Anyone know of an objective tally for number killed by Inquisition

Christian apologists are now arguing that the Catholic Inquisition killed only a few thousand individuals.  Does anyone know of a more objective analysis of the number that perished at the hands of Inquisitors over the centuries?

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>>First, have you published any of this research, and if so, can you give me the citation?

...You say because you really don't have that much time for the argument "Religion did bad things in the past ergo religion is bad."   All kinds of people did bad things in the past. Sometimes religion was the cause, sometimes it was not. Sometimes religion was the catalyst, sometimes it wasn't. Sometimes religion was a positive factor, sometimes it wasn't.  I don't see what that is supposed to teach us. 

>>However, I've found that irrationality, which is usually embodied religion and sectarianism, frequently leads to war, hatred, murder, violence, ethnic cleansing and genocide throughout history.  Rationality and logic, which are punished by religions, rarely produce these but instead generally lead to progress and greater well being.  That says to me that religion is predominantly bad.

..You say that with most of these devices we get the first reference to them in the 18-19th Centuryand that they were made up by romanticists and people with various agendas                                                                                                                        

>>What was your source for this information and specifically who were the individuals who concocted these lies?

...You say that with the Inquisition... They were living in a time where just about everyone agreed that combatting heresy was a noble thing to do, and so they didn't hide their actions: inquisitions were announced publicly, performed in broad daylight and recorded in detail, the executions happened publicly, the numbers were often bragged about in letters and documents, etcetera... These aren't the actions of people trying to hide anything.
>>I think you're simply confirming the widespread depravity that religious doctrine can produce and further supports the claim that it could lead people to have no problem torturing and murdering vast numbers of their fellow humans

... You say that the business of combatting heresy wasn't something that needed to be enforced: people happily did so out of their own religious convinctions. In fact one of the reasons the Inquisition was set up was that when people thought that there were heretics in town, they often set up lynch mobs (sometimes encouraged by the local priest, but they were perfectly capable of doing so on their own) and tried to find out who the heretics were on their own (which was of course really friggin' sloppy).

>>The fact that lynch mobs were encouraged by local priests again simply confirms that religion can produce widespread depravity and barbarism

...You say that ...the Nazi analogy seems obvious, but it's simply flawed. The Nazis lived in the modern day and age, and they knew that genocide and the extermination of entire groups of people would be unacceptable even to their own population. That's why they went through such great pains to hide it.
With the Inquisition, this doesn't work. They were living in a time where just about everyone agreed that combatting heresy was a noble thing to do, and so they didn't hide their actions: inquisitions were announced publicly, performed in broad daylight and recorded in detail, the executions happened publicly, the numbers were often bragged about in letters and documents, etcetera... These aren't the actions of people trying to hide anything.

>> I don't think that the revulsion to torture simply arose in the last 2 hundred years.  The key question is, what was it about this Medieval time that suppressed this natural revulsion that even some animals show.   It appears to have been the irrationality encourage by religious doctrine.

....You said that you [We] have shelves and shelves and shelves and shelves of detailed inquisitorial investigations.

>>I asked you where these shelves were located but you failed to answer.  Any problem here?

I said"In either case however these [60,000 witch burnings] greatly exceed the 2,000-6,000 inquisition victims and support a very widespread savagery prompted by religious doctrine. "
 
You said that the witches burnings were not specifically the Catholic inquisition and therefore did not refute the figure of 2000-6000 killed.

 >>I then pointed out that that number seems to be contradicted by research by the Jewish Virtual Library, 2011,(American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise) which found that in Spain from 1481 to the late 1700s an estimated 31,912 heretics were burned at the stake.  You did not respond to this correction.

....You said that strange as it may seem to us, pursuing this irrational quest against heresy was taken very seriously and very rationally. Using the principles of Roman right, witnesses were cross-interrogated, motives were assessed, the accused could write out a list of names of his known enemies (and if the person who insisted on an inquisition was among these names, the charges were dropped). It all went quite rigorously, and it is no coincidence that the way Inquisitions were performed became a template for later judicial traditions, and ultimately, our own.

>>I believe you left out something very important about the inquisitions.  That they were primarily intended to get you to snitch on your fellow heretics and you were tortured until you did. 

...You said that you didn't know what the fuck a religionist is supposed to be...

>> I've never met an atheist who doesn't know what a religionist is.  And your icon says Trinity Church - and were on a site that is for nontheists only.  

"First, have you published any of this research, and if so, can you give me the citation?"

