Christianity-enemy to knowledge

In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
DEDICATED TO
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
AND TO
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
*

Blind faith is no passport to Paradise
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord;
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”
(Isaiah 1:18).
Reason is the door to God
*

CHRISTIANITY–ENEMY TO KNOWLEDGE

The view that Muslim religious freedom in the West is due to Christian tolerance is a grand illusion. This tolerance is the result of the disempowerment of the Church and the empowerment of secularism –Europe may be the offspring of Christianity but she is not an adherent of the Church. The Church has always been an enemy to knowledge and to the “Other.” Her history is testimony to this –from the slaughter and forced conversion in the Holy Land and Spain to the Americas; and on the intellectual front, (Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, responding to the Bishops Of Salisbury & London in the early 1900’s):

“It is all very well for your missionaries to point to the great charitable institutions, hospitals, schools, etc., for suffering humanity run on Christian lines. “But one fails to see why these charitable institutions should be ascribed to a religion which could not give birth to them for more than seventeen hundred years. They are the growth of modern culture and owe their origin to quite different external causes, the greatest among them being Islam in Spain. Islam speaks highly of these charities in its teachings, and brought them into existence in all Muslim countries within two centuries after its birth. Islam can claim superiority to modern culture in one respect–Muslim Universities opened their doors at Baghdad in the days of Nizam-ul-Mulk, and in Granada in the days of Abdul Rahman to students without distinction of caste, colour or creed, where they were looked after, boarded and lodged at the public expense.”a

   ….the greatest opposition that the rise of culture received in the West, at each stage, came from the Church camp. Perhaps you will say that it was an outcome of the mediaeval savagery and ignorance. But such is not the case. The teaching of the Bible, I am afraid fanned the fires of opposition. The Church saw the justification of their hostility to science in the sacred writ.

The Christians, who were the inheritors of the civilization of the ancients, pace the teachings of Holy Writ, not only did not continue the researches of their predecessors, but destroyed them, so that, as Draper points out in his book, A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe,b nearly two thousand years had to intervene between Archimedes and Newton, nearly seventeen hundred years between Hipparchus and Kepler, nearly twenty centuries between Hero, whose steam-engine revolved in the Serapion, and James Watt who revolutionized the industry of the world. What a fearful blank!
  
Dogmatized Christianity placed an embargo on freedom of thought. The Church destroyed all that it believed it could not turn to its own advantage. History can multiply in support of this characteristic of the Church, but I would content myself with quoting one–the destruction of the invaluable library of Serapis, at Alexandria in 389, by the Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria. Gibbon says, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empirec: “The valuable library of Alexandria was pillaged and destroyed, and nearly twenty years afterwards the appearance of empty shelves excited the indignation of every spectator whose mind was not totally darkened by religious prejudice.”

Exaggerated miracles and superstitions–those mental cankers–together with persecution and suppression, represented the sum total of what was offered as a substitute for the learning and scholarship of the ancients –and full one thousand years had to pass before Europe once more attempted to scale the same heights from which mankind had been pushed back down into the deepest abyss of mental depravity.
  
Instead of turning the mind of the people towards intellectual development and thought, the Church –the pious intolerance of the Church– on the contrary, penned it in, within very close, narrow boundaries, to transgress which was nothing less than a sacrilegious crime against the sanctity and holiness of the words of Holy Writ, which was regarded as infallible, and everything spoken against it as tantamount to heresy.

Now let us search the pages of Holy Writ and we would see that it is in them that lie embedded the baneful seeds of pious persecution, of the branding of learning as magic to be punished like treason, of a justification for sending Galileo to prison, Bruno to the stake, and of the murder of Hypatia, the renowned commentator on Plato.
  
Neither the theory of evolution, nor geography, nor geometry, nor mathematics, nor astronomy, nor the science of education–in fact, nothing that could be classed as knowledge and which we in the twentieth century are proud of–escaped the ravaging hands of the Fathers of the Church, who found a fertile field for persecution in the words of Holy Writ.

There are two conflicting descriptions of the Creation as contained in the first and second chapters of Genesis, and they have led some to believe in the six-day theory, and others in the instantaneous idea. Luther declared, “the world, with all creatures, was created in six days,” but he also believed that it was done in an instantaneous way. Calvin preached the six-day idea. The Church presented the Bible as infallible, and all ideas regarded as against the cosmogony of the Bible were punished severely. A certain Vanini had the misfortune to believe in the theory of evolution. He was at once branded as atheist; and on the evidence of De Francon, the Judge de Catel in the tribunal of Toulouse, found Vanini guilty and sentenced him to have his tongue torn out from his mouth and to be burnt alive. …..
  
The spheroidicity of the earth is denied by the Bible. There are many passages which uphold the geocentric theory, i.e. that the earth is the centre of the solar system and that the sun and the stars revolve around it.

“The world also shall be stable, that it be not moved” (1 Chron. 16:30).
  
“Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever” (Psalm 104).
  
“And after these things, I saw four angels, standing on the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 7:1).
  
“The Devil taketh him (Christ) up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8).  

The Christian Fathers taught that Jerusalem was the centre of the world, and quoted Ezekiel 5:5, which reads: “Thus saith the Lord God: This is Jerusalem, I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.”
  
“St. Paul taught that the Gospel had been preached to all nations, and that, therefore, there were no more nations to be discovered. This teaching discouraged any attempt at geographical investigation and the finding of new continents. It was to the Muslim universities in Spain that Columbus learned that the earth was spheroid, for one of the Muslim educational appliances was the globe. Columbus was convinced of the spheroidicity of the earth, but the Bishop of Ceuta showed him his error by quoting from the Bible, and a Bull was issued by Pope Alexander VI, in 1493, to the same effect, but he was not deterred from his aim. The idea that there were people on the opposite side of the earth had long before been taught by Cicero and Pliny, and believed by many in Greece and Rome, but when it was taught in Christendom, it was met with the severest criticism. Lactantius, speaking with reference to the heretical doctrine of the globular form of the earth, said: “Is there anyone so senseless as to believe that the crops and the trees on the other side of the earth hand downward and that men have their feet lighter than their heads? If you ask them how they defend these monstrosities, how things do not fall away from the earth on that side, they reply, The nature of things is such that heavy bodies tend towards the centre, like the spokes of a wheel, while light bodies, such as clouds, smoke and fire, tend from the centre, to the heavens, on all sides. Now, I am at a loss what to say of those, who, when they have once gone wrong, steadily persevere in their folly and defend one absurd opinion by another.” 
  
St. Augustine quoted the Scriptures to prove that there could be no Antipodes. He said that the Almighty would not allow men to live on the opposite side of the earth because they would not be able to see Christ at his second coming. He said, “Scripture speaks of no such descendants of Adam.” He quotes the 19th Psalm and St. Paul’s saying that Gospel has been carried “to the ends of the world,” and contended that as the teachers had not gone to the opposite sides of the earth, there was no such place. He quotes Job 26:11 about “the pillars of heaven” in support of his argument.

The new ideas were denounced as “empty and false.” “The miserable fiction of Eusebius had subverted the chronology of Manetho and Eratosthenes, the geometry of Euclid and Appolonius was held to be of no use, the geography of Ptolemy a blunder. …” (Draper). In 1316 an Italian physician, named Peter of Abano, was called to account for the new heresy of the spheroidicity of the earth by the Inquisition; he fortunately escaped the torture by the intervention of a natural death. Cecco d’Ascoli, a noted astronomer, was compelled to vacate his professional chair at Bologna, and was burned alive at Florence, 1327.

Cosmas said: “The earth is a parallelogram, flat and surrounded by four great seas. At the edges of these seas rise immense walls, closing in the whole structure. These walls support the vault of the heavens, whose edges are cemented to the walls; walls and vault shut in the earth and all the heavenly bodies.” He supports his description by many passages from Holy Writ, e.g. “It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,…that stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain, and spreadeth them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22).
  
