Monday, February 28, 2011

Charting the history of science

A little oversimplified, don't you think? In any event, even in college I knew better than to identify the Middle Ages with the Dark Ages, although plausibly there was a dark period during the early Middle Ages. Of course, the university system in Europe started during the Middle Ages, hardly a sign of overwhelming darkness.

26 comments:

funnyatheists said...

Not even atheists fall for this bad joke any more!

Anonymous said...

The stupider ones do.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic said..."although plausibly there was a dark period during the early Middle Ages."

Anonymous said...

lololololol Loftus is back! Say something funny lol.

David B Marshall said...

Victor: I think John is overwhelmed by the need to put something skeptical up, anything skeptical up, three times a day -- he probably doesn't even believe half the stuff he posts.

Aside from the horrendous history that went into that graph -- each and every period, at least 2-6, is hideously wrong -- the only real question it raises for me is, "Did Egyptian science progress?" Clement of Alexandria points out that what is usually conceived as Greco-Roman technical success, is actually the fruit of inventions by dozens of different peoples.

Anyway, thanks to that blog, I have managed to isolate the "loftrino:"

http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2011/02/loftrino-new-meme-discovered-fort-wayne.html

I am hoping there will be a Nobel Prize in it for me. Or at least a Golden Turkey.

Jowl said...

Once again we see that a certain subset of atheists have the same attitude toward history as a certain subset of Christians do toward science. It's really quite pathetic that anyone takes this nonsense seriously. All you really need to debunk this garbage is any undergrad medieval textbook written in the last twenty (at least) years.

And Loftus, there were "dark ages" because much of civilization was completely destroyed. If you're going to say that was Christianity's fault, just realize that Edward Gibbon already argued that in great detail and his thesis has long been abandoned.

Joel said...

By the way, no one who has actually Medieval history labels anything later than the 10th century as the "dark ages" anymore. Even in the relatively dark period of the 5th-9th centuries, there were Christian intellectuals such as Boethius and John Philoponus.

Deus Ex Machina said...

"By the way, no one who has actually Medieval history labels anything later than the 10th century as the "dark ages" anymore. Even in the relatively dark period of the 5th-9th centuries, there were Christian intellectuals such as Boethius and John Philoponus."

*predicting Loftus's response*

"Lololol, 'christian intellectual? Get out."

John W. Loftus said...

Did anyone catch the title to my post? Augustinian Platonism placed a much greater value on the heavenly world. I remember visiting the Chicago Museum of Art and seeing a real change in the 1500's. They were no painting pictures of real people and even "aghast* a bowl of fruit on a table. This came after they had thrown off the shackles of Augustinianism. This is undeniable.

Christians destroyed many ancient manuscripts too, which were preserved by the Muslims. When people like Aquinas re-discovered them it brought on a new awareness of what the ancients taught.

And yes, it was mainly the French philosophes who labeled these centuries the "dark ages." That was probably due to Sir Isaac newton who it was said brought the light as much as it was that they thought the atrocities committed by the church like the Crusades and Inquisitions were a very dark period in Western history, and I agree. Superstition like that reigned. If I were being brought into the light with a new awareness of the ancient's wisdom I would describe it that way too, for all the same reasons.

That's perhaps what Vic meant when he said a plausible case could be made for it, and I agree.

What does this make me a hack? I know much more than I can say, and I do understand that the church made many strides during that period of history in science, literature, and so forth. And so the huge drop-off of the graph is not indicative of that period of time. By I have been persuaded that it was a dark period of history even if not that dark.

Of course, anyone who thinks otherwise can volunteer to go back in time to that period and see what you think.

Then I'll be the one laughing.

Anonymous said...

This string of posts on science bashing is based on a false assumption, namely that Loftus and co. are concerned to present a coherent, well-informed case. They aren't. They are grasping at any and everything they can lay their hands on. Call them on one thing and they abruptly switch to another.

Why are atheists afraid of measured, rational discussion?

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

(I am forced to post under "anonymous", because my Blogger account is not working)

The term "Dark Ages" is in no way a critique of the time period in question. It is a historians term indicating a paucity of written records from those centuries. (They are therefore "dark", or hard to see, to the historian.) In the same way, 19th Century maps labeled central Africa as "Darkest Africa". This was not a comment on the amount of sunlight in that region - otherwise it would have been called "Brightest Africa". It was simply referring to the fact that it was the region least known at that time, and therefore "dark" to the geographer.

