Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thomas Woods on the contributions of the Catholic Church to Western civilization

Historian Thomas Woods has a wonderful new book-- How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization-- and for readers who want to know the truth about the origins of modern science, law, commerce and art, the book is a must. Woods lays out the facts about the central role the Church played in creating the modern world and the unique scientific and cultural triumphs of the West.

Woods has penned a fine essay summing up his observations about the Church and the civilization it built:


Commentary: History shows contributions of Catholic Church to Western civilization
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 5:00 a.m. MST


By Thomas E. Woods, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)


TOPEKA, Kan. — About the least fashionable thing one can do these days is utter a kind word about the Catholic Church. The idea that the church has been an obstacle to human progress has been elevated to the level of something everybody thinks he knows. But to the contrary, it is to the Catholic Church more than to any other institution that we owe so many of the treasures of Western civilization. Knowingly or not, scholars operated for two centuries under an Enlightenment prejudice that assumes all progress to come from religious skeptics, and that whatever the church touches is backward, superstitious, even barbaric.

Since the mid-20th century, this unscholarly prejudice has thankfully begun to melt away, and professors of a variety of religious backgrounds, or none at all, increasingly acknowledge the church's contributions.

Nowhere has the revision of what we thought we knew been more dramatic than in the study of the history of science. We all remember what we learned in fourth grade: While scientists were bravely trying to uncover truths about the universe and improve our quality of life, stupid churchmen who hated reason and simply wanted the faithful to shut up and obey placed a ceaseless stream of obstacles in their path.

That was where the conventional wisdom stood just over a century ago, with the publication of Andrew Dickson White's book, "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom," in 1896. And that's where most Americans (and Europeans, for that matter) believe it still stands.

But there is scarcely a historian of science in America who would endorse this comic-book version of events today. To the contrary, modern historians of science freely acknowledge the church's contributions — both theoretical and material — to the Scientific Revolution. It was the church's worldview that insisted the universe was orderly and operated according to certain fixed laws. Only buoyed with that confidence would it have made sense to bother investigating the physical world in the first place, or even to develop the scientific method (which can work only in an orderly world). It's likewise a little tricky to claim the church has been an implacable foe of the sciences when so many priests were accomplished scientists.

The first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body was Father Giambattista Riccioli. The man who has been called the father of Egyptology was Father Athanasius Kircher. Father Roger Boscovich, who has been described as "the greatest genius that Yugoslavia ever produced," has often been called the father of modern atomic theory. In the sciences it was the Jesuits in particular who distinguished themselves; some 35 craters on the moon, in fact, are named after Jesuit scientists and mathematicians.

By the 18th century, writes historian Jonathan Wright, the Jesuits "had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes, and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics, and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter's surface, the Andromeda nebula, and Saturn's rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon affected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light."

Their achievements likewise included "star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics."

These were the great opponents of human progress?

Seismology, the study of earthquakes, has been so dominated by Jesuits that it has become known as "the Jesuit science." It was a Jesuit, Father J.B. Macelwane, who wrote the first seismology textbook in America in 1936. To this day, the American Geophysical Union, which Macelwane once headed, gives an annual medal named after this brilliant priest to a promising young geophysicist.

The Jesuits were also the first to introduce Western science into such far-off places as China and India. In 17th-century China in particular, Jesuits introduced a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible.

Jesuits made important contributions to the scientific knowledge and infrastructure of other less developed nations not only in Asia but also in Africa and Central and South America. Beginning in the 19th century, these continents saw the opening of Jesuit observatories that studied such fields as astronomy, geomagnetism, meteorology, seismology and solar physics. Such observatories provided these places with accurate time keeping, weather forecasts (particularly important in the cases of hurricanes and typhoons), earthquake risk assessments and cartography.

The centrality of the Catholic Church specifically and Christianity generally in the astonishing accomplishments of Western civilization is a fact of history. A brute fact. To ignore it, which is routine in modern education, is negligence. To deny it, which is de rigueur in godless circles, is a lie, born of bigotry and hate.

Those who hate the Church-- and they are many-- would do well to understand the scientific, cultural, political, economic, legal, and artistic revolution the Church wrought, if only to understand the miracle and to try to replicate it under other metaphysical systems. It's worth noting that many godless modernist systems-- Marxism for example-- try to do just that. Marxism has been called, with reason, a Christian heresy, an attempt at salvation of mankind with mortal saviors.

