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Friday, March 29, 2019

Demolishing the atheist myths

This is a usefully thorough debunking of the oft-referenced myth concerning the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria:
If there is a story that forms the heart of New Atheist bad history, it’s the tale of the Great Library of Alexandria and its destruction by a Christian mob.  It’s the central moral fable of the Draper-White Thesis, where wise and rational Greeks and Romans store up all the wisdom of the pre-Christian ancient world in a single library, treasuring science and reason and bringing western civilisation to the brink of a technological and industrial revolution.  But then a screaming mob of irrational Christian zealots puts this treasure of science and learning to the torch, thus ushering in the Dark Ages and setting back technology by one thousand years.  It’s certainly a great story, retold in Carl Sagan’s seminal Cosmos TV series (1980) and in Alejandro Amenabar’s film Agora (2009).  The only problem is … it never happened.

So where are these people getting all this stuff that makes them so angry?  Unfortunately, this is another case where the average New Atheist’s grasp of history has been informed not by a historian, but by a scientist and where the scientist has, yet again, got pretty much everything wrong.  The main culprit here is, unfortunately, the late Carl Sagan.... It was his 1980 TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage that made him a household name.  It became the most widely watched public television series of the 1980s and virtually single-handedly established a new kind of public science education.  Sagan took a wide-ranging theme of the history of the cosmos and how we humans have come to understand it, using science and reason.  It was the way he used the history of science to explain scientific concepts that intrigued me as a teenager, though I was later to learn that Sagan was a much better scientist and presenter than he was a historian.

Sagan wrote the series and its accompanying best-selling book in 1978-79, in the shadow of the Cold War, the era of Apartheid and the wake of the Iranian Revolution and years of radical terrorism.  The final episode of the series, “Who Speaks for Earth?”, was a reflection on the future of humanity and a plea for sanity in the face of increasing threats to our civilisation.  And it’s in this context that Sagan tells a moral fable of the Great Library of Alexandria and its fall to the forces of irrationality and superstition:

The story that Sagan tells is a fine one and the morals he draws from it are admirable, but as a historical account it’s absolutely terrible.  He makes a number of dubious claims, presents speculation as fact and makes several flat out factual errors – true history pedants can find a detailed analysis everything he gets wrong or overstates in this post to the Reddit /r/badhistory group.  While he also makes the weird claim that Greco-Roman civilisation collapsed because of slavery, it’s the nineteenth century cliches about “the Dark Ages” that were finally relieved by the glorious “Renaissance” that form the basis of his depiction of western intellectual history.  In a weird inversion of the actual chronology, somehow Sagan puts the murder of Hypatia of Alexandria before the “abject surrender to mysticism”  which he says led to ” the mob [that] came to burn the [Great Library] down”.  The influence of his account of the murder of Hypatia is a topic for another article, but it’s his heartfelt paean to the Great Library, his allusions to the advances it could have inspired if it had survived, followed by his condemnation of the forces of “stagnation … pessimism …. [and] mysticism” which caused this jewel to be burned down that continue to inspire anger in many people.  Most of the expressions of outrage and hatred against the “religious barbarians” quoted above draw, directly or indirectly, on Sagan’s account.
It never ceases to amuse me how completely and utterly wrong the New Atheists have repeatedly proven to be about everything, from philosophy and theology to history and science. No wonder no one takes them seriously anymore.

Think about how embarrassing it must be to look upon the antics of the buffoons of the Intellectual Dork Web and realize that they are nevertheless considered to be an improvement on you by your globalist masters.

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60 Comments:

Blogger The Cooler March 29, 2019 1:00 PM  

(((Carl Sagan)))

Blogger Richard Holmes March 29, 2019 1:02 PM  

There are actually still "New Atheists" and "Brights" around? I would have thought the pagans would have sucked them into their new age religion by now. Maybe they will go away permanently once OAC purges the world of cow farts.

Blogger Astrosmith March 29, 2019 1:05 PM  

Hey, did you know that Neil DeGrasse Tyson met Carl Sagan in person when he was a teenager?

Blogger Bismarck Du Plessis March 29, 2019 1:11 PM  

Just on the topic of history and theology's interaction with science has anyone here read "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" Woods, Thomas E? Is it a good account of history?

Blogger Chad Thundercockovich March 29, 2019 1:13 PM  

I fell for this then forgot about it only to find out now that it never happened!

