Christianity vs Ancient culture: who contributed more to the Western Civilization?

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,094
Crows nest
#71
There is a difference between a Neo-atheist and an Atheist. - Embarrassing that someone has to explain even such a simple thing to you.

Just go and speculate on what would had happen today if Jesus and the Christians had lived in Stone Age. We other will dedicate our time to proper academic works and actual history.
Hm, I'll ignore the comment about atheists, which embarrasses you, not me, and explain my position yet again, as you really do seem to be engaging in "willful misunderstanding" along with cynical misrepresentation.

We are were we are today due to a progression of advances that have, for the sake of argument, and of what we see initially in the archaeological record and then also in the historical record, taken place from the time we were hunter gatherers. I do not claim that any advances made before the advent of Christianity were the result of the "pagan" religions prior to Christianity, yet, at least some Christians here state that the advances since the advent of Christianity are the specific result of Christianity. This is making Christianity out to be a "special case" in regards to human advancement, which it is patently not. So, if Christianity, as some say, was the driver of human advancement, how is it that great advancements had been made before Christianity, what drove them. Then, if Christianity was the great driver of advancement, how would it advance if it were not for the achievements of the pre Christian world. I ask that because going by comments here it seems as if we had achieved nothing before Christianity and were just "barbaric savages", a view put forward in another thread, and comprehensively trashed.

Let's deal with your cynical misrepresentation of my comments about the Stone Age. What I actually said was that if at the time of Christ we were all still hunter gatherers, would Christianity have been even able to take hold and spread in such a world, which is very doubtful, and if it did, then starting from the level of being hunter gatherers, were would we be today. I postulated that we would probably still be hunter gatherers after only two thousand years, but may have just reached an early stone age level. Why did you twist this into "Jesus living in the Stone Age", why are you so against any attempt to separate out Christianity from it's "pagan" roots and see, even in speculation, if it was capable of any form of advance on it's own without millenia of previous non Christian advances.

In the most basic terms, could Christianity have even appeared in a world without the level of "pagan" civilization present at the birth of Jesus, a civilization that is the foundation of our modern world, would we have advanced at all. Writing, agriculture, metallurgy, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and yes, charity, all came about before Christianity, remove them and what do we have with Christianity. I know the argument will be, and has been, that it was due to Christianity that we further advanced, but I reject that, for, and in the terms of the OP we are dealing specifically with Europe, when all are Christian, without any choice,it's very easy, and disingenuous to claim all advances as Christian just because a particular individual was a Christian. Again we return to the point that nobody claims that advances before Christ were as the result of "paganism", yet Christianity wants to claim everything AD as being it's own. I suggest that such misplaced pride and appalling arrogance would not sit well with Jesus. I wonder what Christians think, what do you think, as while you profess to be an atheist, you are strangely defending Christianity to the last bullet.
 
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#72
Ancient technology was nowhere near as advanced as modern technology. Did the ancient Egytpians have reading glasses, telescopes, and microscopes? No, there is no edivence for it, and no discoveries were made by them. Did the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians have mariner magnetic compasses? No. Did the ancient Greeks, Romans, Eqyptians figure out the earth revolves around the sun, or realize the planets move ellispes and calcate the actual orbits of the planets? Caculate the orbit of Halley's comet, and when it would return, or the samething of any other comet? All Nos.
First of all, the Model-T was nowhere near as advanced as the Volkswagen Bug. There are very few inventions that are "creations". Most of them "evolve". This isn't really a point. There had to be a sundial before there was a sundial calendar. In English, we say "you have to learn to walk before you can run."

The ancient Egyptians did not invent the internal combustion engine, steam locomotives, airplanes, or silicon-based computers. I never said they invented everything. Apparently, if they invented a theoretical concept which allowed Christians to build something, they count for nothing. I would submit that this is exactly what Einstein did: he thought about things intensely and described things in equations, but he never built anything. Fission/Fusion couldn't have happened without him, but because he just created the "concept" he counts for nothing?

YOU say they did nothing. *I* say without their achievements, the "Age of Enlightenment" would be delayed at least another 1000 yrs, Christianity or not. You just can't say "nothing was accomplished before Christianity": no engineer in the world would support this.

