It’s a topic we can’t avoid any more. Let’s start….
(2) Among the most serious historical fallacies:
A. Whig Fallacy (Whig History) dominating western culture after the 19th century
B. Judeo-Christian fallacy, recently dominating UK&US academy after WWII
(3) A – Whig Fallacy
Sir H. Butterfield, Prof of History & Vice-Chancellor of Uni of Cambridge wrote The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) on how historical positivism of the Whigs (political fraction in UK) was based on a series of assumptions creating a western myth.
(4) The “Whig history” sees ancients as having primitive minds, unlike our own, painting certain periods of history with brighter or darker colours (e.g. dark ages).
Butterfield considered this Whig tendency as a “mental trick” drawing false lines of historical causation.
(5) “The fallacy of the whig historian lies in the way in which he takes his short cut through this complexity. […] and impute lessons to history which history has never taught and historical research has never discovered” ~ Sir H. Butterfield
(6) In the 19th century historians deified ancient Greeks & Romans rejecting the significance of the evolution of the christian world with one catchy phrase: dark ages. As if modern institutions (e.g. Universities, Hospitals, Civil Code) appeared suddenly out of thin air.
(7) Of course behind the “Whig history” we have strong political motivation. Friends of democracy & parliament had reasonable bias against a visible & powerful “enemy”: the Catholic Church, representing not only the heritage of the middle ages, but also a strong political actor.
(8) Modern atheistic arguments (e.g. Sam Harris, Dawkins) are almost exclusively based Whig history… on steroids.
Tim O’Neill, an atheist himself, does extensively good job on debunking the BS of pop-scientists spreading their historical ignorance
(9) example: the Greco-Roman values are considered ideal but lost in christian world. Is this true?
Greeks had a temples with 100s of girls pushed to holy prostitution. Romans brutally crucified & killed in arenas. The christian world legally introduced something new: humanism.
(10) B – The Judeo-Christian fallacy
Many people are shocked when they learn that the word “judeo-christian” was introduced in christian scholarship after the WWII and the concept was not used by the fathers of the Church. It was coined by some Jewish converts to Christianity.
(11) In fact Chrysostomus, the greatest father of Byzantine Christianity (Orthodox), also known for introducing Christmas, was explicitly clear on the anti-Judeo nature of Christianity.
(12) The Judeo-Christian myth plays on the ignorance of the masses who falsely believe that:
a. [modern] Judaism is based on Old Testament (it’s not)
b. in a certain time & place a culture was transformed from following the Mosaic law to follow Jesus. This never happened.
(13) The Jewish culture NEVER transformed to Christian. In contrast, the Greek culture transformed to Christian. In the west there was a cultural shift from Plato/Aristotle to Jesus. The Mosaic Law was used only as a reference, never as a cultural or religious belief system.
(14) The proximity between Plato & Christianity (using the SAME greek vocabulary & key-concepts) was explicitly taught by the Church Fathers even by Protestants and philosophers during the enlightenment.
(15) In Voltaire’s philosophical dictionary, in the lemma of “Plato” his first sentence goes like this:
Les Pères de l’Église des quatre premiers siècles furent tous grecs et platoniciens
(The fathers of the Church, of the first four centuries, were all Greeks and Platonists)
(16) The church taught the Greco-Christian history of the west:
Examples from the New Testament
word “prophet” is NOT Jewish, it’s Greek coined by Plato
word ψυχή (soul) coined by Thales (mathematician)
word αμαρτία (sin) used by philosophers
word Genesis is greek
(17) St. Paul had an amazing Greek education, openly acknowledging this reality. Addressing to the Athenians he quotes a Stoic poet on God, presenting “Christian God” as the “Stoic god” of Greeks.
Note: God – Zeus related to Δίας [greek], Deus [latin], Dieu [french]
(18) Both Whig & Judeo-Christian fallacy are products of the same basic assumption: the greeks suddenly disappeared from historical scene (maybe abducted by aliens), deleting 1000 years of Greek Byzantine culture, building a gap in western history. A gap filled with BS narrative.
Western Scholars during the last 300 years copy-paste the same narrative: Greeks where deductive (mathematics) and the west does Science (inductive). This criticism grew out of proportion presenting Greeks as cartoons picking up axioms (models) & blindly believing them.
So this story can be traced back to Descartes & Francis Bacon (Scientific Method) criticising the dogmatic approach of the Aristotelian establishment of their time.
Today it’s different. Scientists don’t read Plato or Aristotle from the original, thus spreading misinformation.
Both parents of Aristotle came from great families of doctors, his father had written a book on medicine. Alexander the Great also had studied medicine. Yes, the greeks proposed crazy medical models but tested them through time. They knew how to play with induction & deduction.
So, it could be essentially anchored in the perceived axiomatic nature of The Elements and its multi millenia influence I guess.
Exactly. The shadow of Euclide was heavy but selecting axioms wasn’t an arbitrary choice. The Greeks examined where axioms lead. The verb άγω (lead somewhere) is found in both induction (επ-αγωγή) & deduction (απ-αγωγή) like athletes trained to run in both directions.