. The western half saw a gradual transition as JB Bury already convincingly has shown at the end of the 19th Century in his History of the Later Roman Empire.

          http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/home.html

          “you downplay the many technical innovations”
          Most of them were imported. The mechanical clock for instance was already known in China in the 8th Century. It was brought to Western Europe via the islamic world and Spain.

          “the fantasy idea that the Romans were somehow on the brink of an industrial revolution”
          That’s not a fantasy idea at all.

          http://althistory.wikia.com/wiki/Roman_Industrial_Revolution

          There were a few things that prevented them.

          1) they lacked the decimal system and didn’t use the number 0 (more things Western Europe had to import);
          2) they preferred to stick to slavery;
          3) lack of competition.

          You mentioned yourself the continuous barbaric invasions. That’s a very valid point. However it works two ways. A civilization that’s capable of making scientific and technological progress uses this to increase her ability to defend herself. However from the moment christianity became state religion in the 4th Century until the very end of the Middle Ages (gunpowder was invented in the 15th Century, when the authority of the Church already had disappeared) christian civilization neither in Western Europe nor in Byzantium did exactly that, with the notable exception of Greek Fire.

          “So what was keeping the frigging Romans from discovering germ theory and chemistry?”
          The same as christians during the Middle Ages – an unhealthy respect for the authority of the Greek intellectual elite.

          You raise some valid points – indeed I don’t think christianity itself is the cause of scientific stagnation, simply because it started about two centuries before Jesus was even born. However the goofs (like “castles” – have you even realized the word comes from frigging Latin castellum?) unfortunately overshadow them.
          Scientific understanding and knowledge in the 14th Century hadn’t advanced much since Archimedes died, neither in Western Europe nor in Byzantium. So we can safely say that christianity didn’t have any positive influence.

        • kraut2

          “gunpowder was invented in the 15th Century, when the authority of the Church already had disappeared”

          Not quite. http://apworldhistory2012-2013.weebly.com/movement-of-gunpowder-from-east-to-west.html

          another example of the higher technology of the Non Christian Chinese.
          http://blog.world-mysteries.com/science/ancient-chinese-inventions-and-discoveries-that-shaped-the-world/

        • MNb

          Ah – I couldn’t find a link between the Chinese invention of gunpowder and the development of Europese guns, so to be charitable I assumed that the Europeans had invented them by theirselves. Thanks for the addition.

        • “I couldn’t find a link between the Chinese invention of gunpowder and the development of Europese guns”

          And yet this great researcher thinks he can lecture me …
          You also got the century of the introduction of gunpowder to Europe wrong (try the thirteenth century) and made a bizarre claim that “the authority of the Church had disappeared” in the fifteenth century! You are a waste of time.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Yeah, the people of the Italian Renaissance were so obedient to the popes. Which popes, btw? This one perhaps?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipope_John_XXIII

          Sure the kings of Spain, France and England immediately followed the orders coming from the Vatican, Avignon and Pisa without any further do. John Wycliffe and Jan Huss are nothing but the product of anti-christian fantasies.
          Man, are you silly.

        • Corned gunpowder, however, was a medieval European innovation. So was cannon-making. There’s a reason that by the seventeenth century the Chinese were using European-style corned powder and employing Portugese gunsmiths.

        • God, where to start with this welter of gibberish …

          “Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the eastern half – and progress there was even slower”

          Progress in the Roman world had been pretty slow to begin with. Thus all the stuff above about aqueducts, roads and … well, not much. It’s just that in the west it went backwards when the Western Roman Empire collapsed. But it was then stimulated to some extent by that collapse, which is why we see a string of innovations in western agriculture that we don’t see in the east, followed by a string of mechanical innovations.

          “The western half saw a gradual transition as JB Bury already convincingly has shown at the end of the 19th Century in his History of the Later Roman Empire.”

          Er, yup. Not exactly cutting edge research there. Try something more up to date, like Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (2005) or Neil Christie, The Fall of the Western Roman Empire: Archaeology, History and the Decline of Rome (2012).

          That’s not a fantasy idea at all.

          He says, and then links to … a fantasy alternative history site. Nice work there chief.

          There were a few things that prevented them.

          If they were prevented by these “few things” then it IS a fantasy. Unless you’re posting from some alternative universe and wearing a toga on the Moon.

          “A civilization that’s capable of making scientific and technological progress uses this to increase her ability to defend herself. However from the moment christianity became state religion in the 4th Century until the very end of the Middle Ages (gunpowder was invented in the 15th Century, when the authority of the Church already had disappeared) christian civilization neither in Western Europe nor in Byzantium did exactly that, with the notable exception of Greek Fire.”

          Which is why the technologically stagnation caused by Christianity also allowed the Eastern Empire to be overrun and collapse completely in the fifth century. Oh, wait …

          Unless you really are posting from an alternative history, you just bungled again.

          “The same as christians during the Middle Ages – an unhealthy respect for the authority of the Greek intellectual elite.”

          So, again, not some strange and still unexplained technically retardant effect of Christianity. Thanks.

          “I don’t think christianity itself is the cause of scientific stagnation, simply because it started about two centuries before Jesus was even born. “

          Ummm, yes. Give that man a prize.

          ” However the goofs (like “castles” – have you even realized the word comes from frigging Latin castellum?) unfortunately overshadow them. “

          Gosh! So therefore what the Romans called a castellum and the later castles of the high Middle Ages are therefore exactly the same in all technical and archtectural respects?! Tell me more O Etymology Man!

          Scientific understanding and knowledge in the 14th Century hadn’t advanced much since Archimedes died

          Apart from the ways it … had advanced. And laid the foundations for the Scientific Revolution – try Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (1996)

          “So we can safely say that christianity didn’t have any positive influence.”

          No, actually, you can’t. Note the word “religious” in Grant’s title to begin with. Then when you’ve finished reading Grant, read Toby Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West (2003). In fact, just go educate yourself better.

        • MNb

          “It’s just that in the west it went backwards when the Western Roman Empire collapsed. But it was then stimulated to some extent by that collapse, which is why we see a string of innovations in western agriculture that we don’t see in the east, followed by a string of mechanical innovations.”
          As this by no means contradicts what I wrote (I still you think you vastly exaggerated “backwards” – the western half simply couldn’t go backward very far) it’s play silly to begin your comment with “welter of gibberish”.

          “Er, yup. Not exactly cutting edge research there.”
          Well, then you shouldn’t use words like “collapse”, which are only useful to argue for catastrophism. Again so much for “welter of gibberish”. As you use it to demonstrate the flaws in BobS’ blogpost you implicitly admit your argument is a failure.
          After this silly beginning I didn’t care to read any further. In my experience a comment like yours won’t get any better anymore.

        • You mentioned yourself the continuous barbaric invasions. That’s a very valid point. However it works two ways.

          There can be an upside. Consider the Mongol invasion in the 1200s. They created the world’s biggest empire, before or since.

          I read a National Geographic article about someone trying to walk Marco Polo’s land route to China. With all the banditry (for starters) in Afghanistan (for starters), they figured that they would’ve been safer in the time of Marco Polo, where a permission slip from the Khan would’ve given them safe passage all the way.

          I can’t think this applies to our Europe example, but I toss improved communications/travel out there as a possible upside to invasions (or just movements of peoples).

        • “I can’t think this applies to our Europe example, but I toss improved communications/travel out there as a possible upside to invasions (or just movements of peoples).”

          The Mongol Empire was a far more sophisticated and, more importantly, cohesive and large scale polity than any of the “barbarian” successor kingdoms in western Europe. So unless you can do more than “toss in” some vague thought bubble about “improved communications” you need to do some actual analysis based on a genuine detailed understanding of the period to make a case. Otherwise this is just more ill-informed hand flapping from someone with no knowledge of the relevant history.

          And no, the fragmented, warring and largely unsophisticated kingdoms of fifth an sixth century Europe did not result in “improved communications”. Quite the opposite. Try actually knowing what you’re talking about – that tends to work better.

        • Try actually knowing what you’re talking about – that tends to work better.

          What a delight to have you back! I was wondering whose comments to not give a shit about. Problem solved.

      • Outspider

        Bob, I really enjoy your work, but I think Tim is basically right about this. The points made in the post do not support the argument made in the title.

        Did Christianity retard modern society by 1500 years? We can actually test this thesis by examining non-Christian parts of the world. Did the modern world arrive 1500 years earlier outside of Christendom? No. In fact, it mostly seems to have arrived later.

        Many non-Christian areas did develop some ideas and technologies that were not developed (or not developed until later) in Christendom, but this does not seem to have produced the “modern world” faster in those areas.

        I would very sincerely like you to answer the question you posed in your post: “If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?”

        Are you arguing that, in the absence of Christianity, the areas associated with Christendom would have entered the “modern world” 1500 years earlier? Would we have had the industrial and scientific revolutions 1500 years earlier?

        If yes, I would be eager to hear why you think that would have been the case when it does not appear to have been the case anywhere else.

        If no, then Tim is correct.

        It seems to me that there are plenty of examples of Christianity (mainly the Catholic Church) both advancing and restraining progress in various ways. But then, the Catholic Church was effectively a Government — or, at least, a de facto supranational government that controlled a great deal of Christendom — and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the Catholic Church did many of the things that governments do.

        The “modern world” certainly was not the result of divine inspiration from Christianity, but Christianity proved most compatible with the emergence of the modern world, at least in the sense that it happened in Christian societies before it happened in non-Christian societies. That does not mean Christianity is responsible for that progress, but it was ultimately compatible with it.

        I look forward to your answers.

        • “Are you arguing that, in the absence of Christianity, the areas associated with Christendom would have entered the “modern world” 1500 years earlier? Would we have had the industrial and scientific revolutions 1500 years earlier?
          If yes, I would be eager to hear why you think that would have been the case when it does not appear to have been the case anywhere else.
          If no, then Tim is correct.”

          We finally get a rationalist show up on this blog that is supposedly for rationalists.

        • I think Tim is basically right about this.

          Could be, but who would know? He’s at the “I’ll never concede anything” phase, so rational and even civil conversation is over. And oddly he’s determined to force his claim rather than simply present it. If he makes friends along the way, he apparently has failed.

          The points made in the post do not support the argument made in the title.
          Did Christianity retard modern society by 1500 years?

          The point I’m making is that Christianity retarded it, not by action (standing in the way of progress), but by inaction (missing opportunities to encourage science).

          We can actually test this thesis by examining non-Christian parts of the world. Did the modern world arrive 1500 years earlier outside of Christendom? No. In fact, it mostly seems to have arrived later.

          That’s one test. Here’s another: what could a Christianity that put social progress first have done with those 1500 years? Christianity was happy with science and technology, as long as it aggrandized the Church (cathedrals, art).

          Here’s another: imagine a map of the world with a slider at the bottom that went from 1000 BCE to the present. Imagine dials on the map showing technological progress (say 0 = stagnant and 100 = the rate of progress in the West today). Move the year slider through those 3 millennia. You’ll see Greece and then Rome have their heyday. Egypt, of course. The Muslim empire from Mohammed to 1258-ish. India. China.

          These are obvious complicated thought experiments. We can make them more so by considering technology in general (which would include cathedrals and art) vs. technology that improves the lot of society (medicine, food (variety, preservation of, yield, etc.), science of health, and so on).

          I’m talking about missed opportunities. Maybe the same would apply in other parts of the world (going back to your example) so that they, too, missed opportunities. That’s fine. I’m simply talking about Christianity, using some of Christians’ own claims (such as: Christianity hates slavery) and looking at the result when they had a chance to do something.

          I would very sincerely like you to answer the question you posed in your post: “If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?”

          Remove the obstacle of slavery, and I assume so. That is, they had the aptitude. Of course, if you replayed history, who knows if they would’ve ever applied themselves? Would they have had the applications that would have pushed them? Technology progress obviously has a lot of serendipity.

          Would we have had the industrial and scientific revolutions 1500 years earlier?
          If yes, I would be eager to hear why you think that would have been the case when it does not appear to have been the case anywhere else.

          Because the Roman Empire had the Roman Empire. The other civilizations didn’t. If you’re asking, “Can you be certain?” of course I can’t be.

          the Catholic Church was effectively a Government — or, at least, a de facto supranational government that controlled a great deal of Christendom — and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the Catholic Church did many of the things that governments do.

          We’re on the same page here. That’s my point: Christianity was largely in charge. If it were on the sidelines, wringing its metaphorical hands that it was unable to push things in a society-improving way, that’d be one thing, but I think we’re in agreement that it was indeed largely in charge.

