OK, this is quickly turning into a flamewar. Not the first on wikipedia-l,
mind you, and probably not the last. Since some policy issues esp. regarding
NPOV are involved, I still consider this debate to be sufficiently on-topic,
but if the administrators decide that it should be taken off the list, I will
comply. Otherwise, if it bugs you, just ignore this thread.
Julie responds -- Erik, this is one of the things I
had in mind. The
subject in which you demonstrably have little expertise is historical
method and in thinking like an historian. The source you wanted to have
a major part in the article was one generally regarded by historians as
having been untrustworthy, particularly because of his biases.
Uh, yeah, the same argument again. "This historian is unreliable because of
his biases". There's no need to refute specific claims or even to cite
criticisms if you can just put up a good argument ad verecundium, eh?
not difficult to demonstrate then that the author is beloved mostly by
So? I have no problem with the attribution "wrote from an anti-clerical
perspective". And if another author, such as Jeff Russell (I presume you are
referring to the flat earth Russell), who believes in resurrection and in Satan,
writes a book to "debunk" a conspiracy by secular humanists to claim that MA
Christians believed in a flat earth, I think it's perfectly appropriate and
NPOV to describe his background as well.
For myself, I do not like the term "anti-Christian", though. I am a secular
humanist, my focus is not solely on Christianity. The problem is that
Christianity, as you correctly point out, dominated much of Europe for a long time,
so it had plenty of opportunities to wreck havoc.
you didn't like was that Michael Tinkler and I were able to e-mail
Wow! The wonders of modern technology. Too bad you didn't post any of these
alleged exchanges as something close to debatable evidence.
and recall our own grad school experiences and felt
in relying on them.
Wow! The wonders of, uh, grad school experiences. I can't really say that I
don't *like* you relying on grad school experiences, I can, however, say that
I find it greatly amusing and somewhat depressing at the same time.
As for ignoring church-critical positions, that's
After you just told me again that you don't want White's claims presented
because he's not a good Christian, um, sorry, not trustworthy?
because for the most part those positions did not occur for the time
periods in question. As Jeff Russell put it so nicely, the history of
the Western Church is one of Prophecy and Order
That's one way to describe "murder and bloodshed", not the one I prefer,
though. Your argument is besides the point anyway as I never tried to present my
positions as the only valid ones (also, I always try to attribute properly
where necessary). I do think that the fact that the Christians were quick to
kill anyone who disagreed with them about the existence of God doesn't mean
that we shouldn't include *later* church critical positions in historical
While people may
have wished to reform the habits of the clergy, no one ever thought of
himself as anything other than a Christian.
Gee, and you don't think this might have had something to do with this whole
"killing everyone who disagrees" thing? Even the Catholic Encyclopedia
contains countless mentions of the persecution of pagans, usually among many other
great things the early "saints" did. The followers of Artemis and Priapus
didn't all suddenly wake up and say "Well, maybe this Messiah thing isn't
a bad idea at all" and convert to Christianity as the One True Way[TM].
Theodosius triumphantly standing on the ruins of the Serapeum, which is depicted
on one surviving papyrus, is the usual way it was done.
Moreover, historians generally try to avoid
judging, because what we want to do is explain how people thought and
felt at the time.
That's fine, and I agree that people like White were overly polemic in their
writings. Unfortunately, many later writers are overly apologist or even
revisionist. I also agree that the facts should speak for themselves. We just
don't agree about what the facts are. The solution? NPOV dictates that we
present different opinions accurately.
What you seem to want is articles that condemn
certain practices of the Church,
and you argue that to not condemn them
is to be relativistic.
Not at all. The belief system that condemns them needs to be represented in
some, but not all cases. Most importantly, different interpretations of what
happened must be there.
You can condemn them all you want, but doing
so in a 'pedia article is POV
You don't need to give me any NPOV lessons, Julie.
What I said above. And please just stop. It's
silly. We are not, for
example, talking about people in the modern world who participated in
genocide and trying to say, "well, in those times, everybody felt that
way" -- because that's patently untrue because the modern world is one
where people are generally able to try on different world views and
defend them. The medieval world view was pretty narrow and relatively
uniform. Next, you'll say that we should write articles that imply that
Ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Hebrews,
etc., were morally flawed because they took other people's lands and
I'm not saying anything at all about morality - I do not believe in good or
evil. I'm saying something about cause and effect. Christianity was spread by
exterminating and outlawing unbelievers and making the church the only
acceptable form of media. This in turn led to the tragic events that followed. I'm
not saying this is the only valid interpretation, I'm saying this is one
interpretation that must be presented. I'm also not trying to glorify antiquity
-- it had its high points and was culturally on a higher level than what
followed, technologically in some areas unparalleled until the 19th century, but
it had many social weaknesses which led to its decline. Such modern
interpretations clearly have their place on Wikipedia.
I'm also saying that your understanding of NPOV seems to be to present
*only* the view in which cause and effect are no longer recognizable, a view that
entirely defeats the lessons of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. I have
no problem with this view being *among* the ones presented.
The idea that these things were wrong would not have
occurred to people in these societies
Well, they certainly occurred to people in the society that preceded the
Dark Ages. We are writing *about* the Dark Ages, we're not writing *in* the Dark
Horseshit. The fact is, Erik, that you have a vested
presenting things in what you call a church-critical perspective.
That's completely true, but I do not delete other views, I merely add to the
articles. I do admit that I sometimes neglect to present views that I do not
hold, but I'm trying to be as fair as possible.
But there is a difference between thinking critically
and presenting information critically, and what you
want, which is to
present articles that make the Christian church out to be the unilateral
Not at all. I hope enough people will realize that religion, especially
fundamentalism, is a dangerous influence on all societies, simply from looking at
the facts. Early (late antiquity) Christians were very similar to the
Taliban in their methods and probably also in their neuropsychology.
FYI, when I teach the history of the Church, which I
I start with Jesus as a Jew, discuss (using documents from the time) the
changes of treatment of Jews and Christians by the Romans, and discuss
the fact that Christianity was only one of many minor mystery cults for
quite a long time.
Julie, I never suggested that you were a Bible-thumping bigot.
Articles on similar subjects should
mention the downside -- but in a way that leaves people thinking --
e.g., "the crusades were done in the name of God, yet thousands of
people, including Christians, are killed by the crusaders -- wow! How
could they reconcile those things?" Historians give the information to
answer those questions, but we don't say whether we think the answers
were good or bad.
Sure, we don't say anything about good or bad, unless it's attributed and
then only if it has a place in the article (i.e. a purely historical article
doesn't need to have attributed statements about later value judgments).
Oh -- and my expertise in being a professional
historian isn't alleged.
Please, don't tell me about your grad school experiences.
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