duminică, 11 noiembrie 2012

VyckRo and the MSS show

  Since I received several questions about the MSS show from this week,
I will make a brief statement.
In a previous edition of this show, someone laughed at the argument that Christianity is responsible for the progress and advance in science of the European civilization. And they responded by attacking the weakest possible point of this idea, namely that "Newton was Christian".
I had 9 arguments that were unique to Christianity, and directly responsible for the emergence of modern science, but due to the limited time of the show, I decided to present only the first 3.

  Imagine that a witness at a trial came with 9 alibis, but he said that only three would be enough to prove his innocence. At this point, the judge responds “give us the best one, and based on that one, we will decide your fate”.

  Christianity is accused of having stopped "the advance of science". In response to such serious allegations that many atheists bring, the MSS show did not accept more then 1 counterargument. Thus, I was allowed to present only one counterargument from my top3.
And that one with continuous interruptions

Just for the record:

My arguments, in chronological order, are:
1)The desacralization of nature (M.Eliade argument)
2)The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages (Jean Gimpel argument)
3)The creation and implementation of modern institutions (creation by the Byzantine Empire, implementation -in the- West by Catholicism)

sâmbătă, 20 octombrie 2012

The “New Atheism” or “Where does the joke end and where does the hate begin ?”

  First of all, I think I should say a few words about myself. I started my “career” of criticising the new atheists movement almost 3 years ago.
  At that time, I found a video on YouTube extremely offensive and extremely vulgar. Not even today can I understand how one can expect you to listen to their side of the story after they spit in your face, call you an idiot, and show you the finger. Until then, I had never had any connection with any discussion on religious/atheist themes. Until that time, I had never paid atheism any attention, but you know what they say, “the first impression matters”. It does, and especially when that impression is confirmed again and again, without any exceptions.
  Today, almost three years after my encounter with atheism, I decided to put some ideas in writing, as regards my experience with modern atheism.
  A first conclusion that I think has crystallized over the last years for me, is that most atheists do not desire a real discussion. A common sense rule of diplomacy is to not offend your opponent, and a second rule would be not to launch any personal attack on the person with whom you are discussing. Or, in a nutshell, do not start a discussion by calling your opponent “retarded” and still hope that you will achieve something.
So, if modern atheists do not want a discussion, what do they want? I think they want to be offensive for the pleasure of being offensive. I think they want to humiliate just for the sake of it. The first objection that I almost always hear is “but...not all atheists are like that!”. OK, maybe it is so; still, this is a discussion about those who are, and in particular, the current of the new-atheists.
Obviously, at the above, any self-respecting new-atheist would respond:
“But why should I not be offensive if I can be?”
  First of all, because it can hurt other people, and you can sustain your argument in a non-offensive, civilized manner, and, by doing so, you will have more chances to be listened to. Secondly, because we all live here together and where would we end up if everyone began to offend everyone else for the smallest misunderstanding?
But what differentiates criticism of religion as done by the new-atheists from a normal criticism is that, in the case of the new atheists, it becomes obsessive.
  That is, applied to any other protected group (yap, religion is a protected group), this would be called, depending on the case: xenophobia, racism, or anti-semitism.“Obsessive” is the keyword here, because, for most new-atheists, religion is the cause for all that is evil, and for nothing that is good.
  There is a difference between a person that today criticizes an action of their government, and tomorrow will criticize a social attitude, and one day will criticize a religion or a religious leader, and so on, and a person who criticises only religion every day (day after day). Not only that, but the criticism is always accompanied by “ab hominem” attacks, humiliation, mockery (reductio ad ridiculum). That is the difference between honest criticism and promotion of hate speech. This is perhaps best seen in the attitude of the new-atheists, who always find a connection between any negative political, social or economic event, and religion. The best example here would be the forced association promulgated by the new-atheists between the U.S. military interventions in the Arab world (Iraq & Afghanistan) and the “religion” of some American presidents, such as George W. Bush. There is a whole economic context that is intentionally ignored, a context to which we must add the U.S.’ desire to seize new strategic positions in the area (both military and economic), and we should not exclude the presence of Israel, which is considered  a “U.S. ally”. Therefore, we speak of an entire political-economic context, of which atheists want to see only religion. Obviously, religion was used as a pretext, together with many false pretexts, such as the U.S. desire to spread “democracy in the area”, or “the danger of nuclear weapons”. However, it is easy for everyone to see through the smoke, and to guess the real causes of this war.
  So, are the new atheists stupid? Are they unable to see what the whole world is seeing? As in most cases when new-atheists raise their fist, I think we are dealing with a problem of “legitimacy”. That is, when new-atheists go online for promoting their message of hatred and discrimination, the first thing they do is build a reason. That reason is their legitimacy; after all, even Hitler needed a reason and he did not say he started the war “for having nothing better to do”.  Before needing anything else, “angry atheists” need a reason for their anger.

  I believe that in the case of the new-atheist movements we are dealing with a case which is similar to the traditional fight between some medieval European families, where everyone from a family hates the other family, although nobody remembers where and why the conflict began.
  The fresh generations of new-atheists have inherited the adversity against religion, and particularly against Christianity, from the older generations of atheists. The fresh generations of new-atheists feel they belong to a group and they have a type of  Herd Mentality. Therefore, they feel compelled to continue the “war” of their group. What is strange is that this mentality is stronger than in the traditional religious groups; for example, you will sooner find a Christian criticizing another Christian, than an atheist criticizing another atheist.
  Therefore, a member of the young generation of atheists feels he belongs to a group, a group that is doing what? o! is criticizing religion.
  And look how we reach the old problem of legitimacy again, atheists need reasons to continue the war of their group against the “group enemy”.