The history of the West since the fall of Rome is the history of the Church, applied. Most of it has been magnificent, some tawdry. As the influence of the Church in the West recedes (it is, thank God, growing in the East and the South), we will get to know again much of the evil that the Church vanquished centuries ago.

I suspect that even the Church's most impassioned enemies will pause when they begin to see what de-Christianization really means. The 20th century in Europe was a prelude. 

45 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Thomas Woods' 'wonderful new' book was published in 2005. Not recent. Have you read Steven Pinker's book 'the Better Angels of Our Nature. Why Violence Has Declined', which is a new book, published in 2011, which indicates why we don't need to worry about the increasing irrelevance of the Catholic Church.

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  2. @bach:

    [Thomas Woods' 'wonderful new' book was published in 2005.]

    It's new to me.

    I haven't read Pinker's new book. Perhaps I will when I can find the time. From what I've read about, it reprises many of the same arguments made by folks who believed that Europe had achieved an new era of peace and stablilty because of modern commerce and interconnectedness.

    That view reached its peak in 1913.

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  3. I loved the Jesuit Priest featured in Bill Maher’s Religious, who scoffed at the idea of the virgin birth and resurrection, stating that “nobody believes in that anymore”. Thank goodness for the Jesuits injecting some reason into the dark pit of dogma and faith.

    I wonder where we would be today if the history of the west didn’t include the fall of Rome and the ascendance of the Church. Who knows, we might have landed on the moon by 1600.

    -KW

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  4. What about the Catholic Church' Index Librorum Prohibitorum? It contained many scientific works. Are you telling us this didn't hamper the progress of science?

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  5. The book is also available on Audible. It's a good alternative if you don't have time to read at night, but you spend a lot of time in the car.

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  6. @Mike,
    I'll have to check it out!
    @KT,
    I may just take that route - for the commute! (Poet and did not even know it!)

    @Bach,
    Pinker is typical of you positivists: A naive, insulated academic twit. 'Why Violence Has Declined'? What a bullshit premise. Cowardly from the start.
    Should be titled 'Why violence has declined in my gated community'.


    @Troy,
    "Are you telling us this didn't hamper the progress of science"
    Progress means something very different to your fringe than it does to the rest of us, Troy.
    Did the suspension of Josef Mengele's work on twins hamper the progress of science?
    Think about it.
    Morality DICTATES the progress of science in a FREE society. Freedom from morality is NOT freedom at all, it is barbarism.
    Science only dictates morality in your dystopian dreams.

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  7. NOTE the trend: A (loony) psychologist for philosophical insight and a (bad) comedian for theology. Maybe these atheists also seek gynaecological advise from a plumber, buy their meat at a carpenters, and their jewellery from a cattle farm?
    They sure do pass of bullshit as solid gold!

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  8. @KW:

    "I loved the Jesuit Priest featured in Bill Maher’s Religious, who scoffed at the idea of the virgin birth and resurrection, stating that “nobody believes in that anymore”."

    I do.

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  9. Bachfiend, perhaps you should step back and read some reasoned criticism of Pinker's arguments for alleged declining historical violence.

    Blog site Quodlibeta has a series of posts taking Pinker to task for his inappropriate assumptions and possibly even fudged statistics:

    Re-evaluating Pinker's take on the mongols:
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-bad-were-mongols.html

    Medieval murder rates:
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/11/steven-pinkers-medieval-murder-rates.html

    Re-evaluating Pinker's take on past mass murders:
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/11/pinker-tackles-albigensian-crusade.html

    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/11/steven-pinker-and-an-lushan-revolt.html

    Pinker's bogus statistics:
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/12/this-is-bogus-statistic.html

    - LE

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  10. What is it about Christianity that causes a perverse and palpable revulsion for the notion that violence has decreased? The more I hang out here the more I come to realize that hard-core Christians truly are a bunch of sick fucks.

    -KW

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  11. KW:

    [What is it about Christianity that causes a perverse and palpable revulsion for the notion that violence has decreased?]

    It's called reality testing.

    [The more I hang out here the more I come to realize that hard-core Christians truly are a bunch of sick fucks.]

    Coming from an acolyte of the worldview that has caused the explosion of violence in the past century, that's pretty funny.

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  12. Coming from an acolyte of the worldview that has caused the explosion of violence in the past century, that's pretty funny.

    The countries that started both world wars were overwhelmingly Christian. The Jews were murdered by Christians.

    What book didn't make it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum? Mein Kampf. Gee, I wonder why.

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  13. @troy:

    Yea. Nazis and Christians. Virtually indistinguishable. Hitler and Mother Theresa might as well be twins.

    And the points of intersection between Christian theology and Nazi ideology?

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  14. I suspect that even the Church's most impassioned enemies will pause when they begin to see what de-Christianization really means. The 20th century in Europe was a prelude.

    Oh, you mean an explosion of advances in science that have made all our lives immeasurably better? Sign me up.

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  15. @anon:

    Actually, European science has fallen considerably behind Bible-thumping American science.

    As Europe has secularized, its lead in science has faded. And the more secular, the less science. Compare the scientific output of the atheist (communist) nations in Europe from 1945-1989 to the scientific output of the non-communist nations in the same period.

    Lysenkoism, biological warfare research, up-to-date surveillance technology and (stolen) nuclear weapons technology are the hallmarks of atheist science in Europe from 1945-1989.

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  16. And the points of intersection between Christian theology and Nazi ideology?

    Irrelevant. The point is that millions of Christians, including church leaders, didn't see a conflict and happily helped destroying the Jews.

    According to the Catholic Konrad Adenauer (first postwar chancellor of Germany):

    "I believe that if the bishops altogether had publicly taken a stance from the pulpit a lot could have been avoided. That didn’t happen and there is no excuse for it."


    In contrast, the atheist Oscar Schindler saved many Jews. But I'm not claiming he did it because he was an atheist.

    Back to science now. Why did the Catholic church put many scientific works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and how do you think that affected science?

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  17. "In 17th-century China in particular, Jesuits introduced a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible."

    LOL

    So while pushing their religion, the Jesuits happened to introduce the Chinese to the intellectual breakthroughs of the Greeks from 1000 years prior. The missionaries couldn't come up with anything original? The Jesuits came away from China with much more than they brought.

    Anyone who thinks the missionaries introduced science and technology to China hasn't bothered to read Joseph Needham. But (Gasp!) you can't read Needham, can you??? He was a Commie!

    As for all the science and art that the Catholic Church generated, that's a dubious distinction.

    Science and art get done by the people who have money and can afford to support philosophers and artists. If the Church was funding all the scientists and philosophers, that means the Church had all the money. All that science in China was the result of 1000 years of an empire based on, among other things, a monopoly on salt. All that science in the Church was based on 1000 years of taxing the believers.

    That's a point that is always left out when people start talking about how many of those early scientists were religious. OF COURSE they were - name an organization other than the church that was taxing enough people over enough time to support an army of artists and philosophers! With a few striking exceptions, art and science get done by rich people.

    Now, it's good that some organization was wealthy enough to support science, granted. But you're bragging that the Church made similar accomplishments to the Chinese emperors, and through similar means. It's not something to gloat about without some serious reservations and reflection on what that science and art cost in the daily lives of peasants.

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  18. Fais du bien à un cochon et il viendra chier sur ton perron!

    Just Google it!

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  19. Egnor: Actually, European science has fallen considerably behind Bible-thumping American science.

    American scientists are not particularly religious. In 1998, only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences believed in a personal god.

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  20. You can watch all episodes from video series(by Woods and EWTN) "The Catholic Church: Builder of Civilization", at this channel:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Martinico8

    + google has interesting logo today; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Steno

    ...Father Roger Boscovich, who has been described as "the greatest genius that Yugoslavia ever produced,"... - (2nd)Yugoslavia was communist dictatorship from 1945-1990, Boscovih was from republic of Ragusa- today Dubrovnik in Croatia, he was a Croat. Republic of Ragusa was the first state that recognized recognized the United States in 1776, and was the first to send merchant marine vessels into New York Harbor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Ragusa

    something about Boscovich
    http://thonyc.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/a-croatian-polymath/

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  21. @anon: I loved the Jesuit Priest featured in Bill Maher’s Religious, who scoffed at the idea of the virgin birth and resurrection

    In all sincerity, who was this? I'd like to look him up and read more about the fellow.