Blogger Skyler the Weird March 29, 2019 1:13 PM  

I'd always heard it was a Muslim mob when the Caliphate took the city from the Romans (I refuse to say Byzantine as that is the name for Romans the Enlightenment came up with to promote their Dark Ages meme).

Probably burned much earlier during attacks on city by Julius Caesar or Aurelian.

You hear the same myth about Christian mobs destroying the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Blogger maniacprovost March 29, 2019 1:16 PM  

If you meet a famous smart person, it makes you smart too.

Did you know that many famous physicists met Einstein? It rubbed off on them.

Blogger CM March 29, 2019 1:26 PM  

I'd always heard it was a Muslim mob when the Caliphate took the city from the Romans (I refuse to say Byzantine as that is the name for Romans the Enlightenment came up with to promote their Dark Ages meme)

Same here.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 29, 2019 1:28 PM  

I always heard the Muslim story too. Or an accident. I only lose my Great Library occasionally, when Shaka or Montezuma sneak a fast one in on me.

Blogger Gettimothy March 29, 2019 1:36 PM  

"Billions and Billions and Billions"

The Sagan Ear Worm.

Blogger The Gaelic Lands March 29, 2019 1:44 PM  

Always felt Sagan, like Einstein was a pedo chosenite put forward to delude the world and keep the focus on the materialists' aim.

Blogger mistaben March 29, 2019 1:45 PM  

Astrosmith wrote:Hey, did you know that Neil DeGrasse Tyson met Carl Sagan in person when he was a teenager?

And young Bill Clinton shook JFK's hand! It's a sign!

Blogger mistaben March 29, 2019 1:51 PM  

To the larger point, acting on unexamined assumptions is a great way to say and do stupid things. We all have them, but new atheists seem particularly prone to broadcasting their false assumptions to the world.

Blogger Pope Cleophus I March 29, 2019 1:55 PM  

Damn Shaka!
Damn Money Montey Zoom!
Damn them to Hell!
They stole my Internetz!
I love playing Civ!

Blogger Ransom Smith March 29, 2019 1:58 PM  

I only lose my Great Library occasionally, when Shaka or Montezuma sneak a fast one in on me.
Which game? Sounds like one of the Civilizations.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 29, 2019 2:01 PM  

Duh

Blogger Crew March 29, 2019 2:02 PM  

Every single time: According to Sagan, (((they))) were Reform Jews

Blogger Crew March 29, 2019 2:04 PM  

I refuse to say Byzantine as that is the name for Romans the Enlightenment came up with to promote their Dark Ages meme.

What do you call Byzantium? Istanbul?

Blogger Ferdinand March 29, 2019 2:04 PM  

The story I always heard, and is still told by the coptic christians in egypt, is that when the Arab muslims took the city, the caliph used the scrolls as fuel for bathhouses, reasoning that if "it is not in the Q'ran it should not exist, and if it is in the Q'ran, it is superflous"

Blogger S1AL March 29, 2019 2:05 PM  

Civ 5, probably. Library is not nearly as good in 6.

Vox is completely correct about the short-lived "New Atheism". They were so staggeringly wrong about all of history that they may actually have been counter-effective because of the backlash they caused.

Blogger Teleros March 29, 2019 2:06 PM  

OT, but Parliament rejects the Withdrawal Agreement again, but only by 58 votes. Traitors talking up another, longer extension, others suggesting a General Election, new leader, etc. Popcorn stocks still on the up and up in other words.

Blogger Silent Draco March 29, 2019 2:06 PM  

+1, Stg58! Great early game resource.

Meanwhile, why did the Normans bring ashlar block from northern France to build the White Tower, quickly, next to London town in 1066? After all, they didn't have that science and reason stuff, did they? /s

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 29, 2019 2:09 PM  

Africans destroyed a library, OK I'll go with that from now on, thanks.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 29, 2019 2:14 PM  

Crew wrote:What do you call Byzantium? Istanbul?
Konstantinopolis

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 29, 2019 2:15 PM  

In Civ 6, I always drive the wonders that add policy slots and drive military/naval production.

Blogger Northpal March 29, 2019 2:21 PM  

Hmmmmm.....damn Christians, give them a little bit of bread and wine next thing you know Ferguson is a blaze.

Blogger Sam March 29, 2019 2:34 PM  

@6
It probably got burnt down and rebuilt multiple times before the Muslims said screw it and stopped.

As for Christians smashing stuff they probably did although I have no idea how much- syncretism and fanaticism both existed. However that doesn't get you a loss of knowledge (since we are missing secular subjects and fiction the Church wanted to preserve); the problem is they used papyrus and that doesn't last a long time in wetter conditions like Europe. Once the Muslims take Egypt and stop shipments, everything that isn't transferred to parchment gets lost.

