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18 Historically Speaking March/April 2006 Ricardo Duchesne is associateprofessor ofsociology at the University ofNew Brunswick, Saint John. 1 Rodney Stark, For the Glory ofGod: How Monotheism led to Reformations, Science, WitchHunts , and the End ofSlavery (Princeton University Press, 2003), 124. 2 Stark, For the Glory ofGod, 157. 3 Stark, For the Glory ofGod, 151-55. 4 Rodney Stark, The Rise ofChristianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Princeton University Press, 1996), 57-63 5 Stark, Rise ofChristianity, 64-66. 6 Edwin Hatch, The Influence OfGreek Ideas on Christianity (Harper Torchbook, 1957), 49. 7 F. E. Peters, The Harvest ofHellenism: A History ofthe Near Eastfrom Alexander the Great to the Triumph ofChristianity (Simon and Schuster, 1970), 625. 8 Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 57. 9 Grant, God and Reason, 31. 10Hatch, Influence OfGreek Ideas, 169. 11Michael Novak, "A New Vision ofMan: How Christianity Has Changed Political Economy," Imprimis 24 (May 1995): 5. 12Toby Huff, The Rise ofEarly Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 107-116. Rejoinder Rodney Stark When I first ventured into social history , I worried whether historians would regard me as an untrained interloper. But almost without exception historians have written remarkably generous reviews, and the better known they are, the more favorable they have been. Truth is that my relatively few nasty reviews have been by social scientists who have felt no need to know much history since their ideological commitments assure them of what must have been the case. Nowhere has this been better demonstrated than in this set of responses. While one of the historians is very generous, the responses from the two social scientists are as remarkable for their venom as for their ignorance. The basis for their outrage is clear enough: what could be worse than a book that finds virtues in three such blatant evils as Christianity, capitalism, and Western civilization . In any event, to read three ofthese reviews one would assume that I had made all manner ofunfounded claims, as might be expected of an unsophisticated sociologist committed to antique views concerning the origins, character , and significance ofWestern civilization. In truth, only the overall thesis of the book is original. All ofthe building blocks derive from the work of well respected historians. Since the book is very carefully and extensively documented , a critic who wants to deny that Christianity opposed and overcame slavery in medieval Europe, for example, not only must confront me, but a long line of fine historians, beginning with Marc Bloch and including Pierre Bonnassie. Ofthis, nothing was said. However, many ofthe claims made by the critics require no citation contest, since these emphatic visions of European backwardness (allegedly caused by Christian superstition) have run so wild. Several examples will suffice . Goldstone may be surprised to learn that I am fully aware that when Cortés got to Mexico he was impressed by the huge Aztec cities and their immense marketplaces. But I also know it is nonsense therefore to pretend that the Spanish were visitors from a less sophisticated civilization who "won" not because of superior technology but only because diseases brought from Europe wiped out the Aztecs. Long before the onset of any epidemic, and well before he had rounded up a few nearby allies, Cortés and his tiny band had defeated attack after attack by literally tens of thousands of brave and dedicated Aztec warriors. Does Goldstone believe that the Spanish had sailed all the way across the Atlantic on rafts, while the Aztecs already had canoes? That it was the Spanish, not the Aztecs who had yet to invent wheeled carts and wagons? That it was the Aztecs who had armor (made of silver, no doubt), crossbows, swords of Toledo steel, muskets, and cannon while the conquistadors went into battle nearly naked? Let me admit that, of course, the Aztecs did greatly surpass the Spanish in the matter ofhuman sacrifices—tens of thousands of bodies came rolling down their pyramids each year (with the prime cuts being taken home and eaten). I also admit to thinking that this supports my view that not all religions are equally compatible with the celebration of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
p. 18
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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