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Christianity a factor in the fall of Rome

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wolfhnd View Drop Down

Joined: 18 Feb 2015
Location: United States
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    Posted: 07 Aug 2016 at 20:54
Modern historians no longer place as much blame on Christians for the decline of Rome as Gibbon. That of course does not mean that Christianity did not contribute to it's disorganization.

This topic may be relevant today as at least some of what has come to be called the intellectual elite are questioning the negative effect that Islam may be having on liberal Western civilization.

During the Roman period the Christian cult was seen as a threat to the liberal values of intellectual patrician class. Religious tolerance was the norm in Roman empire yet Christianity is outlawed. What made this cult particularly dangerous?

If we draw a parallel with unusual threat that Islam posses today there are some similarities. Christian isolated themselves within the larger community, made the laws of Rome secondary to their religious dogma, were unusually willing to die for their beliefs, were disinterested in the preservation of republic being a eschatological belief system, and was very barbarian by by patrician standards.

The problem with Christianity has always been that it's eschatological nature disincentives the preservation of "earthy" civilization. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in Russian peasants. Perhaps that is why the communist government after the revolution diverted their resources to cities leaving them to starve. As a side note while many did starve the U.S. was eventually able to over come the inertia and obstruction of the Russian government and save many lives. In any case the communist government was probably right that the peasant class's devotion to the church was a threat to "scientific socialism.

Here is another parallel between Christianity and Islam. While many attribute the preservation of intellectual life to the monastic system and the preservation of Greek learning to Islam in both cases the relationship is more accidental than by design or could in many cases could be said to be despite of.

To the extent that religion is hostile to evidence based reasoning Gibbon is perhaps right that it is a disease when it infects a highly organized civilization. To some extent Western civilization has been inoculated against the negative effects of Christianity but now it seems we need antibodies to protect civilization from Islam.
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franciscosan View Drop Down

Joined: 09 Feb 2015
Location: Littleton CO
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Aug 2016 at 23:37
The Roman Empire was religiously 'tolerant,' but you had to recognize the Emperor's Godhood.  Judaism was an exception because the Romans had a respect for Judaism's antiquity.  Christianity neither recognized the Emperor, nor was it ancient.  It also proselytized, whereas Judaism pretty much didn't spread to other "non-Jewish" populations.

It is amazing what some of those Irish monks copied down.  Stuff that in editions with a similtaneous translation goes untranslated because scholars consider it as dealing with the "prurient" interest (racy).  Look at, for example, Petronius' Satyricon (or Fellini's Satyricon for that matter).  At the end, you have a little lighthearted cannibalism.
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