Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Long Day’s Journey Out of Night, Part III

Below is the third article in a four-part series on history, human development, and Islam by our English correspondent Seneca III. A slightly different version of this essay was previously published at Crusader Rabbit.

Previously: Part I, Part II.


Campo de’ Fiori, Rome

A Long Day’s Journey Out of Night
Part III: Belief


by Seneca III

On a chill Thursday morning, February 17th in the year 1600, just sixteen years before Galileo Galilei barely escaped the same fate, the fifty-one-year-old Benedictine friar Giordano Bruno was led naked and with an iron spike through his tongue into the Campo de’Fiori in Rome, burned at the stake for committing “heresy in matters of dogmatic theology”, and his ashes dumped in the Tiber. His crime had been to comment on the work of Nicolaus Copernicus and suggest that there were infinite worlds in the universe with intelligent life, some perhaps with beings superior to humans.

[“I can imagine an infinite number of worlds like the Earth, with a Garden of Eden on each one. In all these Gardens of Eden, half the Adams and Eves will not eat the fruit of knowledge, and half will. But half of infinity is infinity, so an infinite number of worlds will fall from grace and there will be an infinite number of crucifixions.” — Giordano Bruno, ‘On the Cause, Principle, and Unity’, 5th dialogue.]

This was an extremely brave thing to do. Within the Roman Catholic Ecumene of the 16th and 17th Centuries — just as it is today within the Islamic Umma — it was invariably fatal to challenge the Church’s doctrinal power base, a fate Copernicus, a curate and Renaissance polymath, had managed to avoid by publishing his seminal work ‘On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres’ in 1543, only shortly before his death by natural causes at the age of seventy.

Whether the timing of its publication and his passing were planned or simply fortuitous is a moot point, although circumstances do point to the latter. But being the essential pragmatist that he was Copernicus may well have understood that the failure of the human mind to come to terms with the fundamental difference between faith and doctrine, between apostasy and heresy, has been a prime cause of conflict and atrocity throughout our history.

Bruno was also a cosmologist and polymath of high standing — his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of spatial paradigms of geometry to language are considered a classic of their time — but in other respects he was a very different kettle of fish to Copernicus. Recent examination of the background to the case indicates that another dynamic had just entered stage left, Renaissance Hermeticism. Bruno subscribed to the mysticism verging on magic that lay at the core of Hermeticism, esoteric beliefs originating in the ancient Greek writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and which to some extent still exist today within Rosicrucianisn, Freemasonry and Coptic scripture.

In this context it is worth noting the seventh of the eight charges that Bruno faced:

  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ’s divinity and Incarnation.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
  • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
  • Believing in metempsychosis* and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
  • Dealing in magics and divination.
  • Denying the Virginity of Mary.


Faith, belief in superior beings, gods if you will, is a metaphysic probably as old as our species, and a very slippery one it is; in its purest form it is spiritual and personal but its fellow traveller, theology, or dogma, is temporal, a human attempt to explain the unexplainable and invariably it does so in what are the perceived best interests of a particular power elite, the priesthood or clerics.

Bruno’s statement about the nature of the Universe was clearly a challenge to the elite of his day. It undermined their theological position, their ‘raison d’etre’, it condemned him to a dreadful fate and caused his works to be placed in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (along with those of Copernicus) for fear they would infect others. Yet today these statements do not even raise an eyebrow, they might even be considered passé in some quarters, and this must therefore beg the question “How was the ruthless power of the Christian clergy and the theological dogmatism that sustained it shattered, and hence why are Inquisitions and burning stakes no more?”

Broadly speaking, the short answer can be found among the headstones of those men and women who each walked their own small stretch of the long trail that began with the Renaissance in the 14th century, struggled through the devastation of the Thirty Years War — which ended in the predominantly secular settlements of the Peace of Westphalia — and culminated in the Enlightenment, an era of Western philosophy, intellectual, scientific and cultural life centred upon the 18th century in which reason was advocated as a primary source for legitimacy and authority.

