RE: Immortal Souls, infected memes....

Crosby_M (
Fri, 3 Jan 1997 12:36:38 -0500

On Jan 2, 12:03pm, Max More wrote:
<If Christianity hadn't been around, we don't know what outlook might
have arisen instead. Possibly something which, overall, would have
encourage science and reason more strongly (rather than killing it for
a millennium).>

On Thu, 2 Jan 97, Damien Sullivan wrote:
<Fair point, I think. Yet unless you give X-nity most of the credit
for the Roman fall, Greek influence in Europe was probably in sharp
decline anyway, waiting in Alexandria and the later Islamic empire for
resurgence. As you say, it's unclear what a pagan and Churchless
Europe would have accomplished. I note that the Church did at least
maintain a literate class and a common educated language, although
that's tangential at best to my original argument about motivations to

Well, I don't know about motivations toward science, but there is an
editorial that the Wall Street Journal publishes every year on
Christmas Eve, called "In Hoc Anno Domini", that makes the following
interesting point about Christianity's effect on the development of
human civilization:
<And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new
kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his
God ... So the light came into the world and the men who lived in
darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man
would still believe that salvation lay with the leaders ... [And even
the disciples of Christ were afraid] that men might yield up their
birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.>

This was something new (though probably derived from the Greek
traditions): that every person could be the equal of a king, that God
was something beyond the latest divine ruler, that there might be a
rule of law rather than a rule of men, that all men could be equal
before God/Nature regardless of their tribe or nation.

Once that libertarian meme began to spread, it was only a 'short' leap
from 'bow to none but God' to bow to nothing but the laws of nature
and your own creativity. It is important to distinguish these original
ideas from their later cooptation and corruption by the rulers and
their church. However, it's doubtful that they could have spread as
they did without the mechanisms of religion and conquest - perhaps the
libertarian meme had to hide like a virus and ride out these other
plagues in order to spread and firmly establish itself.

Mark Crosby