  Therefore, a series of false problems are promoted, apparently, just for the purpose of mockery. For example, the idea that if Christians "win" they will immediately begin to burn witches, or that if a Christian is a real Christian he would have to kill homosexuals and prostitutes with stones ( as in the old Testament/old covenant). Personally, I feel a chill up my spine, when I hear an atheist say something like this, and  I ask myself : where does the joke end and where does the hate begin ?

  But before we further explore this issue, let's go back a little, to the "Herd Mentality" problem. It is a known fact that different people, who come from various backgrounds and who tend to react in a certain way in the face of certain problems, behave very differently when they are in a group or are asked to obey a leader. The 20th century gave two negative examples of totalitarian structures ( Nazism and Communism) which have almost totally subordinated millions of people.  We also have many massacres committed by the military under orders, or detainees tortured in prisons.  Among recent examples of the latter, which had some media coverage, was the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp from U.S., where prisoners were subjected to physical and psychological torture.
 The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment are two other famous examples which concluded that there are some sadistic tendencies in people, especially when the burden of responsibility is removed or under the influence of a group or an authority figure.
  In the case of the "Milgram Experiment", where an individual was asked by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person, a significant number of people continued to do so even if the person who received the so-called electric shock apparently experienced pain and even asked for the  experiment to be stopped. In the "Stanford Prison Experiment", a group of students were divided into detainees and guards. Here, the guards developed genuine sadistic tendencies and is some instances the detainees developed a lack of empathy between them and subordination to the guards. I would also like to mention the novel of the Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding, “Lord of the Flies”, where a group of boys remain on an isolated island after their plane crashes. With all adult authority removed, William Golding imagines these boys becoming savage and primal, following a self-proclaimed leader and having a growing hostility to those who did not join their group.
  Returning to the new-atheists of today, I think it is difficult not to observe the "group mentality" that hardens around some "authority figures".  These authority figures are preaching ideas such as "if Christians win, they will ban science and education" and, as is generally the case, the group members do not seem to doubt their leaders’ prediction. Even more, they support them in promoting hatred. But is it really hatred? The new-atheists claim it is not. I think we are facing a very interesting problem when we ask an atheist if he will repeat the same things he is saying in front a camera (on a blog or in a book) when he is face to face with a believer. Most will respond that they will not, and whole series of debates between atheists and Christians from the past few years can confirm that. What does this tell us? It tells us that our atheists have a conscience, a conscience that tells them that what they are doing is wrong. Yale University did several versions of the "Milgram Experiment"; an interesting conclusion was that, the closer the subject that had to receive electric shocks was to the person that had to induce them, the more difficult it was for the person who had to induce the electric shocks to do his or her job.
  There was a difference between when the person that had to induce the electric shocks did not hear or see the people affected ... by the so-called electric shocks, and the case when they could hear their screams, or the case when they could in fact see them. Many of the new-atheists have a brave attitude in front of a camera or when writing on a blog, but that attitude softens in the presence of those people they used to call “idiots”.
  From here, we can conclude that, at a subconscious  level, our atheists realize that what they are doing is "wrong". So why do they continue doing it? My only answer would be related to the "group mentality". There is a pressure coming from the group to continue to be offensive and to mock religious people. I, personally, have seen numerous requests made on blogs, sites, Youtube channels, for the exponents of the new-atheism who have distanced themselves too much from criticism of religion, and were immediately implore to write one more article or make one more video on religion.

  The first problem that arises is what would happen if we replaced the word “Christian” from the phrases used constantly by the new atheists, with a word that designates any other protected group, such as: Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, etc.
Let us take the example that:
- If it had not been for XXXXX Humanity would have progressed 1,000 years more.
- All modern wars have been caused by XXXXX
- If XXXXX attain power, they will publicly execute: scientists, homosexuals and liberal-minded people.
- If XXXX attain power they will start a nuclear war, in order to bring the apocalypse.
Now take into consideration that those who make these statements are constantly repeating them and they occasionally sprinkle them with statements like:
- If a XXXX went to a hospital with a sick child, I would deny him medical help and I would send him home to pray.
 These people are idiots. What shall we do with them ? Unless we do something, the XXXXX will throw us in the "Dark Ages".
Any sane man should see that we are talking of hate speech. I also recollect here an entire variety of myths around the conflict between science and religion, such as the one about Galileo's condemnation and torture, or about the narrow-minded Catholic Church that refused to look through his telescope, or about how the Christian Church allegedly prohibited dissection, alchemy and astronomy, throwing humanity into darkness.
Here, a statement must be made:  according to Holocaust scholars, anti-Semitism occurred as a result of misunderstanding some Jewish rituals and promoting rumors about the Jews.
Also, both the Communist and Nazi propaganda, as well as various types of racist propaganda, such as that one against the blacks or Asians, started from funny posters and humorous material that wanted to mock that certain group.