However, that said, another question raises its ugly head “Why did the need arise in the first place and why, after all those centuries of blood and pain do we now face the prospect of having to do it all over again to an atavistic Imamate?”

One answer may lie in a subtle difference between the three major Religions that arose in the area of the fertile crescent — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — and those of the East such as Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism and that most humanitarian of them all, Buddhism.

These Eastern religions share several characteristics that are in essence quite different from those of the Western Triumvirate:

  • They tend to be more ethical and philosophical systems and less the rigid practice of a set of clearly defined rules imposed from above.
  • They do not insist upon monotheistic worship.
  • In general, whilst they acknowledge the existence of gods, they do so without the overriding concept of sin and punishment that bedevils the Triumvirate.
  • They are mostly older having evolved slowly, either uniquely or out of a precursor system, rather than springing into existence over a relatively short time frame.

They are not, of course, immune from sectarianism or internecine strife but, with the exception of certain caste systems, this sectarianism is overall more benign than malignant. Indeed, Shintoism wholeheartedly embraces Buddhism and many of its practises, and both systems ease along together in complete harmony.

On the other hand Judaism, Christianity and Islam are ‘revealed’ belief systems burdened with revelations, instructions cast in stone in the wording and in the light of the limited understanding of their time, the word of God delivered through the inadequate mouth of man out of the traditions of Hellenistic and Roman metaphysics, belief systems that were riddled with oracles, seers and prophets.

And, when it comes to prophets, predestination and reason meet at a Philippi both far more ancient and modern than the Roman one, one where, in an era of WMD, we should all be thinking pretty damn hard about what the future holds and what we are going to have to do if we want to hold onto it.


Offhand I can only think of two recent publications that have elicited a similar medieval response as did the works of Copernicus, Bruno and Galileo: The Bell Curve (1994, Hernstein & Murray**) and The Satanic Verses (1988, Rushdie). Both challenged established ‘dogmatic theology’, the former in the field of cognition, particularly its application within the politically correct constraints of ethno-social doctrine, and the latter in the swamp of Islamic revelation. Their authors also faced trial before a court of vested interests.

Although Rushdie has managed to survive the wrath of the demented ‘Slaves of Allah’, others have not been so fortunate. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death in 1991, and a few days later Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator, was stabbed and seriously injured. William Nygaard, the Norwegian publisher, just managed to survive an assassination attempt in Oslo in 1993.

Conversely the The Bell Curve did not generate any physically lethal fatawa, but as Professor Richard Hernstein died before the book was released, he was unable to defend his thesis during the coruscating ideological storm that followed. His co-author, Charles Murray, lived on through a long period of media and academic debate and comment, both pro and con, including some sustained attacks on the personal integrity and academic standing of the authors. This proved again that one diddles with dogma at one’s peril, and therefore one should not be that surprised that recently there has been a demand from the ‘Intelligent Design’ tendency for the teaching of this devious repackaging of Creationism as equal to and alongside that of Evolution.

If nothing else this illustrates that priesthoods continue to cling tenaciously to those simplistic, doctrinal explanations that have for so long sustained their sinecures. And, having only these to offer in support of their postulates, such clergy are by necessity reduced to negative campaigning where the rationale behind their premise pushes credulity to its limit by proposing that the Universe is far too complex to have happened by chance and, a priori, must have been ‘designed’.

Consequently, and irrespective of whatever my own metaphysic is or is not, I suggest that if the universe is too complex to have just happened and therefore must have been designed, then it is axiomatic that the Designer must be infinitely more complex than the design. Hence, compelled by the imperative illogic of the original premise, I must ask, “What, then, designed the Designer?”

There is, of course, no answer to be found in such an infinity of mirrors, and those who need to embrace their existence within the constraints of revealed belief systems could ease their pain by simply recognising evolution as the Designer’s chosen methodology. After all, who are they, mere mortals, to deny the gods — whom, one presumes, have all of time and unlimited options on their side — this particular tool of their choice?