          Christianity proved most compatible with the emergence of the modern world, at least in the sense that it happened in Christian societies before it happened in non-Christian societies.

          Modern technology flowered in the society that happened to be Christian.

        • kraut2

          “Modern technology flowered in the society that happened to be Christian.”
          To begin modern production and the development of modern machinery what totally gets forgotten here is the socio-economic/political framework where this happened in, why the whole thing started in England and why those conditions did not exist anywhere else at that particular time and why religion at that point simply did not play a major role anymore.

          What were the conditions that furthered this explosion of supply, demand, trade, innovation at a rate not seen before?

          Where did this sudden demand for human and machine power come from, when previous centuries had no need for it. Why was there suddenly a possibility to have markets for industrially produced mass products? Why was the loom that worked for centuries with human power alone suddenly not longer sufficient?
          Steam power was known before, but why suddenly transform this toy into something that drove machines and did actual work? Why England and not France, China, America or Germany in the mid seventeen hundreds?
          What differentiated other countries from England was the development of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system which allowed the rise of a bourgeoisie and members of the aristocracy that were interested in more than agriculture to further their profits. It was the possession of Colonies that promoted trade and supplied raw material in abundance. Capital was available by aristocrats and traders who had become wealthy by trade with the colonies and a banking system was in existence that furthered trade and also supplied capital.
          It was the totality of systems and conditions that slowly had developed since England took possession of colonies that permitted the rise of a class of entrepreneurs that did not exist before.

        • Michael Neville

          There was also the spur of years of warfare. The first example of assembly line manufacturing was Marc Isembard Brunel’s block making machines, introduced in 1803. Sailing ships used large numbers of wooden blocks (rope pulleys) for their rigging. A skilled blockmaker could make a double sheave block in three hours. Brunel’s system used 22 machines to make blocks, ten men could produce as many blocks as 100 blockmakers. In 1808 Brunel’s machines produced 130,000 blocks in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

        • You ask a great question, though I don’t find sufficient your “a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system which allowed the rise of a bourgeoisie and members of the aristocracy that were interested in more than agriculture to further their profits.” Did the parliament make enlightened decisions that encouraged capitalism?

          A related question: why the printing press in 1455? I’ve heard the technical answer: the technologies of paper, type casting, ink, and screw press were all sufficiently mature that they could be put together. And maybe that’s sufficient if we assume that there had long been demand for cheaper books.

        • MNb

          “Did the parliament make enlightened decisions that encouraged capitalism?”
          Relatively speaking yes, just like the Dutch Staten Generaal before.

          “if we assume that there had long been demand for cheaper books”
          Is that assumption correct? Or did it go the other way round – the demand exploded after the invention and that explosion was possible because catholic authority had diminished? That would be my guess.

        • Or did it go the other way round – the demand exploded after the invention and that explosion was possible because catholic authority had diminished? That would be my guess.

          Yes, quite plausible. That would make the invention of the printing press all the more a bold entrepreneurial experiment.

        • MNb

          Mwah – if it’s possible there’s always someone who tries.

        • Greg G.

          Woodblock printing goes back to 200 AD. Movable type came around about a thousand years ago. So there probably would have been a market for books after four centuries of that. The printing press would be a mechanical automation of the movable type.

          I could be way off, though.

        • kraut2

          https://www.marxists.org/archive/hill-christopher/english-revolution/

          ” The state power protecting an old order that was essentially feudal was violently overthrown, power passed into the hands of a new class, and so the freer development of capitalism was made possible. The Civil War was a class war, in which the despotism of Charles I was defended by the reactionary forces of the established Church and conservative landlords. Parliament beat the King because it could appeal to the support of the trading and industrial classes in town and countryside, to the yeomen and progressive gentry, and to wider masses of the population whenever they were able by free discussion to understand what the struggle was really about.”

          and we come back to the role of religion:

          “There was another factor. In 1536-40, in what is called the Reformation,the monasteries of England had been dissolved and their property confiscated. This was part of the struggle by which the national independence of England was established against the power on of the
          Catholic Church, and so enthusiastically supported by the bourgeoisie and Parliament. Nor did they do badly out of it, for a great quantity of valuable and hitherto inaccessible land confiscated from the Church was
          thrown on to the market.”

        • “I don’t find sufficient your “a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system which allowed the rise of a bourgeoisie and members of the aristocracy that were interested in more than agriculture to further their profits.””

          Yet “Roman Empire – Slavery – Christianity = Industrial Revolution” somehow is sufficient?

          “And maybe that’s sufficient if we assume that there had long been demand for cheaper books.”

          Those of us with a knowledge of the relevant historical period don’t need to “assume” this Bob. There HAD long been a demand for cheaper books. Lay literacy had been rising for centuries, the university network had spread across Europe with large populations of students needing texts and various other systems for meeting these needs had been tried (Google “the pecia system”). The time was ripe for someone to come up with a machine to mass produce books. And medieval culture was highly innovation when it came to inventing machines.

          Speaking of books Bob, have you thought of actually reading some before posting on history? How many books on medieval technology did you read before posting your “argument” in your article? Because I’m guessing the answer is “none”.

        • MNb

          “What differentiated other countries from England was the development of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system.”
          Which it partly took over from The Dutch Republic (King William was Dutch, remember?), which pulled off a proto-industrial revolution based on wind power and waterways at the end of the 16th Century. That again only became possible after catholic authority was shaken off. Thanks, Queen Elizabeth I, for defeating the Armada and distracting the armies of Alexander Farnese Duke of Parma, which just threatened to conquer the entire country.
          And why again did King Philips II send the Armada? ‘Cuz religion.

        • “Why England and not France, China, America or Germany in the mid seventeen hundreds?
          What differentiated other countries from England was the development of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system which allowed the rise of a bourgeoisie and members of the aristocracy that were interested in more than agriculture to further their profits. It was the possession of Colonies that promoted trade and supplied raw material in abundance. etc”

          You mean … it’s a complicated interplay of a mass of intricate social, economic, political and cultural factors that had to align in exactly the right way to get the relevant outcome? That history isn’t a matter of “A+B-C=D?”

          Because according to Bob “Roman Empire – Slavery – Christianity = Industrial Revolution”. And he can’t work out why anyone with any actual grasp of history finds that hilariously stupid.

        • MR

          You mean … it’s a complicated interplay of a mass of intricate social, economic, political and cultural factors that had to align in exactly the right way to get the relevant outcome?

          With the church being a major player in those factors. That’s kind of the point.

        • “With the church being a major player in those factors. That’s kind of the point.”

          Assuming your flawed conclusion is not an argument. None of the people here defending Bob’s silly thesis above has been able to tell me exactly HOW the Church stifled technology in the Middle Ages, with illustrative examples of it doing so. Nor have any of you been able to explain why, if Bob’s silly thesis is correct, we see the most innovation and technical development in the very period in which the Church had the most authority, influence and power – the later Middle Ages. This is exactly the opposite to what his idea would predict.

          All I keep getting is hand-waving, back patting and a priori conclusions. It’s almost as though his thesis is … a lot of bigoted shit.

        • MR

          I don’t need to have illustrative examples to recognize the relative lackluster performance during the Christian reign. That there are moments of advancement, doesn’t mean Christianity didn’t have a net negative affect over the long term. Bob doesn’t claim that Christianity quashed advancement in any and all instances. [And, active quashing of advancement isn’t the only argument being presented.] That’s one of your strawman arguments.

          Forget that’s it’s Christianity. If some other power had been in control and we had the same pattern of rapid advancement, then lackluster performance under this new power, followed by rapid advancement, I doubt his observation would be all that controversial. We praise the Greeks for their advancements, praise the Romans for their advancements, then under the Christian era things don’t go so well, but they’re immune from criticism. I see.

        • “I don’t need to have illustrative examples to recognize the relative lackluster performance during the Christian reign. “

          Translation: “I can’t actually support the argument that I like with argument based on evidence, so I’ll just assume its conclusion because I find it emotionally appealing.”

          Again, there was no “Christian reign”. And, again, what developments we do see after the recovery from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire accelerate as the influence of the Church gets stronger, so the thesis you’re assuming is clearly wrong. But hey, let’s not let objective, informed, rational analysis get in the way of your emotional need to bash Christianity.

          “That there are moments of advancement, doesn’t mean Christianity didn’t have a net negative affect over the long term. “

          Again, then you need to show HOW it did so – with examples – not just assume that it did because you like the idea. Try rationalism – its works better than emotionally-based fundamentalist faith.

          “Bob doesn’t claim that Christianity quashed advancement in any and all instances.”

          He just fails to give any examples of it doing so in the medieval period at all. He just assumes this, because (like you) he’s an irrational fundamentalist believers who likes this idea emotionally and so clings to it desperately.

          “If some other power had been in control …”

          Try to jackhammer this through your skull: they were never “in control”.

          “and we had the same pattern of rapid advancement, then lackluster performance under this new power, followed by rapid advancement, I doubt his observation would be all that controversial.”

          Except the Roman period wasn’t actually one of “rapid advancement”. That aside, if in this scenario we also had the total breakdown of an Empire, the collapse of its economy, the fragmentation of its former territories into warring states, centuries of invasion and disruption, a decline to a subsistence economy and centuries of a climb back from this collapse, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out why there wasn’t much high technical innovation going on (though quite a bit of agrarian development).

          Use your fucking brain.

        • MR

          Except I don’t assume that it did. I leave open the possibility. You’re the one with the strawman either/or. You seem to be promoting that Christianity had no affect, and that’s where my heartburn lies. You simply can’t make that claim, and it’s an absurd claim anyway. Sure, I understand centuries to climb back from collapse, but 1500 years? They didn’t have smart people? Bottom line, scientific and technological advancement was relatively flat under the Christian era. Christianity wasn’t a boon; did it hinder? You’re not even willing to consider it and seem to be here to actively quash the idea. Ironic.

        • “I leave open the possibility. “

          Historical analysis is about taking the various mere “possibilities”, of which there are many thousands, and seeing which ones can be argued to be most likely by reference to evidence and argument. Just waving a mere “possibility’ around and shouting “well, it’s possible” isn’t making an argument. It’s just pathetic hand-flapping. Something we seem to be seeing a lot of here.

          “You simply can’t make that claim, and it’s an absurd claim anyway.”

          I say without supporting evidence it’s a worthless claim – like all the thousands of other unsupported mere “possibilities”. Especially given all the counter-evidence such as (i) the fact there were significant innovations in the period that you have to keep downplaying and (ii) the fact that these accelerate in number and significance precisely when the Church’s authority and influence was highest – the opposite of what your weak, unsupported “possibility” would indicate.

          “Sure, I understand centuries to climb back from collapse, but 1500 years? “

          No, not 1500 years. Even in the period of greatest chaos and disintergration we see significant agrarian technologies arise and/or become widely adopted. Then by the tenth century or even earlier in some places we see greater stability, huge economic growth (thanks to that agrarian revolution) and a rise in innovation.

          “Bottom line, scientific and technological advancement was relatively flat under the Christian era.”

          So long as you completely ignore the pesky little fact that … it wasn’t. Especially in the last 500 years, after the recovery from the fall of Rome.

          “You’re not even willing to consider it and seem to be here to actively quash the idea.”

          I’ve considered this “idea”. It’s bigoted shit contradicted by a mass of evidence. And supported by no modern historians at all. Shouldn’t that last point alone give you pause?

        • MR

          Er…, you’re the bigoted shit who came in here ranting like a lunatic throwing strawmen around, so, forgive me if you don’t hold a lot of credibility.

          Bottom line, they weren’t a boon for science and technology, so shrug. Today we’re not talking about The Great Scientific and Technological Advancement Under the Christian Era. Did it hinder? To my mind, of course. Just to what degree? Did it help? To my mind, of course. Just to what degree? You noted that there are many factors involved. Christianity held influence over all those factors yet no Great Scientific and Technological Advancement Under the Christian Era. At worst they repressed advancement whether actively or passively, at best, they made some nice agrarian advances, looms, etc. Maybe they did the best anyone could do. They tried, bless their heart.

          Now if only they’d had an Omnipotent Being behind them…, oh, imagine what they could have accomplished!

          Instead we have “collapse of the economy, the fragmentation of its former territories into warring states, centuries of invasion and disruption, a decline to a subsistence economy and centuries of a climb back from this collapse.”

          But at least we have the looms.

        • “ou’re the bigoted shit who came in here ranting like a lunatic throwing strawmen around”

          My, what a profound and powerful argument. And you’re trying that “strawman” crap again? Seriously? You must be getting desperate.

