Dr. Stark: Voltaire and his associates made up the fiction of the Dark Ages so that they could claim to have burst forth with the Enlightenment. As every competent historian (and even the encyclopedias) now acknowledges, there were no Dark Ages. To the contrary, it was during these centuries that Europe took the great cultural and technological leap forward that put it so far ahead of the rest of the world.Share
CWR: What relationship is there between the mythology of the "Dark Ages" and the myth of "secular Enlightenment"? How rational and scientific, in fact, was the Enlightenment?
Dr. Stark: The “philosophes” of the so-called “Enlightenment played no role in the rise of science—the great scientific progress of the time was achieved by highly religious men, many of them Catholic clergy.
CWR: The Crusades and the Inquisitions continue be presented as epochs and events that involved Christian barbarism and the murder of millions. Why are those myths so widespread and popular, especially after scholars have spent decades correcting and clarifying what really did (or did not) happen?
Dr. Stark: I am competent to reveal that the Crusades were legitimate defensive wars and that the Inquisition was not bloody. I am not competent to explain why the pile of fine research supporting these corrections have had no impact on the chattering classes. I suspect that these myths are too precious for the anti-religious to surrender. (Read more.)