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The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 26. September 2006


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Synopsis

A critical analysis of the important role of Christianity in the history of the West argues that the Christian faith's emphasis on reason, progress, moral equality, and freedom led to technological innovation, the rise of science, open political institutions, democracy, and capitalism, paving the way to Western success. Reprint. 25,000 first printi

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Rodney Stark is University Professor of the Social Sciences, Baylor University. Before earning his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, he was a staff writer for several major publications. Among his many books are the influential studies The Rise of Christianity and One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism.


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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9b939314) von 5 Sternen 132 Rezensionen
349 von 393 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b903e7c) von 5 Sternen Rehabilitating Religion 12. Dezember 2005
Von George R Dekle - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
An acquaintance who just took a medieval history course at a local junior college was quoted to me as saying something to the effect that "Anyone who knows anything about medieval history could never be a Christian." At least since Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", it has been fashionable to trash Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, blaming Christianity for every imaginable evil in the modern world.

While Christians have done their share of evil during history, Christianity (and Catholicism in particular) has done more than its share of good. In high school and college I learned that Greco-Roman Culture served as the cornerstone of Western Civilization, with the Jewish cult of Christianity serving as a religious veneer. Rodney Stark, in a trilogy of well researched, well reasoned books, turns that idea on its head. Christianity is the cornerstone of Western Civilization and Greco-Roman Culture is the veneer.

"The Victory of Reason" is the third in a series of books studying the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization, the first two being "For the Glory of God" and "One True God." Each of these books looks at different aspects of Western Civilization to determine how they were influenced by Christian theology. How were they influenced? Profoundly!

"The Victory of Reason" looks at the concepts of freedom and capitalism, and how they were natural outgrowths of both Christian theology and favorable economic conditions. Along they way, Stark makes some iconoclastic statements and backs them up with sound argument. e.g. The fall of the Roman Empire was a good thing. The Dark Ages were more progressive and enlightened than the Classical World.

Taken together, "The Victory of Reason," "For the Glory of God," and "One True God" make a very strong case for the proposition that were it not for Christianity (particularly the Catholic Church), we'd probably still be living in a pre-industrial, pre-scientific world dependent in large measure on slave labor.

Stark acknowledges the evil done in the name of religion, but unlike some of his fellow academics, he does not ignore the good. For a similar treatment of the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization, read Thomas Woods' "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization."
115 von 128 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9bac5270) von 5 Sternen Repudiates "Guns, Germs and Steel" 4. Juni 2007
Von Daniel J. Haggerty - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The first paragraph alone is worth the price of this book. The paragraph clearly states the question that every educated person must frequently ask himself, but avoids discussing in public, i.e., why did other societies not advance as did the West? I have never seen an adequate treatment of this question.

Recently "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond claimed that geographic determinism is the dominant factor controlling cultural development. While one of the most interesting and entertaining books I have read in years, GG&S fails to convince, most notably in the case of China, the progress of which Diamond says was severly attenuated due to "Beaureaucratic" reasons. This is an insuffiecient answer. As Stark would say, the question needs to be asked, why did the beaureaucracy do this?

(As I have always wondered, why did the Chinese invent gunpowder, but not develop guns or cannon?, paper but not the printing press, books and a system of libraries?)

If readers can set aside our culturally sanctioned prejudices against Christianity and especially Catholicism, and approach the book with an open mind, they will be immediately captivated as I was from the first few sentences. Truly one of the most illuminating and rewarding books I have ever read.
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HASH(0x9bac481c) von 5 Sternen A Stark Challenge to Secular Thinking. 3. Juni 2006
Von David Marshall - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I was prepared to dislike this book. For one thing, I am not a fan of the "dismal science," and knew the story Stark was telling here was largely economic. Also, although I am a Christian, and even an apologist, it seemed to me that his last three books on the subject already proved that Christianity benefited Western culture. Enough, already! It seemed overkill to claim the Gospel led not only led to science, an end to slavery, a higher status for women, and better care for the sick, but also the Bank of America and Microsoft! And having read the book, I concede justice in some criticisms below. Stark (and others) persuade me that Medieval Europe was the freest, most prosperous great civilization on earth to date. He does not persuade me, though, that Rome never really fell; and while something may indeed have been gained for the common man in escaping the heavy imperial thumb, something was lost, too -- like literacy.

But never mind that. If you are thinking of reading this book, you may already have strong views on the effect Christianity has had on civilization. Those views will mislead you. Whether you agree or disagree with Stark's viewpoint, this book is worth reading. Why? Because it is chock full of interesting historical facts that you will not learn elsewhere. Because it connects those facts into a fascinating (even on economics!) history of the rise of Western civilization, from Italy to the "Low Countries" to England to America. Most of this book tells that story. You can ignore the argument at the beginning and end, and still profit and enjoy reading the tale, full of sound and fury, signifying much. Not that you should ignore the argument! I respect the Humanities prof below, who does not much cotton to Stark's Christian views, but learns from him anyhow, disagrees with respect, and retains an open mind about disputed claims.