          “Bottom line, they weren’t a boon for science and technology, so shrug. “

          Translation: “If I assert my a priori conclusion again forcefully enough I’ll feel better about the fact I can’t support it and have been getting my arse kicked.”

          “Instead we have “collapse of the economy, the fragmentation of its former territories into warring states, centuries of invasion and disruption, a decline to a subsistence economy and centuries of a climb back from this collapse.””

          Also known as: what the actual historians have to say on the subject.

          “But at least we have the looms.”

          I don’t know about “looms”, but between you, Ignorant and Silent Bob, we certainly have loons in abundance here. I’ll stick to what the historians say, thanks.

          I notice you skipped over my pointed note above about how no historians agree with you muddle-headed clowns. Too awkward for you? Yes, I thought so.

          Run along now – I think we’re done here.

        • MR

          My, what a profound and powerful argument.

          Just pointing out that from the beginning you’re not here for honest discussion.

          If I assert my a priori conclusion again forcefully enough I’ll feel better about the fact I can’t support it and have been getting my arse kicked.

          Except you haven’t kicked my ass, because I haven’t made any conclusion.

          Also known as: what the actual historians have to say on the subject.

          Precisely my point. Not something you’d expect if an omnipotent being were pulling the strings.

          I notice you skipped over my pointed note above about how no historians agree

          I notice you skip over a lot of the points that various people have made.

          As I said, you don’t hold a lot of credibility, so I’ll have to ask the historians. I also can read between the lines that just because a historian doesn’t support something, doesn’t mean he disavows it, either.

          At this point, I neither accept nor reject, nor do I take at face value anything a douche bag like yourself has throw about. This is all pure speculation on alternative history. I don’t need to speculate to look around and see Christians today hindering progress. This is the cautionary tale of Bob’s post. It also gives us an opportunity to consider the likelihood that a God actually exists.

          No Great Scientific and Technological Advancement Under the Christian Era, just agrarian advances and looms.

        • al kimeea

          “I don’t need to speculate to look around and see Christians today hindering progress.”

          and so it goes

          stem-cell research

          condoms

          sex education

          education

          human rights…

          the beat goes on

        • “Just pointing out that from the beginning you’re not here for honest discussion.”

          If I had seen any on offer, I would have taken it. But the first comment I responded to called me “[t]hat wanker Tim O’Neill …. that lying tosser …. an untrustworthy blogger …. wankstain O’Neill etc.” and things went downhill from there.

          “Except you haven’t kicked my ass, because I haven’t made any conclusion.”

          I hate to break it to you kiddo, but you don’t have enough knowledge to make any conclusion on this. And that’s leaving aside your crippling biases.

          “As I said, you don’t hold a lot of credibility, so I’ll have to ask the historians. “

          I’ve already told you what they will say.

          “I also can read between the lines that just because a historian doesn’t support something, doesn’t mean he disavows it, either.”

          I can assure you that historians of science and technology go over the crap you and the other howler monkeys here have been flinging all the time and consistently disavow it. Try Michael H. Shank, “Myth 2: That the Medieval Christian Church Suppressed the Growth of Science”, in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion ed. R.L Numbers (Harvard 2009) pp. 19-28. Or how about Richard Raiswell, “The Age Before Reason” in Misconceptions about the Middle Ages, ed S.J Harris and B.L. Grigsby (Routledge, 2009) pp. 124-135? Historians are constantly having to debunk this stuff because people like you simply won’t listen.

          “No Great Scientific and Technological Advancement Under the Christian Era, just agrarian advances and looms”

          And vertical windmills, a vast expansion of water-powered mechanisation, tidal mills, mechanical trip hammers, blast furnaces, stern rudders, weight driven clocks, metal rolling mills, steel span crossbows, artesian drilling, chimneys, treadmill cranes, harbour cranes, floating cranes, mast cranes, oil paints, the hourglass, the compound crank, waterpowered paper mills, the dry compass, the astronomical compass, the nocturnal, the albion, the altitudinal dial and the printing press. So, nothing much but looms really.

          Go away and try actually reading on the subject before flapping your gums. Start with the two books above.

        • MR

          the first comment I responded to called me “[t]hat wanker Tim O’Neill ….

          Seems he was spot on.

          I hate to break it to you kiddo, but you don’t have enough knowledge to make any conclusion on this.

          I hate to break it to you kiddo, none of us do, not even your precious historians.

          I’ve already told you what they will say.

          I’ve already told you your credibility is shot. I wouldn’t trust you to tell me what Mother Teresa has to say.

          I can assure you that historians of science and technology….

          Finally, we got a couple of references out of you! Wow, should have gone that route before instead of just being a shit! Assuming they’re legit (and I only say that because you hold no credibility), I’m sure they’d agree that we can’t know anything for sure without going back to change the past. Truth is, I’m on board with a lot more than you think, but you’ve been tilting at strawmen the moment you got here and keep going back to them like a dog to vomit. It makes you look like a “lying tosser and wank stain.” (shortened to omit redundancy)

          And vertical windmills, a vast expansion….

          Yes, I know, I’m minimizing to make the point. It’s still lackluster if you believe that an omnipotent God has put his weight behind it all. It doesn’t change my point.

        • you’re the bigoted shit who came in here ranting like a lunatic throwing strawmen around

          My guess is that Tim’s end game is where we all marvel at how smart he is. Why simply share information when you can make other people detest you while you’re at it?

        • MR

          Because credible, smart people are trolling assholes with strawman arguments, amirite?

        • al kimeea

          Would the world be a better place if it were filled with atheists like this antipodian? nope.

        • Run out of “historical” arguments I see.

        • MNb

          Yeah, historical arguments are totally relevant when the topic is Timmyboy’s “I give back what I get.”
          You are as stupid and dishonest as a Young Earth Creationist.

        • I give back what I get. If anyone here had showed the remotest glimmering that they may not have got things right or the faintest hint that they might want to learn and adjust their views, I’d have adopted a very different tone. But I was met with six or seven people giving me scorn and derision, as though I was the guy who didn’t know what he was talking about.

          And note the first post I responded to called me “[t]hat wanker Tim O’Neill …. that lying tosser …. an untrustworthy blogger …. wankstain O’Neill etc.” So I was supposed to be, what? Delighted and ready for a most civil and convivial discourse?

        • I give back what I get.

          It’s my fault?! Zinger! Wow—I totally didn’t see that one coming!

          If anyone here had showed the remotest glimmering that they may not have got things right or the faintest hint that they might want to learn and adjust their views, I’d have adopted a very different tone.

          I’m confident that this isn’t the case. Any question or challenge becomes a personal attack.

          So I was supposed to be, what? Delighted and ready for a most civil and convivial discourse?

          There are lots of commenters here, not just one.

          I have a passion for technology history. Wouldn’t it be great to share ideas? But you’ve poisoned the well to the point that you could be willing to share the secret of immortality with me and I wouldn’t give a shit.

        • “I’m confident that this isn’t the case. Any question or challenge becomes a personal attack.”

          Nonsense. Questions get answered. Even “challenges” delivered civilly would be met. I’ve gone into discussions like this before expecting the full howler monkey treatment and have been happily surprised to be met by genuine, if initially sceptical interest, and then open-minded engagement. Unfortunately, this rarely happens on New Atheist forums. The fundamentalist dogmatism is strong.

          “I have a passion for technology history.”

          You display no sign of applying it to the medieval period. I can see no sign you’ve ever cracked open a book on that subject in your life. And there are NO professional historians of that subject who would agree with the ragged little thesis you presented in your article above.

          Here’s a thought – if you have a passion for history, how about you actually study it. But you’ll need to take your bigot blinkers off first.

        • al kimeea

          I had no idea who you were prior to this thread, but you’ve proven that initial assessment accurate. Kudos to their insight regarding your lack of character.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Timmyboy, you didn’t even manage to get what my view exactly is (hint: it’s not the same as BobS’ and in the past I’ve even been at loggerheads with him on this very topic), despite my first answer to you beginning with “you raise some valid points.” Still you give me the very, very same tone as you give all the others …..

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bob’s thesis is titled…

          “How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years”

          The Christian establishment has retarded progress.

          The investigation of human anatomy by dissection is one such area.

          Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…..

        • “Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…..”

          Wait for the evidence that you’ve bumbled again, Ignorant? Okay, here it comes:

          Apart from a brief window in Ptolemaic Egypt in the third century BC, the Greco-Roman world had a serious religious taboo about human dissection. It was considered an impious desecration to cut up even the bodies of criminals and so what dissection was done for anatomical study was carried out on apes, pigs and dogs. Not surprisingly, the results of this study by people like Galen resulted in a some serious misconceptions about human anatomy.

          With the rise of Christianity this taboo began to recede. Far from regarding dead bodies as sacrosanct, the new religion saw them as the base material form that the eternal soul had left, not something that could not be profaned. This meant that as interest in human anatomy rose with the influx of Arabic commentaries on Greek works such as Galen’s in the twelfth century, western medieval doctors revived human dissection for the first time in 1000 years. Attendance at at least one dissection annually was mandatory at most medieval medical schools and dissection meant that medieval anatomists began to correct the errors of the Greeks thanks to their new knowledge. Far from restricting or “retarding” the progress in this regard, the Church actively sponsored several of the schools in which these studies took place.

          So what the hell is Ignorant blithering about above? It’s hard to say. Though if I had to guess, it’s probably the nineteenth century myth that in 1299 Pope Boniface VIII decreed in a papal bull called Detestande feritatis (also referred to as De sepulturis forbidding the mutilation of corpses and that this halted any anatomical dissection for hundreds of years. This nonsense was peddled by Andrew Dickson White back in 1896 and has been parroted by idiots ever since. In fact, the bull in question had nothing to do with dissection and was forbidding the families of crusaders and others who died overseas to have their bodies boiled down so their bones could be brought home for burial.

          And medieval anatomists recognised it as doing so. Mondino de Luizzi took it the most literally, noting that it meant he couldn’t boil down the bones of the ear so he could analyse them more easily. Most others, such as Guy de Chauliac, recognised what the bull was actually about and showed no hesitation about dissection at all.

          The only restriction placed by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities was not on dissection but on grave robbing, which anatomists sometimes resorted to so as to ensure a supply of corpses – something they wouldn’t be doing if they weren’t doing dissections.

          So that one is a myth. Thanks for exposing your ignorance again Ignorant. And for giving me another chance to debunk the kind of nonsense that is often burbled on this topic. Keep it up

        • kraut2

          “the Greco-Roman world had a serious religious taboo about human dissection.”
          Really?
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4582158/
          “The introduction of systemic human cadaveric dissection is a remarkable moment in the history of science. For many centuries, physicians of ancient Greece gained considerable information about human body and
          health [4]. The development of Greek medicine culminated with the establishment of the school of Greek medicine in Alexandria during the 3rd century BC [5].
          In Alexandria the practice of human cadaveric dissection was the dominant means of learning anatomy and it was here that Herophilus of Chalcedon and his younger contemporary Erasistratus of Ceos became the
          first ancient Greek physicians to perform systematic dissection of human cadavers in the first half of 3rd century ”

          “With the rise of Christianity this taboo began to recede.”

          Really?
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4582158/
          “The flickering light of human dissection was completely snuffed out with the burning of Alexandria in 389 AD [4].
          Following widespread introduction of Christianity in Europe during the Middle Ages, the development of rational thought and investigation was paralysed by the church authorities and physicians could only repeat the
          works of the eminent figures from past such as Aristotle or Galen, without questioning their scientific validity [9]. During this period, human dissection was considered to be blasphemous and so was prohibited [10].
          For hundreds of years, the European world valued the sanctity of the church more than scientific quest and it was not until early14th century that human dissection was revived as a tool for teaching anatomy in Bologna, Italy after a hiatus of over 1,700 years [11].”
          http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=younghistorians
          “Without ever directly saying so, The Roman Catholic Church was one of the leading authorities in discouraging the practice of anatomical dissection, and its power and resources against spread that notion quickly throughout Europe. The Church firmly positioned itself against those who heralded such exploration of the body ,bound by the belief that it was sacrilegious to explore what God had deliberately masked from the naked eye”

          Clearly, some are disagreeing with you. You are right however that the period of the Greek school of Anatomy completely stopped after the Alexandrian Library was destroyed..about 600 years (300BC to 389AD old reckoning) after the practice began.

        • MNb

          Please, Kraut, don’t you get it by now? Timmyboy has taken over the never failing apologist methodology of “ignore or deny all inconvenient facts and exaggerate all the facts that seem to confirm my predetermined conclusions”. Though I must admit that our Timmyboy beats quite a many apologist regarding bigotry and prejudice.

