[ExI] For the sake of argument

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Sep 22 03:48:39 UTC 2009

Stathis wrote

> Christianity is intrinsically inimical to intellectual progress
> because it has as a central tenet perhaps the dumbest idea idea in the
> history of human thought, much dumber than belief in God and angels
> and virgin births: faith. Faith means you have to believe something
> that there is no rational reason to believe: the more incredible it
> is, the more virtuous you are for believing it. And if your faith did
> not align with the ad hoc faith of the religious authority of the day,
> you could be horribly killed. It was this, rather than the quickly
> Christianised barbarians, that held the world back for centuries.

I'm not so sure Christian faith held back the world.

The reigning faiths elsewhere were very likely less
"irrational", but what good did it do them?

As I wrote not long ago to some friends (with
respect, by the way, to whoever pointed out
the Mongols smashed Baghdad about this time [1]):

While by 1200 something very bad had already
happened to the Muslim world, and something
bad was starting to happen to China, it's also
true that things unprecedently good were
starting to happen in Europe by 1200:

   "In many respects the Europe of the thirteenth century,
whose total population probably came close to the fifty
million level of the Roman empire at its peak, was a remarkably
creative society and culture. Governmental agencies were
instituting modern bureaucratic and legal systems. Well-endowed
and heavily enrolled universities were the sites of brilliant
theorizing about philosophy and theology as well as providing
professional schools for training lawyers and teachers.
   "Magnificent Gothic churches were erected and the visual
arts in general---sculpture, painting, and colored-glass blowing
---attained a level of ingenuity never to be surpassed. The
vernacular national literatures of Europe were in the course
of formation, and the texts invented by medieval poets and
narrators are still intensely scrutinized today in all university
literature departments for their subtle psychology and
intrinsic aesthetic value.

(I always find Cantor's views strikingly perceptive. For more, see

So to say that Xianity *held back* Europe is to
exalt even higher whatever it was that Europe
had going for it!


[1] On February 10, 1258, Baghdad was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, a grandson of Chingiz Khan during the sack of 
Baghdad.[21] Many quarters were ruined by fire, siege, or looting. The Mongols massacred most of the city's inhabitants, including 
the caliph Al-Musta'sim, and destroyed large sections of the city.
 From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad#The_end_of_the_Abbasids_in_Baghdad

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