Speaking of Anti-Intellectualism

A certain pope, Pope Sylvester II, introduced to Europe some great and wonderful technological feats and…. was accused of making a pact with the devil. Why? Because he was just too smart.

Pope Sylvester II was one of the most learned men of his time. Well versed in mathematics, astronomy, and mechanics; he is credited with inventing the hydraulic organ, pendulum clock, and introducing Arabic numerals to Western Europe. He also wrote books on mathematics, natural science, music, theology and philosophy. Pope Sylvester II was the first French Pope and certainly the most significant in the 10th century. Upon his death, rumors began to fly that his great intelligence – and, consequently his inventive genius – was the result of a pact with the devil. This was most likely due to his regular contact with great scientific minds in the Arab world and his brave attempts to root out simony in the Church.

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5 Replies to “Speaking of Anti-Intellectualism”

  1. My understanding is that the myth of Arab learning, like the myth of the Flat Earth Theory, was a 19th century atheist invention. To the extent that astronomy and mathematics were connected to astrology, they were certainly preserved by the Arabs. At the same time, the Byzantine empire was more advanced than the Arabs, and it was the technological edge that allowed France to bring the Arab invasion to a stop. Rodney Stark has been writing much on this to correct atheist revisionism of history which is all through our text books.

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