 

Pardon? This isn't my research, this is all mainstream historical stuff. If there was a medievalist reading this discussion, he wouldn't bat an eye-lid at the things I say.

Everything I say comes straight from some of the latest scholarly works on this subject. I've already referenced Bernard Hamilton's "The Medieval Inquisition" which I can recommend as an introduction to this issue.

 

"However, I've found that irrationality, which is usually embodied religion and sectarianism, frequently leads to war, hatred, murder, violence, ethnic cleansing and genocide throughout history.  Rationality and logic, which are punished by religions, rarely produce these but instead generally lead to progress and greater well being.  That says to me that religion is predominantly bad."

 

No argument there (even though religion in the past, especially the Middle Ages, actually tended to be quite rational under the influence of Greek Neo-Platonism).

I just don't see any of this actually having impact on a religious believer. You can use whatever tactic you want though, I'm not complaining.

 

"What was your source for this information and specifically who were the individuals who concocted these lies?"

 

For the points on torture specifically, you can read Edward Peters "Inquisiton" for a good treatise of the subject. Peters is specifically good on what kinds of torture methods we can reliably say were used and which are simply myths.

Peters also has a great chapter on how the Inquisition came to regarded throughout the ages, and specifically why misinterpretation, Victorian fantasies and just plain bigotry shaped the way how history was regarded.

As for the general point that 18th and 19th Century history is pretty much crap, I can't say that there's a book on precisely that subject, but it's a common thread in just about every scholarly work you read: whether it's Ian Hughes dispelling the myths about ancient history propogated by Edward Gibbon, Sefarina Cuomo dispelling 19th Century myths, Ralph Woodrow cracking down on Alexander Hislop's awful historical methods, or Bernard Hamilton doing much the same, you will notice a theme: historical analysis in that time was quite simply abysmal, and we're only recently beginning to correct that.

 

"I think you're simply confirming the widespread depravity that religious doctrine can produce and further supports the claim that it could lead people to have no problem torturing and murdering vast numbers of their fellow humans"

 

Human beings have had no problems torturing each other for millenia and have done so for everything from political information, religious heresy, a broken heart, curiosity or just plain fun. Pinning this on religion makes no sense: people in the Middle Ages just did not see problems with torturing people because they did not share our values.

As I said, if anything the Inquisition was more humane in the torture methods it used than most of the secular courts of its day. Conclude from that what you wish.

 

"The fact that lynch mobs were encouraged by local priests again simply confirms that religion can produce widespread depravity and barbarism"

 

You're a very selective reader. As I said, sometimes priests supported it, sometimes they did not (and often they opposed it). 

It's not like this is anything new. Lynch mobs have existed since the dawn of time and have been motivated by everything from wealth to politics to religion. Can religion lead to lynch mobs? Sure. So can pretty much everything. You're underestimating humanity's irrationality.

 

"I don't think that the revulsion to torture simply arose in the last 2 hundred years.  The key question is, what was it about this Medieval time that suppressed this natural revulsion that even some animals show."  

 

What the fuck are you talking about?

Are you saying that torture was something that was unique to the Middle Ages? What about the Romans torturing just about anyone they didn't like? What about their mass crucifixions? What about their human sacrifice? What about the bloody gladiator battles that were their main source of amusement?

 

I can go on for ages like this. Humans have tortured people for as long as our records go back, and if you noticed Guantanamo Bay, Abu Graib or the Milton experiments, we're still tempted to do so until this day. Blaming religion for this is just plain nuts.

 

"It appears to have been the irrationality encourage by religious doctrine."

 

Garbage. It's in human nature to be cruel and irrational; it's why we came up with religions in the first place.

When religions are not available, people are happy to kill, torture and be unpleasant to each other for plenty of other reasons, and you only need to look at the modern time to see plenty of examples.

There's more to irrationality than simply religion.

 

"I asked you where these shelves were located but you failed to answer.  Any problem here?"

 

How should I know? They're apparently located in a location that's accessible enough for Bernard Hamilton, Edward Peters and a whole host of historical scholars to have studied them. If you're so keen on reading them yourself, google it yourself or send some of the relevant scholars an e-mail.

(Inb4 the inevitable "The records are in secret Vatican dungeons protected by albino monks!")

 

"I then pointed out that that number seems to be contradicted by research by the Jewish Virtual Library, 2011,(American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise) which found that in Spain from 1481 to the late 1700s an estimated 31,912 heretics were burned at the stake.  You did not respond to this correction."

