The Dark Ages

What do you think when you see a professor of philosophy (specifically at Birbeck College, University of London) quoted as saying this?
Seven centuries after the beginnings of classical civilisation in the Greece of Pericles and Socrates, an oriental superstition, consisting of an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths and myths about the impregnation of mortal maids by deities, captured the Roman Empire. Such was the beginning of Christianity. By the accident of its being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, it plunged Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years – scarcely any literature or philosophy, and the forgetting of the arts and crafts of classical civilisation (quite literally a return to daub and wattle because the engineering required for towers and domes was lost), before a struggle to escape the church’s narrow ignorance and oppression saw the rebirth of classical learning, and its ethos of inquiry and autonomy, in the Renaissance.

From that point to this day every millimetre of progress in liberty and learning has been bitterly opposed by the organised institutions of Christianity, which at the outset burned to death anyone who disagreed with its antique absurdities – none of its officers ever being arraigned for these vast numbers of murders, or the literally millions of deaths caused by the wars of religion that plagued Europe, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. But bit by bit religion was forced back into its own shadows by the new learning and the larger freedoms of mind and action that increasing secularisation brought, liberating individuals and societies to the extent enjoyed today.
Well, Carl Olson picked it apart and posted a masterful (and informative!) piece on it. Go here to read it.

Really, the Middle Ages were not so dark, and we are not oh-so-much-smarter than everyone before us.

Window with Two Roundels and Ornament
English (Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury)
Upper: before 1207; lower: circa 1180
Stained glass with leading

Roundels: 31 1/2 (diameter) inches

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 69.10

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