Joseph Goebbels, the chief of the Nazi propaganda, is quoted to have said:
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth”. or “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

  I think this is the case with the new generation of atheists, the generation that is forming now. A lot of them do not see the joke, in "These people want to bring the  "Dark Ages" back" or  "If we let them do what they want they will burn scientists at the stake", especially because authority figures such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, together with other representatives of the New-Atheism, have always promoted such ideas,  directly or indirectly.
  And no, I am not trying to be funny, I really think that the number of young atheists that begin to believe in these legends is increasing.
  If a family taught their child from a very young age that "the moon is made of cheese" and everyone around that child would say the same thing, the child would grow believing this thing. This was how several shows and TV programs like "Crazy things kids say" were born, because when a child asked a question, someone answered him or her jokingly. But, nowadays, we are dealing with a whole group that promotes “these jokes” again and again, with a serious face.
  Like other people who declare themselves to be Christians on the Internet, I have experienced this hatred coming especially from the young. And it is my opinion that we are talking about a group of young atheists who no longer notice where “the joke” ends. And it is my impression that, in this way, the true hatred will start.
  Perhaps, when a neo-atheist will make the next speech about the Christians who will "burn atheists at the stake", he or she should add ... quietly ...that it was just a joke … just for the record

I wonder how history will remember these people? over 50-100 years, some historian that will study their movement, will probably find difficult to understand how these people that lived in an oasis of freedom have wasted this great opportunity in attacking their own cultural model.

luni, 26 martie 2012

About Atheists, Socialist, Prof. Gouguenheim ... and Islam

The main atheist/socialist myth discussed in this article is the one that attributes the paternity of our modern civilization to Islam. Yap!! in their desperate attempt to demonize the Christian culture, many New-Atheists and socialist will go so far as to deny Christianity all its contributions to our modern civilization, and even embrace the thesis...that it was Islam which founded our modern civilization.

I do wish to say that I do not want to criticise Islam, I am just supporting an argument that happens to involve Islam. The argument which is opposed to mine is not even preached by Muslims, but by Socialists and atheists.

The story pushed by Socialists and atheists begins like this :after Christianity threw Europe into a period of darkness called "the Dark Ages", knowledge was brought back thanks to Islam. The story continues that Islam alone has saved the entire Greek philosophy,medicine and mathematics, and finally the story claims that the translations of this "saved philosophy" into Latin, translations carried out at Cordoba (after the Spanish“Reconquista”), enlightened European thinking and led the West to the Renaissance.

After that horrible September 11, and especially after the U.S.government tried to explain the whole affair only by "Islamic fundamentalism", some kind of "crusade" was launched against the Islamic word. As a reaction to all this, we have all seen the creation of some atheist and Socialist currents the existence of which many of us had not even been aware.

This current has re-put into circulation the myth of a savage barbaric Europe, as opposed to a refined and cultivated Islam. In reality, there was only the revitalization of some old ideas which had once been speculated by some anticlerical men such as Voltaire, men who only a few centuries ago had presented a similar picture.

After the socialists played their role in criticising the U.S. government and the rest of the "coallition of crusaders", the new atheists continued the criticisms. The atheists, not surprisingly, copied the idea of a barbaric Europe, as opposed to an enlightened Islam. They even used many blogs, articles and videos on YouTube, rushing to attribute the paternity of the Renaissance, of the Enlightenment, and indirectly of the entire modern Western civilisation, to Islam.

The arguments they used are as follows :
1) If it had not been for Christianity, humanity would have colonised the universe by now.
2) If it had not been for Islam, Europe would have remained in the feudal era.

Atheists have artificially created the idea of a huge debt that Europe (and implicitly the USA, Canada, Australia or Latin American countries) would have to Islam.

This is really a facepalm moment !

I do not even have to insist on the political and social implications of theses such as this one, if we as Europeans, Americans or Australians would owe everything to other cultures and religions, whether involving Islam or not...

But... Let's return to our topic :

Today we can already speak of two theses regarding the origins of our present-day European culture and civilisation. First, the classical thesis, according to which the Roman Empire did not really collapse, but continued to exist in a different form, a Christian form. The new Rome, which today we call "the Byzantine Empire", managed to save the most part of the literature, philosophy and knowledge of antiquity, restoring it later to the entire Europe, especially by the intermediary of the Catholic Church. 
The second thesis, which seems to be the result of political correctness, is granting Islam the main role in transmitting the ancient Greek cultural works. According to those who support the Islam thesis, the recognition of the fundamental role played by Islam in founding the modern European civilisation could be the solution to all the problems of islamo-phobia that appeared after September 11.


This is a type of "pwned" mentality, so to speak, directed against those who have shown intolerance towards Islam or Muslims : "OK, you criticise Islam, but, did you know that without Islam, our modern civilisation..."

This artificially creates a sense of the dependence of European culture on the translations from Arabic, translations without which, these atheists claim, today's Europe would be a very different one. At this point, I want to remind everyone that it was not Arabs or Muslims who spread this thesis throughout Europe.

Now, in this context, in France, which is a pretty Socialist country, an honest intellectual published the results of his research. He was attacked by Socialists; note that in France, according to the Eurobarometer Poll from 2005, 33% of the people "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".
Thus, many socialists ally against this author. The author is Sylvain Gouguenheim, he is a professor of Middle Ages at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and a respected medievalist.

His study is called: “Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel: Les racines grecques de l’Europe Chrétienne” or "Aristotle at Mont Saint-Michel: the Greek Roots of Christian Europe".
In this book, the author does nothing but present some new arguments for the classical thesis, according to which the Christian Byzantine Empire is the main responsible for the transmission of the ancient philosophy and literature to the West.

Basically, the author says that Europeans do not owe so much to Islam.

