A world with no Christianity

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jonthecatholic's picture
Why would you say that that

Why would you say that that is an improvement? It most certainly would be different. But an improvement?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Of course it would be much

Of course it would be much better, we wouldn't have Creflo Dollar, Cardinal Pell, Torquemada, or bloody stupid questions in Atheist Forums would we?

Jared Alesi's picture
One must remember that even

One must remember that even with the saturation of culture with Christianity, and the subsequent furnishings for science made in its wake, the church was still an inhibiting force on scientific inquiry. Thought police does not propel science, book burning does not spread knowledge, and a place in the house of a bigot does not coach intellectual pursuit. Science would have risen in much the same way as it did, if not faster, if not for the existence of Christianity.

However, the question stated was only if one specific religion did not exist. I suspect Europe and the Middle East would have simply had the last popular dogma in place of Christianity and Islam. But in the case of Islam, the major inhibitor of science was the teachings of one man. Al Ghazali codified Islam into a religion hostile to math and science. In the case of Catholicism, it was more a collection of acts and decrees by power hungry men in an effort to subvert the masses through ignorance and credulity. An educated population is a hard one to control. If not for Christianity and Islam, perhaps things would be vastly different or vastly similar. We can't really know.

jonthecatholic's picture
Agreed. Without Christianity,

Agreed. Without Christianity, other religions would’ve spread or sprouted. I do think a world without Christianity would be vastly different. Another case I’d like to put forth is the school system.

A teacher of mine made a very good point that the current school system we have evolved from the monastic lifestyle where monks followed a strict schedule for children to follow. The first formal schools were actually taught by priests.

algebe's picture
@JoC: "The first formal

@JoC: "The first formal schools were actually taught by priests."

Are you saying that without Christianity nobody would have thought of creating institutions to teach children? Even the Romans had numerous Ludi with tutors paid by parents to teach children. The concept of the school is pretty old and pretty universal.

The dominant role of the church in education is another example of the church's ability to capture resources in pre-modern societies.

jonthecatholic's picture
I said formal schools. The

I said formal schools. The schools the Romans had back then weren't formal. One were students would go to school at a certain subject would be taught from 8-9 then another from 9-10. The formal school (i.e. school with form). I'm saying that the formal school would've had a harder time being established as there would be no need for it.

Education would still probably be taught at home and with (as you said) tutors. With no reliable way of furthering that knowledge as there wouldn't be as many monks who transcribe or previously acquired knowledge. We'd have to wait for the printing press which could've been delayed cause knowledge couldn't have been passed as effectively before.

algebe's picture
@JoC: "as there wouldn't be

@JoC: "as there wouldn't be as many monks who transcribe or previously acquired knowledge. We'd have to wait for the printing press"

The Romans copied books on a vast scale. So did the Greeks. Ever heard of the Library of Alexandria?

I'm glad you mentioned the printing press. That wasn't invented by a monk. It was a commercial venture by a blacksmith funded by a merchant. The church used printing presses to print indulgences for its corrupt money-making activities, but it ferociously opposed the translating and printing of bibles. Not much credit for the church there I'm afraid.

jonthecatholic's picture
Lol. Printing indulgences?

Lol. Printing indulgences? You obviously have no idea what indulgences are. I agree though the printing press would not be a contribution of Christianity to the world

algebe's picture
JoC: "You obviously have no

JoC: "You obviously have no idea what indulgences are."

One of us doesn't. They were a form of pardon for sins, originally in exchange for the performance of a penance, such as a certain number prayers. By the late Middle Ages they were being printed and sold in vast numbers by pardoners, who often supplied them as a kind of blank check so you could fill in the sin you planned to commit. They were a major cause of the Reformation. Read Chaucer's "Pardoners Tale".

jonthecatholic's picture
Yeah. I'll admit that

Yeah. I'll admit that indulgences weren't handled properly back then. But that's not what indulgences are. They're not something printed. What can be printed are ways of obtaining indulgences. It's not something Catholics go to the churches to claim. In fact, a lot of indulgences are obtained through means which are free. The mistakes made in teaching this doctrine was made by a few people who taught that buying indulgences was a way of getting their sins forgiven.

This is not at all what the doctrine on indulgences teach. At all.

Nyarlathotep's picture
JoC - They're not something

JoC - [Indulgences are] not something printed.

Indulgences were mass printed and used almost as a currency in the Middle Ages. For example when a new church was to be build it would often be funded by mass printing (and sales) of indulgences in the amount required to pay for the construction, very similar to a modern bond. In fact, the oldest known dated printed document is a set of indulgences printed to raise money to fight the Turks in Cyprus. Your notion that they are/were not printed is ludicrous.