Passages in the Bible, as, “The earth standeth fast for ever,” “Sun, stand thou still upon Gideon, and thou moon, in the valley of Ajalen,” made the Fathers of the Church uphold that the earth was in the centre of the solar system. Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher (580-500 B.C.), taught what is known as the heliocentric sys-tem of astronomy. His system placed the sun in the centre and around it in circular orbits the planets revolved in the following order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Philolaus and Aristarchus followed with the same theory, but it was not heard of again till the fifth century A.D. when Martianus Capella resuscitated it. Then it disappeared for another thousand years, till it was rediscovered and established by Nicholas Copernicus. Its sporadic appearance and disappearance as due to no other cause but Holy Writ. Copernicus’s book, The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies (The Qur’an 21:33; 36:40 inform us about this truth in the 7th century), was first published in 1543, when the author was on his deathbed. The great astronomer had not dared to publish it for thirty solid years, for the bloodthirsty vengeance of the Church loomed large before his eyes. He sent it to a friend, Osiander, who wrote a soporific preface to the book, whereby he sought to camouflage the views of the author by saying that they were to be taken rather as fiction than as fact. The book, when published, was placed in the feeble hands of the astronomer, who smiled and died in peace. But in spite of the lulling precautions taken by Osiander, it was seized and condemned and excited furious comments. Fromundus, from the Cathedral of Antwerp, said: The Copernican theory cannot be true, because the wind would constantly blow from the east; we should with great difficulty hear sounds against such a wind; buildings and the earth itself would fly off with such a motion.” Martin Luther wrote: “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer, who tried to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens, or the firmament, the sun and the sun….this fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy, but Sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand and not the earth.” Calvin was equally loud in his denunciation of the Copernican theory.

Among the many poor victims of the Church, who took up the Copernican theory and advanced it, was Giordano Bruno. He was hunted from country to country. From Italy, his native land, to Switzerland, France, England, Germany, his persecutors ever on his trail. Upon his return to Venice, he was apprehended, and imprisoned in the Piombo for six years. During his travels, he had delivered lectures in England and written many books, and had criticized the teachings of the Bible. He said: “The Bible teaches that the earth is a flat surface supported by pillars; that the sky is a firmament –the floor of heaven. But the truth is that the universe is infinite, and that it is filled with self-luminous and opaque worlds, many of them inhabited; (Allāh says there are beings in the earth as well as in the heavens–Qur’an 19:93-95; 42:29);that there is nothing above and around us but space and stars.” Bruno was transferred from Venice to Rome on the demand of the spiritual authorities and handed over to Cardinal San Severino. He was arraigned before sixteen cardinals, who put him several questions and demanded a recantation. Bruno replied, “I neither ought nor wish to recant.” They tried to exact a recantation through torture, but they failed, for mental strength cannot be broken by material weapons. They declared this magnificent character to be an “impenitent and obstinate heretic” and sentenced him to death in 1600 by a fire made slow, to increase the torture. How time has mocked at the Church is shown by a splendid statue of Bruno, unveiled by the Rationalists in 1899, on the very spot where he was burned alive. 
    G
alileo Galilei, who adorns the list of the Church victims, was another well-known martyr to the cause of science. His crime was that he had demonstrated the truth of the Copernican theory. The Church was set, also, against mathematics, and had denounced the geometry of Euclid. Caccini was promoted by the Church for his brilliant denunciation of geometry and Mathematics, such as “geometry is of the devil” and “mathematicians should be banished as the authors of heresies.” Pope Paul V, fortified by his archbishops and cardinals, condemned Galileo and his teachings. They said: “If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace back their origin to Noah’s ark, and how can they have been redeemed by the Saviour?” (As noted above, Allāh says there are beings in the earth as well as in the heavens–Qur’an 19:93-95; 42:29).
  