        • kraut2

          Hey, at least it is stimulating enough to see what others say about his contentions.

        • “Hey, at least it is stimulating enough to see what others say about his contentions.”

          “Others” being non-historians who are simply repeating the very myths you guys are meant to be substantiating. Safety in numbers I guess.

        • “Really?”

          Yes, really. The link you gave simply supported what I said: there was a period in the third century BC when dissection was practiced briefly in Ptolemaic Alexandria. Much of the rest of what it says is wrong. Dissection was not “considered blasphemous” and was not “prohibited” in the Middle Ages. I’ve already explained how those myths arose above. We also see a revival of dissection in the thirteenth century not the fourteenth.

          Then we get this stuff:

          Without ever directly saying so, The Roman Catholic Church was one of the leading authorities in discouraging the practice of anatomical dissection …”

          So did they communicate this discouragement telepathically? This is just a pathetic excuse for not being able to actually substantiate the myth.

          “however that the period of the Greek school of Anatomy completely stopped after the Alexandrian Library was destroy

          Nonsense – it stopped long before then. Ketherine Park notes that disssection was taboo in the ancient world and then says; “The only exeception was the brief period in the fourth to third century B.C.E., when Herophilus and Erasistratus, two Greek medical scholars working in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, made a series of studies of the human body based on dissection.” (Park, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion,Harvard, 2009, p. 45. Galen worked at the Mouseion at Alexandria in the late second century, but he was not able to do any disssection of humans, so the practice had ended before then and long before the end of the Mouseion in the middle of the following century.

          “Clearly, some are disagreeing with you. “

          That the myths get repeated by non-specialists is hardly a surprise. You can find this stuff repeated all over the internet, it doesn’t make it correct. Look at who the people who wrote those papers are – historians they are not.

        • kraut2

          Ketherine Park- Katherine Park to be correct.

          You said the anatomical dissections stopped way before the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. But after the 3rd century BCE (275 as the founding of the the first school of anatomy at the Museum of Alexandria by Herophilus we still have Galen conduction dissection in 180 CE (apparently clandestine however)

          “By the time Galen commenced his medical education in 146 C.E. the practice of human dissection had already ceased everywhere for half a century”

          http://traditionarchive.org/news/originals/Volume%201/No.%201/The%20Dissection%20of%20the.pdf

          still a time period of over 300 years – you call that a “short” time?

          Yes, there was anti-dissection sentiments, nevertheless already 600 BC Alcmaeon dissected for research.
          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01457e.htm

          In the 13th an autopsy was the first step, and not dissection for anatomical research.

          https://anatomiaitaliana.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/DissectionInRenaissanceItaly.pdf (page 6)

          It is also pointed out in this text that there was a difference between the northers theologians and the Italians. She also states that Boniface VIII bull as to the boiling of corpes apparently had some stifling effect not in Italy but in France. (page 10)

          From reading the text I get the impression that there was not uniformity in response to dissections in the realm the CC controlled.

        • al kimeea

          Also, illness is divine will. Why bother figuring out why people fall ill when we all know it’s Abe’s Folly punishing the wicked.

        • Hmmm, so I wonder what they were doing in those large medieval medical schools then. The school of Montpellier, founded in 1181, required students to study for at least four years, though in 1309 it was six. Which wasn’t much compared to the school of Salerno, founded in 1231, which required ten years.

          That’s a hell of a long time for attending lectures which consisted of “illness is divine will, so don’t bother figuring out why people fall ill”.

          Or maybe, yet again, you guys have proven you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about …

        • al kimeea

          I imagine they were being taught Galen was the epitome of medical knowledge. end of.

        • So did Christianity somehow make Galen stupid too? Or was that slavery that prevented him from overturning the theory of humours and discovering bacteria? And help me out here – we’re supposed to be amazed and admiring about ancient pre-Christian science, except when it’s adopted by the wicked medieval Christians, then we’re supposed to despise it. Or something.

          PS Medieval physicians and anatomists both corrected Galen on several points, but hey – let’s not let actual detailed knowledge of the subject get in the way of your ignorant blurts.

        • al kimeea

          if I were you, I wouldn’t play with matches. all that straw.

        • So was Galen an amazing early scientist and proof that the ancient world was wonderfully sciency and scientific and stuff? Or was he an ignorant idiot who was followed slavishly by medieval ignorant idiots who were kept unsciency by the Wicked Old Catholic Church? You can’t have it both ways.

        • al kimeea

          Galen, ignorant? Yes. Idiot. No. You may not be the former, but the latter…

        • Raging Bee

          Actually, yes, Galen was followed for too long because the Church explicitly forbade the kind of research and experimentation that would have enabled Europeans to move past his teachings sooner than they ultimately did.

        • MNb

          “so I wonder what they were doing in those large medieval medical schools then”
          Teaching Galenus, because about 1000 years before intelligent people understood and knew so much more than the people of the High Middle Ages that the latter couldn’t do any better than humbly bowing their heads in awe for so much wisdom – ie authoritarianism so typical for that time and diametrically the opposite of what science requires.
          Thanks for bringing up an example that refutes your statement that christianity founded Modern Science.

        • “Teaching Galenus, because about 1000 years before intelligent people understood and knew so much more than the people of the High Middle Ages … “

          So was Galen unintelligent then? I thought the Greco-Roman scientists were all wonderful? Did the Church somehow make him stupid or was it slavery? Or if he wasn’t unintelligent, what was wrong with medieval scholars studying him? After all – he was good enough for the wonderfully intelligent Romans. See the tangles you guys get yourselves into?

          “people of the High Middle Ages that the latter couldn’t do any better than humbly bowing their heads in awe for so much wisdom – ie authoritarianism so typical for that time and diametrically the opposite of what science requires.”

          You mean apart from when they noticed Galen had got things wrong and corrected him? By working from experiment and observation. Like when they noted mistakes he made by doing the human dissections he didn’t do because of the religious taboos of his time. The ones that weren’t banned by the Church. Anything else you’d like to get wrong?

          Seriously – just give up.

        • MNb

          “So was Galen unintelligent then? I thought the Greco-Roman scientists were all wonderful?”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!

          https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/169/Strawman_Fallacy

          “See the tangles you guys get yourselves into?”
          No – I only see the tangles you yourself want me get into. See the link above. It’s not my fault if you thought those Greco-Roman scientists were all wonderful. I never thought so. I always thought some of them (and Galenus was not one of them) wonderful and then only in the context of their time and place.

          “Seriously – just give up.”
          The idea that Galenus’ Four Humours theory was correct and fruitful, like your medieval heroes thought? I’ve given up than one a long time ago – about when you were reading JB Bury.
          Or perhaps you are the one who should give up the idea that christianity founded Modern Science by banning Abelard and not questioning the Four Humours Theory. Also it might be a good idea giving up your beloved strawmen. Hint: it makes you a laughable sitting duck when you put words in my mouth I never used.
          The short word is “stupid”. That’s what it makes you.

        • MNb

          “Remove the obstacle of slavery, and I assume so.”
          Also they should have learned about the number 0 and adopted the decimal system first. Of course neither of them speaks for christianity.

        • “Also they should have learned about the number 0 and adopted the decimal system first. Of course neither of them speaks for christianity.”

          Er, yup. Would that be the number zero and the decimal system introduced to Europe by Gerbert of Aurillac in the late tenth century? That’s Gerbert of Aurillac who went on to become Pope Sylvester II?

          Seriously, you guys are so profoundly ignorant it’s hilarious.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          And did Gerbert invent it all by himself?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu%27l-Hasan_al-Uqlidisi

          who got it from

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_mathematics

          I may be hilariously ignorant, you are hilariously dishonestly leaving out all inconvenient historical data – which confirm “neither of them speaks for Christianity” – ie being capable of any significant mathematical innovation.
          Oh wait – you of course still think I’m the acolyte of BobS, just because you need to strawman me with “you think christianity is antiscientific”.
          Sorry to disappoint you, Timmyboy, I don’t think that. Pope Sylvester was one of the popes who advocated scientific progress. Others opposed it. I never wrote anything else. That’s just your bigoted imagination refusing to cool down.

        • I can vouch for you indeed being an independent thinker who has no hesitation disagreeing with anyone, and that includes me on many occasions.

        • MNb

          That’s a concept too difficult for our Timmyboy.

        • “BWAHAHAHAHA!
          And did Gerbert invent it all by himself?”

          How is that relevant to the point? Here we have you ignorant blowhards claiming the Church suppressed science and technology and you correctly note how useful the decimal system and zero would have been to the Romans. But who did introduce it to Europe? A medieval pope!

          “Pope Sylvester was one of the popes who advocated scientific progress.”

          Gee, you think?

          “Others opposed it. “

          Really? Okay – examples of medieval popes doiung so please.

          This is just too easy …

        • MNb

          “How is that relevant to the point? Here we have you ignorant blowhards claiming the Church suppressed science and technology.”
          You’re a liar. I don’t claim that at all and made that explicitly clear in my previous comment.

          “This is just too easy …”
          Yeah, lying is easy.
          Like falsely implying that I only wrote about medieval popes.
          But anyway, besides the works of Copernicus and Galilei being on the Index for way too long and Giordano Bruno being burned (though not for science – for independent theological thinking), there is also this:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condemnations_of_1210%E2%80%931277

          It can be expected that a liar like you will find a way to twist this as well.
          Or you will neglect this.
          Anything but admitting that you are strawmanning me.
          Liar.

        • MR

          Holy shit, he’s done nothing but whine about being called out for strawmanning…, and here he is once again strawmanning. It boggles the mind.

          Oh, so, Bruno wasn’t burned at the stake for science. I was mistaken on that. Thanks for the correction, MNb. I need to read up on Bruno.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, so, Bruno wasn’t burned at the stake for science. I was mistaken on
          that. Thanks for the correction, MNb. I need to read up on Bruno.

          This is something people disagree about. Lol. The interesting thing was is that Bruno was right about his Other stars and Other worlds. If actual scientists had been allowed to freely investigate this earlier? Who knows. And pointing out that the Church was supressing people like Copernicus and Galileo, but that was after the middle ages. Uhm, so you don’t think they were doing the same thing with people who weren’t so famous earlier, when they had near total control of the information because the controlled the copying and dissemination of it? Really?

        • ” If actual scientists had been allowed to freely investigate this earlier? Who knows.

          How exactly would any earlier “actual scientists” have done so? By launching starships? And who said they weren’t “allowed” to anyway? Bruno got the whole idea from the man he calls “the divine Cusanus”. Who’s that? It’s Nicolas of Cusa, Cardinal of the Catholic Church and Papal Nuncio – basically the second in command of the whole organisation. So who wasn’t “allowed” to speculate about inhabited stars and worlds? Catholic theologian William Vorilong then took the idea further and speculated about whether any aliens on these other worlds would have been redeemed by Christ or whether they got their own Christs. And no-one batted an eye-lid. So what the hell are you talking about?

          “so you don’t think they were doing the same thing with people who weren’t so famous earlier, when they had near total control of the information because the controlled the copying and dissemination of it? Really?”

          Given that they weren’t shy about detailing who they persecuted and we have vast documentation about thousands of cases where they did so, no. Unless you can explain why we would have masses of such evidence for people being persecuted over purely theological matters but none at all about people being persecuted over anything to do with science. See if you can, without resorting to silly conspiracy theories.

        • Pofarmer

          Tim. Have you ever lived around Fundie Catholics?

        • Lived around them? Thankfully no. I’ve come across many online though. Your point?

        • Pofarmer

          The point is that the Church doesn’t have to persecute very many to get the point across what is and isn’t acceptable. In fact, you could say that the whole point of things like burning heretics is to get your point across in a way that requires the least amount of physical intervention necessary. There are plenty of ways that the Catholic church controls thought, by it’s actions, by it’s preaching, by it’s decrees. Fundie Catholics today think that the Church controls their life and death and afterlife, and that that afterlife depends on their obedience to the Church in this life. I have no reason to think that Catholics 500 years or 1000 years ago would have been any different.

        • “The point is that the Church doesn’t have to persecute very many to get the point across what is and isn’t acceptable. “

          You still have to explain why we have no record of anyone being persecuted for anything to do with science and the natural world. And no pronouncements about how its naughty to do so. Or how were they maintaining this persecuting fear – by telepathy perhaps.

          And please don’t tell me that all the records that cover all this just happen to be lost. Honestly, do you people even read the hog shit you write? Are you actively trying to look ridiculous? You do realise there are already quite a few people following this exchange and mocking you don’t you?

