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The Bible Created Western Civilization Part 2: Heroism and Revolution


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Contender / Con

This debate is on whether or not the Bible had anything to do with the way Western Civilization views heroism and that the Bible was the book that brought revolution to the West causing people to be free.

Round 1

Heroism depends on what a culture values. Is the hero the person who saves people from a burning building or the one who burns the building with people inside? Heroism in "Christian" Europe of the first millennium differs greatly from that of the second millennium. The Crusades was the largest conflict in the first millennium where "Christians" were seen as heroes for conquering and putting many innocent people to death on purpose. In the second millennium we see Western soldiers going into the Middle East to free Kuwait from an invading foe. Instead of looting the oil, as Crusaders would have done a millennium ago, these soldiers did not loot and did not stay to colonize. Back a thousand years ago superpowers went forth to conquer and colonize, but in today's world this would be seen as evil.
So why do we demand that superpowers send soldiers to liberate and not exploit? Why do we not follow people like Alexander, Augustus and Hitler? Because Western Civilization has adopted the Biblical view of heroism. 
The Crusades were military expeditions that attempted to free the holy land from the Muslims. Popes offered pardon of sins and other incentives to send soldiers t fight these wars. Because of their political and religious power, the popes were able to get kings to raise armies and go fight for the Church.
The Church had business partners who wanted to make money off the Crusades while the popes sought to send the quarrelsome knights and noblemen, the "heroes" of the time, to do their fighting far away rather than close at home in Europe.
Jacques Ellul, an eminent historian, said that the Crusades represente the Islamization of Christianity because they learned from the Muslims the idea of using the sword to promote religion. Though the Bible allows for "justs wars" according to theologians, Jesus and the disciples never taught that Christianity should be coerced on people with the sword.
After the Crusades came the Conquistadores. These "Christians" went to conqueror and win over to Christ the New World. Yet, they saw the natives as subhuman and treated them as such. Greed, not God, really drove the conquests.
Next came colonialism which was just as driven by greed as the Conquistadores were, but a difference happened when missionaries went into places like India and succeeded in turning the evil of colonialism into a blessing of Christianity.
How is it that today, Western nations will go into Muslim countries to liberate them from other Muslim countries, or in the case of Kosovo, send in soldiers to liberate Muslims from Orthodox Christians? The answer is the Bible replacing the conquering hero with a sacrificial hero.

   The Classical Hero
In the Greco-Roman world a hero was a person who could conquer and rule over others, Heroes were men like Alexander the Great of Augustus Caesar. Even Napoleon wanted to create his own empire modeling his rule after Augustus. As William Blake said, "The strongest poison ever known came from Caesar's laurel crown," This understanding of hero is almost universal. In India, the Hindus view their gods and goddesses, as bloody and cruel as they are, as heroes. Even among Muslims, their heroes are those who drive planes into buildings or blow themselves up in a crowded long as they were prayerful as well.

   Medieval Heroism
This was an inheritance from the classical view of heroism sine the Roman Catholic Church was heavily influenced by the classics and by German barbarians and Frankish aristocrats. Heroes, to them, were brave, had physical strength and were skillful with weapons. Prowess was the chivalric virtue. A knight was a hero if he had prowess and was loyal. However, wandering minstrels also added another skill for a hero in their songs...generosity. The best knight was the one who gave the most. Next was added courtesy toward fellow knights in trying to win the hand of ladies. However, the main purpose of the knight was his own glory. Knights looted goods from their foes and also wanted women. These knights would roam the countryside looking for glory and many times disrupted law in order in doing so. So the Church stepped in to put a stop to this form of chivalry. The began a movement called "Truce and Peace of God" which threatened to excommunicate any knight who was off on a private war. Tournaments were seen as homicidal contests and the Church ruled that anyone killed in a tournament would not be allowed to e buried on Church grounds. Thomas Aquinas, Galbert of Bruges, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and John of Salisbury were all critical of chivalry and condemned it as vainglory.

   Religious Chivalry
By the thirteenth century a knight began consecrating his armour on an altar, would spend the night in prayer and fasting and in the morning would take a ritual bath. These rituals sought to turn the ad knights into "knights of God". They were to serve God and help the weak and downtrodden. The story of Arthur promoted gentilesse in the code for a knight. Indeed, courtesy, could be practiced by all people giving them a sense of heroic virtue. Yet, even this cleaner idea of heroism was not founded on the Bible for it still required "noble birth, prowess and killing, values which go against what was taught by Christ and the disciples.

   Modern Heroism
When Martin Luther saw that the sell of indulgences was a form of exploitation by the Catholic Church to collect money for the construction of St. Paul's Cathedral, he could not stay quiet. He wrote out 95 thesis and posted them at the door of the local parish. He then stood before King Charles V and many Church leaders where he decided to take a stand and obey his conscience. In doing so he created a new hero.

