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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Christianity and European history
Thread: Christianity and European history This thread is 4 pages long: 1 2 3 4 · NEXT»
Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 14, 2013 11:11 AM bonus applied by Corribus on 21 Jun 2013.
Edited by Drakon-Deus at 11:16, 14 Jun 2013.

Christianity and European history

Setting aside the crusades, the inquisitions and tyranny of the Catholic Church, let's focus on the Eastern Christianity, which has done a lot more good. A prime example is the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantine scientists preserved and continued the legacy of the great Ancient Greek mathematicians and put mathematics in practice. In early Byzantium (5th to 7th century) the architects and mathematicians Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles used complex mathematical formulas to construct the great Hagia Sophia church, a technological breakthrough for its time and for centuries afterwards due to its striking geometry, bold design and height. In late Byzantium (9th to 12th century) mathematicians like Michael Psellos considered mathematics as a way to interpret the world.

Byzantium was the first Empire in which dedicated medical establishments flourished. These were usually set up by individual Churches or the state and parallel modern hospitals in many ways. Although similar establishments existed in Ancient Greece and Rome, they differed in that they were usually either institutions for military use, or places where citizens went to die in a more peaceful way. Medical institutions of this sort were common in Imperial Cities such as Constantinople and later Thessaloniki.

The first hospital was built by Basil of Caesarea in the late fourth century AD, and although these institutions thrived, it was only throughout the 8th and 9th Centuries that they began to appear in provincial towns as well as cities, (although Justinian's subsidization of private physicians to work publicly for six months of the year can be seen as the real breakthrough point). Byzantine medicine was entirely based around hospitals or walk-in dispensaries which formed part of the hospital complex. There was a dedicated hierarchy including the Chief Physician (archiatroi), professional nurses (hypourgoi) and the orderlies (hyperetai).

Doctors themselves were well trained and most likely attended the University of Constantinople as medicine had become a scholarly subject by the period of Byzantium (despite the prominence of the great physicians of antiquity, its status as a Science was greatly improved through its application in formal education (particularly in the University of Constantinople). This rigidity through professionalism (similar to the professionalism exhibited in the Byzantine Civil Service) bears many hallmarks of today's modern hospitals, and many comparisons are made by modern scholars studying this field. Thus, we know that in the twelfth century, Constantinople had two well organized hospitals staffed by medical specialists (including women doctors), with special wards for various types of diseases and systematic methods of treatment.


Christianity played a key role in the building and maintaining of hospitals. Many hospitals were built and maintained by bishops in their respective prefectures. Hospitals were usually built near or around churches, and great importance was laid on the idea of healing through salvation. When medicine failed, doctors would ask their patients to pray. This often involved images of the physician twins and martyrs Cosmas and Damien, patron saints of medicine and doctors.

Christianity also played a key role in propagating the idea of charity.

The Byzantine Empire affected Russia in many ways. One example is that the Russians converted all of the Slavs to Christianity. Another example is they adopted the Greek alphabet, and changed the Bibles into a Slavic Tongue. Russians soon accommodated aspects of the Byzantine Empire including art, architecture, and music. An example of architecture is their domes started to look like onions, which is a common architectural design throughout Russia.

Russia was geographically pretty isolated. And it never was part of the Roman empire ( never received the Roman infrastructure and technology). And when it accepted the Byzantine political view of the world, it was very important and unique. Unique, because it was not done by the military, like with the Roman conquests (including the Roman empire of Charlemagne, and later of Otto of Germany) but it was done by the Byzantine Church. And never with the idea to usurp the empire of Russia. Kiev was one of the main city and was very instrumental in the changing of Russia.


The Byzantine church converted the Slavs to Christianity, and gave them the Cyrillic alphabet , which is the Greek alphabet adapted to Russian pronounciation and needs. They gave them a way to communicate with the rest of the world but also among all the territories within the empire (unification through language and religion, and also culture). also culture because the Byzantine church also imported the Byzantine art and architecture! The Grand-Prince Vladimir may have assumed the title of "Basileus" ( king in Greek) with the association of Basil II, his brother-in-law, who was the legitimate emperor.
Vladimir was in Kiev and all the country was under his control. But his second son ,and heir, Yaroslav divided the empire into "appendages" between his five sons. Of course, along the years, such divisions brought disputes.

