Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Pearls of expression.

Conan the Cimmerian has this clever take on the myth that Middle Ages were rife with ignorant suppression of noble scientists:
That [Hannan's idea that nonbelievers have hijacked the word "humanist"] aside, this is a marvellous book and a brilliant, readable and accessible antidote to "the Myth". It should be on the Christmas wish-list of any Medievalist, science history buff or anyone who has a misguided friend who still thinks the nights in the Middle Ages were lit by burning scientists.[1]
"The Myth" to which Conan refers is that
. . . the Greeks and Romans were wise and rational types who loved science and were on the brink of doing all kinds of marvellous things (inventing full-scale steam engines is one example that is usually, rather fancifully, invoked) until Christianity came along, banned all learning and rational thought and ushered in the Dark Ages. Then an iron-fisted theocracy, backed by a Gestapo-style Inquisition, prevented any science or questioning inquiry from happening until Leonardo da Vinci invented intelligence and the wondrous Renaissance saved us all from Medieval darkness. The online manifestations of this curiously quaint but seemingly indefatigable idea range from the touchingly clumsy to the utterly hysterical, but it remains one of those things that "everybody knows" and permeates modern culture. A recent episode of Family Guy had Stewie and Brian enter a futuristic alternative world where, it was explained, things were so advanced because Christianity didn't destroy learning, usher in the Dark Ages and stifle science. The writers didn't see the need to explain what Stewie meant - they assumed everyone understood.[2]
[1] "God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam." A book review by Conan the Cimmerian, 11/23/10.
[2] Id.

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