          Seriously, for your own sakes, give it up.

        • Pofarmer

          No TIm. I see how the Church, and religion in General control people TODAY. They largely don’t have to persecute anybody. It’s enough to know that you can be persecuted, you can be cast out. The Church would excommunicate those who disagreed or pushed boundaries. Might not sound like much today, but you were cut off from friends and family, and, more importantly than that, you were cut off from salvation, your eternal life was forfeit. May not sound like a lot to you, but that’s all it typically takes, or took. I see it, right now, today, in the USA. I don’t have to imagine it. If the Church has a view, or a policy or a Dogma, scientific or otherwise, it wouldn’t have been particularly hard to a) persuade someone to look elsewhere or b) not look at all.

        • “The Church would excommunicate those who disagreed or pushed boundaries. Might not sound like much today, but you were cut off from friends and family, and, more importantly than that, you were cut off from salvation, your eternal life was forfeit.”

          Gosh, what a stirring and dramatic picture. These poor people, itching to present remarkable new ideas about science or invent amazing new technology, but cowed by the terrible threat of excommunication Or worse!

          Except … one thing doesn’t quite make sense. If these people were in such fear, they must have known what it was they were in fear about. There must have been clear pronouncements by the Church about what was or wasn’t allowed to be examined or discussed and where the parameters were. The medieval Church was, after all, renowned for delineating these things, often to the finest degree.

          So where, in your dramatic story, are these parameters defined? What bulls or decretals or council canons lay out the borders of inquiry and warn of transgression in such a way that these poor people in your story have such a right to be so afraid.

          I’m sure you can tell me. Unless, of course, your dramatic story is just … fiction.

          Over to you.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, Tim. Are you just going to keep continually moving the goalposts?

          Look at the midevil beliefs that Comets and meteors originated between the Earth and the Moon and were harbingers of drought and calamities or told tales of births of kings, or whatever. It wasn’t until Tycho Brahe that this started to be challenged. Did the Church need decrees or Papal bulls to support this kind of view? Of course not. If you would quit being such an ass you might actually be interesting.

        • “Are you just going to keep continually moving the goalposts?”

          No. Though others here are shifting them backwards and forwards at astonishing speed.

          “Look at the midevil beliefs that Comets and meteors originated between the Earth and the Moon and were harbingers of drought and calamities or told tales of births of kings, or whatever.”

          You mean the ancient Greek beliefs that people in the Middle Ages accepted because they seemed to make sense?

          It wasn’t until Tycho Brahe that this started to be challenged.

          It wasn’t until Brahe that anyone had made observations precise enough to be able to challenge it.

          “Did the Church need decrees or Papal bulls to support this kind of view? “

          They didn’t need to – no-one had observed anything to make them think Aristotle et. al. was wrong on this point. And after Brahe did so, did the Church ban his books and declare that anyone who believed this new idea was a heretic? When the Jesuit Orazio Grassi, teacher of Mathematics at the Collegio Romano, published a book defending Brahe’s ideas and rejecting the Ptolemaic teaching on comets, was he immediately seized by the Inquisition and burned? Roughed up? Spoken to harshly?

          ” If you would quit being such an ass”

          How about you try to make some sense. So far you’ve told a fairy tale about how everyone somehow knew what the Church thought was off limits for science and (apparently) technology, so no-one stepped out of line for 1000 years. But when asked how they knew these things, since I gather telepathy is unlikely, you can’t tell me and so you resort to implying (I think) that they just kind of … well, knew. Or something.

          Sorry, if I’m underwhelmed by this silly story.

        • Pofarmer

          And again with the Strawman. You’re an ass.

        • “And again with the Strawman.”

          This seems to be a reflex action around here whenever any of you get into a pickle. Can you explain where this “strawman” is in what I said above?

          “You’re an ass.”

          Perhaps that explains all the straw. But I really can’t see how I’ve misrepresented you. You said there are no examples of people being suppressed by the Church over science and technology because everyone knew very well what they could or couldn’t say. I’ve asked you how they knew this. You’ve singularly failed to answer. You should be able to point to all kinds of decretals and bulls and canons and edicts if it was all so clear – after all, they made those for pretty much anything you can think of.

          Or maybe just a broad statement about the way in which the physical world can and should be interpreted. I can quote one of those for you if you like, though I doubt you’re going to be very happy with what it says.

          But before I bring that down on your head, I’ll give you one last chance to give a viable alternative to everyone “knowing” these parameters via magical telepathy. Over to you:

        • MR

          As MNb pointed out, he exaggerates what confirms his predetermined conclusion and ignores or denies the inconvenient facts that go against. He keeps attacking some strawman argument, and sidesteps everything else. I don’t see that he’s any different than our usual apologist. I’m really rather doubtful about his claim of being an atheist.

        • “he exaggerates what confirms his predetermined conclusion and ignores or denies the inconvenient facts that go against. “

          I’ve exaggerated nothing and no-one has actually presented any genuine “facts that go against”, so this is more of your fantasy.

          “He keeps attacking some strawman argument”

          As is that.

          “and sidesteps everything else. “

          “Sidesteps”?!! I’ve lost count of how many comments I’ve taken the time to respond to, often in great detail, but I’m sure it’s well over 100 by now. What the hell have I “sidestepped”? You’re truly delusional.

          “I’m really rather doubtful about his claim of being an atheist.”

          Yes, I was wondering how long before someone got so low on ammunition they had to resort to this weak smear. I’ve had an online presence as an atheist since 1992, I’m a former state president of the Australian Skeptics and have been a paid up member of the Australian Atheist Foundation for years. So unless you think all that has been an elaborate 25 year ruse, please spare us that bullshit.

        • MR

          I’ve exaggerated nothing and no-one has actually presented any genuine “facts that go against”, so this is more of your fantasy.

          Disagree. I think MNb was spot on. That no one has presented any facts that go against your strawman isn’t surprising. Can you even give an accurate account of what MNB, I, or Bob actually believe?

          Yes, sidesteps, because I have yet to see you honestly address most comments. The truly interesting comments go unaddressed.

          I questioned it because you’re so adept at the strawman. We deal with that constantly here. Such dishonesty usually comes on the theist side.

        • “Can you even give an accurate account of what MNB, I, or Bob actually believe?”

          Let me guess, whatever I say now will be declared a “strawman”.

          Bob seems to believe that the Church had some kind of retardant effect on medieval technology and that while there were a few technical developments these were “despite” the Church. No professional historian on the planet agrees.

        • No, that’s not what I’ve been saying.

        • This coy dancing around is getting tedious. Your exact words:

          “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation. Yes, there was some during the medieval period …. but that was in spite of Christianity, not because of it.”

          Please tell me how that differs from what I just said above.

        • MR

          Your summary certainly looks distorted to me. Such a simplistic interpretation is missing key points and details, and is open to ambiguity and misinterpretation. Unsurprisingly. But, Bob should really be the judge on whether you’ve represented his argument poorly or not. I believe he’s already expressed as much, but….

        • Then since Bob has suddenly gone very shy, perhaps you can explain how this:

          “Bob seems to believe that the Church had some kind of retardant effect on medieval technology and that while there were a few technical developments these were “despite” the Church.”

          Differs from this:

          “Christian Europe didn’t nurture innovation. Yes, there was some during the medieval period …. but that was in spite of Christianity, not because of it.”

          Because I and pretty much any other speaker of English can see they are saying exactly the same thing. Bob has since said that he feels this effect was by “omission [rather than] commission”, but that doesn’t affect my summary above. He’s also since declared:

          “The Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution is the good part. The medieval period was much less productive. If we say that Christianity is responsible (to some extent, as many Christian apologists do) for the latter, it must be saddled for the stasis of the former.”

          Which also conforms to my summary above.

          So I can see why you’re dancing away from explaining how my summary is “distorted”. Because you know you can’t.

          Try this – give us your summary and let’s see if it differs materially from mine. This should be fun …

        • Then since Bob has suddenly gone very shy, perhaps you can explain how this:

          I’ve explained exactly this in comments to you before. I have no interest in going back to the beginning to read more vomit-covered arguments from you. Thanks anyway.

        • “I have no interest in going back to the beginning to read more vomit-covered arguments from you.”

          There’s no need to go to any effort (or to delve into any “vomit” or whatever). All you have to do is give a succinct summary of your position and show how it differs from the one I gave above. That should take a few moments.

          And if you’ve done so before in the 70+ comments I’ve been wading through for the last few days then I must have missed it. So please give it again. It’s a key issue, apparently. And for you to fail to do so now would look … we’ll let’s just say it won’t look good. For you.

          Over to you. A couple of sentences should do it.

        • Hard concept? I have no interest in engaging with you, let alone restarting the entire conversation.

          And for you to fail to do so now would look … we’ll let’s just say it won’t look good. For you.

          So no more pleasant give and take? Shucks.

        • You’ve failed again Bob. Reasonable and objective people would begin to suspect that you’re dodging because you know you can’t present a summary of your argument which is materially different to mine. So you’re bluffing. Like that “MR” person.

          Of course, if this is wrong, all you have to do is give your summary and show how it substantially differs to mine. But if you don’t …
          Well, I think we all know the only rational conclusion we can draw if you don’t. Checkmate Bob.

        • You’re a pompous, arrogant asshole. You hilariously whined about Amos’s characterizations of you and then strove mightily to live down to it.

          Thanks for the opportunity to chat further, but I decline. I have no interest in what you have to say.

        • Final feeble and stumbling dodge noted. Thanks Bob – that will make for a very amusing end to the blog post I’m writing about your post above and this whole surreal exchange. Sadly, yet again, you and your minions have shown that New Atheists wouldn’t know history if it bit them on their collective arses. Stick to baiting weak little fundies Bob – you’re out of your league on history.

        • MR

          Yeah, I’m seeing apples and oranges here. Your summary is open to ambiguity and misinterpretation as I said. Why should I play your dishonest game?

        • “I’m seeing apples and oranges here.”

          How? Details please.

          “Your summary is open to ambiguity and misinterpretation”

          How? Details please.

          “Why should I play your dishonest game?”

          The “game” I’m playing is called “calling your bluff”. And both you and Bob are now wriggling like trapped eels.

        • MR

          What bluff, I wanted to see if you would legitimately summarize Bob’s argument and you didn’t.

        • … and you didn’t.”

          I “didn’t”? Okay – and here’s the bit where you explain how I “didn’t”, what a legitimate summary of Bob’s argument would and how it differs from mine.

          Odd that you neglected that part. I wonder why …

        • MR

          My request was to see if you would set aside the assholery and present an honest summary. It was simply a test. You couldn’t do it as I suspected. That’s all I needed to know. When I say couldn’t, I don’t mean that you weren’t capable, because I know you are. You chose not to, couldn’t bring yourself to do it. Which means you’re just going to continue your assholery. If you were really interested, you’d have been honest about it.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m done with him.

        • This guy is a piece of work. I’ll be glad when he gets tired of educating us and moves on.

          In his latest response, he told me that I’ll get mine in the upcoming blog post he’s going to write. Yipes–I’m in trouble now.

        • I’ll post a link. And it will be broadcast far and wide.

          For the last time Bob – stay away from subjects you know nothing about. It’s very simple. You simply don’t have the detailed knowledge to opine on this subject, and your ignorance is compounded by your irrational biases. The result is always going to be a disaster.

          Bumble onto historical subjects and mangle them again and you can expect the same treatment in the future. Stick to shooting fundie fish in a barrel. You’re okay at that.

        • Myna

          The guy’s a Donald Trump, but with an intellectual proclivity. It’s damn near impossible to debate with a personality like that. It’s all about oneupmanship and the big get-even.

          To be honest, I felt that Outspider offered some valid critique, but at the same time I can see your points, as also with other member comments. That’s what debate is all about. Constructive opposition, not destructive. Maybe there is some common ground and maybe there isn’t, but this one had potential…helas.

        • I’ve seen Christians take a similar self-destructive approach. I guess their ego becomes the focus, and making new converts/friends becomes secondary.

          Outspider was civil and easy to talk to. I think the problem from his standpoint is that he’s not the target audience. I’m speaking to a Christian who says that Christianity gets the credit for modern science and technology. Outspider will say that that’s not where he’s coming from. Yes, that’s right, and I think that’s the problem.

          And I think he like TimO misunderstood Christianity actively standing in the way rather than Christianity passively missing opportunities.

        • MNb

          And I think you give Timmyboy too much credit with “TimO misunderstood …”. To drive his point home (christianity founded Modern Science) he needs to frame the debate as a (false) dichotomy: either you defend the Conflict Thesis (actively standing in the way) or you admit Timmyboy is right. He has consistently been doing that and doesn’t mind mind lying about other people’s views either to keep that dichotomy standing up.