In any case, as for the Byzantine Empire, it stayed out of political control and just brought religion, culture and language, but that was a real change. A key to modernization and a window onto the world.
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Corribus
Corribus

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The Abyss Staring Back at You
posted June 14, 2013 03:01 PM
Edited by Corribus at 15:01, 14 Jun 2013.

Darkshadow, Seraphim, Gootch:

Please do not junk post.  In case you need a reminder:

4) NO spam, junk posts, thread killing, flooding or flaming.
Junk post is a post that fails to address the topic of discussion and fails to provide intellectual or humorous stimulation, or put simply: off topic, not interesting, not funny. Thread killing is making offtopic comments in a thread in a way that discourages other posters from continuing their serious discussion. Flooding is creating several threads in a short amount of time. Spam is creating several replies that contain one or two sentences in a short amount of time. Junk posts, thread killing and spam are allowed in the Volcanic Wastelands forum (see Volcanic Wastelands rules here). Creating a second username in order to surpass the daily post limit or to spam/flood is prohibited.

Thanks.

Now, let's please start over....
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Zenofex
Zenofex


Responsible
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Kreegan-atheist
posted June 14, 2013 08:10 PM

Quote:

The Byzantine church converted the Slavs to Christianity, and gave them the Cyrillic alphabet , which is the Greek alphabet adapted to Russian pronounciation and needs.
The Cyrillic alphabet was not "adapted" to Russian pronunciation specifically, in fact the Russians were not all that important at that time. It is developed by Clement of Ohrid (chiefly, although not only), one of followers of Cyril and Methodius who developed the original Glagolitic alphabet, the foundation of the Cyrillic one. The Cyrillic was created in Bulgaria which was pretty much the most powerful Slavic state in Easter Europe at that time (not to mention the closest to the Byzantine Empire) and spread to the other Slavic people after that.

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 14, 2013 10:21 PM

Good to know. I know the Russian alphabet and the Greek one pretty well(mostly) but I'm not all-knowing about their history.
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markkur
markkur


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Once upon a time
posted June 15, 2013 06:03 AM

Personally I think there are much better examples for when the Christian Church got something right. Pretty much every Byzantine ruler was a mixed bag of tricks (for his own ends), starting with Constantine.  

However there were places where the Church returned to the message of Christ, untied itself from earthly-Kings, embraced learning and the latest technology and took very good care of the people at a time when Rome had fallen and western civilization was in serious reversal.

Most people would never think of Ireland as a crucible of change nor that the Island was ever an important model for Europe, but both were true. I can PM you a link to a 2 part documentary that I think you'll enjoy if you're interested. It will explain many things much better than I could here.

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 15, 2013 06:31 AM

Sure, I'd like to know more.
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Zenofex
Zenofex


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Kreegan-atheist
posted June 15, 2013 07:09 AM

The Byzantines are not the best example when talking about the positive aspects of the Christianity, simply because they very often used it as a tool to spread and maintain their political influence.

People forget (or just don't know) that the Byzantine Empire was in fact the Roman Empire, only without Rome, in fact the name "Byzantine Empire", "Byzantines" and so on didn't even exist until some century after the said state was conquered by the Ottomans - the rulers called themselves Roman emperors, the people referred to themselves as Romans and so on. The political tradition of the old Roman state was very much alive throughout the whole existence of its Eastern part as a separate entity and it shaped much of its behaviour towards the Christianity and all other ideologies on its territory. The state, represented mainly by the emperor, was supreme in all aspects and every major political decision ultimately had pragmatic goals, leaving little place for pure "spiritualism". The spread of the Eastern version of the Christianity among the Slavic people was no different - the aim essentially was to bring them in the Empire's sphere of influence. And it did.