The author presents calmly the case of the Monastery St. Michel, which, according to his research, was an important centre for receiving, collecting, transcribing and redistributing Aristotle's works.
And all of this happened about 40 years before the work of translators from Cordoba and Toledo in Spain (they translated from Arabic to Latin) even began.
The author advises us to look at the whole picture and reminds his readers that the Islamic world took over ancient literature from the Syrian Christians. They were the first interested to translate the Greek literature into Syrian. At the same time, Sylvain Gouguenheim argues that Islam as a religion never developed a special interest for Greek culture, and gives as an example the works of Homer, “Iliad” and “Odyssey”, which were completely uninteresting for Islam.

The author follows the origin of the medical knowledge of the Arab world, and traces it back to the Nestorian Christians.

Also, Professor Sylvain Gouguenheim asks some normal questions, such as : In the case of the transmissions of Greek culture from Spain, should we necessarily speak about “Islam”, or wouldn’t it be more correct to talk about “Arabs” ?
This is especially because, at the reference year of "the Reconquest of Spain", many Arab communities were still Christian, or just recently Islamized, and many territories, such as Alexandria, which had belonged to the Christian culture, were also freshly Islamized.

Another argument proposed by the author is the role that Islam had already played (before the Reconquest of Spain), indirectly, by forcing into exile many Syrian Christians, because of the jihad. Syrian Christians had come to Europe, and had already shared a part of the Greek culture with their Christian brothers in Europe.

The author demonstrates that most textbooks, and university courses, tend to present only the pro-Islam thesis, going as far as completely excluding the Greek-Byzantine one.

Some examples:

"The West, as a whole, was constructed on the undeniable contribution of Islam (...) Thanks to Arab thinkers, Europe experienced rationalism"
"Europe would not be what it is, if it had not known Islam. It is part of its heritage" 
"The Greek science is transmitted mainly to the Latins through Islam, and most of this return to the classical sources is carried out in Spain" 

Another example, mentioned by Sylvain Gouguenheim, is the permanent mention of the Arab and Jew translators from Spain, but the constant omitting of Jacob of Venet (who translated the whole work of Aristotle directly from Greek into Latin).
Basically, the whole role played by the Byzantines and Eastern Christianity, seems to be wilfully omitted, while the role played by the Muslim-Arabs is deliberately exaggerated.
And all of this is done out of the apparent fear of not offending Muslim sensitivity, or for the sake of political correctness.

According to this thesis, of "political correctness", History should be written so as to not contradict the theses that put Islam in a positive light.
In this regard, a recommendation of the "parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe from 8 November 2002 / Doc. 9626, proposed a revision of history textbooks, so that the contribution of other cultures, such as Islam, to European civilization should also be mentioned.
This document speaks of a previous report of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly from 13 September, 1991, namely Doc. 649, "on the contribution of the Islamic civilisation to European culture"

Therefore, it is suggested, for example:
ii. There should be wider provision for the
teaching of Arabic as a modern language in European schools.
iii. Scientific research on Islamic matters
should be encouraged, inter alia, by increasing the
number of Arabic and Islamic professorial posts in
universities. Islam should also be included in
mainstream studies, for example Islamic history
should be taught in history departments, Islamic
philosophy in philosophy departments and Islamic
law in law departments, and should not be relegated, as is often the case, to Oriental language

Basically, while the secularists have been, for years now, leading a fight to remove all Christian symbols from schools and universities, some of these secularists also start a fight to push the study of Islam and of Islamic history, Islamic philosophy and Islamic law in the same schools from which the Christian symbols were freshly removed.

And why should this seem so horrible ? ... that is, if indeed...
everything that Christianity brought to Europe was 1000 years of darkness, while Islam led to the Renaissance and Enlightenment rationalism

Sylvain Gouguenheim explained that the main reason which made him decide to publish this book is precisely having read the recommendations of the EU, which suggested this discussion about Islam in the first place.

So far nothing new, just ... another historian presenting, in France, a classical thesis, namely that of the transmission of Greek culture via the Byzantine Empire
What followed is truly amazing:
The author is firstly accused that his book did not bring anything new. After that, he is violently criticized by Socialist circles, declared racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, even called a liar.
Petitions were gathered against him, and two conferences were held, in order to publicly ostracize him, and, after protests, he ended up being excluded from the position which he occupied in a committee, position that gave him the right to coordinate doctoral theses.

According to an interview given by the author to a newspaper in Romania, he even received threats.
Although many medievalist historians supported him and still do, at this moment he has become marginalized.

So what happened ...

Unfortunately, the thesis of a barbarian and primitive Europe, which was enlightened by a cultivated and superior Islam, was promoted in secularist circles to such an extent that today many Socialists and atheists are not able to see the truth

And after all, how could they ? How could they recognize the real role that Christianity has played in the formation of the culture that became the dominant model in the world?

Unfortunately, the militant atheists have already stated their position on this matter.
And, as in the Latin proverb “Alea iacta est” (The dice have been thrown), the atheists have placed their bets a long time ago.
Even more, they proclaimed again and again that all they want to do is to stop the Christians from restoring the "Dark Ages".

The proverb that says “The truth is always in the middle” is, in reality, nothing more than a sophism or, in this case, an “argumentum ad temperantiam”; in English, an Argument towards moderation:

In brief, the two proposed theses are:
That ...
"The entire West, as a whole, was constructed on the contribution of Islam (...) Thanks to Arab thinkers,
Europe experienced rationalism"
"Europe would not be what it is, if it had not known Islam. It is part of its heritage"


The classical thesis, according to which the Roman Empire did not really collapse, but continued to exist in a different form, a Christian form, an Orthodox form. The new Rome,  "the Byzantine Empire", managed to save much of the classical culture of Antiquity, restoring it later to the rest of Europe..