 

I did respond and I'll respond again: I don't see anything about that data that links those burnings to the Catholic Inquisition, which is what we were discussing. I'm also skeptical of which scholarly works they are basing this on.

 

"I believe you left out something very important about the inquisitions.  That they were primarily intended to get you to snitch on your fellow heretics and you were tortured until you did. "

 

I believe I left that out because it is total and unmitigated bullshit. Their primary intention was to find out who the real heretics were and who were just more-or-less innocent by-standers. That way they could go about this process rationally instead of hysterical lynch mobs doing the job for them. They preferred the former.

 

"I've never met an atheist who doesn't know what a religionist is."

 

It sounds an awful lot like creationists coming up with the word "evolutionist" as if everything has to become an -ism before it gets useful. Is a religionist everyone who believes in a religion in some sense? Is it just those practicing? Those preaching perhaps?

I'm sorry if I don't just nod politely whenever I hear a label.

 

And your icon says Trinity Church - and were on a site that is for nontheists only."

 

It also says "WTF ARE YOU LOOKING AT?" and was generated by Church Sign Generator. It's a joke.

Can you please try to focus on the actual history instead of giving soft implications that I'm a theist?

 

Have a nice day.

You said..I just don't see any of this actually having impact on a religious believer. You can use whatever tactic you want though, I'm not complaining.

 

I disagree, I think our forcing them to face their sordid past on the internet is starting to change them already.

 

You said..Human beings have had no problems torturing each other for millenia and have done so for everything from political information, religious heresy, a broken heart, curiosity or just plain fun.

 

So you’re saying that equal numbers of people were tortured for political information, broken hearts, curiosity or just plain fun as for religious heresy?

 

Pinning this on religion makes no sense: people in the Middle Ages just did not see problems with torturing people because they did not share our values.

 

I think it makes a lot of sense since religious doctrine specifically commands and removes the moral revulsion toward the killing of violators of religious laws, witches, and apostates.  When the Enlightenment came around which challenged the religious tenets on which moral values were built, there was a reduction of this and enactment of laws against torture.

 

As I said, if anything the Inquisition was more humane in the torture methods it used than most of the secular courts of its day. Conclude from that what you wish.

 

What were the total numbers of people tortured by “secular” courts for non religious crimes and the total numbers tortured for religious crimes (by secular officials who you admitted were following rules created by the religionsts)? Also, were the secular courts blessed by religionists?      

  

I said…"The fact that lynch mobs were encouraged by local priests again simply confirms that religion can produce widespread depravity and barbarism"

You said… You're a very selective reader. As I said, sometimes priests supported it, sometimes they did not (and often they opposed it).

 

You wrote yourself that people were happily killing heretics and were forming lynch mobs to kill them. The killing of heretics is clearly motivated by religious dogma whether or not it is led by a priest.     

 

It's not like this is anything new. Lynch mobs have existed since the dawn of time and have been motivated by everything from wealth to politics to religion. Can religion lead to lynch mobs? Sure. So can pretty much everything. You're underestimating humanity's irrationality.

 

But I think that you are underestimating the ability of religion to condone and incite violence and cruelty to heretics and nonbelievers among the general populous.  As I said above, religious doctrine specifically condones the killing of those who violate their laws or who are apostates or witches.  They also specifically remove the moral revulsions toward these acts. I would guess that the number of people tortured and burned for robbery wouldn’t come near that for heresy. Look at the amount of hatred that religionists in the US south feel toward atheists today and the steady stream of hate mail that Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett receive from believers.  How much hate mail do they receive from us secularists?

 

I said…"I don't think that the revulsion to torture simply arose in the last 2 hundred years.  The key question is, what was it about this Medieval time that suppressed this natural revulsion that even some animals show."  

You said….What the fuck are you talking about? Are you saying that torture was something that was unique to the Middle Ages? What about the Romans torturing just about anyone they didn't like? What about their mass crucifixions? What about their human sacrifice? What about the bloody gladiator battles that were their main source of amusement?  I can go on for ages like this. Humans have tortured people for as long as our records go back, and if you noticed Guantanamo Bay, Abu Graib or the Milton experiments, we're still tempted to do so until this day. Blaming religion for this is just plain nuts.

