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BOOK REVIEW: "The Closing of the Western Mind; The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason" by Charles Freeman

Alfred A. Knopf
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BOOK REVIEW: The Closing of the Western Mind; The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by Charles Freeman (Alfred A. Knopf) 2003

Author Charles Freeman wrote a complete description (340 pages) of the evolution of Christianity through the Roman Empire. One of the conclusions of the book is that the history of Christianity is anything but a straight line.

Although all Christians know that Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans due to the solicitation of the Jewish community in Jerusalem. And that Christians were persecuted by the empire until the Roman Emperor Constantine decriminalized Christian worship in 313 AD.

How many know that Christians were persecuted because they were against paganism and philosophy and couldn’t tolerate them? Threatening the order of the empire and accusing it of being the “Whore of Babylon.”

Far to have one mainstream view of the Christianism and an accessible bible that everyone could read. Dozens of different Christian and paganism sects co-existed together claiming the message of Jesus Christ. While the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek, translation in Latin was of bad quality at least until the 4th century AD, leading to a poor transmission of the message of the Evangels on the western part of the Roman Empire.

But at the end only two churches will survive, the Roman Catholic Church (Latin influence) who survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Orthodox Church (Greek influence) implemented in the Eastern Roman Empire.

To survives, these two churches didn’t use the reason as taught during centuries by the Greek philosophes but rather intimidation, hatred, lies and political alliance with Roman emperors, who often used religions for their own benefit as did Emperor Constantine.

The results led to the occultation of science such as mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and astronomy leading in a certain way to the end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages.

Hopefully, for the future European nations, the Muslim conquest of North Africa and the Middle East helped to save the Greek works and even to improve it which centuries later will come back to Europe. The rest is history.

Even if Christianity proposed a revolutionary view of the life with the worship of only one God, it was (at least until today) a very close-minded, misogynist and brutal religion. When today the religious right is denying science and climate change and is intolerant towards other religions and gender behaviors it is difficult to not see a parallel with what Freeman wrote in his book The Closing of the Western Mind. Reading this book could prevent the USA to finish such as the Western Roman Empire.

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing," said once Henry Ford.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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