Richard Sprague

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[book] Bearing False Witness

2019-02-21


Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic HistoryBearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History by Rodney Stark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If even a small part of this book is true, it will force you to rethink a lifetime of history you have taken for granted. I can’t tell yet whether I believe all or even most of the claims, but from now on I’ll be reading all history books more skeptically.

Much of the argument is based on the observation that for the past 500 years, Protestant cultures had incentives to portray Catholic history as negatively as possible. You could win fame and fortune, perhaps even employment at a prestigious job, if you showed something bad about Catholics and Catholic countries. During much of the 1500s and 1600s, newly-Protestant England was the enemy of Catholic Spain, so for patriotic reasons any voice of disapproval was amplified. Historians quote one another, so even if you were an atheist, you would find a sympathetic audience for anything you wrote negatively about pre-Protestant European history.


Here are a few of the eye-opening claims:


I’m eager to hear more, especially any rebuttals from historians who know more than I do, but I found the arguments compelling and definitely worth a followup.

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