13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A principle I'll hold forever,
This review is from: The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason (Hardcover)
Five years from now when you glance at a book you don't often use as a reference, what do you remember? A primary thesis from "The Closing of the Western Mind" that has stayed with me is:
Prior to Christianity becoming institutionalized by the State in the early centuries C.E., scholars in training received a classical education: mathematics, philosophy, law, humanities, history, some science, and theology. The great religious thinkers of this time leveraged this educational base to research religious ideas that are still debated today. The process of first getting a broad educational base and then specializing was thwarted when the State incorporated Christianity which in turn took over education on behalf of the State and the Church.
By the 4th Century C.E. budding scholars were provided no broad liberal arts base, instead they were indoctrinated with religious dogma; this trend only worsened over time as the Church became more entrenched in the State. The other disciplines were wanting not for talent, but individuals able to develop their talents since they now started with no solid educational base.
After presenting this evidence, Freeman then makes a strong case for the importance of secular governments to defend educating students rather than indocrination of a worldview that requires the rejection of reason and search for empirical truth - regrettably this conflict has once again gained new momentum recently here in the States.
The length of the book that some have complained of is justified if all you want are the answers to the questions, for those people I recommend reading the reader reviews. However, I found the case made by Freeman and the stories that make his case fascinating. I also came to appreciate some of the Dark Ages Christian thinkers more than I did previously now that I understand the severe limitations of their education based on a dysfunctional religious and political system.