“You find me a state or a society that threw off theocracy, and threw off religion. And said: ‘we adopt the teachings of Lucretius, and Democritus, and Galileo, and Spinoza, and Darwin, and Russell, and Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and we make those what we teach our children. And we make that, scientific and rational humanism, our teaching.’ And you find me that state that did that and fell into tyranny, and slavery, and famine, and torture, and then we’ll be on a level playing field.”
What if the Christian organised religion had successfully blocked all scientific progress and philosophical development of reason for the past 2000 years?
We would probably still think the earth was located at the centre of the solar system (this school of thought is known as geocentrism, as opposed to heliocentrism), despite what brilliant astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo have argued.
We would still think that the sun revolved around the earth. (Having said that, in 2012, 18% of Americans still believed the sun revolves around the earth.)
Mankind would probably not have tolerated any kind of modern democracy, since theocratic politics do not tolerate opposing views, let alone critical or secular ones. After all, there is a strong argument to be made that organised religion does not tolerate dissent.
Secularists, radical and experimental scientists, thinkers and philosophers – dissenters of any kind for that matter – would still be silenced. That is, regularly burned at the stake.
Homosexuals, bisexuals and people with multiple casual sexual partners would probably be in the same amount of danger as people of a similar nature are nowadays in central Africa – perhaps even more danger.
Women would still be banned from most of public life; in the same way history has shown us for the past centuries.
We would still think human beings are a special divinely created exception in biology. Facts about evolution and genetics would be unknown.
And since mankind would be considered to be above nature, animals would probably be exploited even more than today.
Since evidence based sciences would have a tough time, evidence based medicine would probably not exist in the form we know today, we would still use quacks, faith healers and prayer to combat diseases instead of vaccinations and other medications.
Nations that would identify themselves as devoutly Christian would probably still be fighting religious wars against the other faithful.
Many of the works of noteworthy intellectual figures would never have been published (perhaps because they were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum or similar black list). Notable thinkers on this list include: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Emanuel Swedenborg, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, John Milton, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal and Hugo Grotius. (Interestingly, Charles Darwin’s works were never included.)
‘Yes. To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn’t it? […] No that’s what I think, that’s what I think, what do you think? Try to have a thought of your own, Baldrick. Thinking is so important. What do you think?’