Many people refer to the Middle Ages as a “dark” era.
But take a look closer. Why do they say that?
The main reason is that during these ages research in sciences like mathematics, geometry, astronomy et cetera was not so intense as, e.g., in the era before Christ.
But is that really bad?
Do we need cold geometry more than divine inspiration? Do we need raw mathematics more than the acknowledgement of our higher essence? Do we need astronomy more than a reason to look at the stars?
It is true that Christianism brought a change in philosophy. And for many years people were busy with analyzing this new philosophical system and its implications. Christianism elevated humans to the higher spiritual realm to which they belong. It helped people see that they are not just animals. It helped people realize their true potential, see their soul, understand their esoteric divinity. It taught people look after the eternal life more than profits here and now, making them less materialists and more… well, humans. (during the Middle Ages all people were taught to seek the ‘necessitas’ – every quest for things beyond what is necessary was condemned)
Why is that “darkness”? Why does research in more humanistic issues is “bad” and does not constitute “progress”?
Why is the Enlightenment… “light”? Don’t forget that history is written by the winners. And the winners in this case were crude enough to verify their win by naming their era with a name which is synonym to Light!
Middle Ages had Aristotle as a reference point. How ridiculous is to have it characterized as ‘darkness’ by the era which follows… Dawkins? Why is the belief that many people today have to the Random (everything happened… because!), the purposeless (there is no purpose anywhere in life), the mechanistic (we are just machines doing what our genes tells us to do), the unconscious (consciousness is just an illusion, we are just computers) “light”?
Take a look again.
Dark. Light. Light. Dark.
Middle Ages have been falsely related to many things…
- No, the Galileo case is not what is seems. Neither is the Hypatia case. Read my article here for more on these false stories…
- Witch hunting was initiated by the church has been supposed to cost the lives of millions of women who burned at the stake. True? False. The most accurate number of people accused of witchcraft is about 40,000 and one third of them were men. And they were most probably hanged rather than burned alive. The church had nothing to do with these persecutions. [Witchfinders, 2005] [The book of general ignorance, John Lloyd and John Mitchinson – Το βιβλίο της Ολικής Άγνοιας, Τζον Λόυντ & Τζον Μίτσινσον] Using such arguments is deeply flawed and hypocritical. Not only we must recognize that in general all the past societies were more violent because of their structure, imagine what we could say about the Middle Ages if it had millions of dead like the ones our “enlightened” centuries have (see World Wars, atheistic regimes that kill millions, eugenics, etc.).
- People in the Middle Ages believed the Earth was flat. True? False. Besides some people before Middle Ages who were not actually related to the church (Lactantius, Cosmas Indicopleustes – see here), the idea of Flat Earth was popularized much after that era. In 1828, American writer Washington Irving (author of Rip Van Winkle) published a book entitled The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. It was a mixture of fact and fiction, with Irving himself admitting he was ‘apt to indulge in the imagination’. This book spread the wrong perception that people back then thought the Earth was flat. What is more, Samuel Birley Rowbotham (1816–1884) – an English inventor and writer – wrote Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe in 1864 and through this work the idea was made famous. [The book of general ignorance, John Lloyd and John Mitchinson – Το βιβλίο της Ολικής Άγνοιας, Τζον Λόυντ & Τζον Μίτσινσον] So it was the 19th “scientific” century and not the “dark” Middle Ages who brought forward this ludicrous idea…
- The Middle Ages has brutal punishments for criminals: Nothing can be more misleading. Everything must be analyzed within context. Yes, people in the past was more raw and that applies for every age in the past! However note that during the Byzantium age there was a great reform of criminal punishments so as to better define them and make them more humane. Yes, the punishments still were harsh, but these punishments were mainly inherited from the previous non-Christian regimes. [Ιστορία Δικαίου, Σ. Τρωϊανός, Ι. Βελισσαροπούλου-Καρακώστα, Δ’ Έκδοση, Νομική Ββιλιοθήκη, Αθήνα, 2010]
- The Byzantine Millennium, Hans-Georg Beck
- Medieval Civilization, 400-1500, Jacques Le Goff
- The education in the Middle Ages (Greek)
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