Someone has to be right and someone has to be exaggerating !!

Paradoxically, the Islamic thesis found many supporters among the militant atheists, the same militant atheists who do not want to recognize the status of European culture as a Christian culture.

It must be said that the Arab influence stretched from Spain to India and included Syrian, Persian, Jew, and Indian scholars. This area of influence included, among other people, Orthodox Christians, Oriental Christians, Nestorian Christians, Copts, Hebrews, and of course Muslims.
Still ... the militant atheists will always rush to equate everything that was and is Arab, as necessarily Islamic.
At the same time, these same militant atheists will deny Europe its whole Christian past.

Therefore, they will link a religion such as Islam, coming from an area so diverse, and complicated, with everything that is Arab, but they refuse to do the same regarding Christianity and Europe, even though Christianity is much older and has deeper roots in Europe than Islam has in the Arab world.

Thus, we have reached an unprecedented situation, where we have in the Western world a camp made up of atheists and socialists who attack their own cultural model, being obsessed to demonize their own culture, while all the other cultures do not seem to be rushing to follow this example. Taking all this into account, I can say it is an unprecedented fact, unprecedented in human history: now, from a cultural standpoint, there has always been a competition, even a war between cultures. So far, the most common way of fighting this “war” was with the attackers being “extra muros” (outside the walls) and the defenders being “intra muros (between the walls). Today, the Western atheists attack the fortress walls from inside, and participate with joy in the collapse of their own cultural model.
We are talking about a group of people who participate in the collapse of their own culture, the same culture that gave them the opportunity to freely express themselves in the first place. The Socialists and atheists seem to work together to demonize their culture, religion, history. As I was saying, it is an unprecedented fact, I do not think we will find another case in history when an army attack their own walls from the inside.

Let us once again return to the topic...
All of these absurd theses, such as that Europe would not have been what it is today without Islam, or that Christian Europe  had gone through a dark period of a thousand years, or that the Catholic Church had a special interest in burning “men of science” at the stake because of their scientific opinions (with examples offered such as Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei), or that in Christianity there was a ban on dissection, a ban that stopped any advances in medicine, or that there was a Roman Pope who excommunicated a comet, or that there was a Church Council that would have solemnly proclaimed that women have no soul, or that, because of religious fundamentalism, most scholars of the Middle Ages believed that the earth was flat, or that Christians burned the famous library of Alexandria, and many others of this type... all of those theses mentioned serve to motivate an entire attitude of Christianophobia. And all of these absurd theses
are accepted by modern militant atheists, and are promoted and used to legitimize their attacks on Christianity.
If the story regarding the "Dark Ages" which were supposedly brought by Christianity is the basis for many other myths, the story that Europe owes everything to Islam is the topping on the cake. The supreme Laughter of the atheists and socialists ... i.e. if we owe something to somebody, then we owe something to Islam.

Professor Gouguenheim comes to show us the whole picture, and starting from his research, I will present the case in brief, if you have not already been convinced

we will have to establish what we disagree with.
Me, Professor Gouguenheim, and other historians, we all disagree with statements like: "The entire West, as a whole was constructed on the contribution of Islam (...) Thanks to Arab thinkers, Europe experienced rationalism"
"Europe would not be what it is, if it had not known Islam"
No one denies that the intercultural exchange was beneficial, but let's not exaggerate!!

we need to understand how Greek culture disappeared from the West and what we mean by this:

In ancient Rome, all intelligentsia knew Greek, but with the disappearance of the traditional patrician elite, with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Greek knowledge was lost.
In ancient Rome, Greek was the language of intellectuals, as French would be later for Russians, and there was no need for translations of classical works from Greek into Latin, therefore the Greek texts become unusable, from the moment of the disappearance of that intellectual elite that was able to understand them.

But this term "disappearance" should not be understood in its absolute form, we have evidence that the ancient culture did not disappear completely from the west

Several examples that seem to support this hypothesis :

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (470/475–524), born around the date traditionally accepted for the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD), author of the Neoplatonic work “De consolatione philosophiae” (Consolation of Philosophy). Severinus Boethius aimed to translate into Latin the complete works of Aristotle, with commentaries, and all the works of Plato. And in 520, he used his knowledge of Aristotle in four short treatises in letter form on the ecclesiastical doctrines of the Trinity and the nature of Christ, where he uses Aristotelian terminology such as “substance,” “nature,” and “person”, to combat the Arian heresy

The eighth Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the most important Archbishops from England, Saint Theodore, who lived from 602 until 690, and who also established a flourishing school in Canterbury, was a Greek scholar from Tarsus of Cilicia (Asia Minor). He most likely studied in Antioch and Constantinople, and is known for his positive impact on the Church in England

The chivalry stories in the Middle Ages repeat ancient myths, while on medieval art objects, characters of antiquity appear in medieval clothing.
Charlemagne tries to recover the great imperial tradition, while the 13th century Florentine poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri leads his readers through the medieval Catholic heaven, purgatory and hell, led by the ancient poet Virgil (the one who wrote the famous “Aeneid”)

Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 23 September 1241) an early Icelandic historian, proposed that mythological gods begin as human war leaders and kings whose funeral sites develop cults and that the rose Edda (sometimes called the Younger Edda or Snorra Edda -Norse mythology-) is based on true history and the Norse gods were actually Trojan heroes escaping from the burning Troy. All this demonstrates not only that Snorri Sturluson had good knowledge of ancient literature, but also that he had some knowledge of euhemerism that was put for the first time forth by Euhemerus of Messene, from Greece, around 300 BC; Euhemerus suggests that great kings or warriors of the past are later remembered as gods.