Galileo was summoned to Rome by Pope Paul V in 1616, where he tried to convince them by requesting the Fathers of the Church to look through the little telescope which he had invented. Many declined, and those who did “denounced the satellites as illusions of the devil.” Father Clavius declared that “to see the satellites of Jupiter, men had to make an instrument which would create them.” Another bold statement made by Galileo was that the moon shines by reflected light. (Allāh tells us this in Qur’an 91:1-2; 25:61; 71:15-16).The wrath of the Church knew no bounds, for this statement of his contradicted the “truth” of Genesis that the moon ‘is a great light.” He was tried by the Holy Inquisition and his opinions condemned. In defence Galileo said that the Bible was not intended to serve as a book science. But it seems this is what they wanted the Bible to pass for. And should we blame them for this, in view of the fact that they did nothing else but give their due to the infallible words of Holy Writ? Pope Paul V issued a decree in the following words: “The doctrine of the double motion of the earth about its axis and about the sun is false and entirely contrary to Holy Scripture.” But again, in 1652, Galileo published his book, the Dialogo, thinking that the new Pope Urban VIII would be more tolerant than his predecessor, but he was just as bigoted. He placed Galileo and his book, the first edition of which had been exhausted and had found great favour with thinking minds, in the hands of the Holy Inquisition. Galileo had a friend, named Castelli, who had to forfeit his benefice for trying to save his friend Galileo. The aged Galileo as thrown into a dungeon, and forced to recant in the following words: “I, Galileo, being in my seventieth year, being a prisoner and on my knees before your Eminences, having before my eyes the Holy Gospel, which I touch with my hands, and abjure, curse and detest the error and the heresy of the movements of the earth.”
  
What else could the broken-hearted, aged Galileo do under the circumstances? He recalled to memory how the Church had burned Bruno alive, and that if he would not recant the same fate awaited him. What the Inquisition was he knew well!
   
Nevertheless the Holy Inquisition was not content with a mere recantation. It sent him into exile for the rest of his life, persecuted his friends, suppressed his writings, and went so far as to torture those, like Campanella, who had the temerity to write in defence of Galileo.  

Now let us see what it was which the Church wanted the people to believe instead. Cardinal Barberi says: “Animals which move have limbs and muscles; the earth has no limbs or muscles, therefore it does not move. It is angels who make Saturn, Jupiter, the Sun, etc; turn round. If the earth revolves, it must also have a centre to set it in motion, but only devils live there; it would therefore be a devil who would impart motion to the earth.”
  
The Bible dabbles in anthropology as well! The Bible contains a so-called chronology, childish as it is, by which it is claimed we can trace the antiquity of man and his pedigree. The Christian Fathers were generally agreed that man had his beginning about six thousand years ago, and would not tolerate any other view but that Adam was the first man. The advancing of any other view was looked upon as a contradiction of the apparent chronology of the Bible, and its criticism a crime. When La Peyrère, about the middle of the seventeenth century, published his work, Pre-Adamites, in which he claimed that men existed before Adam, the Parliament of Paris burned his book. La Peyrère was imprisoned by the Grand Vicar of the Archdiocese of Mechlin until he retracted the statement.
   (Pre-Adamites: Allāh tells us that there was a long time over man when nothing was known of him–Qur’an 76:1. And Muslim scholars are of the view that there were many Adams before our Adam. That this Adam was not the first man seems to be borne out by the fact that after Cain killed Abel, Cain is said to have gone to the land of Nod where he knew his wife who conceived–(Genesis 4:16-17). Since Cain and Abel were the only two children, and there is no mention of any other children so that Cain could be said to have taken a sister as wife, where then did Cain find this woman for wife if there were no other human beings on the earth? As noted, the verses of the Qur’an are either of basic or allegorical in meanings–Qur’an 3:6).