The Bible's View of Heroism

Classical heroism valued power while Christ's valued truth. Jesus' heroism was about love, not brutality; meekness, not pride; self-sacrifice, not domination. Jesus became the greatest example when He, as God, took a basin of water and washed His disciples' feet. He then told them that service was what God's kingdom was about. The King of kings had come down, not to kill, but to give eternal life. Many heroes died to take power from kings only to give it to servants. Titles such as prime minister, literally mean servant. As Jesus taught, "and whosoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." The Bible's symbol of heroism is that of the cross. It shows that, in order to have eternal life, in order to defeat the forces of evil, it took a King be crucified in a horrible and humiliating manner. Heroism meant a strong faith that refuses to bow down to evil and falsehood. It triumphs over death. It requires surrender to God, to be a living sacrifice in order to benefit others. Different heroes began to appear. Names such as Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox and many others who created the modern world. Though, they were fallible and made mistakes they were pioneers that changed the world through revolution and showed that true heroes are those that are self-sacrificing servants.

Sorry, I ran out of time and space. I will get to Revolution in the next round.
I Rebuttal: “Heroism depends on what culture values”
I.a In these words, Pro launched his argument that “the Bible has anything to do with the way Western Civilization views heroism and that the Bible was the book that brought revolution to the West causing people to be free.” An interesting debate proposal, considering that Western civilization pre-dates the Bible, even in its existence as single book scrolls, let alone folios. Since my opponent’s time ran short, we have nothing argued relative to the revolution, but heroism is discussed at length. What is at odds regarding heroism is that culture and civilization are not synonymous, and heroism does have a variety of features depending who is wielding the sword.
I.a.1 Culture is but one feature of civilization; others being society and intellectual development.[1] Culture, therefore, is a subset of civilization, not its equal. Culture begets language, never the other way around. Therefore, heroism, for all its guts and glory, is, after all, a cultural phenomenon, not necessarily the keynote of civilization. [Nor is revolution, by the way, but that is for another round.] Truly, one man’s heroism is, as Pro alleges in his round 1, either saving people from a burning building, or burning the building with people inside. The point is, civilization is the mother of either child. Civilization does not define altruistic behavior. We may wish it were so, but if wishes were fishes, we’d likely prefer cauliflower anyway, as is a prominent feature of Western and Eastern civilization, circa 2020, and just as likely in the other two cardinal coordinates.
I.a.2 As a result, heroism is neither the predominant feature of civilization, nor it its most remote feature. It is actually something of an anomaly, particularly in its most modern iteration as, so Pro admits, a military entity. Swords, you know. Consider that, at present, the military person, hero, or not, consists of “less than 0.5% of the U.S. population.”[2] However, this fact does not stop Pro from worshiping the classic, medieval, chivalrous, or biblical hero, as well. Swords, even figuratively, seem to be a common thematic element, so, let’s explore this implement as wielded by Pro-argued hero of the Christian version, and by its premier example: Jesus Christ. In this argument, recall this discussion when reaching my caution in this round, argument II.b.1 regarding my personal take on biblical text. Jesus is instructing the Twelve before sending them out to preach. He is offering suggestions of approach to people, and how they should conduct themselves. However, our image of Christ as a peacemaker is jarred when we read of his denial of people who deny him [verse 33] and then he says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”[3] This is a Christian hero? THE hero? So, let’s not become too wrapped around the idea of peace, love, and rock-n-roll or Jesus Christ, Superstar. As I will say in a moment, translation, unfortunately, tends to be a matter of dictionary-to-dictionary comparison. Since Language is the result of culture, and not the other way around, and lacking an understanding of the culture involved, and since scroll translation in Europe in the 5thcentury knew naught of Middle East culture 500 years and more into the past, translation tended to make mistakes. Dictionaries of various languages, particularly ancient to modern, do not align word-for-word. Some words in one language do not exist in another, and one word in one language may be six or seven in other. Culture defines not just heroes, but the complexity of the concepts dearest to them. Finally, Dictionaries are fine for general definition and a spelling bee, but as an instruction manual of culture, it might as well be a sealed book.
II Rebuttal: Holy Bible Roots and Western Civilization
II.a Recognizing that Western civilization is rooted millennia prior to the wide-scope access to the Holy Bible by ordinary people, it is difficult to imagine that the Bible is a source of anything about Western civilization, let alone the source, as alleged by Pro in the debate, “The Bible Created Western Civilization Part 1”, or, which is currently in Voting mode as of this writing, so no further shall be mentioned about it.
II.b As a student of History [having a PhD in the subject] I am aware that Western civilization can trace its roots to a point earlier than 1455 C.E., when Johann Gutenberg published the Gutenberg Bible in Mainz, Germany,[4] thus making the first effort to distribute the volume to ordinary people in mass production. I question the ability of an entire civilization to be rooted in a few handwritten manuscripts of any book, even the Holy Bible.