Blogger FUBARwest March 29, 2019 2:38 PM  

Really amazed how much of history, or pop history specifically, turns out to be a lie.

Blogger Barbarossa March 29, 2019 2:40 PM  

@3 I love that story. NDT was so amazed and impressed by Sagan that...he decided to go to a different school.

Slightly OT, but it is often forgotten that Sagan was a proponent of the notion of testosterone poisoning that was the predecessor to today's toxic masculinity. The man was an utter fraud without a single scientific accomplishment to his name. NDT is truly his worth successor.

Blogger Latigo3 March 29, 2019 2:42 PM  

I often wonder how these people can propagate such lies, then I remember that they are blinded by the god of this world. So, the propagandists and those that believe them are both blinded.

Blogger MendoScot March 29, 2019 2:55 PM  

Eh, Muslims burned down the library three centuries before Mohammed?

"it is not in the Q'ran it should not exist, and if it is in the Q'ran, it is superflous"

IIRC this was the order to burn down what might have been an even bigger library - the Persian library in Babylon. But I really don't recall where I read that.

Blogger RA March 29, 2019 2:58 PM  

I don't remember hearing the initial story, but in recent years I came to think it was the Muslims.

Consider: at the time of Mohammed's birth, the early Church had expanded from the original see in Jerusalem to four more located in Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome. Not in that chronological order. Also have to remember that the fall of the Roman empire didn't kill off civilization around the Med, it took the Muslims to do that. Three of the five sees were overrun including Alexandria, and Spain was invaded as was central Asia. Then on from there.

Blogger Don't Call Me Len March 29, 2019 3:00 PM  

I knew the new "Cosmos" sucked monkey butt (I guess they thought the title "Didya Know Doughy White Guys Stole Every Important Discovery Ever?" was too long), but I'd forgotten how bad the original was as well.

Blogger hadley March 29, 2019 3:03 PM  

Another Draper/White fable was the story that Europeans thought the world was flat until Columbus' voyage showed it was round.

Blogger Skyler the Weird March 29, 2019 3:03 PM  

Crew wrote:
What do you call Byzantium? Istanbul?

Constantinople whose people considered themselves Romans. Even Mahomet II when he took Constantinople called himself the Sultan of Rum.

Blogger Crew March 29, 2019 3:11 PM  

While I think Sagan's tribalism may have been the reason he lied about things, it seems he had help:

Of course, Sagan did not invent the tale of a Christian mob burning down the Great Library; in fact, to be fair, he really only alludes to it indirectly. Like many of these positivist fables, the origin of this story seems to lie in the polemics of the eighteenth century: in this case, the main perpetrator is our old friend Edward Gibbon:

Blogger Skyler the Weird March 29, 2019 3:20 PM  

Amazing that Gibbons history of Rome didn't end in 476 A.D. but in 1453.

Blogger FP March 29, 2019 3:24 PM  

In Civ, Ghandi is the real bastard to watch out for. Dude likes his threats and nukes.

Bill Warner of Political Islam has a couple of good videos destroying the Dark Ages theory. Short answer, it was the Muslims invading and burning down anything that wasn't pro Islam. The best book I've read on it is Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited.

Blogger Skyler the Weird March 29, 2019 3:28 PM  

Losing your Library to Shaka or Montezuma sounds like Rise of Nations.

Blogger Charles Carlson March 29, 2019 3:31 PM  

I think Vox has mentioned this before in a livestream or on this blog, but historians have begun to reevaluate the "Dark Ages". Now the most commonly used phrase to describe that period is the more neutral "Middle Ages". Historians have begun to rethink the Dark Ages myth because the church did not stifle learning at all. The church preserved many works from antiquity, even secular works. Much of the knowledge lost was due Muslim conquests of former Roman land.

Blogger tublecane March 29, 2019 3:51 PM  

I saw Agora a while ago, and aside from the main actress' rear end the only part I can clearly remember is that the Christian mobs chant "Hallelujah!" in the manner of contemporary Muslims yelling "Aloha Snackbar!" It was a "See, there's no difference between religious zealots" thing.

Oh, and the climax has Hypatia--Strong Female Math Genius who's also sexually attractive--working out a geometric proof as the mob descends to tear her apart. Very tense, ellipses and whatnot.