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  22. Michael,

    'That reached its peak in 1913'. You probabably meant 1914. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand in July, 1914 was originally thought to be not a worry, and its eventual progress to war was a surprise.

    Although France and Germany had considerable trade in 1914, there were serious unresolved issues involving the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, with French pride at the loss of Alsace and Lorraine being seriously affected.

    It was a tenet of French military thinking that it would need to regain the lost provinces and pride in an offensive war.

    Germany was also paranoid, feeling itself encircled by enemies, in particular th colossus of Russia, so it threw its lot in with Austro-Hungary, thinking it was a more considerable ally than it turned out to be.

    So fear of Russia meant Germany planned to wage an offensive against Russia's ally, France, and knock it out before taking on Russia.

    The point is, is that free trade won't prevent war whenever there are unresolved issues involving national pride. Are there any now? The only ones I can think of involve the Islamic world, with the colonial policies of the western world in the 20th century. Terrorism, but not war.

    Also, you need to look at all secular countries, not just insist that communist countries are typical, which they aren't. Factually, you're mistaken in asserting that the communist countries had state of the art surveillance techniques. They didn't. They relied on secret police, police informers and other low tech methods. It's the west that has the high tech surveillance.

    The innovation of a society depends on its economy. I don't have any problems with Europe not producing much in the 9 centuries between 500 and 1400 as indicating that Christianity providing a dead hand on progress. For a start, the population was low. Secondly, agriculture was not very productive. A medieval farmer for example put in 1 calorie of energy (mainly his and his family's physical labour) to produce 2 calories of food, not much better than subsistence. So the large majority of farmers wouldn't be able to support many artisans, soldiers, priests, and ... Natural philosophers (scientists) and other innovators.

    The Soviet Union wasn't scientifically productive, because its economy was inefficient. It had an economy not much larger than Canada's. It just didn't have the resources to put into science. It was only its trade in oil and gas that allowed it to be financial for much of its life, and when the world price of energy dropped, it suffered.

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  23. @bach:

    I meant 1913. By 1914, it was quite clear that the lights were about to go out in Europe. For perceptive observers, August 1914 was no surprise.

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  24. I can't check all but according WP Schindler was a Catholic:
    "Schindler wanted to be buried in Jerusalem, as he said, "My children are here". After a Requiem Mass, Schindler was buried at the Catholic Franciscans' cemetery on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way. A sign at the entrance to the cemetery directs visitors "To Oskar Schindler's Grave"."

    So, atheists stop insulting History...

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  25. In the "Index Librorum Prohibitorum" there was not Hitler as Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Mao...

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  26. for Oleg from the NCSE (National Center for Science Education):

    "The title of the recent Larson and Witham article in Nature, "Leading scientists still reject God" is premature without reliable data upon which to base it. "...

    http://ncse.com/rncse/18/2/do-scientists-really-reject-god

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  27. Michael,

    You didn't answer the point. There were unresolved issues between France and Germany, despite the significant trade between the two countries.

    Also, prediction is easy ... in retrospect. Anyone predicting war in advance correctly by definition is 'perceptive'. Rather like the economist who correctly predicted 7 out of the last 4 recessions.

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  28. @KW,
    "What is it about Christianity that causes a perverse and palpable revulsion for the notion that violence has decreased?"
    It's a little thing call 'truth', and it is not isolated to Christianity. Trying to pretend Hiroshima, Auschwitz, MS 13, the various Jihad(s), Nigeria, Sudan, and the Congo are not violence is what HUMANITY (ie not just Christianity) calls a blatant LIE. You, who repeat the lie in rote, are what we call a fool or a liar (or both).

    "The more I hang out here the more I come to realize that hard-core Christians truly are a bunch of sick fucks."
    I understand. They are 'sick,' because evil (and violence?) do not exist. They are sick because they address the reality of life, and you are healthy because that reality frightens you into denial.