Moreover, the Eastern Roman Empire was quite unique in cultural aspect (and in other aspects actually) in the European medieval world. Like the undivided Roman Empire, it was inhabited by many different peoples, speaking different languages and having different worldviews. The Christianity was undoubtedly the dominating religion but it was not allowed to completely suppress the expression of other ideas, like in the realm of the Catholic church. On one hand, this was because the Eastern Empire preserved much of the cultural heritage and knowledge of the Ancient world and in this regard remained much more advanced than all European states with "barbaric" origin until its very end. On the other, the issue of maintaining the peaceful existence between different peoples was present throughout the greater part of the Empire's history and thus the ideological tolerance was much more pronounced than in the west (of course, this is all in the context of the medieval times). Ultimately, the earthly affairs dominated the behaviour of the emperors, not the celestial ones.

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 15, 2013 07:24 AM
Edited by Drakon-Deus at 07:31, 15 Jun 2013.

Still, it has done more good things than the church from Rome ever did. I'm not saying it was flawless though, no empire ever was.

Of course it was still Roman Empire, people didn't magically forget their heritage and started calling themselves byzantines. We just call it Byzantine to distinguish it better from the western Roman empire.

Personally, I wish this particular empire, Byzantine, Eastern Rome, was still around today, because of the reasons you mentioned. Compared to other empires, it had a very "live and let live" kind of policy.
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artu
artu


Promising
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My BS sensor is tingling again
posted June 15, 2013 07:36 AM
Edited by artu at 07:42, 15 Jun 2013.

Quote:
The Byzantines are not the best example when talking about the positive aspects of the Christianity, simply because they very often used it as a tool to spread and maintain their political influence


Any religion, before the idea of secularism spread (a little oversimplifying but after the French Revolution), is used to spread and maintain political influence. I would hesitate to say "as a tool" though, since before secularism, it was included in the package of religion what amount of tax to take from whom, who to put in political power, which resident lived on which part of the city etc etc. Thinking all of these things apart from religion is natural only to modern people.

Quote:
People forget (or just don't know) that the Byzantine Empire was in fact the Roman Empire, only without Rome, in fact the name "Byzantine Empire", "Byzantines" and so on didn't even exist until some century after the said state was conquered by the Ottomans - the rulers called themselves Roman emperors, the people referred to themselves as Romans and so on.


Exactly. To add to this, when Ottomans conquered Istanbul, they also saw themselves as the continuity of that line. Starting from Sultan Mehmed, (the one who did the conquering), Ottoman Empires all have seals that reads Kayzer-i Rum (Caesar of Rome).

Quote:
Moreover, the Eastern Roman Empire was quite unique in cultural aspect (and in other aspects actually) in the European medieval world. Like the undivided Roman Empire, it was inhabited by many different peoples, speaking different languages and having different worldviews.


Not very unique actually, the classical empires (including the Ottomans) are almost all like that. It is the colonial empires which came into existence after the ideology of nationalism, that are focused on assimilation. Before nation-states, empires didn't care much if the conquered people spoke this language or that. Put aside the technical difficulties of it caused by enormous scales of land, even entities that were not empires didn't care about that. That kind of unification usually matters after industrialization, where literacy and elementary school evolves into being an obligation for everybody.

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 15, 2013 07:38 AM
Edited by Drakon-Deus at 07:39, 15 Jun 2013.

Religion is, or used to be, an important part of an empire's or country's culture and history. It's understandable that the Byzantines helped spread Christianity in the Slavic realm. Of course it also spread their influence, you couldn't have one without the other, since the Empire was predominantly Christian for most of its existence.
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markkur
markkur


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Once upon a time
posted June 15, 2013 03:48 PM

Read up on Justinian, he was probably the most powerful ruler of the empire, however; <imo> he may have "claimed" Christ but he was only a ruthless dictator. He reminds me of another historic Christian failure of epic proportions; Charles the Great...Charlemagne.

They both did the very same thing; killed anyone that did not covert when they wanted to make sure their empire was unified. It was unified all right, anyone & everyone who had any sense was unified in saying; "Yes, I believe my King."

