Christianity and Modern Times

Christianity

The Church.
The Church. | Source
Will we see the return of the Spanish Inquisition?
Will we see the return of the Spanish Inquisition? | Source
Islamic State as bad as the 2nd World War Nazis? They are a threat to all Christians living in Iraq.
Islamic State as bad as the 2nd World War Nazis? They are a threat to all Christians living in Iraq. | Source
The Bible.
The Bible. | Source
To understand the history of the Western World one has to also understand the history of Christianity in the West.
To understand the history of the Western World one has to also understand the history of Christianity in the West. | Source
Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo da Vinci. | Source
The story of Christianity began in the Middle East.
The story of Christianity began in the Middle East. | Source
In Western Europe Christianity had to contend with other beliefs.
In Western Europe Christianity had to contend with other beliefs. | Source
The notion that death could, in some way, be defeated gave Christianity power.
The notion that death could, in some way, be defeated gave Christianity power. | Source
Bacteria and viruses were not understood in Medieval Times. In fact they were not really understood until well into the 19th Century.
Bacteria and viruses were not understood in Medieval Times. In fact they were not really understood until well into the 19th Century. | Source
We are aware today that the moon is not perfect in the sense of the Medieval Catholic Church.
We are aware today that the moon is not perfect in the sense of the Medieval Catholic Church. | Source
In the world of Australian children's television there was a man who lived on the moon.
In the world of Australian children's television there was a man who lived on the moon. | Source
People still pray to a God their distant ancestors were forced to worship.
People still pray to a God their distant ancestors were forced to worship. | Source
Holy Wars have been fought in the name of the Christian God.
Holy Wars have been fought in the name of the Christian God. | Source
Holy wars fueled by fear of the plague.
Holy wars fueled by fear of the plague. | Source
As late as the beginning of the 20th Century the sight of a meteor struck fear into the hearts of the people who saw it.
As late as the beginning of the 20th Century the sight of a meteor struck fear into the hearts of the people who saw it. | Source
During the Elizabethan Age Catholics in England were not treated very well.
During the Elizabethan Age Catholics in England were not treated very well. | Source
We no longer believe in witches flying through the air on broomsticks.
We no longer believe in witches flying through the air on broomsticks. | Source
Good things, such as an end to slavery in the British Empire, came out of Christianity.
Good things, such as an end to slavery in the British Empire, came out of Christianity. | Source
Charles Darwin changed the way many of us today think about nature.
Charles Darwin changed the way many of us today think about nature. | Source
In the USA, men such as Davy Crockett were said to have tamed the wild frontier. The idea that it needed taming was Christian.
In the USA, men such as Davy Crockett were said to have tamed the wild frontier. The idea that it needed taming was Christian. | Source
Christianity struggles today to come to terms with human overpopulation that will lead to starvation and war.
Christianity struggles today to come to terms with human overpopulation that will lead to starvation and war. | Source
Easter - have pagan and half Christian - is still celebrated throughout the world.
Easter - have pagan and half Christian - is still celebrated throughout the world. | Source

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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Comments 21 comments

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Rod..a nice, succinct summary of the major events and easy to read. Well done.

Thank heavens for the Enlightenment. I feel very grateful to those thinkers who shone a light through the darkness.

(I had to laugh at your last comment about the Darwin hubs. Thanks for mentioning me too.)

Cheers


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks Jane.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have, since college, believed that creation and evolution can go together. I believe it is pretty much the current teaching of the Catholic Church. I don't think they have gone as far as to accept all the theories of the Jesuit Teilhard deChardin though.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Very concise history of Christianity. It explains a few things I didn't understand.

I do hope we are inspiring each other to write and discuss this. It's a learning experience on both sides, I hope.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

I agree with you dahoglund that not all Christians have come down heavy on Darwin and his ideas. Darwin and his ideas, however, must have been another challenge to established traditions. How we meet challenges says something about who we are and how well we are likely to do in the future.

Austinstar, learning experiences can be good. Yes this is a very concise history.


Baileybear 5 years ago

thanks for the mention. It seems that superstitious nonsense persists ie curses, demons instead of genetics. Religion and tradition certainly evolves too.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

You are welcome Baileybear. I think in some circles you might get into trouble saying anything evolves. Of course I agree with you.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Rod, this was fun. And thanks for the mention.

Concise, yes, but keeping my gray cells happy. Very thought provoking and enlightening.

I agree with Baileybear about religion and tradition evolving. And yes, funny how that word is so taboo with some.

It seems, at times, that our bright and shining age of reason and technological advancement is but a fragile veneer on a more dangerous reality. We could easily lose what we have. One of my favorite programs, the "Connections" television mini-series, pointed out just how fragile is our technological infrastructure.

I don't mean to sound pessimistic. In fact, I'm quite the optimist. It's just that blind squabbling between two polarized extremes has the potential to do a great deal of damage. Arrogant scientists butting heads with self-righteous fundamentalists is not a pretty sight. Both sides have something to offer.

Fundamentalist Christians in the USA have the ability to rewrite textbooks for a good portion of America. Recent changes in the Texas schoolboard (under whose authority those textbooks are written and published, could prove disastrous in the long run, especially for the study of science. I suppose it's not such a bad thing, really, if America slides into oblivion and China rises to the top. Being a Texan and an American, it just makes me sad at the lost potential.