    @Troy,
    "The countries that started both world wars were overwhelmingly Christian. The Jews were murdered by Christians. "
    I am reminded of what I heard at a friends house in the Galilee (Carmel) a few years ago.
    I was staying with an old friend after making pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and he had a few friends and colleagues over to meet his 'Christian brother' (in arms). It was the festival of Purim, so all the kids were in costumes and the food and wine were flowing.**
    One of the guests that I will never forget was a holocaust survivor. Actually several people there were, as children. But this old gent was in the Austrian military as a young man at the time the Anschluss occurred. He was an extremely friendly old guy who spoke fluent English and was VERY interested in our war stories (that is love at first sight for a soldier).
    I had made a comment that I was going to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum (A horrific MUST see for all students of history/humanity).
    This old fellow (in his 80's at the time, and now gone before.. RIP) told me about how he and his little sister, were protected by CHRISTIAN clergy and their parishioners. They were hidden for years before capture. These folks even helped him hold a job and got him fake papers etc.
    We all listened quietly as he told the tale. Even the children stopped their play to listen.
    He told me to 'never forget' that it was people of my faith who BEAT the Nazis culturally. He advised me to view the 'Names of the righteous' and see the woods planted in their honour for evidence of his assertions. He was old and lonely, and after a couple of glasses of wine he gave us quite the lecture on positivism and social Darwinism.
    I paraphrase the important comments and attempt to use the exact terms '[T]he study of evolution is one thing, the BELIEF in it as an order for society is another thing. People who believe that 'evolution' is the goal for a society - or a life -may be plausible and political, like the Nazis were, but they are savage animals in their morality. They called themselves National Socialists. They said they were 'progressive', and 'secular'. Today the same voices call themselves liberal, communist, nationalists, even sometimes they still have the nerve to paint themselves as 'scientists' and 'humanist philosophers' but they are just vehicles for jealousy, hatred, and fear. They are barbarians or the slaves (thralls?) of barbarians'
    Maybe you could tell us about the many people like Victor Kulger, Troy? You must know about some these Dutch heroes?
    I won't hold my breath.

    **SIDE NOTE to all readers: PURIM is THE time to visit Israel! TOTALLY fun holiday, lots of food!

    RE Bach,
    " I don't have any problems with Europe not producing much in the 9 centuries between 500 and 1400 as indicating that Christianity providing a dead hand on progress. "
    Another castle built on sand.
    The reader need go no further. The premise is baseless. A simple google will reveal the myriad of developments and innovations during the middle ages. OF COURSE Bach has no problem with this horse-shit assertion. His problem is with the reality of the record.

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  29. @Pépé
    EXTREMELY appropriate saying! 'Tout le kit'
    But, you have mae me HUNGRY for some of that Cuisine Québécoise! My FAV restraunt in old QC (near the Vieux-Port)is 'Le Cochon Dingue'. Used to be Aux Cafe Suisse and the Aquarium bar...
    Been far too long since I have been through those gates. May have to make a tourtier for supper now!
    :P

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  30. Crusader:

    Maybe you could tell us about the many people like Victor Kulger, Troy? You must know about some these Dutch heroes?
    I won't hold my breath.


    Here's the Wiki page on Dutch resistance: link

    As you can see there, the resistance was dominated by communists. Presumably quite a few atheists among them. Some churches were involved as well. But it seems to me that the average atheist was at least as likely, if not much more, to hide Jews from the occupiers as your average Christian.

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  31. During my commute today, I restarted this book. (The narrator has a terrible monotone, so I never finished it.) In the section I listened to, I came across Adelard of Bath. Way cool!

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  32. Troy,
    I am more than capable of doing a wiki search. I am also capable of writing wiki articles..as is anyone. That is principal reason that resource is frowned upon by academia in this country.
    I was asking YOU.
    But that's okay.
    "As you can see there, the resistance was dominated by communists. "
    Even the wiki article state they were the FIRST, not the largest. Funny how they had cells already in place...but we will let that slide. It also states that most of the original organization were BETRAYED from within.
    "But it seems to me that the average atheist was at least as likely, if not much more, to hide Jews from the occupiers as your average Christian."
    It seems so to you because you are ignorant of the facts. Get educated, it COULD help you deal with your hatred of Christians.
    But, again what about poor Here Kulger? Or even Mr Schindler, as domenico noted? No word, eh?
    Nope.
    Never mind.
    I can clearly see the fantasy you live in. Communists rescued the Jews and Holland herself from the evil (sorry, 'sick') Christians.
    Was this before they were rounded up?
    If so, who was the resistance AFTER communism was criminalized by the Nazis? Crypto-commies maybe?
    Maybe it was the DUTCH people who did not bend to anyone's visions of a 'brave new world'? Maybe - JUST maybe - it was Dutch Loyalists and their backers in the Alliance - those same people who LIBERATED Holland?
    No... could not be. They would be majority Christians!
    Must have been a political fringe, eh?