The point, I think, was that she is working out heliocentrism. And if she had survived, I dunno. Maybe we would have been on the moon under President Charlemagne.

Blogger Bastion Harm March 29, 2019 4:00 PM  

I idolized Carl Sagan when Cosmos first aired back in 1980.

Fortunately, that 12 year old boy "became a man and put away childish things."

Looking back, it amazes me to see what fools and liars my childhood idols turned out to be, and just how childish THEY turned out to be, and anyone who still believes or follows them.

Blogger Dangeresque March 29, 2019 4:06 PM  

Carl the Cuck.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 March 29, 2019 4:46 PM  

I remember buying into this story for a long time, and over the years I'd hear tidbits suggesting that it wasn't nearly as cut-and-dried as I thought - including being told that there were *many* such libraries and only one was burned.

I'd love to know the real story.

Blogger seeingsights March 29, 2019 7:43 PM  

A side note about Sagan: early in his career he entertained the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesus. I have the book he co wrote with a Russian scientist where they seriously consider that the gods of Sumeria were extra terrestrials. They did not reject that hypothesis at the time.
Some UFO researchers today argue that Sagan turned his back on that theory because just writing about it would make him a nutter in his fellow scientist's eyes.

Blogger CM March 29, 2019 9:08 PM  

A side note about Sagan: early in his career he entertained the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesus. I have the book he co wrote with a Russian scientist where they seriously consider that the gods of Sumeria were extra terrestrials. They did not reject that hypothesis at the time.
Some UFO researchers today argue that Sagan turned his back on that theory because just writing about it would make him a nutter in his fellow scientist's eyes.


Its funny that that hypothesis isn't entirely at odds with Christian theology...

Between the nephilim and Ezekiel's wheel, it wouldn't shock.

Blogger Lovekraft March 29, 2019 9:31 PM  

Mohammedans blowing up a hundred foot statue of Buddha in recent memory. I also remember about ten years ago jihadis destroying graves of British soldiers in North African cemeteries. Lots more examples.

Pinning violence on Christianity and deflecting from true culprits is keeping apace with a falling world.

Blogger The Pitchfork Rebel March 29, 2019 9:41 PM  

I remain convinced that there are very few atheists-they are mostly misotheists doing a poor job of trying to convince others that they do not believe there is a god, when in fact they despise God. It can't be an intellectual conclusion,there's too much emotion attached to it.

Blogger tublecane March 29, 2019 10:04 PM  

@45- Sagan had a book called the Demon-Haunted with World which purported to debunk many so-called myths, including I believe UFOs as alien spacecraft. That came out in his latter days, with the hippy era long past.

Blogger eclecticme March 29, 2019 10:29 PM  

@41. tublecane March 29, 2019 3:51 PM
I saw Agora a while ago, and aside from the main actress' rear end ...


Me too. Ur witty. I liked the Agora movie but realized much was fiction. The angry Chritian mobs were a nice change from long suffering passive Christians, even if fiction. Rachel Weisz was good, also in Enemy At the Gates. IRL married to James Bond.

The only Hypatia I knew was Hyapatia Lee, on VHS rental, beyond the swinging doors in the old days.

Blogger birdman March 29, 2019 11:50 PM  

as always i will say it again, most atheist are historically illiterate

Blogger Northpal March 30, 2019 12:11 AM  

C'mon guys its no mystery, After Caesar met with Cleopatra the Egyptian general Achillas tried expel Caesar. The two alpha dogs went at it and after bitter fighting, Caesar's men won the day, burning the Egyptian ships and securing the harbor. Unfortunately though, the fire spread into the city and damaged the Great Library.

After Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra met Mark Antony who's brain suffocated in the allure of the so-called "Mrs. Robinson syndrome." They got married. As a gift to Cleopatra, Antony (hint hint) gave her the library of Pergamum, which was a city not far from Alexandria.

Blogger M.S. March 30, 2019 12:58 AM  

Carl Sagan's biggest sin was his witch hunt against Immanuel Velikovsky, whose theories are both utterly fascinating to read about AND had very good predictive power, he made predictions one after another that usually ended up coming true.

Blogger GithYankee March 30, 2019 6:22 AM  

This is the current "hot" book on Christian v. Pagans:

https://www.amazon.com/Darkening-Age-Christian-Destruction-Classical/dp/0544800885/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

I haven't read it, so I don't know what it says specifically about Alexandria, but it looks like it's more about conversion from paganism in general.

It's undeniable that once Christians had the whip hand, they killed or converted all heretics or Christianity wouldn't be the dominant religion of the world that it is now.