Some works have also survived in the West, such as:
Macrobius' “Commentary upon Scipio's Dream”, “On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury” by Martianus Felix Capella, the translation and comments of Plato's “Timaeus” from Greek into Latin made by Calcidius

All those listed above should demonstrate to anyone that Europeans had not been struck by amnesia because of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and, as we will see further, they did not wait for 1000 years for the Muslims to return to them the ancient culture upon which to build modern Europe.

Let us first understand Aristotle’s importance.

Aristotelianism, a component of modern civilization, gave modern terms like  “energy” as the active power inherent in a thing; “potential” for what is latent but can be released; “substance” and “essence,” “quantity” and “quality,” “accidental,” “relation,” “cause”, “genus” and “species” (general, special), “individual,” “indivisible” (atomic)—terms that still carry the mark of Aristotle’s philosophy.
- in philosophical methodology, it gave a critical approach to previous, contemporary, or hypothetical doctrines; the raising and discussing of doctrinal difficulties; the use of deductive reasoning proceeding from self-evident principles or discovered general truths; and syllogistic forms of demonstrative or persuasive arguments. Also, it contributed to many other areas such as: epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of nature, ethics.
Aristotle's importance mainly and of Greek philosophy in general can not be denied, they gave a set of rules for a correct investigation, they defined the philosophy of nature, and how to obtain knowledge from natural means or by reason;  inductive, analytical, or by experience.

We should therefore not be surprised if in our dispute on the transmission of Greek culture Aristotle's name were to appear.
A quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica should say it all : “This new, scholarly Aristotelianism had established itself sufficiently as the philosophical and methodological frame of learning for it to be adopted, at least in part, by most people of culture—including Ptolemy, the greatest astronomer of antiquity, and Galen, the most eminent medical scientist."
For example: the Chinese civilization invented the compass, paper, gunpowder, printing, just to name a few inventions, which, once arrived in Europe, revolutionized European civilization forever, but in China they had little impact
Without a method of investigation, and, as we will see, without a network of monasteries and church administration to sponsor research, the inventions of the Chinese civilization remained on an irrelevant level.
The famous machines of Ancient China had the same fate : the ancient Chinese seismograph, the petroleum drilling, the hydraulic hammer, the automatic air-blower-bellow working  with water power used for metal melting, and many others
Therefore, the introduction of Greek philosophy in both Christianity and Islam played a essential role for the rise of these cultures
So, we come to the battle for Aristotle, and Greek culture in general.

The answer to the question regarding who preserved Greek philosophy, as well as to the one about who undertook its implementation, is also the answer of “Who should we thank for our modern society ?”
Our beloved atheists and Socialists jumped to proclaim that it was  Islam and only Islam which restored the ancient culture.
First of all, we need to understand that Islam itself, if we speak in these terms, owes Christianity, its entire Greek culture.
The Western Roman Empire had collapsed in 476, Mohammed, the prophet, lived between 570 -  632, and the translation into Arabic of Greek philosophy is located between IX -X centuries. It's not hard to see that there is a long period of time absent from this scheme.
Also, in the last centuries of disintegration of the Western Roman Empire, philosophy was not a priority in the West.
So what really happened during this period ?

Not only did east-pagan philosophers themselves became Christians, but increasingly more and more Middle East Christians, became interested in Greek philosophy as a way to perfect their own tactics of debate. It was a way to compensate for difficulties of theological discourse, such as those concerning the nature of God or Jesus, or the relationship between the persons of the Trinity.
Syrian Christians began to translate Greek works into their own language since the 5th century.
Thus, the existence of ancient Paideia and Christianity, became possible.
Another aspect that must be understood is that the western world struggled to regain its ancient culture, because there was the conviction that it constituted the matrix of its civilization; and the key of Europeans’ return to the ancient culture stands in their Christianity.
Long before the rediscovery of Aristotle, Plato, and Archimedes, the European scholars studied Mark, Luke, Matthew and John. The Gospels were written originally in Greek, and, although the first translations into Latin of the Gospels began in the fourth century, from time to time, there was the need of returning to the original sources.
At the same time, in the Byzantine Empire, the ancient culture had never disappeared. As the Arabic conquests started, Byzantine territories came under Arabic influence. In reality, the inhabitants of these territories were the ones who transmitted their Greek heritage to “Islam”.

And I can provide many examples here too :
- Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809–873) known among the Arabs as the "Sheikh of the translators." He is probably the best known translator of Greek medical texts into Arabic; he was Syriac, Nestorian Christian, who came from a Nestorian family, he translated about 116 works, including Plato and Aristotle.

- Ishaq ibn Hunayn -  ( 830  – 911) the son of  Hunayn Ibn Ishaq,  an influential physician and translator in the Arab world, known for writing the first biography of physicians in the Arabic language, and  translations of Euclid's “Elements” and Ptolemy's “Almagest”.