        • I think you give Timmyboy too much credit

          That’s me. I’m just too nice a guy.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ll pray for you.

        • And a third “strawman screamer” bites the dust. This isn’t exactly your finest hour, is it chaps?

        • “You couldn’t do it as I suspected. “

          Except you are afflicted by the same weird paralysis that has seized both Bob and that Pofarmer person. Despite repeated requests, challenges and, eventually, taunts, you can’t explain how what I’ve said is “strawmanning”. Why?

          Because that’s a bullshit smokescreen, that’s why. You’ve been caught out bluffing and if try to talk your way out of the bluff you’ll just be exposed as the blowhard you are. You’re fooling no-one, and you know it. Go hang your head in shame.

        • MR

          Er, no, you’re just a dishonest asshole who seems to take pride in being one. It’s no skin off my nose.

        • Myna

          No professional historian on the planet agrees

          And no professional historian worth his or her grain would act with the unprofessionalism you repeatedly demonstrate.

        • Believe me, on subjects like this, many would dearly love to roll their sleeves up and wade in as I do. And I love the way people who are no holds barred when it comes to smacking around dumb Christians suddenly get all prim when its them on the receiving end of the educational drubbing.

        • Myna

          Far too many Christians come on these Patheos blogs ill-equipped for their argument and open themselves up for mockery by virtue of their attitude. And we have professionals here that do not act as you have done. Compare yourself with Outspider, whether or not a “professional” has acted as such on a potentially very interesting discussion. You lose badly on the professionalism front.

        • “Compare yourself with Outspider, whether or not a “professional” has acted as such on a potentially very interesting discussion.”

          Outspider can post their way and I’ll post mine. As I noted before, my initial posts were challenging but civil. Then people began trying to talk down to me despite not having the faintest clue what they were talking about. Scorn was eventually met with scorn and now they are licking their wounds and consoling each other about what a horrid person I am. That’s usually the sign they are beaten and they know it.

          So please spare me the pompous sermon about tone. I walked into place where someone was already calling me “[t]hat wanker Tim O’Neill …. that lying tosser …. an untrustworthy blogger …. that wankstain O’Neill etc.”. And you expect me to be, what … happy and friendly? Seriously, spare me the sanctimonious lecture.

        • Myna

          The way you exaggerate.

          Oh well. It is what it is.

        • MNb

          No professional historian on the planet would lie about the views of his/her opponents like you do either.

          Like this.

          “the Church had some kind of retardant effect on medieval technology”
          which is not the same as

          “How Christianity Retarded Modern Society By 1500 Years”,
          the actual title.”
          Has the notion that I don’t think that title very good (let alone your strawman version) already penetrated your thick skull? By now I would be surprised. So frankly I don’t care anymore what your guesses are.

        • Most of that is so incoherent I have no idea what you’re talking about. ” falsely implying that I only wrote about medieval popes”? What?

          But since you made the effort to at least try to insert some history in to your inane nonsense:

          “But anyway, besides the works of Copernicus and Galilei being on the Index for way too long”

          Both post-medieval. And in the Galileo case the Church had the consensus of science firmly on its side. That consensus didn’t change until about 90 years later. So I’m afraid that isn’t actually a case of the Church being anti-science – they were objecting to a mere “mathematicus” using a fringe theory that most astronomers thought was nonsense to interpret the Bible.

          “and Giordano Bruno being burned (though not for science – for independent theological thinking)”

          So also post-medieval and completely irrelevant anyway. You really aren’t doing very well here.

          And then, right on cue, we get:

          “there is also this:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…”

          So somehow we have drifted from the Church apparently retarding technology to … the Bishop of Paris trying (and failing) to put some theological restrictions on the Arts Faculty of one university over some purely metaphysical concepts that had nothing at all to do with science/natural philosophy, let alone anything to do with technology.

          You fail so badly so often that I’m actually starting to feel sorry for you.

          Seriously, for your own sake, just stop.

        • jose gonzalez

          “imagine a map of the world with a slider at the bottom that went from 1000 BCE to the present. Imagine dials on the map showing technological progress (say 0 = stagnant and 100 = the rate of progress in the West today).”
          You do know that the real world doesn’t work like civilization games, don’t you?

        • If you can improve on the thought experiment, go for it.

        • “Could be, but who would know?”

          *Chuckle* Yes, who could know? If only we had some experts on this subject: people who studied history for a living and worked in a professional peer reviewed environment to thrash out what most likely did and didn’t happen. We could call them “historians”.

          Have you actually read any historians on this subject Bob? Would it surprise you that there is over a century of scholarship on this very topic? I’m sitting here looking at shelves of books I’ve collected and read over the years on this subject. And guess who the historians agree with Bob? (Hint: It ain’t you).

          “The point I’m making is that Christianity retarded it, not by action (standing in the way of progress), but by inaction (missing opportunities to encourage science).”

          The problem is that you don’t actually make this point at all – you just assume it and then assert it. That isn’t making an argument. Which “opportunities” did they “miss”? Where are your examples of this? You give none at all. And what about the evidence that the Church actually DID encourage technology (whcih is something quite separate to “science” , though it encouraged that too)? You don’t seem to even know about that, so obviously you don’t address that either.

          So all you do is boldly assume your conclusion and then simply … assert it. There’s no actual argument in there at all. Then you get petulant when someone who actually has a detailed grasp of both the period and the relevant subjects comes along and spoils your little game.

          “That’s one test. Here’s another: what could a Christianity that put social progress first have done with those 1500 years? Christianity was happy with science and technology, as long as it aggrandized the Church (cathedrals, art).”

          What exactly does that “test”? Define “put social progress first”. Better still, define “social progress”. But make sure it’s a definition which would make sense in, say, the context of the sixth century or all your doing is applying a version of the Whig fallacy. This “test” of yours seems as confused as your thesis.

          “Imagine dials on the map showing technological progress (say 0 = stagnant and 100 = the rate of progress in the West today). Move the year slider through those 3 millennia. You’ll see Greece and then Rome have their heyday. Egypt, of course. The Muslim empire from Mohammed to 1258-ish. India. China.

          These are obvious complicated thought experiments. “

          They are? The first one was confused. The second one isn’t even coherent. And how exactly do we quantify “technological progress” on this amazing chart of yours?

          “I’m talking about missed opportunities.”

          Except you never actually bother to get down into the details and tell us what these were. You just wave your hands around, assert there were some and then triumphantly assume your conclusion. This isn’t historical analysis, it’s prejudiced gibberish.

          “Remove the obstacle of slavery, and I assume so. “

          Just like that? Amazing! Why would removing slavery instantly bring about an industrial revolution? China didn’t have an economy based on large scale slavery and it had a similar tradition of some mechanical innovation like the Romans. But no Industrial Revolution there. Could it be that things aren’t quite so simple Bob?

          “That’s my point: Christianity was largely in charge.”

          Part of your problem is that your “argument” (such as it is) is based on nonsense like this. Again, at no point in the Middle Ages was the Church even remotely “in charge”. For most of the period it was completely subordinate to secular authorities. For several centuries the Papacy itself was the plaything of local despots and most bishops were not only the appointees of the local lord, they were usually their relatives. A large part of the history of the Church in this period is one of a long struggle by the Church to unite and then free itself from secular domination – Google “the Investiture Disputes” or “the Empire-Papacy Conflict”.

          Even when the Church finally managed to get some degree of independence from the state and assert some authority, this period was fairly shortlived – from the early thirteenth to the mid fourteenth century at most. Then it was all downhill again until the Reformation. Yet again, you simply don’t have the detailed knowledge of the period to be in a position to be making judgements about … anything. Then there’s your crippling anti-Christian bias, skewing whatever ill-informed ideas you come up with. The result is a hot mess.

          And then there’s the problem with your thesis that I’ve pointed out before: if if were true, we’d expect more innovation when Church power was weakest (in the early medieval period) and far less when it was strongest (in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth). But we find exactly the opposite. See the problem Bob?

          You simply don’t have a clue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which “opportunities” did they “miss”?

          That great feat of the gliding monk. Whose exploits and ideas you stated were curbed and curtailed by the Abbot.

          Big “opportunity” missed there Timbo.

        • An opportunity to do what, exactly? And “curbed and curtailed by the Abbot” because gliders were insufficiently superstitious and too based on reason or because he had some concerns about young monks leaping off his church and breaking their legs?

          Is that really the best you’ve got? You guys are in broad disarray.

        • Ignorant Amos

          An opportunity to do what, exactly?

          To develop aviation…obviously.

          And “curbed and curtailed by the Abbot” because gliders were insufficiently superstitious and too based on reason or because he had some concerns about young monks leaping off his church and breaking their legs?

          Well who knows…one would be entering into pure speculation.

          Was the next fella to try it going to break his legs too?

          It’s a wonder there was any advances in technology with that attitude.

          But since was the potential of injury a barricade to advancing technology. Particularly when the guy reckoned he’d solved the issue that caused the crash. From what I gather, the ingenious mind is also an inquisitive mind and the Abbot couldn’t live forever.

          I’m just not wearing it that this guy defeated gravity and flew 200 metres for his ideas to be stifled by the orders of the Abbot on secular reasons. But we’ll never know. Needless to say, it was the Abbott who stopped it all.

        • The Eh’theist

          Modern technology flowered in the society that happened to be Christian.

          Into Christian societies that had an Enlightenment. There are enough other Christian nations and communities in the world that didn’t follow this model to show that Christianity alone didn’t lead to modern technology.

        • Outspider

          “The point I’m making is that Christianity retarded it, not by action (standing in the way of progress), but by inaction (missing opportunities to encourage science).”

          In that case, I think you are acknowledging Tim’s point. Your title implies that Christianity did something to “delay or hold back” progress. This implies that progress would have been made in the absence of whatever Christianity did to delay or hold it back. However, in this explanation, you say you are not accusing Christianity of standing in the way of progress, but of failing to do (undefined) other things that you believe would have produced progress.

          This is an unfalsifiable argument. Hell, I could argue that, in the absence of Hinduism, the world would have already populated Mars. I don’t really have any clear mechanisms in mind by which this would have happened, but…..it could have! The fact that non-Hindu countries have not themselves put colonies on Mars might seem to be a significant counter-argument to my claim, but what good is a counter-argument against an unfalsifiable claim?

          what could a Christianity that put social progress first have done with those 1500 years?

          I don’t know. I presume definitions of “social progress” have changed radically over the centuries. More importantly, to your own ” technological progress” measurement, I think it is inaccurate to look at technological progress as a straightforward engineering problem, as if we could have achieved the growth, technologies and wealth of the 18th-20th century 1500 years ago if only we had tried harder.

          I’m simply talking about Christianity, using some of Christians’ own claims (such as: Christianity hates slavery) and looking at the result when they had a chance to do something.

          If you are arguing that Christianity did not show evidence of divine inspiration when it came to economics, technology or social progress, then I’m 100% onboard. But then, I presume you don’t think there is any other scenario in which human technology and growth would have been divinely inspired, so there is no scenario in which we would have achieved “modern society” 1500 years early.

          You are comparing Actual Christendom vs Hypothetical divinely inspired Christendom and accurately concluding that Actual Christendom shows no evidence of divine inspiration. But since you don’t believe in divine inspiration at all, then your divinely inspired growth rate shouldn’t be on the table at all. Christianity cannot have retarded it, because it was not an option.

          Remove the obstacle of slavery, and I assume [the Romans could have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened]. That is, they had the aptitude. Of course, if you replayed history, who knows if they would’ve ever applied themselves?

          Can you identify any credible historians who would support this thesis? Because it seems to me that you are ignoring a how technological progress has always worked — very gradual cumulative progress, in fits and starts, that does not resemble a straight line except in very distant retrospect.

          You have some valid points underneath all of this, but the title of the post is demonstrably wrong, and the unfalsifiable hypothetical alternative history in which the Roman empire achieves modern society 1700 years ago is just absurd.

          Christianity had a mixed relationship with social, economic, scientific and technological progress. It could have been much better, but it was (generally) better for human progress than other cultures of the time. In modern times, secular (neither pro-theist, nor anti-theist) societies have shown themselves to be demonstrably better for human progress.

          That is a reasonable thesis and more consistent with the evidence of human behavior and progress than this hypothetical 1500+ year shortcut.

        • “Can you identify any credible historians who would support this thesis? “

          No, he can’t. Not that he seems to have bothered to read any modern historians on the subject – he don’t need no durn book larnin’! He just knows it’s the TRUTH! Like all ignorant fundamentalists.