 

Your “what the fuck” and “plain nuts” suggests you are not a neutral and objective observer on this point but have an axe to grind.  When the Enlightenment began and challenged official religious doctrines, we began to see the enactment of secular laws against torture and cruelty.  If you’re arguing that people are just naturally cruel and would be regardless of religion, then why did the widespread torture and cruelty not continue unabated during and after the Enlightenment?   What was it about the Enlightenment that permitted the revulsion to cruelty to come to the surface and govern law enactment?  I think it was the challenge to the basic tenets of morality and ethics of the prior ages that were predominantly, though not entirely, based on religious doctrines. 

 

I’m not saying that religion is the only embodiment of irrationality that leads to cruelty.   It’s just one of the major ones that we still have to deal with and perhaps the strongest force in the world today.  Sure there were other movements in which irrational dogmas dominated rationality but while we defeated those we haven’t touched religion at all.  We are obliged to have a total “hands off” policy toward it unlike how we have dealt with the other movements. 

 

I said.."I then pointed out that that number seems to be contradicted by research by the Jewish Virtual Library, 2011,(American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise) which found that in Spain from 1481 to the late 1700s an estimated 31,912 heretics were burned at the stake.  You did not respond to this correction."

 

You said….I did respond and I'll respond again: I don't see anything about that data that links those burnings to the Catholic Inquisition, which is what we were discussing. I'm also skeptical of which scholarly works they are basing this on.

 

So you’re now claiming that the Spanish Inquisition was not part of the Inquisition?  And are you skeptical of the scholarly works of the Jewish Virtual Library because the results don’t fit your notions? 

 

I said…I believe you left out something very important about the inquisitions.  That they were primarily intended to get you to snitch on your fellow heretics and you were tortured until you did. "

 

You said…I believe I left that out because it is total and unmitigated bullshit. Their primary intention was to find out who the real heretics were and who were just more-or-less innocent by-standers. That way they could go about this process rationally instead of hysterical lynch mobs doing the job for them. They preferred the former.

 

I think your “total and unmitigated bullshit” comment is further evidence of your lack of objectivity.

 

 

 

 

"So you’re saying that equal numbers of people were tortured for political information, broken hearts, curiosity or just plain fun as for religious heresy?"

 

Over the entire course of human history? I have absolutely no idea. If you want to make a tally, go right ahead.

However your assertion was that torture in the Middle Ages is somehow a confirmation of how religion specifically warps human sensibilities. And this is just false: torture and cruel punishment has been entrenched in just about every culture since the dawn of time.

You are simply projecting your modern sensibilities on that time and then concluding that "they couldn't possibly thought that torture was something normal". That's not objective: they did.

 

"I think it makes a lot of sense since religious doctrine specifically commands and removes the moral revulsion toward the killing of violators of religious laws, witches, and apostates.  When the Enlightenment came around which challenged the religious tenets on which moral values were built, there was a reduction of this and enactment of laws against torture."

 

You're simplifying everything, but whatever, I agree with the general idea. But there was nothing about religion specifically that said torture was mandated by God. Cruelty is simply something about human nature, which is why it is in our religions in the first place.

Human cruelty is something we need to deal with precisely because it's a part of us. You notice that the Nazis and the communists had no problem torturing people for non-religious reasons, right? That's because this is not merely a religious thing.

 

Have you ever thought about why religions contain all this cruelty in the first place?

 

"So you’re now claiming that the Spanish Inquisition was not part of the Inquisition?"  

 

The Spanish Inquisition was set up by the rulers of Spain to replace the Medieval Inquisition which was commanded by the Pope. So yeah, they're two quite different things: latter was controlled by papal power, the first was under control of the Spanish Monarchy.

Talking about them as part of the same organ is not very accurate.

 

"Your “what the fuck” and “plain nuts” suggests you are not a neutral and objective observer on this point but have an axe to grind."

 

I have an axe to grind? Oh the delicious irony.

The axe I have to grind is that of rationality and objective historical analysis based on the best knowledge we can acquire.

Now, I've already linked to several of the scholarly treatises on this subject, at which point you could've said "OK, I will read those and see how well my current conceptions stand up", but instead you chose to get into a slugfest with me (who is just the messenger, actually) because you didn't like some of the things you were hearing.

 

"I’m not saying that religion is the only embodiment of irrationality that leads to cruelty.   It’s just one of the major ones that we still have to deal with and perhaps the strongest force in the world today.  Sure there were other movements in which irrational dogmas dominated rationality but while we defeated those we haven’t touched religion at all."

 

Now that is closer to reality.

Now, our perspective still differs a little bit: you think humans are innately moral (essentially) and that religion is one of the major things that can cause us to be immoral towards our fellow human beings.

