Thursday, May 19, 2016

Some Lies Never Die: The Myth of the Dark Ages

The Myth of the Dark Ages.

28 comments:

Jim S. said...

The book he reviews was published in America with a different title: The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution.

John Moore said...

OK, so there was indeed some progress in science and technology in the Middle Ages, but that doesn't mean the church actually caused that progress. It looks like the church just wasn't too thorough or consistent in its attempt to block science. I'm always curious why Christians sometimes try to take credit for the scientific revolution. Is there something in the Bible where God told people to test their observations and critique each other's theories? or what?

Jim S. said...

"Throughout the Middle Ages and well into the modern period the handmaiden formula was employed countless times to justify the investigation of nature. Indeed, some of the most celebrated achievements of the Western scientific tradition were made by religious scholars who justified their labors (at least in part) by appeal to the handmaiden formula."

David C. Lindberg, "Myth 1: That the Rise of Christianity Was Responsible for the Demise of Ancient Science," in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (ed. Ronald L. Numbers).

Jim S. said...

Btw, "the handmaiden formula" refers to the idea that philosophy (including natural philosophy which was essentially proto-science) was the handmaiden to theology. In order to do theology you had to do philosophy, including natural philosophy, i.e. the science of the day.

Joe Hinman said...

It looks like the church just wasn't too thorough or consistent in its attempt to block science. I'm always curious why Christians sometimes try to take credit for the scientific revolution. Is there something in the Bible where God told people to test their observations and critique each other's theories? or what?

Hannam's whole point is that there was no blocking of science no persecution of science except a couple of cases, the notorious ones. But there no attempt to block science. The contributions of the Church to science were made by individual communities such as the at Helfta not by the church as an institution in Rome.

Joe Hinman said...

James Hanam is a brilliant historian from Cambridge and he is a good friend of mine,

Vox Maximus said...

The reason that the lie about the Dark Ages does not die is because it is too useful to the atheist narrative. They need to keep it around or else one of their major talking points disappears. In fact, I would contend that atheists use the saying "Dark Ages" in much the same way that modern regressive-progressives and SJWs use the word "racist"; all it is meant to do is be a quick go-to when you no longer have a substantive argument. Its much the same with "Crusades" and "Inquisition". They are just "scare" words meant to cow opponents.

Maximus
www.voxmaximus.blogspot.com

B. Prokop said...

The most amusing thing about the term "Dark Ages" is that it was never meant to be a derisive label at all. Historians coined the term to draw attention to the relative lack of documentary materials from the 5th through the 9th centuries, as compared to the mountains of writings from the periods on either side. Thus, they were "dark" to anyone studying them. In the same way, 19th Century geographers and cartographers would refer to "Darkest Africa" (a label which had nothing to do, by the way, with its inhabitants), because so little was known at that time about the interior of that continent. It was "dark" to them.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Bob is correct on the origination of the term "Dark Ages." (Btw, I would love to see some historian actually quantify the known documentation for the various historical concentrations -- e.g., for European, there'd be Pre-Roman, Roman, Antiquity, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, etc. As far as I know that data (in graph form!) doesn't exist, and I think it's just dying to be done.)

Perhaps most importantly, in the past decade or more there's grown an increasingly influential historical explanation for technology (which is directly tied to science) that credits 1. political centralization and 2. inclusive economic incentives (meaning the developers are meaningfully rewarded for developing) as the key drivers of discovery, innovation and adoption. So all this talk about philosophical underpinnings (from both sides) for science is really starting to seem like a fad that had its time in the sun but has been devalued for better explanations.

Panny Bibiris said...

Seeing as the founders of modern science and scientific method Newton,Galileo, copernicus etc were bible believing creationists and we're studying science as thinking God's thoughts after him I'd say Christians were justified in "taking credit". Of course it's nor about that at all. Science is what it is. Testable repeatable experimentation and result gathering in any case. Point is there was no separation or contradiction between science and the creative force of everything in the universe. And I think Newton was far more intelligent and better equipped to understand the correlation than us that try to disprove a creator with flawed logic.

B. Prokop said...

One of the most fascinating books I've read in the past few years is Decoding the Heavens by Jo Marchant, about the mysterious Antikythera, a "computer" discovered in a 2,200 year old shipwreck off the coast of Greece. It evidenced a technological sophistication unequaled in anything else prior to the 18th Century!

It causes one to wonder why such a level of technology did not catch on in 200 B.C. The book's answer? Its creators saw no practical use for the thing, and it remained basically a rich man's plaything. So I agree with Cal here - economics is key.

Ilíon said...

Economics is downstream of culture.

Joe Hinman said...

that really prove my point about atheism and scientism, atheists have to worship a god but they can't. They wont be atheists so they deify science, of course they can't say that so they couch it in reductionist terms:

al said:. "So all this talk about philosophical underpinnings (from both sides) for science is really starting to seem like a fad that had its time in the sun but has been devalued for better explanations."

Philosophical explanations and content are down the tubes because they can imagine different kinds of determinism such as economic determinism.