          Now watch the New Atheist Pseudo History Patrol invoke a conspiracy theory to explain why those silly old historians don’t grasp that Bob (software engineer and hardware something or other) is a genius when it comes to historical analysis.

        • MNb

          Two hours, many new comments on this page and you have still nothing to watch.
          But hey – I bumped your comment, so who knows? Timmyboy can always hope.

        • Whatever. If they don’t invoke a conspiracy, they have to admit Bob doesn’t have a clue. You clowns look bad either way.

        • MNb

          And after the various strawmen we get a nice non-sequitur. By now it has become a compliment when you call us clowns.

          https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/1/Ad-Hominem-Abusive

          “Tip: When others verbally attack you, take it as a compliment to the quality of your argument. It is usually a sign of desperation on their part.”
          If that’s proportionate you must be quite desperate.

          Will there come a time that it gets through your skull thick as the Chinese Wall that disagreeing with you is not them same as licking BobS’ boots? I won’t hold my breath.
          Another hint: I don’t like the title of this blogpost. That doesn’t mean Timmyboy is right.

        • MR

          If that’s proportionate you must be quite desperate.

          !!

          I don’t like the title of this blogpost.

          I agree. It gives me some heartburn, too. Maybe, “Did Christianity Retard Modern Society by 1500 Years?” What title would you give it, MNb?

          For me, it’s a thought experiment that has some plausibility. Tim seems to want to twist the argument into something like the church having blaster rays ready to disintegrate any form of science or technology that dares to raise its ugly head. I don’t think that’s what Bob means, but that is the strawman that Tim seems to want to cling to. There are subtler forms of suppression that we simply can’t measure with concrete examples.

        • “Tim seems to want to twist the argument into something like the church having blaster rays ready to disintegrate any form of science or technology that dares to raise its ugly head.”

          I have never said anything remotely like that and have, on at least two occasions, noted what Bob actually said, with reference to his exact words. It’s ironic that the guy who keeps squawking “Strawman!” also keeps misrepresenting me so consistently. Easier than backing up an argument with detailed historical evidence I suppose.

        • MR

          The example was for the others, I’m sure they know what I mean.

          on at least two occasions

          That’s priceless. All these words, words, words, and you claim to have referenced his exact words only twice? That is telling.

          Hey, I’m not the only one calling strawman here, it’s pretty obvious.

          Detailed historical evidence for suppression that we can’t know about because it was suppressed? Oo-kay…. It’s a thought experiment in alternative history, genius. Unless you have access to a parallel universe…?

        • You’re no longer even bothering to follow what I’m saying and so I’ve lost interest in even trying to talk sense to you. Go do the little victory dance that incoherent clowns like you do at about this point. The saddest thing in this whole exchange is that people like you claim to be “rational”. I’ve had more sensible exchanges with fundamentalists. You truly are an idiot.

        • MR

          Phht, you haven’t tried to talk sense since you’ve been here. You’ve just been a bombastic ass. I gave up on you giving an honest discussion long ago.

        • MNb

          Writes Timmyboy who never bothered what I actually wrote, so passionate is his desire to frame me as BobS’ acolyte.
          You’re liar, so I would only start worrying when you’d call MR smart.

        • MNb

          How christianity is irrelevant for scientific and technological progress.

        • Would “Did Christianity Retard Modern Society (by Omission, not Commission) by 1500 Years?” do?

        • MR

          Should that be a slash instead of comma? It seems ambiguous to me.

          But, yes, I think your original title sets up certain expectations for some such that when someone like this dufus reads the article he gets hung up on a pedantic interpretation, whereas others might pause, but not necessarily get hung up on some weird literal interpretation. I mean, he has a bone of contention over the idea that Christianity stifled all progress, and I get that, but he’s just become this flaming asshole who’s so focused on his strawman that there’s no point in discussion with him.

        • No, I meant a comma. Is it unclear?

          I’m still struggling to find the problem. If you thought that this was an article about Christianity deliberately standing in the way of progress but then see that it was about Christianity missing opportunities, was the title deceptive? I hadn’t seen that possibility in the title initially, though I do now, but it just sounds to me like an intriguing title that you’d want to click on.

        • MR

          Well, I think the non-question form can be interpreted as a bold statement of Christianity actively squashing progress, and it seemed like this one just couldn’t let go of that idea.

        • In that case, I think you are acknowledging Tim’s point.

          Do you mean that Tim is acknowledging my point? The post came first. Tim’s diatribe came after.

          Your title implies that Christianity did something to “delay or hold back” progress.

          But we’re on the same page now, I hope.

          This is an unfalsifiable argument.

          Why? You can’t look at the speed of technological progress in other civilizations and compare that with Europe?

          I presume definitions of “social progress” have changed radically over the centuries.

          I’m using today’s definition.

          to your own ” technological progress” measurement, I think it is inaccurate to look at technological progress as a straightforward engineering problem, as if we could have achieved the growth, technologies and wealth of the 18th-20th century 1500 years ago if only we had tried harder.

          Entrepreneurship and innovation is tricky. I agree that the same initial conditions might produce different results.

          Perhaps the underlying problem is that you think this is supposed to be proof of some sort. It’s not. It’s speculation, a thought experiment.

          If you are arguing that Christianity did not show evidence of divine inspiration when it came to economics, technology or social progress, then I’m 100% onboard.

          Great. That would be a revelation to many Christians.

          But then, I presume you don’t think there is any other scenario in which human technology and growth would have been divinely inspired, so there is no scenario in which we would have achieved “modern society” 1500 years early.

          Huh?

          Option 1: Divine magic through Christianity gives great social benefits to society. We agree that this didn’t happen.

          Option 2: Christianity being largely in the driver’s seat would bring great benefits to society. I say that the poor progress in the 1500 years in question is strong evidence for this thesis.

          You are comparing Actual Christendom vs Hypothetical divinely inspired Christendom and accurately concluding that Actual Christendom shows no evidence of divine inspiration.

          Nope.

          But since you don’t believe in divine inspiration at all, then your divinely inspired growth rate shouldn’t be on the table at all.

          Do you not understand what’s going on here? I’m an atheist, and this is an atheist blog. I respond to arguments for Christianity and put forward and critique arguments against Christianity. “Look at the marvelous scientific and technological progress that Christianity in Europe has given us!” is a popular Christian argument. I say that (1) Christianity didn’t give it to us and (2) Christian Europe in fact has a worse record than you’d hope for, if it were an enlightened structure for encouraging social progress.

          Can you identify any credible historians who would support this thesis? Because it seems to me that you are ignoring a how technological progress has always worked — very gradual cumulative progress, in fits and starts, that does not resemble a straight line except in very distant retrospect.

          I have no idea what your point is. If you’re saying that giving clues pointing to the Industrial Revolution to 10 societies who are equally precocious, some might take the bait and some might not, I agree. And you contradict yourself: gradual cumulative progress vs. fits and starts.

          You have some valid points underneath all of this, but the title of the post is demonstrably wrong

          Then demonstrate it. Christianity retarded modern society by not taking the leadership role that it could’ve (and should’ve, given the claims modern Christians make about their religion as the foundation of science and technology). If I’d replaced the title by the entire essay, that might’ve solved the problem, but that would’ve been impractical.

          the unfalsifiable hypothetical alternative history in which the Roman empire achieves modern society 1700 years ago is just absurd.

          Absurd because it was impossible? I said that.

        • Outspider

          Do you mean that Tim is acknowledging my point? The post came first. Tim’s diatribe came after.

          No. I think you are acknowledging Tim’s point that your post did not support your title and you have not shown how Christianity retarded modern society by 1500 years. Since that is the fundamental point I’ve been making at some length in these comments, I am confused how that could have been unclear.

          Why? You can’t look at the speed of technological progress in other civilizations and compare that with Europe?

          Bob, that is precisely what I did in my first comment. I noted that other societies, outside of Christendom, did not achieve “modern society” (the enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc) faster than was achieved in the Christian societies of Europe and (eventually) America.

          When I asked you about this, your response was not to compare it to any other civilization, but to compare it to some hypothetical ideal civilization that would not have missed the opportunities.

          Perhaps the underlying problem is that you think this is supposed to be proof of some sort. It’s not. It’s speculation, a thought experiment.

          In that case, I will repeat your last question: Why can’t you look at the speed of progress of non-Christian civilizations and compare it to the progress made by Christian civilizations?

          You don’t have to speculate. The experiment was run. The enlightenment and industrial revolution happened within Christendom. That doesn’t mean Christianity was responsible for those things, but it was more compatible with them than other cultures at that time.

          I have no idea what you mean by “Option 2: Christianity being largely in the driver’s seat would bring great benefits to society. I say that the poor progress in the 1500 years in question is strong evidence for this thesis.”

          First, poor progress? Again, Christendom made faster progress than any other society in the world. This is only “poor progress” compared to some imaginary, magical world that you are postulating. And sure, I guess it was poor progress compared to whatever idealized outcome you can pull out of your butt, but how could that not be true? You can imagine any scenario you like. If Christendom had somehow achieved modern society in the 8th century, you could say it wasn’t as fast as it could have been in your imagination.

          Hell, I could argue that Bob Seidensticker has retarded the progress of atheism, because Cross Examined has not brought about the end of Christianity. That would, of course, be a ridiculous test of the value and effectiveness of Cross Examined, but it’s no more ridiculous than your imaginary scenario.

          I’m an atheist, and this is an atheist blog. I respond to arguments for Christianity and put forward and critique arguments against Christianity. “Look at the marvelous scientific and technological progress that Christianity in Europe has given us!” is a popular Christian argument. I say that (1) Christianity didn’t give it to us and (2) Christian Europe in fact has a worse record than you’d hope for, if it were an enlightened structure for encouraging social progress.

          Yes, I get that this is an atheist blog that argues against Christian apologetics. I am also an atheist and enjoy doing the same. I just don’t think you are making a rational argument.

          I largely agree that Christianity did not “give” scientific and technological progress to us, but I do think those things happened (for the most part) within Christian societies, there’s no doubt that Christians played a large role in the progress we had and that progress that led to modern society (enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc) was more likely to happen in Christian societies than other societies around the world.

          I mean, yeah, Christian Europe has a worse record than I would hope for. Humans have a worse record than I would hope for. Secular societies have a worse record than I would hope for. I have a worse record than I would hope for. It is literally impossible to have a record that somebody in the future cannot wish had been better.

          I have no idea what your point is.

          I quoted you saying “Remove the obstacle of slavery, and I assume [the Romans could have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened]”, then asked if you know of any credible historians who would support that thesis.

          I do not know how it could have been more clear.

          And you contradict yourself: gradual cumulative progress vs. fits and starts.

          No, these are not contradictory. Progress has occurred in fits and starts. Some of that progress was lost. Sometimes it was regained. But ultimately, what we have today is built on what came before us. Einstein built on Newton. People who developed satellites built on the knowledge developed by Einstein (relativity & GPS). Some guy making an iPhone app builds on the technology developed by the satellite makers. And so on.

          Progress is not a straight line, but it has been (over long periods of time) cumulative.

          Look, Bob, I’m very serious when I tell you I have really enjoyed your work. Not just that, some of the things you have written have been profoundly helpful to me. I hold you in high regard. And so it is unpleasant to me to get in an argument like this. But it seems to me that Tim and I are making reasonable, clear points, you feel backed into a corner and you’re casting all over to avoid “losing” an argument. You misunderstand or mischaracterize extremely clear points, you make ad hominem arguments about Tim (who, admittedly, is throwing more than his share of shade), make unfalsifiable arguments, ignore points or flip-flop between arguments.

          I feel like you’re so caught up in a fight that it’s become difficult to see that you’re playing defense attorney rather than analyst.

          I will continue to read your blog, but I hope you’ll consider this as sincere disagreement by a fan of your work and not some troll out to score a point.

        • “But it seems to me that Tim and I are making reasonable, clear points, y ou feel backed into a corner and you’re casting all over to avoid “losing” an argument. “

          Bingo.

        • No. I think you are acknowledging Tim’s point that your post did not support your title and you have not shown how Christianity retarded modern society by 1500 years. Since that is the fundamental point I’ve been making at some length in these comments, I am confused how that could have been unclear.

          It’s unclear because I’m not seeing the problem with the title. In the first place, this isn’t a clickbait kind of title. If you’re simply saying that the title could be clearer, I won’t even bother asking what the problem is before I agree. But are you saying that it’s deceptive?

