Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ancient History

So I was reading Matthew Yglesias' post on "Secularism and Establishment" on The In it, he offers his opinion on why European nations tend to be so overwhelmingly secular.

Of course, not all of his readers agree with his analysis. One remarks: "When you listen to young people talk, they point out that religion has, you know, led to, gee golly, a LOT OF FREAKING WAR." A few posts later, someone else remarks: "Actually, if you look at the bloodiest century of them all -- that would be the 20th -- you'll find that religion plays a very minor role in all the carnage." There are a lot of posts back and forth after this, on the role of warfare in European Secularism, but the conversation never manages to deal with anything prior to 1914. One particularly telling comment "Pretty sure that war has little to do with the decline of religion in Europe as: [...] b)The only people [...] who go to church in Europe are the elderly who actually experienced the war first hand."

I'm impressed at the number of people who don't seem to understand that history goes back farther than World War One. It strikes me (more than likely erroneously) as the reason why Young Earth Creationism can still thrive here. If anything that happened more than 100 years ago is such ancient history that it's no longer actually of importance to anyone, it seems that it would be easy to believe that the entire earth is only six thousand or so years old. Despite the fact that such things are commonly reported in the American media, I expect that many Americans would be surprised to find that there are Greeks that are still upset with the Crusader sacking of Constantinople, and that there are families in North Africa that hold as heirlooms keys to homes in Spain that their families were driven out of hundreds of years ago.

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