My perspective is a little bit more cynical on that point. I think religion is one of the major things that can tap into a reservoir of human capacity to cruelty that's already there and is waiting to be used.

But I'll settle for that disagreement in perspectives.

 

"And are you skeptical of the scholarly works of the Jewish Virtual Library because the results don’t fit your notions?"

 

I don't know what the sources of the JVL are because you didn't share them (or if they do peer-reviewed research themselves), you just shared their results. And I can bet half of what I own that you didn't take time to check the reliability of their sources. 

It doesn't fit with what I have read in other sources which is why I am skeptical, yes. Why is this surprising to you?

 

"What was it about the Enlightenment that permitted the revulsion to cruelty to come to the surface and govern law enactment?  I think it was the challenge to the basic tenets of morality and ethics of the prior ages that were predominantly, though not entirely, based on religious doctrines. "

 

Well again I think you're simplifying. If the Enlightenment was so succesful in all of this, how come the centuries after that highlighted some of the cruelest colonialist behaviour and expansion that was ever witnessed? How come the centuries after it turned out to be some of the bloodiest in human history?

I don't think we are dealing with anything as simple as "cruelty -- Enlightenment comes -- moral revulsion". Our changing perceptions of right and wrong has been a long process that can't be summarised in cartoonish views.

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

Matt,

 

First, in response to the original single post I made, you responded provocatively 3 times, each time criticizing me for atheist-bias on an openly atheist site, which now appears to have been an attempt to suck me into a prolonged fight  with lots of self-righteous criticism.

Second, you argued that only 2-6 thousand were killed in the inquisition but for some reason left out anywhere from 40-300 thousand witches burned (since, technically, they weren't part of the real and true inquisition) and over 30 thousand killed in the Spanish Inquisition.

Third, you then denied that the Spanish Inquisition was part of the Catholic inquisition.

Fourth, as to the so-called impartial scholars who you cited, one, Woodrow, is an evangelical christian, hardly the credentials of an impartial scholar.

Fifth, when I presented a 2011 report by the Virtual Jewish Library that over 30 thousand heretics were burned in Spain in the Middle Ages, which contradicted your views, you simply denied the number and called their scholarship suspect. 

Sixth, you told me that "We have shelves and shelves and shelves" of materials from the Middle Ages on the inquisition that have all the details about all the inquisitions and life histories of middle age individuals.  However,  when I asked you where these shelves were located, you said, huffily, that you didn't know, and that it really wasn't you that had them at all, but the scholars whom you read and whom you apparently group yourself with as in the above "We."

Seventh, when I then asked you if you (as in the above "we") had participated in this research, you became indignant ("pardon") and told me no, it wasn't your research at all, simply what you had read. 

Eighth, you claim that people have always been cruel and inhuman to each other throughout all of history, and that religion couldn't be blamed for it even though it is likely that more people in history were tortured for religious rather than other crimes and reasons.  I have a major problem with this thesis which I think originated or was greatly advanced by the religious notion of original sin.  First of all, in my experience most normal people are turned off by the pain and suffering of their fellow humans.  How many people do you know that enjoyed watching the people jump and fall out of the towers on 9-11?  How many people do you know who enjoyed seeing what happened in the Nazi extermination camps?  This is the natural response of humans to pain and suffering.  To my thinking, it gets suppressed when the victims are considered evil, or threats (as in xenophobic) or subhuman.  And I maintain that religion and sectarianism have been the two leading and enduring causes, though not the only ones, of this suppression.  Moreover, religion and sectarianism were frequently fused together (eg the Holy Roman Empire) which may have made matters even worse.  And I think both factors were operative in the Middle Ages and possibly also in ancient times when the people went on killing and lynching sprees against the evil, most of whom I dare to guess were heretics.  Sure the ancient Romans used to love to watch gladiators and lions kill their victims, but who did the gladiators and lions kill?  The "evil" christians, or criminals or enemies.  And sure there are kids out there that like to watch snuff films and the many violent horror movies in theaters throughout our country.  But again how many people do you know who enjoy watching a snuff film?  And in the (virtual) horror movies, do we enjoy seeing the innocent victims disembowled and disfigured or do we enjoy seeing the evil perpetrators get theirs in the end?