The truth is these guys did great harm to the true message of Christ, like soooo many others throughout history.

However, as far as Byzantium; Basil the Bulgar-slayer may have been the worst, although I don't remember if he "claimed" Christianity. No matter, no nice words could cover his cruel actions.

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted June 15, 2013 03:52 PM
Edited by Drakon-Deus at 15:53, 15 Jun 2013.

Power corrupts. Eastern Rome was no exception. But their actions were nothing compared to what the church in Rome did years later.

The only Christian leader today that I personally know of (and not Christian in name only) is Jimmy Carter.


Back to Europe, Henry VIII may not have been the most moral of kings, but he saw that the Roman church was going too far.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted June 15, 2013 04:19 PM

WHAT???

HENRY VIII.?

Henry VIII. did what he did, NOT becauser he thought the Pope went too far.

Also the so called PROTESTANT churches haven't been better than the Roman one, except they have no Pope, of course.

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Elodin
Elodin


Promising
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Free Thinker
posted June 15, 2013 06:19 PM

Christianity "built" the west.

It is from Christianity that the west drew it ideas of the moral equality of all people and the idea that all people have rights independent of any government. Other more "modern" religions/philosophies, such as Marxism, claim rights come from the state. What the state giveth the state taketh away.

Christianity was responsible for the orphanages, public schools, universities, social programs, arts/culture, and science in the West. Christianity's impact on the West simply can't be understated.

Christianity had a major implact on ending practices such as human sacrifice, slavery, and infanticide in the West. Christianity elevated women to a status of complementary and equal to man rather than as inferiors and property.

Without Christianity's impact the West would be as backwards and oppressive as many of the darker places of the world.

Most non-Christians, not counting those hostile to the very idea of religion, acknowledge these plain, simple historical facts.

Quote:

"Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and cultural priorities that historian J. M. Robers writes in The Triumph of the West, 'We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again.' " (From the book What's So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza.)


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Zenofex
Zenofex


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Kreegan-atheist
posted June 15, 2013 08:58 PM
Edited by Zenofex at 21:45, 15 Jun 2013.

The above post is an epic load of nonsense of course, following the best traditions of ignorance combined with self-conviction. Moving on.
Quote:
Not very unique actually, the classical empires (including the Ottomans) are almost all like that. It is the colonial empires which came into existence after the ideology of nationalism, that are focused on assimilation.
That's why I said in the context of the European medieval world. During those times the predominant type of state in Europe is a kingdom, inhabited by people who speak the same (or similar) language and can trace their roots to a common place not very far in the past. Of course borders were quite unstable and was far from uncommon one ethnicity to end up in the political domain of another but in general there weren't any truly multicultural states in the west and most of the east. The Eastern Roman Empire however started its existence as a separate state with pretty mixed population and remained like that throughout most of its existence. The idea was not exactly to assimilate the different peoples, cultures and ideologies but to put them in a framework which allows the state to maintain effective control over its territory. Relative ideological tolerance (again, measured with the measures of that time) combined with strong central government and laws are the things that did the trick. All this can be traced back to the unified Roman state, where the state introduced a number of rules which everyone must obey but allowed different ideologies (mainly religions and philosophies) to freely circulate within its borders, no matter their origin.
Quote:
Of course it also spread their influence, you couldn't have one without the other, since the Empire was predominantly Christian for most of its existence.
Yes, but the point is that they didn't spread it for the glory of Christ. They spread it mostly for the glory of the emperor, even though that was not necessarily mentioned explicitly in all cases.
Quote:
Read up on Justinian, he was probably the most powerful ruler of the empire, however; <imo> he may have "claimed" Christ but he was only a ruthless dictator.
You can not really accuse a medieval ruler of dictatorship. Those were very different times, taking lives for disobedience or simply to prove authority was the norm, not the exception and it didn't matter at all if the ruler was a Christian, a Muslim, a pagan or whatever. Justinian was the head of the arguably most powerful state west of India and had big goals. Their execution brought about both good and bad things to the Empire but ultimately he did what most other ambitious men with such resources living in such times would do in his place. And again, for the Roman statesmen, the Christianity wasn't the main motivation to do whatever.
Quote:
However, as far as Byzantium; Basil the Bulgar-slayer may have been the worst, although I don't remember if he "claimed" Christianity. No matter, no nice words could cover his cruel actions.
That's another example of a ruler who actually performed quite well. During Basil II the Empire grew larger and stronger, the major threat from the east - the Arabs - were pushed back, and the newly conquered territories were competently administered (as well as the state as a whole). He certainly didn't earn his nickname by following the teachings of Christ but most people liked him nevertheless. That's not really unusual.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted June 15, 2013 09:52 PM

