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Fweethawt

The Hole Left By The Christian Dark Ages

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What if Constantine fell off his horse and broke his neck before installing Christianity? I wonder what the world would have looked like. Useless speculation of course, but still, I can't help but think of that.

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G7Q6OP0.jpg

 

This chart is from a western perspective. The dark ages of western and Christian cultures coincided with the golden age of Moslem cultures and science.

 

http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/10/1581.full

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Imagine what the chart would look like if Abraham had fallen off his donkey and broke his neck before he left Ur of the Chaldees.

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Imagine what the chart would look like if Abraham had fallen off his donkey and broke his neck before he left Ur of the Chaldees.

 

Maybe no Abrahamic religions if Abraham was just a story/ fantasy which I expect that he was, and no old testament, but I would expect their replacement religions would be just as "stupid"  -- so I expect the uneducated populous would still be just as clueless.

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G7Q6OP0.jpg

 

This chart is from a western perspective. The dark ages of western and Christian cultures coincided with the golden age of Moslem culture and science.

 

http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/10/1581.full

 

 

Not that underestimate the contributions made by Islamic civilization, but really, they mainly expanded on the work of the greeks/romans (who in turn based a lot of their knowledge on Mesopotamian knowledge). In any case, Enlightenment and modern science began in Europe, regardless of how advanced China may have been. I think Chinas main problem was, and is, their isolationist approach. There's a reason Western civilization spread across the entire World and it's probably a cultural thing: Europeans had a boner for exploration. Just look at history. Where's the Indian or Chinese equivalent to Alexander's Empire that spanned across three continents?

 

In the end, what do we know? Maybe we'd be worse off if Christianity hadn't been around? Maybe it somehow facilitated advancement in some wierd way? We'll never know, but I often think about the premise of this thread: what if? The greeks were not perfect and had their fair share of superstition, but the philosophers of antiquity were at least big into open inquiry, and were in any case a lot more tolerant than anything that came after them. Together with the wisdom of Persia, India and China... that would have been something, truly.

 

 

 

Imagine what the chart would look like if Abraham had fallen off his donkey and

broke his neck before he left Ur of the Chaldees.

 

Maybe no Abrahamic religions, or nothing at all if Abraham was a story/ fantasy which I suspect he was.

 

 

Perhaps we'd be beseeching Lord Baal for guidance. Now wouldn't THAT be ironic?

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The graph makes some seriously unsupported assumptions, but assuming it's correct, perhaps we'd all be dead now, having nuked ourselves hundreds of years ago. 

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The Dark Age was caused by the fall of Rome. Internal corruption destroyed Rome. If anything Christianity, the Catholic Church, eventually brought about some semblance of order albeit by the use of brutal force & terror, but life had become chaotic anyway, the Black Plague nearly wiped out Europe during that period too. And the Muslims did rise to power during that time.

 

However, referring to this period as the Chriatian Dark Ages would be misleading & inaccurate. Christianity certainly played a role that had both positive & negative consequences, but Christianity didn't create the Dark Age.

 

I realize history tends to get rewritten with the passing of time, but that is the version I was taught in school during America's Dark Age aka the 60's.

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When a population is hungry for innovation, they have progress.  When they try to hold onto the past they suffer stagnation or even a dark age.  I would argue that religion is often a major contribution.  It is the attitude: "We already know all there is to know because we serve the all-knowing God."  Plenty of religions have fallen into that trap.

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When a population is hungry for innovation, they have progress.  When they try to hold onto the past they suffer stagnation or even a dark age.  I would argue that religion is often a major contribution.  It is the attitude: "We already know all there is to know because we serve the all-knowing God."  Plenty of religions have fallen into that trap.

 

Which is probably why the Islamic world flourished during its infancy but stagnated quickly soon after.

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Sadly the history of innovation was fueled primarily by war. Survival required better & more effective ways to kill your enemy in larger numbers. And humans are still doing that. History does tend to repeat itself.

