Mysticism and Religion versus Age of Reason
Have you ever heard of the rack? The rack was a torture device that consisted of an oblong rectangular, wooden frame, slightly raised from the ground. The victim’s feet were fastened to a roller at one end, and the wrists were chained to the other end. A handle and ratchet attached to the top roller were used to gradually increase tension on the chains, inducing excruciating pain. By means of pulleys and levers this roller could be rotated on its own axis, thus straining the ropes until the sufferer’s joints were dislocated and eventually separated. If the application of the rack was continued, the victim’s limbs were completely separated from the body. This was one torture method used during the Inquisition. If you were on trial for heresy, which was loosely defined as anything unorthodox practice or belief that were deemed to be heretical, this could have been a tool used to torture you. Through the middle ages to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, Western Civilization fought to overcome the battle between religion and man’s quest for an individual’s ability to reason outside of a church. Philosophers and religious leaders clashed in the ways they thought people should be allowed to think. During the middle ages, a common European civilization evolved, integrating Christian, Greco-Roman, and Germanic Traditions. Christianity was the center of medieval civilization. From the ruins of the Roman Empire, three new civilizations based on religion emerged: Latin Christendom (western and central Europe) and two Eastern civilizations, Byzantium and Islam. The Byzantium scholars studied the literature, philosophy, science, and law of ancient Greece and Rome. Over the centuries, many differences developed between the Byzantine church and the Roman church. The final break came in 1054: the Christian church split into the Roman Catholic in the West and the Eastern (Greek) Orthodox in the East, a division that still persists. The empire was invaded by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, which broke through Constantinople’s great walls and plundered the city. The Byzantines were able to preserve the philosophy, science, mathematics, and literature of ancient Greece. The second civilization to arise after Rome’s fall was based on Islam. Its founder was Muhammad (570-632 A.D.). Muhammad believed that he was visited in his sleep by the angel Gabriel and came to believe that he had been chosen to serve as a prophet of Allah. The Islamic state was a theocracy, in which government and religion were inseparable. The separation of church and state, which became firmly rooted in the West in modern times, still remains a hated concept for many Muslims. Islam was more than a religion; it was also a system of government, society, law, and thought that bound its followers into a limited community. Neither the Islam nor Byzantium made breakthroughs in science, technology, philosophy, and political thought that gave rise to the modern world. It was Latin Christendom that produced the movements that guided in the modern age: the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. Christianity dominated in the middle ages. During this time, people came to believe there was only one truth: God’s revelation to humanity. In other words, there was only one way to heaven and it was through the church. Charles Martel, serving as mayor, defeated the Muslims at the battle of Tours in 732. His successor and son, Pepin aligned with the papacy and protected the papacy from the Lombards. This alliance was continued by Pepin’s successor, Charlemagne (Charles the Great), who ruled from 768-814. In the year 800, Charlemagne was crowned as emperor of Rome, by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne believed that it was his religious duty to raise the educational level of the clergy so that they understood and could...
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