Arts: Science, Art Have Thrived Under Christianity

We have heard over and over that we Christians and conservatives are opposed to art and science, that we are primitive neanderthals who hate literature, scholarly enlightenment and technological progress. This template comes from the secular socialist left and is intended to smear Christians. Yet if you study the issue you will find that the opposite is true.

Just look at the history of art. We know that Western art from the Ancient Greeks to the legendary painters and sculptors of Europe and America has represented the highest achievement in all of world history and that it has flourished in Christian-dominated societies.

Even the unmatched achievements of the Greeks in art and architecture happened not in God-less atheist societies or in primitive ‘animist’ cultures that worship trees or rocks but in pagan societies that were dedicated to the many gods of the ancient world. The Greeks called their gods Zeus and Hera and Poseidon and Artemis. Even the pagans never saw man as pre-eminent (which atheism does) but as subservient to but ultimately empowered by the eternal power and wisdom of their supreme gods.

Then throughout the Christian era from its legitimization in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine all the way up until today Christian nations have shown the highest achievement in art and architecture and in every other field like science, technology and engineering. Indeed Christians have never seen themselves as small or incapable in the eyes of God as atheists have claimed; quite the opposite. Christians see themselves as empowered by the perfection of God which gives us all a goal to aim for.

Consider the historic and monumental Zeus sculpture in Ancient Greece by Phidias (long lost), the mighty Poseidon bronze (its original still exists) or Praxiteles’ Hermes and Dionysus (it survives only in Roman copies), all tributes to pagan gods. Consider that the Parthenon, the Temple at Olympia and the monumental Temple of Ephesus all were dedicated to, respectively, the goddess Athena, the great god of gods Zeus or the goddess of fertility Artemis. Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World and not only was it a place of worship but it was an astounding architectural masterwork truly worthy of its designation.

Then look at this timeless sculpture from the Golden Age of Classical Greece, The Discus Thrower, from around 440 BC by the sculptor Myron. It has never been matched. And we only have copies, not even the original which surely was even more magnificent.

Look up the stunning architectural tributes to our Christian God like Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople. Its dome was the highest in the world (184 feet) for many centuries. It was designed around 540 AD by Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus who were not even architects but rather were mathematicians and geometricians. They lived in a strongly Greek Orthodox Christian culture in Asia Minor (today, Turkey).

Look at this splendid Medieval interior at Wells Cathedral in England with its famous “scissors arch”, a very advanced and decidedly handsome piece of engineering and art all rolled into one. Magnificent… Then go to Notre Dame in Paris or St. Peter’s in Rome and on and on, all dedicated to our Biblical Christian heritage. These singular monuments all came into being as tributes to Western man’s obeisance to the supreme power of our God. Look at the otherworldly achievement in painting and sculpture from Michelangelo’s Pieta to Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation to El Greco’s Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, every one a depiction of our Christian history.

Then look at our unparalleled modern engineering achievements like the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco which is not only a marvel of function but a triumph of artistic achievement too because all of its forms were carefully conceived and integrated by some of the most advanced minds of the time. In short, form and function rise in lockstep to the highest level. It is as much a sculpture as a bridge. If such a bridge were designed under the nonsensical ethos of Picasso it would never have stood for even a moment.

Meanwhile atheistic societies have produced nothing as God-less Soviet communism produced only poverty, scarcity, genocide and oppression. Just look at the society-wide murder, war, economic destruction and misery at the hands of ideological atheists and occultists like Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. It was the worst in history while their achievements were none.

Yet the socialist template maintains that our Christian societies have been negative, and the leftists then selectively point to Christianity’s occasional weaknesses but never to its overarching strengths. For instance, every single technology that powers the world today from electricity to hydraulics to telephones to steam turbines to refrigeration to jet engines to modern agriculture, medicine and metallurgy to the very idea of liberty itself emanated from ideas developed over millennia in Europe and the United States which have been, at heart, Christian societies that often have been strongly and forcefully Christian.

Here is an excerpt from the book A Treasury of Saints by Malcolm Day (Chartwell Books, 2002) about the Dominican friar, bishop, philosopher and theologian Albert the Great or Albertus Magnus (1200-1280):

“The only scholar of his age to be called “the Great” helped to lay the foundation of modern science. His experiments and classification of the natural sciences ran to 38 volumes, and covered such diverse topics as chemistry, geography, astronomy and physiology. …Scientific experiments were his forte, and some of his investigations established the groundwork for subsequent developments. At a time when conventional thinking held the world to be flat, he demonstrated that it was round; his views, it is said, led to the later discovery of America.” (end of excerpt)

Go onto the internet and look at videos on YouTube about big engineering projects in Asia like the Hong Kong airport (completed in 1998) to the Stonecutter’s Bridge, also in Hong Kong, to other projects all across that region today. We are told again and again that Asians are so smart yet the lead engineers on these projects have been British, American or some other Westerner. Most significantly all of the technological advances that made these projects possible came from the Christian West. In fact Asia today relies 100% on Western technology to power its economies.

Oh, the secularists love to point to the trial by the Catholic Church of the astronomer Galileo as evidence that Christianity has oppressed intellectual progress. But this is a classic leftist tactic – to selectively indicate evidence that supports their case, in this instance one single example.

In fact Christian conservatism coupled to free-market capitalism has dominated the same societies that produced the world’s great art and technology from Fra Filippo Lippi’s The Adoration to James Watt’s steam engine to Nikola Tesla’s development and refinement of the system that generates and transmits AC electricity, the single power source that has made the modern world possible. Tesla’s father even was a Serbian Orthodox Christian priest. Meanwhile the Catholic church has issued a posthumous apology to Galileo.