Or, to put it another way, from what moral position can we set out to deal with the pre-medieval, unenlightened dogmatism of Islam whilst still burdened with the detritus of our own?

That said, let the floodgates open, but before they do I would dare to suggest that Intelligent Designers and the non-inquiring minds of the Islamic Umma might care to note Bruno’s reply to the Inquisition: “Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it” Wherewith he demonstrated that a human mind under the lonely lens of a rational microscope is a prime example of evolution in action.


Notes:

* Metempsychosis is the belief in the transmigration of the human soul into the new body of the same or a different species. My personal take on the wording of this charge is that it is interesting in as much as it does not specifically deny the concept of human reincarnation, possibly because it might bring into question the matter of Jesus rising from the dead.
** An interesting consequence of this publication was the subsequent modification of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (and test) into an acultural version (SB5, in 2003) — to my mind a classic case of rigging the game in order to achieve a desired result, a procedure not entirely alien to all belief systems.

Previous posts by Seneca III:

2007 Oct 13 A Letter to my People
    26 Another Letter To My People
2008 Oct 5 Excerpt From “Ere the Winter of Our Discontent”
2009 Oct 22 The Cultural Death of a People
    23 Do Star Chambers Serve a Useful Purpose, Or Do They Obfuscate the Issue?
  Nov 8 By the Rivers of Babylon
2010 Jul 2 The ‘Phoney War’ Is Over
  Sep 13 Musings on the Winds of Change
  Oct 13 The Fourth Dimension of Warfare, Part 1
2011 Jan 1 The New Year Comes With Ham
  Feb 6 My Yesterday in Luton
  Jun 17 The English Spring
  Jul 12 The Betrayed
  Oct 19 A Long Day’s Journey Out of Night, Part I
    20 A Long Day’s Journey Out of Night, Part II

18 comments:

Illuminati said...

I'm deeply disappointed in Gates of Vienna. I don't see how attacking Christians and Jews, advances the cause of freedom, which we all share.

All Protestants, and probably all modern Catholics, reject what happened to Bruno hundreds of years ago. An yes, it was hundreds of years ago. So lets review more recent history, shall we?

During the twentieth century, athiests killed over 100 million people, and tortured countless others, in the name of atheism.

The so callled "enlightenment", at least according to the French philosophes, was not always very "enlightened." First the philosophes gave us the Reign of Terror which destroyed France, then they gave us Napolean who further depleted that poor country along with surrounding European countries. The mayhem the philosophes caused later inspired Karl Marx, who built on their anti-Christian ideas in his own version of "enlightenment." In the name of reason and atheism, Communists killed 100 million people.

In view of recent history, I can see why atheists are always bragging about how superior they are. After all, they do hold the worlds record for mass murder. Perhaps, if Christians had killed that many people within one century, they could be just as proud of themselves.

Incidentally, your metaphysics isn't so "enlightened" either.

Jolie Rouge said...

[“I can imagine an infinite number of worlds like the Earth, with a Garden of Eden on each one. In all these Gardens of Eden, half the Adams and Eves will not eat the fruit of knowledge, and half will. But half of infinity is infinity, so an infinite number of worlds will fall from grace and there will be an infinite number of crucifixions.” — Giordano Bruno, ‘On the Cause, Principle, and Unity’, 5th dialogue.]

God constant string theory.

Illuminati said...

I'm deeply disappointed in Gates of Vienna. I don't see how attacking Christians and Jews, advances the cause of freedom, which we all share.

All Protestants, and probably all modern Catholics, reject what happened to Bruno hundreds of years ago. An yes, it was hundreds of years ago. So lets review more recent history, shall we?

During the twentieth century, athiests killed over 100 million people, and tortured countless others, in the name of atheism.

