Such a colossal waste (Where could we be by now?)

I'm very fortunate to get to travel A LOT. Performing as a musician on cruise ships has gotten me around the world and elsewhere...

Many of the tours that I get to escort (particularly in Europe) go to cathedrals, churches, mosques, synagogues and museums that are full of religious art, sculpture, history, and all that, as well as stops at all the other tourist destinations.

I've been in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (covered in graffiti); seen the Sistine Chapel; been to (but not in) St Mark's Basilica in Venice; in and up the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the Sagrada Família in Barcelona; Easter Island; the Borabadur, Monkey, and Bat Temples in Indonesia (where I had to where a special skirt-type-thing to enter); stood at the foot of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro; been in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca; Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens; the Rock Church in Copenhagen; been to (but not in) the St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow and Church of the Savior on Blood in St. Petersburg; at the Temple of Artemis, the Saint John Basilica, and the Virgin Mary House in Ephesus, Turkey; been to the pyramids of Giza and went in the Great Pyramid of Khufu; the Temples of Apollo and Jupiter in Pompeii; Mayan ruins in Tulum and Cozumel, Mexico; been to a Jain temple; even got blessed and a dot on my forehead at a Hindu temple in India, and so much more...

As I said very fortunate in my travels.

On the Island of Malta (which has a long history of religious practices) I was able to go in a medieval cathedral and then to the Inquisitors Palace (of all places) where I saw a medieval torture exhibit on the same day. Seeing the reality of it brings it into perspective.

If you ever get a chance to see one- DO, but be warned- it's very disturbing. Pictures of the Rack and the spiked chair do not do "justice" to the agony they must have caused.

And what I couldn't stop thinking of, beyond the shock and disgust that people could do this to other people for any reason, was that it was somebody's job. Was it 9-5 with weekends off? No of course it wasn't. It was 24/7, 365 a year for around 300 years in many countries!!!

That's solid employment and income!!! But is it enough to save the economy? LOL

Did you know, at the Vatican, if you have an empty Evian bottle with you, that you can fill it full of Holy Water? I guess there is a reason Evian is Naive backwards.

With all the traveling over the last 25 + years, I do get home once in a while and I am home at the moment doing some DJ and video work for my brother- been to about 10 weddings- 4 really heavy in the prayer, all but 2 in a church. The last one was half Mex-Catholic and half strict LDS- boy what a party that reception was... not.

Of course growing up in America I have been in and seen some massive churches all the way down to little shacks and even churches on wheels (they drive their god right to you), plus all the signs, bumper stickers, posters, t-shirts, etc....It's everywhere, worldwide.

After seeing all that, studying history and contemplating all the huge amounts of human talent, thought, wealth, creativity, energy, time, and countless lives, that went into building these huge physical and mental structures, temples, and monuments to what are basically fairy tales from the youth of our species.

It seems to me like such a COLOSSAL WASTE.

Spectacular and amazing as some of those structures are, or are for believers, it was all for not. There's nobody behind the curtain.

Where could we be as a species if all of that effort could have been turned towards real understanding? What could we have achieved by now had Greek and other sciences had continued? Had there been no Dark Ages? Had there not been 2000 years or more of often enforced ignorance? How much earlier would we have had any of the knowledge and inventions that science and technology have given us?- i.e. electricity, modern medicine, internet, jets, satellites, space probes. How much sooner could we have been in space? How much sooner could we go home to the stars?

Once again- Such a COLOSSAL WASTE.

Tags: history, religion, science, time

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I agree wholeheartedly. Mankind would have benefited greatly not just from a financial standpoint, but also in the results of all the human endeavor that have been wasted in propping up one mythology after another. The real tragedy is, as you have pointed out, is that humankind has been forced into this support, many times at the point of a sword or worse.

 

I think slowly but surely we are moving away from religious dominance over society, but we can never allow religion to quiet the sciences again or we'll be headed right back to the dark ages.

there's always disney?
vegas! no myths there!
islands of adventure; that's the most antichrist tourist attraction EVER!
Hi Kelin,

I see posts like this a lot so I appreciate what you're saying and why you are saying it, however as a history enthusiast I do want to nuance things a little.

"On the Island of Malta (which has a long history of religious practices) I was able to go in a medieval cathedral and then to the Inquisitors Palace (of all places) where I saw a medieval torture exhibit on the same day. Seeing the reality of it brings it into perspective."

Actually, if you saw a Medieval torture exhibit (especially with spiked chairs and the like) it's likely you've just been fooled. Many of the torture tools allegedly used in the Middle Ages are the products of the lurid fantasy of romanticist historians in the 19th century. Of many of them, there is no evidence that they were ever used.

"Where could we be as a species if all of that effort could have been turned towards real understanding?"

Personally I don't find architecture and the like to be a waste of time, and the Churches and holy places around the world are certainly monumental structures that we would be much poorer (culturally) without. And building them was often the catalyst for many discoveries, just like war tends to spike human creativity.