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  33. @KT,
    "I came across Adelard of Bath. Way cool!"
    A dead hand on scientific progress? NOT.
    Excellent example of medieval research and scientific pragmatism. Good stuff.

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  34. <"What is it about Christianity that causes a perverse and palpable revulsion for the notion that violence has decreased?"
    It's a little thing call 'truth', and it is not isolated to Christianity. Trying to pretend Hiroshima, Auschwitz, MS 13, the various Jihad(s), Nigeria, Sudan, and the Congo are not violence is what HUMANITY (ie not just Christianity) calls a blatant LIE. You, who repeat the lie in rote, are what we call a fool or a liar (or both).>

    Calm down Crusader. Before you accuse me of lying perhaps you should read what I said. I have no opinion on the overall trend in violence, I merely pointed out how odd it is that the mere notion of a trend toward reduced violence causes Christians to get apoplectic. Thanks for proving my point.

    -KW

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  35. Crusader:

    Even the wiki article state they [communist resistance] were the FIRST, not the largest.

    I may have overstated my case there, indeed. But communist resistance was a major part of resistance, not just in the Netherlands, but all over Europe.

    The most famous resistance fighter in the Netherlands was Hannie Schaft (link, who joined the communists because they were the ones putting up a real fight.

    My own Jewish grandparents were hidden and saved by communists. My parents are still friends with the children of those saviors. Like many Jews in the Netherlands, my parents became active supporters of the social democrats. Communism-light if you like.

    After the war, 10% of the Dutch people voted for the communists because of the communists' resistance against the Germans. The courage of the communists created a lot of sympathy for them. That changed very quickly afterwards in the cold war.

    Like my parents, I'm not a communist. I'm left-leaning on social issues, but I'm a libertarian in that I want to minimize the government's influence on my private life.


    But, again what about poor Here Kulger? Or even Mr Schindler, as domenico noted? No word, eh?

    Look up the info on Schindler. He was officially Catholic, but a lapsed one, an unbeliever. I don't know who Here Kulger is.


    If so, who was the resistance AFTER communism was criminalized by the Nazis? Crypto-commies maybe?

    Do you really believe that all communists, or even a majority, were rounded up at the beginning of the war? That's nonsense of course.

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    Replies
    1. "Like my parents, I'm not a communist. I'm left-leaning on social issues, but I'm a libertarian in that I want to minimize the government's influence on my private life."
      Well I am a right leaning libertarian myself. I try to be as apolitical as possible. Glad you are not a communist.

      "Look up the info on Schindler. He was officially Catholic, but a lapsed one, an unbeliever"
      I have been to his grave in Israel, Troy.
      I know his story quite well. As for being a lapsed Catholic - he was an NPC. He did not make it to communion/church regularly.
      I am the same. Lazy. But still Christian at heart.
      Kluger is one of the people sent to the camps for protecting Anne Frank. He was a devout Christian and a Zionist. Both these men have trees and their names carved on the 'wall of the righteous gentiles' at Yad Vashem

      "Do you really believe that all communists, or even a majority, were rounded up at the beginning of the war? That's nonsense of course."
      No. I know they were not all rounded up. But they could no longer be openly communist, and without a revolution and a cause what is that called? A crypto-commie? No they simply joined the underground - which was a grand mix of all stripes funded and armed by the Allies in the west.

      Also, I think one of the reasons the Dutch decided to ditch support was the realization the communists had cells in the Netherlands BEFORE the Third Reich became an issue, hence their effectiveness (granted) in the resistance.
      WHY? Who did they originally plan to overthrow? Internationalism has no place for a culture like the Dutch.
      I think the Dutch understand that, despite their own decidedly liberal policies.

      Delete
  36. KT Cat,

    Adelard of Bath? He was mainly famous for his translations of Greek authors from Arabic sources. The website you link to is a little inaccurate in asserting that the astrolabe can be used to determine the latitude and longitude of any place on Earth. Yes, it can, if you have extensive tables predicting the positions of the celestial bodies and have 4 hours or so to be able to do the calculations. That was achieved in the 18th century, and was an inferior method to John Harrison's nautical chronometers, which took off like wildfire. Robert FitzRoy, the captain of the second Beagle voyage, took 22 chronometers with him.