There's a fantastic carved bead from Greece, 1500 BCE. It's tiny, and incredibly detailed. There are no life-sized pictures on the internet, because you can only see the detail with magnification. It is so tiny it has stirred a minor controversy: it could only have been done with a magnifying glass ... yet no such devices are known from that time. We don't know EVERYTHING about the past. Just because we didn't find something, doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Egyptians didn't invent glasses (I don't refute this):
"Optics began with the development of lenses by the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians, followed by theories on light and vision developed by ancient Greek philosophers, and the development of geometrical optics in the Greco-Roman world. " -- glasses need lenses, don't they?

The antikythera device is much more complicated than Byzantine calendars, astrolabes, and clocks. Why couldn't the Byzantines do better right at the start? It would be ridiculous to assume the antikythera device is one of a kind: there must have been simpler ones, and likely to have been more complicated as well. The device was discovered in 1900: up until that time, it was believed that 1st century BCE engineers were incapable of making such a device. Now, we have no idea what they were capable of.

China invented the magnetic compass in the 3rd century BCE.

No, they didn't figure out a heliocentric universe ... but they did figure out a lot of accurate stuff:
----"Only after the lunar orbit was observationally determined, and the changing speed of the Moon and the Earth in their orbits, were established, could total solar eclipses be reliably forecast to within the nearest month or less. This level of astronomical sophistication was apparently reached by ancient Greek astronomers around the first century BC " -- You said something about planetary orbits?
----The first accurate circular star map used to be in a temple in Dendera, but Napoleon ripped it out & it sits in Louvre.


They lacked the simple.windmill.
Only if you ignore the windmills of Hero.


If you didn't have the money to buy/build a house or buy a farm or a piece of technological machinery, you couldn't go to the bank and get a 15 to 30 year loan to buy it.
I believe it was the Templars that had the first international banking system (I'm not sure they did loans, just money transfers)... but, of course ... you can see this coming ... some Egyptian temples acted as banks, issuing loans and keeping accounts. It doesn't take much searching to find that "pagan Egyptian temples" weren't just places to examine chicken entrails. Temples ran many cottage industries within their walls: commercial bakeries, breweries, papyrus making (distributed to the entire world), fabric weaving, some involvement with raw trade. Most of the agricultural land was owned by the temples, who leased it out to the farmers. There was an Egyptian level of administration that divided up the land for govt and tax collection, but it was the temples who had a major impact on the economy. They also took in homeless people in times of strife, with rules like celibacy. Oh! ... and some of them ran little universities. Did I mention that?

Governments couldn't borrow money for a long term to compensate them for the consequenfes and the loss of tax revenue due to some disaster like a massive flood or drought, or detruction caused by war
"The Christian tradition builds on the Old Testament's injunction against money lending, and a passage in the Gospels (Luke 6: 34-35) reports Jesus as saying that those who lend should not expect anything in return.

This, says Dr McIntosh, was taken by the medieval Roman Catholic Church to mean that usury should be forbidden among Christians. "Because Christianity extended the view of God's people to all of human kind, it meant not just not lending within your community, but also not lending full stop, at any rate of interest," he explains

But in the 16th Century, with the Protestant Reformation, theologian and pastor John Calvin proposed a reinterpretation of the Old Testament injunction on money lending, specifying that there should be a distinction between usury, in which a high interest rate is charged, and lending money at low interest rates .

The latter, Calvin thought, should be permissible. "This is where you have the origin of the Swiss banking industry," says Dr McIntosh "

If you look further, you will see that the Jewish community loaned to Christians in the meantime ... but that's hardly a Christian achievement.

I guess you couldn't get a loan from a Christian before Calvin. Lucky for those pre-Christians they could get loans when they needed to buy seed for their farms.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#73
In the most basic terms, could Christianity have even appeared in a world without the level of "pagan" civilization present at the birth of Jesus, a civilization that is the foundation of our modern world, would we have advanced at all.
I never thought about this. Maybe it's discussed in philosophical circles where I'm not a member.

Had the events of Christianity occurred even 500 yrs earlier, would they have had the same worldwide effect? You've already answered this, I think. It's not some kind of religious condemnation thing or dismissing Christian tenets or divinity. It's a practical thing. Warring empires, no common language, difficulty of travel, few "safe spaces" ... all manner of practical obstacles would make dissemination of the message more difficult.

