RE: Faith, Freedom & Authority

  • The development of printing and paper meant that 20 million books were produced in the first fifty years after Gutenberg (1455). This dwarfed the literary output of the ancient world. Printing probably had an even greater effect than gunpowder, which, like the stirrup before it, revolutionised warfare and allowed Europeans to dominate the rest of the world.

    Meanwhile, the people of medieval Europe invented spectacles, the mechanical clock, the windmill and the blast furnace by themselves. Lenses and cameras, almost all kinds of machinery, and the industrial revolution itself all owe their origins to the forgotten inventors of the Middle Ages. Just because we don’t know their names, does not mean that we should not recognise their achievements.

    They lived much tougher lives than we do and we are the ones reaping the rewards for their hard work.

    The Middle Ages laid the foundation for modern science. It is simply untrue to say that there was no science before the ‘Renaissance’

    (tags: reason)
  • In fact, when it comes to banning books, religion is the worst reason of the lot. Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.

6 thoughts on “RE: Faith, Freedom & Authority

  1. I recommend you consult Henry Kamen’s book the Spanish Inquisition: A Revisionist History. He has a chapter on the question of censorship and documents that the picture of all-pervasive censorship commonly attributed to the church is false, as in, not supported by the evidence.

  2. Matthew, censorship is only one aspect of authoritarianism and thought control, pitfalls into which organized religion often stumbles. Martin Luther and the Reformers protested loudly against it. The recent debacles of neocon reconstructionism in US foreign policy, the emotionally damaging Shepherding movement, and other anti-intellectual / anti-science attitudes percolating through Evangelical subculture are examples of the church going astray from the mission of Christ outlined in Luke 4 and Matt 25.

    In saying that, I’m aware that the major drivers of censorship and oppression tend to be secular governments gripped by totalitarian urges, and religion is usually a pawn in their power games.

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