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jonthecatholic's picture
Even today the church prints

Even today the church prints out ways to gain indulgences. I can admit that much. But indulgences aren’t pieces of paper. You know what indulgences are from the Catholic perspective? Never mind what other people think they are. Consider what they actually are.

algebe's picture
They're get-out-of-purgatory

They're get-out-of-purgatory-early cards. I am shocked that there are still people in the 21st century who believe in this elaborate afterlife hoax, and believe that men in dresses actually have some kind of authority over what happens in this afterlife.

jonthecatholic's picture
That’s probably one way to

That’s probably one way to put it. Are you aware how these indulgences are acquired?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
When indulgences were rife,

When indulgences were rife, depending on the indulgence you purchased you had to go to a particular church or shrine, perform a prescribed ritual ( 50 Hail Marys and the like) oh, and of course give money to the Indulgence seller, the church/shrine you went to and anyone else in the church who asked you.
That its all about money seems to escape you.
Have you read Luthers statement? Or Chaucer?

jonthecatholic's picture
No doubt there were abuses in

No doubt there were abuses in handling indulgences. In any case, indulgences have always been obtainable through means other than monetary means. Prayers for a specific intention or good works. Among these good works are feeding the hungry, visiting prisons, and alms giving. So when you give to a charitable institution through alms giving, you are able to obtain an indulgence. The Church is a charitable institution. So when church officials said that an indulgence was tied to giving them money to fund the construction of some church, they weren't lying. When they say it's the only way to obtain an indulgence, then they are lying.

algebe's picture
You perform some kind of

You perform some kind of penance, such as the repetition of a certain number of prayers, crawling on your knees through the streets to a church, wearing a hair shirt, self-flagellation, etc. But I'm sure a cash donation would also be welcomed.

jonthecatholic's picture
Those are interesting

Those are interesting examples. Some are true. Some are still practiced but discouraged today. Basically, any of the corporal acts of mercy (feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, etc) can obtain for you an indulgence. Cash donation would fall under alms giving. And yes, this is included.

algebe's picture
@JoC: "Basically, any of the

@JoC: "Basically, any of the corporal acts of mercy"

The system doesn't seem to provide for making amends to the victim of whatever the sin was. Nor does it really discourage wrongdoing, since there is always way to wash away the sin. Moreover, it seems to identify those "corporal acts of mercy" as punishments. I've done all those of things often because they're the right things to do.

Indulgences are focused on god, with the church as the middle man. To me it looks like the whole system is set up for corruption.

jonthecatholic's picture
I don't know who you're

I don't know who you're talking to but no one really sees corporal acts of mercy as "punishment" in any way.

As I understand, making amends for the sin isn't counted as gaining an indulgence. It would count towards the forgiveness of the sin.

Nyarlathotep's picture
JoC - But indulgences aren’t

JoC - But indulgences aren’t pieces of paper.

Maybe they weren't supposed to be (and maybe they aren't that way now) ; but they certainly were in the past. As we've told you repeatedly, they were PHYSICALLY traded like bearer bonds; they were paper.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Your teacher was wrong.

Your teacher was wrong. Wikepedia to start for you: "Education in ancient Rome progressed from an informal, familial system of education in the early Republic to a tuition-based system during the late Republic and the Empire. The Roman education system was based on the Greek system – and many of the private tutors in the Roman system were Greek slaves or freedmen." So Greek teachers existed long before Roman teachers and predate them. Even in your judaic tradition had its Yeshiva, formal schooling in the Talmud and Torah. In pre Roman Celtic societies there were schools for Bards and priests, just as "formal" in their own way. Every civilisation has their "schools" Zulu, Australian First Nations, are the ones with which I am familiar. They may not have four walls, punishments and beatings but all of them are there to share knowledge gained by the society. Christians didnt invent schools, they used them for their propaganda.

jonthecatholic's picture
Actually, I'm not wrong. And

Actually, I'm not wrong. And even your wiki quote says so. I said "formal schooling". Your wiki quote says, "informal schooling". I will admit though that the Jews did have formal schooling though I'm unsure of the scope of their subject matter. I think religion was taught formally. But language was most probably taught informally.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Did you miss "based on the

Did you miss "based on the Greek system" which was formal? Or do you think the gymnasium was solely for tinder style hookups?
Do try reading more than one or two lines of a riposte dear JoC.

Sapporo's picture
Christianity has held back

Christianity has held back scientific progress and is morally retrograde. While it is true that alternatives to Christianity not existing may have been worse, we can only look at the damage that Christianity has actually done.

In regards wars, without religions such as Christianity, there would have be one less pretext for fighting, and far less instances of individuals placing little value on their mortal lives.

DarkkWolfe's picture
This question reminds me

This question reminds me
Of a book by Arthur C. Clarke: Song of a Distant Earth.

Anyone read it? It's about a colony sent from a dying earth long in the past from whose databases all knowledge of god was removed. The colonist themselves were clones raised by robot parents for the first generation. Then many hundreds of years later, a later ship from earth arrives with colonists who used cold sleep to survive the journey and retain all their knowledge of god. Let the fun begin. ;0)

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Loved it...I am an avid SF

Loved it...I am an avid SF reader.

Tin-Man's picture
@Dark Re: Song of a Distant

@Dark Re: Song of a Distant Earth

I really love Arthur C. Clarke, but I have not read that one. Looks like a trip to the book store is in my near future. Thanks, Dark.

Tin-Man's picture
@Dark Re: Songs of a Distant

@Dark Re: Songs of a Distant Earth

Went to the book store, but ended up having to order it. Sadly (or, maybe, disturbingly), there were only THREE Arthur C. Clark books on the entire shelf. The only one there in the Space Odyssey series was "2001". Doesn't anybody read classics anymore?

algebe's picture
@Tin-man: "Went to the book

@Tin-man: "Went to the book store"

They're rapidly going extinct. I just went to the Amazon Kindle store and bought the book for about $7. It's now part of the collection on my smartphone. I haven't read it for decades, so I'm looking forward to renewing the acquaintance. My favorite Clarke story is "Fountains of Paradise," which also has a religious sub-theme involving Buddhists and butterflies.


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