Timing is everything.
 
Last edited:

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,094
Crows nest
#74
I never thought about this. Maybe it's discussed in philosophical circles where I'm not a member.

Had the events of Christianity occurred even 500 yrs earlier, would they have had the same worldwide effect? You've already answered this, I think. It's not some kind of religious condemnation thing or dismissing Christian tenets or divinity. It's a practical thing. Warring empires, no common language, difficulty of travel, few "safe spaces" ... all manner of practical obstacles would make dissemination of the message more difficult.

Timing is everything.
I view the Roman Empire as the midwife to the birth of Christianity, the father being Judaism and the mother the Hellenistic mystery cults. Take away any element and there is no Christianity as we know it, if at all, or at best a minor cult confined to a small geographic area. So just a culmination and gathering together of specific circumstances. Some would of course say by "design", others, me included, would differ.

I do in fact see two arguments side by side, but one is unsaid. There is a somewhat strictly religious argument from Christians that their religion is responsible for the advances since AD. But, looking from the outside of that religion, it could be argued that yes, it has some responsibility for some advances, but the religion is just a transformed and rebranded form of Egyptian and classical "paganism", therefore the point of the OP is moot because what we have today is just a continuation of what we had in the past, BC, and the labels "Christian" and "pagan" are as irrelevant as an argument about whether the Heliopolitan or Memphite creation myth was the actual creation. It's all just the same under the skin, it's all created by us no matter what label is attached.
 
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#75
There were no big banks that I know of that could lend money to a country in pre-Christian times. No "banks".

Ptolemy XII Auletes was arguably the worst Ptolemaic pharaoh. He had to pay one bribe to Julius Caesar and Pompey, and another to Gabinius just to stay in power. The two bribes cost him 16,000 talents. The treasury was empty. Where did he get the money?

He BORROWED it from a group of Roman moneylenders known as the “equites”. They were standard, legal loans with interest. The "equites" were some of the richest men in Rome and made loans to increase their wealth. They also "insured" merchants in ship travel, but it was more in the way of claiming part of their profits. More often, they bought an interest (shares) in shiploads.

Ptolemy never did raise the money. He tried to devalue Egyptian currency to weasel out of it, but the Romans weren’t stupid. The first loan was taken out around 80 BCE, the second one around 56 BCE. Ptolemy died, but the loan was still held against Egypt. Cleopatra paid back the loans in full (with interest) to Caesar in 48 BC …. That’s 32 years for the first loan.

So, there were no banks to issue loans, but pretty large sums could be gotten from private investors.

"Thus when we read that King Auletes of Egypt paid Gaius Julius Caesar the sum of 6,000 talents of gold to grant him the status of a "Friend and Ally of the Roman People," this amount would be worth about $8,400,699,422.80 USD today! "

Total debt (without interest): $14,001,165,704.67
 
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#76
There is a somewhat strictly religious argument from Christians that their religion is responsible for the advances since AD.
I can support the statements "advances were made by men who happened to be Christian" ... and "many advances were made during the Christian era."
I just can't see any evidence for "BECAUSE they were Christian" ... is a non-provable hypothesis.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,094
Crows nest
#77
I can support the statements "advances were made by men who happened to be Christian" ... and "many advances were made during the Christian era."
I just can't see any evidence for "BECAUSE they were Christian" ... is a non-provable hypothesis.
I agree. I was playing devil's advocate with the choice of some of my words.
 
Feb 2011
5,846
#78
I can support the statements "advances were made by men who happened to be Christian" ... and "many advances were made during the Christian era."
I just can't see any evidence for "BECAUSE they were Christian" ... is a non-provable hypothesis.
Exactly. Either I'm having trouble explaining or people simply aren't getting it. I made two posts explaining about how correlation doesn't mean causation and the only responses to those posts rely on the assumption that correlation means causation . In order to prove that an achievement was directly caused by Christianity, one needs to do more than simply show that the achievement was done by Christianity people or under a Christian society.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2013
1,341
Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
#79
, you were the one who inserted Paganism from the undeveloped regions as proof of Paganism being bad for society.
No. I inserted the examples of the primitive pagan cultures in North Europe and showed how they gained access to higher civilization once they converted into Christianity since the latter preserved the Greco-Roman civilization. It was done in order to show how stupid your assertion was when you asserted that Medieval Europa was “stagnant for a millenia”. Which clearly is rubbish.