    I stand by my comment that there wasn't much progress in European technology in 9 centuries from 500 to 1400. Mainly in agriculture and military technology. Completely understandable. The population wasn't great, and it's agriculture that has to develop before anything else takes off. Farmers capable of feeding just their families and a few extra people won't be able to support much of an elite of scholars.

    Medieval farmers could feed two people each, and supported a handful of really first rate scholars at any one time. American farmers feed 50 people each, and America can afford to produce hundreds of thousands of scientists with PhDs. Even allowing for the different populations, the difference is staggering. First you need the food before you get progress.

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    1. "I stand by my comment that there wasn't much progress in European technology in 9 centuries from 500 to 1400."
      I knew you would.
      Here is the reality, Bach.
      What you say 'wasn't much' progress is actually a normal-fast pace, historically speaking. Only modern scientific hubris clouds that. Ask any medieval period historian. The 'Dark Ages' (ie wintery) were cool, not STUPID.
      Science was an effort focused on specific/proximate and useful questions and mysteries. This was the case right up to and including the Renaissance (rebirth) of classical thinking, and the eventual devolution of that thought into what is comically (and rather arrogantly) called 'the Enlightenment'. I can just FEEL the Gnosis in that title!
      That is not so in much of today's 'scientific' world of finch beaks and tautologies.
      "Progress" unhindered is not normal progress.
      It is reckless and often very dangerous.
      Ask the good folks of Dresden, Coventry, or Hiroshima.
      Ask your coreligionist Troy, who's family was victim to this 'progress' you love so much. Ask me, who has seen your progress on the black market, and used by tribesmen to tears each other to pieces - FAR more efficiently.

      You are totally Malthusian in your AGW stance etc,bach and you cannot see this connection?

      First comes the food. Then comes the population.
      Then comes the shortages. Then comes the expansion.
      Then comes the WARS of conquest. Then comes the pogroms,genocides, and 'ethic cleansing'.
      Sound familiar?

      This is all happening FASTER now than ever. All due to your 'progress'.

      Now let's apply that logic to the period(s) you describe. The slow and gradual rise of the Europe of the middle ages contrasted with the rapid, pollution belching, warmongering (Imperial vs Collectivist) recent past-present.

      Progress is means something entirely differnt to folks like me. Progress is about quality of life and applying common sense solutions to REAL issues. It is not the satiating of unqualified curiosity at the expense of our humanity. I am not in the minority on this. Far from it.
      But, it is a matter of definitions.
      I knew you would stand by yours.
      I obviously stand by mine.
      But that does not alter the fact: He takes longer to get going, but my pious and curious tortoise will kick your hubristic positivist rabbits arse ANY DAY in the 500m that is LIFE (despite the rabbits breeding programs).

      Delete
    2. CrusadeRex,

      Golly, you are incoherent. Is the new baby not settling at night, so you're seriously sleep deprived?

      It's hardly Malthusian pointing out that we've reached a global population of 7 billion because of cheap abundant energy in oil and natural gas, both of which are finite in amount. Both are going to become more expensive even if only because future reserves will be in technologically difficult areas. The price of coal will also increase as the price of oil and gas increase.

      The GFC of 2008 was partly caused by the spike in gasoline prices in 2007.

      Delete
    3. @bach: Speaking of cheap, abundant energy, I am particularly excited about what appears to be cheap, abundant, clean energy coming our way courtesy of some Italian engineers. If I read this situation right, petroleum and natural gas will be taking a back seat to these nickel-hydrogen catalyzers in the next decade.

      Get this: the waste product is copper. I love it.

      Delete
  37. Glad you liked it, Crusader. I'm still struggling to get through the audio book. The reading is just dreadful. On the other hand, I just finished A Passage to India and the reader was wonderful. If you haven't tried Audible yet, you might want to give it a go.

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    Replies
    1. I keep hearing about audible (not being punny!), but I have yet to give it a go. Would be great for the base, the commutes into the city etc.

      Delete
    2. Audible's good. LibriVox is free if you're a bit techy and like older books read by ordinary people.

      Delete
  38. @bach

    Hi, bach! What's your favorite team and sport? I'm a big Newcastle United fan. Howay the lads!

    ReplyDelete