As most of you probably know, Constantine was the first Christian Roman Emperor. It was in his reign that Christians stopped being persecuted and Christianity stopped being a minor religion. Basically, the decision he made when he converted and authorized Christianity helped it to spread in Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, later , Christians brought their religion (more or less violently ) in Africa , America and basically all around the world.
How do you imagine a world where Constantine didn’t convert? Would the world be REALLY different?
I apologize for my English , I’m still learning it and I hope you’ll be able to understand me !
This is a very interesting question. The time scale is so large, and so much happened in those times, that it is possible for a simple loop to happen and we still end up right here.
But for the sake of discussion, let's narrow the question from what if Constantine didn't convert, to what if, instead of converting, Constantine successfully quashed the Christian uprising and restored peace to his Pagan Rome? Perhaps someone more versed in history could extrapolate on this one for us.
I'm following this post because I want to know.
I understand what you mean, maybe my question was too specific. Of course if Constantine didn’t convert maybe his son would, but I took this example to place emphasis on little events like this that changed the world. If you can read “In God we trust” on American money instead of , I don’t know , “In Zeus we trust” or “In [insert whatever polytheist god you want ] we trust” , it’s only matter of chance/fate (I mean it could really have been different easily and randomly).
(Americans probably wouldn't believe in Zeus , but maybe more in Celtics gods. I 'm just using greek gods because I know their names)
The point isn’t really to say precisely if there would have been more or less religious wars, if WW2 would have happened or if we would have walked on the moon yet. It’s just that I find it interesting to put in perspective (to relativize? I don’t know how to say) how our world is.
Would the guy saying that he is 100% sure that God exist still be saying this if Christianity didn’t spread like it did? I obviously don’t think so. I told this to a catholic guy and he became really angry ; “I was chosen by God , I could have been born in any location in any moment of History , I would still be Christian !” …
Wouldn’t we be studying Christianity as a mythology (as it should be imo ) and wouldn’t people become mad when someone would say that Zeus is a myth ( just as it’s considered to be a blasphemy when someone calls Christianity a mythology ) ?
But yes , if someone is good at History , it would be great if he could share his thought about that !
Very interesting topic. As a wishful non-scholar of history, I would want it to be an Atheistic no-gods world.
Though it's not certain that another cult wouldn't have taken it's place, as there were a lot of them vying for attention at the supposed time of Jesus, and the only reason Constantine converted in the first place was to keep Rome from being torn apart by the christian violence.
If no religion of ignorance had took the place of christianity, then the Dark Ages would likely have never happened. That is a gap of several hundreds of years without any scientific advancement in any field. We actually had to start from scratch.
This graph is pretty much bullshit and extremely ethnocentric.
There wasn't too much technological progress under the Romans, the Roman empire prized stability over everything else, especially disruptive technological advances. Additionally, the "Dark Ages" were not nearly as dark as one thinks.
Lastly, the dark ages certainly didn't affect the Caliphates, India during the Gupta golden age and late classical period, or the Chinese and Japanese in the contemporary era. After all, not all scientific advancement must happen in the West, nor has it...
No it's not precisely accurate, I wouldn't expect it to be. Nor does it say anywhere on it that it is only looking at Europe. The dark ages was not only in western countries, but also affected all other civilizations at that time. Christianity moved north to Europe, and then moved back down through the middle east, spreading war and death in the form of crusades. Sciences that describe the universe like Astronomy and Physics where treated as Heresy and witchcraft, leading to the persecution of Galileo and Newton. Buddhism and Hinduism have historically also shunned scientific research.
The fall of the Roman Empire wasn't caused by christianity alone, the upper classes became overly hedonistic, taxing the poor without doing anything to allow them to earn enough to pay those taxes, and expanding aggressively without making sure that they could hold what they took. Before the fall, the Romans had Aqueducts, indoor plumbing, advancing medical science, and basic hygiene. These technologies were largely lost for several hundreds of years during the Dark Ages, leading to continuous outbreaks of plagues, and leading to the average life expectancy of 30 years, where it was at least 50 in the golden age of Rome. The Church was the largest corporation on the planet during the Dark Ages, and most knowledge passed through them, where it was filtered and edited to comply with "the word of God."
So, I repeat, the chart isn't precisely accurate, but it is generally accurate. Enough so that it raises your consciousness enough to want to explore deeper into that period.
It's not that it isn't precisely accurate, it's that it's bullshit.
If I were you I'd read up on just how many theories there are to the fall of Rome. You presented one, first promulgated by Gibbon about 250 years ago, which is quite well known. Other theories range from lead poisoning to stating that the Roman Empire did not fall at all, it just evolved. And if you like making historical comparisons you may compare and contrast the Roman and German Eastern front - both ate up their resources to such an extent that both empires fell.
The other thing is that you seem to take an outdated view on the Dark Ages. In fact, modern historians don't even use the term due to it's inaccuracy. The constraints of the age had little to do with religion, but rather with a lack of an organized state and a powerful military to enforce peace, ref. the accomplishments of the Carolingian Renaissance. Also, the Christian Byzantines lasted long after the disappearance of the Western Roman Empire, all the way through the late antiquity and even into the high medieval era, thus firmly taking the oomph out of any religion based causation of the disintegration of Europe after the dissolution of the Roman Empire.
There was a mention of an 'alternative future' from a 'History of Religion' class I took about 12 years ago. During that class the prof. suggested that since many of members of the Roman legend where also practicing Mithrists, Constantine could have just continued the practice without christian involvement. If this had happened, bull jumping might be the world sport now, not Soccer or Football. Sadly I can't remember the other details, but I expect it could be looked up.
So as atheists, we should reconsider our 'alternative future' to be not much better than the present. Two thousand years of additional cultural development might have made us even more nutty. I expect there could be a very funny science fiction to write for someone..;p)
This is exactly how I imagined it.
After writing the above I had to reconsider the idea of 'bull jumping'. Could it be that given the expanding growth industry of 'bull shit', that a rather large population of neo-Mithrists have taken over the world or at least the conversation?
Sorry for this possible divergent social commentary....;p)
Another similar scenario--what if Julian the Apostate had not died after only three years as emperor? He would have undone many of Constantine's reforms. Sure, more people had converted to Christianity by then, but we would have a lot less of it today, just as we would have if Constantine hadn't done this thing.
Another fun question--what if Mohammed had become Xian instead of starting his own religion?
As for the "what if the middle ages had not happened" graph, I blame only *part* of the middle ages gap on Xianity. Having a state like Rome fall apart will cause problems no matter what, and I don't think Christianity is what killed Rome. The first big blow was the continuous civil wars of the 200s, which Constantine was able to end for a time--to that extent Xianity may actually have propped Rome up. However I do believe Xianity hindered the recovery from the collapse.
I also think the graph is over-harsh in its depiction of the middle ages. There was actually a not inconsiderble amount of progress (though nothing like we've seen in our lifetimes) in more engineering-like fields (as opposed to "pure" science) during the Middle Ages, in fact pretty much all parts of STEM other than the S. To draw the line flat like that is a bit of an injustice.