- Qusta ibn Luqa ((820–912) a Melkite Greek Christian, translator (of Byzantine Greek extraction) of mathematics, medicine, astronomy and philosophy. He was another known translator into Arabic

- Theophilus of Edessa (695–785 CE), a Greek medieval  scholar, who become an important astrologer and translator, under the domination of Arabs

- Bakhtishu` family - were Persian Nestorian Christian physicians from the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, it is considered that they had an important role in the functioning of the first hospital in Baghdad. (several family members Jabril ibn Bukhtishu, Yuhanna ibn Bukhtishu, Ja'far ibn Yahya )

For more info, see the book – “How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs” By De Lacy OíLeary  D.D

Therefore, the reality proves more colourful than the new atheists would like.

If we want to play the "who owes whom” game, we must remember : 

Without Christianity, it is very likely that Islam would not have any Greek philosophy to even begin the discussion (with all their Indian influence). Western Christianity is not as dependent to Arabic translations, as Islam is to Eastern Christianity. Western Christianity found two springs of Greek culture to quench their thirst for classical literature. If Spain had not been conquered, Western scholars would have focused only on the Byzantine source.

Ancient Greek civilization, and Egyptian civilization, collapsed at the same time, with the Roman occupation of Egypt. However, Islam did not recover both cultures, they only took over Greek culture, which was already maintained by Eastern Christianity.

If indeed "Islam" had really recovered the ancient culture by itself, then it would have had to recover ancient Egyptian culture also, and then we would have never had the need of a Rosetta Stone to understand hieroglyphics. Unfortunately for advocates of this theory, Islam only took the culture that Eastern Christians had already preserved for centuries.

Professor Gouguenheim, like other medievalists, argues that Islam was very selective in the translations made, in other words, as long as it did not contradict Islamic teachings, everything was ok.
On the contrary, Byzantine philosophy included the principle that a philosophy can only be understood by itself. Therefore, Byzantine scholars such as Ioannis Italos and Michael Psellus recommended that understanding the concepts of ancient Greek philosophy must start only from the original works, even with the risk of contradicting the Christian dogmas.
Similar concepts were to reappear in the West, during the Renaissance, but apparently they have not appeared in Islam.
In medicine, despite the popular opinion that in the Islamic world dissection and anatomical research were widespread, while in Christianity they were prohibited, in reality, Muslim medicine has not done extensive investigations on the human body and it relied heavily on the work of Galen of Pergamon.

On hospitals in the Islamic world, I found the following quote relevant:
"These hospitals were a concrete expression of the Islamic indebtedness to Byzantine medical theory and therapeutics,
for Islamic rulers clearly adopted the Byzantine
institution of the hospital, and Islamic doctors
clearly relied on Byzantine medical texts"

Some bibliographical sources for medicine and the Byzantine Empire
L`uomo bizantino By Guglielmo Cavallo
A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic medicine by Plinio Prioresch
The birth of the hospital in the Byzantine Empire by Timothy S. Miller
The orphans of Byzantium: child welfare in the Christian empire by Timothy S. Miller

From the introduction of the book "How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs By De Lacy O'Leary D.D." I give the following quote

"In reading the autobiography of that distinguished Orientalist Sir Denison Ross, there is a letter received from some inquirer which contains the sentence remarking what a good thing it would be if we could find out "how, and in what form, the Greek and Latin writers found their way to the ken of the Arab or Persian or Turkish student" (Sir Denison Ross, Both Ends of the Candle, n.d., p. 286)."

Westerners were apparently quite ignorant about the Greek heritage, and atheists have taken on this confusion.
Therefore, as regards the myth "Western Europe's indebted to Islam”, two aspects should be retained:

First of all, Islam has a debt to Eastern Christianity, for its heritage.
Secondly, Western Europe, without Islam, would have recovered the Greek culture from the Byzantines anyway.
The atheist and Socialist argument about the huge debt of European civilization to Islam, and lack of any debts to Christianity, proves lacking in reliability.
On the other hand, if we want to speak about the relationship between Islam and Christianity, we must not forget that Islam took from Christianity two of its brightest centres: Alexandria and Constantinople. These centres of ancient culture had survived very nicely, long after the Western Roman Empire collapsed.
Therefore, Europe does not owe its ancient culture to anyone.
Argument closed.  

Now, about those 1000 years of darkness that Christianity allegedly brought to Europe:
A relevant quote, about the beginning of the pre-industrial revolution in Europe:

In three centuries - from 1050 to 1350 - several million tons of
stone were quarried in France for the building of 80 cathedrals,
500 large churches and some tens of thousands of parish churches.
More stone was excavate in france during the three centuries
that at any time in Ancient Egypt, although the volume of the
Great Pyramid alone is 2,500,000 cubic metres. The foundation
of the cathedrals are laid as deep as 10 metres (the average depth
of a Paris underground station) and in some cases forming
 a mass of stone just as significant as the visible part from above

From: jean gimpel the cathedral builders pag 1,
Here is just one example about how the competition between French cities, in the Middle Ages, regarding who can build the largest Gothic cathedral, changed our world, and led to progress.
Another factor of progress, especially for the Westerners, were orders of monks such as the Cistercians, obsessed on labour and self-sufficiency. They implemented without constraints the latest innovations in science, all over Europe, while centuries ago, some Roman emperors, such as Vespasian, were afraid to implement scientific innovations that would have decreased the workplaces throughout the empire, or would have compromised the slave industry.
The result was that machines such as water mills were never widely implemented in the Roman Empire, but in Christian  Europe, Christian monasteries such as the ones of the Cistercians, oriented on self-sufficiency, had no objections to implement any machine that would have eased their work and give them more time for prayer.

