The Echoes of the Mind (9-8) History of Psychology continued 2


The age of Muslim enlightenment ended in the 11th century, when Islamic scholars turned their back on emphasizing reason for reliance on fidelity to the faith. By that time it was a path already well worn by the Catholic Church.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Catholic Church kept a firm grip on philosophic license. There were only 2 types of people: believers and unbelievers. If unbelievers could not be converted, they were imprisoned, tortured, and killed. If God is real, so too Satan and its spawn.

The Catholic pogrom against unbelievers did nothing to expunge the mystical. Astrology was exceedingly popular. Magic was practiced practically everywhere. Superstition had its hold on peasants, scholars, kings, and clergy.

Early Christians perpetuated the sexism of Greek and Roman times while proscribing the lust. Sex itself was a sin.

When men gave in to sexual desire it was the woman’s fault. This attitude strongly prevails to this day in India, the Muslim world, among fundamentalist Christians, and otherwise lingers throughout the world of men unwilling to acknowledge their weakness in indulging their biological bent.

The philosophic musings that were written down in medieval Europe came almost exclusively from the clergy. They focused on an individual’s relationship with God in accordance with accepted parameters. Criticizing the Catholic Church was not countenanced. That was not to last. The break, when it came, changed the face of Christianity.

In the early 16th century, German friar and Catholic priest Martin Luther became upset with corruption within the Church, especially the sale of indulgences, which let sinners reduce divine retribution by bribing church officials. He also opposed the Aristotelian emphasis on dogma.

Luther’s protest got him excommunicated in 1520. His fervor spawned a new religious movement – Protestantism – with Luther as its leader.

Luther’s religious vision was harsh and unforgiving. Protestantism insisted that faith was the only path to accepting the existence of God. Its rejection of reason was a regression compared to Catholic tolerance of the logic that went its way or stirred no opposition.

Protestantism loosened the grip of absolute Catholic Church authority. In that it helped usher in an age of freer thinking – an ironic outcome to Luther’s rigidity.