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The essay in this book...  http://www.amazon.com/What-If-Foremost-Military-Historians/dp/0425176428...is entitled, "Infectious Alternatives : The Plague That Saved Jerusalem".

 

Historian William H. McNeill speculates what might have happened in 701 B.C. if the Assyrian army besieging King Hezekiah's Jerusalem hadn't succumbed to a virulent plague.  

We know that the Assyrian King Sennacherib was forced to withdraw his troops, thus sparing Hezekiah's kingdom from the kind of destruction meted out to it in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  McNeill argues that Judaic Monotheism was nowhere nearly as well established in Judah in 701 as it was in 586.  The worship of other local gods (Baal and Asherah in particular) had yet to be fully replaced by the exclusive worship of Yahweh.  

 

So, rather than carrying their fully-fledged monotheism with them into captivity (as did the Jews taken to Babylon) any Jews taken as slaves by the Assyrians would have worshiped a number of deities.  McNeill further speculates that this diversity of Jewish religious beliefs would not have guaranteed the eventual victory of Yahweh over his rivals. Which suggests that Judaic monotheism might never have arisen and that the Jews would have clung to a pantheon of gods, much like the other Middle Eastern cultures of that time.   

 

McNeill concludes with the sobering thought that without the foundation of Judaic monotheism, the other great monotheistic religions of Christianity and Islam could never have arisen.  

 

Thanks,

 

BAA

 

 

 

 

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It's fascinating to see how smart some of these folks were, using only simple tools and basic math. Somewhere around 200 B.C., the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth, the tilt of its axis, and the distance of the Earth from the Sun. While his numbers weren't dead on accurate, they were amazingly close.

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It's fascinating to see how smart some of these folks were, using only simple tools and basic math. Somewhere around 200 B.C., the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth, the tilt of its axis, and the distance of the Earth from the Sun. While his numbers weren't dead on accurate, they were amazingly close.

History has revealed the ancients were just as intelligent as present day humans, they just lacked technology. The things they accomplished without technology, power equipment, and modern tools is truly mind boggling.

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It's fascinating to see how smart some of these folks were, using only simple tools and basic math. Somewhere around 200 B.C., the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth, the tilt of its axis, and the distance of the Earth from the Sun. While his numbers weren't dead on accurate, they were amazingly close.

History has revealed the ancients were just as intelligent as present day humans, they just lacked technology. The things they accomplished without technology, power equipment, and modern tools is truly mind boggling.

 

 

Indeed. Sure, the average middle school kid nowadays knows more about the world than the greatest minds of the ancient world, but that doesn't imply we are smarter today, we're just lucky enough to have had all this knowledge handed down to us. The ancients had nothing to go by, no standards, no references, no tools, they literally had to figure shit out all by themselves.

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Indeed. Sure, the average middle school kid nowadays knows more about the world than the greatest minds of the ancient world,  ...

 

Not so sure about that. I'd say that what they know is different, but not necessarily more. I am continually surprised by the questions people ask me when my astronomy club sets up scopes at the local shopping mall.

 

In other thoughts, I'm reminded of a visit to the King Tut exhibit many years ago when it toured the U.S. The craftsmanship on the burial mask was so amazing my eyeballs almost fell out. To see something made entirely by hand that was so perfect and exquisite made me think about the hubris of our current age.

 

Let's not completely write off the Middle Ages, however. They did construct the great cathedrals; using the Gothic arch which spread the weight and forces more effectively than the Roman arch. This method permitted relatively thin walls and large stained glass windows. There was just a PBS special on this. Fascinating.

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Feats of engineering from eras we consider uninformed are spectacular. The pyramids don't keep standing today because they lacked a deep understanding of math and structural physics. And look at all of Europe and Asia's ancient cathedrals, mosques and temples that still stand.

 

In Dolce Aqua, Italy, on the riviera, there is a bridge built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago that is still in use today. Our knowledge today has gone to the next level, providing exponential returns, but the foundational base of that knowledge was a long time building.  

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