"What could we have achieved by now had Greek and other sciences had continued? Had there been no Dark Ages?"

In many respects, the "Dark Ages" (now usually referred to as the Early Medieval Period) yielded more technological advances than the last few centuries of the Roman Empire, who were much less technologically and scientifically oriented than we might like to think.

"Had there not been 2000 years or more of often enforced ignorance?"

There wasn't.
The universities built all around Europe (many of them built in the Middle Ages) testify that this wasn't happening. By and large, they did their best and tried as hard as they could... but it's hard to make discoveries when you're recovering from the fall of the Western Roman Empire and have to go through centuries of political chaos.

Perhaps I'm too much of a buzzkill to play "what if"-games. I don't know. But I don't see how these technological advances could have occurred much faster than they did.

Kind regards,

Matt

No evidence torture devices were ever used?- WTF!?!?!? Do you say the Holocaust was a picnic at the beach too? Is this a "new" cover-up conspiracy? I've read tons of history from many, many sources and this is the first time I've heard that one.

 

I like architechture as well, been to a lot of the greatest "Wonders of the World". Churches are useless for all but worshiping non-existant beings. I think cultulrally, scientifically, mentally, and in every other way, we could be much better off, if those buildings were for the study of reallity and monuments to the great discoveries and people who made them. Maybe the Darwin Cathedral and Center for Higher Learning.

 

All of those buildings combined did less for humanity than finding the bacterial cause of disease, let alone the innumerable discoveries that have enhanced human life, made travel and communications possible as never before, extended our lives, made more food and on and on. All the religious devotional art, music, architecture, etc as beautiful and amazing as some are- do not even come near the importance and value to the discoveries made by the scientific method.

 

All that physical and mental man-power and material could have been used to build houses, theaters, auditoriums, schools, fight disease, hunger and ignorance. 

 

I think we are poorer for having wasted so much talent.

 

It doesn't matter if you call that time the Dark Ages or the more specific and P.C. "Early Medieval Period". Of course it can be broken down into more specific eras. It was still a period of unparalleled superstition and ingorance that is commonly refered to as the "Dark Ages" that lasted a way too long.

 

The "Universities" that were originally built were for the study of more religion, and then, ONLY for the upper ruling class, the uber wealthy and priests, as the general public was forbidden to read, write or attend non-existant schools.

 

You said " but it's hard to make discoveries when you're recovering from the fall of the Western Roman Empire and have to go through centuries of political chaos."

 

It's hard to make discoveries about reallity when you only look in books of make believe that tell you things like the world is flat, bats are birds, flying horses are real, unicorns exist- and all the rest of the absurdities and impossibilities contained in ALL fairy tales, holy or otherwise. It's hard to make discoveries when you don't look, study, measure, test, hypothesize, theorize, and retest what is really there- aka science.

Discoveries are now being made at an ever increasing rate and there is planty of politcal chaos.

 

People were tortured and killed for saying the wrong thing. Women were tortured and burned for being witches. The Inquisition and the use of torture and torture devices is history- it happened. Even Gallileo was under house arrest for just agreeing with the Copernican sun-centered theory. Before that Giadorno Bruno was burned at the stake for saying stars might be suns. Books on science and learning were banned and/or burned. They wouldn't even have the BiBile translated into the "common" languages as it would make people think for themselves.

 

Just like stem cell and other discoveries we are trying to make now- our research and technological advances could be way ahead if not for the "often enforced ignorance" of the general populace.

 

We could be much closer to the stars but for religion. 

 

Not sure which history you've been reading. Please enlighten me.

 

You are not too much of a Buzzkill to think hypothetically.

 

History and evolution happened the way they did and we are, where we are. 

 

Could some discoveries have happened sooner? Almost certainly, but that is just playing "what if". 

 

 

Hi Kelin,

 

No evidence torture devices were ever used?- WTF!?!?!? Do you say the Holocaust was a picnic at the beach too? Is this a "new" cover-up conspiracy?

 

I never said torture devices were never used: that's your imagination at work. What I said was that pretty much all the torture devices you see in the alleged Medieval torture chambers around the world are devices constructed in the 19th century. Romanticists liked villifying the Medieval world, and many of the myths about that time period where invented then -modern historical analysis has only recently debunked them.

Most torture used by the Medieval Inquisition, for instance, was waterboarding -which many US government officials curiously classify as "not torture" to this day.

I recommend Bernard Hamilton's "The Medieval Inquisition" for an introduction to the subject.

 

I've read tons of history from many, many sources and this is the first time I've heard that one.

 

Actually judging from some of the things you say in your post, you either need to start reading a lot more history or just some history from scholary sources.

