Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at Vlad Tepes. Some excerpts are below:
The Chinese are practical people, which I for the most part mean as a compliment, and indeed often quite intelligent. One of the aspects of their culture that I find hard to relate to is their preoccupation with such things as “lucky and unlucky numbers.” Yes, you can encounter such notions in the West, too, but they are far more prominent in Oriental cultures. Many Chinese also seem to believe that luck is a character trait and that bad luck only happens to bad people.
From everything I have read, I have seen nothing to convince me that any other culture on Earth was moving in the same directions as Europeans did with the Scientific Revolution. Let us ask a provocative question: Would we have space travel today if we removed Europeans from the world? The answer is almost certainly no. China, the largest and richest country in Asia, was literally a couple of thousand years behind in certain crucial fields of astronomy, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Electricity was essentially unknown outside of Europe, as was calculus, the concept of gravity, modern material science and liquid hydrogen rocket fuel. My bet is that we would not have space travel, astrophysics or planetary science for a great many centuries to come without Europeans, as nobody else was independently close to making many of the crucial scientific and technological breakthroughs needed to achieve this.
Critics will no doubt point out that the ancient Greeks, despite their reputation for being rationalist and “non-magical,” could leave substantial room for superstition. This was true sometimes, just as it is true that a belief in occultism and horoscopes coexisted with the birth of modern science in Europe and is alive and well in parts of the Western world to this day.
Kepler was one of the greatest mathematical astronomers who ever lived, but there was also a mystical side to his cosmological ideas. As imperial mathematician in the 1600s he had to give astrological advice to the Holy Roman Emperor as a part of his duties, even though he himself was rather skeptical of horoscopes. Newton spent nearly as much time on alchemy or looking for hidden codes in the Bible as he did on mathematics. In the late 1800s the English chemist William Crookes, known for the Crookes tube, was a gifted scientist in addition to being passionately interested in spiritualism, including the possibility of talking to the dead. Science and non-science can and do coexist, occasionally even within the same individual.
And yet, there is something special about the European legacy of critical reason and the belief that reason, logic and public debate can be used to advance truth and insight into the natural world and the human world alike. After you subtract astrology and the notion that individual destinies are determined by spirits and stars, a belief that has been and partly still is very common around the world, a core of rationalism will emerge as one of the critical legacies of the ancient Greeks, running as a golden thread from them to modern Europe. It is easy to underestimate the importance of this, just as it is easy to take for granted many of the other unique advances made by Europeans, but we need to remember that there was never anything self-evident or inevitable about them. In the end, a (largely) rational understanding of the natural world was achieved in one civilization and in one civilization only: the European one.
Read the rest at Vlad Tepes.