Quote:
Without Christianity's impact the West would be as backwards and oppressive as many of the darker places of the world.

Most non-Christians, not counting those hostile to the very idea of religion, acknowledge these plain, simple historical facts.


You realize that just like all the other Abrahamic  religions  Christianity is also originated in the Middle-East, don't you? When you convince yourself to the tale above, how do you explain the very observable fact it had no such effect where it started?

What made the West unique, starting with the Renaissance and then Enlightenment is a combination of many things, including the geographical positioning of the continent itself. Religion is of course an element in all of this historical process, but what's unique about Western progress is the way it pacified religion's power with secularization, not the other way around. The period West started to surpass all of its opponents beyond any doubt significantly is also the period of enlightenment which was very aggressive towards religion. Just start by reading  what your founding fathers wrote, who were very impressed by anti-religious philosophers of  that time like Voltaire, Diderot...

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Hobbit
Hobbit


Supreme Hero
posted June 15, 2013 10:02 PM

Quote:
Most non-Christians, not counting those hostile to the very idea of religion, acknowledge these plain, simple historical facts.

Yeah, especially scientists hostile to the very idea of religion, like Abbe, Afvén, Oliphant, Schrödinger, Wozniak, Titov, Perutz, Hawking, Einstein, Turing and Nobel.
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yogi
yogi


Promising
Famous Hero
of picnics
posted June 16, 2013 05:15 AM

Quote:

Yeah, especially scientists hostile to the very idea of religion, like Abbe, Afvén, Oliphant, Schrödinger, Wozniak, Titov, Perutz, Hawking, Einstein, Turing and Nobel.


Wrong,
Science and hostility have nothing to do with each other.
Research: Vedanta

tidbit from the (old) wikipedia article on vedanta:
Influence in the West

The influential philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel refers to Indian thought reminiscent of Advaita-Vedanta in his introduction to his The Phenomenology of Spirit and in his Science of Logic. Arthur Schopenhauer was influenced by the Vedas and Upanishads; in his own words: "If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries, if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him." (The World as Will and Representation) Among western figures who have been influenced by or have commented on Vedanta are Ram Dass, Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Müller, Voltaire, J.D. Salinger, Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, J.B. Priestley, Christopher Isherwood, Romain Rolland, Alan Watts, Eugene Wigner, Arnold Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, Hermann Hesse, Ralph Waldo Emerson[7], Henry David Thoreau[8], Will Durant, Nikola Tesla, Erwin Schrödinger[9] and John Dobson.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, theoretical physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, also was a professed Vedantist.[10] In reference to the Trinity test in New Mexico, where his Los Alamos team tested the first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer famously recalled the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
[11]
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GunFred
GunFred


Supreme Hero
Sexy Manticore
posted June 16, 2013 07:30 AM

Orthodox christianity is the main reason why Russia is so disgustingly homophobic.

Lol at Elodin's joke post above.
If anything, the weakening of christianity and the rise of secularism is to thank for the renaissance which gave the west an advantage over the rest of the world. Historically, the weaker christianity gets, the better the west becomes.
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Hobbit
Hobbit


Supreme Hero
posted June 16, 2013 11:10 AM

Quote:
Science and hostility have nothing to do with each other.

Can you read or you're just seeking for flame? I didn't say the whole science is against religion (that would be matter of opinion to say that), but that many influencial scientists are or were against religion and/or theism itself.
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