Adjust Your Calendar, or Ten Takeaways from How the West Was Won
Rather, we won because of a combination of correct religion and metaphysics, freedom to pursue knowledge and truth, and superior technology in the application of righteous violence, in that order. (Not to mention little things like private property, monogamy, and decentralized power, but these can be seen as entailments of more fundamental truths.)
Just as most people maintain a rough calendar of future activities and commitments, we should be equally concerned about past activities and commitments, not necessarily ours per se, but mankind's.
After all, you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been, and this applies both individually and collectively. Stark's How the West Was Won helps us revise our cosmic calendars, for some people more dramatically than others.
To cite the most obvious example, if you fail to understand and appreciate how Christianity was absolutely central to the rise of science, then your old calendar is hopelessly corrupt. In fact, Stark makes a compelling case for the thesis that there was no scientific revolution, and certainly no sudden rejection of religion at its origin. Rather, the idea of a revolution was a retrospective invention of self-glorifying enlightenment literary figures who were not scientists and played no part in its development, e.g., Voltaire.
Interestingly, Stark demonstrates this not just with logic and history, but with empirical evidence. Specifically, he examines the lives of the most important scientists of the so-called revolution, relying on independent sources to come up with the list, and essentially dividing them between the intensely religious, the conventionally religious, and the skeptical.
As to how one can determine whether a person is intensely religious, it isn't all that difficult, really. For example, Isaac Newton would qualify, since he "wrote far more on theology than he did on physics," as would Kepler, who "was deeply interested in mysticism and in biblical questions," devoting "great effort to working out the date of the Creation..."
Long story short, among 52 scientific luminaries, 31 are judged to be devout, 20 conventional, and only one a rank skeptic. That latter would be Edmond Halley, who was "rejected for a professorship at Oxford on grounds of 'atheism.'"
Of course, it is difficult to know what was really in the hearts of the "conventional," since they may have simply been going with the program to avoid attention and controversy. Even so, a solid majority were nevertheless intensely devout, so it is unlikely that the rest would be at the other extreme end of the continuum.
And in any event, this highlights the obvious fact that there is and can be no conflict between science and Christianity, because science came to be in only one time and in one place: in the Christian west.
Frankly, this should not come as a shock or surprise to anyone. Nevertheless, it is something the academic left will never acknowledge, which is itself an intriguing scientific question. That is, how and why does this perverse ideology begin and end in the rejection of reality? More on this later.
Suffice it to say that honorary Raccoon emeritus Alfred North Whitehead made this point almost a century ago, that science developed in the west because of the implicit "faith in the possibility of science" (emphasis mine). It was transparently derived "from medieval theology," which revolved around "insistence on the rationality of God," so that "the search into nature could only result in the vindication of faith in rationality" (quoted in Stark).
Conversely, just as "Christian theology was essential for the rise of science," "non-Christian theologies had stifled the scientific enterprise everywhere else."
We are excluding Judaism only because it had no major impact on the scientific enterprise until the 19th century liberation of the Jews in Europe, at which point they raced to the top. That too is a fascinating historical nugget, because it means that a whole people with the correct view of reality had been actively suppressed from exploring its implications to the benefit of all!
Nor is it any coincidence that so many anti-scientific progressive campus groups lead the charge of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel. Hey, if you hate reality, might as well go straight to the source.
Well, this is not a day of slack for me, since I have grubby remunerative work to do. We'll pick up this thread at a later date, since I guess we have ten more aways to take from the book.