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Book Review: The Catholic Engine of Western Progress

George Weigel

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The standard account of the history of the West from, say, 400-1500 would run something like this: The breakdown of the Roman empire sent western Europe into the centuries-long civilizational morass of the "Dark Ages." The West only began to recover its intellectual elan during the Enlightenment, and it was during that period, when scientists and political theorists unshackled themselves from the repressive bonds of Catholic faith, that "modernity" began to take shape. Democracy and the free market are primarily Enlightenment projects, although Protestantism had something to do with the rise of capitalism. Catholicism, on the other hand, had to be throttled if democracy, the free economy, and science were to thrive.

Right?

Wrong, according to Baylor University scholar Rodney Stark in his new book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Random House) -- a splendid exercise in intellectual bomb-throwing that combines rigorous scholarship with readability.

Read the entire article on the Ethics and Public Policy Center website (new window will open).

Posted: 24-Feb-06



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