Books February 2006
What “Dark Ages”
A review of The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark.
If you hold the following three propositions, the massive evidence marshaled in this book asks you to reconsider them: (1) For eleven centuries after the legitimation of Catholicism under Constantine in 323 A.D., the Church kept liberty in chains and progress in check, imposing backwardness on the “Dark” Ages; (2) Only after the overthrow of Catholic unity by the Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment did systemic invention, science, and freedom appear, and speedily make the West great; (3) Capitalism originated under the impulse of the Protestant ethic.
Christians introduced into the larger world a perfectionist vocation—to be co-creators, as it were, in making the world a better place—and a vocation of inquiry.
Stark, a sociologist of some fame for his past work, and now a professor at Baylor University, has been led by his own...
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