BY POPULAR DEMAND: The “argument” that it was Christianity that pitched Europe into the Dark Ages:
“Western histories have put forth many theories about the fall of Rome and attributed the onset of the Dark Age to a wide variety of causes, except the one cause that may have had more to do with it than any other: Christianity. 1From my footnotes you can see I typed only about a quarter of Walker’s argument before my typing fingers fell asleep. I can’t recommend The Women’s Encyclopedia highly enough. And if possible, buy the hardcover – this is a thick book that doesn’t hold up well in a soft cover.
“…Christians said one of the diabolic symptoms of the oncoming end of the world was ‘the spread of knowledge,’ which they endeavored to check with wholesale book burnings, destruction of libraries and schools, and opposition to education for laymen. 2 By the end of the 5th century, Christian rulers forcibly abolished the study of philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and geography. Lactantius said no Christian should study astronomy. Pope Gregory the Great denounced all secular education as folly and wickedness, and forbade Christian laymen to read even the Bible…. 3
“Pagan intellectuals and teachers were persecuted and schools were closed. Christian emperors commanded the burning of all books of the philosophers …. After years of vandalism and destruction, St. John Chrysostom proudly boasted, ‘Every trace of the old philosophy and literature of the ancient world has vanished from the face of the earth.’ 4
“…After temples were destroyed, monks and hermits were settled in the ruins to defile the site with their excrement, and to prevent reconstruction. 6
“Rulers melted down bronze, gold, and silver artworks for money. Peasants broke up marble gods and Goddesses and fed their pieces into limekilns for mortar. 7 It is recorded that 4th-century Rome had 424 temples, 304 shrines, 80 statues of deities in precious metal, 64 statues of ivory, 3,700 statues in bronze, and thousands in marble. By the next century, nearly all of them were gone…. 8
“Bertrand Russell described the philosophical outlook of St. Jerome: ‘He thinks the preservation of virginity more important than victory over the Huns and Vandals and Goths. Never once do his thoughts turn to any possible measure of practical statesmanship; never once does he point out the evils of the fiscal system, or of reliance on an army composed of barbarians. The same is true of Ambrose and Augustine…. It is no wonder that the Empire fell into ruin.’ 11
“Suppression of the teaching priestess or ‘alma mater’ led to an eclipse of education in general.
“Church historians have claimed nothing of real value was lost in the destruction of pagan culture. Modern scholars disagree. The havoc that afflicted art, science, literature, philosophy, engineering, architecture and all other fields of achievement has been likened to the havoc of the Gigantomachia – as if the crude giants overthrew the intelligent gods. The widespread literacy of the classical period disappeared. Aqueducts, harbors, buildings, even the splendid Roman roads fell into ruin. …. Centuries of devastating war could hardly have shattered Roman civilization as effectively as did its new obsession with an ascetic monotheism. 24
“…The study of medicine was forbidden, on the ground that all diseases were caused by demons…. 26
“Priestesses were especially persecuted, because they were female, wealthy, and laid claim to spiritual authority. 27
“By denying women’s spiritual significance and forbidding Goddess worship, the church [also] alienated both sexes from their pagan sense of unity with the divine through each other.
If you’d like full citations for any of the footnoted sources, let me know.
The foto of Sean Connery and Christian Slater comes from Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1986 film, The Name of the Rose, based on the Italian book by Umberto Eco. This film takes place in the Dark Ages,
“… in an isolated and massive Dominican [Christian] Abbey…. [It] shows the dark side of monastery life, a life of sexual deprivation and literary censorship that brings out weird emotions in people. This story … shows the drudgery, fear, and harsh religion of the European Dark Ages, in a way I haven't seen before in a film…. This is easily a controversial film, what with its straightforward look at Catholicism….”From Weeklyfilm.com. Go HERE for more about the film.