The so callled "enlightenment", at least according to the French philosophes, was not always very "enlightened." First the philosophes gave us the Reign of Terror which destroyed France, then they gave us Napolean who further depleted that poor country along with surrounding European countries. The mayhem the philosophes caused later inspired Karl Marx, who built on their anti-Christian ideas in his own version of "enlightenment." In the name of reason and atheism, Communists killed 100 million people.

In view of recent history, I can see why atheists are always bragging about how superior they are. After all, they do hold the worlds record for mass murder. Perhaps, if Christians had killed that many people within one century, they could be just as proud of themselves.

Incidentally, your metaphysics isn't so "enlightened" either.

Baron Bodissey said...

Illuminati —

Perhaps you have failed to notice that I often feature material here that I disagree with. I don’t require everyone I work with to be a Christian, or believe in God, or oppose the regulatory state, or hate Socialism, or think that abortion is wrong. Those who share this blog’s core mission are welcome to express themselves in this space.

Is your faith so weak that it cannot withstand the public pronouncements of those who do not share it?

Is your doctrine so lacking in reason that it would crumble in the face of a reasoned counter-argument?

Jesus Christ lifted His arms up onto the cross and offered Himself up to killed in agony. How can He be anything but indifferent to those who would stand at the foot of the cross and debate what they believe are His teachings, or deny His existence? Don’t you think He can tolerate that? He’s seen far worse.

I’ve concluded that God must love atheists, because He made so many of them.

Besides, some of my best friends are atheists. I will continue to work with them. They are among the kindest, bravest, least selfish, and most dedicated people I know.

Remember what Jesus said: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Michael Servetus said...

Not much that is profitable here in this latest installment but no shortage of illogical faulty reasoning that is sophomoric in scope. The author betrays an estimation of his own reasoning power which is far above its actual worth.

Michael Servetus said...

Baron,
For me it is not the opinion honestly held but the quality of the reasoning which is below standard and doesn't seem deserving of a place. There are several things which seem out of place.
For example, false moral equivalency, insult, presumption, vain confidence, leftist Marxist conspiratorial paranoia, and lack of understanding not to mention charity.
The conclusions drawn in this very subjectively biased essay are not based on sound reasonings and therefore do not rise to the level of counter arguments but more like, reasons why a high school student doesn't believe in a god, borderline rant.

Baron Bodissey said...

Michael —

I won’t argue with you on those points. If the author decides to log in, maybe you’ll hear from him.

In the past we’ve had Christians who argue, in effect, that what they say must be true because it says so in the Bible.

Then there are scientists who dismiss those who don’t believe some scientific conclusion — one that lies outside their own area of specialization, which therefore they must take on faith — as “fools”, “idiots”, etc.

I have observed severe deficiencies in logic and reasoning skills on both sides of the Science vs. God debate. Many people seem to abandon their ratiocinative abilities as soon as they walk through that door.

Elby the Beserk said...

For a splendid fictional account of Bruno's life (and many many other matters as well!), I highly recommend this tetralogy by John Crowley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Crowley),"Ægypt" (aka "The Solitudes"), "Love & Sleep", "Dæmonomania" and "Endless Things". All are long, but - for me - the prose is splendid and the tale worth the telling.

A predecessor to these is "Little, Big". I would read that first; whilst not a prequel, it has much in common in its themes.

Enjoy!

Baron Bodissey said...

Seneca III sent the following response to some of the commenters on this post:

-----------

Dear Illuminati and Michael Servetus,

I normally do not respond to comments appended to anything I have written myself. I am of the opinion that having been privileged enough to have my thoughts and comments published in the first place it is but a minimal courtesy on my part to allow any readers the space and freedom to present theirs without further input from me. In this case I am going to make an exception, albeit reluctantly.

Essentially, I am quite prepared to admit to no small amount of trepidation when I proposed to the Baron that this particular essay be posted for the second time.