Perhaps if the Fundamentalists found out that the Bible agrees more with science than they've believed, then the polarization could be discharged, the rift mended and the Texas schoolboard less radicalized.

Living in the Philippines, I feel less "attached" to America, but still I hate to see any great potential lost so frivolously -- so tragically.

My research into Genesis reveals a timeline compatible with those of science. Many of the "anti-evolutionary" arguments are thus made moot by biblical confirmation that humanity and the universe are far older than Ussher's 6,000 years. Most, if not all, of the creation "science" science bashing is thus made null and void.

But ego makes attachments to beliefs hard to break loose. To change one's stance on something might require that one admit that one had been wrong. Such a requirement is too painful for some.

I'm writing a book on my discoveries and I'm trying to figure out how best to market the book and its ideas. It's called, "The Bible's Hidden Wisdom, God's Reason for the Flood." There's controversy, inspiration, the intrigue of a murder mystery, and powerful connections made across thousands... even millions!... of years. It's bigger than all of history, because without Noah's Flood (whatever the truth behind that biblical myth), history may never have happened.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Nowadays, together with geologists, there are fewer and fewer historians arguing against there being a flood around the time period we believe Noah lived. The exodus of the chosen people from Egypt has also been confirmed by non-biblical sources.

I think Christians in general are great but fundamentalists scare me. Yes, technology is fragile at present. The Chinese might well take over the world financially once they have gotten their act together. The USA still has a variety of roles to play in the world and I can see the USA making a financial comeback in, say, a decade from now. I can be an optimist too.

Good luck with your book. You might think about shortening the title to make it snappier.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I enjoyed reading your pithy recap. You did a nice job. Well done!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks James.


magnoliazz profile image

magnoliazz 5 years ago from Wisconsin

I am not a big fan of religion, but I do believe in God. Religion was invented to control people in the name of God, and that is pretty evil.

Interesting hub, voting it up...I think its your turn to write a hub about Darwinism...just a suggestion.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thank you magnoliazz.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada

I enjoyed this overview Rod. I think it covers religion's ability to control people. But it got me thinking - how exactly did religion become a control in the first place?

In psych class I was taught that we use heuristics as a problem solving technique. It's kind of like a shortcut to a solution which would otherwise take a long time to solve. I think that religious ideals, morals, rules etc. were all a heuristic to give people a better way of coexisting. Sometimes heuristics are wrong though or we use the wrong one. In this case we became over reliant on the heuristics that religion provided and instead of using the morals that religion gave as a heuristic, we just used religion as the heuristic. We took the wrong shortcut. The scientific method, on the other hand, is an algorithm. It will eventually discover the correct answer given enough time and rigorous application. That's my educated guess at any rate.

What's interesting about the printing press is that it allows information to be delivered at a much faster pace. Whether that information is right or not is a different story.

Great Hub, keep it up!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks mrpopo.

You might be right about religion. I don't really know.

Not only did the printing press allow information right or wrong to be delivered at a faster pace it also allowed for the easier storage of information. There is a lot we still don't know, for example, about how the great cathedrals were built simply because the people who did the work, for the most part, could neither read nor write. Oh, the plans may be available but how the actual work was done is another matter. Information was passed from father to son and if the line was broken...well, you get the idea.

When the great guilds were formed in the second half of the Middle Ages it was partly to fix prices and partly to keep good work practices and standards up. When the printing press came into its own it was much easier to accomplish these things.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada

I'll do a bit more research/thinking on the reason(s) religion survived to this day and maybe make a Hub on it. Comparing religion to a mistaken heuristic and the scientific method is just my own interpretation, however. I don't really know if there is a way to support it, although I can certainly rationalize about it. I'm getting ahead of myself so I'll just let the Hub speak for itself, when it gets made that is :)

That's a great aspect that I hadn't thought of - storing information. A handy shortcut for the rest of humanity. I think we just need to get better at what kind of information we are to store, and how to self-check for errors in this information. But that'll come with time.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks mrpopo.

I look forward to your hub. I know it will be informative.

There was a time when if a stonemason died and did not pass on his methodology to someone before his death his art might well be lost. There are things we didn't know about medieval stone masonry in the late 20th Century that had to be rediscovered the hard way - by trial and error.

One of the earliest how-to books that came off of William Caxton's printing press (Caxton Circa 1415-1492) was a book on how to avoid death and destruction at dinner time. Yes, it was a book on courtly manners. Such gems as never talk with your mouth full because your neighbor might not like having food spat at him and might retaliate by gutting you with the cutlery.

We must be careful not to fall into Orwell's 1984 trap where the government decides our past, present and future for us and what we can read changes at the whim of government. Edison had nothing to do with the invention of the light bulb in 1879. An important party member did. That sort of thing. Manipulate information and/or come up with complete fabrications that serve your interest and you can control the masses with impunity. This is the reason I defend the theory of evolution as strongly as I do.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

This was an entertaining and useful survey of modern history. I enjoyed the read, thank you.

Love and peace

Tony


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

And thank you for stopping by, Tony.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

A good read Ron. As you know, I believe religion is bunk.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

I thought you might, earnest. Bunk or not it has affected our lives and will continue to do so.

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