In addition, religion, but not sectarianism or political regimes, has commanded and condoned human sacrifice for eons to placate angry gods.  So you didn't have to be evil to get murdered by the religious.  They had no problem in killing  even innocent children if you were doing it to to placate a psychopathic god.  Didn't god command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?  And wouldn't he have if god hadn't intervened?  And in this regard, you may find it interesting that William Craig Lane, a leading christian apologist, incredibly supports the morality of god commanding infanticides because the dead children will ascend to heaven for eternal joy!  He also supports god commanding genocide because they were bad and deserved it.  So these ideas of religion are still around and kicking!

Ninth, you failed to explain why the cruelty and inhumanity, which you said was part of our nature, was significantly reduced rather than unabated during the subsequent Enlightenment,  a movement clearly directed against the religious domination of morality and ethics.  

Tenth, you strongly and self-righteously criticized my use of the term "religionist"  because of the "ist" ending but not apparently of the term "atheist" with the same ending.  Then you hypocritically admitted lampooning the Trinity Church yourself with your icon "Trinity Church, WTF are you looking at?". 

In summary, you emphatically presented yourself as an objective, impartial observer whose views were based only on objective scholarly research.  However, the above strongly suggests that this is not the case and that you are partisan and biased in these questions as well as being an advocate of idea of original sin.  Therefore your conclusions as to what happened during this era, although interesting, are to be taken with a large grain a salt.  In addition, I do not enjoy being lectured to self-righteously and hypocritically on the faults of partisanship or on the use of well-accepted atheist terminology by someone who is clearly partisan and not above mockery himself.

 

 

 

Oh yes, and I forgot to add that empathy in humans probably evolved from that present in our hominid ancestors (See Preston and de Waal, 2002, Empathy: Its Ultimate and Proximate Bases, Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 25:1-72).  Your argument that it suddenly appeared in modern times is a further lame attempt to exonerate religion.
which one? the latest one in Africa? Phillipines?

Oh goodie... to the ramparts for objective analysis once again!

 

"First, in response to the original single post I made, you responded provocatively 3 times, each time criticizing me for atheist-bias on an openly atheist site, which now appears to have been an attempt to suck me into a prolonged fight  with lots of self-righteous criticism."

 

It is mind-boggling that you think having an atheist bias is somehow okay because we're all atheists here. Newsflash: all bias is bad, because all bias is the selective use of rationality in order to prop up one's own pet beliefs. Rationalists, on the other hand, try to work without bias, and go about understanding the world in a way that is as objective as possible.

Now, I like to think that most of my fellow atheists are rationalists just like me, but apparently that doesn't go for everyone, because here you are thinking it's somehow a problem that one atheist criticizes another atheist for having an atheist bias.

There's nothing strange about this: it's what rationalists do.

 

As for provocation, anyone following this discussion can see that I have consistently been answering the questions you posed and have been correcting the misunderstandings and misconceptions you have about this timeframe in a polite and informative way, while linking to some of the most recent scholarly material. And I did this despite it becoming increasingly obvious that you are not really interested in objective historical analysis but rather in preaching.

 

"Second, you argued that only 2-6 thousand were killed in the inquisition but for some reason left out anywhere from 40-300 thousand witches burned (since, technically, they weren't part of the real and true inquisition)"

 

I said they weren't part of the Medieval Inquisition. Because they weren't. You can stamp around all you want throwing up smoke-screens and crying about what a big meanie I am, but the fact of the matter is that the time during which the Papal Inquisition was most active was a time where people largely did not believe in witchcraft. When belief in witchcraft became more important it was largely in protestant countries (which obviously excludes it from putting it on the conto of 'the Inquisition'). Now the Roman Inquisition (which was essentially a continuation of the Medieval inquisition though it's worth a distinction) did occupy itself with witchcraft along with a whole list of other crimes, but it's hard to put a number on exactly how many were killed there (the total number executed for all crimes seems to be lower than 2,000 however).

So, long story short, no, you still can't label the death tolls of witchcraft persecution on the Inquisition.

 

Besides, you're still exagerrating the witchcraft numbers. Modern scholarship places it in the 40-60,000 range, with the top estimate being 100,000. You're still inflating it up to 300,000 because... well, I guess because it sounds better to you. Very rational stuff there.

 

These distinctions are factual, real and historically accurate. But somehow you're getting upset because you're more interested in being an atheist apologist rather than objectively learning about history, and so you don't like it when I point out that you can't just classify all these thousands of people being killed under one convenient title "The Inquisition". You'd like something simple like that.

Tough luck: history doesn't change just because you want an argument that sounds better.

 

"and over 30 thousand killed in the Spanish Inquisition.

Third, you then denied that the Spanish Inquisition was part of the Catholic inquisition."

