A Common Conflation
One Tim O'Neill raises an interesting point on his blog Armariam Magnum in response to a communication received regarding his post ""Agora" and Hypatia - Hollywood Strikes Again": Mr. O'Neill is himself an atheist, but is devoted to empirical evidence and sound reasoning. I've edited out his direct responses to the communicator.
It's bizarre the way whenever these people who scream so hysterically about how Christianity murdered ancient learning and philosophy are challenged to produce some evidence they are always forced to fall back on some vague reference to the Christian suppression of pagan cults. As though this irrelevant side issue somehow supports their case.
What the hell the trashing of some gloomy Mithraeums and the closing down of weird superstitious cults where men in silly hats waved incense at painted statues had to do with the preservation of science and reason.
The truth is that these people have a misty-eyed romanticised view of the ancient world that conflates anything "pagan" with the things they like (eg science and reason). Therefore any attack on anything pagan simply has to be an attack on the things they like.
This is nonsense.
The early Christians who defended the use of pagan wisdom (and who won the debate on that topic, thus enshrining the rational analysis of the world in the Western tradition for centuries to come) were perfectly capable of differentiating the wisdom of philosophers who happened to be pagans from the silly superstitions of gelded priests shaking rattles at garish statues of Cybele.