Blogger jla March 30, 2019 7:39 AM  

GithYankee wrote:This is the current "hot" book on Christian v. Pagans:

https://www.amazon.com/Darkening-Age-Christian-Destruction-Classical/dp/0544800885/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

I haven't read it, so I don't know what it says specifically about Alexandria, but it looks like it's more about conversion from paganism in general.

It's undeniable that once Christians had the whip hand, they killed or converted all heretics or Christianity wouldn't be the dominant religion of the world that it is now.



You didn't bother reading any of Vox's link, did you?

Blogger Michael D. March 30, 2019 7:56 AM  

The book in queestion is throughly demolished on the very site that is linked by VD. It is utter garbage.

Blogger Avalanche March 30, 2019 10:13 AM  

@53 "Immanuel Velikovsky, whose theories are both utterly fascinating to read"

Oh, DO take a dip in the Electric Universe stuff! Brilliant stuff and fascinating -- Wal Thornhill, a physicist who met Velikovsky early on, is a leading light. He provides an accurate prediction of what would/did happen when "we" landed on: http://www.holoscience.com/wp/comet-tempel-1s-electrifying-impact/ as against the bafflement of "orthodox" science.

As with any new science; it's a matter of fording streams and trying to pick out the solid stuff from the questionable stuff -- but there's not much questionable stuff! And some of that is because it's so hard to give up our brainwashed "we know this to be so!"

Pix of the day, and tidbits: https://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/

Thornhill's site: http://www.holoscience.com/wp/
Intro movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AUA7XS0TvA "Thunderbolts of the Gods"

Also most of the presentations at the various Electric Universe conferences on on YT -- just search for EU20__ (the year).

Thus; Wallace Thornhill: The Elegant Simplicity of the Electric Universe | EU2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mINsiT70OHE

Blogger Tars Tarkusz March 30, 2019 10:41 AM  

I liked Carl Sagan until I actually read one of his books. He was a flaming SJW. I never noticed it in Cosmos and other places I had seen him speaking. But in the book, it all comes through.
It turns out he was just an anti-Christian leftist.

Blogger Samuel Adams March 30, 2019 2:52 PM  

I read it, and yes, it's very good, like everything Thomas Woods writes. On the burning of the Library of Alexandria, I would recommend reading Henri Pirenne, "Charlemagne and Mohammed" to learn who the real culprits were.

Blogger LP916 April 01, 2019 12:42 AM  

I'd do anything to be born in that era of the most greatest libraries, Library of Alexandria among others.

Can you imagine getting lost in the books, reading, its immense, very moving for a mere human to reach out to Christ. He's been there waiting the whole time.

Such petty rebellious children in atheists but its more than that I'm sure its complex.

I again highly recommend TIA by Vox Day - this book has been handed to countless people, resistant, unhappy, 'intellectual problems' a year later they simmer down, return the book with a, "It took me a few reads but I understand now those I thought were so smart and so great in my world of denial, sin, philosophy, etc., lied to me, Satan lied to me and took me away from Christ but now I can choose Christ and give this a chance."

I have profound compassion and care for those whom deny or cant believe, I know it is also a higher IQ matter. Give the doubts and the questions to the Lord and He will move in your spirit - to my opinion.

The Lord loves you, He has a plan for every age, every stage, nothing is a surprise to him, its a surprise to us so like a child all I have is prayer, Christ, dad.

"Because of propitiation, you are deeply loved of God (Christ, as his love is free from humans love filled with coveting, fear, wishes).

Because of justification, you are fully pleasing to God.

Because of reconciliation, you are totally accepted by the Lord Jesus." Mid-late 1990's Robert S McGee.

"God is not in the people fixing business, He makes you better than new" despite clay muddied feet.

I hope this post speaks for me alone. I was quoting and using pronouns. These days I am told using pronouns like she, he, I, etc., is selfish to absurd to insert what you wish.

The Order is this; Lord over man, man over the woman, the woman to nurture, love and raise children via one man, one woman.

The system, the culture, the flesh, world and devil are sickos out to warp, invert and kill, lie. etc. I must stop here. A woman cannot be in the place of correcting or telling what men should do, I am just another estrogen based creature but it was on my heart to return and comment at this post. If its all wrong, correct it, every seeker of truth, clarity, well being will hopefully have compassion. If the post cannot be posted I'd understand.

Keep the faith, this is Easter Time, smiles, cheers, goodwill, prayers.

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