 

Which is another one of those pesky historical facts which you've chosen to ignore because you'd like it better if there was one broad label which you could use. Too bad: history disagrees with you again. The Spanish Inquisition was under the control of the Spanish monarchy, the Medieval and Roman Inquisition were under the control of the Church. You can't conflate the two as the "Catholic Inquisition" because that's simply false.

 

"Fourth, as to the so-called impartial scholars who you cited, one, Woodrow, is an evangelical christian, hardly the credentials of an impartial scholar."

 

I don't give a flying fuck whether a scholar is a sikh, a muslim, an atheist or a Christian. I didn't even know that this particular guy was an evangelical, because it doesn't matter: his work has passed review and that's all that matters. Don't give me this "The author is X so I don't believe what he says" crap. It doesn't work when Christians use that 'argument', and it's not any more rational when you do it.

 

Now as it happens, I didn't even cite Woodrow as a means to prove anything! Woodrow has nothing to do with anything I have ever argued in this thread. The only reason I mentioned his critique of Hislop was because it is one of the many examples where 19th century is overturned by modern scholarship.

Your failure here is actually even more embarassing and hilarious here, because Woodrow -being an evangelical protestant- actually started out believing Hislop anti-Catholic propaganda "The Two Babylons". But because it came to his attention that Hislop might have a religious bias, he check the facts like a rationalist would, found out that what Hislop was saying wasn't true, and Woodrow then wrote a book review The Two Babylons: A Case Study in Poor Methodology explaining why Hislop's thinking was flawed and exposing and dismissing him for his religious bias.

Talk about a total failure of understanding context on your part.

 

"Fifth, when I presented a 2011 report by the Virtual Jewish Library that over 30 thousand heretics were burned in Spain in the Middle Ages, which contradicted your views, you simply denied the number and called their scholarship suspect."

 

You never presented anything, you just copied one line of the report without any additional information whatsoever. You didn't even mention what their sources were (if they even used sources).

You also didn't mention if it was peer-reviewed in any way or not (so I'm assuming not).

So yes, as long as you don't provide information about their sources or of the book being peer-reviewed, I feel perfectly happy about being skeptical about what they say considering it conflicts with scholarly works which I know have been peer-reviewed.

 

"Sixth, you told me that "We have shelves and shelves and shelves" of materials from the Middle Ages on the inquisition that have all the details about all the inquisitions and life histories of middle age individuals.  However,  when I asked you where these shelves were located, you said, huffily, that you didn't know, and that it really wasn't you that had them at all, but the scholars whom you read and whom you apparently group yourself with as in the above "We."

Seventh, when I then asked you if you (as in the above "we") had participated in this research, you became indignant ("pardon") and told me no, it wasn't your research at all, simply what you had read."

 

And now it's just getting pathetic. No, I don't know where the archives of the inquisition are located. I also don't know where the Tiktaalik fossil is, where the recordings of Hitler's last days in the Berlin bunker are, where classical scholars keep the records of Tacitus, and a bazillion other sets of source material that scholars have used in their works. You're seriously arguing this as an argument against me? That's insane: if you want to know where any of these things are or if you doubt they exist (although an entire batch of peer-review and other scholars seem to have missed the memo on that), you send an e-mail to the relevant sources to ask for information. Don't come to me with this air of self-righteousness to pretend that everything I say can be discarded because I don't know where the archives are.

And of course I didn't classify myself as a scholar. I used "we have" in the sense of "everyone in the human race interested in historical analysis".

 

Those were two utterly pathetic tactics.

 

"Eighth, you claim that people have always been cruel and inhuman to each other throughout all of history, and that religion couldn't be blamed for it even though it is likely that more people in history were tortured for religious rather than other crimes and reasons."

 

That is another misrepresentation of what I'm saying (and it's making me begin to suspect that maybe you are just not capable of this level of nuance, because whenever I carefully phrase something it seems to go right over your head).

What I said was not that humans have always been cruel towards each other and that religion can never be blamed for it, just that the capacity for cruelty is imbedded in all of us and that our particular notions of fairness and decency are rather new to us: our moral sensibilities are far more carefully tuned than those of our ancestors, and what this means is that they often engaged in behaviour which we do not understand they could have ever done, and that they have done so for a variety of reasons. But the point is that the capacity for cruelty is innate, and that it is not spawned by a particular set of ideas like religion.

 

Now as for whether or not cruelty is innate to humans or not and whether or not it is the "innate" human response to be disgusted by violence and cruelty, I will simply refer you to Lawrence Keeley's "War Before Civilization", an excellent treatise on what archaeology has discovered about our prehistoric past.

The conclusions don't look too good for your views as far as I can tell. Keeley comprehensively notes 

 

"Ninth, you failed to explain why the cruelty and inhumanity, which you said was part of our nature, was significantly reduced rather than unabated during the subsequent Enlightenment,  a movement clearly directed against the religious domination of morality and ethics."

 

Because I don't see where this "significant reduction" is supposed to be. Is it before or after the immense cruelty these 'enlightened people' visited upon the people they colonised?

I'm sorry if I don't share your idealised and cartoonish views of history, but I don't see any sharp line to be drawn at the Enlightenment at all. Racism continued without change, slavery continued without change (at least for several more decades), sexism continued without change, etcetera... The main change the Enlightenment brought us were political reforms and a scientific method that was more akin to science.

As for these vast changes in morality, I don't see any sharp divide at the Enlightenment: I rather see a process of new-found rationality and a rise of new political ideals which would later be enshrined at the core of many countries. 

 

"Tenth, you strongly and self-righteously criticized my use of the term "religionist"  because of the "ist" ending but not apparently of the term "atheist" with the same ending."  

 

I don't like the term atheist either, actually. I am largely on board with Sam Harris' talk at AAI 2007 titled "The dangers of atheism".

And I didn't "strongly" criticize you for it, I just attached the suffix 'whatever the fuck a religionist is supposed to be' because I've never seen a formal definition of that term.

 

"Then you hypocritically admitted lampooning the Trinity Church yourself with your icon "Trinity Church, WTF are you looking at?"."

 

Which I already told you is a joke. I saw someone on another forum using it and thought it was pretty funny; so I used it on this forum. How this is "hypocritical" of me I really have no idea. At this point you just seem to be struggling to find anything at all to object that, so you can forget about all these pesky historical facts I brought up as quickly as you can.

 

"In summary, you emphatically presented yourself as an objective, impartial observer whose views were based only on objective scholarly research."

 

Judging from the fact that every single criticism of yours has either been a misunderstanding or a misrepresenation of what I said, I think my actions and statements are in accordance with that position quite well.

 

"However, the above strongly suggests that this is not the case and that you are partisan and biased in these questions as well as being an advocate of idea of original sin."

 

Ahaahahahahhaahahahahahahaahahaahahah.

"Advocate of original sin."

Priceless. I'm sure the two Christian apologists I debate with on a regular basis will laugh until they weep when I tell them about this.

 

"Therefore your conclusions as to what happened during this era, although interesting, are to be taken with a large grain a salt."

 

Here's a better idea: rather than trying to psycho-analyse me, my views, and trying to find every (and any) reason you can imagine to discard my views, how about you read Bernard Hamilton's "The Medieval Inquistion" which I already referred you to four times and actually find out what an academic researched peer-reviewed analysis says about these subjects? That might work much better.

 

"In addition, I do not enjoy being lectured to self-righteously and hypocritically on the faults of partisanship or on the use of well-accepted atheist terminology by someone who is clearly partisan and not above mockery himself."

 

Whatever. I won't bother replying to this thread again (unless you or someone else actually shows some interest in objective analysis, or you -for a change- decide to read some of the scholarship if you're so interested in this issue), but know that if there's one thing I don't stand for, it's anyone (Christian, muslim, atheist, buddhist or sikh) changing facts or selectively ignoring evidence, and engaging in emotionally-driven analysis while declaring themselves rationalists.

If you keep that up, I'm sure we'll meet again on other threads, where I'll be correcting you. Again.

 

And finally:

 

"Oh yes, and I forgot to add that empathy in humans probably evolved from that present in our hominid ancestors (See Preston and de Waal, 2002, Empathy: Its Ultimate and Proximate Bases, Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 25:1-72).  Your argument that it suddenly appeared in modern times is a further lame attempt to exonerate religion."

 

Nobody is denying that humans are capable of empathy, and I never said it appeared in modern times. But that the empathy mechanism in humans is awfully selective is obvious to anyone with an even remote knowledge of world history.

Your early hominid ancestors, for instance, are also the source for the wonderful coalitionairy killing which is essentially the mechanic underlying all of human war.

But I guess they only do that because their monkey- and hominid-religions tell them to? Right? Right?

 

Goodbye Eric, hopefully you have some things to think about.

Kind regards,

 

Matt

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