Christianity and Modern Times
CHRISTIANITY AND MODERN TIMES
Recently the Pope has come out with the view that there isn't an overpopulation problem and that, with good management, humans the world over could be fed, housed and educated. I disagree but, even if this is true today, I doubt it will be true in 2050.
There has been talk for some time now that Catholic priests may soon be allowed to marry. It would be hoped that this will stop the priests who do molest children from doing so. Others suggest that tighter screening of applicants to the priesthood would be the real answer. In any event, priest are not as well protected against the laws in places such as Australia as they used to be.
There have also been stories out of places such as Ireland about cruelty to children by nuns. Well, if priests are allowed to marry in the Catholic Church then I suppose nuns will also be allowed to as well.
In recent times the pope has sided with Muslim killers. Strange as it may seem the pope would rather sympathize with the murderers of French artists and writers than their victims.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the pope siding with these fanatics is that he may not have liked earlier French cartoons of disreputable Catholic priests into pedophilia.
In the late 20th Century the King James version of the Bible has been watered down to make it easier to read. Unfortunately with this watering down some of the meaning has been lost. My cup is full, for example, is not the same as my cup runneth over. Such tampering brings up the question of what do the words actually mean to followers if they can be changed and in changing them distorted.
Misbehavior, not only with representatives of the Catholic Church but also the Protestant Churches, has recently rocked the world. The idea of priests being celibate was questioned in the writings of The Decameron in the latter half of the Middle Ages. It was a case of widows being comforted too well. Apparently, the pope whose father was a pirate had a mistress. During the Middle Ages, there were also the story of one particular popes being a terrible pedophile, and getting away with it.
Since the second half of the Middle Ages onward, the Catholic Church has had to contend with a great deal of change. Old ideas from the ancient Greeks and from the Romans resurfaced. Some of these ideas came into Europe via Southern Spain.
Moors and Jewish scholars had kept the writings of great men of medicine, architecture, mathematics, astrology and general science alive when their works were being condemned to flame elsewhere in Europe. The Moors and the Jews of the day also contributed personally from their own stock of wisdom.
Jewish physicians were said to have great healing power and there is no reason to doubt this claim. They had the books and it was not unlawful for them to make a more thorough study of the dead than the Christian physician of the time.
The man who painted the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci, risked imprisonment and possibly death when he studied anatomy. He could have been condemned by the Church as a heretic.
The Catholic Church tried to keep a lid on both old and new discoveries, especially in medicine. Women who practiced the healing arts were too often condemned to death as witches, especially if they actually knew what they were doing. For a long time medicine in Europe was a mixture of superstitious nonsense the Church sometimes tolerated or incorporated, together with cures that actually did work.
Often cause and effect were mistaken for one another. Bad smells are deadly whereas good smells might be used to counteract the bad and thus create a cure. This was the logic that persisted well into the 19th Century. The microscope eventually put an end to this way of thinking.
Bad smells became an indicator of something possibly being wrong rather than the cause. Even to this day flowers are put in hospital rooms in the hope that they might help the sick. Of course this is not to say that fresh flowers cannot lift the spirit of someone ill and thus do some good.
Galileo was not the first man to bump heads with the Church over the place of humans in the universe. He was lucky not to be tortured and condemned to the flame. He had been friends with the pope before the man had become pope. This may have saved Galileo's life. Even so, he had to recant and he was put under house arrest. The Vatican in recent times has apologized for what was done to Galileo. Apparently he was correct in his findings.
The moon is not perfect the way the Church wanted it to be in Galileo's day. It has pock marks we now understand to be craters. The heavenly bodies do not circle the Earth acknowledging Man as the supreme being of God's creation. The Earth actually circles the sun.
Galileo came to his conclusions through observation making him, in my view, a scientist as well as the best astronomer of his century. An ancient Greek scholar also believed the Earth moved so not all of Galileo's ideas were original but they were original enough to get him into trouble. He did, however, push forward our knowledge of the universe.
Martin Luther came along and questioned the divinity of the pope and, among other things, the right of the Church officials, including the pope, to issue indulgences. Could salvation be bought off the Church? Luther believed that it could not. This led to a profound split in the Church. It was made profound by a new invention, the printing press.
Luther might well have burned as a heretic but he was supported by the Holy Roman Emperor and by the people of Worms (Voems). Later on the English under Henry the 8th split from Catholicism. There were other splits resulting in a divided Europe. Some kingdoms, nationalities, etc threw their support behind the pope and others behind the new Protestant Churches.
There were holy wars fueled by plague. Who was more in favor with God? Was it the Catholics or the Protestants? Who brought plague down upon the people as a punishment from God? Was it the old Church or the newer forms of Christianity? Torturing heretics was as popular among Protestants as it was among Catholics, Everyone wanted to get right with God.
Out of this mess came the age of enlightenment, the age of reason. The scientific method was applied more and more resulting in new discoveries with a concrete base in facts which could be proven over and over again. How to treat the sick became formalized. Even so, old folk remedies were re-examined. Some turned out to have merit.
In 19th Century France a doctor was told of a village in the north where a white flower grew which could cure headaches and other pain. Naturally he was skeptical but he went to the village anyway and examined the flower. it did indeed live up to its reputation. Well, he found out what made the flower so special and gave it his name. Nowadays Aspirin can be found in many plants including common tea but it was first discovered in a little white flower which grows in Northern France.
Charles Darwin shook up the Victorian age with his Theory of Evolution. It horrified the Bible Belt in the USA and apparently continues to do so. No one has yet proven it to be scientifically incorrect despite what Creationists believe. Creationism, in fact, basically came into existence to challenge Darwin's ideas.
Some people think Darwin's theory is against the Bible. There are Christian scientists, however, who believe that Evolution and the Bible are not incompatible.
Just when the dust was beginning to settle, Desmond Morris in 1967, with his book The Naked Ape, upset the hardcore religious almost as much as the Theory of Evolution did when it first came out. Humans are not apes, naked or otherwise! was the great hue and cry from the faithful.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, which came out in 1956, for some unknown reason didn't have quite that much impact. It is, however, a book well worth reading.
Some people feel that the Big Bang theory and now the String theory dealing with the creation of the universe somehow belittle the very nature of God and that of supreme creation. To many scientists, however, understanding something about how everything came about belittles absolutely nothing at all.
From Francis Bacon in his Elizabethan musings in New Atlantis onwards people who cherish new discoveries have been in awe and wonder of creation. Certainly some have been in awe of their creator from what they have learned and continue to learn. And yes there have been atheists looking and learning as well.
The Bible was once a cherished possession of a very select group in society. It was way too expensive for just anyone to possess.
Thanks to Gutenberg and his 15th Century printing press, the Bible came to be available to more and more people. Nowadays it can be read by just about anyone who can read. Whether or not this is deemed good or bad one thing is certain, the printing press and other forms of communication, such as the computer, are here to stay. Also science and humankind's knowledge of the universe and humankind's place in it will continue to be explored.
This hub was inspired by hubbers Baileybear, Jane Bovary,The Rope, Joni Douglas, James Watkins (who seems to inspire people to write hubs on Charles Darwin), lone77star, Manna in the wild, Classy, and Austinstar.
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