It's long past time when we should reject chronological snobbery, and realize that what we call the "Dark Ages" were in many regions and for many people a period of brilliant thought and high intellectual activity.

Anonymous said...

"In the same way, 19th Century maps labeled central Africa as "Darkest Africa". This was not a comment on the amount of sunlight in that region..."

I thought it so named because Africa was full of darkies.

John W. Loftus said...

I wrote a corrective post on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Loftus,

Here is a good site which I hope you find helpful:

http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/03/what-happens-when-were-angry-at-god/22221.html

I hope you get better soon!

Victor Reppert said...

Your chart has the entire middle ages as the Christian Dark Ages. What you are telling me is you know perfectly well that that's wrong, in which case you shouldn't use a chart like that that you know isn't telling the truth. The whole appeal of atheism has to do with the claim, if you can make it out, that viewing things that way permits you to be honest with yourself, honest about the afterlife, about the future life of lack of it, etc. The OTF is offered as a way of being intellectually honest about your own religion as well as the religions of others. But this sort of stuff makes you look dishonest. However well this sort of thing might go over with the choir at Debunking Christianity, it hurts you with anybody who has an open mind and is trying to think things through. Even when you say something about Plato and Augustine, the chart, with its huge caption about the Christian Dark Ages is what people see. And, quite frankly, the whole thing makes you look like a used car salesman.

Joel said...

"Christians in earlier centuries therefore destroyed many ancient manuscripts--science manuscripts--which were preserved by the Muslims. Who needs earthly wisdom? Paul basically said it was worthless. When people like Aquinas re-discovered these ancient texts it brought on a new awareness of what the ancients taught and helped bring in the Enlightenment."

There is so much wrong with this paragraph. There was no campaign to destroy pagan scientific works. Nearly all the classical writings we have were copied by Christians. The classical writings that the Muslims had and that Europe eventually got from them were first acquired from conquered eastern Christians!

I'm guessing you think Christians burned the Library of Alexandria (the same angry mob that killed Hypatia because she was a hot scientist)? There's remarkably little evidence to support this.

Also, the discovery of ancient learning did not come out of nowhere with Aquinas. Boethius was translating the available Aristotle works and writing commentaries on them even in the sixth century, and classical writers were regularly used in educational curriculum, particularly at universities.

Gimli 4 the West said...

John's chart is a scientific chart. John's chart is false and childish. Therefore, science is false and childish.

Victor Reppert said...

I am glad that you published a correction. There are interesting issues surrounding Carrier's overall thesis vis a vis the role of Christianity in the development of science. I think Carrier's wrong on that one, although it is what he has published that is actually in his area of expertise, on which he wrote his dissertation. But the issues are interesting. But the chart is a cartoon version of exactly what most people think is wrong with atheism-driven history.

Jim McCosh said...

Sorry, I'll try again Hannam explains the facts of the matter here.

Jim McCosh said...

I should also point out that this is Hannam's area of expertise; that his book is award winning; and that Professor Edward Grant, the world's leading historian of medieval science, reviewed "God's Philosophers" in Metascience saying that "Hannam has written a splendid book and fully supported his claim that the Middle Ages laid the foundations of modern science."

I am not sure what Dr Carrier asserts about the Middle Ages, but I do hope that it could stand up to that sort of peer review.

Jim McCosh said...

The book that I was referring to is Hannam's "The Genesis of Science", published in the UK as "God's Philosophers".

JS Allen said...

Apparently, the story about Islam preserving ancient knowledge for the Christians is more fable than fact.

JS Allen said...

Besides getting history wrong, the graph makes the stupid mistake of assuming that it's possible to project what would have happened had Christianity not been there. Mike Darwin had a post a few days ago explaining why scientific knowledge lurched forward and backward periodically in ancient times. It's far more thoughtful and reasonable than this tired atheist screed about "dark ages".

Anonymous said...

Wow, not only is Lofty ignorant of HUGE chunks of theology, philosophy and metaphysics, but history as well.

I'd get a refund if I had such a bad education. Read more books Lofty and stop peddling your own ignorance.

David B Marshall said...

Carrier actually asserts very little about the Middle Ages. He insinuates more than asserts, at least in Christian Delusion. I think if you focus on what he says about his own area of research, there are things of value in that chapter. It's when he starts scribbling on the margins that you need to get the eraser out.

John W. Loftus said...

Here's Carrier on the Dark Ages.