          Christianity can cause something by omission or by commission. We’re on the same page that the point of the article is that it was the former, not the latter. OK, it’s great that we’re now on the same page. But there seems to be something egregious in your mind about the title that I’m not seeing.

          I noted that other societies, outside of Christendom, did not achieve “modern society” (the enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc) faster than was achieved in the Christian societies of Europe and (eventually) America.

          And I noted that the rate of scientific/technological progress in most of this period was worse than many other civilizations had.

          You don’t have to speculate. The experiment was run. The enlightenment and industrial revolution happened within Christendom. That doesn’t mean Christianity was responsible for those things, but it was more compatible with them than other cultures at that time.

          ?? The Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution is the good part. The medieval period was much less productive. If we say that Christianity is responsible (to some extent, as many Christian apologists do) for the latter, it must be saddled for the stasis of the former.

          You can come at this from whatever perspective you like, but the post had a target audience, the Christians who make this argument. If you’re uninterested in my rebuttal to that audience, then our conversation is largely off topic.

          Christendom made faster progress than any other society in the world.

          Uniformly through the entire period?

          You can imagine any scenario you like.

          Roman technological progress. Or Greek. Or Muslim during the Golden Age. Or Chinese during a productive period.

          progress that led to modern society (enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc) was more likely to happen in Christian societies than other societies around the world.

          So Christianity is an enabler? Tell me more. Obviously, I don’t see this at all.

          Christian Europe has a worse record than I would hope for. Humans have a worse record than I would hope for. Secular societies have a worse record than I would hope for. I have a worse record than I would hope for. It is literally impossible to have a record that somebody in the future cannot wish had been better.
          I have no idea what your point is.

          OK. Not much point in going over it yet again. Let’s just say that this post did nothing for you. My guess is that that’s because you have no interest in the audience I had in mind and their argument.

          You misunderstand or mischaracterize extremely clear points, you make ad hominem arguments about Tim

          OK, thanks.

        • Outspider

          But are you saying that it’s deceptive?

          I think it is. I don’t mean to imply conscious intent to deceive. I just think the title uses a word “retard” that implies intentional action rather than unintentional inaction. That is the opposite of your point about it being “missed opportunity” due to failure to come up with the ideas in the first place, rather than intentional quashing of developments.

          And “missed opportunities” implies something that could have happened in the absence of Christianity retarding progress, rather than Christianity failing to come up with ideas that pretty much nobody anywhere came up with until 1000 years later.

          Around the year 3,000, somebody will probably come up with some revolutionary idea that changes the world then. Is modern secular society retarding progress by failing to come up with that idea now? We are certainly missing that opportunity, but I don’t think it is reasonable or fair to say a missed opportunity like this implies progress being retarded.

          I get your point about arguing against absurdly triumphant Christians who want to claim credit for Christianity, but I don’t think your response really addresses Christian arguments so much as it sets up a strawman. Christians argue that Christianity should get credit for the greater overall progress that did occur within Christendom. You have responded in some other posts to that point, but this one seems to be more of a strawman. I’m not aware of any Christian who claims Christianity could have produced the kind of missed opportunity growth you are suggesting here. Preposterously improbable alternative histories are not effective counter-arguments to the arguments they do make.

          Here is another example of a specific problem with the post. You wrote, “If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?”

          Well, the IR occurred around 1800 (a little before and after). 1700 years earlier, in 100 CE, Christianity was utterly insignificant. So, Christianity certainly did not restrain the Romans from launching the IR 1700 years early.

          Fast forward 3-4 centuries to a time when Christianity did have more social/cultural/governmental power. I can’t think of anything the Christian church or religious/political leaders did that would have prevented the Romans from applying engineering genius. Hell, I can’t even think of any plausible Christian objection to engineering progress. Whatever their many faults were, I don’t think Christianity was particularly opposed to engineering.

          You argue that the ongoing practice of slavery could have reduced the need for technological innovation, which I think is a somewhat valid point. But did that innovation happen (in substantial, sustained ways) in areas that did not have slavery (or that had far fewer slaves)? I don’t see evidence that it did. Perhaps there are some isolated examples of progress, but I don’t see the kind of alternate history you propose.

          More importantly, is there any reason to believe there would have been substantially less slavery in the absence of Christianity? Certainly not.

          There is plenty of room to criticize Christianity for failing to live up to the values it now claims. I’m totally onboard with that. But the alternate “missed opportunity” history you are suggesting seems both implausible and inconsistent with the kind of claims and arguments that Christians make.

          So Christianity is an enabler? Tell me more. Obviously, I don’t see this at all.

          I don’t subscribe to the Conflict Thesis, nor do I subscribe to Christian apologetics arguments about how Christianity should get credit for modern science, philosophy and progress. I think Christianity played a complex role, both enabling and undermining progress in various ways. To the extent that the Catholic Church operated in many ways like a government — taking responsibility for things like higher education and the promulgation of a literate administrative/clerical class — I think they ultimately enhanced progress compared to a likely alternative (rather than a hypothetical idealized scenario). This was a byproduct of their religious goals (which produced little, if any, progress), rather than an intentional goal, but this doesn’t change the fact that the universities did have that effect. The Catholic Church had the size and continuity to create institutions that made a lasting impact.

          We can wholeheartedly agree that the secularization of these institutions made them dramatically more productive.

          To summarize: Religion built important institutions. But the important contributions of those institutions was not religious.

        • adam

          “Is modern secular society retarding progress by failing to come up with that idea now?”

          Yes, of course….

          http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/

          A third of US adults still do not believe in evolution.

          So that’s a little over 80 MILLION adults who are retarding progress just in the US.

        • If you want to make a concluding response, go ahead. Most of your comments here were about things I didn’t say or don’t care about, so I suggest we find the common ground we can and wrap this up.

          “But are you saying that it’s deceptive?”
          I think it is. I don’t mean to imply conscious intent to deceive. I just think the title uses a word “retard” that implies intentional action rather than unintentional inaction.

          OK. I would’ve thought that the reader would quickly figure out what was going on once they started reading. But thanks for the input.

          And “missed opportunities” implies something that could have happened in the absence of Christianity retarding progress, rather than Christianity failing to come up with ideas that pretty much nobody anywhere came up with until 1000 years later.

          And this is the problem, IMO. That’s not where I’m going with the article. You are going there, which means that this article is simply going somewhere else. Some articles are a fit, and some aren’t.

          My target is the argument that says that Christianity helped science and technology. The post attempts to rebut that argument. You might say that that’s not you, and that’s fine. Then the article isn’t for you.

          Around the year 3,000, somebody will probably come up with some revolutionary idea that changes the world then. Is modern secular society retarding progress by failing to come up with that idea now?

          I dunno. Who cares? If I’m making the argument about my society today being remarkable conducive to science/technology compared to other societies, then I’m on the hook for explaining why my remarkable society didn’t meet the grade in the year 3000. I’m not making that argument.

          I get your point about arguing against absurdly triumphant Christians who want to claim credit for Christianity

          Then stop going off on tangents and puzzling over why the post doesn’t address those tangents.

          . . . but I don’t think your response really addresses Christian arguments so much as it sets up a strawman.

          Christians declare that Christianity is particularly conducive to scientific/technological advances. I’m taking that hypothesis for a test drive. It doesn’t do so well.

          Christians argue that Christianity should get credit for the greater overall progress that did occur within Christendom.

          Again, if they’re going to take credit for the acceleration from 1500 onward, they need to take the blame for the stagnation beforehand.

          I’m not aware of any Christian who claims Christianity could have produced the kind of missed opportunity growth you are suggesting here.

          (1) They talk about Christianity being conducive to science and technology.

          (2) The number of Christians making this argument (very many, IMO, and I listened to yet another podcast just today claiming this) isn’t important. We simply need to agree that this was the target for the post. If there were zero Christians making this argument, then the post could still be judged by how effectively it responded to the argument.

          You wrote, “If they had applied their engineering genius, could the Romans have launched the Industrial Revolution 1700 years before it actually happened?”
          Well, the IR occurred around 1800 (a little before and after). 1700 years earlier, in 100 CE, Christianity was utterly insignificant.

          Yes, it was. You asked about the Roman Empire starting the IR in 100. I never hypothesized about Christianity doing so, since it was, as you say, insignificant.

          So, Christianity certainly did not restrain the Romans from launching the IR 1700 years early.

          I never said that it did.

          I can’t think of anything the Christian church or religious/political leaders did that would have prevented the Romans from applying engineering genius.

          One tiny breakthrough we’ve made is to get on the same page that Christianity actively preventing progress was never the point. Let’s not fritter that away.

          You argue that the ongoing practice of slavery could have reduced the need for technological innovation, which I think is a somewhat valid point. But did that innovation happen (in substantial, sustained ways) in areas that did not have slavery (or that had far fewer slaves)?

          The relevance of slavery is that it was an inhibitor of labor saving for the Romans and that it’s something that these same Christians say is a point in their favor. Christianity hates slavery, they say. OK, then take Roman technological sophistication and add Christian abhorrence for slavery. How about now?

          More importantly, is there any reason to believe there would have been substantially less slavery in the absence of Christianity? Certainly not.

          ?? Yet again: the Christians that I’m arguing against state that Christianity abhors slavery.

          I don’t subscribe to the Conflict Thesis

          NOMA then?

        • Ignorant Amos

          “But are you saying that it’s deceptive?”

          I think it is. I don’t mean to imply conscious intent to deceive. I just think the title uses a word “retard” that implies intentional action rather than unintentional inaction.

          OK. I would’ve thought that the reader would quickly figure out what was going on once they started reading. But thanks for the input.

          This is the bit that troubles me too. A quick look at a dictionary and a proper read of the article in context…what’s the problem?

        • Seeing Outspider’s point in the most positive light, I’m guessing he wants atheists to be completely above board since there is so much deception on the other side.

          But I agree with you. The entire post can’t be captured in an 8-word title. As deceptive crimes go, this seems to be a very minor one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The relevance of slavery is that it was an inhibitor of labor saving for the Romans and that it’s something that these same Christians say is a point in their favor. Christianity hates slavery, they say. OK, then take Roman technological sophistication and add Christian abhorrence for slavery. How about now?

          I was thinking to myself earlier about labour and how things might have changed in the lead up to the IR and it occurred to me that a factor that might have spurred on the IR might have been the increase in the cost of manpower required to facilitate the ever increasing demand in a post Enlightenment Great Britain.

          So I took a wee perusal through the tinterwebs and was interested to find some stuff out.

          At the dawn of the industrial revolution, labour was expensive in the UK, and energy in the form of coal was uniquely cheap. This was less true in continental Europe and the reverse was true in China and India, with cheap labour and expensive energy. British wages were high thanks to the success of the British trading empire. Chinese inventors looked for ways to save energy. British inventors looked for ways to save labour, because the payoff for replacing muscle power with steam power was obvious.

          According to Bob Allen’s calculations, had a French entrepreneur been presented with easy-assemble instructions for the spinning jenny in 1780, it would scarcely have been worth building it. In India, it would have been a definite loss-maker. But in the UK, the annual rate of return was almost 40 per cent. So much for the genius of British engineering: it wasn’t that nobody else could develop labour-saving machines, it was that nobody else needed them.

          http://timharford.com/2013/01/what-really-powers-innovation-high-wages/

          So slavery in Roman times, and serfdom, essentially a form of slavery in the Middle Ages, must certainly have played a part in retarding labour saving innovation.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom

          The religious institutions of the time must have been okay with the arrangement, which sort of supports your hypothesis to some degree. To imagine the control religious superstition would hold was absent, doesn’t seem reasonable.

          For purposes of safety and defense, the serfs lived close together in small villages around their master. Other than working in the lands, the serfs were also dedicated to the Church. The church played an important role in their lives as the serfs looked up to the Church for additional assistance in difficult times. The serfs generously offered their labor and produce to their local church and were particularly instrumental in maintain the overall fabric of the church.

          http://www.thefinertimes.com/Middle-Ages/serfs-in-the-middle-ages.html

          Edit: to add link

        • Michael Neville

          Just as an aside, industrialization made manufactured goods so cheap that it was cheaper to ship Indian cotton to Britain, have it made into cloth, and ship the cloth to India than it was to have Indian cotton made into cloth by hand in India.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because as cheap labour goes, it still wasn’t cheaper than doing what you have stated, because it wasn’t free labour….because machines.

          When people labour cost nothing, was it an issue?

          Or was it a case that the machines could do it quicker including raw material shipping logistics?

          These days it is the opposite. Send raw materials to India and get stuff made on the cheap then ship it back, because it’s cheaper. It reduces overheads.

          The worm continually turns.