The first posting on CR generated a similar outraged response from what I can only describe as ‘ Judeo-Christian believers’ who did not however choose to read between the lines searching for and somehow finding evidence of a non-existent attack on their particular ideological position. The Antipodean commentators did, to their credit, manage to respond sans gratuitous personal insult to the author and chose instead to enter into an internecine conflict debating the relative historical merits and demerits of their own specific sectarian positions.

You gentlemen, on the other hand, appear to be seeking out personal offence where it does not exist and such a response seems to me to be more akin to that of the medieval clergy rather than their modern counterparts and congregations whom I know well and like immensely, at least at Parish level.

Understand this: writing this essay was difficult for me and required a lot of heart searching because whilst I am as you suspected an atheist or, as I prefer to call it, a ‘secular humanist’, I have no bones of contention with the practices and position of either modern Judaism or Christianity – indeed, I support our village Church and its community of worshippers both financially and morally because, simply put, they are good people who care for the physical and spiritual welfare of their fellow human beings. They know my metaphysic and I know theirs and we live together in mutual harmony each respecting the other’s point of view without acrimony or pointless debate. Such neighbours and friends sit easily with me; you and your quasi-fanatical kind do not.

May I suggest that seeing as you feel so strongly about my contribution to the debate you make the effort and take the time to write up a reasoned counter argument rather than just casting onto the waters non or barely substantiated and essentially amorphous comments such as ‘borderline rant’, ‘sophomoric’ etc and then see if you can get it published. I suspect you may not find either so easy.

And, finally, three further things:

Illuminati – your no de plume tells me, or anyone else who cares to research it, everything that I/we need to know about you. Goodbye.

Michael Servetus – your nom de plume, when I looked up its original owner and compared his life and fate with your somewhat heated response to what I had written and actually meant in my heart, indeed surprised me. Would you care to re-read the essay without prejudice or preconceptions and let me know if you happen to chance on a different perspective? I would truly be interested to know if you do and I am sure that the Baron would be prepared to pass your response on to me privately if you so wished.

Furthermore “leftist Marxist conspiratorial paranoia” ?! – me? Please at least have the courtesy to read a couple of my previous contributions before you rush to your next ill-considered judgement. If any.

Regards,
Seneca III.

mace said...

Illuminati,

"In the name of reason and atheism, Communists killed 100 million people."

No,they didn't,the Communist regimes murdered millions, not in the name of atheism, but because they were totalitarian. I'm sure many of those Inquisitors who condemned Bruno would have quite comfortable as Communist party apparatchiks.

Baron,

"Those who share this blog’s core mission are welcome to express themselves in this space."

Well said.

Those sentiments are appreciated by this atheist,Leftist Social democrat,who,however, agrees with your blog's mission.

Lisa Beth W. said...

Seneca III,

Wow, how condescending of you to respond, and in the fashion that you did!

People who serve the living God do well to be outraged when His existence is dismissed and they are characterized as irrational. It is an insult to Him. (And not one that they are going to kill anybody over, unlike the every hot-headed Muslims.)

LAW Wells said...

While I comprehend fully the point being illustrated by Seneca, I am disappointed that it has been illustrated from historical and theological inaccuracy. To begin with, the Inquisition was actually far more lenient than the secular courts of the day, being far less likely to hand out death sentences and having also invented a little thing we call today the Presumption of Innocence.

Second, Bruno was indeed tried as a heretic. His beliefs on other planets and stars were small fry, and as it were, formed the last part of the charge of arson, murder and jaywalking. On a related note, Galileo was convicted on account of his enemies in the Papal Court who convinced the Pope he was being called an idiot by Galileo. Copernicus' book was not placed on the List of Forbidden Books until after Galileo's came out.

And I'll finish with a brief word on dogma and orthodoxy - they are, by their nature, required in a religion that emphasises its own primacy and exclusivity to the truth. If you do not accept authority, then dogma and orthodoxy become meaningless terms of oppression, rather than necessities to light the path to Heaven. Considering science doesn't light a path to Heaven, orthodoxy there must be challenged. Ergo, a false equivalence.