If these achievements had happened in atheistic societies under communism, the communists would be proclaiming loudly the triumph of their ideology. But they cannot.

During the 1,000 years of the Middle Ages and the Medieval period in Europe when that continent was largely rural with just a few cities, scattered Christian monasteries were virtually the only centers of scholarship, education and preservation of the knowledge of the world from the Ancient Greeks onward. These were devoutly religious places that even acted as banks, commercial centers, hospitals and inns and were focused for centuries on the refinement of agricultural methods that greatly increased the food supply for the good of all of the people. The Venerable Bede (673-735 AD) was an English monk and historian who was considered the most enlightened man of his day. Meanwhile the two most influential universities in our modern world – Oxford and Cambridge, in Britain – began as monasteries. Reports

Members of many religious orders, including Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians settled in Oxford in the mid-13th century, gained influence, and maintained houses for students. (end of excerpt) reports:

Monastic colleges were found at Oxford University in Medieval England. The days when monasteries in general provided the best place for learning and scholarship ended with the growth of Oxford University. Monastic colleges replaced Benedictine monasteries, in particular, as places of learning. (end of excerpt)

So what is it about Christianity that has allowed Western societies to flourish and prosper?

It is the simple common sense and essential goodness and optimism of Christianity, and the openness of Christian cultures that allows experimentation and progress. These Western societies have exhibited the three elements that any society needs to thrive:

First, they have had order. That means an awareness of the larger order of things – a perfect God at the top, then man, then an ordered social structure based on the family unit led by the rational and responsible father and mother, and then an ordered system of intellectual inquiry. Christianity also has demanded a commitment to truth, and to a definition of right and wrong, which are essential to all progress.

Second, they have had growing freedom, including legal, personal, intellectual and economic freedom, which was cultivated in ancient Greece under Cleisthenes and Pericles, and proceeded through the Magna Carta in Britain and the American Constitution in the United States.

Third, they have encouraged education, inquiry, experimentation and scholarship as demonstrated in the monasteries. Indeed only order, freedom and education ultimately can liberate the people to achieve what they can. Yet isn’t that what atheist communism claims to have done – liberated people from the chore of everyday life and offered “free” education, giving them the opportunity to develop their minds and their ideas?

Sorry, friends, but the opposite has happened, as usual. Socialism and communism have destroyed creativity and ingenuity by suppressing free thought and individualism, putting not God and the Constitution at the top, but putting men (political leaders like dictators) above men, and replacing enlightenment and inquiry with conformity and government-sponsored intellectualism. In short, communism replaced the genuine and natural orders of Christian societies as reflected in the monasteries with a man-made, manipulated and intellectualized order. This has led to chaos and destruction.

Atheism offers us an intellectual ethos that even is perplexed at the origins of man and the universe. They claim a vague theory of evolution and a disjointed and wildly theoretical Big Bang theory. Yet if man cannot even come to grips with where he came from how can he possibly understand where he might be going?

He cannot.

Now look at the art and science of modern-day socialism and you understand it better. This “new science” is fake science like ‘global warming’. It is based not on empirical observation of facts and data, i.e., the truth, but on emotional interpretations of pre-ordained and politically expedient theories like ‘global warming’.

Al Gore has no proof whatsoever that ‘warming’ is an unprecedented and man-made phenomenon, not even a preponderance of evidence necessary in a court case. That is why the alarmists conveniently altered the name of their fabricated catastrophe to ‘climate change’, in order to conveniently account for any eventuality.

Such vagaries never would have passed muster in the rational world of the Ancient Greeks or in the Medieval monasteries where confident, skeptical and intelligent men steered the discourse without being waylaid by the types of deceptions that Gore is peddling.

So we have ‘junk science’ replacing real science under postmodernist socialism. And then we have ‘junk art’ replacing real art.

What is ‘modern art’ anyway?

It represents a war on the great art of Western civilization. It emanates from the atheist, God-less left. Just look at Picasso or Andy Warhol. Their art is trivial and deceptive compared to the triumphs of the Renaissance or of the Ancient Greeks. These so-called ‘modern’ artists have created a shallow, superfluous art that is strictly commercial in nature.

Picasso was an avowed communist and Warhol trained not as an artist but as an illustrator. The famous French surrealist Rene Magritte was trained in advertising and his paintings look like they belong in ads. Thus you would expect their oeuvre to be devoid of the high meaning and quality of art, and to be intended only for its entertainment and commercial value.

Indeed man cannot live on shock, irony, glibness or jokiness alone, which are all hallmarks of ‘modern art’. And these are always traits of our socialist atheist culture in which European geniuses from Isaac Newton to Raphael to Archimedes are obliterated in the textbooks in order to replace them with angry, God-less images and thought systems that show an utter disregard for beauty, truth and meaning.

In fact ‘modern art’ is intentionally ugly and meaningless, like Picasso’s painting Three Musicians. There are thousands of artists on the internet today who could produce such a cartoon , who are just as accomplished as Picasso. In short, they are not accomplished at all. Yet how many artists on the internet today could paint like Leonardo da Vinci or create a sculpture like The Discus Thrower?

Answer: None. Indeed Picasso and the modernists have suggested that we burn down the great art museums. And what is the point of that?

It is destruction. It is the obliteration of the Western triumph in art that angry and envious people know to be the height of mankind’s achievements, that were cultivated in our God-loving Western Christian societies over many, many centuries.

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