The pagan world of the Greeks and Romans had made a beginning in geological knowledge, but when Christianity appeared on the world’s stage all such beginnings were nipped in the bud. In the middle of the eighteenth century Buffon published the results of his studies in geology. The faculty of Sorbonne compelled him to make and publish a recantation, which ended with these words: “I abandon everything in my book respecting the formation of the earth, and generally all which may be contrary to the narration of Moses.” But a century later the tables were turned, and the power of the Church had waned in 1830, for by this time science had made so much progress, and people had begun so far to recover from the Christian blight, that Charles Lyell, the author of Antiquity of Man (1863) and Principles of Geology (1830), was not made to suffer from the Holy Inquisition. 
   G
regory I–who has won the attribute of the Great– distinguished himself by his rage for destruction, for his enmity towards all higher education. This “Slave of the Slaves of God” had one principle in view: “Ignorance is the mother of devotion”; and with this standpoint not only did he commit to the flames all the mathematical studies of Rome, but also burned the precious Palatine Library, which was founded by the Emperor Augustus. He destroyed the greater part of the writings of Livy; he forbade the study of the classics; he maimed and mutilated the architectural remains of the ancient days–(Draper, vol. 1, p. 357).
  
The schools of philosophy were closed, the last of them in 529. The renowned commentator on Plato, Hypatia, was cruelly put to death by St. Cyril, in 414, in the open market of Alexandria, Draper says: “She was assaulted by Cyril and a mob of many monks, stripped naked in the street, she was dragged into a church and killed by the club of Peter the Reader. The corpse was cut in pieces, the flesh was scraped from the bones with shells, and the remnants cast into the fire. For this frightful crime Cyril was never called to account–(Draper, vol. 1, p. 324).  
  
The hatred of learning was such that, in the words of Draper, “every manuscript which could be seized was burnt.” Throughout the east, men in terror, destroyed the libraries for the fear that some unfortunate sentence contained in any of the books should involve them and their families in destruction.”

But to ascertain the truth of our statement, we need not go so far back. We can always expect the Church to live up to its historic past. It is in our own living memory that Francisco Ferrar was murdered in 1909, in Spain, for the sole offence that he wanted to educate the people. And the Church hated education, as it has always hated it. It is said he was stood against the prison wall, and before the shots were fired he said in a clear and fearless voice: “Aim straight, my brothers. Long live the modern school!” No regretting, no cringing, no recanting ever escaped his lips. And the fact that only very recently one of the Italian cities has decided to remove the street name of Francisco Ferrar from one of its thoroughfares, intensifies the truth of this statement that the Church is the same to-day, yesterday and for ever. The only condition is opportunity.

There is one thing that is remarkable in the history of material science in relation to Christianity and Islam. In the case of the former, as long as religion kept its hold on its adherents, Europe made no progress in any way, but when the Western mind became emancipated from canonical rule and Church thralldom, civilization came in leaps and bounds in every form. On the other hand, Islam, at its very advent, gave a tremendous impetus to science and culture. In its various departments, modern civilization owes its salient factors to Islam, but unfortunately, in modern days–notably in the last two centuries– our mundane prosperity and success began to prove too intoxicating to keep our steps sober and steady; we ceased from treading in the footprints of our ancestors, and turned our backs on Muslim principles of life.”
  
“The Western nations made their present progress when they liberated themselves from the hold of Church religion and began to think independently for themselves on Islamic lines.”1 (a- b- c)

As late as 2008, the Pope is accused of being “hostile to science”–(Toronto Star, Sat; Jan; 19, 2008, p. A21).
  
Rather than bemoan Muslim presence in Europe, Pope Benedict XVI should be singing praises to Muslims. But for Muslims “Christian” Europe would yet be waltzing around with flint tools and torches.
                        Blind faith may be blissful, 
                   but it is no passport to Paradise.

*

NOTES

1. Open Letters To The Bishops Of Salisbury & London, pp. 45-56, 147.  

     a Three Great Prophets of the World, by Lord Headley, p. 14.        

     b Vol, I, p. 387.

   c Chap. xxviii, p. 132. London (Dent’s). Emphasis/color added).