I shall say it again - I get what you mean, Seneca. The meaning is plain. You just fail to put the whole story together from a believer's perspective (regarding Orthodoxy, the Inquisition, Bruno's unorthodox beliefs, and so on). And since you're not a believer yourself, it is understandable, though no more desireable for it.

To do good is a noble thing. To teach others to do good is nobler still, and less trouble (and I'll take your advice on getting some of my own replies up).

I look forward to part IV.

Illuninati said...

Baron asked:

"Is your faith so weak that it cannot withstand the public pronouncements of those who do not share it?"

No. My faith is irrelevant to the discussion. I'm sure you mean well, but when you question my faith, you are using an Ad Homenim attack.

As I stated in my original post, I do not think that trashing Christianity and Judaism is the way to protect Western Civilization against the encroachment of Islam. Nothing, anyone has posted here, seems to address that point.

Perhaps you can direct me back, to where you have posts which attack atheists in the same way that Senica has attacked Christians. Perhaps, Senica's post is meant to provide balance, because of previous posts at your site which I missed.

Mace said:
"No,they didn't,the Communist regimes murdered millions, not in the name of atheism, but because they were totalitarian. I'm sure many of those Inquisitors who condemned Bruno would have quite comfortable as Communist party apparatchiks."

I agree, that every atheist does not support the crimes committed by the Communists, just like all Christians do not support Bruno's burning. My argument is, that, if it is fair to smear Christianity because of crimes commited by some Christians, it is just as fair to smear Atheism for crimes committed by some atheists. To the best of my knowledge, the Marxist regimes are all avowed atheists, whose ideology is founded on an atheistic world view. Unless someone can provide evidence otherwise, I stand by my statement, that Communists have acted in the name of atheism.

Atheists are not the only ones who do not want to take responsibility for the actions of other people who share their ideology. Muslims use the same argument, that we shouldn't blame all Muslims for the crimes of individual Muslims. If there is merit in your argument, then it should apply to Muslims as well as to atheists, and Christians. At what point is it fair, to question whether the ideology has something to do with the behavior?

Perhaps the fairest approach would be for Christians to take responsibility for what all other Christians have done, Muslims can take responsibility for what all Muslims have done, and Atheists can take responsibility for what all other atheists have done. Then, we can balance those evils against the good that individuas from the various groups have done because of of their beliefs, add them up, and then judge the relative merits of each belief system.

Baron, because you have a limit on the length of posts, I did not deal with Seneca's metaphysics. I believe that he has overlooked some important points.

Xanthippa said...

Excellent essay - I enjoyed it very much.

Giordano Bruno is not receiving the recognition he should.

And, far from condemnig the actions of his torturers and executioners, too many religionists prefer to attack those who not afraid to speak about this contemptible yet true aspect of 'Christian culture'. It is precisely because of Giordano Bruno's - and others' plights - that Europeans rejected Christianity as a 'culture' and relegated it into the role of 'religion only'.

And it is precisely from this rejection of the dogmatic Christian doctrine as a 'culture' that our current Western civilization has arisen.

As to those who commented that the Inquisition was not so bad - check some actual history. Inquisition apologists are on par with jihad apologists!

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Xanthippa, the problem would be one of context. All too often, acts that took place in the past are used as a stick to beat contemporary christians. Yes, the inquisition was bad. It has been atoned for. What purpose is there in dredging it up again now?

A large part of the terror of the Inquisition is actually in how few people it killed. More people were killed by plague in a single year than over the entire 300 years of the activities of the inquisition.

This small number of executions personalises the activity of the inquisition by remaining within the realm of that which is easily envisioned by the average person. I can easily envision two or three thousand people. I would even be able to remember the names of around that many people, given a little effort. Most people would be able to imagine a couple of thousand faces and as a result they are able to imagine a more direct, personal response to their death.