I'm a trained historian who has spent 4 years as a student of history at university(3 years is shorter than US college)...
If you really is a "trained historian who has spent 4 years as a student of history at university" then it is quite embarrassing that you don't know such a basic thing that with Christianization the former Pagans areas of Germany and Scandinavia eventually became advanced onwards.

Is that university you attended in Connecticut such of low-quality that they taught you that the "Christianity's rise was the darkest part of "Western Civilization"" and that "in terms of science and technology we were largely stagnant for a millenia and industrialization and Western success really started after Christianity lost it's main political power"?

Was it in a pulled pork-sandwich restaurant that you were taught that?


How would stone age Christians acquire writing? What about Christianity changes anything here?
Why should Christians not be capable of invention or having writing? Christianity have always been an organization with writing.



We also are all aware that Byzantium didn't enter the dark ages. Middle Age Europe typically is not referring to the Byzantine Empire, it is referring to the former Western Roman Empire and Germany.
So what?. Even if we focus only on “the former Western Roman Empire and Germany” you would still be dead wrong by asserting that the science and technology were "largely stagnant for a millenia". It actually started to progress during Charlemagne's reign and onwards there were made outstanding achievements in every fields such of agriculture, learning, philosophy, technology and architecture.

So, if you really are a "trained historian who has spent 4 years as a student of history at university", then it is very embarrassing for you that you don't know such a basic thing because that is very basic common knowledge even among the college-students.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2013
1,341
Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
#80
Hm, I'll ignore the comment about atheists, which embarrasses you, not me,...
….Says the user who like to speculate what would had happen if Jesus and Christians lived in the Stone Age and how it would had developed .


I do not claim that any advances made before the advent of Christianity were the result of the "pagan" religions prior to Christianity, yet, at least some Christians here state that the advances since the advent of Christianity are the specific result of Christianity.
I suggest you to read my post nr 63 and get some basic facts. The Christianization DID cause higher civilizations in areas that otherwise would had stayed as primitive Pagan societies.



it seems as if we had achieved nothing before Christianity and were just "barbaric savages", a view put forward in another thread, and comprehensively trashed.

Of course Pagan Egyptians, Pagan Babylonians, Pagan Persians, Pagan Greeks and Pagan Romans had splendid and outstanding civilizations before Christianity. Why should I deny it?



Let's deal with your cynical misrepresentation of my comments about the Stone Age. What I actually said was that if at the time of Christ we were all still hunter gatherers, would Christianity have been even able to take hold and spread in such a world, which is very doubtful, and...(….)
It is not cynical to teach you that counterfactual history has nothing to do with actual history. It is not even a profession at academia to start with!.

I don't care with your speculation, and counterfactual history has nothing to do with actual history. That you think that Christianity would not have been even able to take hold and spread in such a world is just a guess. One other can argue that it would, and that would be just a silly guess as yours.

The rest of your rambling about Jesus and Stone Age I can safely ignore as I am not interested in counterfactual history. But just go and speculate whether they would have invented spaceship or not in the Stone Age


Again we return to the point that nobody claims that advances before Christ were as the result of "paganism", yet Christianity wants to claim everything AD as being it's own.
Paganism and Christianity as religions do not cause advances per see. However, in Middle Ages the case was that Christianity did have a certain organization that kept writing and high culture in high regards. Once Pagan areas(excluding the high culture of Pagan Romans and Greeks) turned into Christianity its society also became more advanced onwards.

There is nothing wrong with asserting that the adoption of Christianity by Germany and Scandinavia caused these two areas to be more advanced.


I suggest that such misplaced pride and appalling arrogance would not sit well with Jesus. I wonder what Christians think, what do you think, as while you profess to be an atheist, you are strangely defending Christianity to the last bullet.
What misplace pride and arrogance is there in teaching you basic things and make you thinking twice giving your prejudice against Christianity?

I am Atheist and I don't defend anything, and it is not my problem that the historical evidence doesn’t behaves as you wanted it to do.
 
Last edited:
Likes: pcatalin999

Similar History Discussions