See for more info: “Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages” by Jean Gimpel

Therefore, atheists who sought, over seas and oceans, to thank someone for modern science, should probably look closer to home.
Europe, and implicitly America, Australia, Canada, Latin America, do not owe their progress to anybody. Europeans themselves have built their own culture, and when they lost part of ancient culture, they went and looked for it.  Nobody came to offer the ancient Greco-Roman culture, or the inventions of China, or the knowledge of India to the Europeans on a silver platter. Europeans have gained this knowledge because they went and they looked for it.
As bearers of Christian culture, we should be proud about the huge influence that Christianity has exercised in promoting education, science, art and the formation of modern civilization.

vineri, 17 februarie 2012

Open letter to Thunderf00t

  Dear,  Dr. Phil as you probably already know, I recently  launched a discussion challenge addressed to you.
For some time, you have been systematically promoting the idea that there has been a historical conflict between science and the Christian religion. You have claimrd that science and religion ar in a  permanent state of conflict, and that one must die for the other the live.
You have used your entire scientific authority in promoting some concepts such "Dark Ages" or ideas such as:

- [churches] „burned the combined knowledge, gained by thousands  collected in libraries”,
- [religion] „decreeing that learning is evil”
- „that Western nations were not born of Christian values”,
- that  without Christianity „Christopher Columbus would have landed on the moon.”, or in shortly the The Conflict Thesis.

Today's atheist slogan, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" was popularized by Carl Sagan (1934-1996),  a professor of astronomy at Cornell University in New York, who hosted the TV series called "Cosmos".
The slogan origins in a David Hume (1711-1776) maxim on the `falsehood of miracles`, however the professor Carl Sagan, highly admired and respected by atheists, spread much misinformation via his TV series "Cosmos" about the relationship between science and religion.
Among the biggest blunders committed by him, are those relating to "the burning of the library of Alexandria by christians" and on the "killing of Hipatia as a martyr of science". Unfortunately the Cornell professor Carl Sagan, never applied his own slogan on his  extraordinary claims, on the conflict between science and religion.
After all, this is what I want  from your, Dr. Phil : to present some evidence for your extraordinary claims. I do not consider that I ask for much, considering that you have asked exactly the same thing from the Christians on YouTub who clame  that the Bible is full of scientific evidence, or from the creationist, who believe in a global flood or that the world is 6000-8000 years old.
In the past I have launched, two other challenges for you, in which I asked you to clarify your position on the impact of Christianity on the development of the western civilization. You have consistently refused to do that, and you have continued to promote the "Conflict Thesis" whit every opportunity that you have. Furthermore you seem to operate by the dictum, that sometimes it is better to promote a lie, if that lie will negatively impact  your opponent. Still Dr. Phil. you have far exceeded the phase of "a lie". However I'm ready  to give you the benefit of doubt, and to accept that you really believe what you preach.

Today when your data just become public, I can address to you personally:
I understand that being a collaborator, perhaps even a graduate of the Cornell University, did influence your perception on the normal relationship, between science and religion. After all, one of the founders of the Cornell University is at the same time one of the founders of the "Conflict Thesis". And yes I am referring to Andrew Dickson White. (1832-1918). Several other persons over the years that had some connection whit the Cornell University have publicly supported the "Conflict Thesis"...of which I already mentioned Carl Sagan.
Let's not forget that this university offers an atheist association for it students the "Atheist andAgnostic Society of Cornell" that mission is to
"organize, unite, educate and serve people that promote atheist and agnostic ideas, the ideals of scientific rationality, secularism, and human-based ethics."
So I have enough reasons to believe that you Dr. Phil,  did go with the flow, without ever doubting what you were taught. But Dr. Phil, let me read from the Cornell University popular post "Why I'm an Atheist"
"We might not always come to the correct conclusions, and therefore we must always be willing to revise them in light of new evidence."
So, Dr. Phil do you  also practice what you preach? Do you believe in the above concept ?
Are you ready to show it?
Do you believe that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" ?
Are you  able to bring evidence for a thesis that you public supported it,  on internet from 2006?
Let me remind you that so far, all people who were challenged by you answered. Let me remind you also that so far you have chosen for your discussions only the weakest opponents TruthfulChristian,  VenomFangX, and this guy DLandonCole that nobody had heard of, and  in the real life, Ray Comfort and Westboro Baptist Church, while none of those people have a higher education.
Do you're not interested to find how you will handle a real discussion?

Do you just conform with accepting everything based on blind faith? 
I have seen your movies for instance, where you sustain a classical version of the "Conflict Thesis", which in reality, originated in the time of Voltaire (1694-1778), namely that, "Greek science" was brought in Europe from "Islam"...and after that boomed the Enlightenment.
Or in one of your BlogTv show, one of your friends presented the story, with the opposition of Christianity to anatomical studies, this story is pretty old too but was presented by Andrew Dickson White in the "History of the Warfare of Science with Theology inChristendom" who gave in atheism a beautiful legend, namely that "while in Christianity autopsies were prohibited, in Islam were widely practiced".

When you meet thing, such as the ones above, do you ever question them? Should I remind you of the video whit the "girlthat prayed for the earthquake" ?
Do you take all that is negative about religion to be automatically true, and all that is good about religion as being a lie which must somehow be exposed ?

I throw your the glove Cornell Dr. Phil, and wait to see your "academic integrity".