 

All of those buildings combined did less for humanity than finding the bacterial cause of disease, let alone the innumerable discoveries that have enhanced human life, made travel and communications possible as never before, extended our lives, made more food and on and on. All the religious devotional art, music, architecture, etc as beautiful and amazing as some are- do not even come near the importance and value to the discoveries made by the scientific method.

 

Don't take this the wrong way because I'm not trying to offend, but... didn't you say you were a musician? So how can you possibly criticize the Ancients for making poetry and grand pieces of architecture while you also don't?

Not everybody can be a scientist, and not everyone needs to be. Music and architecture are extremely important in our life just as it was in theirs.

 

The "Universities" that were originally built were for the study of more religion, and then, ONLY for the upper ruling class, the uber wealthy and priests, as the general public was forbidden to read, write or attend non-existant schools.

 

Pretty much none of that is true.

First of all, the first universities were not simply meant to study religion at all (in fact Charlemagne ordered his educational reforms simply because there weren't enough literate persons), they were often relatively broad schooling programs, including the trivium and quadrivium, which included logic, geometry and astronomy.

Second, that the lower classes were forbidden to read or write is simply false. The majority of them couldn't, of course, but the same went for every single century of human history: they weren't actively discouraged at all, the financial wealth needed to be able to send your children to school and not have them help in your profession was simply unavailable for most people. Again, this is simply true for the majority of human history.

 

It's hard to make discoveries about reallity when you only look in books of make believe that tell you things like the world is flat, bats are birds, flying horses are real, unicorns exist- and all the rest of the absurdities and impossibilities contained in ALL fairy tales, holy or otherwise.

 

Which is perhaps why, if and when abbots and priests learned about Ancient works from the Greeks that had been preserved in the East (usually by Nestorian monks), they tracked these works down and brought them back to Western Europe, where they were studied, copied and taught at... universities.

All of which as a result of the Neo-Platonism that Christianity had embraced by the end of the Fourth Century CE.

 

It's hard to make discoveries when you don't look, study, measure, test, hypothesize, theorize, and retest what is really there- aka science.

 

Erm, you do realise that what you're describing right now is the modern scientific method, which -by definition- was only practised in the modern times, right? The Greeks didn't do this either; natural philosophy is a different methodology than modern scientific analysis.

However, there's simply no question that the building blocks of modern science were laid in these supposedly dark Middle Ages. The names of these pioneers of the scientific method - Thomas Bradwardine, Thomas Bradwardine, William Heytesbury, John Dumbleton - deserve to be better known, since they were the first to engage in many of these activities.

 

Discoveries are now being made at an ever increasing rate and there is planty of politcal chaos.

 

I'd hazard a guess that the political chaos of the Sixth Century was quite a bit worse than what we see now.

 

The Inquisition and the use of torture and torture devices is history- it happened.

 

Just very much exagerrated and mythicised in the minds of the general public.

 

Even Gallileo was under house arrest for just agreeing with the Copernican sun-centered theory.

 

Actually Galileo was under house arrest (a fairly lenient penalty, by the way) for not being able to answer the scientific objections to that world view. It was noted during his firs trial that he was not able to (it would take until Newton's study of inertia to achieve that) and so he could not teach his method as fact. He did, and so he got in trouble.

When these scientific objections were answered (by Newton) the positions of the scientific community -and the Church- changed.

 

Before that Giadorno Bruno was burned at the stake for saying stars might be suns.

 

Garbage. GIORDANO Bruno (mind the spelling) was burned at the stake for being a pagan and denying the Trinity. That tended to get you into trouble back then. His supposed scientific work (which is about on par with the work Deepak Chopra has done -in other words not at all) was not even used at his trial.

Pretending that this guy is a martyr of science is ridiculous.

 

They wouldn't even have the BiBile translated into the "common" languages as it would make people think for themselves.

 

More nonsense. The Bible was not translated because the lingua franca in much of Europe was Latin, which is to say, if you could read, you could read in Latin.

But when literacy in the vernacular arose, as it did in Medieval England or France, the Bible was invariably one of the first books to be translated. Look for Old English Bible translations online if you want some examples.

 

Just like stem cell and other discoveries we are trying to make now- our research and technological advances could be way ahead if not for the "often enforced ignorance" of the general populace.

 

Trying to project modern disputes of science and religion on to the past isn't proper historical analysis. We wouldn't have all this nonsense floating around if people looked at the facts rather than at what they want history to be.

 

We could be much closer to the stars but for religion. 

 

Considering it was the Neo-Platonic strains of Christianity that encouraged science to restart and prosper after the Fall of the Roman Empire, I have my doubts about that.

Things don't tend to be that black and white.

 

Not sure which history you've been reading. Please enlighten me.

 

I try to read modern peer-reviewed historical analysis. If you want a good summary of the scholarship on science in the Middle Ages, I can recommend James Hannam's critically acclaimed "God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World laid The Foundations Of Modern Science".

It was very well received and the scholarship is fair (even though Hannam is a Christian), I encourage you to check it out.

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

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