Some reviewers seem less open-minded. One pastor comments,
"Most appalling is that Stark would use Christianity to support a system (capitalism?) which is detrimental to the poor, outcast, and marginalized." This is absurd. Stark shows in great detail that nothing has helped the poor more than capitalism, and nothing hurt them worse than statism. Someone else (perhaps reading that comment!) remarks, "To equate Christianity with reason is a bit of a stretch." To make that equation more plausible, see the anthology of comments by great Christian thinkers entitled "Faith and Reason" on my web site, christthetao.com. A few reviewers use the words "Galileo" and
"Inquisition" like a charm, to ward off the force of Stark's arguments. They need to read Stark more carefully, not only this book, but also For the Glory of God and perhaps One True God. I also highly recommend his remarkable essay,
"Secularization, RIP." The fun thing about Stark, even the early, agnostic Stark (of A Theory of Religion and The Rise of Christianity), is his extraordinary talent for thinking outside the box, and for coming to original, counter-intuitive, yet surprisingly plausible conclusions. Stark is, without a doubt, one of the most original and interesting thinkers in the world today.

author, Jesus and the Religions of Man
169 von 212 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b904444) von 5 Sternen How Catholic Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West 27. Dezember 2005
Von Rich Leonardi - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
In an essay that recently appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, author Rodney Stark explained the thesis of his book "The Victory of Reason" this way:

"A series of developments, in which reason won the day, gave unique shape to Western culture and institutions. And the most important of those victories occurred within Christianity. While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guides to religious truth. Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions. Those remained typical mystery cults, in which ambiguity and logical contradictions were taken as hallmarks of sacred origins. Similar assumptions concerning the fundamental inexplicability of the gods and the intellectual superiority of introspection dominated all of the other major world religions."

Other reviewers, seemingly bogged down in the particulars of precisely when a "reason-friendly" breakthrough occurred, are missing the point; Christianity, specifically the Christianity long-protected by the Catholic Church, built the arena in which "the victory of reason" could take place. It *always* did. Like all things Catholic, this victory or development flowered over centuries, with collections of blooms gathering here and there to prove the point, e.g., the capitalistic and Catholic cities of twelfth and thirteenth century Northern Italy.

Stark's book continues a growing line of historical correction whose pace has accelerated in recent years. Michael Novak debunked Max Weber's unsupported "Protestant ethic" almost twenty years ago, while authors Thomas Woods ("How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization") and, just recently, Michael Foley ("Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?") have offered worthwhile contributions in recent months. May the trend continue.

Readers seeking a copy of Stark's Chronicles essay should perform a Google search of the words "How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West".
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HASH(0x9b9045dc) von 5 Sternen Christianity and Western Values 28. April 2006
Von Jan Peczkis - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Christianity led to a desire to know. For example, theology developed in Christianity to a greater extent than other religions because Christianity favored reason. In contrast, Islam and Judaism favored orthopraxis (correct religious practice) over orthodoxy (religious reasoning).

Reasoning also eventually led to the rise of science in the West. In other cultures, including ancient Greece, science only grew to a small extent before stagnating. Scientific discoveries in non-Christian cultures never led to long-term self-sustaining scientific pursuits because they were viewed as received wisdom to remember instead of received wisdom to test and improve upon. Stark soundly refutes the Dark Ages canard, an invention of 19th century antireligionists. He lists numerous scientific advances that occurred during the so-called Dark Ages, and how they propelled Europe far above ancient Greece or Rome, and above other contemporary cultures.

The concept of human liberty is often incorrectly traced to 18th-century freethinkers. In actuality, the concept of human liberty, an idea utterly foreign to most cultures, developed gradually out of Christian teachings on the dignity of the human person. Stark shows, for example, that John Locke, who wrote on the natural rights of man, developed his ideas from earlier Christian thinkers on this subject.

Stark devotes considerable attention in his book to the development and growth of capitalism. He shows that capitalism, at least the sustained variety, cannot exist in the absence of freedom. In such situations, wealth is not invested for the growth of additional wealth. Instead, despots confiscate the wealth for themselves, and those without power are encouraged to produce as little to get by as necessary while concealing whatever wealth they get in fear of its confiscation. (Although Stark does not mention this, his statements make us wonder about the Big Government schemes afoot in the US and the way they stifle the growth of wealth in American capitalism).

Stark rebuts the common belief that capitalism grew out of Protestantism. He shows that earlier stages of capitalism developed in such countries as Italy and England as early as the 11th century, long before the Reformation. He traces the relative poverty of many Catholic countries like Spain to despotism, not Catholicism.
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