Josef Stalin is reputed to have said that one death is a tragedy, whilst a million is just a statistic. He knew what he was talking about. Once the number of dead rises above a certain amount we can no longer comprehend it; the individuals become vague blobs in a crowd, a homogenous unit that has no personal dimension and elicits little direct emotional involvement. We speak of hundreds of thousands dead in great plagues, millions butchered in world war 1, tens of millions in the great chinese wars... they are essentially meaningless numbers, that lose impact because they are so meaningless.

Christianity, not counting war, and expressed through the organs of the roman state and then subsequent european kingdoms, killed thousands in short bursts over a period of centuries. Because these deaths were so limited in time and place and so personal, we feel a greater emotional impact and have a stronger, more visceral response to them.

Yet European cultures beyond the influence of Christianity were just as brutal and terrible as any that fell under its influence in the 1st and 2nd millennium. These acts of brutality were largely a product of their time and place; the difference, the reason why I believe this issue is always raised and why christianity is always poked with the blame stick, is that christian "culture", based on christian values, claimed to hold itself to a higher standard than the cultures around it. Norse culture thought nothing of Gods striking men dead and vice-versa, and, whilst not revelling in the brutality of mean to one another, accepted the necessity and made allowance for it. Christianity claimed to be above such things, yet it's earthy expressions engaged in them on a regular basis. Your reaction is an understandable one towards hypocrisy.

However, your own dogmatic assertion is that western culture only rose when christianity got out of the way. Untrue. They are a synthesis, they grew in parallel and cannot be separated from each other. Take away one or the other and nothing remains. Study history and you will understand that western culture grew over a period of thousands of years years, spanning from before christianity appeared to the present in an unbroken line. Study language and you will see that our stories, our metaphor, our allegory are all christian with varying degrees of influence from the substrate cultures that preceded christianity. We are a christian culture, for all the good and ill that brings. To claim otherwise is to attempt to be, to borrow an example, all yin and no yang.

Xanthippa said...

@Archonix

There is much which you assert - difficult to address all in a comment...so I will try and answer at least one of your points.

You say that part of the terror of the Inquisiton was how few people it acutally killed and imply that it was only two or three thousand.

I do not know what version of history you studied: I studied the actions of the Inquisition in a very narrow geographical area - Bohemia and Moravia - and within these two tiny nations, the victims of the Inquisition were documented to be well over 30,000 and suspected to be more than that. There were whole villages where the Inquisition did not leave a single person alive, especially in the gnostic Christian regions.

The Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Jesuits - they all murdered people who did not subscribe to their dogma, who were independent in any thought or action or who were simply politically inconvenient.

In the past, I have met several 'general' groups to which people who claimed the Inquisition's victims were few in number belong:

Some have studied a highly 'whitewashed' history and truly believe the inacurate numbers forwarded by Catholic apologists. I pity them.

Another 'general' group simply never considers the Slavic victims of the Inquisition: for them, Slavs don't count. Them, I both pity and despise.

The third 'general' group just have a hard time wrapping their brains around the evil their co-religionists have committed. Some of the people in this group feel guilty for believing in the same dogma which justified these inhuman atrocities, and so they pretend they did not happen, minimize their scope and severity - and pompously chastize people who remid them of it.

LAW Wells said...

Slight problem with your theory of 30,000 dead Slavs Xanthippa - the inquisitions there were minor, and by their nature (after the 30 Years War) were limited only to Catholics. Had such a persecution occured, I should have been able to find a great deal written about it. Alas, I cannot.

You cannot declare something to be true without evidence, so please don't try. Show me your evidence, and I'll reconsider. Without it, I can only dismiss your argument as biased and unfactual.

Ron Van Wegen said...

"Not much that is profitable here in this latest installment but no shortage of illogical faulty reasoning that is sophomoric in scope. The author betrays an estimation of his own reasoning power which is far above its actual worth."

I concur... This article has to be one of the most poorly reasoned pieces to appear on this blog.

After Part iii - not worth my time to read further.