II.b.1 In fact, the origin of the Holy Bible as a single volume of scripture post-dates the advent of Western civilization by a more than a thousand years. Closer to two thousand years. Thereupon turns the argument of the advent of the “Holy Bible” as a volume of work bearing that title as any current language construes it. It is clearly a volume that began as individual scrolls, handwritten, allegedly by the authors noted, such as “Isaiah,” “Jeremiah,” “Malachi,” “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,” etc.  However, no single, original manuscript as potentially written by these men, rather than originally by scribes dedicated to them, exists today. This is not an argument to discredit the Holy Bible; I am firmly convinced it contains the Word of God, as far as it is translated into my mother tongue correctly. As this is not a debate concerning the validity of the Holy Bible, and I trust my opponent is in agreement with that, on the validity score of dictionary-to-dictionary “translation,” my argument is done.
II.b.2 However, as to its being root of Western civilization, as argued by Pro, the Holy Bible, even at the time of the collection of separate manuscripts of books into a single book, post-dates Western civilization roots. “The Bible is a collection of writings, and the earliest ones were set down nearly 3500 years ago.”[5] That would properly place it in the lifetime of Moses, approximately 1450 B.C.E., alleged author of the Pentateuch; the beginning content of the Jewish Torah of history predating Moses by thousands of years, and the first five books comprising the Holy Bible as first assembled from separate manuscripts. That assembly is alleged to have occurred over time as various efforts were attempted to combine scrolls of various authorships, but not as yet the complete volume we know today as the “Holy Bible.”[6]
“It was not until the 5th century C.E. that all the different Christian churches came to a basic agreement on Biblical canon.”[7] I will argue on that basis that the Holy Bible points to the 5th century C.E. as its origin. By then, Western civilization was ancient.
III Argument: Western Civilization roots
III.a One might first argue of what Western civilization consists. An interesting article, The Lost History of Western Civilization by Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Policy Center, alleges that a singular event at Stanford University in 1987 changed at least America’s vision of Western civilization. My PhD precedes this date; I’m not certain, as my opponent does not know his age [per the profile], but I am suspicious that his degree postdates this 1987 event.
III.a.1 In 1987, Stanford University launched what Mr. Kurtz called “the cold civil war.” I happened to live at the time just down the road a few klicks from Palo Alto, and I worked in Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, so I am familiar with this event. Protests on campus chanted, repeating the refrain, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Culture’s got to go!”[8]  Mr. Kurtz adds, “What began as a colorful political side-show grew in the years that followed to become the script of our politics. The divisions that tore Stanford apart then now generate America’s most important political and cultural controversies.”[9]  Those controversies have reverberated so widely that, over thirty years later, we may have forgotten the history of Western civilization that I was taught in the 60s and early 70s as I attended college and graduate school.
III.b Conversely, Western civilization can point to its origin at least in ancient Greece, and perhaps earlier.[10] There is “…a landmark of modern historical deconstructionism: the claim that the very idea of Western civilization is a modern invention devised during World War I as a way of hoodwinking young American soldiers into fighting and dying in the trenches of Europe.”  There are Pro’s military heroes. This thesis, proposed in 1982 by the historian Gilbert Allardyce, was cited by key players during the original Stanford controversy.”[11]
III.b.1 Allardyce, the heroes, and Pro are all dancing to a tune that was discord in 1987, and is not the peace, love, and rock-n-roll of the 60s, nor is it familiar to Plato, a 4thcentury B.C.E. luminary who established the Academy in Athens, and was instrumental in propelling Western civilization in science and philosophy. I’m not saying Plato founded Western civilization any more than I would claim it was founded by Jesus. The point is, Moses did not do it, either.
III.b.2 In 2015, working in a one meter-deep excavation, two archeologists struck gold. Actually, it was bronze, but the strike of one’s pick against the green, oxidized metal was significant compared to strikes against the surrounding cream-colored clay. Further excavation revealed a treasure of artifacts of various metals and semi-precious stones, including the virtually complete skeleton of an ancient warrior of 1600 B.C.E.[12]
III.c The foregoing is evidence of a civilization pre-dating Moses and his scrolls. Western civilization is at least this old, and they probably had their cultural versions of peace, love, and rock-n-roll and heroes to praise, swords to cross, and revolutions to endure.
*I habitually use the OED for all definitions. I recognize this dictionary as the ultimate of the English language. Unless one owns either the hard copy 20-volume set, or an online subscription [I have both] it is unavailable for reference. On my honor, I am fully quoting the definitions given.”

Round 2
Extend argument to round 3
Round 3
Extend argument to round 4
Round 4
I will extend one more round to a conclusion in round 5
Round 5
I Conclusion: The Holy Bible did not create Judaism, nor Christianity, let alone Western Civilization and its heroism and revolution
I.a As it has been established from my r1, by scholastic sourcing,* the development of Judaism, Christianity, and Western Civilization all pre-date the advent of the Holy Bible as a single volume of holy writ. By post-dating these three movements, it is impossible that the Holy Bible was the inspiration, and the vehicle by which Western Civilization was created.That it had influence in both heroism and revolution as conducted as Western Civilization has flourished, there can be little doubt, and Con has a valid point in that fact. However, since the debate’s construct and verbiage specifies that Western Civilization was created by the Holy Bible, Pro’s BoP in that regard has failed, forfeiture, or not.
I.b I conclude, therefore, that my BoP, to disprove the proposition, has been met.
*see all sources of my r1, [1 – 12]