Topic category: Other/General
How Christianity led to U.S. dominance
The United States has been the world's dominant economic and military power for more than six decades.
Uncle Sam has been king of the hill through wars, population shifts and economic downturns. Before the United States rose to global superpower status after World War II, a succession of Western powers — Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy — had dominated the world since the Middle Ages.
Although the U.S. and Great Britain are engaged in a costly and seemingly open-ended war on terror against radical Islam, America and its allies continue to dominate the world, although China and India are growing rivals over the horizon.
What is it about Western Civilization that has allowed it to dominate the world for hundreds of years — not just economically or militarily — but in science, technology, culture and the arts? Professor Rodney Stark of Baylor University explores this question in "The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism and Western Success."
The secular left, as it plots to abolish the long-standing Christian heritage of the United States, won't like this book. The left has already succeeded in turning Europe, once the center of Christian thought and scholarship, into a godless confederacy dominated by a central government. It's no coincidence that the decline of Europe as an economic and military power coincides with the success of the left in driving Christianity from the European continent.
In his provocative and thoroughly researched work, Stark maintains that the United States would not be the world power it is today had it not been for the strong influence of Christianity in American society and government.
It's not guns, germs or steel. It's not geography or better sailing ships. It's not agriculture or population growth. It's Christianity and the core beliefs of the religion that made all the difference, Stark argues. That's why the world today is dominated by the West and not the followers of Islam in the Middle East or Buddhism or Hinduism in the Far East.
"While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth," Stark writes. "From early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase their understanding of scripture and revelation. Consequently, Christianity was oriented to the future, while the other major religions asserted the superiority of the past."
Stark poses thought-provoking questions throughout the book. For example, why are there no theologians in the Eastern religions?
Christians are encouraged to think about their faith and seek answers to questions that are not readily answered in the Bible. Christianity has scores of theologians who have contributed to the religion's 2,000-year-old heritage of scripture. Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint John Chrysostom have answered fundamental questions about the faith through reasoning, Stark argues.
Without the prevalence of Christianity in Western Europe and North America, capitalism would not have taken hold as the dominant economic system in those parts of the world, Stark maintains.
The victory of reason led the way for political freedom and the emergence of both science and capitalism. Those ingredients allowed the West to dominate the world. It's no coincidence that most nations where Islam or other Eastern religions are dominant are not Democratic, maintain semifeudal class systems and regard women as second-class citizens.
Stark devotes 230 pages of his book to prove his thesis that Christianity created Western Civilization. And at the core of Western Civilization is political freedom and capitalism.
He concludes the book with a scant three pages about the arrival of globalization in the 21st century. Without giving away Stark's entire vision of the future, consider this revelation from the book: When the Communists took over China in 1949, there were 2 million Christians in the country. Today, there are more than 100 million Christians in China despite a 55-year government campaign to eradicate Christianity.
"There are many reasons people embrace Christianity, including its capacity to sustain a deeply emotional and existentially satisfying faith," Stark writes. "But another significant factor is its appeal to reason and the fact that it is so inseparably linked to the rise of Western Civilization."
Does anyone else see the irony in Christianity being the catalyst for China's emergence as a world power?
Biography - Tony Phyrillas
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas