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.

3 comentarii:

  1. see: another approach to the same story's+a+shameless+plug

  2. So true. What happened is that when muslims conquered parts of the Byzantine Empire they absorbed the knowledge they had, alongside the Hindus too and others. That's why the Islamic Golden Age happened. But still, the arabic commentaries and people like Averroes had a huge impact on Europe, plus the discovery of Algebra and the spread of the Indo-Araba numeric system, that's something you can't deny.

    Also, to further your point that the Byzantine Empire contributed to knowledge, when Constantinople felt, many intellectuals fled the city to western Europe, bringing their knowledge with them, so that they contributed to the Rennaisance.