We always have this dichotomy between content vs technique, the illusion of technique.

Content is philosophy and the arts, meaning, technique is control. reduction of content to that which can be controlled.

B. Prokop said...

"Economics is downstream of culture."

I'm not so certain. It might be more of a "chicken or the egg" kind of thing.

The economics of agriculture and slavery created the Southern culture, and not the other way around.

The culture of Protestantism created Capitalism and not the other way around.

Catholic Poland defeated Communism (culture over economics).

The economics of globalization created the contemporary consumerist culture.

Seems it can work both ways - in fact, both ways simultaneously. Thus the chicken and the egg.

jdhuey said...

Somewhat related to the myth of the "Dark Age" is the one about the relationship between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity. I don't know if Gibbon was the first but he was certainly the most influential to propose that fall of the Empire was aided by the decline of the traditional pagan Roman virtues - that by looking to life in the next world, the Romans ignored this one. However, there seems to be no good evidence for this.

Current historical analysis point to two related factors for the fall: the rise of the military threat from Persia that diverted the Roman military from full strength against the northern border. Then without this bulwark the barbarians were able to enter the lands of the Empire as a cohesive group. (Prior entrances had been managed by the Romans to disperse the people into slavery, the legion or just spread out to prevent any unified threat.) Eventually, leading to the sacking of Rome.

jdhuey said...

"Thus the chicken and the egg."

Perhaps, more like two sides of the same coin.

B. Prokop said...

I just read this amazing statistic in "The Fragmented Society", a David Brooks column in the New York Times. He writes, "With each additional year of education, the likelihood of attending religious services rises by 15 percent."

Huh? And here for years the atheists have been telling us that the "smart" people all abandon their religion. Now it seems that the more educated you are, the likelier you are to be religious? Interesting... Maybe we churchgoers are the real "Brights" after all!

Jezu ufam tobie!

Joe Hinman said...

Their IQ studies are carp.


the religious belief o professors mirrors that of the General pop

half of all scientists believe in God.

B. Prokop said...

Shameless self promotion here, but I've just finished going back over all the postings on my blog Celestial Pilgrimage, adding some pretty cool images to most of them. If I do say so myself, it's worth a look-see - even if you've already been there.

Miguel said...

Talk of "Dark Ages" is fake and gay

Ilíon said...

"... Maybe we churchgoers are the real "Brights" after all!"

Whether or not *they* are, it's for certain that the Gnu Atheists aren't.

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't think talk of the dark ages had a sexual orientation. I'd rather not see "gay" used as a negative term in this way. If there is a sin of homosexuality, it is not committed simply by being gay, in any event.

Ilíon said...

"I didn't think talk of the dark ages had a sexual orientation. I'd rather not see "gay" used as a negative term in this way."

Used "in this way", "gay" has nothing to do with leftist identity politics (*) -- all the cool kids are using "gay" "as a negative term in this way" ... to mean 'lame', 'weak', 'stupid', 'pointless', and so on.

This shift in the meaning pf the word is unavoidable, really. Normal people would prefer to not think about homosexuality, nor about just what is involved in homosexual acts. And when they are forced to think about it, they consider it, at best, "icky".


(*) which is what the use of "gay" to mean 'homosexual' is all about.

Miguel said...

It was just a joke, Victor. "Fake and gay" is an expression that is sometimes used; "gay" doesn't need to refer to sexual orientation in this case. And I agree that just having an involuntary attraction to the same sex without acting upon it does not constitute a sin.

Since we're talking about the middle ages, though, it's interesting to note thhat it seems like there was no homosexual identity back then. People sometimes commited the sin of sodomy, but there was hardly any "identity" involved with it. This seems to have developed later on. It also seems like this was the case in Antiquity; Aristotle wrote against homosexual acts but it seems that the greeks didn't have an idea of "being gay", at least nothing compared to the situation today.

I'm not a historian, anyway. And it's judt a curious topic.

B. Prokop said...

The Pardoner in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales appears to have been a homosexual. He is described in the poem as having various physical traits which were considered at the time to be stereotypical for such a person. The same goes for his wardrobe choices.

What is extremely interesting is the Prologue to the Pardoner's tale. In it, the character goes to great lengths to tell his (presumably horrified) listeners how he has deliberately sabotaged the Sacrament of Reconciliation over the years, making it essentially null and void for those who come to him for assistance. Some commenters have speculated that the Pardoner, knowing who (and what) he is, and being unable to repent for his sins, is (in an act of vengeance against God) determined to make sure that no one else can repent for theirs.

Joe Hinman said...


May 22, 2016 10:28 AM

Blogger Miguel said...
Talk of "Dark Ages" is fake and gay


can I quote y0u on face book?

Joe Hinman said...

I Am Skeptic did a think against this thread and he attacked Hannam's book. I told Hannam and he answered. I'm going to do as thing on it for monday
here

Joe Hinman said...

you guys should read that exchange, Hannam is going on arguing with those guys, he's so smooth he;s such a good writer and good at argument.